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Kings Dominion (KD) Discussion Thread

P. 767: WinterFest Media Night Report

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58 minutes ago, anonymouscactus said:

Nah you haven't lived until you wait in the i305 line that goes farther back to the dippin dots stand.

Seriously though, good luck. We went last Saturday and it was insane (and hit capacity) we left pretty early just to get the hell out of the mass of people



Thanks!  Luckily tomorrow is my full day at the park, tonight was just a little bonus after checking in to my hotel.  I don't think I've ever seen I305s line that long, even opening year.

In the two and a half hours I was there, I managed to get on:

-Intimidator 305 (23 minutes including ride time for back row)
-Blue Ridge Toll Way (3 cycle wait)
-Drop Tower (1 cycle wait)
-Dominator (20 minutes for row 2 left wing)

I also got a bowl of Mac & Cheese from Mac Bowl, and took in the Ruckus show after skipping it on my last trip here.  Not bad, if you think about it.  It was busy, but not to the point where you were always shoulder-to-shoulder with people on the midways.  Hell, they didn't hit capacity tonight (unlike last Saturday).

I took off around 11:00 to beat the crowds out of the park (I've been up since 5 AM and really didn't feel like sitting in an hour of traffic to get out of the park haha).

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Photo TR: The End of Haunt 2021

After working one of my University's football games, I made the 4 hour drive down to Doswell for my last Halloweeny amusment park trip of the year.

But first, a note about my hotel:  With the on-property Travelodge being closed for the year, and a disappointing stay at the Days Inn across VA-30 at the beginning of the month, I decided to stay a little farther away this time, and chose the Best Western Plus Thornburg in Woodland, VA.  A quick 20-minute drive down I-95 from the park, this hotel was worlds above any of the places right near Kings Dominion.  Quality rooms, breakfast buffet (that was actually operating, not "closed due to COVID" still like many other hotels), and there's actually more than a Burger King and 7-11 right near by.  Highly recommended.

Anyway, I got to the park on Saturday around 8:30, and found the lot more full than I've seen in a long time.  Making my way into the park, I found this line for Intimidator 305:


Yikes.  I'd never seen the line for this ride that far back, even during opening year.  Even the Fast Lane line was nuts:


It proved to be a 23 minute (wait-and-ride) for a back row experience.  Still awesome.  I did a lap of the park, coming back to Blue Ridge Tollway for a 3-cycle wait.  Unfortunately, not a Haunt this year, but still a bit eerie in the dark woods.  I love how this one weaves through the forest, unlike the drive-'em cars at some parks (*coughKingsIslandcough*).

I was quite hungry, so I decided to stop in Mac Bowl for some delicious custom mac & cheese (got with shredded cheddar and bread crumbs).  Though tasty, this is probably my biggest disappointment about Kings Dominion:  in years past, $12 would get you two scoops of mac, three if you weren't getting a protein.  Now, $15 gets you one scoop of mac, regardless as to if you're getting protein or not.  I get it, budget crunch blah blah blah, but seriously?

Next up I decided to take in the Ruckus show, which I had skipped on my last visit due to not recognizing any of the musical acts listed in the show description.  Which was probably the right move, as I in fact did not recognize any of the songs in the 3-song, 7-minute long set.  Definitely not my preferred genre of music.  That said, the dancing was on point, so it was decently entertaining.  Here's some photos and videos of the show:


Continuing around the park, I decided to hop on Drop Tower (one-cycle wait).  It had been a while since I went on this parks drop tower, and it was a lot more intense than I remembered.

I then made my way back up to the front of the park, and got a ride on Dominator (20 minutes wait-and-ride for row 2, left edge).  Always a solid ride, and probably my favorite floorless that I've been on.  This was the standby queue:


I also noted that the park was playing a song that sounded a whole lot like the Mystic Timbers queue music in the Dominator area; I'm not 100% sure it was the same song but if it was, nice touch.

At this point, it was 11:00, and having been up since around 4:30 AM, I decided it was time to beat the traffic out of the park and make my way back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

The next day, I got to the park at 12:45 (for a 2:00 opening) to be greeted with this sight:


Hooray for another busy day.

After parking (I was the first car in the season pass lot, at least), I made my way to the designated smoking zone and kill some time (and some more lung cells) and snapped this awesome picture of Dominator testing:


Once inside, I noticed the preparations for Winterfest have begun.  Planet Snoopy and Candy Apple Grove had many of their lights strung up, and the conversion of the fountain into the ice skating rink has begun:


One of my goals for today was to hit all of the adult flat rides.  First up on that agenda was Berserker, a walk-on for row 7.  Decent cycle with two complete rotations.

Next up was another ride on Dominator, a half-train wait for the back row, left edge.  Amusingly, this ride was triple-stacking the entire early afternoon.  It was clearly the end of the season and employee enthusiasm has dropped off from earlier in the year.  Though, I did get to snap a pic of the Tiki Twirl supports and some track in the parking lot:


Now that the rest of the park was open, next up was a ride on Woodstock Express, a one-train wait for back row.  Chatted with another enthusiast with a Kings Island shirt on, whose first visit to Kings Dominion was today, and then made my way back to Intimidator 305, for a 20 minute wait-and-ride for front row.  This is definitively the place to ride this coaster.  Made my way down the back half of the park, grabbing an Auntie Anne's pretzel, and then hit Rebel Yell (right side) for a two-train wait for the front row.  Next up was Twisted Timbers, with a one-train wait for the back row.

I then decided to try Delirium for the first time on my life.  I had a bad (read: sickening) experience on a ride that spun me sideways in the past, and have generally avoided anything that does since, but since trying out some spinning coasters earlier in the year, I figured I'd give this a shot.  Had a one-cycle wait, and wow this was a lot of fun.  The spinning is so slow that I didn't really notice it.  I really need to try some of the bigger versions of this style of ride now.

Hopped on Bad Apple, their Troika, for a walk-on ride.  These are always so much fun.  Twisted Timbers was next, a 25 minute entry-of-line-to-retrieval-of-phone-from-the-locker for front row.  I really can't decide if front or back is better here, both present such intense rides but in different ways.  Then I got on Wave Swinger for a half-cycle wait, and then made my way to Grizzly for the busiest I've ever seen this station in years:


This provided a 19 minute wait-and-ride time for the front row.  Still not as bad as it used to be in years past.

Next up I decided to take in the Blood Reign Haunt opener and the Heads Will Roll Show, honestly my biggest drive for coming back to the park again.  This show is just so incredible.  I'll spare you more pics and videos of it, since I captured it pretty well in my report from October 3rd, but yeah did not disappoint.  Okay I lied, here's a quick clip of their rendition of Roar by R.O.A.R., showing off the female lead's stellar pipes:

Now that it was dark and Haunt was in full swing, I took a stroll through the Safari Village scare zone, uprising, and then a quick ride on the Scambler (walk-on) with it's way-out-of-date lighting package.


I then took in the 8:30 performance of Heads Will Roll, capturing the entire show on video utilizing an actual camera and mini-tripod clamped to one of the stanchions holding the velvet rope.  The video came out incredible, even if the audio wasn't as good as recording on my phone (WTF?).  It's a little big to upload here, but if anyone is interested in seeing it, PM me and I'll try to find a way to get it to you.

After that, the park was nearing it's 10:00 PM closing, so I decided to try to grab another walk through of the Grim Woods maze, and did so as a walk-on. That said, they weren't really holding people or grouping them, so it ended up being one big conga line through it.  Still, lots of actors, and I was pleasantly surprised to see them actually using the oven prop at the end of the Hansel & Gretel section as a hideout for an actor.

And that was about it for my trip.  I left after that, deciding to head back to my hotel since I needed to be on the road early.  Thanks again, Kings Dominion, for the best Halloweeny park experience of the year.  Bring back the Skeleton Key rooms, and it'd be a solid 10 out of 10.


See you in a few weeks, KD, for Winterfest!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Photo TR: November 27th, 2021

On the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I hit up Kings Dominion for their Winterfest event.  Disclaimer:  I generally hate Christmas music, but do appreciate a good stage show and very much dig Christmas lights (fun fact:  I once decorated my office at work with 4,700 lights in an area like 350 square feet).

So, Google maps tells me that Kings Dominion should be a 3 hour drive from my home.  Knowing Virginia traffic can be nuts just south of DC, I left at 12:45 for a 5:00 opening, thinking I'd still be able to get there around 4:30.  How mistaken I was...the traffic was even worse than normal, and I arrived at the park at around 5:05.  Though still twilight, the main entrance was nicely decorated.



Grabbed my Fast Lane band (yes, Kings Dominion does offer FL during Winterfest and honors the all-season pass add-on), and made my way to the bandstand just in time for the end of the Tree Lighting Spectacular show.





Made my way down Artisan's Alley, where various craft-makers were selling their wares...


...and across the Old Virginia bridge, where the skull was replaced by a glowing sphere....



...ducking past the Kings Dominion Theater momentarily...


...for a quick lap on Blue Ridge Tollway (walk-on), which for the holidays is transformed into 12 Days of Christmas.  This drive-through features light-up decorations for each of the 12 days, and I actually managed to sync my timing with the song, which plays on an endless loop.  I feel bad for those employees LOL.

After that, I took in the Charlie Brown's Christmas Spectacular show, which while no different from the last time I saw it in 2019, was still a nice production featuring a ton of costume changes.  Here's a bunch of pictures:











After that, I strolled down to the entrance of Candy Apple Grove and the Twisted Timbers area...


Unfortunately these LED sequenced lights that are on the trees were not as well synchronized with the music as in 2019.



..to take in the Holly Jolly Trolly show.  Impressive enough, but yeah remember the disclaimer above?  Not really my scene musically.  Nice costumes though.


I also hung around for The Mistletones show which immediately followed, but apparently neglected to grab a picture.

I took in some more of the sights...


See, we're not just about Christmas!  Hard to tell because of the light, but left to right that's a dreidel, a menorah, and a kinara.  Note that these were the only non-Christmas decorations in the entire park.  Get with the times, KD...I want to see a Festivus pole next year!


Grabbed a bite to eat at Mac Bowl (er, "Vixens Fixins") and made my way back up to the front the park, passing through the Jack's Frost Zone (yes, this is what it's called...I think the possessive is in the wrong place too).


There he is...


They had some cool plaster snow angels in various sizes for various people:


Here's a shot of where you can rent an igloo, which I guess is a thing?  Personally I didn't see the point...the event is only 5 hours long, and if you want to see all of the shows and get on some rides you really don't have a lot of time to spare.


They had these completely-open fire pits scattered throughout the park.  How the Fire Marshall allows this, I'll never know.


The Four Drummers Drumming show.  Live drummers playing to a techno backing track.  Entertaining enough, but not enough for me to hang around.


Now this really impressed me.  The area seen in the next photo is way off the beaten path, en route to the designated smoking zone, outside the park gates, and is probably only viewed by a handful of people each night.  Still, KD decided it was worth it to put some lights here...a very nice touch.


Cool Yule Christmas was a show.  Tons of typical Christmas songs, with a couple of nice lyrically-tweaked renditions of The Chordette's 1958 Mr. Sandman (modernly known for it's role in Back to the Future), and The Flintstones theme.  Talented singers, and nice costumes with plenty of changes, but again...not really my thing. Here's some pictures and a few quick videos:







The Flintstones theme rendition:


I then took a trip into Planet Snoopy, which was decorated as per usual, with the dim but huge lights up in the trees...


...and light-up Peanuts character bushes.



The next show on the agenda was Tinker's Toy Factory.  Though clearly aimed at kids, it opened with some Trans-Siberian Orchestra music, so how could I not love it?  I had never seen this before and was impressed with another KD show with a cohesive plot.  Lots of renditions of Christmas classic songs, but some original songs too.  Despite its target demographic, it was a very cute story and I even teared up once.  Bonus?  The male lead was the awesome performer who was also the male lead in the Heads Will Roll Haunt show!  Enjoy some pictures and videos.




I just love this guy.



After that, I ducked back up in to Old Virginia to take a look at the Jingle Jazz show.  Again, not my taste in music, but talented enough performers.


I grabbed a walk-on ride on Bad Apple, and then some Auntie Anne's pretzels (which was my longest wait of the day at 20 minutes).  It was now nearing 9:00, so I staked out a good place in Candy Apple Grove to watch the Winterfest Wonderland Parade


Very well done, with a ton of floats, characters (including some from every stage show), songs, and audience participation (sing-along and candy canes being thrown at you).  Here's two clips containing the entirety of the parade show, for anyone not able to make it.  They stop twice, once in Candy Apple Grove and then again around the Eiffel Tower.



Now that I had taken in almost all of the shows the park had to offer (I completely skipped the Sounds of the Nativity and Peanuts' Guide to Christmas shows), it was time to hit some coasters!  Er...maybe not?  Twisted Timbers was totally dark, without even a greeter at the front of the queue to tell people what's going on.  So, I made my way back to the front of the park to see if I might have better luck at Dominator, and grabbed this cool clip from inside the base of the Eiffel Tower:


Captured some of the cool blue lighting in the Berserker/Dominator area...



And then was greeted with this sight:


*sigh*  Oh, Cedar Fair.  It was only 35 degrees.  So yeah, if you're planning on going to Winterfest with hopes of riding either coaster that's running, I highly recommend you do that first thing upon arrival lest the ambient temperature drop below 40 (confirmed with guest relations) and Kings Dominion does its nonsensical thing.  I could rant here about Six Flags and operating temperatures, but there's really no point.  Cedar Fair is gonna do what it does and be happy about it.  And you know what, that's okay too.  Not everyone is a coaster enthusiast, and this event is clearly not for coaster enthusiasts.  Judging by the crowd, they're doing just fine with that decision.

I did some shopping at the vendors, and bought a funny tote bag and a cute bracelet...


...made my way out of the park...


..and began my three hour drive home.

Overall impressions of Winterfest 2021?  Very well done.  Much better than the "Taste of the Season" event from last year, bringing back all of the shows (and then some) and lighting effects of pre-2020 years.  Though as I said, I'm not a fan of Christmas music, all of the shows were entertaining, and the lights were great.  I'll definitely be back at least one more time before the season's through.

Thanks for reading, everyone!


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Media Night at WinterFest
When last we left Kings Dominion, evil boogie-boogie eyes glared at guests from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and the forces of Darkness held sway. But on Friday, December 3, the tower sported brightly colored, ever-changing lights, and the air was filled with the sounds of Christmas music and the smell of gingerbread. Yes, it’s time for WinterFest, the park’s annual holiday celebration.

Kings Dominion invited Theme Park Review to experience WinterFest Media Night last Friday.  The center piece, of course, was the Eiffel Tower, which was lit up like an enormous Christmas tree. The pool in front of the tower became a skating rink named Snowflake Lake, and all of International Street offered all sorts of holiday cheer, drinks, shows, and food. In fact, the entire park, with the exception of Safari Village, was open and decked out for the holidays. There were quite a few rides running, as well, including Dominator and Twisted Timbers.

 What was new for 2021 was the WinterFest Wonderland Parade, which starts in Candy Apple Grove and swings by the front of the Eiffel Tower. The parade features all the characters wandering around the park that evening, including Scrooge and Company from Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and the big man himself, Santa Claus. It’s a nice way to finish your evening at WinterFest.

Prepare to be jolly! Or maybe merry. Possibly tickled.


Santa and his sleigh welcome all to WinterFest.


Busch Gardens isn’t the only park that has a tree with big balls.


Scrooge, Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Yet to Come wandered all over that park that night. They even chatted with guests in the restaurant where I had dinner, telling everyone who would listen that Scrooge needed to learn a thing or two about Christmas. Boy, they leaned him good, I'll tell you what!


I imagine this would be Robb’s first stop if he were here.


Jack Frost, the coolest guy in town, and two of his buddies hanging out at Starbucks. I think they all had iced coffee. What else?


You do not want to be the reindeer behind Blitzen if he’s been eating burritos.


Snoopy is here to get this party started. He's even more important than Santa.


One flick of this giant switch . . . 


. . . and WinterFest begins in a flurry of snow.


The Eiffel Tower really dominates the park during WinterFest.


I wandered through Old Virginia in search of dinner.


Hmm--this looks promising.


They serve a pretty good turkey dinner here. You can get Virginia ham, too. There are plenty of other food options, such as a donut bacon cheese burger and crepes.


What’s happening in nearby Tinseltown?


“I really can’t stay . . .”
“But baby it’s cold outside . . .”
Yeah, typical dude making Christmas time.


Coca Cola Santa--this one’s for Elissa.


I took two rides on Twisted Timbers that night. The second one was kind of chilly.


Candy Apple Grove featured music and synchronized lights.


If you miss the Nativity show . . .


. . . you can feed an honest-to-god camel instead.


My favorite decorations are in Planet Snoopy. I like the gumdrops in the trees and all the lights on the topiary Peanuts characters.


Of course, the best laid plans of mice and beagles oft go astray.


If you still need to fill some time before the parade . . .


 . . . you can always go skating on Snowflake Lake.


Or you could do some shopping.


Tumbili is all set to brighten up your Christmas tree.


Or this ornament could put your yule log in a twist.


Who’s up for some hot chocolate and a bit of ritual Christmas cannibalism?


A band of reindeer warm up the crowd for the parade. These guys were all over the park that night, too.


And here it comes. Jollity on the move!


One of Jack Frost’s buddies waves while a KD employee watches warily in the background (her eyes are on you, people).


Hey, less cavorting and more baking! Them cookies ain’t gonna make themselves!


Mrs. Claus is happy to finally get outside after decorating cookies all evening.


“OK, it’s sing-a-long time!  How about ‘Simply Having Wonderful Christmas Time’? Wait--where’s everybody going?”


The safest way to ski.


“That’s right. I am the coolest guy in town. I bestow my coolness on you by pointing.”


I failed at getting a good picture of Santa.


He’s going to leave this in my stocking for taking such a bad photo.


The crowd follows the parade out.


Thanks for the fun evening at WinterFest, Kings Dominion. Merry Christmas!

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I just discovered this TR, and it's a Ginger Snap Goody, Chuck! 🎄

Did the coaster ornaments feature all their main coasters, or just a few? Just curious.

Man, I wish I/we could go to something like this, locally. <sighs> Ah well....

Best Holiday Wishes to you and your closest, Chuck! Jolly Jolly!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Mini-TR: December 30th, 2021

Since I wasn't able to get on any coasters during my first Winterfest trip this year, and since I missed the Tree Lighting Ceremony show that time as well, I decided to hop down I95 for another quick visit.  I was at the park from before opening at 5:00 and left a little after 7:30.  A couple of notes:

-The weather was much warmer (mid-50s), so everything stayed running while I was there...everything that was running, that is.
-As far as rides go, the only adult ride I noticed as completely closed was Americana, the Ferris wheel.  Dominator also tested with two trains, but they pulled one off right before opening (in front of me, so nerd bonus there), so AFAIK it ran with one train all night.  The third train was nowhere to be seen.  Notably, the coasters were running with minimal crews (for CF, anyway):  Dominator had a greeter, two checkers, and a panel op.  Twisted Timbers had a greeter, two metal detector enforcers, two checkers, and a panel op.  I don't think I've ever seen them run the rides that short staffed.
-Food and shows were a much different story.  Every drink refill station: closed.  Mac Bowl: closed (major bummer for me).  Funnel cake place behind Drop Tower: closed.  Food trucks: Nonexistent or closed. Blitzen's Brass Band, Tinker's Toy Factory (another major bummer), Jingle Jazz, and Four Drummers Drumming:  "No Shows Today."  I was told that apparently the COVIDs have infected a lot of the stage performers staff by one of the attendants at Sounds of the Nativity.
-Rides Ridden: I did get on Dominator, before the official opening at 5:00, for the first public train of the day (front row, left wing).  I'm now convinced that this is a front-row ride; the back just has too much rattle. I also got two laps on Twisted Timbers, a three train wait for the front and a train-and-a-half wait for the back.  I guess I hit them at the right time, since they were posting 60 minute waits in the app when I left.
-I also tragically lost my Platinum Pass card from Michigan's Adventure that I got in a fluke in 2017 to the stupid pass-through lockers at Twisted Timbers.  Quickly got a new one at Guest Relations (no charge!), but now I have to memorize a new pass number LOL.
-With Mac Bowl out of commission, I instead opted for a "Donut Burger" from whatever they're calling the Jukebox Diner during Winterfest; it was quite good - the burger meat itself was dry, as usual for this place, but the whole concoction was delicious and it was absolutely slathered in frosting.
-I couldn't see Avalanche painting or the Tiki Twirl construction site, but here's a picture of the supports out in the lot as of this date:


-I was highly entertained by the fact that they reprogrammed the Singing Mushrooms to do Christmas songs.  This might not be new, but it's the first time I noticed it.
-They have repainted all of the lines in the parking lot since my Thanksgiving Weekend visit.  Lipstick on a pig, really, since the lot seriously needs repaving.
-The programming on the Eiffel Tower tree needs some work...didn't exactly sync properly during the Tree Lighting Ceremony and quite a few bulbs were stuck on one color.

I leave you with two videos; one of the tail end of the Singing Mushrooms' performance, and one of the entirety of the Tree Lighting Ceremony show.  I totally dug how they grabbed a random family out of the crowd to come up and have the kids throw the switch.




I might make it back one more time before my 2021 pass expires.  If I do, you know I'll post about it haha.

Thanks for reading!

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On 12/31/2021 at 12:01 AM, Mike240SX said:

-Rides Ridden: I did get on Dominator, before the official opening at 5:00, for the first public train of the day (front row, left wing).  I'm now convinced that this is a front-row ride; the back just has too much rattle. I also got two laps on Twisted Timbers, a three train wait for the front and a train-and-a-half wait for the back.  I guess I hit them at the right time, since they were posting 60 minute waits in the app when I left.

queue-times has been posting 60 minutes or closed on the coasters all this event, and the wait times at the entrance usually are 60 min. also, and this has been almost always wrong. More like max. 30, less off peak, rerides towards close.

I mostly ride Dominator back row, row 6 is the roughest, right side is hard on your neck. 

Yeah donut burger was good. 


LAST DAY of Winterfest is Jan 9 !!!


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Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

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8 minutes ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

My Family and I did Kings dominion one day then drove 2 hours (1 hour from BGW) to Norfolk, Virginia in which theirs a Naval Base. We went to a Bunch of museum's, walked around the "city". Its a really nice area and we enjoyed our time their.

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10 minutes ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

You'd be much better off spending the free day in Williamsburg; a ton of cool culture things there. https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/

Richmond, to my knowledge, doesn't really have much that you could occupy an entire day with.

Or go to Virginia Beach and soak in the sun; if you like Go-Karts there's a pretty cool place called Motor World there too.

Even staying in your Richmond hotel watching TV would be better than a day at SF America, if you ask me.

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19 minutes ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

NO QUESTION. . I'd go to Washington DC on your free day (it's only 1 1/2 hour drive from KD). . park in a garage off the National Mall, and hit as many of the Smithsonians as you can.

all the Smithsonian museums on the Mall are free (Air & Space out by the airport charges for parking. . but there's so much free stuff, it's worth it just to stay by the Mall. . tho you CAN do the Subway from the mall to the zoo (which is considered one of the Museums and is free as well).

Most of the Smithsonians are open on Sunday. . . one or two are not, but they aren't the "exciting ones"



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1 hour ago, bert425 said:

NO QUESTION. . I'd go to Washington DC on your free day (it's only 1 1/2 hour drive from KD)



1 hour ago, coasterbill said:

... and we laughed and laughed

Indeed man.  That drive will take you 2-3 hours on a good day.  I-95 between DC and Richmond is a complete cluster.

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1 hour ago, coasterbill said:

... and we laughed and laughed

y'all must drive slower than we did (we did drive early in the morning . maybe that helped?)

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8 minutes ago, bert425 said:

y'all must drive slower than we did (we did drive early in the morning . maybe that helped?)

My normal cruising speed on 65 mph highways is 80...is that slower?

Yeah, if you're super early in the morning, before rush hour starts, you'd probably be fine.  But once rush "hour" starts around 8 AM, it doesn't end until like 6 or 7 PM.  Every trip I've had down to KD this year, traffic was anywhere from stop-and-go to 25 mph from where 495/395/95 reconnect south of DC until maybe 30 miles north of Richmond.  All that construction to add new express lanes doesn't help, and unless you happen to be traveling in the direction that the existing express lanes are operating, it's a nightmare.

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3 hours ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

I'll second Colonial Williamsburg! If your at all interested in history, enjoy "living" history stuff, or both it is very much worth it. You can park in their parking lot by the visitor center and either walk (it's like a 5 minute walk max) or pay a fee and ride one of their buses. You have to buy a ticket to go inside the buildings, but you can walk on the streets for free since it's a public street technically. No matter what you decide I would say it's worth it to at least check out. There are also similar things at Yorktown and Jamestown nearby (not as extensive, and with varying degrees of cost) if you want to make a day out of the "Colonial Triangle" or whatever it's called now.

Virginia Beach is popular but I've never been so I'm no help there.

Shenandoah National Park (https://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm) isn't all that far away either, a little bit of a drive but you could make a day of that if you really wanted to. Will say that I don't consider it one of the better national parks out there (if you had to choose between Shenandoah and the Smokies, I would 1000% say the Smokies), but it's fun and different.

I would say skip SFA at (almost) all costs...

The stuff on the mall is great, although getting into DC is a beast (even by parking outside the city and taking the subway in it's tough). All of the Smithsonians are great and well worth a trip. I think the main Air and Space Museum on the mall is closed for remodeling, but the one by Dulles airport (The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center; https://airandspace.si.edu/udvar-hazy-center) is open and I will say is absolutely fantastic. I would even consider it to be better than the main museum on the mall, its's that good. They do charge for parking ($15 last I was there I think), but it's well worth it. Very well put together, some really cool planes, highly HIGHLY recommend!

Have you also just considered a second day at BGW? Not sure if its your first time or not, but that's such a big park you might consider a second day to be able to take it all in.

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4 hours ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is the real deal. If you've got any interest in airplanes or spacecraft -- they have the Discovery! -- it's a place you have to get to some day. But, it's way up in the DC area, so...

More realistically, in the Richmond area...
1) It's the capital of Virginia, so you can tour the State Capitol building and see a bunch of statues and stuff if that's your thing.
2) The area along the James River near downtown is actually fairly pretty, and on a Sunday it should be lively with people out and about. The Pipeline Walkway is a very rare "this exists in America?" kind of thing. Belle Isle is nice, and if the river's low enough you can scramble across the rocks. Some nice views from the Potterfield bridge too.
3) Otherwise, as others have mentioned, history is the main tourist attraction in the area. More Civil War sites than I can count -- museums and preserved battlefields all over the place in SE Virginia. In addition to Colonial Williamsburg, there's the Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne to the south of the city. Those are separate places -- Jamestown Settlement is more of a living museum type of place, and Historic Jamestowne is more of an actual historic site with archaeological goings-on.

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13 hours ago, Alex Sutcliff said:

Hello all. I'm visiting KD for the first time on Sat 11th June. We are going to hit BGW on the Monday which gives us Sunday in Richmond to do whatever. I wonder if anyone has suggestions on things to do for this day in the area? If there was a mountain coaster or an undiscovered Niagara falls for example, we would be interested.

If you're thinking about going to DC, park at the closest metro station and get a day pass. Otherwise, you'll be driving all over the place around Richmond from one thing to the next. The Richmond Zoo does have a pretty large Zipline course, but is also 45 minutes south from KD.

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Great Falls of the Potomac is cool if you head north. Colonial Williamsburg is pretty awesome. Richmond is a fun town and a great beer city if you are so inclined. The James River through downtown has some good rapids if the water is up. Legend Brewing has good food, drinkable beer, and the best patio in Richmond, with a view of the downtown skyline form across the river. Ashland is a quaint little town between KD and Richmond with a couple of breweries and a nice downtown inn. 


I actually like Six Flags America. I have traveled from KD or BGW to SFA three times. One time (I-95)  was really stressful. The other two I took highway 301. But I also took highway 9 to 13 to get back to North Carolina from SFGAdv once because I detest I-95 so much. I have now driven in almost every major city in the US at rush hour and IMO, DC is the worst.

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