Not Your Typical San Antonio Travel Tips

San antonio travel tips

Google what to do in San Antonio and you will get a list of ideas. Places to see, where to walk, what to enjoy and just maybe, how to get there. But what about all the great places that the locals enjoy in their city? Where are those places and are they just as fun as the tourist spots? What is the easiest way to get around if you don’t have a car so you can take in those hidden gems. Don’t worry, I have answers for you.

Let’s at least start with a few of the obvious reasons of why we went to San Antonio, then I will get into the stuff that will really help you get around and enjoy your time.
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Kings Island

The Beast Kings Island '08

The Beast Kings Island ’08

Ah…after you leave Cedar Point you should NOT got to Kings Island.  We had been warned, but since we had platinum season passes and we got in with that card at no additional charge we thought we would at least give it a try.

First off the park is much, much smaller and packed.  We were there on a Saturday night and with the Platinum Pass you can get the passes that put you at the front of the line on 4 rides.  The catch is the rides are not close to each other and the times are pretty close, so you kind of need to choose what rides you want to do.  Now remember we had just ridden Top Thrill Dragster earlier that day, so every time we got off one of the roller coasters at Kings Island we were like “that was cute”.  The adjustment was hard.

We were not super excited about the park, so we didn’t have quite as much motivation to get there and open up the park.  So the nice thing was we got to sleep in.

Once we got to the park we decided to push through and make a day and hit all the rides.  The lines were long, so we had to change our strategy mentally.  We usually hit parks during off seasons, our kids don’t know what it’s like to stand in line for over 30 minutes.  Well they didn’t know then, but they do know now.

The Beast!!  It is a wooden roller coaster that’s all it’s cracked up to be.  It was long, amazing and not bumpy.  Son of Beast was just a great.

We took time to sit down and watch some shows too.  Or at least we tried.  Don’t judge us Barry Williams, but we just couldn’t sit through it.  Yeah that’s right the name is ringing a bell.  That’s Greg Brady along with Bobby and Cindy.  They were entertaining guests at Kings Island while we were there.

Over all Kings Island ended up being a fun time.  Even with the new ride Diamond Back coming out next year I don’t think we will ever return to that park.  Unless for some weird reason work takes us to Cincinnati, then we might.

My tip is don’t go over Labor Day Weekend.  Even though I knew it was a holiday I was kind of hoping that everyone was done with amusement parks for the summer, turns out they aren’t.  They like to end with a bang, literally, there were even fireworks, and quite a show at that.

Paramounts Great America-What I think

Great America '05

Great America ’05

We have been to this park a ton. My husband grew up going there on vacation. It was my first Roller Coaster park and I was in college when I first went. It was also our kids’ first Roller Coaster Park. So we have fond memories here….BUT we have also been to Cedar Point, Ohio, the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, so coming back to this park this year has mixed reviews for us.

First and foremost this park is clean. I mean Disneyland clean, which is more than I can say for all the Six Flag Parks I have been too. I really appreciate that. It gives it a great family feel as opposed to the others that just seem dirty and crazy.

Great America is not a big park. I never thought that until this year. You can make it around in no time. Which is both positive and negative. The rides are not far from each other, which I really like. There are lots of shops and cafes between rides too which is nice when you need water or things to eat.

They do have some great rides that I consider big. Although again, after having been to Cedar Point, none of the rides are BIG anymore. But nonetheless we enjoyed many rides here.

  • Invertigo. This ride is best done in the front row facing Grizzly.
  • Grizzly is a great wooden roller coaster. It is best done in the front. I rode it many times. In the past I had stayed away because….I shouldn’t even say this outloud to the world since I love riding roller coasters, but I have a bad back. But I only did this one in the front row and it seemed to work perfect for me. I had no problems whatsoever.
  • Drop Tower never gets old, which was good because we rode it alot. Mostly because there were no lines and we could stay in our seat. This is a great 224 foot free fall drop.
  • Flight Deck (formally known as Top Gun) is known for it’s speed instead of its height. And it is fast, so fast that I do tend to black out during parts of the ride. We did this one in the front row nearly every time.
  • Survivor the Ride was down when we were there 2 years ago, so we finally got a chance to ride it. It’s a fun relaxing ride. It goes in a circle while rolling back in forth over the track. It’s different, I can’t say if I liked it or not. I wouldn’t wait in line for it, but since we had no lines, we usually just did it as we passed it.

The new ride was not yet open. I was disappointed until I saw what it was, then I realized we had actually done it at another park. It’s a fun ride, but it’s not a roller coaster. So we didn’t mind that we missed it.

The food selection was ok. I would really like to see parks go with healthier food. They are slowly coming around. They did offer salads and fruit salad. But the one time we went to purchase the fruit salad it was gone. That was at 12:00. Either they didn’ t have many or it’s not just us that are trying to eat healthier and they were all eaten up. I was glad that we found the sushi, it was a filling yet non greasy selection that left us all feeling great.

The bathrooms were always clean. The cafes were always being picked up by someone and rarely did you seen any garbage on the ground. I know there were not a lot of people attending the park that day, but the workers were all there nonetheless, sweeping.

Most of the staff at the rides were nice and social. I got grease on my arm from one of the rides. I asked for a paper towel to clean up and she must have apologized 4 times. It wasn’t her fault, but she felt bad and made sure I got cleaned up and was happy. Thank you Jessica!!!empy-park.jpg

Overall we love this park, but we have outgrown it. None of these rides scare us at all anymore and give us that thrill we are looking for. I doubt we will make it back. We will probably venture out to others. But I highly suggest going if you have never been. It will probably always be a family favorite because of all the memories. The best part of all was our timing. We really did have the park pretty much to ourselves.

Paramounts Great America, Sunday, April 13th

We started the day again with our GREAT breakfast at The Plaza Suites. The weather was so nice we decided to eat outside.

We actually found yesterday that with the Premium parking you can park really close to the front gate. There are a few parking spots then TONS of handicapped, but just beyond the handicapped there are a lot more regular parking spots. We ended up parking 50 yards from the front gate. Wish we would have seen that sooner.

Today was busier, but still we had the park to ourselves. We ran to the back of the park again. The park opened at 10am and by 10:30 we had done 7 rides.

We snacked, and filled our water bottle multiple times and left the park at 2:00 Caprese Piadine from Tomatinato go eat. The kids wanted In-N-Out Burgers but we wanted to go to Tomatina. I have not tried any pasta, but we have had their Piadines(warm-from-the-oven flatbread topped with cool salads – fold and eat like a sandwich) and Pizza and my mom did have a salad the week before. Today I ordered the Caprese Piadine. It was amazing. Great flavor and very filling. Ryan had had the pizza earlier in a visit and had really liked it, but thought he would try a Piadine as well. He ordered the Chicken Piadine. It was good, but not nearly as flavorful as mine was. The lady next to us ordered the steak Piadine and it was huge and filled with a lot of steak. She couldn’t finish hers.

We didn’t have a motel to go to so we took our time eating and just had some down time, then we went back to the park for one final hoorah…oh and funnel cake. 🙂

By the end of the trip we had riden nearly 75 rides. All because there were no lines.

We got to the airport early in hopes of being bumped, but it was just full not over booked. So we got home at 7:30, had some down time before everyone was off to bed.

It was another great rollercoaster weekend.

I am going to have my kids give a review of the park from their perspective. Those should be up soon.

Paramounts Great America, Saturday, April 12th

Front row every time if we wanted.

Front row every time if we wanted.

 

We started off the morning with a great cooked to order breakfast at The Plaza Suites. I love this hotel. It’s beautiful and it’s clean and the breakfast is amazing. They have these really good Vanilla Frappucino’s that I had this morning with my breakfast too. Look aBreakfast at The Plaza Suitest all this food for the 4 of us and our kids did not choose anything off the cooked to order, they just pulled from the buffet. I had a vegetable omlet and Ryan had to eggs over easy with toast and bacon.

Now that we actually had our Platinum Passes in hand we got our free parking (yesterday ours was reimbursed after we proccessed our tickets) in the Premium Parking. Which basically means, MUCH CLOSER. Again we got in and ran towards the back and did all the rides before many people got to the back. Any times that there were lines we would wait maybe 10 minutes and that was only because we wanted to wait for the front row. Often times our kids would take any row and go and they would come back and get in line again and then go with us or just stay in there seats and go with again.

We began playing this game of “let’s see how many times we can go before they kick us off.” Once we made it 4 times without leaving our seats before someone finally got in line and we had to get out. Today we brought snacks again and kept filling up a water bottle.

GREAT TIP: Outback Shack had water spouts on the Coke machines, so we filled up our bottles there and the water was ice cold.

We left the park again by 2pm and went and got something good to eat. Today we went to Sonoma Chicken Coop. I had discovered this place last week when I was here visiting with my mom. The kids loved it and so did Ryan. We sat outside in the beautiful weather. Ryan’s Carne Asada Verde was amazing, Jenna’s Chicken Fettucine was great, Cody really enjoyed his pizza, and I was satisfied with my Walnut chicken salad. I would not order it again, but it was their most popular salad. I guess I am not sure why. Really nothing special about it.sunset ride on The Grizzly

We went back to our motel and laid out by the pool. We had a bit more free time as the park was open later tonight.

We did make it back to the park and got in a few more rides, even some in the sunset light. It was so fun.

By the end of the day we figured we had done just over 20 rides.

Paramounts Great America, Friday, April 11th

Plan your trips accordingly and you will have the park to yourself

We got up at 4am to get ready and be at the airport by 5:15 for our 6:15 flight. Since my husband used to travel a lot we have a board room pass. So we just ate breakfast at the board room once we were at the aiport. They have a great seclection of pastries, yogurt, juices, teas and coffees. We landed in San Jose at 8:00. We went and picked up our rental car and drove towards Great America and stopped by a Starbucks and got some drinks and snacks. The kids each got a Jamba Juice. We also took the time to pack some of the snacks that we had brought with us and put them in little baggies. NEXT TIME we would stop and eat a good breakfast at a restaurant so we had good energy and good food on our stomachs. It affects you when you ride roller coasters if you haven’t eaten well. We got to the park right at 9:30, bought our Platium Pass tickets and waited patiently for the park to open.

While we were waiting some workers came through doing a survery and we began asking them how many people would be in the park today. They said that last Friday there were 1100 people. During the summer they run about 10,000+. So we basically had the park to ourselves, because everyone around us had little kids,  they weren’t doing the rides we would be doing.

Once it opened we ran and started on Flight Deck (formally Top Gun). We did any and every ride we wanted as many times as we wanted. The park was empty. [Read more…]