Advice on family oriented parks

Greetings Coaster Buzzers,

So as not to incur Jeff's wrath on PointBuzz, I registered here like a good girl to ask this question of you world travelers. We are running away from home (CP) next year & I am looking for theme/amusement parks that have a good variety of middle range coasters & dark rides. Something the whole family can enjoy together without splitting up. My sons have no interest in Disney, but Universal is a contender.

If anyone can just post some links to previous posts on here that address this, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance. :)

Mamoosh's avatar
Hi Grief ;)

First, a suggestion: the Roller Coaster Database -- -- is a great research tool. You can search for parks in a specific area and use handly links to find other nearby parks. You can find links to park websites. And you can find coaster stats, photos, trip reports, etc. It even has a map function!

Second, a request: I think a little more info might help us make better suggestions tailored to your needs rather than simply suggesting parks we like that might not be appropriate for you and your family.

1. Must we focus on a specific geographical area [midwest, florida, etc] or are any of the lower 48 states OK? What about Canada? Europe?

2. Can you give us your boy's ages and heights and even some examples of rides & coasters they like, don't like, etc.

3. Do you have any specific constraints such as monetary [must stay within a specific budget], amount of time travelling [weekend only? 1 week? more?]. Anyone in a wheelchair?

4. How are you expecting to travel? Only by car? Fly and rent a car?

5. How do you feel about "corporate chain parks" [i.e. parks in the Cedar Fair or Six Flags families] versus independent parks [such as Holiday World or Indiana Beach].

6. What's more important: quantity of rides or quality of rides? In other words is going to a park with only 2-3 coasters going to be scoffed at by the kids or viewed as a waste of time/money?

I think those are good places to get the conversation rolling.


EDIT - also check out this lengthy travel tips discussion:

*** Edited 11/15/2007 4:46:29 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

When you said family-oriented parks, middle-range coasters, and dark rides, I had some trouble putting the three of those together. But I think this fits the bill perfectly:

Kennywood--They have several darkrides with Noah's Ark standing out as a one-of-a-kind walkthrough, the tunnel of love-like Garfield's Nightmare, and whatever they're replacing Gold Rusher with. You have several wood coasters that aren't too extreme (or will have you in search of Advil the next day), the sometimes in-the-dark Exterminator spinning mouse and Phantom's Revenge, a true world-class hyper.

Add in lots of classic and modern flatrides, shoot-the-chutes, a 2nd generation Intamin drop tower, white-water rapids, a great atmosphere and I think you'll have a fun time together without going broke in the process.

Good Grief, have you been to Holiday World yet? I think that fits the bill perfectly, Kennywood is a good bet. If your son thinks he will enjoy Universal, go there you'll have a blast (be sure to stay on site so you get Unlimited FOL Access the whole day.) Hersheypark, has a very nice selection as well (some "big rides" but most are middle range.)

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

If you're willing to travel overseas, I can think of 2 parks that would be interesting: Phantasialand and Europa Park in Germany. Both features lots of dark rides, unique rides and good family coasters.
Disney. Oh wait.... :)

My friends and I had a total blast at Hershey this summer. We missed the dark ride, but that's because there was so much else to do. I don't think any of their coasters were "non-family" coasters. We were all totally blown away by the park and how much fun we had. Judging by the number of kids and families there that were all smiling and laughing, I'd pretty sure they all had a blast too. By the way, we went on a Saturday in June and waited at most 20 minutes for a ride - and that was Great Bear.

We also had a really fun time at SFNE. I'm not sure if you would consider Superman ROS a non-family ride or not, but we dug it big time. Plus, they have a nice selection of flats, several kid/family areas, and a wicked water park. So, I would put that on your list too.

Edit: I forgot Dorney because we did that a couple years ago. But again, fun, clean, lots of family friendly rides, big water park, etc... Plus, I'm assuming you're going to have a Platinum Pass, so it'd be free. :) Dorney is also practically next door to Hershey. I was a big fan of Dorney when we went. Not crowded either. Big plus.

If you really wanted to, you could easily do those three parks in a long weekend and drive. We did Great Adventure, Hershey (drove past Dorney) and then SFNE in three days. With a family (and presumably slower pace), you could do them in four or five days relaxed. *** Edited 11/15/2007 5:19:03 AM UTC by halltd***

I need some advice also. I have a timeshare for a week anywhere in the country. I am a season pass holder or Cedar Point and go there often. I went to Orlando for a week last year and while I enjoyed it and would love to go back, I'm also wondering if anyone has some other suggestions as to where I could go for some bigger thrills for a week. I'd like to hit as many parks as possible without rushing and spending my whole vaca driving to diiferent parks from the same hotel. Any advice would be great!
Mamoosh's avatar
Los Angeles.
MidwavePC's avatar
family-oriented parks, middle-range coasters, and dark rides....

Waldameer/Waterworld in Erie, PA

Kennywood in West Mifflin, PA (for discount tix)

Just Circle the state of Pennsylvania.

Best advice I can give.
Chuck, who's done it half a dozen times and going back for more next year.

Mamoosh's avatar
Those are all find suggestions but with CP as her local park she may very well have done some Kennywood or Waldameer or others in PA. That's why I've asked for some clarification. Doesn't seem to make sense to suggest Kennywood if the family has already been there, lol.
GG, you could do a multiday trip including Hershey, Knoebels, Dorney, and even take in some of the Jersey shore parks. All those places meet your criteria for mid range coasters and dark rides.

mAVERIC, how far are you willing to travel from your timeshare to any park? You could do Orlando/Tampa, but you said you've done Orlando already. If you're looking at a different park each day, I'd consider places like Baltimore, Philly, or northern NJ. You could stay in any of those cities (areas) and have 4-5 larger parks within an hour or two drive.

Good point Moosh, we do need more info. I immediately thought of KW as well due to the fact that there are 3 darkrides and 6 coasters with height restrictions at 5 different levels for those 6! Knoebels came to mind as well with the Haunted Mansion as a top of the line dark ride and the 3 current coasters are all 42" height requirement, not sure on FT yet. Waldameer has two classic darkrides and will have 4 coasters next year with 3 different height restrictions.

If I had to guess unless she is an enthusiast she probably hasn't been to any of those 3 parks. I stumbled across Waldameer by accident 4 years ago online. Even though KW advertises all over Cleveland now I still have people asking where and what it is all about because all they have known around here is CP and GL and maybe they have heard of KI.

Guess we'll have to wait for her to get back to us.


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

As for my situation I have it narrowed down to one of two things... the first is a Cali trip, going to SFMM and Knotts. The second would be a NJ trip for Atlantic City, SFNE, Hershey, Dorney and possibly KD. If anyone has and more suggestions in things to do in those areas please let me know- I appreciate all the help I can get.

The more I think about it I really want to check out Farenheit at Hershey this summer but I can take two days off of work and drive there anytime, so Cali SFMM and Knotts is looking more tempting.

janfrederick's avatar
Perhaps you could take the Pony Express out to Cali. ;)

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Wow guys, thanks for all the input already. Your all much nicer than we are on PointBuzz ;)

Actually we haven't been ANY other parks but CP, other than myself to Disney & Hershey many moons ago. And I know that Hershey must have grown leaps & bounds from the little afterthought it was to the chocolate factory 20 years ago. We just grew fonder every year of the park & didn't venture further than CP. But these last two years have brought some problems for us. Teenage son gets no thrill on the thrill rides riding with "mom", 12 year old did not inherit the adrenaline junkie gene so wants to leave the park midday since there is not much for him to do after DT, ID, Wildcat etc., & husband just wants to get the heck out of dodge to beat the parking lot mess at night.

Soooo, 1) Not oversees, & only as far as a 2 day drive, as son #2 states he will only travel as God a car. 2) 12- about 5'0 & 15- almost 6'. 3) Def. on a budget, but not too strict- no handicaps. 4) See #1 or I will see a Rainman impersonation in the terminal :/. 5) Couldn't care less (sorry Tim ;)) 6) I'm thinking quantity at their age.

Thanks for the great tips peoples. I know these newbie Q's get to be a drag, but...ya'll are the experts. :)

Hey, I gave more options than Disney. :)

If you've never been anywhere besides CP recently, I would definitely suggest the PA trip and maybe include SFNE in that if you really want. There are some great parks around there. Plus, I think it would be a nice mix for what you just mentioned about your family dynamics. I'd suggest LA, but if you're not interested in Disney at all, the other parks are going to fall closer in the category of Cedar Point. So, you may as well save the travel time and money and stay closer to home.

You might also want to consider Busch Gardens Europe (Williamsburg) and/or Dollywood. Busch Gardens gives you a park, water park, King's Dominion (again free with your platinum pass) and Historic Williamsburg. Even as a kid I liked going there. Dollywood is probably a day's drive away, but the scenery and surrounding area can make for a great family trip (imho). This is one of the trips I'm doing this year with my friends.

Mamoosh's avatar
Thanks for the follow-up, Grief!

Sounds like you're limited to a very specific area within a 2-day drive of Sandusky as flying doesn't seem to be an option (unless you sedate your son, lol).

As much as I love Waldameer, a park that'll get even better with their new big wooden coaster opening next year, it loses in the "quantity/quality" game as it has only a few adult coasters (the woodie makes two, correct?).

There are other parks with a substantial number of coasters within a 2-day drive. The link below is a list of ALL currently-operating parks and their distances, in miles, from Cedar Point. A lot of the parks on the list won't be of interest as their kiddie parks or mini-golf parks but you'll also find some large parks, such as those mentioned above. Then you can use the links to dig deeper and research.

Hope that helps ;-)


*** Edited 11/15/2007 8:03:55 PM UTC by Mamoosh***

You should try out Great America in Cali, or Dorney, MIA would be great, or even Valleyfair or Carowinds.


rollergator's avatar
I have to say that Tim hit two REAL sweet parks by mentioning Dollywood and Busch Williamsburg - adding in the fact that Hard Rock is opening in the Spring, and Ghost Town might (should?) be operating despite the low ride count, and that Carowinds and PKD are also *in the area* (very broadly defined, LOL), and you've got a recipe for some GOOD Southern Cookin'....Paula Deen is optional, ya'll. :)

P.S. - I have no *affiliation*, just an affinity... ;)

*** Edited 11/15/2007 9:23:51 PM UTC by rollergator***

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