This was our first visit to this park. We've done Disney, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens, but wanted to do something closer/more local. We had fun despite the questionable reviews below that I read before coming. Eat well before you go into the park; the food/drinks are $$$. We ate a big brunch before going in, had drinks/snacks in the park, and grabbed dinner after we left. There is a McD's/Subway in the Food Lion shopping ctr on the right on the way towards the exit for 495 that was visited by a lot of people from the park on their way out. Funny how you can recognize people from seeing them at the park.
If you don't have a discount, buy your tix in advance on the website; there is a discount if you buy 1-day or 3-day advance. Military discount has to come from a MWR on base; there is no option on the website for this. This will let you bypass the ticket line and go straight to the security/turnstyle check. Once you get thru the turnstyle, they do bag checks. We didn't pack food b/c of previous reviews, but later throughout the park we did see that others had brought in food - probably packed at the bottom of their bags.
We went with 4 kids ages 11, 9 ,7, and 4; there was something for everyone. Try to work from the back of the park to the front. On the day we went, the lines were reasonable considering it was a weekend/Sunday. The major rollar coasters are spread throughout the park as they should be - Apocalypse, Superman, Batwing, Ragin Cajun, Mind Eraser, Roar, Joker's Jinx, Wild One. There was at least one ride appropriate for younger kids near each big coaster so that you can have your younger ones ride while you wait for the older ones to get through the big coaster lines. There are areas for younger kids like the Looney Tunes area and Whistlestop Park. The longer wait times could be helped if they ran more than one coaster on each ride as they do at Kings Dominion. There are also a few additional-pay rides like the Skycoaster (which is a free fall drop in a body swing).
As for food, yes, $$$. Your best bet is to buy their refillable orange drink cup for about $16 with tax; yes, expensive - but you get free soda refills the entire day at the park - which we all shared and had more than enough refills to pay back the cost which was better than paying $4 for each person to get a drink. Plus, if you revisit the park, you can bring the cup back and have all day refills for $5. There also is a $5.99 refillable popcorn bucket with $0.99 refills each time - which was the most reasonable "snack" type option for our group. The rest of the food is $$ park-type options as you would expect in any amusement park.
Our experience with the staff, most being high school students, was positive and enthusiastic. There were occasional marching bands that wandered through the Mardi-Gras area of the park while we were in that area. The kids liked seeing the band, dancers, and clown walking on stilts. There were also photo ops with Bugs Bunny/Tweety Bird. If you have an elementary-aged boy, go see the Legends of Arena Gladiator Stunt Show - all our kids were mesmerized by the sword-toting guys and gals stunt fighting in the arena. We didn't get a chance to get to the waterpark as it closes 1 hr before the park closes. Another time!
Overall, if you don't want to drive far for a amusement park fun (1 hr in our case), this is a good park to visit.
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