The rule of thumb for visiting Orlando & So Cal parks is to go when school is in session and the crowds are lighter but unfortunatly that stategy rarely works at seasonal parks. Instead, choose a Sunday over a Saturday and when the parks are open during the week Mondays & Tuesdays are usually the least crowded days.
It would be awesome to go to the parks in the winter but I guess always growing up in the midwest, I am just used to it. Always great to get that King's Island newsletter that lets you know they are operating under a full schedule again. :)
To me it is like nature, there is a time and place for everything. And it is possible, and perhaps sometimes even a bit dangerous, to enjoy too much of a good thing. (Dangerous for me, because I lose my sense of priorities!)
However, it sure would be nice if we had a huge Mall of America type indoor theme park for the winter months. But like the other comment said, the workforce during the school year would be very limited.
Still, in the greater KC area we have plenty of movie theaters and restaurants (even a T-Rex - great atmosphere, lousy food) to keep us busy during the down time!
And once they finish that Schlitterbahn Vacation Village we'll have some year round theme park style fun as well!
Then I thought of how it was as a kid going to water parks, as those are definitely seasonal. But as I don't go to water parks anymore, and prefer to go to Disneyland or Universal, etc. it's still hard for me to actually know what it's like to have a seasonal park that I love going to.
But even though So-Cal doesn't have that many seasonal parks, I always check the calendars before going as some of my friends have annual passes w/ block out dates. I prefer to go to theme parks on weekdays as I can't stand the crowds of the weekends. I swear that weekends bring out some of the worst and rudest people.
I still appreciate the parks around here being open close to 365 a year! Not trying to rub it in, but I can't imagine seeing Sea World or Disneyland open on the weekends only for most of the year. It might make me not want to go to the parks.
But like James noted, the attractions are much more limited at the parks near me so the short seasons don't affect how much I get there. (Since each is about a 2 hour drive and the price of gas makes it hard to justify lots of visits.) Plus it gives me an excuse to try and get to SoCal or Florida in the off-season to get my fix.
But I learned my lesson this last year. I'm making a trip to Florida in December, instead of October so it won't be quite as long between visits. If I could find a decent deal I wouldn't mind going to SoCal in February/March to do Knotts Winter Coaster Solace. But yeah, if you live in SoCal or Florida you are spoiled and shouldn't take it for granted that parks are open year round.
One great perk to Six Flags Season Passes, is that they are good for all parks. SO, if you buy your season pass during Fright Fest (you save half the cost) it is good for the rest of the current season and good for all of the next. Which lets you into other parks before yours opens. i.e visiting SF in Tx before SF Stl opens. Or Magic Mountain like I did back in March when I was at Disneyland.
In addition seasonal schedule have some effect on the workforce, but, more to do with the weather, COuld imagine trying to ride a woodie in the snow? Or how about Batman when it is 10 degrees?
The way I deal with seasonal parks is to visit the year round parks during the winter. I have found that Nov, Feb and March are decent times to visit the Disney and Universal. That way I get my coaster fix and enjoy the awesomeness that is Universal and Disney and Busch Gardens.
I guess it really doesnt bother me too much that the parks close up here. It gives me something to look forward to every year. As soon as the snow is gone and the temp starts rising, I start planning! :-)
I pass the downtime by posting on sites such as this one and designing on RCT3. I'm currently working on an old school Coney Island replica and a concept called "Midway Legends" which features recreations of long gone coasters and other rides from the past.
Problem solved. Now, if you'll excuse me, I may have to take evasive action due to various metaphorical projectiles that I suspect may be coming my way... ;-)