March 30, 2004, 6:13P

Mamoosh

Mamoosh's avatar

[NOTE - updated 6/1/09]

As the season revs up there seem to be a lot of people inquiring about parks, crowds, hotels, driving directions, and other questions related to trip planning and park visits. Many of those questions can be easily answered with quick searches on the internet or with common sense, so I thought I would start this topic as a "one-stop" place where people could get trip planning trips.

If anyone has something to add please do!

Note to those under 25 years of age: Minimum age requirements for hotels and car rentals vary by state and company, but many require a minimum age of 25. Expect a daily surcharge *if* they allow rentals by drivers below age 25. Call ahead and confirm before you rely on a rental if you're under age 25. Likewise, call ahead and confirm mimimum age requirements with hotels before your trip.

THIS SITE will give you car rental company's minimum age requirements BY CITY:

http://www.bnm.com/uage2.htm

Note to anyone wanting to use a "check debit" card instead of a credit card: Not all car rental companies or hotels accept debit cards, however many of their reservations systems cannot tell the difference between a debit card and a credit card. To make matter worse, many hotels and car agency location bear the name of the corporation but are actually franchises with rules different than corporate.

Many have arrived to pick up a car or get a room, only to find themselves stranded because their debit card was not accepted. It is ALWAYS a good idea to call the exact location of the hotel or car rental agency and ask if such a card is acceptable, even if their reservation agent says they are.

--AIRLINES, HOTELS, and CARS--

Each major airline, hotel chain, and car rental company has their own website with special internet-only fares. There are also companies who receive unsold inventory from airlines, hotels, and car agencies and sell them at a discounted price, such as Orbitz, Priceline, Hotels.com, etc.

NOTE: The latest trend in the travel industry is that many airlines, hotels, and car companies are actually giving less of their inventory to these sites and offering the best deals on their own website. If you find a low fare on one of the sites below always check the hotel's website to see if there is a better deal.

I'm not going to list each airline, hotel, and car rental company website...you can find them with an easy search. Here are some consolidator websites:

www.orbitz.com
www.hotels.com
www.expedia.com
www.priceline.com
www.cheaptickets.com
www.hotwire.com
www.smarterliving.com
www.travel.yahoo.com
www.travelocity.com
www.travelzoo.com

Also, please know that some discount airlines such as Southwest, Jet Blue, and others DO NOT list their inventory on consolidator websites. You must book directly with them.

THIS SITE will give you car rental company's minimum age requirements BY CITY:

http://www.bnm.com/uage2.htm

These three sites will allow you to browse many different airlines and consolidators in a single search:

www.travelaxe.com www.qixo.com
www.sidestep.com

If you are planning using Priceline to bid for airfare, hotels, and cars I suggest researching www.biddingfortravel.com and www.betterbidding.com to find successful bids in the city you are travelling to.

For those of you who are picky about the airplane seats you sit in, this site will be of help:

http://seatguru.com/

YAHOO MAPS - A Quick & Easy Way To Find Hotels, Restaurants, Gas, Shopping, and other Business and Attractions Near A Specific Park or Location

Yahoo Maps offers a feature called Smartview that can show you the actual location[s] of businesses in a specific area. For example use a park's address as the search critria and then choosing the hotel option from the Travel & Transportation section of Smartview and icons showing the location of each hotel in the area will appear on the map. Each icon is a link for further information. You can find lots of other businesses that can be helpful in trip planning such as restaurants, gas stations, banks, etc.

--TRAVEL AGENTS--

Do not overlook your local travel expert. I doubt you'll find anyone more knowledgeable about the travel industry than a travel agent.

--PARKS--

If you have a specific question about a park or rides at a park, start with these three simple steps to find your answer:

1] check the park's website. If that fails
2] call the park. If that fails
3] check the trip reports forum here on Coasterbuzz and on other forums to see if anyone has posted about a recent visit.

If you are having trouble finding a park's website there are two excellent resources online:

1] the LINKS page right here at Coasterbuzz, or
2] the Rollercoaster Database, www.rcdb.com

--CROWDS--

No one here has a crystal ball, so use some common sense. Weekends will be more crowded than weekdays. Summer, especially when schools are out from mid-June to early September, are when crowds are at their peak.

Events, concerts, and school outtings also tend to be crowded. Special events, such as Halloween fright fests, will typically have large crowds. Most parks will show such events on their website but if you are unsure or want to cover your ass CALL THE PARK!

Also, weather can play a big part in how crowded a park will be.

--WEATHER--

You can get up-to-the-minute weather at:

www.weather.com, www.accuweather.com, www.cnn.com, http://intellicast.com/, and www.weatherunderground.com

--PARK OPERATIONS--

Again, no one here has a crystal ball. Rides that may be operating one day may be unexpectedly closed the next. It is never a good idea to plan a trip based on your desire to ride a specific ride, especially a new ride and PARTICULARLY a ride that is notorious for having excessive downtime.

The Disney parks are the only I know that list closures on their website. If you must absolutely know if a particular ride will be operating, CALL THE PARK. Be warned though: hearing a "yes" is still no guarantee the ride will be open when you arrive.

If you are unable to get an answer from the park check Coasterbuzz's Trip Reports Forum to see if anyone has commented on the park you are visiting before starting a new topic.

--GETTING THERE--

Everyone should own an Atlas. Before you plan any trip go to yor local bookstore and buy one. It will be an excellent investment.

Online map/atlas resources:

www.mapquest.com
www.maps.yahoo.com
www.maps.com
www.mapsworldwide.com

US Nationwide traffic alerts & conditions [for outside the US, seach by country]:

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/
http://www.usroadconditions.com/

There are also a number of trip planning software programs available, including MS Streets & Trips and Rand-McNally Atlas.

I also highly recommend checking with people who live in the area, especially if you are travelling through a large metropolitan such as like Los Angeles.

--PLANNING YOUR DAY--

Again, common sense is your best tool here.

1] As a general rule, new rides tend to be the most popular and have the longest lines. These are the rides guests will flock to at park opening. New rides will also have long lines throughout the day.

2] Rides with low capacity will typically have slower-moving lines. Shuttle coasters, dark rides, some flat rides...you get the idea.

3] Water rides will be most popular on hot days, less popular at night and at the end of the day.

4] Guests typically move around a park in a clockwise direction, so try walking in the opposite direction.

5] Eat meals during off-peak hours. That means lunch before noon or after 2pm; dinner before 5pm or after 7pm.

6] If visiting during peak season take advantage of virtual queue systems such as Fastland, FastPass, Q-bot, etc.

--WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?--

Most cities have a visitor's bureau or chamber of commerce, and many of those offices are also online. Try a Yahoo or Google search for the city you need to know more about.

--SAVING MONEY--

Most, if not all, airlines, hotels, and car rental companies have frequent flyer programs or will contribute to a program. Likewise many credit cards and phone companies offer "points" that can be contributed to frequent flyer programs. JOIN THEM ALL!!

Need a discount ticket or coupon to a park? Go to www.yp.yahoo and do a search in the city you will be visiting for grocery stores and fast food chains. Those are the two most likely places to find discount tickets and coupons.

Many times hotels near the park will offer a package for rooms and tickets to the park. Those deals are usually on the "Lodging" section of a park's website.

Always check brochure racks for coupons.

Join AAA! Many parks and hotels offer AAA discounts, and AAA sells discounted tickets to parks, especially Disney.

Join ACE. Some parks offer discounts for members. Such discounts can be found at www.aceonline.org

Check with your credit union, many offer discount tickets for their members.

Check with your company's Human Resource department. Many parks send coupons for HR to distribute.

Travel with a group instead of alone so you can share expenses.

Many parks sell tickets online at a discount...don't forget to check their website!

Don't mind roughing it? Try camping!

--ONE LAST TIP--

With all due respect to Jeff and this wonderful site, everyone should have the Roller Coaster Database bookmarked. By searching on www.rcdb.com you can find:

*Park address, phone, and website links
*Coaster stats and pictures
*Other parks near the one you are visiting.

--IN CLOSING--

Don't be lazy. If you have access to Coasterbuzz you have access to the internet. Most, if not all, of your answers can be found if you just spend some time searching the web.

*** Edited 4/30/2008 10:21:10 PM UTC by Mamoosh***

Last edited by Mamoosh, July 6, 2009, 6:14P

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March 30, 2004, 7:06P

Danimales

Those jerks, checking CoasterBuzz for travel tips. The nerve of some people.

Seriously Moosh, who cares? If it were a major problem Jeff and/or the powers that be would put a stop to it themselves.

I think part of the reason people look here is for other opinions. MapQuest has been known to give awful directions on more than one occasion. Locals can sometimes provide an inside scoop to their park that a website can't. Often enough looking for travel tips on this board results in a money saving deal that you can't always find easily.

Parks don't always post crowd drawing special events on their website. Last time I went to Knott's, I checked the website for special events, planning around them to avoid large crowds. Suprisingly, they were holding the West Coast Cheerleading Championship the day I went. Not on the website. Believe it or not, the park was much more crowded than usual. Had I known that beforehand, I would have planned my visit for another day. Who knows? Maybe someone here knew of the event had I posted, looking for information?

If these 'looking for information' threads are that bothersome, then don't read them.

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March 30, 2004, 7:21P

Antuan

On the same token Danimales, some of the questions are really assinine. I can understand crowds info and such, but hotel info and routes ....c'mon.

I think part of it is just to announce to the message board that "I am going to such and such park and I am way excited....w00t!!"

*** Edited 3/31/2004 12:21:45 AM UTC by Antuan***


Fate is the path of least resistance.

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March 30, 2004, 7:21P

Peabody


Danimales said:

Seriously Moosh, who cares? If it were a major problem Jeff and/or the powers that be would put a stop to it themselves.


The "powers that be" have discouraged it before, but that can't stop it all. Moosh has done everyone here a great favor by taking the time do do this. THANKS MOOSH!

Perhaps this can be a "sticky"


Real Cbuzz quote of the day - "The classes i take in collage are so mor adcanced then u could imagen. Dont talk about my emglihs" - Adamforce
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March 30, 2004, 7:31P

CoastaPlaya

The 'Playa stamps these sites with the Cap'n Obvious Seal of approval:

Weather.com - with hourly breakdowns, I've used it to make final decisions on cloudy days that really pay off.

RCDB.COM - The site of sites when planning the Playa 100. It made the trip about 20 times better as I unearthed small gems of parks en route to the larger ones.

Mapblast includes the best travel time estimates, road construction notices and was so good that Bill Gates came knocking with a sack of dollars to buy their technology.

And my secret lodging weapon Extended Stay America gets a big shout-out. When you're picking a hotel for a family, a kitchen makes a huge difference. The pristine Studio Plus in Orlando for $300 a week - tax and all - during spring break was the most pleasant surprise ever.

You'll never, ever EVER be able to write like me--but at least you can travel like me. Happy trails!

-'Playa

*** Edited 3/31/2004 12:31:59 AM UTC by CoastaPlaya***


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

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March 30, 2004, 7:35P

Mamoosh

Mamoosh's avatar Danimales - No where in my post did I suggest people never ask for tips on CB. I'm merely suggesting that people do some research FIRST. And perhaps I've presented some useful new information in the process.

As for money saving tips or routes better than what is suggested online I have no problem with people asking such questions. A post saying "Mapquest says this...is it really the best route?" or "I've checked the park's website and called the park and was unable to get discount ticket or coupon info" shows the person has at least TRIED!

As for your day at Knotts, a simple call to the park to verify there was no event or special group would have alerted you to the potential for a large crowd.

As someone who has done extensive travelling *and* works in the travel industry I'm merely giving people the benefit of my experience at a time when many will be making travel plans.

mOOSH

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March 30, 2004, 7:50P

Danimales

I hear ya, Moosh. But often people assume that the person looking for info didn't do things mentioned above. Then the flame wars start, just because someone was looking for additional info or had a hard time finding what they were looking for in the first place.

Agreed, some questions found on this board are elementry. However, what seems ignorant to some is complex for another.

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March 30, 2004, 7:53P

Lord Gonchar

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Danimales said:


Agreed, some questions found on this board are elementry. However, what seems ignorant to some is complex for another.


And I think that's exactly why Moosh posted this.


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March 30, 2004, 8:06P

CPLady

CPLady's avatar I, for one, am grateful to Moosh for putting everything needed to plan a trip into one post. It can be referred back to easily for links to do our own research. So even those of us who already do the research have an even easier way to make sure we cover all the bases.

I would think this post should be linked on the main page or as another "forum" under trip reports for even easier access.

I don't think it's a problem to ask for tips about one route vs another or one hotel over another. But asking about crowds, opened or closed rides, and general park information gets to be old.


I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

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March 30, 2004, 8:09P

Intamin Fan

I thought your advice was brilliant Mamoosh. I've never understood why people ask questions that are easily answered by the parks websites, which I'm sure cost them a mint to maintain. They usually have a complete, or "coolest" list of rides (which answers the "What rides should I hit question). They might even have a park map (check out Hersheypark's website for an excellent example)!
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March 30, 2004, 8:27P

ApolloAndy

ApolloAndy's avatar Thanks Moosh.
Speaking of which, I've been trying to find info. for disount tickets/coupons to GAdv. (that aren't group tickets...I settled that one a while ago), but the website doesn't appear to have the info. and the menus on the other end of the phone were not useful.

Any help?


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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March 30, 2004, 8:29P

ApolloAndy

ApolloAndy's avatar CPLady: You can add the topic to your favorites and then it'll always be easily accesible. I have the previous "travel tips" topic in my favorites. :)

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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March 30, 2004, 8:43P

ApolloAndy

ApolloAndy's avatar In terms of park strategy: I always try to start with the low capacity rides and/or the rides towards the back of the park (So at MM, S:TE and Deja Vu are always good early picks). If you arrive for opening, the back of the park will be a ghost town for an hour or two and getting in those low capacity rides saves a lot of time.

The one thing I always try to avoid is spending more than 20 minutes in line for a "mid-level" coaster. (Viper or Ninja at SFMM). This means on really crowded days, avoid them like the plague during the mid-afternoon. Get your re-rides on the big, high capacity rides and wait 'til after dinner when the mid-level rides are walkons again. Don't spend your entire afternoon waiting in lines that will disappear later in the day, when you can be waiting in lines that will be the same, no matter what you do.

The opposite is true of lightly crowded days. Hit the mid-level coasters during peak times when they're walkons and the big rides have long lines. All the lines will drop pretty significantly after dinner, but that means 1 train difference on your mid-level rides and 20 minutes difference on the big attractions.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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March 30, 2004, 8:53P

Michael Darling

Good move, Moosh. You've got a lot of great resources there, especially for newbies to the travel planning thing.

I'll be sure to point to this thread anytime I run into somebody looking for tips.

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March 30, 2004, 9:24P

coasterMNguy...

Very nice Moosh. And yes sorry about that stupid CP question, I could have just gone with the info I got online.
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March 30, 2004, 9:30P

Mamoosh

Mamoosh's avatar MNguy - this topic isn't directed at any one person, and there's no need to apologize. The number of trip-related topics grows this time of year as people begin to plan their season. Hopefully this topic will be helpful to anyone planning a trip.

To everyone else - let me make this clear and I was not suggesting that people stop asking questions. Let's face it, some questions will not be answered by a park's website, Mapquest, or RCDB. Coasterbuzz members are also a great source of info, especially when you can't seem to find an answer in the normal places.

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March 30, 2004, 9:47P

Brian Noble

'moosh: cursing the darkness *and* lighting a candle.
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March 30, 2004, 10:09P

coasterzak

Great idea Moosh, genius! This is going to help so many people. I like to see support around here and this is just great. If I was new here and found this thread I would feel very welcome. Keep up the good work! :)
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March 30, 2004, 10:19P

Black 7

All I have to add: Thumbs up Moosh.
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March 30, 2004, 10:24P

Jeff

Jeff's avatar 99% of topics looking for advice are covered on the sites 'Moosh mentions.

Topic pinned.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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