My Plan to Visit Seven New Parks Over Nine Days

UPDATE: I’ve finished my roadtrip, and it was awesome! I’ve been steadily putting together trip reports, reviews, tips and highlights together. Everything related to my trip and the parks I visited can be found here.


As the West Coast based writer for Coaster101, I’ve got a fair number of amusement park “blind spots” on the opposite side of the country. With some time off coming up in August, I’ve decided to correct this problem (at least partly). The plan is for me to visit “seven new to me” parks up and down the middle of the East Coast, including some that have been on my list for a long time. And since you’re reading this, I could probably use some advice on what to do at all of these to make sure I have the best overall experience (not just ride the most rides).

The Route

Dollywood and Environs

My trip starts with the theme park most near and dear to Coaster101 Founder John Stevenson’s heart, Dollywood. John’s a Dollywood Insider, so I’m hoping he’ll give me tons of good advice, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need more! I’m hoping to spend at least a day and a half there, as I think Dolly is going to be one of my favorite stops. Plus, coming from San Francisco, it’s pretty in the middle of nowhere so getting back there is less likely than my other stops.

Pretty excited to finally get to ride John’s favorite coaster. Assuming it’s working…

I’m also hoping to hit up one of the nearby Alpine Coasters in Pigeon Forge (it’ll be my first!). If you’ve got a favorite Alpine Coaster, let me know which one I should go to!

Virginia

From Dollywood I’m making the drive to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I’m not going as directly as possible, because I wanted to stop and eat/drink in Asheville, North Carolina (yeah, this part is unrelated to theme parks). Plus it’ll make the drive less annoying. I’ve been to Busch Gardens Tampa before, but this will be my first visit to BGW. After reading lots of reviews and reports from my C101 colleague Andrew, I’ve got high expectations. Like with Dolly, I’m hoping to actually spend more than one day there. This should allow me time to ride all the coasters, while also eating lots of food and checking out some of the shows (like Light Balance, which Andrew raved about).

Andrew loves Light Balance at BGW, so I’m going to make sure to catch it.

From BGW I’ll make the little hop over to King’s Dominion. This’ll be my fourth Cedar Fair park of the year, the beauty of the Cedar Fair Platinum Pass. KD has been high on my “to visit” list for a long time, and certainly since I’ve been to King’s Island multiple times. As with the previous two parks, I’m aiming for a day and a half or so at KD to make sure I get multiple rides on the best coasters. Any other things I shouldn’t miss at KD? Let me know! From there I’ll head north, making a brief stop in DC on the way before going to Six Flags America.

Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)

Maryland and Pennsylvania

I initially wasn’t actually planning to stop at Six Flags America, but since it’s on the way and I have a Six Flags Gold Pass, I sort of figured why not. I likely won’t try to hit every ride there (I’ve never felt the need to subject myself to new SLCs…), but Superman should be worth a stop. Plus, I kind of want to ride “Roar: East” since “Roar: West” is no more (although I’ve always heard the east coast one is worse). And, I like Flight of Fear, so I’ll enjoy Joker’s Jinx, right? What other coasters should I make sure not to miss at Six Flags America?

Superman Ride of Steel seems like a good reason to stop at Six Flags America.

From there I’m heading north to hit all three major parks in the area of Eastern Pennsylvania an hour or two from Philadelphia. I haven’t figured out the exact order yet, but figure a day will be split between Dorney and Knoebels, then a full day at Hersheypark (plus an evening). And of course a stop at Herhsey’s Chocolate World. Luckily I’ve got John’s tips from his first time visit to Hershey last year to work of off. If you’re a Dorney or Knoebel’s expert, though, throw me some tips!


That’s the plan right now. I know some of you might be asking questions, largely about why some parks are on here and some aren’t.

Why no Carowinds?  Well, I’ve been to Carowinds, just last year. Actually, a bunch of the C101 team did. It was great, some of the best coasters I’ve ever ridden. But, with limited time I wanted to make sure I visited parks I hadn’t been to. Plus, Charlotte is a big airport with lots of flights from the West Coast, so I’m sure I’ll be getting back to Carowinds sooner rather than later.

What about Six Flags Over Georgia? I considered this, and even had hoped to include it. John had a great experience on Twisted Cyclone recently. But, Six Flags Over Georgia isn’t open daily anymore starting the second week of August! Trying to schedule the trip around being there over a weekend just wasn’t going to work, so sorry SFOG, I’ll need a different trip for you. This is actually also related to why I’m going to Dollywood first. It stops being open every day in the second half of August and I wanted to be sure I had the option of two days at the park.

Why not stop at (insert name of small park here)? It’s great! So, I’m not really a coaster credit chaser (I know, I know, scarilege, right). My main goal is to hit a bunch of parks I hadn’t been to and take in the full experience of them, not just ride as many new coasters as possible. It’s why I prefer to spend more than one day at Dollywood or BGW (and maybe KD and Hershey). I want to see shows and take photos and eat food and all the good stuff parks have to offer beyond coasters. That means the time just isn’t there to make detours to smaller parks. But, if you have a really, really big favorite you think I definitely should stop at and isn’t too far out of the way, let me know. My plan isn’t set in stone yet. I actually am currently thinking of adding Clementon Park to the end of my trip if I have time before my flight. We’ll see!


Now it’s time for you to help me out. Let me know the best way to experience all of these parks. What should I ride first? What should I eat? What shows should I make sure to see? Make me a better coaster enthusiast! And keep an eye out for regular updates from my trip starting August 7, especially on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. There might also be some chances to win souvenirs I pick up along the way, especially if you give me advice. Check out our Facebook page to find out how.

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4 Responses

  1. Brian MacDonald says:

    If you’re mostly interested in coasters, Dorney’s a half-day park. Two decent B&Ms, one rather nice Morgan hyper, a very old woodie, and an impulse coaster that I don’t particularly care for. The B&Ms are near the entrance, but the entrance to Steel Force is way at the back, and nearly hidden. Unless the park is particularly busy, you’ll probably walk on.

  2. Philip Roth says:

    At Dorney start at Steel Force and make your way back up cardiac hill. Most people hit up the waterpark during the day. Don’t forget to feed the trout and ducks at the pond by demon drop it will give you a short history lesson and add some relaxation after demon drop. There is another small park near Hershey called Dutch wonderland if you want another small kitch Park like Knobels.

  3. Sarah Cummings says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your list! We’re also planning to visit some parks with my friends too since it is more difficult to book a flight for beaches. 🙂

  4. Janey Gunning says:

    I just hit a few of these parks this summer, and if you want something amazing to eat, try the Orange Chicken or Mongolian Beef at MARCO POLO’S Marketplace, which specializes in Italian, Mediterranean & Asian fare.