Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Roller Coasters and Theme Parks

We just got back from Six Flags Fiesta Texas yesterday and I'd like to share a few tips that will help you get more out of your time and save you money!

Would you ride this upside down twisty ride?
First, you need to go to an amusement park with "like minded' friends.  I'm not talking political or religious beliefs here.  I'm talking theme park beliefs.  When I was in high school, I went to Astroworld with a group of girlfriends.  When we first got to the park, they wanted to hit the shops to go shopping.  I thought they were crazy.  I didn't pay all that money to get in the park just to pay more money in the stores.  When the boys were young, we invited some of their friends who ended up being too scared to ride most of the rides we wanted to ride.  So, go with friends with the same intentions.  For us, it means riding as many of the big rides as possible.  Roller Coasters all the way!

Next, you need to pick a park.  This will also depend on your theme park beliefs.  In central Texas, we have basically 3 parks to choose from; Sea World, Schlitterbaun, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.  If you like shows and animals the most with just an occasional ride, then you should probably go to Sea World.  Schlitterbaun is the best waterpark in the world!  But, they are also pricey even with coupons.  But, if you want great water rides, go to Schlitterbaun.  We usually go to Fiesta Texas for a number of reasons.  First, they have a reading program for elementary students that if you read 6 hours, you get a free ticket!  If your elementary teacher is not participating, let them know to sign up.  Teachers also get a free ticket.  This year was the first year that both my boys were too old so the only free ticket we had was for me since I teach elementary.  We found 1/2 off tickets for the boys.  Plus, Fiesta Texas has a little bit of everything.  They have rides, shows, and a waterpark.

The next few tips work for us at Fiesta Texas.  Adjust accordingly for your park.

No one likes long lines, so go during the middle of the week.  It is so worth it even if you have to take a day off from work.  Yesterday, a Tuesday, the lines were the shortest I've ever seen them.  However, all the shows were closed.  So, if you like to watch the shows, you might not want to go on Monday or Tuesday.  We usually try to get to the park soon after they open.  We don't show up before they open because we don't want to wait in line to just get in.  Yesterday the park opened at 10:30. we got there a few minutes after 11:00.  We found a parking spot in the 4th row!  (More on that later.)  When we go in, we go towards the back.  The rides at the front of the park have the longest lines.  Everyone likes to ride things in order so the line for the coaster at the entrance is ridiculously long where as yesterday we walked right up, waited maybe one turn before riding Poltergeist closer to the back of the park.  Later in the day, go back to the rides at the front of the park once the lines have gone down.

Go unencumbered! We wear shorts with lots of big pockets, comfortable shoes, usually shirts with sleeves to help avoid sunburns, hats and sunglasses.  No bags!!!  We carry cash or a credit card (All purchases with a Discover Card in the park are 5% off.) in a pocket with ID.  We also carry the car key in a deep pocket.  We might carry a small sunscreen and I usually have my phone in a ziplock baggie to take pictures.  We carry in a disposable water bottle to share.  (This may be gross to some, so each of you carry your own.)  We refill it every chance we get.  Sometimes at the park, the ride operators won't let you take anything on the ride and won't let you leave anything on the deck.  You have to purchase lockers just for the one ride, which we NEVER do.  If the water bottle can fit in someone's pocket, we will carry it on the ride.  If it doesn't fit, we just throw it away before getting on the ride.  When we go back to the car, we will get another bottle.  We have been known to put our hats inside our shirts during a roller coaster as well.

Cooler for lunch and jug for gatoraide.
Since we don't get there until about 11:00, we play for a few hours before lunch.  Then, we get our hands stamped to go out to the car.  This is where a good parking spot is key.  If you go down the line, you can usually find a spot near the front.  In the car is a cooler with lunch in it and a jug of gatoraide.  We either eat lunch sitting in the car or at the picnic tables for this purpose.  Usually by this time it is so hot that we are ready to go to the waterpark.  We grab the bag with the swimsuits and towels.  Leave all money, credit cards, and phones locked in the car.  Grab a new disposable water bottle and head inside to the water park.  We change, apply sunscreen, and set our bag with the car key hidden deep within, on a lounge chair by the wave pool and then go play and ride the water rides.  When we are done with the waterpark, we change and go back to the car.  At the car, we drink more gatoraide, re-apply sunscreen, grab the credit card and a new water bottle and head back in.

Dinner on the way home.
Since we don't have to wait in many lines, we usually are ready to leave around suppertime.  So, we get dinner at a fast food place on the way home.  If we were there on a weekend or just wanted to stay for the fireworks, we'd probably eat one meal at the park.  We do get a treat or two while at the park.  Yesterday, the boys and I split a funnel cake and split a giant pretzel.  Sometimes, we will buy the big refillable drink.  One person will buy it and get their choice of drink, when they are done, we refill it with the next person's choice of drink, and so on.

Monday, August 6, 2012

School Crafting has Started

Last year I decorated my classroom with a Nifty Fifties theme.  I think I'm going to stick to the same theme this year since most of the stuff is reusable and why invent the wheel.  I am having to move to another room this year so I will lose my chalkboard wall.
One of several Ice Cream Cones for student birthdays made with Nifty Fifties Cricut cartridge.

Anyway, last year for a birthday chart, I made ice cream sodas for each child.  I let them take them home on the last day of school which they really enjoyed.  This year, I made ice cream cones. I still need to take them to school to laminate and then write the students names and birth dates on each.   I'm thinking about getting Dairy Queen coupons for birthday presents to go with them as well.
Last years ice cream sodas birthday chart also made with the Nifty Fifties Cricut cartridge.

When my boys were little, we used to go to Dairy Queen, a lot.  It was one of the only fast food places with a play scape in town.  They would order a kids meal which comes with a coupon for a free ice cream.  But, I wouldn't let them eat the ice cream that day.  We would always come back a 2nd time for the ice cream.  At first they thought I was mean but then they learned it meant twice the time to play at Dairy Queen and they went along with it.