Each year I make the trip from New York City to Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Dorney Park with my son Louie, a couple of his friends and my Sister-in-law Anna to keep me company. This is our 10th annual trip. It’s a fun day for all.
Upon arrival we head to the water park first, and at 230-3pm transition to the theme park. Leaving by 6pm, we usually make it home by 830pm. Perfect timing to get a few things done (like the day’s laundry) before bed.
We have a ritual that is followed to the letter to ensure a great day. I would like to share my ritual with you to consider for your next theme park visit:
1. Never go on a weekend, Monday or Friday. Avoid Saturday and Sunday at all costs! Unless you want to spend extra money on those “Fast Passes” to jump you to the front of the lines, which in my opinion are a HUGE money sucking scam, go to a theme park on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Here at Dorney I have learned that these 3 weekdays are usually full of summer campers and parents like me, who took a day off from work to be here. The summer campers leave the park by 330pm, leaving you with short lines and more time to enjoy the rides.
Look at the empty seats!!
2. Buy advance tickets online, load them to your phone. Online you can get the best discounts. Many parks offer weekday discounts, or larger price cuts for buying in advance (Camelback has a 2,4 and 7 day purchase ahead discount). You can also prepay parking and with IPhones passbook I loaded all the tickets to my phone. Easy-peasy and no lost or forgotten tickets.
2. Check the car, get your fluids! Nothing can turn a day that is supposed to be fun into disaster faster than not checking your oil, anti-freeze and washer fluid. Check your tire-pressure too. It’s a 2 hour ride for me, so I prepare the car the day before.
3. Food is Expensive. Plan Ahead. I have a cooler in my trunk full of sandwiches, bottled water and snacks. But let’s face facts, NO ONE likes to be dragged out to a hot car to have lunch. You’re having fun inside the park and have to pack it all up to head outside, only to then come back.
Today, I took advantage of the “meal plan.”$13 for lunch per person including an entree, side and drink. Because no matter what you pack in a cooler in the trunk of your car, the kids will see the food at the park and want that. Especially if your child brings a friend and the friend has brought their own money and wants the park food, your kids will want it too. Do yourself a favor, save on some whining and plan ahead. The cooler food will keep for the 2 hour drive home.
4. Make a Bee-line for the Back. Upon arrival, I slingshot to the back of the park and set up camp. At any water park, the most populated areas to get a lounge chair are near the wave pools. I learned how to avoid the crowds. At Dorney, head to the rear of the park, near the Water Works. I have a mini cabana style umbrella, 4 chairs and the park has been open for an hour and no one is here. It’s my secret spot.
5. Portable cell-phone battery charger. I never leave the house without my Halo. If you don’t own a portable battery charger for your cell, you should. Mine comes with cords for both Android and Apple devices.
6. Bring your walking shoes! Ladies, Power Pumps and cute shoes have no place at a theme park. Wear your sneakers and be prepared to hit your step goal. If going to a water and theme park combo like Dorney, pack a complete change of clothes. Flip-flops and bathing suit for water rides, sneakers and shorts for the theme park. You will be happy you did.
7. Arrange a meeting place and time. My son and his friends are 16 so they like to go off on their own. I have a partially torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder and can’t do the rides this year, so I am writing to all of you instead. However, we always have two agreed check in times, lunch and one hour prior to park departure. It’s 1230pm and the boys just arrived and went off with their lunch vouchers.
8. Get a waterproof wallet. I have the plastic waterproof wallet that I wear on a lariat to carry $30 with me at all times. The rest of our gear goes into a locker. The locker key also fits nicely into the wallet. I don’t have mine with me this year, because I am not riding the slides, but it is usually a necessity.
All the to-do’s are useful, however what truly matters on days like today is the smile on my son’s face.
We have gone on our annual day trips since he was 6, and it shows no signs of stopping. Louie coordinates the date and we plan all facets of the day together. The hug I receive the morning of our trip is extra tight. That’s the best part – I never want that feeling to end.
We have an exciting day ahead. I am now going to settle in and read my book. Enjoy your day!