Going to an amusement park? It’s probably cheaper than last year

Here’s a direct quote: “It would be crazy to spend full price to go to Disney right now,” said Mary Waring, founder of MouseSavers.com” I found this tidbit in a Practical Traveler article in the New York Times about cheap travel options for a Disney vacation and more.

Whether you’re looking for multiple night stays at a Disney resort or a one-day ticket to an amusement park, the deals have become cheaper than ever. Seven night stays can be had for the price of four. What I found interesting is how Disney’s price reduction is affecting hotels around Orlando. Three-star hotels are as cheap as $56 a night. For people who want to go to Walt Disney World for only one day, I’d check out this option. I’d rather stay at an outside the parks hotel in order to explore the area. There’s more to Orlando than resorts.

Other money saving deals include $50 off for swimming with the dolphins at Discovery Cove and child admission prices for adults at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica if you book online at the Worlds of Discovery Web site a week before you go.

The article also pointed out that Six Flags amusement parks will be cheaper this summer as well. Personally, I perked up at the $43.99 for Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. This is the end of the season price from last year and cheaper by $1 than the ticket price in 2005. We usually go to Kings Island near Cincinnati because it’s generally cheaper and the water park is included. This may have us rethinking our amusement park strategy. Maybe we’ll do both.

There are also similar deals in California. Bottom line. Do research before you settle on the price.

Instead of boycotting Utah, here’s an opposite idea. If you’re gay, head there in droves

Although the boycott of Utah could cost the state a bundle in tourism dollars if it’s a success–and if it’s happening–here’s another idea to make an impact. Scott McCoy, an openly gay senator in Utah, has suggested that people who are gay should head to Utah in droves. I read about McCoy’s views in this Seattle Times article.

The idea McCoy had when he heard about the ban is to show folks in Utah that gay people and gay families are genuine and wonderful people. By showing up in Utah and doing vacation like things, these families would in essence be educating people about the need gay families have for equal rights under the law just like other families.

Reading McCoy’s take on the boycott reminded me about my experience at Kings Island this past August during Gay Pride Night. I went with my brother, his friend and my daughter. As I stood in line to ride the Firehawk, the roller coaster you ride mostly on your stomach, and looked at the other people in line, I thought how utterly common a scene it was. Shorts, T-shirts, sneakers, middle-aged paunches on some, better haircuts on others, talking, laughing, smiling, and visiting. When it stopped raining and all the rides were a go, the joy felt exactly the same on any other day when I’ve been to an amusement park in the rain. For some reason, give me a summer and I’ll go on the rainy day. It’s not planned that way, it just happens.

If I hadn’t known we were there on Gay Pride Night, I really wouldn’t have been able to tell. Maybe McCoy has a point. On the other hand, Colorado lost millions of dollars in the 80s when there was a similar boycott.

Peter Greenburg , the Today show’s travel guru, pointed out earlier this year before Prop 8 passed [see article] that with gay people being allowed to tie the knot in California, that state was going to be able to pull in serious bucks. I imagine these days, it’s good-bye dough to some extent.

Regardless of ones political or religious opinions, tourism is a powerful playmate when it comes to a state’s financial health.

Largest indoor train display in the world at new train lovers’ attraction

Train-love runs deep in Ohio, there are scenic railroads, train stores, train societies, clubs of train watchers and old railroad station restaurants. Here is another example.

Friday, August 1 was the grand opening of EnterTRAINment Junction, a train attraction that is being billed as “the only train-themed family entertainment center in the world.” Located 30 miles north of Cincinnati, not far from Kings Island amusement park, makes this a place to pair with other family fun type ventures.

Geared to folks of all ages, EnterTRAINment Junction, boasts five separate sections. One of them houses the largest indoor train display in the world. What makes it the largest? There are 90 different trains that run on several different tracks through a variety of scenes and at various heights. Remember that’s just one section.

Another section houses the American Railroading Museum. Here, the history of railroading in the United States is traced.

Specifically designed to grab kids’ attention, the section Imagination Junction has interactive displays to keep kids busy and teach them about trains in the process.

Seasonal Junction, also interactive, is geared for both adults and children. This is a walk through type experience that will change throughout the year.

The last section is the Train Expo where train enthusiasts can show off their stuff and gather more information. Rotating trains exhibits, a library and artifacts are part of the offerings.

As mega attractions go, the cost for admission is not bad. Right now, everyone can get in for $9.95, except kids under 3 are free.

SkyMall: shopping for about anything is a fingertip away

I admit, I took the SkyMall catalog with me when I left the Southwest Airlines plane after my last flight. I had grand plans to find something useful or something unusual to write about by pouring through its pages. I got busy.

Then, today, Grant tossed out this link to “The 5 Most Ridiculous SkyMall Products Money Can Buy” at Cracked.com, and after I finished laughing, I unpacked the catalog from my daypack. I looked through it before, but I became curious once again. Cracked.com found some winners. I could use the Hula Chair myself–maybe.

What has caught my attention with this page turning session is the Motion Sickness Relief Wrist Band found in the left-hand column on page 41. On Tuesday I went to Kings Island with my daughter, eight of her friends, my husband, son and another family. I took one too many roller coaster rides and felt woozy all day yesterday. Could this wrist band have helped?

There is a dizzying array of organizers and storage options as well. From the Closet Organizer Trouser Rack on page 45 to the Wicker and Wood Rack on page 55, I’m not sure what my family’s excuse would be for having a house where objects are out of place. The thing about the Sky Mall catalog is that almost any item can sound like a must have.

Here’s one that TSA might add to their gadget repertoire that already includes the body scan device. The Orbitor Electronic Listening Device on page 67 is “powerful enough to capture distant sounds from 300 feet away.” As the rest of the description states, “This secret surveillance device is perfect for when you really need to know what’s going on.” Of course, parents of teenagers might also find the device handy. It only costs $59.95.

More Amusement Park Accidents

Just yesterday when I was talking with a friend of mine about roller coasters, he recounted an alarming tale about a rollercoaster experience when he was 16. I’m sure when he got on The Beast at Kings Island just north of Cincinnati, Ohio, he didn’t think that minutes later he’d be stuck near the top. While he told me this story he leaned back in his chair to show me the angle. Through my line of questioning I found out that:

  • He was up there for 30 minutes.
  • He got down by climbing out of the car and walking down the maintainence walkway, and
  • He was scared.

“Imagine,” he said, still leaning back, “what it was like to climb out of the car.”

The reason the passengers had to climb down was because the operators were afraid to send the car backwards. They weren’t confident that it wouldn’t jump the track, and there wasn’t enough umph once the car stopped to get it to defy gravity and go up over the hump so it could go forward on the normal path around the tracks.

Just yesterday, about four hours after my conversation with my friend, at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky, there was a really gruesome, sad accident, but not on a roller coaster. A 13 year-old girl had her feet severed above the ankles on the Superman Tower of Power ride. This is the one that drops passengers straight down 157 feet. Here’s an account of it in a CNN article. I heard about it this morning on the radio and looked it up when I got home.

Regardless of the accidents, I still think that rides, for the most part, are safe if passengers are careful and obey the warnings and whatnot. I’m hoping to hop on a rollercoaster sometime this summer. I have never been fond of the kind that just drop you down. The photo is from the Web site RideAccidents.com that keeps track of amusement park accidents.