South Korea Trip

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South Korea Trip

Postby coasterBro » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:44 pm

So I've had an opportunity present itself to spend a couple of days in South Korea in early October, and I'm trying to figure out what all I can realistically do. I haven't been able to find a ton of information in my initial searches, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get some good suggestions from the fine people of TPR.

I'll be landing at ICN around midday on Thursday the 4th, and my flight out leaves early Sunday morning the 7th, so it's not much time.

Since this is a quick trip, I'm unfortunately going to have to prioritize things. My main priorities are Lotte World (including the tower) and Everland. I'd really like to do a DMZ tour (especially one of the ones that takes you into the blue buildings where they meet with the North Koreans and you can get a photo op where you're technically standing inside North Korea but you're still inside that building), but I'm not sure if I'll be able to find one that will both be in English and be structured to let one random person (me) tag along instead of bringing my own group. Secondary to that would be some of the other parks near Seoul (like Seoul Land) if time permits, as well as any other reasonable cultural/touristy things that can be fit into the schedule in the evenings if I finish other things early.

I don't really have time to make it all the way down to Gyeongju World unless I were to abandon my DMZ tour plans and take a very long full day, and even that feels like it might be a bit of a stretch.


I'm concerned about how long I need to budget to spend at Lotte World and Everland. On paper, they don't seem like parks that would command huge chunks of time (especially as I don't do water or spinning rides), but I've seen talk of multi-hour waits for many attractions, so I want to be prepared. There appear to be some kind of line skip passes available at both Lotte World & Everland, but I can't say I fully understand how either of them work or how necessary they'd be.



If I can drop my stuff off at my hotel and make it to Lotte World at a reasonable early-afternoon hour Thursday, I'm hoping that will leave me enough time to enjoy the park before closing. They don't appear to post calendar info this far out, but if their current schedule holds true, they'd be open till 10. It also appears that they pick different attractions to not open on weekdays, so there's a chance a big ride like one of the coasters may not open. That would suck and may necessitate paying to swing back by on another day if it's an important enough credit. I've also got a thing for skyscrapers, so I've got to find some time to go check out the Lotte World Tower (Is there any kind of easy access to/from the theme park? Or are they considered completely separate attractions w/ no connection between them?)

For Friday/Saturday, I'm not really sure what would need to go where. I haven't yet nailed down a DMZ tour, so that may dictate which day is left for Everland. I assume Saturday would be the worse day to visit Everland, no? I imagine Everland may very well be a full day park simply because of wait times. If it doesn't take me the full day and I end up with some time to spare in the evening (or the evening after my TBD DMZ tour), I may go ahead and try to knock out some other credits like Seoul Land (anywhere else I should try to hit?).


If I get farther into this planning process and can't find a good DMZ tour option, I might consider trying to shoehorn in a trip down to Gyeongju World. Any suggestions for that if it becomes an option? I'd almost certainly have to make it a (long) day trip. It seems like a half-day type park, no? Are there other things to see/do in the area if time permits?


Any other tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am still relatively new to international travel, so I imagine this will be quite the adventure. Thanks in advance!
Last edited by coasterBro on Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:52 am.
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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby Garet » Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:39 am

DMZ tour, I haven't done it but I think you can go through the USO, it will be in English and you will visit that area you want to. I went through a Korean tour guide and though it was English we didn't get to go to the JSA but we did end up having to go to a Jade factory who pay off that tour guide.

Lotte World, I've managed to get through in a half day but that may be because it is my local park. Arrive before opening on a weekday and have the app downloaded to your phone beforehand. You can scan your ticket and reserve 3 rides at opening through the fastpass app for free so you can skip those lines and grab a 4th that morning by jumping in a line before the lines build up. I tend to reserve Atlantis, and mix up the 2 other rides. I'm not a fan of VR so I don't really ride the other roller coaster and you said you don't like spinning rides so not sure you will like Comet Express. I've gotten in the part at opening and left around 2PM riding most rides on a weekday. You mentioned rehab for the coaster. I can't speak for the others but Atlantis nearly always tends to be every other monday which falls outside of your dates. The only connection between Lotte World and Lotte Tower is they are both owned by Lotte. They are seperate gates, you would have to leave Lotte World and go into the shopping mall to buy an elevator ticket up to the observation deck and glass floor. It's not far if you leave Lotte World's inside main entrance and go through the subway station to the mall.

Everland is more tricky, I tend to recommend to friends when they visit to go on a weekend. Yes, the park can be dead on weekdays but they make up for that by split shifting the rides sometimes or having 1 ride an area closed completely so for example the top spin could run 10-1 and then the top scan will run 2-8 with other rides in different zones doing this. If I were you i'd book online and pay for a T Express fast pass ahead of time. The only multi hour waits I sometimes see is the Lost Valley safari ride at 90-120 but people run there at opening so it can quieten down around lunch to 30-50 mins on weekends. It's halloween season which is busier so you might be lucky and they won't be split shifting or closing rides completely.

Honestly, if you did the park on saturday morning I tend to follow the same game plan. When I visit the park on weekends I do the Safari World first (because most people will run to the other safari ride Lost Valley) instead of T Express which starts most mornings with 1 train ready and they'll add another just after opening but have to cycle it so the queue doesn't move that fast. After that then I head to T Express since they should be done cycling. At that point I get the 4d ride, rotating house and shooting ride done just before the first parade finishes since they can pick up lines later. The extreme rides in the middle of the park are usually dead for some reason on weekends, when families visit, more than weekdays because it tends to be more school trips and teenagers and the split shifts I mentioned hurts capacity and makes the lines longer. Then I just hit Lost Valley around lunch, after the morning rush but before the afternoon ticket people start to come in.

Both parks will be a little busier since Halloween is a popular time but it's been years since I see these multiple hour waits that were so common when I first came to Korea. You have the added bonus of coming just after chuseok when a lot of people will have just visited the parks so the time after is a little quieter.

I haven't been to Gyeongju World yet, I hear you can do it in a half day but with everything else based in Seoul you are looking at 3 hours each way travel time so it would also be a full day. Honestly everything here could be a full day thing. The city is well known for its ancient tombs, temples and buildings since you asked about other things, although they aren't really my thing so I can't say how fun they are.

I think the problem will be the DMZ tour, to do it, it requires a full day, since the half day tour won't include what you want and you only have 2 and a half days to do 3 things. I don't think you could combine it with Everland since even the earliest tour would have you back for 4pm at Yongsan and then you'd have at least 30 minutes of subway to Gangnam, waiting for the bus, 1 hour bus journey and then the park's shuttle bus from the bus drop area to the entrance up the mountain. Best case scenario you'd arrive at 6 and have to beeline to T Express since it will close earlier than the park since it can't be open when the firework show is on. Especially because the parks are busier in the afternoon and even landing at Incheon at midday you still have customs and the trip into the city. You could potentially do a Lotte World morning and Everland evening if you are smart due to long opening hours (if you skipped the tower which is another gate) but you'd be rushing to enjoy the parks and I wouldn't recommend it.

Tl;Dr

If you really want to push it. Although not recommended.

Thursday: Potentially do Lottwe Tower since you mentioned you want to for sunset, or one of the temples in Seoul.
Fri: Arrive at Lotte World at opening and reserve 3 rides on the app and head to a 4th. Grab a couple of rides and leave around 1pm. Grab the 5700 bus nearby to Everland and prebook online with a T Express queue pass add-on.
Sat: Check this site for dates for the full day DMZ from Yongsan since they can sell out: http://www.koridoor.co.kr/home/goods_view/index.asp?ts=goods_list&strApart=A&strBpart=A&strCpart=A
Last edited by Garet on Sat Aug 04, 2018 8:02 pm.

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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby thedlr » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:20 am

Great response from Garet! We did the Koridoor tour five years ago and it was fantastic, but it's basically an all day thing if you want to see the JSA. It's all English because you check in at the USO office and the actual JSA part is handled by the US military. Unfortunately we did not get to enter the blue building because DPRK was doing some sort of construction.
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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby coasterBro » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:43 pm

Okay. So first, let me thank Garet for all that information and the link to the Koridoor DMZ tours. If I were to do the 7:30 tour on Saturday, I'd be done and back around 3:30, which would leave me the rest of the afternoon/evening to do stuff. How crazy of an idea would it be to plan for this time to do Lotte World? If their current park hours stay consistent till then (what's with everything in Korea only letting you see schedules or book stuff a month out?), then it should be open till 11PM. Would ~6hrs be enough time on a Saturday night to at least hit all the coasters and knock out a handful of other rides? Or would I be setting myself up for failure & disappointment? (The only way I'd do the tower in this plan would be if I got to the park and was able to knock out all the coasters within the first hour or two, which I wouldn't suspect would be doable on a Saturday night, right?)


If the above is feasible, then I may consider doing what I'm going to henceforth refer to as my 'aggressive' plan (which would require a lot of prayer and the willingness to suck it up & move on if stuff doesn't work out):

Thursday: Arrive. Hustle to my hotel & drop off my stuff. Then hustle down to Everland, arriving around 5ish. (I could probably shave an hour or so off that time if I headed directly to Everland from the airport, but I have no idea what I could do with my luggage, and I don't really know that I'd want that headache.) I'd only have 5 hours at Everland, but as long as I can get a couple laps in on T Express (surely this wouldn't be one of the rides that they'd only have open part of the day?) and do a handful of other attractions, I'll probably be reasonably satisfied. Obviously, I'd love to knock off all the coaster credits, but if I miss out on an old Vekoma/Arrow looper or a couple family coasters, it won't be the end of the world. The animal stuff would be cool, but it would be secondary to the other stuff (and I feel like I read somewhere that one of those rides only operated on the weekends, but I can't find that info again). Of course, I have no issue buying the Q-passes for Safari World & Lost Valley if it makes sense; I'll plan to have one for T Express. Unless T Express is one of the attractions they regularly split shift, this feels like it should be doable to me.

Friday: Get up early and take the 6:35 KTX to Singyeongju Station to arrive at 8:40. Hopefully I can pick up a cab there to take me straight to Gyeongju World instead of dealing with an extra hour plus worth of bus rides due to ~40 stops. I don't know if they'll be opening at 8:50 or 9:50 (hoping for the latter so I can be on the first wave entering the park), but I figure I should be able to get a good number of laps in on the B&M's and do some other stuff and be out of there by 2PM. That should let me catch the 3:15 KTX back towards Seoul. But I can get off at Gwangmyeong instead of going all the way to Seoul Station and swing by Seoul Land. It looks like they're open till 9, so I'd only have a few hours in the park, but it'd really just be a credit run, so that's probably okay. There is a 1:05 KTX I could do instead, which would give me a couple more hours at Seoul Land at the expense of Gyeongju World, but I don't think that'd be a great trade-off.

Saturday: Do the aforementioned 7:30 DMZ tour, and then spend the afternoon/evening at Lotte World.

Sunday: Sleep for a gazillion hours on the plane home.


This plan would theoretically tick off all the important bits, though due to the rushing it may make it necessary to skip some attractions or re-rides, and not everything may be operating. I can do a 'lower stress' itinerary, but even then I'd still need to hit two things in a day and skip one of the big things altogether, so I don't know how much better that may be.

I'm no stranger to long days and aggressive coastering schedules, but I am a stranger to Korea and how things work there, so please tell me if my idea is dumb and going to go very poorly. Thanks!
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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby Garet » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:32 am

As I said I wouldn't recommend it since you won't have too much time to look around the parks and will pretty much be in and out straight away but following what you said and your wishes i'll add some more thoughts.

Thursday: A quick glance on my bus app shows quite a few stops for the Incheon buses to Everland, since the tour bus will only go once in the morning. I'm not sure where you're staying but I'd still recommend the Gangnam bus 5002 so maybe dump your stuff and go for the bus. From Gangnam station it leaves Seoul traffic almost immediately and goes practically straight to Everland. I follow the TPR rule of choosing fast pass over non fast pass if you're only going to visit once but I'd assume the queues won't be too bad. As I said in first post T Express will close early due to fireworks nearby and if line is super long they'll want to have all riders off before the show. Safari rides close at night for animal reasons but I don't think the safari rides are that special. Seeing the pandas is nice. You can knock that out on the path down the side of the mountain since it's near the entrance and never has a line it would take 5-10 mins out of your day.
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As you can see they close anywhere from 3-4 hours earlier than the park. Don't get too excited by theses queue times. It's heat wave time and the time of the year when the water park eats Everland's crowds to the point where going to the water park gives you free entry to Everland. Not sure about a couple of laps. Potentially one with a fast pass and one by standby line. It may be running less trains on a weekday night and teenage crowd with the two Halloween mazes being next door will make it a hot spot, I'd say 40-60 min line but Everland is random, there'll be some days the park can be randomly dead so cross fingers. Lines have been down a bit this year.

Friday: I've never been to Gyeongju World, it's on my to do list but due to work and family I haven't got around to it, so I can't say for sure but another TPR member did a nice TR recently who you can ask. From what I've seen on Korean bloggers it's lines aren't that bad so you could follow your plan. Although still go to Seoul Station. Even though Gwangmyeong is close on a map, it's actually a branch line of line 1. You'd have to go 1 stop, transfer to another line 1 train, ride down out of Seoul a little then transfer to line 4 and head back to Seoul. Seoul Station you can just hope line 4 straight and it might have more train options for Seoul Station than Gwangmyeong.

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Lotte World is fine, the rides usually run until 10pm and they never split shift or have to close early like Everland. Potentially you could switch Lotte World to friday and Seoul Land to saturday since it could be quieter but it's city center and they sell cheaper passes at night so the difference might not be that much. The only difference between evening is the park is already busy (It can be dead doing inside rides for first opening hour) and 2 the magic passes will all be gone so you won't be able to fast pass.

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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby coasterBro » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:33 am

I ended up going with my aggressive plan, and managed fairly well considering.

Thursday:
I actually got to Everland a little after 3. I was a bit miffed that there's no way to buy extra Q-passes on the day-of (because most of the waits for the big attractions were around an hour), but I managed 4 laps on T-Express and hit the other coasters once, plus a couple other bits. I was really disappointed with how they did a lot of the attraction scheduling, though. It wasn't just T-Express that closed early: almost all of the major rides/attractions closed at least 90 mins before the park's closing time. I guess they wanted to make sure everyone was off the rides and headed to the exit by closing time, but it made for an anticlimactic end to the night (this on top of a bunch of the rides closing for an hour earlier in the evening to transition to 'haunted' versions of the attraction).

Overall, Everland seems to be a park with a lot of potential, but I would recommend to anyone else to plan a full day there. And pre-buy their admission ticket + 5 Q-pass option. And then if you really want more, the best way I could see to do that would be to buy extra admission tickets from Klook and pick up the free paper Q-pass they give you from their booth (you have to pre-register for the Q-passes, but you can wait to buy the tickets till the day of). It'll cost you like $30 per Q-pass doing it this way, but it appears to be the only way I can see to get extra line skips. And honestly, T-Express is worth it.

T-Express may be the best wooden coaster I've ever ridden. I really do not like El Toro (largely because of how the restraint hits my gut), but I *loved* T-Express. They have a more generous go-position on the restraint than El Toro does, and I honestly think the layout is 1000x more interesting. I've heard that it's basically the first couple hills of Toro, followed by basically a clone of Balder's layout. If so, I think I'd quite enjoy Balder as well. But T-Express had tons of great stand-up ejector air, the likes of which you can't get in the states because they staple you in so bad, and it was fantastic. I appreciated that the pacing of the ride wasn't balls-to-the-wall insanity. It's nice to have the occasional moment to catch your breath, and I miss that with so many of the newer coasters being built these days. I honestly don't know that I have any real criticisms of T-Express, other than the line and the aforementioned stuff with the park, except the fact that it's on the other side of the planet from me. I'm struggling to officially dethrone my existing top wooden coasters, but honestly, T-Express probably deserves that #1 spot.


Friday:
Despite the rain forecast, I still headed to Gyeongju World. I had already purchased my KTX tickets and didn't really have anything else lined up, so I hopped on the train and hoped for the best. I had been checking their website/blog/facebook pages for updates, but hadn't seen any closure notices, so I was praying for good news. The forecast showed fairly light rain the first part of the day before it got progressively heavier as the typhoon headed that way, and I was hopeful that the park would at least be open till noon or so. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that what we consider to be 'light rain' is 'heavy rain' to the Koreans. I got to Gyeongju World a little before opening, and found myself the only person there. I had started trying to figure out my next move when some park employees saw me standing there, and they told me the park wasn't going to open at all that day and they were very sorry I had come all that way for nothing. I asked if I could at least walk around for a few minutes and take some pictures, and they generously agreed. I have to say, Gyeongju World is an absolutely beautiful park, with tons of statues and cool rockwork and detail that you just don't see in a lot of parks. I was extremely impressed with the friendliness and generosity of the employees, and I would heartily recommend that anyone visiting Korea go check the park out.

Since my train ticket back to Seoul wasn't for a few more hours, the park employees pointed me to a restaurant down the road where I could enjoy a traditional Korean meal (which was fantastic), and then a nearby temple to go check out. Both were great, and I'm glad I did them rather than just twiddling my thumbs in the train station or trying to change to an earlier train or anything like that.

Unfortunately, my plan for Seoul Land that evening was a bust. Due to the approaching rains, they changed their closing time from 9 to 6, and I just didn't have time to get there to do anything before they closed. It wasn't a huge loss, and I honestly needed the rest.


Saturday:
I did the 7:30AM DMZ/JSA tour, and that was amazing. If you've never done it and you're going to be in Korea, go do one. Yes, I have pictures of me standing in North Korea. There was a lot more to it than I think I was expecting, and the history buff in me really really enjoyed the whole thing. We got back a little after 3, which gave me plenty of time to head to Lotte World for the evening.

At Lotte World, I sprung for the Unlimited MagicPass Premium, which basically let me walk right up to any ride and very nearly walk right on, as many times as I wanted to. (I couldn't do any of the normal MagicPass stuff, since that all relied on their app on your phone, and the app wouldn't run on my phone because it's a rooted phone.) Honestly, I wasn't expecting as much of a VIP treatment as I got, but it was really cool. I did Atlantis 4x, and most of the other major attractions once. Atlantis had a lot more zip than I was expecting, but holy crap Intamin sucks at train/restraint designs. But I honestly don't understand the point of the Aquatrax at all. I did the French Revolution without the VR, and that was different having the loop be after the meandering helices. Comet Express was a pleasant surprise; I didn't really know what to expect going in, and it was pretty cool. I did quite a lot of the other attractions in the park, from the balloons along the ceiling, to the mini log flume thing in the basement, to the haunted walkthrough, and more. I quite enjoyed my evening in the park, even if there wasn't any one thing that really stood out as a must-do, but I would totally come back again. I was disappointed that they didn't have any real park or ride-branded merchandise, but that appears to be an issue for a lot of parks I've been to in Asia.


Overall, it was a good (albeit brief) time. I have no idea when I'll be able to come back, but hopefully I'll be able to someday. I think it'll have to be for more than 3 days next time, though. Given the weather and my overall time constraints, I'm not really sure what else I could have done, but I'm overall fairly satisfied with how it worked out, so that's good. Thanks to Garet for the tips!
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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby Garet » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:59 am

^If you have a phone that runs the app, I wouldn't recommend spring $30 a piece for extra T Express queue passes. You can use the app to do the lottery and since you get a point for every half hour your in the park you can try probably at least 3 times if your there for opening since you'll have the 5 points needed every 2 and a half hours.

That Unlimited Magic pass for Lotte World used to be really pricey and limited, like only 30 a day allowed to be sold. Nice to see it is a bit cheaper and more available. If the app didn't work you could have scanned your ticket in one of the machines around the park, and booked 1 ride at a time, like old Disney paper fast pass style, they're provided for people who don't have phones but not an issue with your premium and chances are that most free slots would have been booked up by people arriving in the morning.

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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby coasterBro » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:15 pm

Garet wrote:^If you have a phone that runs the app, I wouldn't recommend spring $30 a piece for extra T Express queue passes. You can use the app to do the lottery and since you get a point for every half hour your in the park you can try probably at least 3 times if your there for opening since you'll have the 5 points needed every 2 and a half hours.

That Unlimited Magic pass for Lotte World used to be really pricey and limited, like only 30 a day allowed to be sold. Nice to see it is a bit cheaper and more available. If the app didn't work you could have scanned your ticket in one of the machines around the park, and booked 1 ride at a time, like old Disney paper fast pass style, they're provided for people who don't have phones but not an issue with your premium and chances are that most free slots would have been booked up by people arriving in the morning.


Good to know on the lottery. It seemed like the rides had stopped issuing those by the time I got there, but I may have been mistaken. Their entire Q-Pass system isn't very easy to understand, and the way they tried to explain it on their English website did not at all jive with what I saw when I got there. Things may have been different if I had been there all day instead of trying to just come in the evening, but it is what it is. Next time I'll probably pre-book the ticket + 5 Q-pass and try my hand at just being there from opening w/ the lottery passes. I would probably still make advance reservations for the free Klook Q-passes just in case but wait on spending any money on the $30 tickets so I'd at least have the option if I needed it.

I don't know how many of the Unlimited passes at Lotte they had for sale, but when I got there close to 5PM, they still had 20-something available (and more of the 5-skip type). Given that it was late in the day on a decently busy Saturday, I was prepared for them to be sold out, but it was nice that they still had them. It did cost 100,000 Won (~$100 US), but to me it was totally worth that. I will say that for the free Magic Passes, most of the rides were out of return time tickets or very close to it by the time I got there. I think for anyone wanting to use that option the key would be getting there for opening.
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Re: South Korea Trip

Postby Garet » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:43 pm

coasterBro wrote: Good to know on the lottery. It seemed like the rides had stopped issuing those by the time I got there, but I may have been mistaken. Their entire Q-Pass system isn't very easy to understand, and the way they tried to explain it on their English website did not at all jive with what I saw when I got there. Things may have been different if I had been there all day instead of trying to just come in the evening, but it is what it is. Next time I'll probably pre-book the ticket + 5 Q-pass and try my hand at just being there from opening w/ the lottery passes. I would probably still make advance reservations for the free Klook Q-passes just in case but wait on spending any money on the $30 tickets so I'd at least have the option if I needed it.


I don't usually recommend people to go through Klook and get the free q pass unless its more about going cheap than comfortably. They sell out a week or 2 in advance, your tied to that day regardless on weather or plan changes and its first come first served. The site specifies: The Q-Pass is randomly provided. You can not choose a specified attraction in advance. Edit: Just messaged a friend who has used it and they got to choose at booth but it was definitely first come first served if you have reserved through klook your guaranteed a q pass of some kind just depends on what tickets are left. The Klook booth opens at 11 inside the park so at least an hour after park opening, and tickets can't be changed so if the ride you picked went down for the day you were out of luck.

I always tell people to go for the Everland q pass package or lately through Trazy where you can get tickets for cheap and do the fast passes yourself for $5 a piece and can usually order a day or 2 before. I know some people who prefer using the official sites though. That's always available for the next day so you don't have to stress about the weather or which ride. It's only a 5 dollar difference but I normally tell people just to get the 4 Q-pass and buy an extra beer over the 5 since the panda q pass is next to useless. You get put in the next pre-show which is pretty much the same as the normal queue does saving you 2 mins at best.

I think you were just unfortunate in your timing since it was the only time you could go was a weekday in October. One of the busiest months since summer is too hot, winter things are shut down for temperatures and Halloween makes it one of the busiest months. As I said in my very first response I almost always send people there on a Sunday for opening, since weekdays has reduced ride hours (split shifts or 1pm openings and early closings), but with more rides available and more families at church it tends to even out q times to be the same. Honestly, I find Sundays easier to get thrill rides done since they tend to be dead compared to weekdays with school groups etc. With opening, you can also then spend 5 points on Lost Valley's lottery and then in 2 and a half hours have points to try for T Express evening lottery pass (the app caps you at 5 points a person.)


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