Thanks for all the info, so much to digest! I certainly came to the right place for some advice
I definitely think we'll be dropping the car off for those last two / three days to save pennies, just looking to see what will be the best way round to do things - e.g drop off car and head to Coney Island or leave CI til the last day when we fly back at 10pm?
The NY portion of the trip I've honestly done zero research into as I always intended to do a separate NY holiday with a road trip towards Chicago taking in some North East parks and figured we'd spend a good 4/5 days in NY then, doing it 'properly' (Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls etc etc). The BF does want to do Empire State but i'd heard about top of the rock from friends who've been and i'm slowly talking him out of it. My only request is Coney Island and a show and top of my list is Book of Mormon which i've wanted to see here in London for years but may as well see the authentic version while we're there. This isn't a total must though, i'm super chill about the NY part as I know I'm intending to come back and do it again with more time & money.
My Coney Island / Atlantic City interest can be blamed on my upbringing. I grew up in Blackpool by the beach, piers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach so have a nostalgia for boardwalk type places with lots to do (zero interest in the sand / sea portion if i'm honest.) I'd looked into Atlantic City and saw it was a dive but we both love Vegas and casinos so wasn't sure if it would be another thing to add on as apart from Nashville and the days in Pigeon Forge we aren't going to be able to have a night to 'go out' as it were. (Nobody likes to drive with a hangover...) I also wouldn't stay at a Trump property if you paid me.
Really sad to hear that my travel day on the 20th could be a hellish drive, but I had factored in 5-6 hours so knew it was one of the longer travel days. Glad I know about the traffic in advance to try and somewhat prepare. I've been reading through the SFGAdv thread most of yesterday and have pretty much talked myself into going there the evening of the 20th as well as 21st due to 1) Schools letting out and park being busier than i'd first anticipated. 2) It's one of my dream parks on this list along with Cedar Point and I owe it more than one day. 3) I've just seen there's a safari and want to ensure I have time for this and all the incredible rides.
(I was considering dropping my Virginia Beach rest day to dedicate more time to SFGAdv on this basis but this was when I thought I could buy a season ticket for $72 with free parking but I have just seen that I would need to pick it up in person this season rather than next June
Re: not adding more park days as it will turn into a death march, I'm hoping that an extra evening at SFGAdv could alleviate some of that pressure and as Coaster Bill pointed out we'd only be driving that long ass drive to go sit in a hotel room so may as well visit that evening if it's open until 9/10. SFGAdv is the one park I have budgeted Flash Pass for as it saved our life at SFMM in 2015. The sheer size and heat of that park took it out of us just getting to the coasters let alone queuing for them. (Per your advice though this is something we'll judge on the day rather than buy in advance).
Glad to hear both Dollywood and Busch can be done in a day, (and hopefully a preview at Dollywood night before). They look stunning with some incredible rides, and would love to give them more time but if the majority can be hit in the morning with a more leisurely afternoon then that would be fab as I do want to catch shows in both. I've seen a few people mention on this forum that Sundays can be a quiet day at the parks due to Church attendance etc, is this correct? We're not huge Church goers in the UK so Sundays while less busy than Saturdays are still busy compared to weekdays but wondering if this will make a difference with the schools off and if it is worth switching the days round for KD & 'Virginia Beach' rest day...?
On the same thought would it be worth rearranging our rest day to hit KD, BG first and take the route through Maryland and Delaware to SFGAdv to avoid the DC congestion or does it work out to be a similar time? I'm thinking that as we're taking a travel day from CW we could add on an evening at KD before a full day the next day... I hadn't considered when first planning this trip that the Platinum Passes would allow me to stretch some parks to 1.5 days if we arrived early enough / set off later on travel days. Hoping this will actually ease the 'death march aspect' of it as we'd only be driving those days anyway. I'm going to volunteer to do the majority of the travel day drives so BF can get some rest in the car.
So with some tweaking the new itinerary is looking a bit like this:Monday 4th June
- Fly into Cleveland Hopkins. Pick up hire car, drive to CP Express hotel. Tuesday 5th June
- Hit Cedar Point
at 9am - 8pm (I think those will be the midweek opening hours + ERT)Wednesday 6th June
- Cedar Point
9am - 6pm, drive 4 hours(ish) to Kings Island. Thursday 7th June
- Kings Island
9am - 8pm (Again a rough guess on opening times, and factoring in ERT), drive to KK that evening (2 hours)Friday 8th June
- Morning at Kentucky Kingdom
until 2pm. Possible
trip to Holiday World & drive on to Nashville. (3 hours)Saturday 9th June
- Day & night in Nashville - (JD Distillery also moved to this day due to no alcohol sales on Sundays
)Sunday 10th June
- Drive to Pigeon Forge. Dollywood
preview.Monday 11th June
(My Birthday) - Dollywood,
full day. Tuesday 12th June
- Rest day / Pigeon Forge Activities (Alpine Coaster, Zipline, Lumberjack shiz)Wednesday 13th June
- Smokey Mountain NP day (Rafting / Hiking etc)Thursday 14th June
- Drive to Carrowinds
(4 hours) (Head to CW for a few hours that evening if time).Friday 15th June
, full day. (9am-8pm estimate with ERT)Saturday 16th June
- Travel day to Kings Dominion
(Something like 6 / 8 hours) Evening at KD if we get time. Sunday 17th June
- Kings Dominion
Full day, (9am - 8pm estimate with ERT)Monday 18th June
- Buschgardens Williamsburg.Tuesday 19th June
- Virginia beach* rest day - Possibly drive closer to SFGA in the evening unless drinking.Wednesday 20th June
- Drive [rest of way] to SF Great Adventure
(4-8 hours) Visit park after 6pm-ish. Thursday 21st June
full day. (10am-9pm?)Friday 21st June
- Drive to Newark, drop off hire car. Drop off bags at hotel. Rest of day & night in NY.Saturday 22nd June
- Full day in NY (See a show, tourist shiz)Sunday 24th June
- NY? fly back at 10pm Newark to London.
So some slight additions with adding extra half days to CW / KD & SFGA but these aren't set in stone and can definitely be played by ear. If we are simply too exhausted from the drive then we can just go out for dinner and head to bed to unwind before a full day at the park the next day. If I take the bulk of the driving on the travel days it should give the BF enough rest and hopefully mean i'm not running around like a mad person the following day trying to ride every single thing. Plus it gives us a couple of hours to get our bearings for the next day. Only parks where this won't be possible are Kings Island and Busch Gardens so hopefully i'll get lucky with sticking with one day there and the crowds won't be too busy. I've switched Kings Dominion to the Sunday but still not sure quite how to order these 3 days yet (17th / 18th / 19th) and if weekend / week day will make a difference with the schools being out anyway.
Thanks for all the info and suggestions re: hotels. I'm currently looking into them and their loyalty schemes etc. My max budget is no more than £100 / $132 per night, but obviously Pigeon Forge and NY will be more expensive so it all needs to balance out. £75 / $100 would be ideal.
Thanks again, honestly you guys have been brilliant!