Kids suffering from spring fever count the days until the end of May and the summer release from school here in the states. Parents cherish the last days of freedom until they become the entertainment committee for their suddenly bored kids.
Meanwhile, theme parks are preparing for the most profitable season of the year when ice cream flies out of the food stands and souvenirs need daily restocking. Training new hires and sprucing up the park is well underway!
Several of my teen years were spent in a theme park preparing for summer, and I want to offer you the biggest tip I know to save your sanity! Please keep in mind that I’m not referring to the Disney or Universals of the world, but to the local amusement venues dotted across the country.
With its cooler temperatures and longer days, May can be a wonderful time to whip along a coaster track or swish through a flume-styled water ride, but the day you visit a park is crucial.
The Worst Time to Visit
The one day you want to avoid in May is Saturday. Yes, this is good advice for most events, but May Saturdays, as we called them, were the worst.
Busloads of kids from school districts far and wide descend on the park for their end-of-the-year field trips, paid for with all those cookie and candle fundraisers you pushed on your coworkers. Regular parking is jam-packed with family vehicles, leaving the overflow parking with rows and rows of lengthy yellow buses.
Imagine the walkways of a theme park with its fun food carts and hat stands merged with the city streets of New York where personal space is non-existent, and the crowd shuffles along, fighting against the tide to reach their destination. Saying that the park is crowded on a May Saturday is an understatement.
Queue lines snake into the walkways, blurring the distinction between ride lines and passageways to other park sections. Wait times for every ride are no longer counted in minutes, but hours.
Every employee brings a sack lunch on a May Saturday as 45 minutes isn’t enough time to leave their workspace, purchase lunch, and get back to their station. And everyone works on May Saturdays. It’s the only way to manage the chaos.
The Best Time to Visit
Ironically, May is also the best time to visit.
During the last two weeks of May, attendance in the park is dead—like staying in the roller coaster seat and riding three times in a row. Like being the only family in the park.
The college-aged employees referred to this time as Hell Week. Long shifts morph into overtime. If you’ve read my Galactic Fun Park series, you’d know the employees received free park tickets for overtime, which college books stores seemingly do not accept as payment.
Once the high schools are released for the summer, attendance remains high until the chilly fall weather blankets the park, ushering in the warm desserts and hot cocoa stands.
If you’ve been getting these newsletters for a while, you already know my family loves theme parks, and we travel to them at least once per year.
I hope this little tidbit helps you plan your own trip before the summer heat traps us all in air-conditioned spaces, wasting the day binge-watching our favorite shows when we could be hurling down the first drop of a coaster, gripping the handrail and screaming in delight!