I am visiting the Penn/Va area this summer for a week and I will have time to hit 4 parks, but I cannot decide which 4. I have been to KD and BGW in the early/mid 90's but I have not been there since(so I know a lot has changed). I will also have a friend with me that has never been to any of these parks. While we are both coaster junkies, I do enjoy a good clean and enjoyable park as well.
We are looking at these 4 parks:
2. Dorney Park
However, I am thinking about swapping out DP with SFGA due to the list of coasters there. Can I get anyone's opinion on this and what about SFA? I know BGW does not have the ride list of soem other parks but it is a top notch park for other reasons which is why it is a must visit.
SFGA is great for coaster rides just be aware that something is always broken over there. So you may want to call ahead and see what's on break down that day. Also be aware of the outrageous parking fees, Someplace between $10-15. It could be more now, it's been a few years since I've gone up there.
Hershey park is also a lot of fun, depending on when you go keep your eyes open for the after 5pm deal. If you go in after 5pm you can get the next day for free. They ran it last year and the year before so I'm fairly sure it'll return again this year.
I haven't been out to Dorney Park since they took out Hercules (Hurt-me-please) so I can't really give much input there but it was a lot of fun even back then.
If you come more out towards Pittsburgh I'd also suggest Idlewild and Kennywood park.
SFGA is a great park too; El Toro is my favorite roller coaster and it is better than DP, but the rides at DP aren't that bad either. I'd go to SFGA over Dorney Park any day.
I agree; Knoebels is definitely worth a trip. They have great food, great rides, and a phenomenal haunted house. Also, there will be one (if we're lucky, two) new ride(s)that definitely seem worth a visit.
As for SFGA, I believe it is considered the best SF park in the chain.
BGW is my home park, and I love it. KD is really good now that Cedar Fair is in charge. The new Intimidator ride is good. They're changing some of the track this year too. I think BGW, KD, and Hershey should definitely be in your must visit for this area.
You are overlooking a couple of really good parks in the area.
- Waldameer (Erie, Pennsylvania USA)
- Knoebels Amusement Park & Resort (Elysburg, Pennsylvania USA)
- Kennywood (West Mifflin, Pennsylvania USA)
BGW is the most atmospheric and beautiful park. Curse of Darkastle and Griffon are the only rides of their type in that part of the country. Alpengeist is one of the best inverted roller coasters around. Apollo's Chariot has been oft-imitated now, but it's still lots of fun. Loch Ness Monster is a little older and not as thrilling, but the interlocking loops are cool. Escape from Pompeii wasn't running when I visited, but I've heard it's a cut above the usual water rides. Europe in the Air wasn't one of the best motion simulator rides I've seen, but still worth a flight. They had a good range of shows, highlighted by Monster Stomp, which I presume will be replaced by a less horrorific version now.
Hersheypark is a notch below BGW in terms of theming, but it's still a lovely place and just a parking lot away from free chocolate samples. Storm Runner, Fahrenheit, and Lightning Racer are all distinctive roller coasters well worth the trip. Even their second tier coasters are pretty solid. As I recall, I saw one dolphin show, and one "Pop Music Through the Years" kind of show, both fun. The park also includes admission to a small zoo which was a nice change of pace.
Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is not well themed overall, but they do have the nice wild animals area, and some of the best roller coasters in the country. El Toro is one of the wooden roller coasters they have in heaven. Kingda Ka is the fastest roller coaster in the U.S., and my flapping cheeks agreed. Nitro is another roller coaster like Apollo's Chariot, but just a little better in my opinion. Plus, there's more traditional stuff like Bizarro and Batman, but those are still solid rides.
Kings Dominion is another fairly ordinary park theme-wise, but it has a number of memorable rides. Intimidator 305 is a beast, but quite thrilling if you're up for it. The Volcano coaster is probably the only inverted roller coaster more distinctive than Alpengeist. I'd recommend a dark ride through Flight of Fear, especially if you haven't ridden its brother at Kings Island. As with SFGAdv, there are a host of more ordinary roller coasters, some still well worth a ride. During Halloween this place was actually a blast just to walk through, but I don't know what it's like normally.
Dorney Park and Six Flags America are not at the level of the above parks. Both have good moments, but no "can't miss" attractions (although the comically low speed barrel roll on Hydra at DP and a night-time ride on Superman: Ride of Steel at SFA both brought a smile to my face).
Knoebels, Kennywood, and Waldameer Park are not big corporate parks. In fact, they feel more like actual parks, the kind of place you'd go for a picnic. I enjoyed them all, but I ended up only spending two or three hours at each.
Knoebels has a couple nice wooden roller coasters (especially Phoenix which has no seatbelts!), and apparently more are coming. The haunted house and carousel were fun, but don't expect Disneyland. You can also ride a lift up the side of the hills or take a little train ride for a scenic trip through the trees. For me, Knoebels was a nice stop on my drive through Pennsylvania because I could walk in for free and just ride the rides I was interested in, but not being a fan of carnival-type rides, this wasn't a top favorite for me.
You can also just walk right into Waldameer Park, but that one is so small I can't imagine it would be worth it for you to drive all that way. That said, riding Ravine Flyer II at night under a full moon with a pumped-up crowd was possibly my favorite roller coaster experience ever.
Kennywood has more roller coasters than the above two, but it's still a relatively modest sized park. My favorite is undoubtedly Phantom's Revenge, but Sky Rocket's not bad for such a small coaster. And though Wild Mouse style rides aren't my favoride, Exterminator was probably the best one I've seen. Those plus classic old woodies and oddball rides like Noah's Ark make the park worth the full admission (look for discounts online), but still, it's probably too much of a drive all the way to Pittsburgh.
That was probably more info than you wanted, but when else am I going to share all this knowledge that I spent weeks acquiring?