Coasters of China – Part 4: Shanghai Disneyland

by Jill Morris

Shanghai Disneyland
Pudong, Shanghai, China

Credit: Jill Morris

Shanghai Disneyland is one of my favorite parks in the world. (Knoebels will always be my favorite.) I have visited twice now, in 2017 and in 2019, and so have gotten to see the park’s development over time. When I first visited, the Toy Story section had not yet been built, and the park is currently adding a section themed to Zootopia. It is clear that they are actively trying to improve parts of the park. Shanghai Disneyland is accessible via the Shanghai subway system. (However, be aware that it shuts down around 11 pm, and if you stay far enough away from the park you may have to leave early.) There is also a hotel on site, but I personally stayed closer to the Bund.

The first time I visited the park, we got a locker and immediately headed to ride TRON. In theory I knew that most of the people in the park would be doing this, but it was the ride I wanted to get on the most. Based upon what rides got very long lines (and when) during that first visit, my plan for my second visit was to start with the carousel (it had a two hour wait the entire time I was there the first trip, so I missed it), Pirates of the Caribbean, and then over to TRON. Unfortunately, due to the length of the security line (more about this later), the carousel already had a long wait by the time we got in the park, even though we had gotten there very early. Therefore, we started with Pirates this time.

The first time I rode Shanghai’s Pirates of the Caribbean it blew me away and was completely jaw dropping. This year I am not sure if it needs rehab or if knowing what to expect made me less impressed, but it wasn’t quite as cool. Nevertheless, this is still my favorite dark ride and I’m glad we got on it early in the day. It only had a half hour to 45-minute wait by the time we entered the park, and would be two or more hours later in the day.

Credit: Jill Morris

TRON Lightcycle Power Run is one of my favorite coasters (and yes, I am very happy that it is coming to the US, though I fear the long lines). It has such a great reveal early in the queue that even if you use Premier Access you need to stand in front of the blank wall and wait for the brief presentation before continuing through the door to the main queue. It won’t take long and is worth it. Once through the reveal, you will progress through some rooms that allow you to watch the launch and provide some context for the ride, but the reality is that this doesn’t need much context. If you have ever wanted to ride a light cycle from TRON this is your chance, and the “story” doesn’t really matter much beyond that. Getting to ride TRON more than once cemented it for me as an incredibly solid ride. It is somewhat short, but that makes it re-ridable. Also, it is beautifully lit at night. There is a built-in container for small items in the cycle itself. There is also a lot of space around the ride to watch the launch for people who decide to not ride.

Continuing to the back of the park from TRON, you will now find the Toy Story section. Rex’s Racer is located here, which is an Intamin Surf Rider. I’m not a big fan of these types of rides, but the student who was with me loves them, so I rode. I’m glad I did — the theming is pretty cute and fantastic, but it’s also a decently powerful and fun ride. We also rode Woody’s Roundup in this section because it was part of a Premier Access pack.

Credit: Jill Morris

We didn’t get to the final coaster till far later in the day (since that is when our free Fast Pass time was). The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is more or less like its American cousin. Both times I have ridden this I have had a fast pass, and would not probably wait for it either. It is incredibly smooth due to the swinging of the ride cars, and has a pocket for mouse ears, glasses, and phones (though larger items might need to be stowed in a locker).

Between the coasters we rode as many other rides as possible. The Winnie the Pooh ride is regrettably not as well themed as the other dark rides in the park. It will probably appeal greatly to children, but not be jaw-droppingly awesome (such as Pirates is) to adults. The same can be said for the Peter Pan ride. Pooh’s Hunny Pot Spin, the Shanghai version of the teacups, has very very tight teacups that are difficult to spin. I am not sure if this is on purpose or if it is because the local guests simply don’t spin them. There is a castle walk-through that shows you some scenes from Snow White that children especially found magical. In reality, it is pretty cool just to be able to walk up inside the castle. There is also a boat ride around the castle (Ariel’s Grotto) and an Alice in Wonderland maze. These are great opportunities for photos as you can take cameras on them.

The Soaring ride at Shanghai Disneyland has a plot that is set up during the queue. This is actually pretty neat even if you cannot understand a lot of it. This has a long line, so it is another good ride to either visit early (it is very close to Pirates) or late if you are staying close by.

Credit: Jill Morris

Lastly, the Fantasia Carousel is beautiful and is a wonderful idea for a themed Disney carousel. It is based upon the pastoral scene in Fantasia, and there are some related souvenirs available in the park.

Shanghai Disneyland is one of the only Chinese parks that I have eaten at. (Since I did not spend a full day at many of the others, we ate before or after.) The eatery near TRON has a pork sandwich that is simply fantastic, and I recommend that you try it if at all possible (it is currently themed to Marvel, but had a different theme in 2017). One warning though — this year most of the restaurants closed down at 6, hours before the park did. We were planning on getting more food, and were unable to do so. Look up hours for restaurants when you arrive at the park and make sure that the places you want to eat will be open when you plan on eating. Like other Disney parks, souvenir popcorn buckets and drink cups are available for sale.

No Chinese parks have the selection of souvenirs that American ones do. Some barely have souvenirs at all. Shirts are especially difficult to find. However, Disney has the most of any park I’ve been to, including several shops that are popular in other Disney parks. You will find a shop that specializes in mouse ears (including some specifically for Shanghai), and Pirates and TRON both exit to small stores. Most of China’s amusement park merchandise is toys, however. There is less merchandise for adults than you would find in your average Cedar Fair or Six Flags park, and Disney is really no different in that way. You can find some shirts, mugs, and jewelry, and even a few Christmas ornaments if you look hard enough. The shopping is better here than at other parks, but it would be best to buy souvenirs for people who stayed home outside the park (or at least do not depend upon parks for all your shopping while traveling).

Credit: Jill Morris

Fast passes at Shanghai Disneyland are managed by their app. If you are not staying at the hotel, you will have to be  physically in the park to scan your ticket and start signing up for fast passes (including the free ones that are available to everyone — you can sign up every couple of hours or so). Tickets are tied to your passport (you don’t print them off an email or anything) so there is no way to get access to the fast pass system early. Upon entering at 9, I was able to get a fast pass for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 7 pm — but TRON had already been given out for the day. At 11 I was able to get a fast pass for Winnie the Pooh.

During my first visit, the fast pass system was paper based. At certain times of the day everyone would line up and wait for a fast pass to an attraction at a fast pass location. The fast pass line was one of the longest we waited in all day (other than the security line). The app is much easier to use, providing that you can access the wifi okay. The wifi requires a code texted to your phone, though, so you must have a Chinese phone number to get access. The same code does work for multiple phones.

Additional fast passes (called “Premier Access” on the app but “Fast passes” on the website) can be purchased via the app. Since Shanghai Disneyland tickets are only about $70-80 USD, on this trip I have to admit that I purchased fast passes for my party (and it was still cheaper than an average Disney ticket in the US). There are some disadvantages to Premier Access. You may miss one of the best reveals in the TRON queue, for example, if someone else opens a door before you are ready to. However, very few people buy these passes (there was never a line in the Premier Access queue, so I never really felt like we were forcing other people to wait much longer, which I don’t like in US parks. It may grow in popularity, but for now the price may be worth it. The “packs” are discounted, so it is best to pay for a pack of passes to several rides than paying for the rides individually. Most of the packs will involve some smaller rides that you may not be as interested in, but when you get to a flat ride and it has an hour wait you might be happy that you have the Premier Access anyway.

Credit: Jill Morris

A new benefit that can be purchased is Early Park Entrance. Normally reserved for hotel guests, Disney has opened this up to all guests (for a price) likely because of complaints about the security wait.

Although in general I love this park and plan on returning, the security and ticketing line is simply the worst part of the experience. When I visited in 2017 it was a free-for-all and you could basically push your way closer to the front of the line. In 2019, it is very controlled, with a lot of queues (you stand in line in one queue to get into another and then into a third). It is clear that Shanghai Disney wants to improve this guest experience and is listening to guests about how terrible this particular part of the park is, but the solutions thus far have not been successful. This year it was pouring down rain when I got to the park. Everyone in China carries umbrellas (including myself) so this wasn’t that much of a problem. However, since most Chinese people are about a half a foot or more shorter than me, this posed a major issue. As we crowded through the security queue, I was constantly having rain poured onto me from other people’s umbrellas. Unfortunately, it was being poured onto my DSLR as well (the weather sealing held out, but one of the dials on top still needs repair as a result). Waiting in line for 1-2 hours to get into the park is not how anybody wants to start their day, and creates a lot of stress in just about everyone coming to the park.

Though I attempted to get to the park sooner this time to try to bypass the line, coming before the park opened did not work (and the park opened at 8 am). We will did not get in until 9 or after, were completely soaked, and didn’t want to wait in any more lines, period. This weighed heavily into my decision to purchase fast passes.

The Early Park Entrance program would allow us to get into the park before opening, supposedly for about 158 RMB (about $22.50). When I return to the park, I will be purchasing my tickets early enough to also purchase this access. I’m not waiting in the line again, and I don’t recommend that you do either. Yes, you will have to arrive before the park opens and that might be very early after a longish commute by subway unless you stay nearby, but it really will be worth the extra money.

Lastly, it would be remiss to not discuss the topic that comes up any time that people mention Shanghai Disney — park cleanliness. Every time I have gone people have warned me about how guests pee on the sidewalk and in the lines and that there is trash everywhere. I’d like to dispel (or at least explain) some of these myths.

First, it is true that many Chinese people will potty-train their children in completely different ways than Westerners do. Especially in the “country,” children are sometimes not diapered and instead wear pants with a hole or slit in the back that allows them to go wherever and whenever they need to. This is considered to be more healthy for developing children’s bowels and bladders than forcing them to hold it at a young age, or sitting in their own poop or pee for an extended period of time.

In order for very young children to use a squat toilet, they have to be held over it (the parent bends at the waist and supports the child by the arms and thighs). I have definitely seen this same pose in public, usually over a trash can. I recommend that you leave the withering looks to other Chinese people (not everyone approves of this, especially in cities). Our own potty-training methods are just as strange to them, especially extended use of diapers.

Some Chinese parents will also carry a potty with them so that their child may go into a smaller toilet whenever they need to. Yes, I have witnessed this in line, but I have also seen it out in other parts of public. In line, this prevents the parent from leaving the line and cutting back in, so while it is different than what we see in the US, I am not terribly worried by it.

Lastly, it is often confusing in Disneyland whether one should bus their own table or not after eating. At my favorite restaurant (near TRON) there are workers that will clean up after you. Elsewhere in the park, there are not. There are no signs in any language telling you what to do with your trash, so it does sometimes build up on tables before being cleared. However, there are Chinese fast food restaurants where it is perfectly appropriate to leave your garbage on the table (versus the US where this is almost never okay), including some that are US owned. That means that there is a perfectly valid reason why people, including foreigners, have no idea what situation a given restaurant is in. This could be fixed with signs, but between my two visits no improvements have been made.

However, that doesn’t mean it is a dirty park! The paths, gardens, rides, queues, and bathrooms are wonderfully clean. Disneyland has some of the nicest bathrooms that I have had the pleasure of using in China (both squat and Western toilets are available). Most of the articles talking about the cleanliness of the park are basing their judgement upon very early reviews including its soft opening, which is simply not fair — especially several years later. I will also say that after a month and a half in China I am perfectly fine sitting next to some trash and having a beer. If cleanliness of table surfaces is important to you, eat in one of the restaurant areas with servers (and reservations) or do so where there are bussers.

Up next: China travel tips

Coasters of China – Part 3: Window of the World

by Jill Morris

Window of the World
Kaifu, Changsha, Hunan, China

Credit: Jill Morris

Window of the World is described by locals as the “old” park; in fact, the faculty member who drove me there told me it was probably “50 years old.” However, the park opened in 1997 so while it is certainly older than a lot of parks in China, it is still pretty new by American standards.  Window of the World is themed to famous world landmarks. They generally are not integrated into the rides themselves, but instead are separate photo opportunities scattered around the park. Window of the World is located directly off of a major freeway that travels through Changsha, so if you are in the city you may very well see the park from the road. The other parks in the Changsha area are either outside the city or not visible from the road (featuring small rides).

We visited during the week and the park was virtually deserted. In general that is a good thing, but as some Chinese parks do, Window of the World has operators wait until trains are at least partially full until dispatching. Therefore, a coaster might look like a walk on but you still might be waiting a really long time for the actual dispatch. We waited longer for the coasters than for the flats, which seemed more popular with the locals (this might change when their new coaster opens sometime next year). This also makes it pretty impossible to marathon any of the rides in the park because you need to wait for other guests to show up.

Credit: Jill Morris

The first coaster I rode here was a Zamperla Motocoaster called Speed Shuttle. This is actually quite a bit of fun, and was the coaster that I enjoyed most at this park. It is not terribly tall or fast, but anything going much taller or faster wouldn’t be very comfortable in these restraints anyway.

The park has a knockoff Gerstlauer Sky Roller, and though I went on it several times I do not believe it is possible to completely roll the seats over. Despite this, it’s a fun little ride that you shouldn’t miss, not least of all because the Chinese riders seem to try to keep their seats as steady as possible while foreign riders attempt to get the seats to tip as much as possible. The contrast is quite funny. (You will see this on teacup rides as well—Chinese guests tend to not spin them while foreign guests will.)

The spinning coaster was closed the day that I visited. I don’t honestly know if it would open later in the day or not (the map did not make this clear, nor were there signs; the cars were covered though, so we assumed that it would at least be awhile before it opened). Therefore, we went to ride the second coaster that was opened, the SLC knockoff called “Suspended Coaster.”

Credit: Jill Morris

This one is manufactured by Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides manufacturing. I much prefer Golden Horse rides to these. Although the Beijing model had incredibly padded restraints, there will be major issues for most Americans who attempt to ride this particular coaster. When we tried to board we were immediately stopped by a ride operator who would not allow us to choose the front seat despite being the only people in line. She then pointed to me, said “fat” (along with a gesture and puffed up cheeks), looked to the student I was visiting with, said “tall,” and made us ride in the very back. He is a little over six feet tall and I wear a women’s size 12, for reference.

The ride operators were incredibly surprised that I could ride at all, apparently. The restraint locked just fine, but it seems to be procedure here that for most Chinese people the restraint locks in its smallest setting. They were all very surprised that it would lock further up or that the computer would clear it. The same was true for my student, who was apparently too tall for the restraints.

The seats (other than the back) all had booster seats installed so that the restraints would fit even tighter on average (very small) Chinese guests.

Despite fitting, this was incredibly uncomfortable. The padded restraints do help with the head shaking that is normally a problem on an SLC, but the bones in my hips were wider than the hard plastic seats (a problem that weight loss would not fix), so I was actually perched up on their edges. We had to wait a long time for the train to dispatch, and these plastic sides dug into my hip, butt, and leg bones throughout the ride. This is the only Chinese roller coaster that I have been on that I would never ride again. I had similar issues with the size of the seats on flats that were manufactured by the Beijing Jiuhua company as well (I always fit but it was not comfortable), so I would not recommend these rides for anyone my size or larger. Of course, you can always try if you want the credits, but I am not sure that some of these rides are worth the effort or potential embarrassment.

Credit: Jill Morris

The park is in the process of building an S&S coaster. It was supposed to open this year, but was still sitting in a field with camouflage over it when I visited. Fortunately, since that time it has started being constructed and may open next year. It will be a very good addition for this park and should bring back a lot of business to it.

The theming here is not as good as at the newer parks, however, the park makes up for it with beautiful tree cover throughout. During the summer it is incredibly hot in Changsha, so having shade to walk under is fantastic. Although Chinese amusement parks don’t have many souvenirs in general, this one mostly sold some small toys (including some great My Little Pony knockoffs called “Little Horse”). The park does have some statues that are meant to be Disney-esque, as well as a castle.

The rides here all have cubbies for cameras and bags, and people use them (including with expensive items). Since only one train’s worth of guests will be allowed in the station, this is generally safe.

There are some excellent restaurants outside of the park (within walking distance), and it is easy to get a taxi out front as well. Have your destination written in Chinese and you should not have any trouble getting to or from Window of the World even though it is not yet on the subway system.

Up next: Shanghai Disneyland

Coasters of China – Part 2: Happy Valley Beijing

by Jill Morris

Happy Valley Beijing
Chaoyang, Beijing, China

Credit: Jill Morris

Happy Valley Beijing is available on the Beijing subway system. This makes it very easy to get to (it has its own stop, which has some fantastic art related to the park). The B&M flyer here might be a clone of Superman, but it goes around and through a mountain and feels completely different. Like Fantawild, Happy Valley is very well themed, but is more based in thrills and has a lot more coasters. Happy Valley is slightly more expensive than Fantawild (though this might be because it is in a bigger city), but offers a late-afternoon discount. Be aware, however, that many rides will close at 4 p.m., so do not think that it is possible to ride all the coasters on the afternoon ticket. It is cheaper because some rides will be shut down.

On the day we visited, it was thunderstorming when we arrived, but after a quick discussion with the gate agent (she really wanted me to understand that no rides would be open till the thunderstorm stopped), we went anyway. I was immediately struck by theming, again. Chinese companies invest a lot in these parks. They all feel very new and very well developed.

Credit: Jill Morris

The rain stopped, there was a rainbow, and some of the rides reopened (only briefly, though, as some would be closing soon). I was surprised to find out that some of the indoor rides would not be open later even though everything outside was closed, so the ride opening and closing times here are much more strict than at Fantawild. (I was especially sad that the Air Race, one of my favorite flat rides, was closed despite being inside during the storm.) At Happy Valley, there are opening and closing times for all major rides on their website, and you should assume they will be followed. To ride everything, you should at least plan on spending the morning and early afternoon at the park. You won’t be able to visit in the late afternoon and ride everything, though you will be able to wander around, take photos, and experience the park.

The centerpiece of Happy Valley is Crystal Wings, a Superman clone that circles a mountain-side city. The coaster feels completely different thanks to the theming, and there are many good things to be said about how the park has themed and maintained all of their rides.

The park also has Extreme Rusher, an S&S launched coaster, which is in a section of the park themed to cars and speed. This had closed by the time the storm was over, so I can’t speak personally to how it rides. To get this credit it is best to go in the morning or early afternoon.

Credit: Jill Morris

The Family Inverted Coaster is also a B&M, and it is one of only two family inverted coasters by them in the world (both in China). This is an excellent little ride, and I was initially more excited to ride it than Crystal Wings.

The park has two Vekomas. One is fairly standard SLC, but given that SLC-looking coasters are often knock-offs in China, I appreciate that they installed the real thing. It is also called Golden Wings in Snowfield, which is a beautiful name that reflects that it is painted white. The ride goes through some fairly thick trees, which also helps with the experience.

Their second Vekoma is a mine-train model called Jungle Racing (it is not a racing coaster, however). It also goes through the woods. I was almost crazily excited by this ride because you can ride in what is normally the “zero car” in mine train coasters actually shaped like a train. Regrettably, the pillars that hold up the roof on the train engine are metal and not padded and adult-sized humans will knock their elbows and head into them while riding. On Jungle Racing we were allowed to ride with our backpacks and other bags, which seemed strange, but we were not allowed to leave them on the platform. Other rides had cubbies or allowed bags to be left on the platform.

Credit: Jill Morris

Like Fantawild, Happy Valley seemed to only let one train’s worth of guests into the station at once (though, given the low crowds, no rides were running two trains). As such, safety of personal items was not really a concern. (I have gotten comfortable leaving my DSLR places in China that I definitely would not in the US, but only in parks that are fairly empty with high security.)

I visited the park in 2018, and so the B&M hyper was currently under construction when we were there. One of the big differences between Chinese and American parks is how easy it is to walk into construction sites by accident, so if there is construction going on at a park be careful. (We walked onto the site for Flight of the Himalayan Eagle Music Roller Coaster completely by accident while looking for a path around to the front of the park that no longer existed. We quickly backed up and went around the long way.) Be careful. China expects its citizens to take care of themselves in these circumstances. In any case, this ride is now complete, stands 157.5 feet tall, and has a splash effect.

Credit: Jill Morris

Happy Valley has a lot of flat rides that are well maintained and worth a ride, but be sure to not miss their Intamin Flying Island that is called Energy Collector. This platform is raised on an arm. You stand around on the platform without restraints, so when it changes direction or begins to go up and down it can actually be a little scary. It also provides fantastic views of the entire park. They are a rare enough ride that it shouldn’t be missed.

Happy Valley is accessible directly off of Line 7 from the Beijing subway and has its own stop, the Happy Valley Scenic Area station, which is right outside the front gate.

Up next: Window of the World

Coasters of China – Part 1: Fantawild Adventure and Dreamland

by Jill Morris

For the past three summers of work as an associate professor of English at Frostburg State University, I have spent a month in Changsha, the capital of the Hunan province in the People’s Republic of China. When my department chair first asked me if I would be interested in this trip, I checked RCDB (the Roller Coaster DataBase) and found out that there were parks in the area, so I partially agreed based upon the fact that Changsha had multiple parks to visit, and I was assured that travel within the country was relatively easy. What follows is not just information about each park I’ve been to, but also general travel tips for China and ideas about how to get the most out of visiting amusement parks there.

Fantawild Adventure and Dreamland
Shifeng, Zhuzhou, Hunan, China

Credit: Jill Morris

Fantawild is located outside of Changsha, reachable by taxi or Didi (China’s Uber service). Fantawild is one of the large park operators in China and is currently expanding. This location now has three parks, with their Oriental Heritage park opening shortly after I left this past summer. Fantawild is a theme park complex with incredible theming. One of the things I noticed in Chinese parks is just how largeeverything is. Perspective is used much less often to make buildings look larger than in parks in the US.

Because the Hunan province gets very hot during the summer, the two parks I visited had many indoor attractions, including multiple 4D attractions and dark rides on par with Universal’s rides.  When I visited, a ticket  that got us admission to both parks was about $30 USD. It was a very hot day, so the parks were fairly empty despite it being a holiday weekend (the Dragon Boat Festival). Locals will tell you that you have to spend several days to experience everything at Fantawild. However, we were able to ride the coasters and several other rides in half an afternoon with little trouble. If I go back I will want to spend more time there because I missed some of the dark rides and we did not see any shows, but it was over 100 degrees F, so I did not experience lines or waits and was able to see all the rides within the time frame we had.

Credit: Jill Morris

This Fantawild location has a lot of coasters that are by familiar manufacturers. My favorite is Jungle Trailblazer, a Gravity Group woodie that is incredibly twisty. Built in 2016, this is not the tallest or flashiest ride at the park, but it is incredibly smooth and is the only woodie I have had the pleasure to ride in China. Since most Chinese parks are relatively new, they don’t have many older rides like woodies from decades past. However, they are building smaller woodies that provide great laterals and airtime to fill this gap in many of their parks.

The other coaster in Dreamland is a Vekoma boomerang with the hilarious name Stress Express. This is a newer boomerang, also built with the park in 2016, and offers a fairly smooth ride, especially for the model.

Credit: Jill Morris

In the Adventure part of the park, there is a Golden Horse mine train called Vesuvio Volcano and a Golden Horse suspended looping coaster (SLC) called Flare Meteor. The mine train has nice theming and is a lot more fun than the SLC. However, if you are going to ride a knock-off SLC in China I highly recommend Golden Horse over Beijing Jiuhua Amusement Rides Manufacturing. Golden Horse has larger seats and is overall a better match to the original SLC than the Beijing Jiuhua model.

I can’t overstate how beautiful these parks are. Every area feels incredibly well done, and I look forward to visiting the Oriental Heritage park this next summer. The new park not only promises a new Vekoma coaster, but also rides that share a lot of information about the history of the local area. Changsha is the birthplace of Chairman Mao (be sure to visit Orange Island near downtown to see a statue as well as some beautiful gardens) and also the location of the Hunan Provincial Museum where you can view Lady Dai, a world-famous mummy. Fantawild’s newest park in Changsha celebrates this heritage and hopes to educate foreigners and locals alike about this history.

Credit: Jill Morris

Operations notes: Fantawild only allowed one train’s worth of people (or two rafts on their shoot-the-chutes ride) in the station at a time. Cubbies are in use to protect your belongings. On days with one train operations, this means that valuables such as phones can be left in the station in a backpack with few worries (the Chinese students I traveled with acted like I was a little crazy for worrying at all).

Outdoor queues at Fantawild have seating and lots of mist machines. The seating is especially nice, though unlikely to appear in the US.

Fantawild sometimes closes early (6 pm the day I visited), so be sure to double check an operating calendar before visiting. Sometimes rides will close off their queues early before closing, but if they get cleared out before closing they will reopen them and let some more people in.

Up next: Happy Valley Beijing

Mid-Atlantic Parks Are Open for the Holidays

The parks are open again! We are so fortunate to have holiday celebrations at all the major parks in the Mid-Atlantic.

Here are some tips to make your visit more delightful!

If you have tips of your own to share – please email

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags America runs through January 1st.

Included with a 2019 or 2020 season pass, or a membership

What’s new this year? Firebird is operating, so there are FIVE roller coasters to ride! The park is featuring three new shows – “Saving Christmas” – a holiday stunt show, “Dancin’ Through the Holidays” in the Crazy Horse Saloon, and “Behold, the Messiah” in the Grand Theatre.

What’s to know? The front part of the park is fully decked out for the holidays. The Gotham City area of the park is not operational for Holiday in the Park.

The food? New food items are sprinkled throughout the park, so check out all your favorite eateries.

More information:

Winterfest at Kings Dominion

Included with a 2019 or 2020 season pass

Two roller coasters are operating this year – Dominator and Twisted Timbers, both weather permitting.

Special Extras:

Outdoor ice skating is available for an additional fee. It is cheaper when purchased online before arriving and does sell out commonly.

Carriage rides are available for an additional fee.

What will the kids enjoy? Holiday shows with lots of energy, and cookie decorating in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen (available for an extra fee).

What’s new to eat? Holiday food items are available at all restaurants, so check out the website for many options:

More information:

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

A Christmas Town ticket is required. Discount tickets are available to passholders/members.

Enjoy rides on THREE roller coasters – Grover’s Alpine ExpressVerbolten, and Invadr – plus many more rides.

What’s new? Traditions Tree Maze features 500 trees near Festhaus.

More info:

– Elizabeth Ringas