Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.
I dedicate a lot of time and energy to making sure my family spends quality time together. Now that I have one child in college, I can assure you that everyone is right when they tell you that your kids grow up before you know it. With a 10-year span between my oldest and youngest child, it can sometimes be hard to find family activities that we all equally enjoy.
When we find activities like these, we make the most of them, which is why every year we buy season passes to Kings Dominion. We visit the amusement park several times during the summer. This year, we headed to the park earlier than usual (right after opening day) and I was amazed at what a different experience it was. We’ll be planning a spring visit to the park every year from now on because of how great this experience was. And because I know you’re curious to know why an amusement part trip would be any different in the spring than in the summer, I’m going to tell you all the reasons I think you should visit Kings Dominion before summer.
1. Better Weather
We visited during Spring Break (which fell during the last week of March for us this year) and the weather was sunny, in the low 60’s, most of the day. This was ideal weather for an active day since it was neither too hot or too cold. If you check the weather for Doswell, VA (where Kings Dominion is located) for March, April, and May, you’ll find that the weather is primarily in the 60’s and 70’s.
Of course, ideal temperatures don’t always mean ideal weather conditions. Spring can be tempestuous so you might have wind and rain to contend with. It was windy the day we went, but the wind was nothing that some ponytail holders and light jackets couldn’t handle (as you can see in the picture above). My teen daughter went back later in the week with some friends on a day that started out rainy. Thanks to the early rain, most people skipped the park that day, which meant that all afternoon (which was overcast, but rain-free), my daughter and her friends rode all of their favorite rides multiple times since there were NO lines at any of them.
2. Thinner Crowds
A rainy day provided my daughter with a dream day at the park, but even on our sunny, mild day, we had limited wait times for rides. Since other school districts had celebrated Spring Break a week earlier and summer travel hadn’t started yet, the park simply wasn’t as crowded as it is in the summer. In fact, I noticed features in the park that had eluded me before, probably because there were too many people in the way or because I was too focused on navigating through a crowd that I didn’t take time to look around me. I wonder how hard it would be to recreate this clock made of flowers in my front yard?
From an economic perspective, you definitely get more bang for your buck if you visit in the spring because of the thinner crowds. Since lines are shorter throughout the park, you spend more time enjoying the activities and less time standing in line waiting for your turn. All of the older kids were thrilled that they didn’t have to wait forever to try the new Delirium ride they’d been dying to ride.
3. Shorter Hours
At first, shorter hours sounds like a bad thing that negates the point I just made about getting more bang for your buck out of a spring visit. If you can only spend 7 1/2 hours at the park instead of 11 1/2, don’t you lose 4 hours of play time? Maybe, but I don’t think so. First, given the shorter lines on the days that have shorter hours (perhaps partly because people do want the extra value of additional hours), I think it’s fair to say you gain back 1 – 2 hours that you won’t be waiting in lines. Second, if you go on a day that the park is only open until 6 pm, you’ll likely get dinner after you leave the park, rather than wasting time in line and then eating inside the park. And if you typically leave the park to eat dinner and then return, the amount of time lost for this meal can exceed 2 hours. Even if taking into account the time you save in shorter lines and skipping dinner, you still have less “play” time than during summer hours, the other bonus is that you spend less time in the park! Any parent that has spent several hours at an amusement park with their kids knows that these are exhausting days.
Even if taking into account the time you save in shorter lines and skipping dinner, you still have less “play” time than during summer hours, the other bonus is that you spend less time in the park! Any parent that has spent several hours at an amusement park with their kids knows that these are exhausting days. If you leave at 6 pm and get dinner on the way home, chances are your kids will be in bed close to their typical bedtime without you having had to drag them out of the park kicking and screaming since you left when everyone else was being ushered out for closing. During the summer, a full day and evening in an amusement park can result in cranky, over-tired kids and exhausted, grumpy parents.
Plus, you spot the beautiful decorations like the one above in the International Street thoroughfare when you leave during daylight hours!
4. Less Expensive
And though I love Kings Dominion, the one thing I don’t love is the price of food inside the park. Eating after you leave is much less expensive so the shorter hours helps you save a ton of money on dinner.
Aside from saving money on food, the thinner crowds I mentioned earlier also means more incentives from Kings Dominion to entice you to visit. For example, right now you can purchase a single-day ticket online for $45 (that’s $21 less than the regular ticket price) if you visit before June 19. The lower prices means it’s easier to bring along friends, which is how we ended up with 3 extra kids when we visited in Spring Break. Having a larger group made the day even more fun and memorable.
This was our crew right after we entered the park. The lack of enthusiasm in the picture is due to the fact that they were eager to get to riding and playing and by this point (barely inside the park), I’d already made them stop and pose at least 5 times. Thankfully, Charlie Brown came along warmed up the youngest two kids’ smiles for me.
5. Spring Bloom
Kings Dominion makes a tremendous effort to provide different opportunities and experiences throughout the year so that if you do have season passes, you can experience something new. In the mild early months of their open season they host Spring Bloom, which takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from April 16th through May 15th. During the month-long festival, Chef Paul creates international inspired food using fresh, local ingredients. Kings Dominion also hosts free family-friendly concerts and hands-on children’s activities during Spring Bloom so it’s an ideal time to visit as a family.
Our Spring Break came before Spring Bloom started so we’ll be heading back later this month to enjoy the delicious food and toe-tapping music. Food that smells and tastes amazing, music that sounds great, beautiful flowers and botanical sights that are pleasant to see, and the thrill and exhiliration that you feel on the rides – Spring Bloom is the perfect opportunity to delight ALL of your senses!
If you don’t make it to Kings Dominion during Spring Bloom, you can still enjoy a lot of the benefits of pre-summer fun during Memorial Weekend Salute, which is May 28 – 30.
Everything I’ve mentioned above (better weather, thinner crowds, shorter hours, lower cost, and Spring Bloom) result in a lot more fun! Everyone is less cranky since they aren’t hot and uncomfortable from standing in long lines in the sun. The shorter hours motivated us to work out a game plan before we arrived to make the most of our visit so that the little ones who weren’t tall enough or didn’t want to ride some of the more intense rides, could make the most of the tamer rides at our predetermined stages of separation. For example, I took my younger two to Planet Snoopy as soon as we got to the park, while the rest of our crew went to ride the Dominator. I got back just in time to get a picture of them on the ride. That’s them with the red circle around them and the arrow pointing at them in the picture below.
From there we headed over to Boo Blasters as a group and then on to Safari Village where we all rode the Avalanche and the Anaconda. The younger kids rode the Scrambler a few times while the big kids rode Flight of Fear and the Intimidator. It was nice that we stayed together as a group all day, even though we sometimes did different activities. The wide variety of rides and games is one of the reasons Kings Dominion is among my favorite family day trip destinations.
To make your own plan, I highly recommend downloading the park map BEFORE your visit and downloading the Kings Dominion app which will not only save you the trouble of toting around a paper map during your visit, but will also make it easier to find and meet up with other members of your group. Plus, you’ll sometimes get special offers for using the app.
Have you visited Kings Dominion during the spring? If so, please share your opinions and tips in the comments. I’d love to hear about your favorite activities and whether or not you agree with what I’ve written.
Also, feel free to download my free Amusement Park Checklist (which I created based on dozens of trips to Kings Dominion).