I was thinking about taking my 8 year old son here. Has anyone ever been? It's about 3 hours from my house. Would it be worth the drive?
My favorite park is Cedar Point, and I miss it like crazy. Is Wild Adventures even close to being as good as CP?
We took a two week vacation from Pennsylvania to Florida and back about 10 years ago. We stopped at several parks on the way down and the way back. Wild Adventures was one of those parks. I actually was not expecting much, but it was a pleasant surprise. I haven't been back since, but for me it's a 1000+ mile trip! If I lived two or three hours away I think the trip is worth it (especially if I had never been there before).
Don't go expecting anything like the Florida parks (Disney, Sea World, IOA, Busch Gardens Tampa), but it's a nice park for what it is, and that's just from visiting the ride park... we were on a schedule and didn't even take in the animal exhibits.
For a park that grew up literally from a petting zoo, it's pretty nice. Herschend hasn't made the rapid changes I was *hoping* for, but it has become a nicer place to visit. More shade, trees, and an interactive ride would be excellent - a bigger steel coaster can wait since they brought in the Miler from Celebration City to replace a couple of the fairground-type coasters that honestly detracted from the kind of vibe I anticipate in another 3-5 years.
Pathing is still an issue...a lot of walking to go a short distance (a la BGT).
I've been a satisfied passholder at Wild Adventures since late 2005, when I began living in the Orlando area (first full time, now seasonally) after Katrina. Being from, and living mostly in New Orleans, it's only a short detour of 30 miles off the interstate system whenever I am traveling back and forth between the cities of NO and Orlando.
I'm a big fan of the Cheetah wooden coaster, which is by my fave manufacturer, CCI. The Gerstlauer trains don't bother me as I was used to these type of trains from the thousands of laps I took on the now-SBNO Megazeph at SFNO. The ride is on the shorter side for a modern woodie, but very sweet with some nice moments of frontseat and backseat air, CCI's trademark sense of speed, and a nice view of the animal free-range area from the lift hill. It's not the Voyage, but then again, what is?
There aren't any custom-layout steel coasters, but I do enjoy the somewhat unique "Viking Voyage" coaster formerly from Celebration City, with its strong laterals and a few good airtime moments.
The park has a nice collection of flats, my favorites including a Flying Scooters ride and a Chance Aviator.
Being an animal lover, the critters are a large part of the park's appeal to me. While the theming of, and integration of the animal areas with the rest of the park are not at the Busch Gardens and Animal Kingdom level, I nonetheless really enjoy the animal aspect of the park experience.
The CP Huntington train is an excellent way to see many of the animals, and the only way to see several. This includes a "free range" area with free-roaming animals.
Other "don't miss" animal experiences for my taste include the daily giraffe feeding where you can hand-feed giraffes; the tiger show; a contact yard where you can pet goats, bunnies, ducks, chickens, a pig, and even a baby emu; and the Alapaha Trail, where you are suddenly immersed in a tranquil, tree-covered swamp environment while viewing the animals along this trail (many of which are native to the south Georgia/north Florida region.)
My most recent visit was a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed the special summer-only animal entertainment for 2014. This included a cute critter show featuring dogs and cats, and a pig racing demonstration.
I also enjoyed Passholder Appreciation night, which featured a rare chance to visit the waterpark after dark for some Nightswimming and Nightsliding. It is not a huge waterpark, but I really enjoyed the rare night waterpark experience, which I understand will be available for all park guests each Friday night this summer.
The park has upcharge Go Carts and Mini Golf which, in a nice touch, is free to Annual Passholders.
As far as crowds, the only time I've seen it packed was on concert Saturday nights. But these queues were still nowhere near as bad as a "major" park on a slammed day.
I agree with Rollergator that Herschend hasn't exactly transformed the park into Dollywood or Silver Dollar City, although I do think its a friendlier park under the new management. Not that it was unfriendly before, but it was one of the few parks I've been to that charged for a cup of ice water even on unbearably hot days. Thankfully, ice water became complimentary as soon as Herschend took over.
The only disapointments for me under Herschend was the removal of the S&S Screamin'Swing (which honestly may have happened right before they took over - I can't remember), and also the night hours and entertainment offered during the Christmas event are not what they used to be.
But still, I'm happy they have a Christmas event at all, and the 11 PM close during the park's Halloween event still offers plenty of time to enjoy the park and it's rides after dark.
(But if I could only go to one or two Christmas events in the country in a given year, Dollywood and Silver Dollar City are virtually tied for my first choice).
All in all, I recommend Wild Adventures. I would just suggest not to go expecting the massive, varied coaster collection of a Cedar Point and just enjoy it for what it is, and the relaxing atmosphere and diverse variety of experiences it offers.
"If it isn't wood, it's not as good!"
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