How Do You Balance Your Amusement Park Hobby With Other Interests?

I am at the point where I still love going to parks but feel like I have to justify it (both in time and money) with the other hobbies in my life.

I have always let it be known that I love fishing, educational construction toys, music, etc...and some of my best times have been when I've been able to combine some of these interests. (Wildwood, certain concerts at Great Adventure, etc.)

I am lucky in that most of my park visits are free (with the exception of gas, meals, tolls, parking, flash-passes, etc.) That being said, I have a difficult decision to take.

I have an opportunity to do a week-long trip to parks I love, have been to before but not in a long time that are a huge drive for me (Kennywood, Cedar Point and Knoebels)....or purchase a small self-powered boat. By the way...for these parks (and hotels) I would have to pay gate price.

Sadly there isn't enough cash to do both.

While I'm not asking anyone else to decide what to do for me - I am wondering how you adullt folks deal with issues like this. It would also be more meaningful if you could mention what some of your hobbies are that pull you as much as the amument park world.

Thank you for your sincere replies.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

I balance my love of rollercoasters, cars, movies, and camping simply by throttling how much I do of each. Sometimes I'll binge on one then take a break and save up time/money for another. Sometimes I'll plan a vacation for several at once.

RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007
StLCPfan's avatar

How are you unable to find discounted admission to any of the parks you're going to? You have a computer or access to a computer. There's no excuse to not find discounts on tickets and accommodations.

My other main hobby besides amusement parks is early 20th century progressive architecture- prairie school, other arts&crafts styles, and deco into the 30s. That hobby is mostly books and internet research, travel expenses, and admission to houses that have been made museums. You just have to spend your money on your priorities and scrimp and save.

If you're torn between amusement parks and the boat you can always buy the boat, save up your money, and visit the parks at a later date.

I'm sorry...I should have mentioned that I get a lot of seasonal gift tickets from friends who can't use them and the Read to Succeed and the Music in the Parks program. I've even given some of those away on this web site - just to make it (financially) easier for people to go. (I've even stood in parking lots giving kid tickets to folks passing by.)

I know I can stop in various fast-food places (etc) to pick up a coupon and I would do that again if it's on the way to where I'm going.

I'm just really torn this year.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

I used to think I was cursed to have two hobbies that required travel, and struggled to balance the two in terms of money and vacation time. I've loved amusement parks all my life and for the last twenty years or so I've been a member of a country and western dance team, and our annual and semi annual conventions and competitions take place in different cities around the country. The curse turned into a blessing, as with careful planning I've managed to combine the two.

Mini trip report-
I'm on one of those trips as I write this. This years dance convention is taking place in Seattle, and while there's no major amusement park nearby (ask Jeff) I've managed to cross a few "amusement" related activities off my bucket list. I've waited since 1962 to climb the Seattle Space Needle and ride the Alweg Monorail, and just yesterday I finally got the chance. It was so thrilling to walk the area that once hosted the World's Fair dedicated to space and discovery. Many of the original structures are still there and have been incorporated into modern theatres, museums, and festival areas. I thought the area seemed decidedly Disney-like, and come to find out Walt and his family visited the fair, from which he drew his initial inspiration for EPCOT.

We're extending our vacation past the weekend and tomorrow are driving to Vancouver. There I hope to visit Playland to ride the old wooden coaster complete with what I believe is the only surviving set of Prior and Church trains. My plan may be foiled as the recent bridge collapse en route will cause delays. The ride closes at 5pm and tomorrow is the only day of our visit that it will be open. Please send good thoughts my way that we make it in time for at least one lap.

Anyway, dance conventions I've attended have led me to Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Austin, Montreal, Virginia Beach, Toronto, New York City, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and, happily, the associated amusement parks in those regions. (I should add I also saw a forlorn and abandoned Six Flags from the freeway in New Orleans.)

And that's how I've learned to do it.

Edit to add: Buy the boat. (I almost forgot) Maybe someday you'll be happy to tow your boat to areas or cities that have parks nearby. Get a cabin, do a little fishing, add to your ride count.

Last edited by RCMAC,
sirloindude's avatar

Honestly, amusement parks and travel in general are my go-to hobby. My vacations generally revolve around parks.

I personally think it's a great hobby to have. You go outside, you walk around, and you partake in experiences that are thrilling and exciting. If you are so blessed, you also get a lot of quality time with family and friends out of it. You can also make new friends (and, well, if you're enough of a rock star, new family) out of it, so I think it's a great way to go.

For me, I like it because it also allows me to indulge my other main hobby, which is commercial aviation. I work for an airline, and with it come travel benefits I still can't wrap my head around, so I'm able to find excuses to jump on planes. I'm actually writing this from gate A8 at BWI at the start of a CGA/SFDK/Canobie trip. I know most here are well established in their careers, but for the younger set, if visiting parks across the globe is what you want to do, working for an airline is the way to go.

To the original poster, I don't know how into boating you are, so I can't say one way or the other which is the way to go. I wouldn't mind a jet ski myself, but I guess I don't see why one has to treat parks as a hassle. Sometimes the memories of great trips are worth it, especially of you can share said memories with your loved ones. I get that in my young and single lifestyle, I don't fully appreciate the cost of a family trip to a park with its ensuing food and souvenir expenses, but I still think that as far as memories go, if you can afford it, go for it.

Last edited by sirloindude,

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

ApolloAndy's avatar

I have a bunch of other hobbies - video and board games, running, ultimate frisbee, movies...and I suppose church is kind of a hobby at this point (trying to plant a new church)...but for the most part they're lower budget. I also don't take trips solely for coasters at this point in my life (2 kids under 4), but only when I'm already going somewhere for business (i.e. In August, there's a conference in Louisville, KY so we're driving through SDC and SFStL. on the way up and Beech Bend on the way back).

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."

You just have to decide what is important. This summer, we've consciously decided to focus more on what the kids are doing in town and spending time with family rather than being gone all the time. That means fewer park visits, and only one major trip this summer.

LostKause's avatar

Since going to amusement parks are kind of expensive for me, because I live so far from them, it's easy to balance them out with other hobbies, like songwriting/recording at home, movie review writing, video game playing, ect. Most of my other hobbies are going to be done at home or near home, and usually don't cost much or nothing at all.

I got a Cedar Fair platinum pass this year so maybe that will help motivate me to get in the old Ford Explorer and drive to a few more parks this year.

Jeff's avatar

The weird thing for me is that unless a park builds something really compelling, it's not often that I go out of my way to return to it. I mean, the odds of me ever going to Valleyfair again are pretty remote. I loved the park, but you know, it's Minneapolis, not on the way to anything.

The other thing is that I tend to blow my park budget all at once. Outside of the events within driving distance, I usually do a big resort stay trip to Disney or Universal every year.

I haven't done the regional park tour in years. I'm just not that interested.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Exactly. While the regional park tour is of interest to me, doing that on a regular basis seems time consuming and expensive, plus I go solo a lot and that gets tiresome. I guess I owe my high park and ride count mainly to my other hobby. I'm sure I would never have visited many of those cities if it hadn't been for another need to travel there, so I'm fortunate in that respect. Also, for instance, I drove back to Ohio from Philly and I worked in other parks, some new, some old, on my way back.

Last edited by RCMAC,

I don't take many park only trips. Try to include park visits with other trips. A day or two out of a family vacation. Or an extra day with trip to a wedding. Or college visit with my kids. Cost (in terms of time and money) are reduced. And its tough to find time for park only trips at this point.

sirloindude's avatar

I admit that a lot of parks are been-there, done-that, not in any hurry to go back. To use Jeff's example of Valleyfair!, I view it in reverse. I didn't care much for Valleyfair!, but I very much liked the area. However, as he also said, it's not really on the way to anywhere, and even when I make it back out there, I could probably skip the park unless they added something new and exciting.

Well, my one visit was on a cloudy day, so I suppose if it's sunny, I'd go back and get better photos.

Anyway, my issue is that I'm running out of major parks in the US to visit that I've not already experienced. I'm quite looking forward to not having to credit-whore as much to boost my count. Especially if I get my 300th coaster in this year, next year will probably be a "greatest hits" season where I'm not off to the booneys constantly trying to squeeze out more credits. Will I go to new places? Yes, but I won't be facing triple connections to the west coast or some ridiculous thing like that. Most of the parks I really enjoy are easily accessible to me out east.

But again, there aren't many places that are locked-in must-visits, and most that are are a short drive away, so while I'll still travel, I look forward to places with nice beaches or something like that.

Well, and hopefully getting married, because that would be straight ballin'.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

After going to parks and riding coasters, my 2nd interest is baseball. I try to watch every Phillies game I can on TV at home so it doesn't really get in the way of going to parks especially since there are 162 games so it's no big deal if I miss a game to go to a park. I usually have the box score on my phone while at a a park and check it while in line for a ride. I go to a couple of home games a year and last year went to my first road game in Baltimore (which felt like a home game since it was 75% Phillies fans there). Normally I would have used that opportunity to go to a park nearby but since it was SFA, I decided against it.

Last edited by YoshiFan,

Yoshi, a good friend of mine has been visiting different NFL stadiums each year. I could see baseball season as an opportunity for you to follow your team to a new city, watch a ball game, and visit a new park. Sounds like a weekend I'd be down for.

RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007

Yeah in the future I am planning to try that. We might take a family trip to California in the next couple of years and would probably see the Dodgers, Padres and also go to Disneyland, Knotts and SFMM.

I'm always amused when I hear friends say they can't get tickets to their home town team unless they travel for an away game. A lot of Buckeye fans do that, and following a sports team, NASCAR, or even a musician or group would be a good way to throw parks into the mix as well.

We like to visit state fairs and try to get a new one (or two if we're lucky) every summer. I, of course, seek out the nearest amusement park and have been to Valleyfair, Mall of America, and Adventureland on account of it. We found Minneapolis/St Paul and Des Moines to be great cities, but once again I'm not sure we would've gone there otherwise. Bonus all the way around.

There are more fingers on my hand than trips where I only visited parks. I like to check out some historical sites and maybe a tourist attraction or two. Last year when I visited Albuquerque in addition to Cliff's Park I visited two National Monuments (Petroglyph and Bandilier) and rode the Tram up Sandia Peak. Every now and then I'll "Theme" a Trip, in 2010 Since I was visiting Texas on Halloween weekend in addition to the parks I visited some "Haunted" Historical Sites such as the Alamo and Dealey Plaza.

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
birdhombre's avatar

I'm fortunate that my other primary interest outside of my day job is playing piano/music directing for local theaters, which gives me enough extra income that I can afford to take the occasional extended weekend coaster trip. I'm also fortunate to have some very close friends I can travel with even though I'm comfortably single. (That said, I'm driving to HoliWood Nights by myself for the first time, but I'll be staying with members of my 'extended coaster family'.)

Since 2010 I've been playing a 6-weekend run at a theater in July and August, and at first I thought it might cut into my park time, but then I realized I avoid Cedar Point during those months anyway, so I didn't really miss it. But I do try to leave May and June open for those less-crowded visits, and won't take any gigs that overlap PPP, or else hire a sub to play that weekend.

For now, parks are my main focus in vacationing, and that's fine with me. I didn't really get into this hobby until 5-6 years ago, so I've got plenty of ground to cover -- which isn't to say we don't also take in the occasional non-park attraction or tourist trap on the way. It's not just about coaster credits and free cups for water for me; the friends I travel with I wouldn't trade for anything, and I highly value any time I can spend with them.

Last edited by birdhombre,
Tekwardo's avatar

The 2 main hobbies that I spend large amounts of money on are traveling and theme/amuesment parks. So thankfully, those go together pretty well.

I also love movies, going to concerts, and am a foodie. I can go to the movies whenever for cheap, I have been known to sneak a concert in on a trip along with parks, and I can eat anywhere I go, thankfully.

As much as I like to travel, I often say I hate multiple park trips. This year, I'm trying to finish up a bunch of out of the way parks that I don't see myself getting back to for a long time so that next year I can focus more on going out of the country and taking another cruise.

I'm thankful that I have the resources now and the location that allows me to take quicker and cheaper weekend trips to places that before it took loads more time, money, and effort to get to.

And on those trips, I typically will map out what else I want to see and where I want to eat. I also often do park only weekends with coaster geeks, and those even turn into 'culture' trips. AVMatt and I got finished with SFNE way early and headed to Boston one evening. This past friday nite, I was able to hang out in ATL and then head to over Georgia on Saturday.

When it comes to concerts, I don't go to a lot because there aren't a lot of people I really want to spend money to see, but if I like someone enough I'll go. Thankfully, again, I'm centrally located so that most artists are coming thru either Charlotte, Greensboro, or Raleigh. Sometimes I may have to hit Atlanta or Wilmington up, but that's rare.

So for me, I combine my love of leisure travel with days and evenings at parks (or vice versa).

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