Coaster Thingy 2017

January 5, 2017, 11:19 AM

Each year my best friend and I take a trip to a different coaster park. This year we're going double-or-nothing as we visit Hersheypark and Six Flags Great Adventure.

What tips do you have for us? Don't-miss non-coaster attractions? Restaurants inside or close to the parks? I'd love to hear our community's thoughts!

Replies (9)

January 5, 2017, 7:09 PM

If you're looking for good regional parks, you've made an excellent choice, as both among the best regional parks in the country. Hersheypark is the largest independent theme park in the US and offers a very good collection of attractions, excellent landscaping, and top tier operations. SFGAdv is more of a coaster park, but they've got one of the top five coaster line-ups in the country (in my opinion) and are the best run Six Flags park I have visited. As my most recent visits to the parks were in 2014, some of this may be a little outdated, but here's what I would say.

At Hersheypark, you can do the ride park in a day, but if you can I recommend spending two days here. In addition to rides, the property also has a waterpark, zoo, and Chocolate World to explore, and all are worth checking out. As far as rides go, Hersheypark has three must-ride coasters (Lightning Racer, Skyrush, and Storm Runner), but several of the other coasters are great and may be worth multiple rides (especially Fahrenheit). For non-coaster attractions, the park doesn't offer anything I'd consider a must-do ride, but Kissing Tower and Coal Cracker are among the better examples of their type and Tidal Force is great if you want to get soaking wet. Also, make sure you allow an hour or two to explore Chocolate World, which is located outside of the park and is pay-per-experience (the dark ride inside is free).

For most efficient touring of the park, I recommend starting with Fahrenheit, then heading to Midway America afterward, as this area contains four of the park's coasters, including the two major coasters with the lowest capacity. After that, proceed back along the park, starting at Pioneer Frontier and working toward Minetown. Save the Hollow for the evening, as this is usually the first area of the park to get crowded and doesn't die down until around dinner time. If you have two days, pick one day for rides and one for the waterpark, doing the waterpark for the first couple hours of that day before crowds build (it's small, so 2-3 hours is plenty of time to do everything). Lastly, if you are staying at one of the Hersheypark Resorts, you will get one hour of early entry to Founder's Circle, the Hollow, and Minetown, which allows you to avoid the long lines in these areas later in the day.

As mentioned above, Six Flags Great Adventure has one of the best roller coaster collections in the US, with only Six Flags Magic Mountain and a couple of the larger Cedar Fair parks surpassing it. El Toro is among the best roller coasters in the world, with Kingda Ka and Nitro not too far behind. A lot of the park's other coasters are the same types of rides you'll find at most Six Flags parks, but every major coaster at the park is still a good ride. Most of this park's non-coaster rides are standard attractions, but they also have three standouts: 1. Zumanjaro Drop of Doom, the world's tallest drop tower, 2. Dream Street Skyway, a rare double skyride that provides transportation across this huge park, and 3. Safari Off Road Adventure, an hour-long safari ride through the former Six Flags Wild Safari that was adjacent to the park. All of these are must-ride attractions, and help to break up the coasters.

SFGAdv is a difficult park to tour efficiently as the park has clusters of rides separated by lengthy walks (for example, from El Toro to Kingda Ka is about a 0.4 mile walk). This means you either have to do one side of the park in the morning/early afternoon and the other in the late afternoon/evening, or you have to be prepared to walk a ton. My recommendation is to go directly to Kingda Ka and ride that first, then do the remaining coasters in the following order:

El Toro
Superman Ultimate Flight
Green Lantern
The Joker
Dark Knight Coaster

Once you finish this list, do everything else of interest on the south side, then take the Skyride to the north side of the park and do everything else of interest there. If you're visiting on a weekday, you should probably be able to do everything in a day, but on a weekend you will either need to spend two days at the park or will need to purchase a Flash Pass to ensure you can get on everything.

January 6, 2017, 11:31 AM

This is awesome, AJ! I really appreciate your help. How does SF Great Adventure's size compare to Cedar Point's? I remember being completely exhausted after we zig-zagged back and forth across the park, from Maverick, back to Gatekeeper, then Millennium Force, etc.

Thanks again!

January 6, 2017, 3:31 PM

While the park area is much bigger due to the Safari Off-Road Adventure, the actual walking area of Six Flags Great Adventure is about 70-75% the size of Cedar Point (if you've ever been to Six Flags Magic Mountain, it and SFGAdv's walking area are roughly the same size). The hassle with SFGAdv is that it has what I refer to as an "amoeba" layout. Essentially, there is a central area of the park, and then fingers extend off from this center to plazas with one or two major attractions each. There are limited connections between these fingers, so it is often necessary to walk all the way to the center of the park and then down another finger to get to the next group of rides.

January 9, 2017, 11:47 AM

Ah, gotcha. I grew up out in Southern California, and I'm quite familiar with walking around and/or up/down that darn hill in the middle of the park. With how much planning we do with the schedule of our trips, we'll likely put just as much effort into our "game day" plan. :-)

Thanks again for your help, AJ!

January 9, 2017, 11:47 AM

Ah, gotcha. I grew up out in Southern California, and I'm quite familiar with walking around and/or up/down that darn hill in the middle of the park. With how much planning we do with the schedule of our trips, we'll likely put just as much effort into our "game day" plan. :-)

Thanks again for your help, AJ!

January 10, 2017, 4:59 AM

I feel that the open area of great adventure is bigger than CP. I get more steps when I visit Great Adventure thank CP.

January 10, 2017, 5:05 AM

I also recomend Skull Mountain in the back seat. And take full advantage of Zumanjaro's single rider line.

On summer weekdays the park is crowded, but it's very manageable. El Toro might get to a 30 minute line, Superman and Kingda Ka might hit an hour, but Nitro, Bizzaro, Green Lantern, Batman, The Dark Knight, and Skull Mountain will be easy. I'd also recomend hitting Joker first, than going to Kingda Ka or saving Joker to later at night.

El Toro is a wicked night ride.

Also, the park have a very lenient weather policy. At Cedar Point Top Thrill Dragster closes in a small amount rain. I've ridden Kingda Ka in pouring rain and the rain makes El Toro amazing.

January 10, 2017, 2:00 PM

Nice! Thanks for the advice. I can't wait!

January 15, 2017, 3:09 PM

I may agree at least in one Point that SFGA may be the or one of the best organized Parks. I been 2015 during Haloween at SFoG, SFGreatAdventure, SFGreatAmerica and SFoNE and SFGraet Adventure had by fare the BEST theatrical enhanced and profeccional Outside Show to start the Horror that they didn't need to hide behind Disney. You find a short sample in my You Tube Channel Holger Halfmann

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