10 Ways To Have A Fun Day At An Amusement Park
Amusement parks have become one of the biggest vacation destinations in recent years. As each park continues to add more exciting rides, attractions and shows each year to enjoy, more visitors seem to come. With more customers to supply funds, comes the ability to improving the parks. At first glance, it seems like a win-win for everyone. However with more people attending during even the slow hours, longer lines are becoming more normal. To ones visiting for the first time, they may wonder if they can enjoy the most of their day.
If you plan on making that trip with either friends or family to a new or favorite amusement park, there are some easy tips to keep in mind. It doesn’t take much to plan accordingly and you’ll be surprised how much more you can get out of your visit. Each park varies from how many activities you can be involved in per visit, but still your time is very important. Who wants to miss out on most of the rides they want to go on due to waiting in line all day?
Recently, I was able to plan out a visit for my wife and myself to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Although it was crowded due to a weekend visit, we had a great time and got the most out of the day. If proper planning was not in place, we may have missed out on what we could do with the time to ride coasters and other interests at the park.
Here are some easy tips to keep in mind not only for cutting down on wait times, but also to not have your experience ruined.
1. Buy Your Tickets Online or at a Local Grocery Store
The biggest mistake most will make is to wait to get their tickets at the front gate. This will not only cost the most money, but it will also make you lose valuable time waiting in an already long line to buy your tickets. Not to mention you’re not even in the park yet! Instead, look at the park’s website or a local Meijer, Kroger, Drug Mart etc. Sometimes you can save up to $15 just buying online.
Another good tip is “like” the amusement park on Facebook or Twitter. On certain days, a post will appear giving specials on tickets for one day only. This can prove valuable not only in saving money but time getting inside.
I was able to save $20 per ticket due to a discount posted on their site for only that day. You never know if it goes on before your planned trip, but it’s worth a shot and much better than buying from the front gate.
2. Go on a Wednesday or Sunday
If you can plan out an exact day to go, the best option is Wednesday, followed by Sunday. Friday and Saturday are of course the busiest days along with Monday during certain times of the year. Common logic shows people work or go to school on Wednesday and rarely take that day off. Monday is usually thought to be slow, so many will go to try to miss the crowds. If you can manage it, Wednesday will prove to be a great day to avoid the long lines.
Sunday is a great option as well. When we visited Cedar Point, we picked Sunday since we were staying up in Sandusky for the week. The best part is getting your rides in during the evening since most will leave early due to work or school the next day. Sunday isn’t always the easiest to plan for, but it can pay off if you can attend that day.
3. Go In April-Early May or Late August-September
The months of April, May, August and September are your best options to get away for some coaster riding. Given that kids are more than likely in school, your chances increase to miss school buses dropping off kids. If you can make either of these months fit into your schedule, you’ll be rewarded with a less busy and crowded day at the park.
4. Arrive Before the Park Opens
This is where proper planning really pays off. It may take a few extra minutes to research and see when an amusement park opens, not to mention getting everyone ready to go earlier, but it is well worth it. It’s important to see when you’re able to actually enter the park since some of the entry times are for season pass holders or other special requirements. By arriving 15-20 minutes before the actual open time, however, you’re increasing your ride time by up to 3-4 rides compared to coming later.
By giving yourself extra time before the rides are open to the public, it allows your group to use the restroom, get tickets or other items well before you’re ready to go. You’ll also be surprised how less crowded the walk to each ride can be.
5. Start From the Back of the Park
Most people will rush first thing to the closest coaster in the park. On occasion, the newest ride is stationed by the entrance, much like Gatekeeper is at Cedar Point. However this is not the best strategy if you want to avoid the longest waiting lines possible. Sure, the rides in the front may be busy later in the day too, but your time is well spent walking to the back of the park and riding as you make your way back to the front.
My wife and I started off at Millennium Force, then worked our way to Maverick, Gemini, Magnum, and Corkscrew before reaching the front. The most we waited was for Millennium Force for about 45 minutes due to a 20 minute mechanical delay. The rest were a half hour wait or less. We even noticed that the crowds were progressing toward the back as the day went on. Therefore, we capitalized on the crowds being in the front while we rode most of the rides located toward the rear of the park.
6. Bring a Game or Be Ready to Talk In Line
A big complaint for some when visiting amusement parks is how the wait can be boring and long. Unless you want to shell out twice the amount you paid for a ticket to bypass lines with a “Fast Pass” (Cedar Point and most other amusement parks offer this feature or something similar), you’re stuck waiting for a ride. Despite the setback, you can still make good use of the time waiting. This is especially true if you visit with a medium to large group. A lot of fun memories I have were even waiting in line with my friends talking about things we failed to discuss on the car ride over.
A good tip to remember if you don’t like only talking to your friends is to bring a game. “Catch Phrase” is a great choice if you have an even group. It passes the time nicely and makes the wait less tedious. Other games might be euchre or other card games by holding out your cards instead of laying them on a table. It sounds tricky but you will get the hang of it in no time. Just remember that some rides do not have a cabinet to store items so this could pose a problem for bigger items. Otherwise it’s good to have something you can fit in your pocket while riding. Which leads into the next tip.
7. Pack Lightly and Wear Cargo Type Shorts/Pants
Recently, some parks have taken away compartments to store items such as purses, hats or backpacks on some or all the rides. The thought is more people will pay to use a locker to store their items while they ride throughout the day. Although it is a hassle, there is an easy solution to the problem. By wearing some sort of pants that have extra pockets (For example cargo pants), you can carry the necessities such as your keys, phone, and wallet no problem. If you need more items with you that are too big for pockets, your best solution then is to bring a friend who doesn’t ride as much to hold your effects, or break down and get the locker. Either way, the more you can simplify the things you bring, the better off you’ll be in saving money and time.
8. Store Your Items in a Ziploc Bag If You Plan On Riding Water Rides
When it comes to your phone or leather wallet, the last thing you want is for it to be ruined due to getting wet. Sometimes a person in your group may want to cool off on that water drenching ride even when you weren’t planning on getting soaked. A good prevention for this, is to have your stuff stored in a Ziploc bag. Not only does it keep your stuff nice and dry, but it also helps you keep your things together. A lot of times I have that paranoid thought that my stuff is gone after the ride. By keeping it in a bag, it fits more securely in your pocket, and you almost always know it’s there.
9. Bring an Empty Water Bottle
One of the biggest money savers you can do is bring a water bottle. By bringing a water bottle you’re helping yourself with not blowing $20 on that unlimited soda cup (that much soda is bad for you anyway). But there’s a little detail that parks don’t like to advertise: As long as the bottle has not been opened or is empty, its fair game to bring into the park. In addition, most parks allow at any concession stand for you to fill it up with ice cold water for free. That’s right, no charge for a full bottle of water. Water bottles themselves cost anywhere from $3-5 alone. Some water bottles have clips you can use on your belt for easy carrying as well. It’s a much better option than soda to keep you hydrated for the day, and you’ll save so much money doing it.
10. Pack Lunch with Snacks
Something as simple as packing your lunch instead of buying in the park can save you a ton of money. A lot of foods can cost anywhere from $8-15 just for a main entrée. By bringing a cooler you can store in your car, you can take a break when everyone needs a rest from all the rides and grab lunch. Little snacks you keep in your pocket (again another good reason to wear cargo pants) can keep you well-nourished throughout the day too. Of course if you want that funnel cake, ice cream or Starbucks don’t hold back. But you’ll feel much better knowing you saved a ton of money and didn’t lose much time bringing a lunch.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll increase the likelihood of having a blast during your visit. Who knows? You might have a great memory like my wife and I had at Cedar Point.*
*Note: Following these tips does not guarantee someone will give you a Fast Pass.