I’ve written a bit about how I first got into amusement parks. Now I’d like to talk about how I look at parks now.
Perhaps a more interesting question than “what is my favorite amusement park,” is, “what do I look for when judging a park?” Sure, there are lots of intangibles. But I’ve come to realize that, for me, there are four very specific physical things that a truly great park needs to possess.
It may seem a bit arbitrary, but the more of these four things a park has, the more I tend to like it.
1. At least one roller coaster that I want to ride over and over.
This is the trickiest of the four to pin down, but also probably the most important. For me, a good roller coaster should be wild, but not beat me up too badly. Most likely, this means a relatively-smooth wooden roller coaster, or a steel one that mimics the traditional thrills of a wooden one. And “airtime” is always a plus.
2. A dark ride.
A traditional dark ride is a low-thrill attraction where you ride through a building in a little car and look at stuff. But most modern ones will give you an electronic gun so you can shoot at things. Either is good with me. In fact, even a boat ride will do--as long as it’s mostly indoors and there’s stuff to look at, I’m happy.
3. A sky ride.
An amusement park staple that isn’t being built much anymore, the sky ride is not only a great way to travel from one area of a park to another, but usually offers some pretty cool views, as well. Also, they’re kind of scary--so that’s always good.
4. A full-service restaurant.
This one may seem weird, but I consider a park’s food to be a part of the total experience. And it’s a nice break in the day to be able to sit down, relax, and have someone bring you food--instead of having to find a dirty metal table outside somewhere to plop down your tray of greasy french fries.
Lots of really good parks have two or three of the above, but very few have all four. In fact, at the moment, I can only think of one: Indiana Beach, in Monticello, Indiana.
Which, interestingly enough, just so happens to be my favorite park. :O)