I've never been what you might call a fan of amusement parks. My family absolutely loves them. I am not a roller coaster rider at all, and the idea of standing out in the crowd, hot and tired, and watching them do it again! and again! and again! -
Well, this is the part of being a parent that you just do, right?
Wrong. Kings Dominion proved that to me when we visited in May. Hold tight. This is gonna get good.
The best part of visiting a theme park - there're no video games, no Minecraft, no ear buds and blasting music, no screens at all - just a family, spending time together and having a blast! It's a great way to spend time becoming acquainted with those people that you call children - and, being that they might be flipping through the air, there's no time for eye rolling or name calling.
It's a Win-Win in my book!
Kings Dominion is part of the Cedar Fair family of theme parks, which means that they have Planet Snoopy. What's so cool about Planet Snoopy, you might ask? The Peanuts gang happens to be my very favorite cartoon EVER, and seeing the characters come to life was a gigantic thrill for my kids. And maybe for me as well.
One of the best features of the Cedar Fair amusement parks, in my opinion, is the option that you are offered at the entrance to the park. Your child is measured and given a wristband to indicate their height, in order to determine which rides are safe for them. If you are offered this option, TAKE IT. I can't tell you the number of unhappy families I saw who had waited in line to get on a ride and they were sent away, all because Little Kimmie wasn't tall enough.†
Kings Dominion has a rating system in place to help any visitor choose their park adventure, grading rides on a scale from Low Thrills (1) to Aggressive Thrills (5). This is super awesome for us, as we have kids in all age ranges and all thrill levels. Too often, we may pick a ride that we think might be appropriate, only to have the child in hysterical tears because the ride is just too much. By utilizing the ratings system, we were able to do the old "Divide and Conquer" - I stayed with the less adventurous kids while Daddy took the thrill seekers off to experience the roller coasters.
Joe Cool's Driving School - Level 1 - and Riley's favorite. We stayed here for HOURS.
Taxi Jam - Level 2 - and the more adventurous kid may not be who you think it is!
Every time we counted, we came up with a different number, but I think that there were NINE roller coasters at Kings Dominion. That, my friends, is called NIRVANA to the thrill seekers among us. My husband and daughters rode almost every one - and he was thrilled to do so, because it's really hard for a teenager to roll her eyes or fight with her sister when she's flying through the air.
My husband and girls rode every Level 4 roller coaster - even my nine year old - and almost every Level 5 - but The Crypt proved too much for even them. Take a look at this thing!
We went up in the Eiffel Tower, which is just 1/3 of the height of the real Eiffel Tower, and from there we had an amazing view of the park.
The Rebel Yell, a wooden roller coaster that has been at Kings Dominion since 1975 - which doesn't look too intimidating from 300 feet in the air!
The Volcano, which my husband pronounced the fastest ride that he's ever been on in his life.
One of the new attractions for 2012 is Dinosaurs Alive!, 36 life sized replicas that move, blink, roar and in all other ways make you glad you live today and not millions of years ago. It's an interactive guided tour through 6 shaded acres of natural history. The cost of this is not included in your ticket, but it's a reasonable $5 per person. Especially in the heat of the summer, it might be worth it just to visit for the respite from the heat - and no matter what you think you know about the dinosaurs, there's new history being uncovered all the time.
Also new this year is WindSeeker, a 301-foot tall tower swing ride which joins Intimidator 305, Drop Tower and the Eiffel†Tower in the "300 Foot Club" at Kings Dominion. This ride spins riders 30 stories above the park reaching speeds of 30 miles an hour. Too fast for me, but my kids LOVED it.
There's truly a ride for every level of thrill seeker at Kings Dominion!
As for me, I was happy to ride the carousel:
And the vintage cars are alllll for me:
The park was clean, the attendants polite and interested in helping, and even cognizant of food allergies. When my son asked if a food was safe for him, the supervisor was unaware, but she took the time to call on her walkie-talkie and check, which gave me peace of mind that my food allergic child was safe.
I can highly recommend Kings Dominion as a park that your entire family, from teeny tiny to grown, will enjoy.
Do you do the divide-and-conquer at amusement parks or all wait in line together?†