The best time to visit amusement parks

Amusement parks are great fun — except for the heat, the crowds, the noisy kids running wild, and the cost of admission. We’re doing what we can to help you with the ticket prices, and we’ll tell you how we avoid all those other problems, too.

Most amusement parks in the US operate on about the same schedule as your community swimming pool: closed in the winter, open with shorter hours on some weekends in the non-summer months, and then open all day, every day in the summer — and that’s when most people visit. They’ve got more free time, and the park is open longer hours, so you get more enjoyment — or do you?

When you visit an amusement park during its peak season, think about all the time you spend waiting in line. For the best roller coasters and the newest rides, you’re often stuck waiting in line over an hour for just a three-minute ride.

Try visiting instead sometime at the very beginning or end of the park’s season. Most kids are in school by then, so even on weekends the crowds will be much smaller. The heat won’t be so killer, and the lines will be so much shorter that even if the park is only open for six hours, you’ll probably get more rides in than if you’d spent a whole day there in July. And tickets are almost always cheaper, too. The end of the summer is not the time to stop thinking about amusement park getaways. Actually, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about them.