Is it time to start planning another big cross-country summer roller coaster roadtrip?
For a theme park fan, I suppose the answer to this question is always an emphatic "yes!" But practical matters often seem to get in the way of actually hitting the road for that big month-long trip to ride 30 coasters in half-a-dozen parks that we dream. I've been fortunate enough to have taken my family on several cross-country trips before the kids started college, but many, many coasters remain on my "never ridden" list. Too many.
That point became uncomfortably clear to me when I looked at our Top 10 roller coaster list that we publish along with other Top 10 reader rating lists for our Insiders. I've been on three of our listed coasters.
Three. And I'm supposed to be running this site. What an awful example I'm setting here!
So, clearly, it's going to be time to hit the road next summer. Where should I go? Based upon your collective ratings, my top two destinations ought to be Carowinds and Six Flags Great Adventure, as those are the two parks that have multiple highly-rated coasters I've not yet ridden. But, on an ideal itinerary, I should include stops at Canada's Wonderland, Kings Dominion, Dollywood, and Silver Dollar City, too. (I've visited Carowinds and Dollywood before, but the other four parks would be first visits for me.)
Now if you know anything about me, you might recognize the, uh, slight logistical problem with me roadtripping to these parks. I live in Southern California. Toronto, New Jersey, and North Carolina all are a bit of a haul from LA. But why let that be an excuse? We've driven to Vancouver, Maine, and Orlando on roadtrips before (okay, not all on the same trip), so we're not afraid of putting miles on the car. And with WiFi, or at least a strong cellular data connection, I can work from pretty much anywhere.
So let's plan on doing this. And by "us," I mean you, too! How many great roller coasters that you've been meaning to ride "some day" are still waiting for you? How many could you get to in a reasonable vacation this summer? Two? Five? Ten? More?
If you're going to pull off that summer coaster roadtrip of your dreams, the time to start planning it is now. And the way to start planning it is to think BIG. List all the coasters and parks that you've been wanting to visit at some point, with no thought of how practical it would be for you to get to them next summer. Planning is a process of editing as much as anything else. Start with the big list, then allow the practicalities of travel in your particular circumstances narrow your list to something manageable.
But start with the big list. Even if nothing comes from your effort, you will enjoy the time that you're going to daydream about riding coasters while you draft that big list. Then you can enjoy the time you spend putting this travel puzzle together, trying to envision all the various combinations of visits that would allow you to get to the maximum number of rides and parks in the time you have available next year.
So that you don't skip on the important work of dreaming big, I'm going to ask you to do some homework for me. Post your dream coaster/park vacation line-up here in the comments. Share with the rest of us what you'd love to do on a summer coaster vacation next year. Then read what others are posting, and if you've got any tips or advice (based on your experience) that could help them make that trip happen, share that as well.
It's time to start planning or 2017, theme park fans. So let's plan big.
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