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Apr 9, 2013
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I don't know where else to put this thread, so I'm hoping "Everything Else" is a decent place to park this topic.

I'm curious what other parks are noteworthy in the Mid-Atlantic region from the point of view of Busch Garden fans. We all like Busch Gardens for various reasons: themes, coasters, dark rides, etc. As a fan, if you were to take into account all the other parks within driving distance (let's say, within 8 hours of Busch Gardens Williamsburg), what are your recommendations and why?

Hershey Park?
Six Flags ______ (choose your flavor)?
Kings Dominion?
Others?

The reason I ask is because I'm 5 years new to the DC area and only just recently started looking at other theme parks worth traveling to as a destination. Orlando is kind of out of the pocket for weekend driving excursions so now that we're coming up on 'the season' I want to know what everyone's opinion is, consolidated. Hunting around the different areas of this website, while helpful, is somewhat disjointed for comparative analysis. It might be helpful for the next guy or girl, too.

So, if you would share your opinions I'd greatly appreciate it.
 
Mar 30, 2010
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Hershey Park and Kings Dominion for sure. I'd check out the Six Flags in New Jersey as well. A lot of people like Knoebels. It's a different kind of park. You pay per ride. Carowinds near Charlotte is another good one.
 

Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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Kings Dominion is a fantastic amusement park if you're into such things. I haven't been to Hershey in ages but I've heard nothing but praise. I'll toss in a vote for Knoebels as well. Just make sure to toss out everything you think a park should be before you go.
 

Peter R.

Loch Ness Monster Lives...45 Years! 1978-2023
Aug 14, 2010
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In my own personal rankings HP is second behind only Busch Gardens, and (I hate to say it) but I feel they have more things to do then Busch. Next would be Kings Dominion followed by Six Flags America ( though they are steadily improving).
 

netdvn

Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
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The largest, most well-known theme parks in the region would be BGW, KD, Hersheypark, and Great Adventure.

Second-tier, lesser known parks = Dorney Park, Morey's Piers, Knoebel's and SFA. You could probably count Luna Park/Coney Island into this mix, even though it's fairly well known.

Then you have even smaller stuff like Dutch Wonderland, Ocean City amusements, and the Jersey piers.

The likes of Carowinds and Dollywood would be pushing things a bit as they're more South than Mid-Atlantic.
 
Jul 15, 2011
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I am lucky enough to live within 4 hours of Hershey, SFGA, Busch, KD, and SFA. The only one I haven't been to is KD, which will be remedied soon enough.

Hershey is next behind Busch. TONS of great rides, a great twilight deal, friendly staff.

SFGA (New Jersey) Has THE coasters, but not much else. Also the general "Screw you, but give us your money" attitude of Jersey.

SFA. ah, what SFA SHOULD be. SFA should be Hershey. Hershey fits a ton of rides in a much smaller area than what SFA is working with. If the powers that be spent just a LITTLE of that money on SFA, it could easily become as good a park as Jersey.

that's what I got so far....
 
Aug 18, 2012
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Don't forget Kenywood, West Mifflin (pittsburg suburb), PA. Old school park, lots of classic rides. One of the oldest parks still operating. It's on my list of soon to visit parks. Always wanted to go there on the way to Cedar Point, but CP is farther than 8 hours away.
 
Apr 9, 2013
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8 hours? Oh wow: Here's my list....

Dollywood. Don't laugh. That place is an easy rival to BGW for most beautiful park in America. Go there one day. The rides are nothing to laugh at either. No state fair rides to be found there. Great place. Good food. Reasonable prices.

Koebell's The last really good place on the East Coast where the admission is free and you only have to pay for whatever rides or attractions you go on or see. The food is amazingly cheap. So cheap in fact, it makes every other theme park in the country look like downright thieves.
 
Jun 23, 2010
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Since Dollywood was suggested by some, I'll offer my thoughts about that. We visited Dollywood three years ago as an alternative to Busch Gardens. We had previously visited several times in the 1990's through 2004. After spending a few hours at the park, our impression grew from "slightly put off" to "get us out of here." From unprofessional employees who appeared overworked and overwhelmed to high food prices, to wear and tear throughout the park (paint was severely worn everywhere and many areas of the park felt grimy), a show (James Rogers) that was embarrassingly outdated.

We decided to leave the park that day and salvage the rest of our vacation by driving to Williamsburg. The difference was night and day. Busch Gardens felt incredibly clean, welcoming, and professional. We truly enjoyed the rest of our trip and BG and Hersheypark, and we had a hard time avoiding making continuous comparrisons to Dollywood in almost every situation we encountered. Busch Gardens and Hersheypark beat Dollywood in quality by leaps and bounds on just about every level.

So, needless to say, I have to disagree with the above poster who called Dollywood on par with Busch Gardens as most beautiful park. We were extremely disappointed in how far the park had fallen in quality despite many new additions.

I haven't visited Kings Dominion since 1993, but I'm considering visiting, so I'm very interested in knowing how the park is maintained and operated as compared to the professional experiences we've come to expect from Busch Gardens and Hersheypark. I appreciate the comments I've read on this board.
 
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Jun 23, 2010
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Youhow2 said:
Hershey is horrible... Only one place in the whole park you can get beer...
LOL, well that's true about the beer, but Hersheypark is actually one of the best run parks out there. They have great customer care, and the park is beautiful and well kept.
 
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Aug 25, 2012
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I think the section of HP is the area behind the water park, with wildcat and thunder racer or whatever it's called. It is the older section, and it has that old time feel to it which I look for in old parks.
 

b.mac

Indiana Beach Vibe
May 14, 2011
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Haha Mid-Atlantic parks are my forte. If you need any trip planning tips just ask me and I'm sure I'll be able to help.

As of now the only notable parks I have not been to in the Mid-Atlantic Region (Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York) are Six Flags America, Waldameer and Kennywood, and with my ankle surgery coming it doesn't look like I'll get them this year. Anyways the list of notable parks in this area are as follows.

New York:
-Luna Park (Coney Island): Go for the Cyclone.

-Rye Playland (Credit Nab): Go for the Dragon Coaster and 1 of 3 Derby Carousels IN THE WORLD. The town it resides in is also incredibly beautiful and it's just outside of the bustle of the New York Metro area.

New Jersey:
-Six Flags Great Adventure: The flagship park of the state, has 2 of the best credits for enthusiasts in El Toro and Nitro and is also the only park in the world with 5 B&M coasters.

-Morey's Piers: Simply put it's on one of the best boardwalks on the east coast. 3 Piers with a variety of rides and definitely a full day of things to do with 2 water parks on top of it. It's a hike to the beach though, so be prepared.

-Clementon Park: The oldest operating park in the state. With a recent buyout and new ownership, Clementon Park has made some moves recently that definitely put them back on the map in terms of being a place to visit. While Hellcat isn't in its prime anymore it's still a coaster to check out for what is probably the most intense twister section in the US.

-Casino Pier: Great day trip place. Not as large as Morey's Piers but has a good selection of rides. Watch out for the prices as it can get a little expensive if you plan to spend more than 2-3 hours there.
-Jenkinson's Boardwalk: Read Casino Pier again. They also have an aquarium!
-Steel Pier: Read Casino Pier AGAIN. Also Atlantic City is a hole, so visit in the daytime/evening and get out.

-Ocean City: Read Casino Pier. Gets mobbed to all hell with tourists from Philly and New York in the summertime so be prepared for large crowds.

-Keansburg: Small park on the Northern end of New Jersey, very similar to Clementon Park in terms of size.

-Bowcraft Playland: An even smaller park and further north than Keansburg. They only have one notable ride in the Crossbow, so it'll only really be a stopgap park at best.

Pennsylvania:
-Hersheypark: One of the oddest 'major' parks in the country. With a tight footprint the Comet Hollow is one of the best places to get roller coaster credits and spans the ages from old-time classics (Comet & SooperDooperLooper) to the modern day thrill machines (Skyrush & Great Bear). While their operations can be questionable at times and their rides are notoriously short in length, Hershey is definitely a park that can grow on you over multiple visits.

-Dorney Park: The only park in the world with three different inverted coasters, and one of the most historically significant on top of it. It's great to visit during the weekdays for marathon riding, and also has one of the best haunts in the Northeast in the fall. While Dorney seems rather small rides like Talon, Steel Force, and Hydra definitely place it as one of the best parks in the region.

-Knoebel's (Must-go for any sane enthusiast): If you want to see a typical themepark turned on its head this is the place to go. Located at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in Central PA Knoebels is one of a small collection of parks that has free admission and parking. Your admission comes in the form of tickets, which are still incredibly cheap ($40 worth can easily get you by a full day). The food is great and also cheap compared to other major amusement parks, and there's also a sit in restaurant if you feel like it. Classic rides like the Flying Scooters, Tumbler, Phoenix, an Authentic Haunted Mansion, and one of the best Log Flumes not named Dudley Do Right's in the country. This park is any old school enthusiast's dream park, and definitely worth the mountain trek to.

-Kennywood: Right outside of Pittsburgh is another old-school park with its own take on rides. Kennywood has its fair share of old-school coasters and flat rides. It has 3 of the oldest operating wooden coasters in the country, each with their own kick. Kennywood is also home to a Morgan rehash coaster which has a near 230 foot drop down a hill and UNDER another coaster into an ending rivaling Nitro in air time.

-Waldameer: located near Lake Erie, this is a small park with one of the best wooden coasters in the country. They also have a nice collection of flat rides along with one of the best drop towers around.

Maryland & Virginia:
-Six Flags America: Right off the 495 Beltway and sandwiched between Baltimore and Washington DC, read this thread.
-KD
-BGW

Not too far from this region you have Cedar Point, Kings Island, Dollywood, and Carowinds, which are really the only notable parks in their respective states. Cedar Point and Kings Island are great credit grab parks, and have their fair share of good coasters. Dollywood is a little off the beaten path but the experience that can be had is definitely worth the trip alone, the coasters are just a bonus. Carowinds is basically a 'clone' of Kings Dominion and is really only worth the trip for credits and Afterburn, one of the best B&M inverts out there.
 
Feb 23, 2012
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I should be taking trips to CP, KI, and Carowinds this year because I got the platinum pass for Christmas. Can't wait for all of them, especially Gatekeeper.

I went to Carowinds when I was really little so I don't remember anything; glad I get to go back as a coaster-rider now.

By the way, if anyone's ridden Diamondback, how does it compare to AC and Nitro? Just wondering because it looks like one heck of a ride.
 
Apr 9, 2013
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Zachary said:
I feel like B-Mac's post should be published somewhere. Great job!

I agree. This kind of one-stop park guide was very much along the lines of what I was looking for. As great as this site is (no sarcasm - it's truly great), it's really hard to grasp what's in the area and how a park stacks up comparatively speaking.
 
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