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Midwest park trip planning

8 days, 6 parks...good or bad idea in 2021?

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It's 2021, things are slowly getting back to normal...sort of...and I have vacation time and money saved up, after a year and a half with no parks at all.  Seems like a good chance to get to some that have been on my list for years!  I've yet to get to any of the parks west of King's Island, apart from Texas, so a midwest road trip sounds great.  It's also looking expensive and like there's going to be a looooot of driving, but that's just how it is, I suppose.

Current tentative plans are to take the week from July 31 to August 7th.

7/31 - Burn some saved up airmiles flying into Kansas City.  Pick up a painfully overpriced rental car, because it's 2021, get a good night's rest at Best Western near the airport.

8/1 - Worlds of Fun.  Not the most important park of the trip, but hey, I'm right there.  Stay at Westbridge Inn halfway to

8/2 - Silver Dollar City.  One of the parks I've wanted to get to for years now, one of the ones I'm most excited about.    Sleep at America's Best Value Inn halfway to

8/3 - Six Flags St Louis.  Got that Six Flags membership, may as well use it, and lots of great looking if not often discussed coasters here.  Dragging a local friend to this one too.  Stay at Best Western on the way to

8/4 - Holiday World.  The number one on my list and the reason I wanted to put this trip together in the first place!  I was just starting to think about doing this when Robb's video of the Raven showed up in my inbox and convinced me to really look into it...  Might be able to get someone I know in this area to come along too.  Stay at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Bloomington, on the way to

8/5 - Indiana Beach.  Really need to get here and show the new ownership some support!  Stop over at a Best Western outside of Chicago, before

8/6 - Six Flags Great America, after picking up a friend in Chicago.  This one's a must do even without it being essentially free with the membership.  Stay at Country Inn and Suites by the park

8/7 - Fly home from O'Hare.

map - https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1HDZihc4XTqGWtiKcuBNw5XYgKWMV18E7&usp=sharing

 

It's looking like a fairly intense trip.  Most of the parks are 3-3 1/2 hours apart, so I'd be driving 2 hours in the morning and an hour or more afterwards each time.  Most of it will be a solo trip; I've love to bring others with me to make it more fun and help spread out the costs, but I don't really know anyone that's up for a week of full days of parks and coasters, though a few parks I'd likely be grabbing a local friend for.  Going to be pricey too...a "cheap" rental car is about $900 for the trip, plus gas, plus hotels at ~$700 over the week, on top of the actual parks.  Airfare at least is covered already.

Normally I'd say it's definitely worth it, especially after a year and a half of isolation and boredom, but I'm a little concerned that it might be less worthwhile this year, with park operations not really at their best and crowds so high, so I'm waffling a bit.

What do you think, still worth doing even if the parks aren't entirely at their best?  Any parks that I'm forgetting about in the area that I should be doing instead?  Any other particular plans or advice?

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Probably save a ton on your rental if you make a circle instead of dropping off a different spot.  Could fly into St Louis or Chicago, over to KC, SDC, etc. then end up back to save a few hundred.

SDC open til midnight on July 31.

 

 

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That saves about three hundred, but I'd need to stay over another day too, and then make the 7 1/2 hour drive from Chicago to Kansas City again.  By time I figure in the extra hotel and gas, I'm not saving a lot of money; probably not enough to deal with the extra full day of driving.

 

Thanks though!

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Just a thought - any consideration for Kentucky Kingdom?  The drive from Holiday World is less than 90 minutes.  Storm Chaser and Lightning Run may not have the most imposing stats but they are both world class in the airtime department IMO.  I can't speak from experience, but I think other people have said you could do both HW and KK in one day if you're super ambitious.

Edit: I'm an idiot, going from HW to KK results in an hour lost, not gained

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I hadn't even given any consideration to Kentucky Kingdom.  Definitely an option though, either trying to get both in a day, or adding a day on to the trip (though that would mean SFGAm on a Saturday, instead of a Friday, which might be worse crowds at a big park, but there's always fastpass...)  I'll look into that, thanks!

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52 minutes ago, dankeykang said:

Just a thought - any consideration for Kentucky Kingdom?  The drive from Holiday World is less than 90 minutes, plus you gain an hour with the time zone change.  Storm Chaser and Lightning Run may not have the most imposing stats but they are both world class in the airtime department IMO.  I can't speak from experience, but I think other people have said you could do both HW and KK in one day if you're super ambitious.

I have done HW and KK same day. You lose an hour driving from HW to KK. We only did it because The Voyage went down soon after our first ride. Thunderbird was fun but not enough to do that many laps on. The Legend was just pain.

Storm Chaser is probably my least favorite RMC so far, but it is still really good. Lightning Run is fantastic. Thunder Run was okay and Kentucky Flyer was really good for what it is. Also, KK is right up there with Dorney for ambiance. I'd say if time allows it is a fun detour, but not a must do.

I say your itinerary is fine, but I don't mind doing crazy drives or springing for fast passes at any park.

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I think I'd want to do them  over two days, yeah; I want to take my time at Holiday World.  Adding another day onto the trip isn't difficult; I'll just be heading home on Sunday instead.

I don't mind the drives at all either, I just don't want to overdo it and be driving half-asleep by the end of the week, if I'm not going to have anyone in the car with me.  Pretty sure this will work out fine though!

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I've wondered about these raft style slides since you're going around the turn at a good speed are the large circles just for cosmetic or do they serve a purpose. I was just wondering because you just zip around one edge of them.

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This looks like an amazingly fun trip!  but I would highly recommend hitting up Holiday World July 24 or July 31 for night ride on voyage (closes 10 pm), and/or hitting up silver dollar city July 31 or August 7 for night rides on time traveler and outlaw run (closes midnight) if you can reverse the order somewhat or something (start in Chicago?).  All are amazing night rides and VERY good in the dark.  If you can't do it no problem at all there, just thought I'd throw that info in on when they close later than normal for a few weekends.

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21 minutes ago, octoroach said:

This looks like an amazingly fun trip!  but I would highly recommend hitting up Holiday World July 24 or July 31 for night ride on voyage (closes 10 pm), and/or hitting up silver dollar city July 31 or August 7 for night rides on time traveler and outlaw run (closes midnight) if you can reverse the order somewhat or something (start in Chicago?).  All are amazing night rides and VERY good in the dark.  If you can't do it no problem at all there, just thought I'd throw that info in on when they close later than normal for a few weekends.

That might be doable!  Night rides are always worth going through a little more trouble for.  Unfortunately moving the trip up a week probably isn't going to happen; half my department is already out that week so I have basically zero chance of getting that time off.  Reversing the order though isn't too big a problem; it's more expensive to rent a car out of Chicago than Kansas City, but not that much more.

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How about rounding it out with Adventureland then wrapping back to Kansas City? That is A LOT of driving, the Midwest is a lot bigger than it seems, and trying to do a park every day sounds exhausting just thinking about it. I just spent four days to drive from KC to TX to hit up SFOT and SFFT and it didn’t feel like enough time! Oof!

Sorry you’re not flying into KC before our terrible airport is rebuilt... and also sorry you’re going to WoF... but hey you could get some legit BBQ while you’re here!

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15 hours ago, CP_RULES said:

How about rounding it out with Adventureland then wrapping back to Kansas City? That is A LOT of driving, the Midwest is a lot bigger than it seems, and trying to do a park every day sounds exhausting just thinking about it. I just spent four days to drive from KC to TX to hit up SFOT and SFFT and it didn’t feel like enough time! Oof!

Sorry you’re not flying into KC before our terrible airport is rebuilt... and also sorry you’re going to WoF... but hey you could get some legit BBQ while you’re here!

It's tempting, but adding another park and a full day drive means dipping into another week of vacation time, so probably not.  Adventureland will probably have to wait for another year.  BBQ though, that's a definite.

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On 6/21/2021 at 9:03 AM, Rai Fox said:

8/4 -  Stay at Fairfield Inn and Suites in Bloomington...
 

Bloomington, Illinois? My wife is from there.  Ancho & Agave is some seriously awesome mexican food.  I recommend the chimichanga.

Then again, Ancho & Agave is over by the airport across town while there's a Culver's right by the Fairfield Inn and they have frozen custard, so you do you.

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7 minutes ago, KBrylczyk said:

Bloomington, Illinois? My wife is from there.  Ancho & Agave is some seriously awesome mexican food.  I recommend the chimichanga.

Then again, Ancho & Agave is over by the airport across town while there's a Culver's right by the Fairfield Inn and they have frozen custard, so you do you.

Bloomington Indiana, between Holiday World and Indiana Beach.  Too bad, I'm always up for good Mexican!

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Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World can be done in the same day if you are not a water park person, especially if you start at Kentucky Kingdom and limit your time there to 2-3 hours.

Holiday World is only a full day park if you have family or are doing the water park.  However, I can see how as a first timer you might think you need to spend more time to take in everything, just be warned everything is not a quantity statement at Holiday World.  I find the best way to navigate Holiday World is to not backtrack.  If you like Voyage and Thunderbird, ride them as much as possible in a row versus walking around so much.  Deciding you want to return to Thunderbird after riding Raven, might you up to an hour.

I also recommend eating at the Thanksgiving area restaurant if you are a fresh turkey fan.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday meal and if it was practical I would eat more turkey at home.

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16 hours ago, larrygator said:

Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World can be done in the same day if you are not a water park person, especially if you start at Kentucky Kingdom and limit your time there to 2-3 hours.

Holiday World is only a full day park if you have family or are doing the water park.  However, I can see how as a first timer you might think you need to spend more time to take in everything, just be warned everything is not a quantity statement at Holiday World.  I find the best way to navigate Holiday World is to not backtrack.  If you like Voyage and Thunderbird, ride them as much as possible in a row versus walking around so much.  Deciding you want to return to Thunderbird after riding Raven, might you up to an hour.

I also recommend eating at the Thanksgiving area restaurant if you are a fresh turkey fan.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday meal and if it was practical I would eat more turkey at home.

Possibly, but I think I'm going to be coming to them from the west.  Holiday World is also only open short hours at the time; as much as I'd love to get there for night rides, it's going to be in the middle of the trip, so there's just no way I'm getting there on the weekend.  Also given that it's going to be in the middle of a long trip with a lot of long hours and driving, I think I'll just take them on two separate days, and if I have a little extra time those days to rest up, that will probably be for the best.

Helpful advice for Holiday World though, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

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My friends and I did a similar trip last summer! Super fun and very doable. In my opinion, the only parks on your list that you'll need a FULL day for (open to close in the park) are Silver Dollar City and SFGAm. So you'll likely have a little more time to rest than expected, if you choose.

I'll echo that it's worth doing whatever you can to get on Voyage and Outlaw Run at night. Those two experiences are worth the trip, alone.

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13 minutes ago, DBru said:

I'll echo that it's worth doing whatever you can to get on Voyage and Outlaw Run at night. Those two experiences are worth the trip, alone.

I really would love to, but I'm having a hard time thinking of any practical way to make that happen with Voyage with Holiday World right in the middle of the "line" of parks.  I think it'd required switching up which parks I get to, and since I'll be getting to the Ohio Cedar Fair parks in October...I might just have to settle for missing the night rides this time. 

Outlaw Run should be no problem, SDC is open late according to their calendar!

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I see no reason to waste any time at WoF. You can come back in ten years and nothing will change, aside from some bathroom renovations and maybe some new signs.

Dump it for Kentucky Kingdom.

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On 6/21/2021 at 11:03 AM, Rai Fox said:

8/1 - Worlds of Fun.  Not the most important park of the trip, but hey, I'm right there.  Stay at Westbridge Inn halfway to

8/2 - Silver Dollar City.  One of the parks I've wanted to get to for years now, one of the ones I'm most excited about.    Sleep at America's Best Value Inn halfway to

8/3 - Six Flags St Louis. 

I'm assuming you mean the Westbridge Inn in Clinton. Don't stay in Clinton. Don't. Leave earlier from Worlds of Fun (you don't need a whole day) and make sure you fill up on gas before the sun goes down. Early August, sunset is like 8:00, so you've got plenty of chances. After sunset, if you're looking low, there's a Pilot truck stop near Collins. You'll be fine there. It's well lighted and they're used to people from all over the place.

 

If you can't make it all the way to Branson in one go, you're going to want to drive at least to Springfield. Don't stop before Springfield. There are also some cheap hotels in Ozark (a suburb of Springfield along Highway 65, so in the direction of Branson) that are fine too. 

 

Besides safety, you're also going to want to be at SDC early. They open at 9:30, but the parking lots are quite a ways from the park itself. They'll shuttle you to the front gate, but that does take some time. I would plan to be there by 8:30 if you want to make it by opening. Easier to do if you're in Branson already or at least within an hour of it.

 

The ABVI you're talking about--if it's the one in Rolla, you're fine. It's a college town, engineering school with lots of international students, right on the Interstate. No one will mess with you there. St. Robert is fine too. It's near Ft. Leonard Wood, lots of travelers there too. Generally speaking, the trip from Springfield to St. Louis is a lot safer than KC to Springfield.

 

 

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I really know nothing at all about any of the areas I'm heading to outside Chicago itself, so that's very helpful, thanks!  I'll plan on leaving WoF early then and find somewhere close to SDC.  Shouldn't be too difficult.

The ABVI is the one in St. Robert; I'll stay with that then.

Going to try to book these places Monday, so if anyone else knows anywhere I should be avoiding, please let me know!

Also, anywhere along the route I really should be going out of my way to stop for food?  (Or food at the parks?)

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9 hours ago, Rai Fox said:

Also, anywhere along the route I really should be going out of my way to stop for food?  (Or food at the parks?)

In KC, get some BBQ. Arthur Bryant, Gates, Jack Stack, Q39 are all great. Really, though, you can't go wrong with any KC BBQ place unless you do something stupid like go to Bandana's or Famous Dave's.

Eat at Silver Dollar City and Holiday World. Get anything. It will be fantastic.

In St. Louis, the Hill is a great little culture spot. It's our Little Italy, and it's great food in a great atmosphere. Most of them are open until 9 or 10, and Six Flags closes at 7 on the day you're there, so check it out. Toasted ravioli (which despite the name is deep fried) is the quintessential St. Louis dish, get some from anyone in the Hill. 

Indiana Beach has the world's greatest tacos. That's what they say. I was not impressed. Not much in that area either except lake restaurants with catfish and the like. Maybe just hold off for Chicago. 😆

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YA is NOT kidding about getting gas before dark.  I gather he's referring to a safety aspect but a fair amount of stations here close really early.  I don't take the same route you'd be traveling, we live in the SE corner of MO, but I got in real trouble coming home from SDC once; we just couldn't find anything open.   I swear the engine was sputtering when we finally found something.

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14 hours ago, ytterbiumanalyst said:

In KC, get some BBQ. Arthur Bryant, Gates, Jack Stack, Q39 are all great. Really, though, you can't go wrong with any KC BBQ place unless you do something stupid like go to Bandana's or Famous Dave's.

Eat at Silver Dollar City and Holiday World. Get anything. It will be fantastic.

In St. Louis, the Hill is a great little culture spot. It's our Little Italy, and it's great food in a great atmosphere. Most of them are open until 9 or 10, and Six Flags closes at 7 on the day you're there, so check it out. Toasted ravioli (which despite the name is deep fried) is the quintessential St. Louis dish, get some from anyone in the Hill. 

Indiana Beach has the world's greatest tacos. That's what they say. I was not impressed. Not much in that area either except lake restaurants with catfish and the like. Maybe just hold off for Chicago. 😆

Got it!  Should be able to take those suggestions easily enough!  Good thing I like catfish too!

13 hours ago, Chiselphane said:

YA is NOT kidding about getting gas before dark.  I gather he's referring to a safety aspect but a fair amount of stations here close really early.  I don't take the same route you'd be traveling, we live in the SE corner of MO, but I got in real trouble coming home from SDC once; we just couldn't find anything open.   I swear the engine was sputtering when we finally found something.

Yeah, I'll fuel up before I leave the KC area; I found a decent looking little motel in Branson so I'll just make that trip in one shot and not worry about any questionable stops on the way.

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