………. for planning next year’s theme park vacation …. ??
It’s always interesting to read trip reports, especially when the topic is a park I’ve never been to, but planning to visit in the next year or two. At CP in May I met a couple from Europe who were visiting 15 parks in 2-1/2 weeks, and it got me thinking ….. just how much planning does that entail, and how successful are we all at getting it right the first time ?
Being in that ‘almost retired’ bracket, the days of zipping around a park in a day, and then later that night travelling to the next one, are long gone from my itinerary. My ultimate goal is always to visit the park on weekdays, but to also try and get there during off-peak times. Hence May/June is always going to be my go-to times. School/University schedules are checked, and also if the park has any special events going on at the time. All of that info is used to guesstimate the amount of people that I might encounter during my visit .. with the final decision then being made on the actual timing of the trip. Next year I’m going to Kings Dominion, BGW, Carowinds and SFoGA ….. my first ever total road trip, so a lot of planning has already gone into this. For a lot of you this would translate into maybe a week …. even shorter ? For me it’s spanning 3 weeks !!!
3 days minimum at a park gives me the chance to get on a ride, if like TTD and others, it has a nasty habit of not working for more hours of the day than actually being in operation. It also affords me the leisurely stroll round a park that I appreciate so much these days. Stopping off for a coffee here, and an ice cream there, is my idea of a great day at a theme park. But then, I have to wait a while before my tummy will allow me to get back on a ride again … LOL !! Be warned you young enthusiasts out there ….. it will eventually catch up with you … :) Spinning rides are long gone from my list of “must-dos” More like “must-not-do” these days. 2-3 days also gives me the chance to repeat-ride coasters that become favorite(s) during my stay. If I don’t like a ride, or my back warns me that maybe I shouldn’t be on this one, then they are rode just the once. Another ride is added to my list, and I move on. A longer stay helps me not worry too much about a bad weather day, but it also gives me the opportunity to get some great photos. I’ll spend a lot of time looking for photo ops, and waiting until a certain time of day to ensure the sun is in the right place. At KI this year, I had one perfect chance to get some great aerial shots from the Eiffel tower. Something I could have missed if my stay had been just the 1 day.
Planning also takes into account where I’m going to stay and, where possible, I will always stay in an on-resort hotel. Although the Shark hotel at Thorpe Park was definitely a once only visit !! Breakers is my favorite, especially now it’s been refurbished. Yes it’s relatively expensive, but to be able to walk to the park, and then take a stroll back for a break before returning for the last few hours, is the perfect scenario. Most parks don’t have resort hotels, so a quick look-see on TripAdvisor will usually point me in the right direction. The older hotels are the worst, but nearly everywhere I’ve stayed has been tolerable for a 3 or 4 day stay. Holiday Inns, and Courtyard Marriots are my 2 favorites, but closeness to the park is another big factor. Repeat visits to a park is also taken into account when staying at a hotel. Carowinds is a good example ….. I stayed on the opposite side of the road to the park in May, but I noticed there was a Comfort Inn on the park (and Cabela’s .. :) ) side so next year that’s where I’m going to stay. It’s walking distance as well, so even better.
Finally, I will always look into what is going on in the area I’m staying. My 3 week road trip next year takes in a day or 2 visiting colonial Williamsburg, maybe even a day fishing in Chesapeake Bay for some Stripers ?? Whilst at SFoGA I want to visit the aquarium to see the whale shark in particular, so all good ‘stuff’ to do while I’m away. Knowing all of this before I depart helps me plan accordingly, just in case I’m lucky enough to visit one of the parks and it’s deserted, and I can easily get done in a day and a half, what I’d planned 3 days for.
2020 will see me return to CP for the 150th anniversary, but I’m also planning to visit KI (hopefully new Giga ??) and Canada’s Wonderland (never been) so plenty to look forward to over the next couple of years. After that …. who knows ? When I retire I know I won’t be able to afford these long multi park trips, but hey, I do live in Orlando after all, so a season pass to WDW and UO along with my SWO pass should see me happy ….. from my retirement date to infinity and beyond !! Although I will always try to make my bi-annual pilgrimage to CP when they open a new ride.
So, how do you all plan your trips … ? Is it a long drawn out process like mine, or is it an on-the-spur-of-the-moment decision and off you go ?