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Brits on Tour May/June 2014


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Hi Folks!

 

The girlfriend and I are looking at crossing the pond from the UK and touring some parks around the North East US in May/June 2014. Both of us have visited several parks in the region previously (though this was back in 2005) and are keen to return. I've put together the following potential itinerary and was hoping for some feedback.

 

Tue 27: Fly to Philadelphia

Wed 28: Six Flags Great Adventure

Thu 29: Either Dorney Park & Hersheypark or Six Flags Great Adventure & Hersheypark

Fri 30: Hersheypark

Sat 31: Washington DC

Sun 01: Kings Dominion

Mon 02: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Tue 03: Busch Gardens & Drive to Carowinds

Wed 04: Carowinds

Thu 05: Dollywood

Fri 06: Dollywood

Sat 07: Drive to Holiday World

Sun 08: Holiday World

Mon 09: Holiday World, Drive to Kings Island

Tue 10: Kings Island

Wed 11: Cedar Point

Thu 12: Cedar Point

Fri 13: Drive to Cleveland, Fly Home

 

Now, I know there are a few parks missing here. We're sort of tempted to fit Knoebels in, especially considering Flying Turns might actually be running by then! We're also trying to avoid visiting parks on the weekend. Is two days at Dollywood necessary? Likewise Holiday World. I should point out we are quite keen on the odd visit to a waterpark.

 

For reference of the parks listed here we have previously visited: Cedar Point, Kennywood, Knoebels, Dorney Park and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

 

Anyway, it'd be great if anyone can share any opinions that might improve our experience. I'd also like to state that this site and forum has been an excellent resource for planning this trip.

 

Apologies for the Herculean first post!

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Don't be too afraid to visit parks on the weekend at that time of year - I did a similar trip earlier this year, and also thought I should avoid Saturdays/Sundays due to crowds. But to be honest they were some of the least crowded days, because on weekdays the parks are busy with buses full of noisy schoolkids. And there's always the Fast Lane/Flash Pass/Quick Queue option if you need it!

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Yeah, though I haven't exactly budgeted for any form of Fast Pass and they certainly do seem to get pricey! I guess my main concern is more one of should we be trying to squeeze more parks in? Skipping Six Flags America is fair enough, but do we really need to go back to Kennywood, Knoebels and Dorney? Also I guess I'm not sure if we'll just be far too tired from travelling park to park every day to do yet more parks.

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I would skip Dorney in favor of Kennywood and Knoebels. If you hit Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg on weekdays, you probably won't need Fast Lane or Quick Queue.

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Thinking about adding a day at Knoebels by arriving into Philadelphia a day earlier, though this would mean flying in on Memorial Day. Any Issues with travelling in on Memorial Day at all? I think I've flown into Philly on the 4th of July before and I don't recall it being too bad.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been to most, but not all of these parks (missing the Pennsylvania parks and Kings Island). If I were planning this trip, I would probably use a schedule similar to this:

 

Tue 27: Fly to Philadelphia, possibly visit Dorney Park

Wed 28: Six Flags Great Adventure

Thu 29: Knoebels, Hersheypark if time permits

Fri 30: Hersheypark

Sat 31: Washington DC

Sun 01: Kings Dominion

Mon 02: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Tue 03: Drive to Carowinds, Evening at Carowinds if time permits

Wed 04: Carowinds, leave mid-afternoon to drive to Dollywood

Thu 05: Dollywood

Fri 06: Dollywood's Splash Country

Sat 07: Drive to Santa Claus, stop at Beech Bend en route if time permits

Sun 08: Holiday World

Mon 09: Morning at Holiday World if needed, drive to Kings Island, evening at Kings Island

Tue 10: Kings Island, leave late afternoon to drive to Cedar Point

Wed 11: Cedar Point

Thu 12: Cedar Point

Fri 13: Drive to Cleveland, Fly Home

 

As far as skip the line systems go, you probably will need Flash Pass at Six Flags Great Adventure and you may need Fast Lane at Kings Dominion. For the other parks, you'll likely have enough time and crowds will be low enough that a skip the line pass won't be necessary. One day is definitely enough at Dollywood (if in doubt, you can buy a Q2Q...Dollywood's is the cheapest in the industry), and it should probably be enough at Holiday World (although I don't know what their weekend crowds are like, hence allowance for some extra time).

 

For extra parks, I haven't been to any of the three you listed, but Knoebels seems like the best option for adding one. Kennywood would be a little tricky to do unless the trip is extended or time is cut elsewhere, as it is at least three hours from every other park on the trip. While Dorney Park has added attractions since 2005, they all appear to be somewhat standard models and therefore the park doesn't seem worth a return visit given the other parks on the trip. However, if you have a pass and you feel up to it you could do a short visit on your arrival day. I added Beech Bend to the list as it wouldn't require much additional driving time and the park is small, so it could easily be done on a driving day. I also added Dollywood's Splash Country since you said you like waterparks and it is convenient, but that can be skipped and that day used elsewhere on the trip if desired (you can still do a waterpark as included waterparks are available at Hersheypark, Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Holiday World (definitely recommend visiting this one), and Kings Island, but I don't know their operational schedules at this time of year).

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Fit Knoebels in. Do it.

 

If you keep your original schedule, replace Dorney/Great Adventure/Hersheypark (Thu May 29) with Knoebels. Stay the night of May 28 in New Jersey (or drive a bit). Then drive to Knoebels on May 29, and stay the night in Elysburg. Finally, drive to Hersheypark on May 30.

 

If you really want to go to Dorney Park, then I would do as you suggested to yourself and fly in a day early.

 

Kennywood is a little bit out of your way in this case. If you want to go to Kennywood, I would actually suggest staying a day later, going to Kennywood after your days at Cedar Point, and then flying out of Pittsburgh.

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One thing I might possibly suggest would be setting up camp in Louisville and visiting King's Island, Holiday World, and Beech Bend well there. It is a good central point as all 3 parks are in different directions.

 

As for Holiday World... you have to really commit to make it work. There are no hotels close to Holiday World so it would involve driving (most likely away from King's Island) for a few hours, then getting back in your car and driving back the other way. If you did Louisville (and Kentucky Kingdom will be open then too,) you could do something like

 

Day 1- Drive from wherever, check in, Kentucky Kingdom

Day 2- Beech Bend, possibly KK again

Day 3- Holiday World

Day 4- Check out and drive to King's Island. KI

 

King's Island and Beech Bend are about 90 minutes from Louisville. Holiday World is 70 and Kentucky Kingdom could quite possibly be across the street if you decided to stay at one of the airport hotels.

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Thanks for the feedback folks! We're definitely going to fly in a day earlier (Monday 26th) which should allow the extra day for Knoebels. We're not massively bothered by missing out on Dorney and visiting the day we land doesn't seem feasible due to the timing of flights and having to clear immigration - not to mention its Memorial Day and parks may be busy?

 

I think missing Kennywood wouldn't be the most enormous loss, especially considering what I've been reading about ride closures this season. As for Great Adventure, is it worth doing an extra day? I read a similar trip report from andybarnes84 and he seemed to feel the need to come back for a second visit. I'd imagine the purchase of a flash pass would lessen the need for this somewhat.

 

Waterpark wise, other than Splasin' Safari, would you say any of the others that we would be passing by are worth a visit? Is Dollywood's Splash Country worth a whole day?

 

I'm also feeling that a basecamp in Louisville sounds like a decent idea. Much less hassle with jumping between hotels then too. Time to start tweaking the itinerary!

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If you would like to see Dorney Park, I recently fit it into an east coast trip last week and saw the entire park in 2 hours. On weekends this year they had the park open until Midnight. I arrived at 9pm and utilized the Twilight special and easily rode every ride by 10. I didn't stay longer than 11pm because i had ridden everything. IMO the park wasn't anything amazing. The inversion right out of the station on Hydra was unique, but thats about it. Talon was surprisingly a very good and forceful invert, but all together the park as a whole wasn't anything special. If you wish to see it, that might be your best option.

 

I also was able to visit Great Adventure on Monday and Tuesday of last week. This was the first time i had experienced the park so i planned to stay for 2 days. The first day i was able to ride everything but Nitro. I rode Kingda Ka as my first ride and the ride ops were amazing, the line hadn't filled up yet so they asked if the entire train wanted to go again, so they sent us on through. I proceeded to ride Bizarro 3 times with no problem before the park seemed to fill up. Nitro had a 2 hour wait by 11:30 though. I left the park to take a nap because i unfortunately had no sleep the night before, but when i returned i was able to ride Green Lantern, Skull Mountain, and Superman in about 2 hours. Finally the last ride of the night was El Toro, my new favorite roller coaster of all time. Maybe it was cause the ride ops wanted to go home for the day or they were really good, but they were pushing trains out left and right. The line said an hour wait but it took 30 minutes for me to get on. I was able to get a second ride in with only a 20 minute wait. I called it a night but did show up the following morning. I planned to spend a solid several hours there but honestly i just wanted to ride El Toro over and over agin. So i made it my first ride and rode it 5 times without getting off. It was amazing. I then was able to walk onto nitro and feeling satisfied i left the park to head to D.C. To sum this up, if you are at the park when its open, you should be able to get a lot of rides in and may only need a day and 1/2 at the park, then you can use the remaining time of the second day to drive somewhere or go to another park, i was able to drive to D.C and ride all the rides at Six Flags America in 2 hours. The park wast a ghost town though due to a light drizzle and having the water park closed. Batwing had nobody in line, i mean nobody. Longest wait was 10 minutes for superman because they were running one train.

 

Hope this helps. I also visited Six flags over Georgia and Carowinds if you have any questions about those parks.

Edited by Hriscay
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Perhaps If we hadn't visited Dorney before I'd be more tempted to find some time for it. We rode Hydra during our 05 trip, and as rcdude pointed out they haven't added anything unmissable since then. Far more tempting to visit Knoebels than Dorney. That said we will have Cedar Fair Platinum Passes in which case a visit to Dorney isn't much of an extra cost!

 

Won't be going as far south as Georgia but we'll definitely be seeing Carowinds.

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks for everyone who helped me out with planning this trip; nailed down the itinerary a while ago and everything is booked. We'll be arriving in Philadelphia on Memorial Day, hopefully Zumanjaro will be open by then. If anyone is interested in the finalized route then do some clicking > http://goo.gl/KZ5VbX

 

 

47 days to go! I'll do my best to provide you guys with a decent Photo TR!

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Excluding flights but including food, accommodation, park tickets, car rental, fuel and extra activities we're looking at about £3800. I'm positive this can be done much cheaper, but we've stretched the budget to include a better rental car, nicer accommodation where possible and probably over-estimated the food budget.

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Thanks for your answer. It might be dumb to ask this but since I yet didnt count on it im not ashamed that Ive no clue how much it does cost.

 

Is it a budget for the two of you or each?

 

Not dumb at all, that budget is for the two of us. The fact we are doing Washington DC and a Ball game also adds some expense to the trip. We're also getting stung with a one way fee for car rental drop off which adds about $150 (£90). That and the fact the exchange rate isn't what it used to be - gone are the days of $2 to £1!

 

It's worth pointing out that your budget may be totally different to ours based on where you want to stay, how far you are travelling, how many parks you are visiting and the time of year. You may find it useful to work on a basic trip plan and then take some time to use the various price comparison websites for things like hotels and car rental. This should give you a nice idea of how much things are going to cost, then you can see if it's too expensive and try and work the cost down.

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This sounds like a great trip!

 

I just have 2 tips to save you some time. When you get your rental car, ask them if they have EZ Pass available. If so... get it. It's usually an upsell at the rental car place when you go to get the car. You probably don't need to do anything ahead of time.

 

Most rental car companies offer it (they usually have a dumb name like Auto Toll but it's just an EZ Pass). This will save you a ton of time on your trip since you'll be using the New Jersey turnpike, the Ohio turnpike and I-95 in the Washington DC area. In many cases you can stay to the left side of the road and travel through toll plazas at 55-65 MPH.

 

Also, when you're leaving Washington DC and heading South on I-95 they have reversible lanes in the middle of the highway. If you see a sign that says "Restricted Lanes Open to All Traffic" get in those lanes... it can save you an hour or more on some days.

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Thanks coasterbill - this is one area of the trip I haven't really done an enormous amount of research into; I haven't actually driven in the US before either. I had thought about picking up EZ Pass but wasn't really sure if the rental companies overcharge for that sort of thing, I'll have to do some digging. Hopefully I've built enough driving time in as to not compromise things in any way.

 

I really do hope it turns out to be a great trip. I think we're taking the last week or so at a much slower pace, preemptively thinking of the exhaustion. Part of me wishes we could go to more parks, but there's only so much time and money available - all the more reason to come back and experience another part of the country I guess.

 

*Edit*

 

Realised I hadn't posted the itinerary we settled on.

 

May 26: Fly to Philadelphia

Tue 27: Six Flags Great Adventure

Wed 28: Six Flags Great Adventure (Morning) / Dorney Park (Evening)

Thu 29: Knoebels (Morning) / Hersheypark (Evening)

Fri 30: Hersheypark

Sat 31: Washington DC (Rangers @ Nationals!)

Sun 01: Washington DC

Mon 02: Kings Dominion

Tue 03: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Wed 03: Busch Gardens Williamsburg / Water Country

Thu 05: Carowinds (Evening)

Fri 06: Carowinds

Sat 07: Dollywood (Evening)

Sun 08: Dollywood / Gatlinburg / Smoky Mountains

Mon 09: Dollywood / Gatlinburg / Smoky Mountains

Tue 10: Kings Island (Evening)

Wed 11: Kings Island (Morning) / Cedar Point (Evening)

Thu 12: Cedar Point

Fri 13: Cedar Point

Sat 14: Fly Home

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I love everything about the itinerary... the only thing is that you can probably do Hershey in a day if you had to, so if you're at Knoebels and all of a sudden decide that you love it and don't want to leave... just stay there. I know it's easy to think Knoebels can be a half day park and while it can, once you get there you'll get an overwhelming urge to ride every flat ride and eat everything in the park because it's the best place ever.

 

I suggest getting the wristband with the wood coasters and just going nuts. Ride all of the flats, especially the unique ones like the Looper, Skyride, Paratrooper, Satellite, Carousel (get an outside horse and grab the rings) and of course the world's best bumper cars. Then ride the rest of them and marvel at how great they all are since they all run long cycles and great programs.

 

I also suggest checking out the free Knoebels museum back by Black Diamond. Oh, and don't miss the Haunted Mansion and the insane drop tower.

 

PS: As far as EZPass goes I think you need to register the car with it so you may not be able to get it except through the rental company. Most of them don't overcharge too much, it's worth the investment unless they charge a daily fee including days you don't use it. If they only charge a fee on the days you use it (I think Avis and Budget do it this way) then get it.

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Yet more great advice!

 

We've visited Knoebels back in 2005, but that may not stop us getting overwhelmed with awesomeness and spending more time than we intended. I think we also have about $20 of tickets lying around somewhere from our last trip which I hope they'll honour as I can foresee many a Phoenix re-ride. The main reason for visiting Hershey the same day was the buy your ticket in the evening, use it the next day dealio - we'll have to see how it pans out.

 

I took a look at the EZPass situation, seems it'll be about $15 plus whatever tolls we end up using (booked with Alamo fyi). I think you are correct in that it'll work out to be far less hassle, and it's one less thing to have to think about when trying to drive on the opposite side of the road than I'm used to!

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