If you’re a big theme park fan like me, then you’re probably already planing to visit a theme park or two this year. I thought it might be helpful to share some tips on how you can include more theme park trips in 2018. Have you been meaning to visit a certain park? Would you like to meet other enthusiasts? Here are some ideas you may not have considered that can help you visit more parks and ride more rides in 2018. Family Theme Park Trips Family vacations can be a way to slip in a theme park trip even if the destination is visiting family, a beach, or a major city. Also, mixing it up by hitting a new park in your region is another clever way to experience more theme parks. 1. The “Add-on” Theme Park Trip As you plan your family vacations, research amusement parks that are on the way or also at the destination. For example, my family has visited Myrtle Beach for a beach vacation, but while in the area we visited Family Kingdom on one of the days. This works best if you’ll be at your destination for multiple days and you can just use one of the days to visit the park. 2. The “On the Way” Theme Park Trip Again, this takes research, but look for parks that could be included in the travel to or from the true destination of the family vacation. Breaking up the travel can always be a good idea and experiencing a new park can be an added bonus. It’d probably be easier to pull this off if the theme park trip is on the way to the destination as your family could be exhausted from the destination afterwards. I did this with my wife when Geauga Lake was conveniently located on our path back from a wedding, but haven’t tried it since we’ve had kids. 3. The “Try Something Different” Theme Park Trip We’ve all got our go-to home parks that we typically visit. These are the parks we’ve visited so many times we could navigate them blindfolded. Why not look for a theme park that’s within a reasonable driving distance just to mix it up for a change? If Kings Dominion is your every year park, why not try Busch Gardens Williamsburg? I tell friends here in Charlotte about to head over the mountains and check out Dollywood. Or head south and give Six Flags Over Georgia a try. This is much easier in the Eastern part of the country where there are so many parks within a reasonable drive, but everyone can look for possibilities. Find & Join Other Theme Park Fans Want to meet other theme park fans and geek out together? Here are a few ways you can join other enthusiasts: 4. Join an Organized Theme Park Group Trip There are a number of theme park fan sites that organize group trips to theme parks. For example, long-running fan site CoasterCrew has a great list of events. Also, Theme Park Review organizes events for their Club TPR members that include perks like: “ERT (Exclusive Riding Time), Backstage Tours, Q&A Sessions with management, meals, and other discounts.” Hooking up with fan sites can be a way to find out about special group trips organized specifically by these sites. I’ve joined TPR Events at Kings Dominion and Dollywood in the past and I had a great time. 5. Attend a Theme Park Fan Event Theme Parks also host large fan events aimed at pleasing the hardcore fanatics like CoasterMania! at Cedar Point and Coasterstock at Kings Island. From my brief research, it seems like you’ll need to attend via an approved coaster club like American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), Club TPR, CoasterCrew etc. At a Carowinds Coasterstock I enjoyed meeting and interviewing Bob Mampe from Bolliger & Mabillard and getting an exclusive look at Intimidator’s maintenance area. 6. Try Amuslly: A Theme Park Meetup Service There’s a new service that looks to bring theme park fans together in a new way. Amuslly is like a mashup of Meetup and Groupon. You pick a day to visit a theme park and the service will pair you with others going on the same day. There’s an established meeting time and place. Also, members of the group will have access to a group chat 24 hours before the trip so everyone can connect before the trip. Amuslly’s trips start May 1, 2018. Solo Trips to Theme Parks Like me, are you the only roller coaster fan you know? Don’t have a group or partner in crime down for a long distance, g-force packed theme park trip? If you answered yes, then don’t overlook the advantages of solo trips. 7. Try a Solo Theme Park Trip With solo theme park trips, it’s all about you. There’s no checking to see what each member of the group wants to do and all the planning and scheduling needed to make sure everyone gets to ride what they want. You can experience the park at your own pace; whether you’re eager to zip around the park or really take your time with each ride and take the perfect photos. For me, the biggest benefit is riding roller coasters as many times as I want and saving time by skipping certain rides altogether. If you’re a coaster enthusiast this can be huge. You can sit in different seats and get a really good feel for a roller coaster where if you had a group others might not have the endurance or interest for multiple rides. 8 rides in a row on Steel Vengeance? 14 rides on Fury? Sure. Why not? I understand solo trips aren’t for everyone, but there’s no way that I could have visited as many parks and ridden as many roller coasters if I hadn’t went alone. I’ll have more on solo trips in an upcoming post. Business Trip + Theme Park Trip = Bleisure Theme Park Trip If you happen to travel for business, you may have the opportunity to visit a theme park while you’re in town for work. 8. Bleisure Theme Park Trips Before I knew of the term bleisure, referring to the merging of the two main reasons people travel (business and leisure), I was already a bleisure traveler. Over the years I’ve had jobs that required travel and I ended up in cities like Cincinnati, Orlando, and Las Vegas. While in town for those trips I found time to visit theme parks. For some of them, I was in town for multiple days and just headed to the parks in the evenings after my work hours. There’s also the option of booking the business flight to take you into or out of the destination city a day early or day later than needed for the business part of the trip. Obviously you’d need permission to do this and companies may be fine with this as long as you pay for lodging for the additional non-work part of the trip. What’s Your Take? What are your 2018 theme park travel plans? Do you have any questions about which parks to visit? Chime in below. 3 Responses Brian MacDonald March 4, 2018 I’m hoping to try some “bleisure” trips this year, as I’ve been attending some tech conferences. I’ve got one in Raleigh in the fall, and I hope I can fit in a side trip to King’s Dominion or Carowinds. I hope I’ll be accepted at a conference in Salt Lake so I can swing by Lagoon, because when else would I get there? Unfortunately, I was rejected by a conference in Knoxville, so no Dollywood side trip this year. The worst “bleisure” story I have though — for several years, I’ve attended a conference in Sandusky, OH, which takes place in January, when Cedar Point is closed. You’re not even allowed in the parking lot to take photos (I checked). What kind of enthusiast goes to Sandusky every year, but has never set foot on the Cedar Point property? Reply Bobbie March 4, 2018 Good tips, Joel, especially about solo visits. I almost always visit parks alone, not only b/c I’m really don’t know any nearby coaster enthusiasts but b/c I enjoy the freedom of doing exactly what I want when I want. Yes, I’ve ridden El Toro 10 times in a row and most people probably wouldn’t want to do that. I did hang out at the park several times with guys I literally met on El Toro and that worked out pretty well, as one was a hardcore, knowledgeable coaster enthusiast and we had no trouble agreeing on an agenda. The other was not so knowledgeable and was happy to have me lead him by the nose and decide what we were going to ride next. Unfortunately, both are now deceased. (I sometimes get a spooky feeling about the fact that these 2 guys whom I met on El Toro are both dead and both died at the age of 52. It’s almost too coincidental.) My experience hanging out with a young woman whom I met through a mutual acquaintance was a different story altogether. We couldn’t agree on anything! She didn’t want to ride El Toro in the back and that’s the only place I like to sit, as the airtime is so much better. She refused to ride Kingda Ka, she refused to eat at the Garden State Grill b/c they ran out of cucumber salad, etc. etc. As to enthusiast groups, I did meet a couple of people through ACE but no-one local. I also met some people, including one who regularly posts comments on this site, through Coasting For Kids, but again no-one local. The next time I find myself in the mood for companionship at a park I might try Amuslly, of which I was unaware. Reply Eric March 5, 2018 I’m all about the ‘add-ons’. I managed to convince my girlfriend that “hey, since we’re visiting Nashville during spring break…..might as well make the side trip to Dollywood??” I sure hope Lightning Rod will be at 100% by March 28th! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. 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