8 park trip!

Edited: June 27, 2015, 9:15 AM

Hello everyone! We are needing some help and tips for our next big trip. We are a couple from Uruguay and we are planning to visit some themes park in August-September. We will arrived at LaGuardia in NYC, pick up a car and start our trip to the north, to go to Six Flags The Great Escape and SF New England. After that we are looking to go to Cedar Point by car, does anyone have any idea for this route trip? There are places to park, gas stations, and that kind of stuff? Then we will be going to King Island, Kings Dominion, Bush Gardens, Great Adventure and Dorney Park.
Well, basically thats our plan. We are still looking for places to stay and more information to make the trip awesome. Would yoy have any recomendation or tips for our trip? We would appreciate very much!

Replies (6)

June 29, 2015, 4:49 PM

I would like to help you as I've visited all of these parks and have done road trips in the area, but first there are a few other things to consider before doing so.

First off, how long is your trip? The parks you listed are fairly spread out and you'll be burning at least a few days of driving. Two weeks would be the absolute minimum for a trip including all the parks you mentioned, but ideally you should allow at least three if you want to do some non-park activities along the way. If you only have two weeks, I would advise you to cut either Cedar Point & Kings Island OR Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Kings Dominion.

Second, will your trip be done before September 7th? If not, you'll run into issues because most US parks go to weekend only operation after that date. Check the park operating calendars and make sure that you'll be able to get to them all in the timeframe allowed.

Third, how fixed is your itinerary? If you can, I would highly suggest adding at least Hersheypark and Knoebels to your route. Both are located in eastern Pennsylvania and are among the best parks in the country. In fact, I would cut Dorney Park and Great Escape to add these two parks if time is an issue. In addition, if you wish to add more parks to the trip there are a lot of good options in the area.

Finally, have you visited any of these places before or is everything a first-time visit? This will determine how much time you should allow for the parks on the trip. For example, Kings Island is a two-day park for a first-time visitor, but someone who has been before likely only needs one day for the park.

Answer these four questions and then I'll try to come up with some tips and suggestions for you.

July 2, 2015, 8:01 AM

Hi !!!
Thanks for the tips for our route.
The reason why we choose this route is because we are planning to buy the gold pass and the platinium pass for the six flags and cedar parks.
But seeing the parks you told us we made ??other possibilities and add other parks, but i don´t know if we will have enough time. In the route that we will show you is a first planification of the trip.
We will see how time we have at that point of the trip to visit the park you recommended us.We saw the webs of the two parks (Hersheypark and Knoebels) and looks very interesting. The only thing is that we have to paid for other parks and some other kilometers :) But, we have faith to do all the recommendations till the body and the car works:)
We will try to drive early in the morning and if we leave the park early (doing all the best rollercoasters) maybe we will drive some kilometers in the late evening. We only want to go to parks.Maybe a little visit in Washington, Cleveland, Bufallo and New York, but it is not the most important part of the trip. Next year we will make another trip to visit New York.So, we don´t have hotel, or hostel, or wathever :) Arrive at the city and with some help of the cellphone and some applications like booking we will find our hotel or place to sleep :). Also we downloaded applications for "find the nearest gas station" like gasbuddy or similar :)And also "around me"
The Six Flags America on that dates is closed :( . On that time that we are going to be in USA some parks will be closed, so we design this route thinking about that. But we accept any other recommendation :)
The most thing that we want is to visit Cedar Point :) So we can´t leave that park :)

Here is the route :)

http://img286.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=97184_image_122_403lo.jpg


Questions :
What do you think of the routes? I mean, the distances. We have already driven on USA routes, and all of them were excellent.
What is the best option to have internet (on one cellphone) on the route for foreing people?
Talking about the parks:
On that dates, how are the parks? Full or empty?
The Cedar Point it will be on a Saturday, we think is not the best day to visit but is the thing that we have :)
If i have a platinum pass or gold pass at what time we can arrive? we saw that says early rides. for example the park open at 10:30am. If we have that pass, at what time we could arrive? one hour early? we did not find that information on the web :(
Other suggestions will be important for us
Thanks in advance
P.S.: Our goal is to visit most parks :) And for us is the first time we visit this parks. We have already visit other parks in the USA :)

July 2, 2015, 2:13 PM

Your route looks pretty good, but if you're going for only parks and are willing to do a more intense trip I'd recommend doing the following:

August 25th: Arrival day. Depending on what time your flight arrives, you may have time for some New York sightseeing before driving up to Massachusetts (2.5 hours, ~250 km). You'll probably want to stay in Connecticut (I stayed in East Windsor, CT when I visited SFNE) as the park is just over the border.

August 26th: Six Flags New England. You'll probably want a full day here. Once the park closes, drive to Queensbury, NY (2.5 hours, ~250 km).

August 27th: Great Escape. This park isn't that big, so I would leave by 3 P.M. and try to make the 7.5 hour (~800 km) drive to Cleveland, OH on this day. If you leave earlier and have time, you can make a quick stop at Waldameer in Erie, PA, but if you miss this park it's not that big of a deal.

August 28th: Cedar Point. Allow 1.5 hours to get from Cleveland to the park (it's only about 100 km and may take less, but it's a good idea to have a buffer). Spend all day here and stay in Sandusky that night.

August 29th: Go back to Cedar Point in the morning. Leave by 2 P.M. and make the 3.5 hour (~300 km) drive down to Kings Island. Enjoy Kings Island in the evening and stay in Mason, OH right by the park.

August 30th: Kings Island. You can stay as late as desired, but you'll be making an 8 hour (~850 km) drive to Doswell, VA after departing.

August 31st: Kings Dominion. After park closing, drive to Williamsburg, VA (1.5 hours, ~150 km).

September 1st: Busch Gardens Williamsburg. You likely will not need to stay until closing here, so making the 4.5 hour (~500 km) drive to Pennsylvania after departing is a good idea. Instead of staying near a park, pick a base camp between the three Pennsylvania parks that you'll use for the next two nights.

September 2nd: Hersheypark. You'll most likely need all day here.

September 3rd: Start the day at Knoebels. It is a smaller park, so you should be able to get the main attractions done in a reasonable amount of time. Once you're done here, drive to Dorney Park (it's about a 1.5 hour drive and is a little over 100 km). As long as you get to Dorney Park by 5 P.M. you should have enough time to do all the coasters and other major attractions as the park is rarely crowded and is smaller than most Cedar Fair parks. After leaving Dorney Park, drive to New Jersey (about 1.5 hours, ~150 km) and stay near Six Flags Great Adventure.

September 4th: Six Flags Great Adventure. Most likely this will be an open to close day. Once you are done, you can either stay near the park or drive back to the airport and stay near there (the latter is better if you have an early flight).

September 5th: Fly home.

If the above is too intense for you, just go back to what you had planned out. Either will work, my route just allows you to include Hersheypark and gives more time at Cedar Point.

As for your other questions...

-For internet, you'll have to talk to your cell phone provider and see what the best plan is. I would also recommend staying at hotels with free Wi-Fi if possible to avoid using data while you are there.

-Most parks should be nearing the end of their summer season, so crowds probably won't be extreme. That said, it is still summer and there will definitely be people there. It won't be empty, but you likely won't be seeing 2 hour lines either (except perhaps on weekends).

-If parks are unexpectedly busy, almost all now offer an upcharge skip the line service (Fast Lane at Cedar Fair, Flash Pass at Six Flags, Quick Queue at Busch Gardens, etc.). I generally advise against buying these unless you know it will be necessary in order to experience everything. However, in the route I suggested, I would absolutely buy a Fast Lane for the second day at Kings Island because you'll have limited time there and will only be visiting on a weekend. You should have enough time at the other parks so that buying the pass is unnecessary, but budget for it just in case.

-If you can, allow at least a day and a half for Cedar Point. Of all the parks on your trip, that one will be the most crowded. If you are only able to visit for one day, especially a day on a weekend, I would strongly suggest purchasing a Fast Lane here just to ensure that you'll be able to do everything.

-Early entry varies by park. For the Cedar Fair parks, Cedar Point lets you in an hour early and the others are generally 30 minutes, but not every park has early entry every day. For Six Flags, the Gold Pass will get you in up to 30 minutes early depending on the park, but rides will usually not start running until the official opening time. As a general rule of thumb, I would just arrive 30-45 minutes before opening at any park unless you know you'll be able to get in early than that.

I hope this is all helpful. If you have any more questions I'll try to answer them and once you've got all your parks selected I'll see if I can give you specific advice for them.

July 5, 2015, 5:54 PM

Hi !Thank you very much for your response.Excellent your help.

After looking at your suggestions, we decided to make some changes at our route.
We're planning to leave SF GE earlier than thought as you advised and try to make some km that day.
On August 28, that is a Friday we will be arriving as early as we can at CP. We'll have early acces to the park as we have the platinum pass. Will it be that crowded the park that day? I know I've already asked this to you, but I'm looking forward the park won't be that crowded, jeje.
In case we could make all the attractions in one day we'll be leaving the next morning to KI, in case we don't. we'll use your advise and use the morning at CP and half afternoon at KI.
Then we do BG, KD and we make a day here to go to Hershey Park.
The next morning we'll be leaving to Knoebels and Dorney, and finally SF GA.

Now that we have our route more clear, we want to know the following:
- Is it better (cheaper) to buy the park passes on internet or at the front gate?
- Once you arrived to the park, do we have to do something to have your seasson pass? I've read that there is a photo id needed or something like that. Do we have to take them with us or they take us the photo there? Have yo any idea of this?
- We have seen some hotels online, but we are not sure if booking them. We've read and heard that there are lots of motels/hotels by the route, so that wouldn't be a problem. But are they affordable for low budget travelers? Or is it better to book online to find better prices?

Well, that would be by now. Thank you a lot for taking the time to help us!

July 6, 2015, 1:12 AM

Okay, let's see what we've got:

We're planning to leave SF GE earlier than thought as you advised and try to make some km that day.

3 P.M. is a latest recommended departure time. If you want to leave sooner that shouldn't be a problem. While it takes 4-6 hours to do everything here, if you're mainly concerned with coasters you'll be done in 2-3. I recommend going straight to Comet and riding it a few times, then working your way forward. Alpine Bobsled is the only other coaster that you won't encounter elsewhere on your trip and the rest of the coasters aren't anything special. Other than coasters, the only rides I would definitely recommend would be Raging Rapids (if you don't mind getting wet) and Sasquatch. Everything else is just a standard model.

On August 28, that is a Friday we will be arriving as early as we can at CP. We'll have early acces to the park as we have the platinum pass. Will it be that crowded the park that day? I know I've already asked this to you, but I'm looking forward the park won't be that crowded, jeje.

I'd expect low crowds on that day. Get there 30 minutes before early entry if possible, use your early entry on Maverick and/or Millennium Force, then just work around the park in a logical order. You should be able to get on all the coasters and some non-coaster rides in one day if you keep moving. I doubt you'll need Fast Lane unless you want a large number of re-rides.

In case we could make all the attractions in one day we'll be leaving the next morning to KI, in case we don't. we'll use your advise and use the morning at CP and half afternoon at KI.

After rethinking this, I'd probably recommend leaving Cedar Point after closing on Friday and staying in the Columbus area, then driving to Kings Island on Saturday morning and getting there by opening. It is worth giving up a few hours at Cedar Point for a full day at Kings Island, especially if you will be visiting on a Saturday. Like I said before, if you can only purchase one skip the line pass on your trip, this is probably the park to do it at.

Is it better (cheaper) to buy the park passes on internet or at the front gate?

Given how late you are going, I would buy it online just in case sales stop at the park before you arrive. If nothing else, it will save you time when you get to the park. Make sure you buy the pass from the website of the first park in the chain you visit (probably Six Flags New England and Cedar Point). If you don't, you may have difficulty getting it processed.

Once you arrived to the park, do we have to do something to have your seasson pass? I've read that there is a photo id needed or something like that. Do we have to take them with us or they take us the photo there? Have yo any idea of this?

You will take the printed ticket to season pass processing, where you will be issued the plastic card that is your season pass. At Cedar Fair parks, they will take a picture and link it to your pass. For Six Flags, a fingerprint is used instead. You may need a photo ID at your first park to verify your identity (you must provide your name and other information when purchasing the pass), but you shouldn't need it after that. Cedar Fair is stricter about checking ID than Six Flags, but definitely bring it when processing both passes to avoid any potential delays.

We have seen some hotels online, but we are not sure if booking them. We've read and heard that there are lots of motels/hotels by the route, so that wouldn't be a problem. But are they affordable for low budget travelers? Or is it better to book online to find better prices?

This is mainly up to personal preference. If you're okay with budget motels (Motel 6, Best Western, Super 8, etc.), don't know exactly how much distance you'll cover each day, and are willing to risk the chance of a motel being full, there is no need to book in advance. As long as you keep to US interstates you'll generally find accommodations every 50-75 km. If you want to stay in nicer hotels or plan to stop in big cities it is easier to book ahead online. If booking online, see if you can find a site that offers discounts with multiple bookings (I use hotels.com, which gives a free night for every 10 booked). The only time I would absolutely recommend booking in advance is if you'll be staying near a tourist attraction on a weekend (Friday or Saturday night), as you may have difficulty getting a room then.

Edited: July 18, 2015, 6:57 AM

Woow!!!Thank you very much!!!
Thanks for your time and for your advices. Really good!! I don´t know if we have other questions but with the advices that you just gave us we are more than excellent :). The only thing that we have now is to wait and enjoy as much as possible :)
Thank you very much again!

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