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Vote of the week: Theme parks in the snow?

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Published: February 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM

How would you like to visit a theme park in the snow?

I know that many Theme Park Insider readers around America are enjoying a "snow day" today, with winter storms making their way across the country. And more than a few of you might be daydreaming about escaping to a nice, warm Florida or California theme park.

But theme parks don't always operate in the warm sunshine. Tokyo Disneyland recently got buried in a snow storm:

Tokyo Disneyland in the snow
Photos courtesy Disney

And Disneyland Paris gets its share of snowfall, too.

Disneyland Paris in the snow

Heck, it's not unheard of for the Orlando theme parks to see a stray flake every decade or so.

And in Southern California? Well, forget about snow in Anaheim. (But if you crave winter, just drive up into our mountains. Only an hour away!)

Regional theme parks have tried snow-covered holiday events from time to time. I remember the WinterFest event at Kings Island in Ohio, though my wife starts shivering uncontrollably each time I mention it.

Let's make this a Vote of the Week. What do you think about visit a snow-covered, winter-wonderland, temperatures-below-freezing theme park?


If you've got some theme park snow stories, please share 'em in the comments. Have a great weekend, stay warm, and thank you again for being part of Theme Park Insider!

Readers' Opinions

From Mike Gallagher on February 22, 2013 at 1:21 PM
Few years ago, I went to SF Great Adventure (might have been Opening Day, but I'm unsure)..under threat of a predicted blizzard, with 30 degree temps. The blizzard never materialized, but I took a ride on the Runaway Mine Train in a snow flurry, and I was the only rider. That's the only time I've been on a coaster in the snow.

Another anecdote..back in the ancient days when I was in high school, Great Adventure did a promo..show up with a snowball, get in free. It had snowed in the area about two weeks prior, but very little was left unmelted. There was a little pile in the corner of my backyard. When I read about the offer, I made about 20 and put them in the freezer. A group of about 15 of us went in 4 cars. What I remember most was the roadside stands set up outside the park, selling snowballs for $5 each.

From 99.254.60.108 on February 22, 2013 at 1:53 PM
It would be amazing to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the snow. It would only make the area feel extra magical and authentic. As it is, I could spend hours hanging there.
From Rob Pastor on February 22, 2013 at 2:52 PM
Kennywood started opening for weekend nights in Nov. & Dec. in 2010. We've gone 4 times. Its a blast to see the park bathed in snow. Plus they have fire pits and hot chocolate interspersed throughout the park. Great ambiance. Some attractions are open, except for of course, water rides and coasters. We actually enjoy the park more in the winter than the hot sweltering summer. And it gets packed. Shoulder to shoulder on some nights.
From Rod Whitenack on February 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM
Interesting related story: My first trip to Holiday World, when it was still called Santa Claus Land, as a small child happened to take place in an unexpected blizzard. My dad packed us in the family station wagon and as soon as we hit the road, the snow began to fall like no tomorrow. In fact, we got stranded in Santa Claus, IN overnight in what was supposed to just be a day trip. All the big rides were closed, but I didn't know the difference. I had no idea what it was supposed to be like. I believed my dad had actuially taken us to the North Pole! We ate in Santa Claus' restaurant and THERE HE WAS! The real Santa Claus! We walked down the snow covered streets and visited displays of vintage toys which I was convinced was Santa's toy shop. I distinctly remember looking at an animated circus scene with moving parts and a model train. Had I known that many rides were closed, I might have been disappointed, but the whole experience is now a treasured memory of an innocent time in my life.
From Tony Stevens on February 22, 2013 at 4:05 PM
I went to Kings Island's Winterfest one year. I really did enjoy the event. It was a completely different feel than going during the summer. Unfortunately they cancelled the event the next year and have not had anything like it since. I definitely don't expect it to come back with it's current ownership.
From Dan Glynn on February 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM
I absolutely love the photos of Tokyo and Paris in snow, but as an Australian would I choose to go there then? Not unless I was loaded (which I'm not). If I lived closer and had a pass, I'd go in a heartbeat. Probably only once it twice depending on what's open. I'd be happy at DL or WDW year round. As beautiful as those parks are in winter I
think Disney placed their US parks perfectly.
From 70.118.44.151 on February 22, 2013 at 4:19 PM
I also went to WInterfest at Kings Island. It was cold, and none of the coasters could run, however the event was great. I specifically remember ice skating on the fountain pond, and great CHristmas shows.

SeaWorld in Cleveland tried a winter event for a year or two in the 80's. I loved that as well. The best part was a giant ice slide the park made from the top level of the Ski Stadium walkway-- it was great!

From Jay R. on February 22, 2013 at 7:01 PM
Those photos do look really nice, but I'm thinking much nicer to look at than be in :-)!!
From Tim Chatlos on February 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM
Kings Island's Winterfest was a wonderful event. It truly felt like an entirely different park. It's unfortunate that Cedar Fair didn't want to continue putting it on. They could have really built something there. Hopefully with more and more regional parks doing holiday events (like Kennywood, Lake Compounce, and Busch Gardens in recent years) Kings Island might revisit Winterfest someday.
From AJ Hummel on February 22, 2013 at 9:41 PM
I've always thought it would be fun to visit a park in the snow, but it would really depend on the park. A Disney park full of indoor attractions? That would be great. Somewhere like Dollywood that has a setting where snow would fit? Excellent as well. A Six Flags or Cedar Fair park? That wouldn't be so much fun as nothing would be running and the atmosphere of the place wouldn't be enhanced.
From Aaron McMahon on February 22, 2013 at 11:01 PM
It snowed the first two years I went to BGW's Christmas Town. My thought was that it looked beautiful for the first hour and then became a fairly crummy park experience.

Let's check what snow brought:

1. Icy pathways
2. Closed roller coasters
3. Outdoor flat rides were cool until you were blinded by the snow
4. Hour long waits for the Festhaus with other people who wanted to find somewhere dry and warm.

Remember snow is still precipitation even though it's looks pretty!

From Jack Curley on February 23, 2013 at 12:15 AM
I had the misfortune to go to WDW in Dec 2010, in the midst of a cold snap. We unwisely chose to go to AK on the coldest day of our week there (It was in the mid-30's). Have you ever noticed how there is very little true indoor space in Animal Kingdom? The gift shops and restaurants are built to look authentic to their regions, which means most of them don't have closeable doors or windows. There really wasn't anywhere to escape the biting cold, unless we wanted to ride Dinosaur or see It's Tough To Be A Bug over and over.
The next day we went to MK, and while waiting to ride Winnie The Pooh, we noticed an enormous patch of ice weighing down some of the tall grass next to the queue. And this was at about 3PM. We spent way too much of that week at DHS, because everything there is indoors. Walt Disney World is a wonderful place, but it's not meant to be enjoyed in the snow.
From James Rao on February 23, 2013 at 8:02 AM
Once went to Silver Dollar's City's Christmas Festival when it was about 28 degrees at the start of the day, and just got colder from that point. By the time we left for the day it was in the low teens and we were completely frozen. Don't get me wrong, all the lighting, music, and Christmas shows made it feel like a Winter Wonderland, but if not for the hot chocolate, Wassail, and 60 degree cave tour, we would not have lasted for the whole day.

I can handle some snow...but not the brutal cold. Not again. Not ever. Ugh.

From M. Ryan Traylor on February 23, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Those photos look so amazing, that I'd probably book my vacation to those resorts during the winter just for that.

Disneyland only has that fake soapy snow.

From Aaron McMahon on February 24, 2013 at 12:31 AM
"Kings Island's Winterfest was a wonderful event. It truly felt like an entirely different park. It's unfortunate that Cedar Fair didn't want to continue putting it on. They could have really built something there"


OK I understand in a perfect, 50 degree world Cedar Fair could make a Winter/Christmas Event. But just look at the growing pains Busch Gardens Williamsburg has had.

The Christmas Town event brings huge crowds needing every attraction operating. But if it's less than 40 degrees the rides have to shut down meaning tons of employees are being paid without their attraction running.

And paying guests shuffling off in the cold to flat rides or over crowded shows/gift shops.

My point, Cedar Fair will bring winter events to it's more southern parks but only with the forethought that it needs.

From Mark Kausch on February 24, 2013 at 3:31 AM
"Disneyland only has that fake soapy snow."

Yes. Thank God.

I cannot remember ever going to a theme/amusement park in the snow. However, my first - and, thus far, only - visit to Cedar Point was on the first weekend of the season. And it was pretty danged cold for this SoCal boy. It was, in addition, raining pretty heavily and drizzling when it wasn't. I bought pictures on every roller coaster that sold them. My daughter, who did not attend, said that I looked the same in each one of them. I'm thinking that perhaps I froze in that position.

From Tim Chatlos on February 24, 2013 at 5:49 PM
Our visit to Kings Island's Winterfest in 2005 was on a very snowy day, which a relatively rare thing for early December in Cincinnati. Since Winterfest focused more on shows, food, and activities like ice skating than rides the snow didn't have much of an impact. It actually helped make the park feel all the more Christmas-y. Winterfest was more about having a holiday event in the unique setting of International Street and Rivertown than riding rides like one could all summer long. If I recall correctly only three rides were scheduled to be open (the carrousel, Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle, and the train) and all of them ran in the cold temperatures.

The Cincinnati area has a wide variety of holiday events, so perhaps the competition was a little too much for Winterfest. I recall one issue with the event being that it wasn't cold enough most days in December in order to keep the signature ice rink on the Royal Fountain properly frozen. Still, it seems there is enough enthusiasm for the holidays and Kings Island around the Cincinnati area that Winterfest could be a success.

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