Review of Six Flags Great Escape
What surprised me most about Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George is how many attractions are appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. I'd delayed our first vist literally for years because I assumed that my girls weren't ready yet. With ads that focus on the latest excitement for park thrill seekers, it can seem like the park is best for the tween- and teen-set.
Lovely Walks to Explore
My daughters, at the ripe old ages of 8 and 11, were thrilled to discover the small-scaled Little Houses around Storytown, the area just inside the park. Remnants of Great Escape's past as Storytown USA, the structures depict different familiar nursery rhymes (like Jack & the Beanstalk, right). In a family of mixed ages, I can imagine a little kid might very well arrive at these houses and so pressing reason to move on to anything else. Whether kids are playing house or pretending to be nursery rhyme characters, the little structures are great for the imagination, as is the Alice in Wonderland walk in the Fest area.
Timbertown and Kidzopolis
Within the amusement park, there are clear "kiddie zones" that practically offer amusement parks within the larger amusement park. With their low-key rides and gentle family entertainment, the only big kids or teenagers you're likely to see around are big brothers and sisters of a little one. It feels like a safe zone for little kids that offers similar rides on a smaller scale, like an amusement park with training wheels to help the little ones learn the ropes.
My favorite is Timbertown, with a small swing ride and Frankie's Mine Train, a wonderful first roller coaster, along with a great central location for food in air conditioning with nearby restrooms.
Family rides like the Sky Ride and the Swan Boats are a chance to see the park and gain a little downtime simultaneously. Infants aren't permitted even on these rides, but they provide a chance for grandparents and little ones to enjoy each other while they check out the sights.
The hidden advantage here is that these rides can also lull an extraordinarily overtired child into sleep if necessary, just like our "car rides to nowhere" used to do back when gas was cheaper. Think of it as a parent's secret weapon. I won't tell if you won't.
For Older Kids
Of course, if you have older children, there's even more to explore. As kids become interested in all the different park attractions, their height may or may not catch up with their enthusiasms. To set expectations ahead of time, check out the website's list of Kids' Rides and Family Rides, which even lets you sort by height requirements. Once kids are 48", the park is your oyster. The Comet, an old-fashioned wooden coaster, and Sasquatch, which always beckons us from the entrance for a quick first ride, are our family favorites.
Food and Amenities
Park guests aren't allowed to bring in outside food, so this can prove a bit of a challenge for young families. There's plenty that little kids will like (chicken nuggets, pizza, and hot dogs, for example), and within Timbertown, you can check out their cafe and marketplace for some healthier kid-friendly snacking options like fruit. For more information on options, click here.
Other amenities that are extra-helpful for families are stroller or locker rentals or free Circle of Friends wrist bands that children can wear to ensure that they have quick contact information accessible if they get lost.
Season and Annual Passes will offer you the most fun for your money, and luckily, you can try a visit and then "upgrade" to one of these passes on your way out of the park when you visit. By the end of a long day at the park, you're all likely to be too exhausted to make a well-considered decision, so think about it prior to the visit so that you'll follow through with it if that's something you'd like to do. Your kids would vote yes.
© 2013, KidsOutAndAbout.com
Katie Beltramo is editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com-Albany and also blogs at CapitalDistrictFun.com.