Where should I go to as my second park?

I've been spoiled over the years going to Cedar Point. I have family that live near Sandusky, Ohio so I have been able to go there every (or every other) year since I was a kid. I also went to King's Island twice, but it was a while ago before they had many of the rides they have today.

After my last trip to Cedar Point a week ago (first time riding Valravn) , I realized that I really do love this stuff. I hope to plan a new trip to discover another awesome park soon. Where do you guys think I should go? I want to stay in the U.S., but find something close to what I experience at Cedar Point.

I've done some research on Top 10 lists for best rollercoaster parks, but they seem to differ. One that stands out is Carrowinds. I would love to try the Fury 325. What would you guys recommend if you could only go to one park? I like tall and fast, or anything one might consider "extreme".

sfmmlovernomatterwhaty'allsay's avatar

I have to put Magic Mountain out there as a candidate. ;) Park has its issues, but has a ton of great coasters and is really fun.

I think it depends where you want to travel. Do you want to plan trips specifically for certain parks/coasters? Or do you want to incorporate a day at a park into a larger trip? Do you want to fly? Drive? What kind of budget are you on? What part of the country do you live in? Do you want to do a longer "coaster trip" next summer? Folks here will be happy to help, but we need to know what you are looking to do and where you are looking to do it.

I made a bunch of trips this year; most incorporating multiple parks for an extended weekend. Great America, Valleyfair, SFStLouis, Cedar Point, Kings Island, Kennywood, Hershey, Kentucky Kingdom, Dollywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Dominion, Carowinds and Michigan Adventure. Oh yeah, Holiday World too. The stand outs were Dollywood and Busch Gardens, the environment, novelty of the coasters, and the food were all amazing. Only about a half dozen coasters at each park, but all unique and fun. Verbolten Griffon and Appollo's Chariot were multi rides with unique elements when I visited BG, while Lightning Rod, Firechaser Express and Wild Eagle were my faves at Dollywood. Neither park was super crowded like you find at Cedar Point, visited DW three different weekends, once on 4th of July, and crowds were manageable, (I did opt for their speed pass, but only to ensure a ride on Lightning Rod)...other two weekends lines were next to nothing. Visited BG over Labor Day, and everything was walk on save Verbolten. Did 4 rides on Griffon in 15 minutes, same for Apollo's Chariot. Carowinds offers a nice variety of rides, their woody is rough (Carolina Hurler), Nighthawk is basically Firehawk at KI, but they do have one of the last stand up coasters in the US (Vortex) and it was a surprisingly smooth ride. Hershey was also great, but huge crowds. Michigan Adventure just doesn't have enough rides, SFGA just sucks, with their HUGE crowds, terrible loading queues, overpriced food. Kentucky Kingdom is small, with some of the ROUGHEST rides I've ever been on (think Blue Streak at Cedar Point), Holiday World not enough rides, Kings Dominion has some good rides, but if you can, wait for Twisted Timbers to open, and do KD and BG same weekend. It's about 1 hr 15 mins between the two parks.

And peterswe86, be careful what you ask for around here. I predict you'll get so much advice you'll go away still not knowing what to do. :)

I will probably go back to King's Island for the first time in 18 years and then plan somewhere new.

I want to plan something for a specific park (or maybe specific coaster, like Fury 325) and I don't really care where, but eastern side of U.S. would be best. I could fly and budget is not a big issue (although I don't really like staying in "resorts," and I'm not sure I could afford a multi-park tour unless they were close).

I'm seeking big rides, but also appreciate the small intense coasters. I'll look at some of those Tbone mentioned.

I think Kings Island is a solid bet. I recently went there for the first time in 3 decades and really enjoyed it. It's similar to Cedar Point in that there's a lot of coaster variety. Mystic Timbers, Diamondback and Banshee are three really good coasters, and the others there offer great variety. Not sure exactly where you're located, so it's hard to recommend based on location. I have a plan to hit 9 easterly parks in 7 days next summer, if I can get buy-in from my wife. I'm considering trying Airbnbs to get the best bang for the buck. All I need is a cushion and a shower, nothing fancy.

ApolloAndy's avatar

The comment "Holiday World didn't have enough rides" invalidated Tbone's opinion. ;)

Seriously though, if you're just beginning to travel, high volume trips like Magic Mountain and Knott's, some combination of Carowinds, BGW, KD, SFA, the Orlando circuit, or Hershey, SFGAdv., Dorney are great. But after you do a couple of those, you will realize that quality (of park, not just coaster) becomes a much higher premium than quantity, height, or speed and parks like Holiday World, Knoebel's, and Kennywood go from "not enough rides" to "I would rather ride this one coaster than another 30 B:TR clones at Six Flags."

Last edited by ApolloAndy,

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."

Kings Island would be a good choice if you are already in OH. A lot has been added in the 18 years since your last visit.

If you are looking for great coasters at a single park with a lot of variety, and want to stay on the East coast, I would add Kings Dominion, Hersheypark and SF Great Adventure. All three have a wide range of coaster experiences, each with a couple of world class stand-outs. To decide between the three would be a personal preference, but I recommend KD if you are looking mainly for coasters, HP if you or co-travelers want a fuller amusement park experience beyond simply coasters, and SFGAdv if you don't mind dealing with northeastern attitudes from both employees and patrons.

There are a number of other smaller gems (most of them considerably smaller than CP) out there, but if you are looking for something in the big park/CP sort of vein, these three would be safe bets.

rollergator's avatar

When I first got into coasters, the first park I *had* to visit was Kennywood. As I've seen several coasters that operated for 70 years or more go away, my appreciation for the park has only grown. Relative proximity to CP being a plus...

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

The first time I decided to venture out to new parks, I went to kings island.

I was accustomed to geauga lake and cedar point as my base for my coaster rides. The reason for choosing kings island was proximity and collection of coasters and rides. If you base it solely on that its still a great place to start. The sheer amount of great coasters and rides are really tough to beat, save for maybe cedar point, six flags magic mountain, and six flags great adventure in my personal travels.

My first trip outside of Ohio was to dorney park. I had a cedar fair pass, which predates the platinum pass. It was free which if you have a pass for any park may also help making said decisions. Although it lacks in a truly large coaster, it still has good rides and such.

This brings me to my last point, sometimes bigger, faster is not neccessarily better. You will find yourself comparing everything to cedar point. Cedar point is quite unique with its collection of rides, mainly its coasters where most are quite good to great by many people's standards. I fell into this trap for a few years. Appreciate that some parks are an experience for the park and the things they offer within their boundaries. With that being said my favorite parks for experience are hands down Holiday World, Kennywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and just recently Lake Compounce. To me these are the parks that offer the best there is to offer. They have great rides, maybe not everything is a home run, but there's enough there that it's satisfying and then the park itself has a charm that will make you say they are doing the little things right.

To this day I still consider my first trip to holiday world my favorite trip I have ever taken. I left wowed by that park and felt like I needed to back immediately. Busch Gardens would be a close second just because the theming and food were just memorable.

So my advice is do you first. You can figure out what you like about parks and rides that will take you to something that piques your interest. This site is an incredible source for advice, which is still opinionated as to likes and dislikes, but these people know their stuff. However, you have to learn what works and is important to you. So happy journeys to finding parks that will knock your socks off.

Resident Arrow Dynamics Whore

slithernoggin's avatar

ApolloAndy said:
But after you do a couple of those, you will realize that quality (of park, not just coaster) becomes a much higher premium than quantity, height, or speed and parks like Holiday World, Knoebel's, and Kennywood go from "not enough rides" to "I would rather ride this one coaster than another 30 B:TR clones at Six Flags."

Absolutely. Yes, I've gone to a number of ACE Coaster Cons, which involve a number of parks, but I go to those as much for seeing friends as for riding coasters. When I'm planning a trip on my own, I'd rather go to one park, relax, and enjoy myself.

Every park mentioned here would be a great choice. And yes, do some research. Decide what you're especially interested in. Check out the park websites. Decide which parks most interest you.

That said :-)

Carowinds would a great choice if you're seeking lots of coasters, some of them intense.

Holiday World may only have four coasters, but they're four amazing coasters in a park that, well, oozes charm.

Kennywood is wonderful. It may not have the tallest, fastest, longest coasters, but it has Thunderbolt -- I defy you to ride it and not be blown away :-) -- Phantom, and Jack Rabbit, the only coaster that ever actually scared me.

I'm especially fond of Hersheypark, which has great coasters.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

The comment "Holiday World didn't have enough rides" invalidated Tbone's opinion. ;)
Why?....He's clearly asking for help to get the most enjoyment out of a trip. Having only experienced CP; I'd think him taking his one trip outside CP to HW would severely hinder his enjoyment. It's not a commentary on the quality of the park, or it's rides; just statement of fact that Holiday world doesn't have a lot of rides. In terms of coasters, you've got 3 woodies and a wing. While I enjoy all of them, I wouldn't make it my only trip of the year. I'd think he'd want a little variety to experience. Note my top 2 recommendations don't have an abundance of coasters; but they make up for it in diversity. Holiday World is a great park, free drinks and hospitality of staff make it one of the BEST values in the Amusement Industry, but if you only have 1 trip to make, is Holiday World really gonna be that destination?

It sounds like he's got a lifetime of trips ahead, I don't see a limitation in terms of what order he should do them.
There are some enthusiasts who aren't happy unless they're able to spend an entire day just going from one ride to another. That's fine, I happen to be one who doesn't.

But we don't know what kind of theme park enthusiast he is; which I think is encumbent upon us to give him an idea of what the different parks offer. My enjoyment from Dollywood comes mostly from the craftsman valley; the rides are fun, but the majority of my time is spent in the CV watching the smiths, talking with the potters etc. As for BG, I just think a combination of the fantastic scenery, great theming of the lands, atypical food offerings, and the spacing out of the rides makes for a great overall experience. It lends itself to NOT just jumping of ride after ride. You've got neat shops, great shows, and rides all spaced out, scenic walking, or a leisurely ride on the skyway (all three of them), plus the river cruise. Honestly, just walking around the park brings a smile to my face, a rarity amongst TP's. I liken it to Disney, minus the animatronics and hectic pace. We've also got to consider what his traveling companions prefer, Cedar Point is Coaster heavy, as are Kings Island Carowinds and Kings Dominion. If someone isn't into coasters, or dreads Hypers, Gigas and Stratas, it kinda limits their options. Then there's the folks that don't quite agree with flats (Myself included, something about the centrifugal spinning just makes me ill), those folks might not appreciate a park with tons of flats but few coasters. Still yet are the spectators (my gal included) who don't ride anything, and would appreciate a good lineup of shows and activities other than rides. Probably why I like BG and DW so much. Both have shows, shops and attractions not requiring you be whipped about; but also offering me the opportunity to ride some wicked good coasters.

rollergator's avatar

If these posts needed paragraphs, they'd already have an on-site hotel...

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Sorry; gotta work on that. I'm long winded, old, and typing on a phone. My bad.

slithernoggin's avatar

Tbone's chop said:
But we don't know what kind of theme park enthusiast he is...

We don't. I hope he takes all these fine suggestions, researches the parks, reads online reviews and determine which park or parks best match his interests.

I'll jump at the chance to visit Cedar Point or Hersheypark, each hours away, but will only visit Six Flags Great America-- an hour away -- if I can get in for free, and with a warning to traveling companions that they have about three hours, at which time I'll be ready to leave.

To each their own.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

eightdotthree's avatar

Just be done with it and buy a season pass to either Cedar Fair or Six Flags and just go to as many as you can. It's the only way...

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