How do people deal with seasonal parks?

May 1, 2008, 11:17 PM · I'm on the road this week, attending a journalism conference at Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. Anyway, I'm staying at a nearby hotel, one exit up the 101 from Great America Parkway.

"Great," I thought, when I saw the sked. "I'll just sneak away one weekday afternoon and get some pictures and a quick trip report for TPI!"

Except... that California's Great America is closed weekdays this time of year. Ugh.

I'll admit it: As a Southern California native and resident, and a former Orlando resident, I'm spoiled. How on Earth do you folks who live in the land of "seasonal" parks cope? ;-)

Replies (14)

May 2, 2008 at 6:55 AM · Seasonal schedules just force you to plan ahead, you don't have the luxury of just popping in any day. Many people think that the parks are closed because of demand but often it's because all of their employees are in school at the time. Most regional parks employ teenages and college students who obviously can't work during the week while school is in session.

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.

May 2, 2008 at 6:38 AM · We cope in the winter by reading TPI! LOL :)

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. :)

May 2, 2008 at 6:45 AM · It really doesn't bother me too much. In fact, I believe that having things readily available causes me to take them for granted. I like the suspense and excitement of having to wait for something. I think that the four months out of the year that BGE is closed only makes me more excited for the season opening. If it were open all year, somehow it would lose that excitement for me.

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!)

May 2, 2008 at 7:29 AM · My local park, Worlds of Fun, has about six decent rides, so if its operating schedule was any longer, I would be even more bored with it! ;)

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!

May 2, 2008 at 8:40 AM · As a So-Cal Resident, at first I was thinking that there was no way I could relate to having seasonal parks.

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.

May 2, 2008 at 9:25 AM · I'm halfway between two seasonal parks, Worlds of Fun and Six Flags St. Louis. Neither offers the immersive environments you seem to have in the 365-day parks - so the seasonality doesn't really bother me. (Although it can be a long time between the Halloween closing the April weekend openings!)

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.

May 2, 2008 at 9:36 AM · Well, I will say this last winter was long and hard for me. I visited Florida the last weekend Worlds of Fun and SFSTL were open for the year. So my last visit to my local park actually occured a few weeks before. Flying to SoCal is really expensive where I live since is costs about $500+ just for airfare for my wife and I. I have done airfare, lodging and car rental for that amount on small trips to Florida.

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.

May 2, 2008 at 10:25 AM · I deal with the my seasonal park, by being on TPI. I LOVE to read and here about other parks. I also take the time to plan my visits to other parks while on here. And, yes that includes maybe heading south for the weekend to visit other parks.

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?

May 2, 2008 at 1:57 PM · I think the weather is the main reason parks close up here in the North. As much as I love riding Millenium, I can't imagine how I would feel riding it in a blizzard!!!

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! :-)

May 2, 2008 at 6:00 PM · It's no fun living in seasonal land. I am fortunate to live in Ohio, home of two great parks. The Maxx Pass awaits soon.

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.

May 2, 2008 at 6:37 PM · This is the bad thing about living in the in the great lakes region of the country. You basically have a coater season of end of April to end of Oct.(thank god for Fright fest!!) Of course even when the season starts like it did last weekend it was cold and windy on opening day.
You just make the best of it by hitting your favorite local parks as often as you can especially at the end of the year to get your theme park fix in. Then sadly read report/vidoe from the year-round parks on the net. I try to stem the pain of this by every other year going to FLA and hitting the parks there, so those years the pain isnt as bad.
Maybe when I retire I will move to FLA for the weather and the ability to hit parks year-round.
May 2, 2008 at 8:05 PM · Some place warm is in my future...hopefully sooner than later, although I prefer many of those seasonal parks over the ones down south.
May 2, 2008 at 8:54 PM · One of the biggest advantages of being into animals is that zoos and oceanariums are, typically, open year-round, if on varying schedules.

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... ;-)

May 3, 2008 at 6:32 PM · When I was a kid growing up in Western New York, it was always exciting when the local park would open (by "local", I mean the now defunct Crystal Beach in Ontario, Canada). Each visit was special and we'd do as much as we could because we knew we had a short time to enjoy ourselves before the cold weather returned and the park would close for another year. During the off season, we'd just focus on school, friends or whatever - but once Memorial Day came around, we new summer was right around the corner and we'd start making plans to go to Canada.

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