What could be better than a day spent running from ride to ride, experiencing that sheer moment of terror (and then begging to do it again), and eating way too much junk food?
This is how your child sees a day spent at the amusement park.
What could be better than a day spent on rides that go too high, definitely spin too fast, and cost too much? This is probably how you view the amusement park experience.
Either way, use Great-Kids-Parks to help you decide which amusement park to spend the day at. By the way, we side with your kid's point of view. Life is too short.
For the ease of usage Great-Kids-Parks will divide amusement parks into three different categories based on cost and the size of the park.
Small amusement parks are parks aimed at the younger set, typically under age 8. There may be a nominal entry fee ($5-20) or per ride fee ($1-3). They also tend to be smaller in total area and offer smaller, slower rides.
Many of these parks are fairy tale themed. It would be unusual to find Rip Roaring Rapids or the Demon Roller Coaster there. The Jolly Trolley or Puffy's Adventure is more their speed. Two examples of smaller amusement parks are Fairyland in Oakland, CA and Funderland in Sacramento, CA.
Medium amusement parks are parks with an entry fee in the $20 to $60 range or a per ride fee of $2-$5. These parks encompass a decidedly larger area and have rides that are much more thrilling and chilling. Several of these parks also have a water park and/or animal park component to them.
Medium amusement parks include 12 parks run by Six Flags and 11 parks run by Cedar Fair Entertainment ex. Dorney Park in Allentown, PA and Knotts Berry Farm in Los Angeles, CA.
Big amusement parks are the grand daddys of them all. These are the types of parks where multiple days are often needed to fully enjoy all that they have to offer.
Big amusement parks entrance fees start at $60 and go up into the $100's for multiple day passes. They are large parks with lots of rides and often long lines. Think Busch Gardens, your Sea Worlds and Disneys.
More often than not, your choice of which amusement park to visit will be based on cost and time available.
For my family of four, a day at one small amusement park would cost $28 for entry. At a typical medium amusement park we would spend $140 to get in. And at Disney World's Magic Kingdom we would shell out $276 just for entry.
Many times it is very wise to check out the Web deals for admission and if you think you would go to amusement park two or more times in a season, definitely buy a season pass.
Expect to spend a few hours at small amusement parks, the whole day at medium sized ones, and probably multiple days at the big ones. There are exceptions to this, of course.
Did you know that people actually make it a contest to see who can get through all of the attractions at Magic Kingdom the fastest? The unofficial record is 12 hr 48 min for visiting 50 attractions. I really don't recommend this for entire families, but you're welcome to try!
Ask yourself - what experience do you want your kids and yourself to have? We each have our own reasons for wanting to take a child to an amusement park. Be it to kill a few hours, experience the thrill of a roller coaster, or watch their eyes widen when they see their favorite character.
Each level of amusement park comes with its own pros and cons. Small amusement parks offer great, safe fun for the under 5 set. And if your tot becomes tired, just head home for a nap. Usually kids older than 7 or 8 will easily become bored with the smaller, slower rides. Your food options tend to be very limited as well.
We love taking our kids to small amusement parks. We feel we can easily keep an eye on them and consequently they are not stuck in a stroller for most of the time. We get a kick out of watching our son "drive" the cars and our daughter gets the biggest smile when she finds her favorite horse on the carousel.
Medium parks are pricier and so you would most likely want to stay as long as possible. These parks are best for preteens and older since older kids are able to go on many more rides because of height restrictions. There are also more food and souvenir options.
I have been to many medium amusement parks and love them for what they have to offer. Bigger rides with more thrills. But I can't see bringing young children there. Older ones, yes, but younger ones are the ones I see whining and being carried by their parents. Our kids have been to one medium amusement park so far and that was a pay per ride park. Our son went on three rides and that was enough for him.
Big amusements parks tend to be ones that family vacations are centered around. They are expensive, often multi-day trips. These parks have big rides and all of the major cartoon characters. Souvenirs are practically a must and typically, there are many restaurants in the park. The experience is one that kids would not likely forget soon!
We look forward to taking our children to Disneyland someday. I can't wait to see the look in my daughter's eyes when she gets to have a meal with the "Princesses". And we are sure our son will run us ragged chasing him from attraction to attraction.
Great-Kids-Parks is not meant to replace specific amusement park websites. Those sites are extremely useful for finding deals and specific information. Think of us as more of a clearinghouse that gathers some information about all amusement parks. We try and supply a park map, info about entry fees, open dates and times, photos, and park locations.
Great-Kids-Parks can help you make the decision about which amusement to take your kids to. Making the memories is up to you!