Growing up, summer just wasn’t summer until we went to Six Flags Great America. My mom took me and my sister every year. Sometimes my aunt joined us, but you wouldn’t find my dad within 10 feet of any amusement park. He wasn’t into the lines and crowds. But my mom rode anything and everything with us. We arrived when they opened and left when they closed, each year riding the carousel on the way out.
This year, I felt ready to tackle Six Flags Great America with my four daughters. We left their baby brother at home and asked (with fingers crossed) my mom to come along. I was so nervous. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work because of the girls’ ages: 9,8, 6 and 5. Will they all like the same types of rides? What happens if they aren’t tall enough, or two are and two aren’t?
I consulted fellow mom and three-year season pass veteran Rebecca Peroulas. She has three kids, 9, 8, and 6years old, and I wanted to hear some of her tips and strategies for taking several kids to a theme park.
What’s the best strategy for taking multiple kids to Great America? We go when my husband can join us! It makes it so much easier. He can take the older two on rides, and I can take the younger one. It makes everything easier to have two sets of eyes. If he isn’t available, its sometimes good to go with another family. But this can be tricky. It increases the number of kids, which increases the number of people you have to keep happy.
Do you ever take the kids by yourself? Yes. We have a talk in the car on the way there about how important it is to stay together and we discuss what each one wants to do. That way, they all know that they will get to do their favorite rides even if it is not right away. My oldest two are almost the same height and can ride all the same rides. The younger one is pretty brave and will go on anything she can. If it’s something that only some of them want to do and the line is relatively short, we will all wait in line, they ride the ride and I walk through to the exit with whoever is not riding. Or if I have to ride with them, I will have whoever is not riding wait for me at the exit. I personally don’t like the spin rides at all. I usually have my 9-year-old take my 6-year-old on for me. Although he’s not an adult, they usually let them ride together and then I don’t have to go.
What’s the best benefit of having a season pass? First, I love getting free parking. The parking fee is $25, which is insane. I also like that we can go for just a short time and not feel like we have to do everything and stay all day. If you go once a summer and pay full price, you feel obligated to cram it all in. My kids know we will be back so we do not have that stress. It’s easier to get them to leave when I say its time to go. They also love the water park and we get in free with a season pass. Last, the kids love Fright Fest. I don’t love it, but we can go for a few hours as we get in free and it makes them happy.
What does mom think is so cool about Great America? I like that we can spend the whole day and the kids don’t get bored. I love Skull Island. The kids will play for hours.
What do your kids love most about Great America? They love that they can go on rides alone. They feel so grown up. They like all the rides. My older two love Fright Fest and the zombies that just show up next to them! My 8-year-old says he likes the Viper and the American Eagle, but that might change after he tries Goliath. The 6-year-old loves the water park.
And here are my personal tips based on our last trip to Great America:
- Take at least two adults if possible.
- Bring lunch or snacks in a cooler, you are able to take a break, go to your car and have a picnic. This year we purchased food in the park and spent well over $100 on lunch.
- Parking is $25; you can pay ahead online. Just visit the website and use your credit card. It’s expensive but they do have in-and-out privileges, and season pass holders get free parking. So that’s something to consider.
- Make sure you bring Ziploc baggies for valuables, as water rides in the theme park will soak you to the bone. My girls loved loved the boat and log ride. So I was lucky my mom brought us baggies for phones, keys, et cetera.
- Think of some fun games to play while waiting in line. We played I Spy; Rock, Paper, Scissors; and a few others just to keep my girls from killing each other.
- Wear comfortable shoes. I had all my kids wear gym shoes. We did a ton of walking and no one was complaining since they were comfortable.
- Have a talk in the car about what to do if someone gets lost or designate an area to meet if you are splitting up at all.
- Visit the website in advance to see which rides are good for which child. Check out height requirements in advance.
- Familiarize yourself and possibly your kids with what the options are so everyone is on the same page.
- We arrived right when the park opened, and went mid-week to avoid the crowds. It really helped a lot!
My mom and I really enjoyed taking the girls. The employees are all very friendly and usually allowed my oldest to take my youngest on a few rides…giving us a little break. We didn’t go on many of the roller coasters. I know they wanted to go on a few, but we took baby steps.
When it was time to head home, we went for a spin on the carousel and headed to our car. The girls are still talking about how much fun they had and cannot wait to go back! Who knows, maybe Fright Fest is in our future!