Coaster Road Trip Advice

Now that the coaster season is officially over I'm starting to look ahead to summer. My wife and I are planning to take our kids on a coaster and history road trip through Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts. This is a trip that I wanted to take many years ago but for various reasons we never did. This summer seems like the perfect time.

At this point we are planning 2-3 days in Philly, 3 days in NYC, and 3 days in Boston. We are planning on visiting Kennywood, Hersheypark, Knoebels (since it's on the way), and Coney Island. Are there any other parks we should be hitting up as well? Are SFNE, SFDL, and SFGADv worth the time since we are in the area? Dorney? Waldameer? Everything will be new for us.

The challenge we are facing is when to take the trip. All of us are out of school by June 1st. However we have a camping trip to Road America planned during Father's Day weekend to watch the Indy cars race. If we can't fit this trip in the window between June 1st and June 15th we'll take it later and may even extend with a stop at Cedar Point and maybe into Toronto.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

OhioStater's avatar

My first reaction is to pause and take it later, especially with your ability to potentially extend it.

If you have never been to Canada's Wonderland (close enough to Toronto), that would be a very nice stop along the way, and there is plenty of history to explore in that area.

Dorney Park and Six Flags Great Adventure are both worthy of stops...neither will really take much time off your plate.

Sounds like a fun road trip!


Promoter of fog.

SFGAdv, yes.

SFNE, debatable.

SFDL, no.


You have 9 days scheduled in a 15 day trip, it sounds like you don’t have a lot of time left when you factor in travel days. If I was you I would think of narrowing the trip by either dropping New England or Pennsylvania. With having NYC in the mix, you could easily spend the rest of your time in New England or Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania has more coasters, I’ll let other people push that route.

I’ll just put in a plug to consider expanding your trip into Northern New England. Maine is beautiful and unique, Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, ME is amazing. So is the Lakes Region and White Mountains in NH (but I’m biased on that one, the family cabin is there.). There’s also a trip to Cape Cod to consider. As far as unique small parks in New England, Canobie Lake has some gem rides and picturesque. As I’ve taken more and more road trips, I’ve found that narrowing the geography for trips cuts down on travel time and makes for a more enjoyable trip.


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

eightdotthree's avatar

This already sounds like a tight schedule. You're probably better off not trying to cram more coasters into the trip without impacting the history aspects.

Mulfinator:

Are there any other parks we should be hitting up as well? Are SFNE, SFDL, and SFGADv worth the time since we are in the area? Dorney? Waldameer?

I seem to be in the minority but I love SFNE. It's charming and has Superman.


Tommytheduck's avatar

Unless you're already driving that far west for another reason, you can ditch Kennywood and save both the drive and a day at a park that just doesn't have their $4!t together. Probably a good day and a half right there at least.

Are you going to the Statue Of Liberty? If you want tickets to climb to the crown (you absolutely do!) you need to buy them in advance as they only allow 500/day.

I'd say be wary of both trying to cram too much stuff into the trip, and of how a full summer day at a park can make you exhausted for the following day's activities.

Touchdown:

If I was you I would think of narrowing the trip by either dropping New England or Pennsylvania.

Maine is beautiful and unique, Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, ME is amazing.

I've considered that. My wife says she would rather do it all then road trip again the following year. Maine would definitely be on our list if we weren't travelling with the kids. Years later I still hear from my daughter about the 7 mile hike to see "a stupid waterfall", i.e. Rainbow Falls in Gatlinburg.

eightdotthree:
I seem to be in the minority but I love SFNE. It's charming and has Superman.

It looks like a pretty nice collection of rides. Added to our possibilities!

Tommytheduck:

Unless you're already driving that far west for another reason, you can ditch Kennywood and save both the drive and a day at a park that just doesn't have their $4!t together. Probably a good day and a half right there at least.

Are you going to the Statue Of Liberty? If you want tickets to climb to the crown (you absolutely do!) you need to buy them in advance as they only allow 500/day.

We'll actually be coming from Chicago so Kennywood would be the first thing we would potentially see. Is it really that bad?

Thanks for the advice on the Statue of Liberty.

If you're heading east from Chicago, here's one vote for Waldameer (acknowledging that there are, in fact, physical limits to what one can cram into a week). I might choose it over Kennywood - although it clearly has less, it's a great little place and the Ravine Flyer is a knockout. Plus a couple of really good classic dark rides, and they still have a log flume I believe. Plus a waterpark, if that's of interest to you.

Depending on what time you left Chicago you could reasonably fit in a stop at Waldameer at the end of your first day's drive. I think that would be tougher to do with Kennywood.

^ I agree with this. Waldameer is a great little park that can be done in 4-5 hours. Ravine Flyer II is not to be missed, and they have a really good collection of dark rides and flats. We live just south of Cleveland and I would happily make the 80 minute drive to take a couple laps on Ravine Flyer, then go home.

Waldameer > Kennywood.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I was very “meh” on RF2. I’d say GAdv. is a must do, but with El Toro being down, it might be worth saving for another trip. SFNE has SRoS and Wicked Cyclone, both of which are outstanding rides. It also has some “other stuff” which is less than outstanding, but I always have a good time at that park.


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."

kpjb's avatar

Have the people recommending RF2 ridden it recently?

When it was new it was absolutely one of my top few rides. Rode it again in 2021 and it was awful. Like, Mean Streak bad.


Hi

eightdotthree's avatar

I think I rode RF last year (or maybe 2020?) and I thought it was still great. It had some rough patches but it was a still an exciting ride.

I wouldn't go out of my way for it especially when Chicago -> Philly goes right through Pittsburgh. Kennywood is a perfect choice before the slog on the PA Turnpike.

Last edited by eightdotthree,
Tommytheduck's avatar

I guess I assumed you were starting from the east coast, IDK why.

RE Kennywood: Others may tell you better, but my impression is that KW is just not worth it. Single train ops have always been the norm on Phantom, turning what should be 15 minutes into an hour. And it seems that single train is the norm on Steel Curtain too. I've told this story before, but in 2019 my son and I entered the gate, only to be told the Fastlane was sold out, that's how crowded it was. We observed SC running every 7 minutes. To the park's credit, they refunded our tickets 10 minutes after we bought them, I don't think they had to, but I'm in no hurry to go back until I hear of better ops. And I also live in the Cleveland area and it would be a 3-ish hour drive.

RE Waldameer: My last visit was in 2018 and Ravine Flyer was running fine. IDK about now. Stopping off at Waldameer for 4 hours mid drive would certainly be easier than a full stop at KW. Their Wacky Shack dark ride is one of my favorites, easily better than Knoebels. My family gets a kick out of the repetitive spiel you hear while waiting in line too. "Never throw things at me, or I'll see that you lose your wristband... Maybe with your arm still attached."

Last edited by Tommytheduck,

kpjb:

Rode it again in 2021 and it was awful. Like, Mean Streak bad.

I'm disappointed to hear that. It's probably been 7 or 8 years for me.

Do Kennywood. It's far from perfect operationally, but really, few parks are post-2020 and Kennywood offers several interesting rides you can't get anywhere else. Just be careful driving in Pittsburg-lots of "interesting" and winding roads, bridges, etc: every time I make it through the city I'm amazed to have somehow avoided a car accident.

Waldameer is very well kept, but less definitively "on the way" than the other parks mentioned. It's a few hours away from the others.

Nothing at Dorney's that great but if you've got a CF platinum you may as well. Super easy to knock out in a few hours.

Great Adventure's worth doing (and with a much more interesting park and collection of rides than Dorney).

My favorite three of the parks mentioned (haven't done SFNE or SFDL) are Kennywood, Hershey, and Knoebels. I'd try to keep those, giving each a full day (Hershey slightly more with the preview plan) and fiting in others where you can.

Last edited by ThemeParkFan1990,

The appeal for Kennywood for me is the classic woodies. Steel Curtain looks fine and all but I think it may have too many inversions for my liking. Eight hours of driving in a day is my limit so we were stopping near Pittsburgh regardless.

Waldameer does look interesting but may be a bit out of the way. Granted we may be making our way through New York for a good portion of our way back. That might change the calculus.

Don’t sleep on the Phantom, it’s got unexpected hidden forceful airtime (Ala Magnum) and a funky lap bar.


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

Schwarzkopf76's avatar

Just go to Knoebel's and stay there. And Waldameer. Kennywood too!

I find it tough to go to Knoebles with only one day (probably whole topics dedicated to the subject). So much high quality stuff to do, as well as being a good place to chill for a bit if you need it.

I'm in Chicago, and I think we have the best SF park. I skip SF parks on these big trips. Hope you have a blast whatever you end up doing.

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