Getting Ready to Hit the Rides Again

It’s been over year since we have been on a roller coaster. It was last June right before my back surgery. It was so much fun, but it’s been way too long.

We are in the process of figuring out annual trip that we take every year with our kids. Lucky for us the park we are visiting is located in sunny California and it’s open all year long. It has fewer hours in the off season, but it’s still open. [Read more…]

My Top 10 Favorite Thrill Rides

The whole family loves coasters

The whole family loves coasters

 

11. Grizzly :: Great America, CA – I know, this makes it 11, but I only added this one because it’s the coaster my header is taken from. I love that picture, makes me feel like I am going for a ride.

10. Flight Deck :: Great America, CA – It’s a great ride, but I love it more because it was one of the first good ones I ever went on.

9.  Tatsu :: Six Flags Magic Mountain, CA – If you have the time, wait for the front seat. It’s worth it!

8.  Batman :: Six Flags Magic Mountain, CA – I don’t love this one quite as much as my hubby. The G-forces really get to me.

7.  [Read more…]

Planning This Summers Roller Coaster Vacation

roller-coaster-vacstion

It’s that time to start thinking about that summer vacation to your favorite amusement park. I am going to take just a minute to recap they ways to save money and the ways to get the most out of your vacation. [Read more…]

The Thrills Just Don’t Stop

Around here we are always working on some kind of “vacation”.  For us getting away for an afternoon or a weekend is just as fun as getting away for a week.  We will take whatever we can get.

We are always looking for vacations that we can do on a budget.  The cheaper they are the more we can do.

One of the things that we do every year is a roller coaster vacation, thus the name, Vacation Thrills.  I didn’t think we would go this year, but right before my back surgery we decided to do one last run.  I know crazy, but I was getting a new disc, so I thought I might as well run the ones I had into the ground. Standing in line is what hurts the most, but we keep ourselves entertained to keep my mind off of it.  Want to know how to plan the perfect roller coaster vacation?

We also like experiencing things right in our backyard.  This year my husband and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  Since going away for a week wasn’t an option (again that surgery got in the way) we decided to at least get out of town for a couple of days to Hood River.  We had the best time ever.

For us the thrills just won’t stop.  So check back as we continue to look for fun vacations, find great places to eat and even become a tourist in our own town.  Like I said we are always up to something.

Hilton Garden Six Flags Tips and Review

We loved this place and would go back in a heart beat, but you need to be prepared to make it work for you since it is a busy hotel.

First off I went directly to the site and looked for a room with breakfast included for the 4 of us.  With taxes and anything else added it came to $313 for 2 nights.  I did so much better than that.  Check out the whole thing HERE. I did call and have her offer me something a little better, but I did best with package deal.

Since this Hotel is near the park(actually it’s the closest) I figured it would be run down and marginal.  I was so surprised to see that it was not only very nice looking, but it was very clean.  It makes going back to your hotel to rest a whole lot more fun.

Our breakfast was a cook to order, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect there.  BIG TIP:  When we were there the place was busy, but not off the charts busy since we always hit amusement parks in the off season. I am sure during the busy season this place is a zoo and you really, really need to plan accordingly.

This is a sit down breakfast.  There is a pastry/cereal/toast bar plus a fruit bar.  From there you wait for someone to come take your order for hot food which is eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pancakes and waffles to name a few.  The kitchen cranks it out as fast as they can, but they do get behind. The servers are running like crazy.  DO NOT think you will eat in 15 minutes or less plan accordingly.  It will take some time especially if you have to wait for a table.

I really, really appreciated the shuttle service. I am sure that since they were not super busy that they accommodated us well.  You have to schedule what time you want to be taken to the park and what time you want picked up.  Spots fill up quickly, so book at departures to the park as soon as you arrive.

We had scheduled a pick up, but some other people waiting had not.  Had we not scheduled it, those people would have never gotten picked up, because a shuttle would not have known to come get them.  The nice thing is since the Hotel is so close they can turn around and come back for the next group within 5 minutes.

I am not sure in the busy season how many trips they become willing to take.  They claim one trip every 1/2 hour, but they were doing more.  At $15 a day for parking at the amusement park, this was a great benefit to our hotel.  No other hotels in the area do this.  Not only do you save the $15, but you don’t have to walk all the way from the parking lot or back to your car at the end of the day. Drop off and Pick up are right there by the entrance.

Read  my previous posts to find out what all we did at the park and other ways to “discover” Magic Mountain.

Do You Really Need a Flashpass at Magic Mountain?

Roller-coasters

Terminator at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

We spent a total of 3 days at the park.  Well, our half day the day we arrived, full day on Tuesday, then a half day on Wednesday before we had to catch our flight.  Since we went for 3 days we purchased the season passes.  This also allowed us discounts at stores plus coupons for so much more. We could have gotten into Hurricane Harbor for FREE, but we chose to concentrate on the coasters instead.

If you are going and you want to get the most out of your day, make sure you go first thing in the morning.  We hit 6 rides in an hour and half.  The day before we had gotten there at 12pm, because of our flight, and we stayed until 6 and we rode 6 rides.  The lines were longer later in the day.  For even more tips about getting in quicker than everyone else make sure you check out yesterdays post.

Let’ s back up and remind you of my first secret.  That was checking school calendar.  I realized that California was still in school June 14-16, so therefore the park was not super full.

Everyone runs right for Tatsu and X-2.  If you are going more than one day, pick one day to go the opposite of the MOST popular rides, because very, very few people go that way.

Do you really need a Flashpass to get the roller coaster all to yourself?

We were on the very first ride of the day on Goliath and we had it all to ourselves.  By the time we made our way around to Scream, we sat and rode it 3 times in a row. These are all great coasters, they just aren’t considered the biggest and the best at this park. Tatsu and X2 are on that list. We do love Tatsu and plan one day to run straight to it and wait for the front row.

If you are a wooden roller coaster fan don’t miss The Terminator. It’s one of the best wooden roller coasters.  It is super fast and the seats are ultra cushy making the ride much more enjoyable. They completely redid it a couple of years ago and now I love it.  Don’t pass this one by.

Because we did run a lot in the morning and hit the opposite side that most people go to, we were able to get in 14 rides on the 2nd day.  We would even take breaks.  Remember that we always pack our snacks, so they are healthy and much more affordable.  We had trail mix and jerky packed in our cargo shorts.  We would stop at restaurants along the way and ask for our FREE glass of water to have with our snack. (I know other parks do this as well. Never buy water or carry a water bottle around when you can get FREE ones whenever you want)

I do also need to mention that we did something we don’t often do.  This was do to that fact, that even though I was running through park and riding coasters, I did have back surgery scheduled for the day after we got home.   We did need to take breaks on this trip.  We ended up hitting the park hard in the morning, then we left for a few hours of napping, eating and swimming, only to return to the park right before closing and hitting more rides.  Had we stayed that extra 4 hours we would have had nearly 20 rides that day.

So I guess to answer my question, “Do you really need a Flashpass for Magic Mountain?” I would have to say, if you timed it right, there is no reason.  If you HAVE to go in the middle of summer and have the money to spend I would probably get one just so you can really enjoy the park. Read for restrictions before purchasing though as they do have some limitations.

Have you ever purchased a Flashpass?

It Really Does Pay to Discover, Best Six Flag Tip of the Year

We have “discovered” some great tips while visiting Six Flags Magic Mountain, sorry it has taken me so long to get all the details out to you.  We have saved some money and time and found ways, that had we know, we could have saved even more money and time.  I missed out, but I am sharing with you, so yo don’t miss out.

We like to get to the park just before it opens and stand at the gate and run in. I know we are crazy, but that’s what works for our family.

It Pays to Discover

BEST TIP OF THE YEAR:

We noticed that they have a line for Discover Card Holders.  Yep, that’s right.  It pretty much looked like an express lane.  Masses of people to your right and to your left about 5 people in line.  We have a Discover card, but we did not bring it, because we didn’t know.  Bring your Discover card!

Also as you go around the park you get an instant 5% off of most things that you purchase, plus the discount for being a season pass holder. These signs were in all the windows of the gift shops and some of the eateries.  I think we also get 1% cash back on most purchases using our Discover card, so this really does start to add it.  Slowly, but every little bit helps.

All that to say, I guess it really does pay to “Discover” at all Six Flags nationwide.

Check back tomorrow as I share some more great money saving and time saving ideas.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your Theme Park

Want to learn how to really enjoy and get the most out of your theme park trip?  I have some proven tips to share with you.

If you have already booked your trip there are still some tips to help you out.  Even if you can’t use them all there are still some great tips in here to keep you happy while at the park of your choice.

  1. Pack Light – If you don’t have little ones, take as little as you possibly can.  This works great for places like Disneyland, because you can skip the bag check line and pass up all those people.  We load up the boys cargo shorts with things we might need, like snacks, phones, cameras and sunscreen.  You never have to keep up with a bag and in the end, we have never missed the bag.
  2. Be Willing to Eat in the Park – This is a big one for me, because I like good food and good food is hard to find in a park, and it’s expensive.  We try and choose a hotel with a big breakfast, then we pack snacks in hopes of just needing to eat a light lunch.  Try and find healthy food so you don’t make yourself sick and miss out on all the fun of the park. We don’t like to waste time leaving the park and re-entering, so we just try and find something there.
  3. Don’t be Cheap, Drink Lots of Water – Especially during the summer, stay hydrated.  You don’t want to ruin your day and get sick because you didn’t drink enough.  Try asking for a free glass of water at the counters.  I know Cedar Point has to give them out.  Other things we have done in the past is carry a reusable bottle and filled it for FREE at the water fountain.  Our kids also have fond memories of us buying a HUGE water bottle and walking from our motel to the Disneyland entrance, we couldn’t enter until the whole bottle was gone.  That was our way of making sure they started the day hydrated.
  4. Wear Good Shoes – There will be lots of walking no mater what park you are intending on going to, so make sure you have good shoes.  Our family runs from ride to ride, because we keep track of how many rides we can go on during the day and write it down when we get back to the hotel in the evening.   Here’s a comment from my daughter when she wore the “cute” shoes instead of the comfy shoes.
  5. Check School Calendars –  I mention this tip a lot, but it has given us some great vacations.  You pay so much money to go, you might as well try really hard to find out when the area is out of school or when they go back.  We have done Cedar Point late August a few times because they had gone back to school and we hadn’t yet.  We also hit the California parks once we get out, but before they get out.  We almost always use this tip.  You can see from the picture above, that April is a great time to go to Great America in California, we had the place to ourselves.

Games to Play While Standing in Amusement Park Lines

Cedar Point ohio

I only bring this subject up because summer is approaching quickly and for those that can only go during the summer you must endure the lines and therefore you must have a plan.

I was reading on another blog about a Disneyworld vacation and he mentioned what they did to keep the kids occupied while in line and it made my think of our games we “invented” for a lack of better words.

So here are a few Coaster Family games to play while standing in line.

  1. Don’t stop moving. This one is funny as we sometimes get into peoples space making ourselves laugh which also is a good time waster.  The way this game works is you take the smallest steps possible and you never stop until you are at the front of the line.
  2. The Alphabet Game.  Pick a topic and go through the alphabet saying something within topic.  We usually do music, so we have done artists, bands and song tittles.  You can change things up for adults and do 70’s songs(if you need the challenge) and you can also do this with little kids naming animals. If you get stuck you might need to ask someone in line.
  3. Guess how many more coasters come buy before you get on.  This works well if you can see the coasters coming and going.  Then you count.  This is good in conjunction with the other games.  Winner chooses their seat.
  4. Risky places to bounce a super ball.  Yep, it’s exactly what you think it is. We get a super ball (or 2) and bounce it on the ground.  Sometimes the ground off to the side is a ramp leaving a ride.  It’s funny to have people watch you and they will help you rescue your ball.  We like to see how long one ball will last.  It can last up to a day or two.  Bonus:  We entertain those around us.
  5. Rock, Paper, Scissors.  It’s simple, but fun.
  6. Photo Guess.  We take a camera everywhere we go, so my husband made this game where we all had to turn our backs and close our eyes and he would take a super close up of something right there in line and we would have to figure out what it was.

I saw a blogger suggested in his post that kids should take along handheld gaming systems to keep them from getting bored.  I couldn’t be more against that idea.  We have been taking our kids on roller coaster vacations for years and we have stood in a few lines here and there.  It’s a time to talk, to hang out, to be together.  I have to deal with video games enough, I don’t want that during vacations too. Plus I am not going to carry that thing for them.

What other games have you played while standing in line?  I know you have all gotten creative at some time or another.

FREE Admission to Armed Forces

Cedar Fair is doing something special to honor the military and that is giving them FREE admission to any of their parks.  For Memorial Weekend, May 30 and May 31 also  the 4ht of July weekend, July 4 and July 5 Military can get in for  FREE. This for active or retired military.  You just need your Military ID to get in.

It doesn’t stop there.  They are also offering discount tickets to immediate family(max 6) those days as well.  For all the details check it out HERE.

Check out the 14 parks you can choose from.

Thanks for all you do!!!  Enjoy your day of fun with your family.