Vote of the week: Will you visit a theme park on the Fourth of July?

June 26, 2009, 10:10 AM · America's Independence Day holiday, the Fourth of July, is the biggest day of the year for the theme and amusement park industry. More people might pack top parks like Disneyland on some Christmases or New Years', but collectively, more people visit parks on the Fourth than any other day of the year, thanks to every park in the country being open on the holiday.

America float in Disney's Electrical Parade
The America float wraps up Disney's Electrical Parade

(The Fourth of July weekend is also when we announce the results of our annual Theme Park Insider Awards, honoring the best theme park, new attraction, restaurant and hotel in the industry this year.)

So... are you going to go next weekend? As a theme park fan, do you want to be part of the biggest day of the year? Or... are you the type who visits only when others don't?

And the economy this year... can you afford the trip? Or are you doing something else for the Fourth this year?

Tell us, in the comments, your plans for the Fourth. And, if you are planning to visit a park, share with us your strategy for getting the most out of a very crowded day. Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Replies (24)

June 26, 2009 at 10:16 AM · I'm taking a road trip with my niece(a graduation present) to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Cedar Point. I can't wait. I hope the crowds aren't that bad so we can go on more than one ride.
June 26, 2009 at 10:58 AM · Heading back home to Lawrence, KS. I'm going to go to WOF and ride Prowler, since James says it is so good.
June 26, 2009 at 10:59 AM · My wife and I will be going to Busch Gardens Tampa on July 4th to celebrate our nation's 233rd birthday and we'll be staying in Tampa for the weekend. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, outside of Hawaii, can be found in Pinellas County, FL down the 275 from Tampa. Coming from Jersey and having to pay to go on the beach at Seaside Heights and Wildwood every summer as well as paying Tony Soprano extortion level fees to park there... well, it's truly paradise down here.

Busch Gardens is having a concert by Starship followed by a fireworks show in Gwazi Park that evening. My plans are the same as always, be there when the gates open at 9am. Pray it isn't brutally hot then ride Montu twice, take Sky Ride over to Sheikra, ride Sheikra twice then hit Kumba. Over to Gwazi then lunch at Colony House. We go from there. Great thing about Busch Tampa is that the Quick Queue is affordable if it becomes necessary to buy a couple. $25 for regular guests, $20 for passholders. 10 no wait rides to use any way you choose. That lessens crowd concerns considerably. I can't wait to go.

June 26, 2009 at 11:08 AM · The place to be is Sea World San Diego! I think San Diego is period the IT PLACE to in San Diego! But yeah Check out sea world they have the best fireworks and the best night shows. A little insider trip take a trip on the skytower 1 or 2 minutes before the fireworks start to get the best views of the fireworks!!!
June 26, 2009 at 11:32 AM · We're going to Magic Kingdom at WDW. My 3yo daughter's friend has a birthday on July 4th, and thanks to the military program going on, we're all going 'on the cheap'. Plus, we're local, so no real other added expense. We're just going with the forward knowledge that it's going to be packed. I look forward to seeing the specatcular fireworks I've heard so much about, though.
June 26, 2009 at 11:35 AM · My Monday cast member story column will be about working the parks on the Fourth (as well as on other crazy-crowded holidays).
June 26, 2009 at 12:52 PM · I am going to see Larry the Cable Guy live in Lincoln, NE at the Husker football stadium with 80,000 of my closest friends.
June 26, 2009 at 2:07 PM · I will probably be on the National Mall at the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival in Downtown Washington DC. Why go to an amusement park, when you can attend the real party?
June 26, 2009 at 2:39 PM · I went in 2005 to was a week or 2 after graduation, and we ended up watching the huge fireworks spectacular..
id do it all over again, but we cant afford it this year.
June 26, 2009 at 2:59 PM · I work at WDW and there in NO WAY I would fight the crowds there on the fourth except if I were working, (and thank God I'm not)
June 26, 2009 at 3:28 PM · 2 words: heck no! I went to Epcot on 7/4/1995 (the holiday proper) and it was rainy and crowded, but that marked my very first viewing of Illuminations. I had great memories, but I'm not going on the fourth this year. There's too much heat, storms, out-of-towners, and Brazilian tour groups!

Speaking of crowds, especially a high capacity that makes the Magic Kingdom inaccessible to everyone due to a Phase 4 closure, my Seasonal Pass would not let me go to WDW that day, anyway.

June 26, 2009 at 5:57 PM · Disneyland is my park of choice. I will absolutely be there on the 4th. Even if I stay on a bench all day watching the throngs. Being there on this special day supercedes the fact that most of the rest of California will be there too. That's o.k. At least the 11:30 Fantasmic! won't be too crowded. Plus, Al Lutz has hinted that the dragon may be up and running by this time too.
June 26, 2009 at 7:17 PM · Randy, Prowler will be AWESOME under a night sky filled with celebratory explosions! You'll have to let me know how things go at Worlds of Fun!

For me it will be fireworks at my Mom & Dad's in Osage City, Kansas. It is usually a pretty cool deal. My Dad spends a fortune on fireworks and buys the big mortars, then puts on quite a show. My brother usually rigs up a huge collection of sparklers with one fuse then sets the whole driveway on fire. It looks like a miniature mushroom cloud! Crazy stuff...but a lot of fun, especially when you throw the grilled burgers and hot dogs (Johnsonville Stadium Style Beef Franks are THE BEST) into the mix!

June 26, 2009 at 8:23 PM · Hey William...
I'll be going to Busch Gardens Tampa too!!! (Except I'll be on the other side of the fence- I'm WORKING that day) And all of us scheduled to work that day are holding our breaths because most of my co-workers are holding 12-hour shifts.
July 4- definitely a busy day for all theme parks.
It's great that theme parks hold fireworks demos in a controlled environment b/c sometimes Florida has all these regulations about personal fireworks especially with droughts going on. Now people can enjoy a July 4 staple without worries of something burning down.
June 26, 2009 at 8:37 PM · I will most likely be going to Cedar Point. Ray, get ready to wait in long lines, because other than Saturday's during Halloweekends that is the busiest few days of the year. To avoid crowds, I'm going to use my free pass to the front of the Top Thrill Dragster that I got on opening day when they told us that we would not be able to ride that night after we were waiting for 2 hours.
June 26, 2009 at 10:41 PM · Not only no, but "Frell, no!" (with a nod to 'Farscape').

I don't think you could pay myself or my wife enough to subject ourselves to the kinds of crowding and craziness typically found at US-based theme parks on the 4th.

No, we're going to continue with a practice we started a few years ago; that of going up to Canada for the weekend, mainly to escape the noise and nuttiness.

We have, amusingly enough and in times past, been accused of being "unpatriotic" by doing so. Those doing the accusing are not thinking it through.

Consider: One of the greatest things we gained when we declared independence from the British Empire was, in a word, freedom: Freedom to do what one wishes (within reason, given society's constraints, of course) and, more importantly, freedom to TRAVEL wherever one wishes for just about any reason, without hindrance.

Is not the exercise of that freedom in and of itself "patriotic?" ;-)

Happy 4th. May those who enjoy explosions, bright colors, and (in some cases) the resultant shell-shock have a wonderful weekend.

June 26, 2009 at 10:44 PM · Nope; I can cope with crowds, but there is a limit. We've got a wilderness permit for Yosemite, so we'll be in the backcountry.
June 27, 2009 at 12:28 PM · Seems like it'd be fun with older kids. But, if I can go anytime, why go that day?
June 27, 2009 at 10:27 PM · I once visited Sea World San Diego on the fourth of July and it took two hours to get out of the parking lot. We all fell asleep in the car because it was near impossible to leave as endless amounts of car attempted to leave the park at the same time. Mission Bay isn't capable of handling large amounts of vehicles at the same time. We've been in the Anaheim resort on the fourth of July but never inside the parks. I can only imagine how the crowds are like inside the gates.
June 28, 2009 at 7:31 AM · A holiday like the fourth of July, especially in summer...that's Theme Park Hell. Or at least Theme Park Purgatory. Way too hot, way too crowded.
June 30, 2009 at 11:04 AM · Looking forward to Sea World San Antonio picnic/fireworks on Friday the 3rd! I'll leave the 4th to the crowds!
June 30, 2009 at 4:32 PM · Yes. It wasn't our first choice of time of year to go, but I have a son playing in Disney's Tribute to Baseball Tournament and it will be our first time to Orlando; great excuse to finally get there and check it out.
June 30, 2009 at 8:18 PM · I'll be with my family at Kings Island. My sister & I have never been, and while I wish I could visit at a different time with smaller crowds, I'm excited to experience a new park [granted, having CP as my home park is NOT a bad thing].
July 1, 2009 at 8:41 AM · I have a season pass for Kings Island, and live only 20 minutes away, so I might go, but probably won't. The only reason I might go is because the park is open until midnight, and I think most of the crowds will be gone by ten or so. Two hours of riding Diamondback in the dark sounds fun to me.

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