The Coaster Critic & The Coney Island Cyclone

8 Ways to Visit More Theme Parks in 2018

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.
Bob Mampe and The Coaster Critic
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.