Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: How many theme parks did you visit this summer?

August 29, 2014, 12:13 PM · With children heading back to school, extended hours ending at the year-round parks, Halloween planning in full swing, and seasonal parks getting ready to close for the year, we're coming to the end of another theme park season. So let's take this time to look back.

Where did you go this summer?

Theme Park Insider James Rao is sharing with us on the front page this week his family's summer roadtrip to Kings Island and Cedar Point. (Here are the links, in case you've missed them: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. He'll continue tonight and tomorrow.) For the first time in years, my family did not take a big cross-country roadtrip this year. But we still visited several parks, with the highlights being coverage of attraction openings at Universal Orlando and Knott's Berry Farm.

Cabana Bay Beach Hotel
What I did on my summer vacation: Stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando.

We'd love to hear about your summer and your theme park travels. Which parks did you visit? What was your favorite ride or show? What was the best thing you had to eat in a theme park this year? Which park are you most looking forward to visiting again one day?

Of course, not every visit goes perfectly. Did something go terribly wrong on a theme park trip this summer? (Besides the stuff that's supposed "to go terribly wrong" at the start of just about every theme park ride....) Tell us about the most notable moments from your theme park travels this year, in the comments.

But first, let's take a count of how many different parks you visited this summer. (Don't count repeat visits to the same park, please, just the number of different parks you entered since — let's say — May of this year.)


Was this more or fewer parks than you've visited in a typical summer in the past. Let's keep the summer going with a conversation in the comments!

Replies (21)

August 29, 2014 at 12:33 PM · The only parks I visited this summer were water parks. As a Florida resident in a hot climate, I think water parks are incredibly underrated. They don't have nearly the crowds that theme parks have in the summer, you can cool off easily any time of day, and many of the attractions are no lines, no waiting, such as wave pools or sandy shores. It's a nice break from the planning that has to go into a day at a modern theme park.

Having visited three different water parks in central Florida, my best experience has been Typhoon Lagoon. A very laid-back atmosphere combined with an impressive level of aesthetic detail made for a great day at the park.

August 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM · Robert, summer is not over. I'm not done with my visits. Remember that those of us on the north coast actually have seasons.
August 29, 2014 at 1:18 PM · No, summer's not yet over as far as the seasons go, but when school starts back up... summer's over for families with kids. :^(
August 29, 2014 at 1:51 PM · We had a great year this year - more than usual!

Lots of firsts: 1st coaster event for the family. 1st time to Six Flags Great America. 1st time to Canada's Wonderland. 1st time to Waldameer. My daughter got to visit DL Paris for the first time (without the rest of us!). My 6 yr old's 1st 48" coasters.

August 29, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Apparently schools in SoCal run seven days a week. Our kids are lucky- they don't have school on Saturday or Sunday ;+)
August 29, 2014 at 2:07 PM · So far: Worlds of "Fun", Kings Island, Cedar Point.

September: Nick Universe at MOA and Valley Fair.

August 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM · Magic Kingdom: 3 times
Epcot: 2 times
Hollywood Studios: 2 times
Animal Kingdom 4 times
Islands of Adventure: 1 time
Universal Stuidos: 5 times (Diagon Alley took a long time!)
SeaWorld: 3 times
Busch Gardens: 1
August 29, 2014 at 2:24 PM · I live for these moments. My wife and I have visited 86 different amusement parks and facilities since the start of 2014:

Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong
Ocean Park, Hong Kong
Pixieland, Concord, California
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, California
Zoomer's, Ft. Myers Beach, California
Washuzan Highland, Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan
New Reoma World, Takamatsu, Kagawa, Japan
Hijmeji Tegarayama Amusement Park, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan
Kobe Fruit and Flower Park, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Tojoko Toy Kingdom, Tojo, Hyogo, Japan
Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan
Misaki Park, Osaka, Japan
Adventure World, Shirahama, Nishimuro, Wakayama, Japan
Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Mie, Japan
Japan Monkey Park, Inuyama, Aichi, Japan
Enakyo Wonderland, Ena, Gifu, Japan
Tokyo DisneySea, Urayasu, Chiba, Japan
Enchanted Forest, Turner, Oregon
Oaks Amusement Park, Portland, Oregon
Adventure Wonderland, Christchurch, Dorset, England, UK
Paultons Park, Romsey, Hampshire, England
Funland Hayling Island, Hayling Island, Hampshire, England
Clarence Pier Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Blackgang Chine, Ventnor, Isle of Wight, England
Pirate's Cove Fun Park, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, England
West Sands Fun Fair, Selsey, West Sussex, England
Harbour Park, Littlehampton, West Sussex, England
Brighton Pier, Brighton, East Sussex, England
California's Great America, Santa Clara, California
Funtown at Micke Grove, Lodi, California
Funderland, Sacramento, California
Blackbeard's Family Entertainment Center, Fresno, California
Rotary Storyland and Playland, Fresno, California
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, California
Playland, Rye, New York
Sommerland Sjæland, Nykøbing, Sjælland, Denmark
Bakken, Klampenborg, Sjælland, Denmark
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Bonbon Land, Holme-Olstrup, Sjælland, Denmark
Hansa Park, Sierksdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Legoland Billund, Billund, Jylland, Denmark
Djurs Sommerland, Nimtofte, Jylland, Denmark
Tivoli Friheden, Århus, Jylland, Denmark
Fårup Sommerland, Saltum, Jylland, Denmark
Tusenfryd, Vinterbro, Oslo, Norway
Liseberg, Gothenburg, Göteborgs-Bohus, Sweden
Skara SommarLand, Skara, Västra Götaland, Sweden
Gröna Lund, Stockholm, Sweden
Funpark, Lempäälä, Pirkanmaa, Finland
PowerLand, Kauhava, Southern Ostrobothnia, Finland
Wasalandia, Vaasa, Ostrobothnia, Finland
Särkänniemi Amusement Park, Tampere, Finland
Linnanmäki, Helsinki, Finland
Miracle Strip Pier Park, Panama City, Florida
Waterville USA, Gulf Shores, Alabama
Sam's Fun City, Pensacola, Florida
Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Ocean City, Maryland
Jolly Roger's at the Pier, Ocean City, Maryland
Trimper's Rides, Ocean City, Maryland
Baja Amusements, Ocean City, Maryland
Six Flags America, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Adventure Park USA, New Market, Maryland
Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Knoebel's, Elysburg, Pennsylvania
Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
Fantasy Shore Amusement Park, Staten Island, NY
Adventureland, Farmingdale, Long Island, NY
Funtown Splashtown U.S.A., Saco, Maine
Palace Playland, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
York's Wild Kingdom, York, Maine
Atlantic Beach Park, Westerly, Rhode Island
Canobie Lake Park, Salem, New Hampshire
Funworld Game Center, Nashua, New Hampshire
Santa's Village, Jefferson, New Hampshire
Story Land, Glen, New Hampshire
Fort Jefferson Fun Park, Jefferson, New Hampshire
Donley's Wild West Town, Union, Illinois
Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois
Wisconsin State Fair/Spin City, West Allis, Wisconsin
Little Amerricka, Marshall, Wisconsin
Bay Beach Amusement Park, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Brookhaven Exchange Club Fair, Brookhaven, Mississippi
Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Coney Island, Cincinnati, Ohio
Stricker's Grove, Ross, Ohio
Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis, Indiana

We're not sure when the season starts and finishes anymore. And we've still got 4 months left in the year!

August 29, 2014 at 2:27 PM · After 15 years between my last visit I was finally back in Orlando this summer.

I had 10 days planned for Theme Parks, solely taken up by Disney and Orlando.

6 days at Disney and 4 at Universal.

Visited every park at least once. In total that makes six parks visited this summer.

August 29, 2014 at 3:02 PM · I had my biggest year ever this year, as far as theme park travels go. I did visit a few parks prior to May, but as for official summer visits I've done:

Lakeside Amusement Park
Elitch Gardens
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Adventuredome (and other Las Vegas coasters)
Cedar Point
Coney Island (Ohio)
Stricker's Grove
Kings Island
Kentucky Kingdom
Beech Bend
Holiday World
Indiana Beach
Six Flags Great America
Hersheypark
Knoebels Amusement Park & Resort
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Six Flags Great Adventure
Coney Island (New York)

In addition, I also took a few visits to my local parks: one trip to Knott's Berry Farm and two to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

August 29, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Disneyland, DCA, USH, Knotts, CA Gt America, Gilroy Gardens, 6 Flags Discovery Kingdom, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Cedar Point, Kennywood tomorrow.
August 29, 2014 at 8:41 PM · I visited four, but since they were all apart of WDW..... It's really like only visiting one. I voted four, but it just feels almost like going to one because they are all part of the Walt Disney World Resort.

Having said that, I could not afford to go to every theme park I'd like to this year, so Walt Disney World got the money this year in our theme park budget (even over a local park). Why? Because it has family friendly (rides and entertainment that everyone in a wide group or age range can enjoy together) entertainment.... something that a lot of local theme parks especially seem to lack. Most local parks seem to have either extreme thrill rides, kids rides, or a waterpark area requiring a swimsuit change. Very little is left for the whole family to enjoy together.

Please Cedar Fair especially.... pay attention to this: You need to start having more rides or forms of entertainment that the whole family can enjoy together.

August 29, 2014 at 9:21 PM · In a more regional deviation: I went to Six Flags Great America, Holiday World, and Dollywood. The latter two were first-time visits. I might put it all in one big report depending on school work.
August 29, 2014 at 9:21 PM · My list with a little detail about each park. Won't be visiting any theme parks for another few years until some new rides pop in. Just moved to California so hit up a few of the parks to see what's new. I'll need to go to Universal Studios a Hollywood at some point, I haven't been there in 18 years.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom: Nothing to discover here. The front half of the park is a collage of mediocre and crappy coasters, while the back of the park has a nice, but somewhat too small zoo. Medusa is the old B&M floor less coaster that still is the top ride at the park. Medusa is the shinning star in an otherwise mediocre Six Flags park. Superman Ultimate Flight the newest coaster at the park is a really low capacity, ugly, and compact ride that offers little in thrills and long waits in line.

California's Great America: the only thing "great" about this park is perhaps the unique history of the park. Theming is all over the place and nothing here feels very "American" especially Boomerang Bay. The best ride here is also their newest, Gold Striker. It's a wooden rollercoaster that packs quite a punch, and if properly maintained could become a coaster enthusiast must ride. Flight Deck is a custom B&M inverted rollercoaster formerly known as Top Gun. The upward helix after the first loop causes momentarily white outs on its riders, and has become a well loved ride for those that have managed to experience it.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: While not recognized as a theme park, the attractions here are roughly themed to the same calibur as Six Flags and to a lesser extent Cedar Fair. Giant Dipper is still the star attraction here. Built in 1924, this old wooden rollercoaster is still a treat packed with lots of head choppers, airtime, and a train that glides over the wooden track like glass. The newest attraction is Undertow, a Maurer Sohne spinning coaster. Expect long lines as capacity is fairly low. Go here for a few rides on the Giant Dipper and the food. Stay away from the burgers and opt for the corn dogs, fried zucchini, and the pineapple soft serve ice cream.

Disneyland: Still the best in thrills, shows, and theming. Beautiful park that does so many things right. Indiana Jones is still the best ride in the park in my opinion. Tomorrowland and Toontown are in need of some love. Both feel dated, and while the attractions in both are solid, the exteriors are not. Also why has nothing been done about the old Rocket Rods track? Blue Bayou is still offering very good food and the experience is worth the reservation.

Disney California Adventure: Still playing second fiddle to its sister park, but doing a much better job at it. The addition of Cars Land has been a significant boost. The reimagined entrance is lovely, and they've finally hit a high note with the wonderful quality of food offered throughout the park dwarfing Disneyland in the amount of options. Ride wise Radiator Springs Racers is their newest, largest, and best attraction. Hollywood Land and "a bugs land" are in need of overhauls as both aren't very well fleshed out and the attractions in both are not built to what one would expect as the Disney standard.

Gilroy Gardens: This is a beautiful children's theme park that is worth a visit just to walk around the beautiful gardens. Don't expect high thrills, as the largest coaster is a small rough Morgan Mine Train coaster. The newest attraction is their water play land, which allows kids to race around a mini water park area to cool off in the sun. Younger children will love the rides and learning, while the adults will be in love with the calming atmosphere the park brings. The paddle boats are the most popular attraction here, but it is also the slowest loading, and least capacity ride. Expect 1-2 hour waits even early in the day. While there is no sit down restaurant, the quick service locations offer very good food. Definitely try the mini corn dogs and the awesome garlic fries.

August 29, 2014 at 11:18 PM · Summer is Theme Park Hell.
Case closed. Good night.
August 30, 2014 at 5:38 AM · Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm for me this summer. Once the weather cools down though in Fall we're heading to Universal Hollywood for Horror Nights, EPCOT, Universal Orlando for Potter and Horror Nights, Islands of Adventure and if we have time maybe one more of the Florida Disney parks.
This Orlando trip is more about a cruise we're taking to the Bahamas, Potter, Food and Wine Festival and Horror Nights rather than Disney even though we are still staying at Disney's Beach Club Resort Concierge level. So I guess Mickey still has that strangle hold on our wallets. ;O)
August 30, 2014 at 10:38 AM · By now(the end of August)we would have traveled down to WDW twice as had been our practice these 15-odd years. However, given the way Disney treated The Boy Scouts of America earlier this year, that is no longer an option. Why spend money at a place that thinks we are stupid. It was a good run, tho. We have made do with travel "out west" and have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, plus saved an awful lot of money.
August 30, 2014 at 11:44 AM · More than 5 parks. Disney World plus local SoCal parks.
August 30, 2014 at 2:44 PM · The Best!-- My favorite moments, memories, or just plain old best stuff at each park I visited this summer:

Walt Disney World

Animal Kingdom:
Tusker House Breakfast food options

Magic Kingdom:
Watching the glass maker
Ariel Meet and Greet was exceptional- best character interaction

Hollywood Studios:
Guest service at the Winter Funland
Frozen Fireworks (not because it was Frozen themed, but because it was an amazing show)

Epcot:
World Showcase is always my favorite but what stood out this time was the new quick service in France

Resort

Animal Kingdom Lodge:
Zero entry pool and the best hotel I've stayed in at WDW

Sesame Place:
Fun items in the gift shops, good parade

August 30, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Second comment-Best Food!!!!

Magic Kingdom:
Columbia Harbor House salmon plate or fish and chips
Simple one--the popcorn :-) Especially when buying the Dumbo bucket, because, why not?

Hollywood Studios:
50's Prime Time- sampler plate

Animal Kingdom:
Dole Whip with rum
Jalapeno Pretzel

Epcot:
Napoleon and cappuccino at France's quick service
Dinner at San Angel Inn
Curry chicken pocket at Joy of Tea
Don't know the name, but the grapefruit flavored beer at Germany

AKL:
Boma Breakfast
Mara Quick Service (one of the best quick services!)

Fort Wilderness Lodge:
Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue

August 30, 2014 at 3:01 PM · Last Post--2 tips!

At Sesame Street, be prepared for not many healthy food options. We loved the pizza, mac and cheese and french fries, but we also heard many complaints from unhappy parents when we were waiting for food. The chief one being that this show heavily emphasizes eating well but they haven't given a large push towards that yet, like Disney World is trying to do. I read online there are healthy options but they weren't in abundance. I did see sides of grapes, salads for adults, and kid's meals fries could be replaced with apple sauce or apple slices. Beware, the park ran out of apple sauce and ketchup very early in the day. Not a big deal to us but many people were upset.

Our worst dining experience at WDW was at Electric Umbrella. I knew it was really bad so I wasn't expecting any different-- I ordered the mac and cheese burger (just taken off the menu) and I would equate it to the not so pleasant cafeteria food from our childhood. But my tip comes not from my experience there but from the reason we ended up there. We had picked to go to Epcot at night and eat at Sunshine Seasons for many reasons including: 1.) It's amazing! 2.) It has something for everyone and 3.) With someone who is disabled, it is easier to get to than walking to the back of world showcase. Unfortunately, we were not aware you could not bring strollers in to eat, and we had a toddler asleep in a stroller. We talked to a CM about it but the only way we could enter is if we took him out of the stroller and carried him in, but that would have potentially woken him up and also made eating uncomfortable for mommy. So, Electric Umbrella it was. In conclusion, make sure it's not around nap time when you want to go to Sunshine Seasons or make sure you know whether or not your child would be able to continue sleeping if you had to take them out of the stroller and let them sleep on you.

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