Amusement parks ready to open
As of Saturday, the clickety-clack of the Big Dipper racing up and down the wooden tracks has returned as Camden Park opened for its 110th season.
Here's a look at the upcoming season at Camden Park as well as other popular amusement parks in the Buckeye State at the beach and beyond.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: The Rattler. This pendulum ride sends 16-riders head over heels through dual swinging and spinning motions. Located beside the Big Dipper and visible from U.S. 60, the ride was built by the Italian ride maker, Zamperla, which has made most rides at New York's Coney Island.
OPEN: May 11-12, 18-19, 25-27 and 29-31. June and July dates are Tuesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays)
DID YOU KNOW? More than 20,000 area school kids will come to play and learn during May School Days. Sessions are: May 8-9, Local History Comes Alive; May 15-17, WV Natural Science and May 22-23, Physics and Amusement Park Rides.
SEASON PASS: Online special right now is $74.99 (parking pass for season is extra).
DAILY ADMISSION: $19.99 for adults, $14.99 seniors and children 48 inches and under. Special Starlight discounts for after 5 p.m.
HITTING THE LINKS: Opened in summer 2008 was the 18-hole West Virginia Adventure mini-golf complete with waterfalls, a working grist mill, covered bridge, cabin and animatronic characters. Miniature golf (during regular hours with park admission) $4.99; miniature golf (Saturday after park closes at 7:30 p.m.), $6.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: The 10th annual Children's Festival every Thursday (June 4 through July 30) with rides, games, balloon artistry, a petting zoo and special attractions. For the second year the Wayne County Fair will be at Camden Park. The dates are Tuesday through Friday, Aug. 6-9. There will be reduced admission prices for the fair.
IN CONCERT: Such nationally traveling acts as Hackensaw Boys, Hot Club of Cowtown and Two Man Gentlemen Band have played the Hot Summer Nights Concert Series. The 9th annual series will run Thursday and Friday nights, July 11 through Aug. 2. Bands are TBA.
GETTING THERE: Located five miles west of Huntington on U.S. 60. Turn at the sign of the happy clown.
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: This is the 110th season for Camden Park, the only amusement park in West Virginia. There will be a birthday celebration set for June 12 with live entertainment, cake and special attractions. The park also runs special overnight packages with Heritage Farm as well as Best Western.
CONTACT: Call 866-8CAMDEN or 304-429-4321.
WEB SITE: www.camdenpark.com
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: Known as the "Earth Quake Lizard," the Sauroposeidon, is now honored at King's Island with the world's largest animatronic dinosaur as part of the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit. A separate $5 ticket is required.
The Reds Hall of Fame Grille is a Cincinnati Reds-themed restaurant with Reds memorabilia, ballpark food items, the Reds games on TV and even access to game tickets at a kiosk for Great American Ball Park.
Four of the six live stage shows are new in 2013. They are: "Rock n' Roll Never Forgets" in the Festhaus; "Charlie Brown's Jungle Journey" in the PEANUTS Playhouse Theater; "Playlist, Live" at the Bandstand on International Street; and "Ed Alonzo's Psycho Circus of Magic and Mayhem 2" in the Kings Island Theater.
Returning shows include "British Invasion" in the Festhaus and "Peanuts Party at the Plaza" at the Bandstand on International Street.
HOURS: The park's seven-day-a-week schedule begins Friday, May 10. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during most May weekdays and then 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days during the summer.
SEASON PASS: A regular season pass (if you buy four or more) is $92
SINGLE-DAY TICKETS: Regular adult is $37.99 and junior is $33.99 one day. Adult one-day with dining plan (one meal and snack) is $47.99. Two-day adult is $54.99.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Kings Island is home to the legendary Beast - the longest wooden roller coaster in the world -- and Firehawk -- Ohio's only flying roller coaster. Soak City, the water park, opens for the 2013 season Saturday, May 25 and is included with park admission to Kings Island. Also, the indoor water park, Great Wolf Lodge, is the official resort of Kings Island.
SPECIAL DAYS: Brady Bunch stars at King's Island on May 19. A Tribute to the Armed Forces (Free admission to any active or retired military personnel) Memorial Day weekend (May 24-27) and Fourth of July (July 3-5). The 20th annual SpiritSong concert series June 27-29. Artist lineup and ticket information is available at www.spiritsongfest.com.
Midnight Closings are set for June 29, July 6, 13, 20, 27 and Aug. 3. Reds Day is set for Aug. 5 featuring appearances by some of your favorite Reds players and mascots, question-and-answer shows, and opportunity to win Reds-related prizes.
GETTING THERE: Located about three hours from Huntington. Take the AA Highway in Kentucky to I-275 and then I-71 north to Mason, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati.
DID YOU KNOW? The centerpiece of Kings Island is a 1/3-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower.
CONTACT: Go online at www.visitkingsisland.com
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: Located at the front of the park, GateKeeper, will forever change the landscape of the Cedar Point Peninsula. This mammoth ride will be the longest winged roller coaster and boast the longest drop of any winged roller coaster on the planet.
HOURS: Opens Saturday, May 11, and then will be open daily through Labor Day. Hours usually run 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays in May while in June the schedule switches to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Special late hours (10 a.m. to midnight) are set for July 4-6 and then every Saturday in July and August.
SEASON PASS: $121 for regular season pass. Many options available.
SINGLE-DAY TICKETS: Single Day adult online $44.99, gate $54.99. Single day junior/senior online $29.99; Ride & Slide Two Days/Two Parks Regular $82.99, junior is $45.99. Early Season Starlight-Evening Admission $24.99 (valid May 11-June 15); Regular Season Starlight-Evening Admission $35.99 (valid June 16-Sept. 8). Rock Hall Combo (online only) $62 for admission to Cedar Point and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: More than 60 rides, including 17 roller coasters. Yes, that's more than any other amusement park in the world. Also, the Soak City water park open from Saturday, May 25, through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2.
GETTING THERE: About five hours north of Huntington (depending on roadwork, maybe longer). Take U.S. 52 west to U.S. 23 north. Take the Ohio Turnpike to Exit 118 (U.S. 250) and follow the signs north.
DID YOU KNOW? Cedar Point, which opened in 1870, is the nation's second-oldest amusement park and sits on the banks of Lake Erie.
CONTACT: Go online at www.cedarpoint.com
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: RiverRush, Tennessee's first and only water rollercoaster to open at Splash Country Water Park. Race through the trees four stories above the ground, drop 25 feet and splash and slide through dark tunnels, twists and turns.
Extended park hours (10 a.m. - 10 p.m.) during the Great American Summer give you more time to spend with your family as Dolly's Nights of Many Colors, a fireworks extravaganza, helps close the park each night.
HOURS: Dollywood is open daily through mid August when the schedule gets reduced. Hours range. In May hours are mostly 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during weekdays then 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, that ramps up to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. by July.
The 30-acre Splash Country is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 11-12, 18-19 and then May 25 begins seven day schedule.
SINGLE-DAY ADMISSION: Adult (12-59) $56; Kids (4-11) $44; and Seniors $51. Splash Country admission is $47 and $42 (for both juniors and seniors). Enter Dollywood or Dollywood's Splash Country after 3 p.m. and get in free to the same park the next operating day.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Dollywood added America's first winged coaster, Wild Eagle in 2012. In addition to coasters and rides, Dollywood focuses on heritage, crafts and lots of live music shows. There is a five-mile steam train ride as well as a museum and replica of Dolly Parton's Locust Ridge home where she grew up, the eagle sanctuary and the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame.
GETTING THERE: Dollywood is about a six-hour drive south to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Take I-64 west to I-75 south to I-40. Take Exit 407 toward Pigeon Forge. Follow TN Highway 66 south which becomes U.S. 441. Turn left in Pigeon Forge at the eighth traffic light and follow the signs.
DID YOU KNOW? Dollywood hosts some of the South's biggest festivals including: Festival of Nations, with five weeks of cultural events by performers from around the world. There's also KidsFest, a BBQ and Bluegrass, National Gospel and Harvest Celebration and a Smoky Mountain Christmas.
CONTACT: Go online at www.dollywood.com
Family Kingdom, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: Family Kingdom, Myrtle Beach's only seaside amusement park, has added four new rides for the 2013 season: The Twist 'n Shout steel roller coaster, the Kite Flyer hang-gliding ride, the Flight School mini-airplanes, and the Frog Hopper bouncy ride. Twist 'n Shout is a "wild-mouse" style steel coaster with independently-traveling, four-passenger cars, each custom-themed after '50's vintage automobiles.
HOURS: Open Thursdays through Sundays in May. Hours are 6 p.m. to close on Thursday and Fridays; 4 p.m. to close on Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays. Park opens at 1 p.m. and stays open as late as midnight in the heart of summer. Water park opens May 25 with 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours. That changes to 6 p.m. by June 8.
SINGLE-DAY ADMISSION: Amusement Park and Water Park Combo Pass - $36; Amusement park only ride wristband Adults and Children - $25.95. Individual Ride Tickets are also available for $1.15 plus tax each and range from 2 to 5 tickets per ride. (See park for specific ride costs.) The water park only is Adults and Children over 48 inches tall - $20.95 (plus tax), children under 48 inches tall - $18.95 plus tax.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Family Kingdom's legendary Swamp Fox wooden coaster, a four-car passenger train on a classic figure-eight track. Other favorites include: Giant Wheel, the Log Flume and Sling-Shot are just a few of the park's 38 rides
WHAT ELSE: Family Kingdom is also home to "Splashes," a beachfront water park located across Ocean Boulevard from the amusement park. Splashes features water slides with drops of as much as 100 feet; open and enclosed wet and wild flume rides; and a spacious 425-feet long lazy river with waterfalls. There are also splash pools, eight kiddie slides and two rain trees.
DID YOU KNOW? Located on Ocean Boulevard in the heart of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Family Kingdom has been a Myrtle Beach tradition for locals and visitors for more than 40 years. Opened originally as Grand Strand Amusement Park in 1966, it was rechristened "Family Kingdom Amusement Park" after being purchased in 1992 by the Ammons family, owners of the landmark Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort. It has 38 rides.
CONTACT: Go online at www.FamilyKingdomFun.com.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2013: The New Fantasyland Expansion with two new themed areas: Enchanted Forest and Storybook Circus. Upon completion in 2014, Fantasyland will nearly double in size--for the largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom park.
The Magic Kingdom Park in Florida will stay open from 6 a.m., May 24 to 6 a.m., May 25 marking the beginning of a summer of fun inspired by the upcoming Disney/Pixar comedy adventure, "Monsters University." The huge sphere of Spaceship Earth will be transformed from Disney Parks icon to a 180-foot-tall, fully animated Mike Wazowski.
Also new, the Be Our Guest Restaurant an elegant ballroom inspired by Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" animated film classic.
Test Track Presented by Chevrolet has been upgraded.
Splitsville Luxury Lanes a new 30-lane bowling alley at Downtown Disney West Side features live entertainment, lively indoor and outdoor bars and upscale dining including sushi, filet mignon sliders and more.
Senses, A Disney Spa At Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort will feature 10 treatment rooms and "Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection" - Epcot guests can journey through 400 years of African-American achievement and contribution at this just-opened exhibit at the American Adventure pavilion.
OPENING DAY: Open year-round. A good time to go is late April through early June before the summer slam of crowds.
TICKET PRICES: There are a wide variety of ticket pricing options. Magic Your Way Base Tickets give each member of your travel party entry to one Theme Park per day each day of your ticket. And now the longer you play, the less you pay per day. Depending on length of ticket purchased, the average price per day for a seven-day Magic Your Way Base Ticket is less than half the price of the same single-day ticket.
In addition to choosing the number of days (from 1 to 10) of your ticket, you can add options in any combination you choose: Park Hopper Option, Water Park Fun & More Option and No Expiration Option.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Limited Time Magic Events including: Independence Week: a 4th of July Fireworks Party -- for an entire week, with patriotic lighting bathing the Disney castle, and a unique day will Friday the 13th on Friday, Sept. 1 when Disney Hollywood Studios is staying open until the 13th Hour (1 a.m.).
GETTING THERE: The easiest way now is to hook-up a package deal through Allegiant Air, which flies direct to Orlando out of Tri-State Airport. They also have special deals with 21 hotels in Orlando complete with Disney tickets.
DID YOU KNOW? You can learn more than you ever wanted to know about Disney by listening to Lou Mongello's podcast on Disney. It's online at www.wdwradio.com. Mongello is the author of the Disney Trivia books.
READ MORE: Read a Dave Trippin' story about taking the fam to Disney from Huntington online at http://www.herald-dispatch.com/life/x883172807/Dreaded-D-Day-experience-actually-better-than-expected?i=0