Best Time for trip to USA

I thinking of coming from the UK to the USA either later this year or early next year flying into New York and ideally will visit Six Flags Great Adventure.

There are many smaller parks spread around New Jersey which I would like to visit and 'tick' besides the parks around New York.

What is the best time of year to ensure that all these parks will be open and also that the parks won't be too busy?


Last edited by Coaster-Robin,

I attend a convention every Memorial Day weekend (last weekend in May) and try to visit whatever parks are nearby the week after. Daily park operation in the U.S. generally runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I was disappointed when we were done in Philly. School in New Jersey, come to find out, runs til mid June, so most of the Jersey shore parks weren't even open. I did get to Six Flags though, it wasn't too busy but there were lots of school busses, which I wasn't expecting.

Mike Gallagher- am I accurate here?

Last edited by RCMAC,

Middle to end of May. Some parks are already open, and the ones that aren't will open around Memorial Day. Great Asventure is already open, but the schedule is weird. Definitely check it before you come and also before you go to the park (they're notorious for randomly changing their hours at the last minute).

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Aren't the parks busy around Memorial Day? Also this time of year will conflict with my family holiday in early June. What's it like later in the year? Are the small parks only open during the holiday (sorry vacation) season?

As RCMAC and bunky said, the parks are good before school lets out. But my favorite time is October! If you don't mind cooler weather and LIKE Halloween stuff (who doesn't?) then October is great. You just have to plan carefully as many great parks have limited hours then.

kpjb's avatar

The last week of August is generally good. Schools are back in session, but parks are usually open. We had a good visit to Great Adventure and Wildwood around that time a couple years ago.


The smaller parks such as the boardwalk parks don't open until Memorial Day. The bigger parks usually aren't very much ahead of the smaller ones. Dorney I know opens early to mid May, but I don't remember the exact date. The further south you go the more parks you would probably have open because of warmer temps.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

RCMAC is indeed pretty much accurate. But GAdv can be unpredictable, as bunky said.

Keep in mind that some Jersey Shore areas with rides and boardwalks were destroyed or otherwise affected by Hurricane Sandy late last year. Seaside's Casino and FunTown piers may have only a few, if any, rides operating. They are hoping to have the boardwalk finished. Keansburg expects to have some rides opem The Wildwood piers, from what I've read, sustained minimal damage and should be good to go.

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

Thanks for the replies. October sounds good to me as I don't mind it being a little cooler. But would it only be the major parks open at that time or would many of the smaller parks be open?

Some of the smaller parks, like Moreys, Knoebels, and Lake Compounce, do indeed have October Halloween events. GAdv and Dorney, as larger chain parks, do as well.

Last edited by Mike Gallagher,

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

Lord Gonchar's avatar

What no one seems to be mentioning is that in October, parks tend to be open only on the weekends and that Halloween events are generally insanely crowded.

^True! So be very careful about where to go and what day(s) specifically. To find those random odd. great, non-busy days in October, you gotta get on the forums and talk with locals.

I remember some excellent October nights at Magic Mountain years ago. Even SF Great America has some dead days/nights in October, but those are more hit-or-miss.

Unless you want 4 non-coaster days in the middle of your trip, October would be a bad time for a Northeast coaster trip. The 'best' (smallest crowds with daily operation) would be the last week and a half of May. Other than that, the last 2 weeks of August generally have smaller crowds than the rest of the summer, but be prepared for pretty bad heat during that time. As soon as Labor Day is over everyone goes to weekend-only operations.

"I've been born again my whole life." -SAVED
ApolloAndy's avatar

Yeah. October means weekend operations only and literally record breaking crowds at GAdv. on Sat. October Friday evenings can be pretty light for crowds, but if the weather is nice or there's some promotion or some other uncontrollable factor plays in, it can get crowded as well. To be honest, middle of the week (Tues, Wed, Thurs) in the middle of the summer isn't that bad. And if things are crowded, you can always spring for a q-bot. (If you paid for airfare and lodging, you can afford q-bot).

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."

Thanks guys for all your comments. This is helping me to fine tune what I want to do.

The weather, whether it's hot or cold, I don't mind it's rain which I'm not keen on. October seems to be out as I don't want to have to spend the weekend not riding coasters and Halloween events are all right but they are not top of the list for me.

I think what is key to me is riding the great coasters in the US and anything else will revolve around that. This means that the 'best' (smallest crowds with daily operation) would be the last week and a half of May.

I would imagine visiting

Would the smaller parks be open during that time?


Last edited by Coaster-Robin,

Remember that in late may through mid June a lot of the larger parks (Great ADventure, Dorney) have weekdays that are open, but many of those dates are crowded because they are tied in to "Physics Days" or "Music In the Parks."

Check out the Music in the parks website for exact dates.

Thank you for spending your hard - earned vacation dollars in our country.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

So are you saying that days other than "Physics Days" or "Music In the Parks." should be reasonably quiet during the latter part of May. Or is there a better time of year to go to ensure quiet days?

Would many of the smaller parks be open during the last 10 days or so of May.?

Last edited by Coaster-Robin,

Memorial Day is the 27th, so at least the last four days for the smaller parks.

Oh, and definitely plan to work around Music in the Parks and stuff like that. Dorney for instance is usually dead in May, especially during the day and during the week, but get a Music in the Parks day, and you'll be surrounded by droves of demon spawn all day long. Actually, the kids are usually better behaved with the music and physics groups, but there are just. So. Many.

I'm so excited you're experiencing some of our east coast parks. Great Adventure has some brilliant rides, morey's is just a great beach boardwalk park (I would recommend staying away from Great Nor'easter if you are not trying to get a bunch of coaster credits though), Dorney is like a miniature Cedar Point, and some other fairly local places are awesome as well. Hope you have a fantastic time, and I'd really like to see a trip report to see what you think of our U.S. coasters!

Oh, and at Great Adventure: Toro. Ride Toro. Please. Don't be discouraged that it is a wood coaster. You will not regret it. I highly recommend the back seat, right side (unless Mike and I are already sitting there, but we might move up a seat for a visitor from another country. Maybe. :)) anyway, El Toro will surprise you in the very best way, and it is very re-rideable. Nothing has come close to unseating Toro from my number one spot on my count, and I absolutely cannot wait to get out there to ride it again.

Last edited by bunky666,

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

DaveStroem's avatar

I would start off with a list of parks that you want to go to, then consult their schedules to make a plan based on this. As others have said, late May and Late October are great times to go.

If I were flying in I would concentrate on the better parks for what I was looking for in rides. SFNE, SFGAdv, Hershey would be my high point parks. Add in Lake Compounce, Quassy & Rye to the SFNE. Knoebels and Dorney could be added to Hershey and Morey's could be added to SFGAdv.

A bit further would be SFA, KD & BGW.

Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

Knoebels is a great park for kids, the food apparently is awesome (I've only gotten the pizza and don't like it, but I'm in the minority on that), and Phoenix from the phrunt three seats is airtime ridiculousness.

Hershey is nearly always crowded, but it is a lovely park with some older classic coasters and some fabulous new coasters. Wear thigh padding on Skyrush, avoid Wildcat (unless you need a chiropractic adjustment), and be sure to hit up Lightning Racer and Storm Runner. SooperDooperLooper is a fun classic Schwarzkopf looper, and Fahrenheit has a very cool drop and disconcerting lift hill.

I'm getting a little overexcited to ride coasters now since I haven't been out yet this season (been working out five days a week and looking for jobs, so weekends are a little bit of catch up on housework at this time), so I've been rambling a lot here. Have a great trip!!!

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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