Jul 012014
 

IMG_3424Those friendly Boy Scouts at the PA Dutch Council have done it again… they’re helping us to save money on our amusement park tickets!
This time it is a discounted ticket to Dutch Wonderland.  Visit their website here to order single day tickets for $32.99 (down from the regular online price of $37.75 for a same day ticket or $35.75 for a 3 day advance ticket or $33.75 for a 7 day advance ticket.)  Print out your tickets before you go from home and save $$$ or use their special link to order by phone!

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Jun 222014
 
Milkshake Express at Chocolate World!

Milkshake Express at Chocolate World!

For folks who visit Chocolate World a lot, especially folks who like milkshakes, there is a new way to save some money and time.

Chocolate World has introduced Milkshake Express.  It’s a special line for milkshakes only for people who have a refillable Chocolate World cup.

The cups are $9.99 and give you reduced price refills on all drink types at Chocolate World but the milkshake refill price at $1.99  is particularly nice since the refillable cup is LARGER than the standard milkshake cup.

The line only opens during busy times but the reduced price milkshakes is awesome!

The line only opens during busy times but the reduced price milkshakes is awesome!

Remember Chocolate World and Hersheypark are owned by two different companies so your Chocolate World cup is only good at Chocolate World.

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Jun 212014
 
$2.75 in Tickets to Ride the Motor Boats for parent and child

$2.75 in Tickets to Ride the Motor Boats for parent and child

I have always wondered the answer to this question.  My family has always gone during the week or on special days when the pay one price handstamps were available, we never tried to do the park with tickets. I always assumed that would cost me more money.

I wanted to see what would happen if we just used tickets so on our last trip to Knoebels on Sunday, June 1st, 2014, we used tickets since that was all that was available.  We had our oldest daughter and her best friend, ages 19 and 20, with us and they did their own thing. My husband and I kept track of the money we spent for ourselves and our 4 and 5 year old to see how much it added up to.

How busy was it?

Park conditions were light crowds, not too light, but most of the coasters were walk-ons. Only Flying Turns had a wait.  Even Black Diamond was a Walk On.  So here is how things worked out for our family.

Older Kids – Coaster riders- Pay one Price would have been $44 for each of them with the coaster option

The older girls are coaster folks but they have been to Knoebels many times and didn’t really feel the need to repeat ride coasters all day.  They had more fun walking around and playing games and eating.  I gave them a book of $20 in tickets (that I had purchased on discount from Weis markets) and they bought another $20 book of tickets at the park.  Neither girl used all her tickets.    So, if your coaster riders aren’t repeat riders, the one price admission doesn’t pay.  If it is too busy in the park for repeat riding most likely the tickets will be cheaper.  You might want to wait till you get to the park to make the decision.

Little Kids – Non-coaster riders – Pay one Price would have been $23 for 48 inches and under and $36 for 48 inches and over

So, this is where I thought it might be close because not only do the kids need tickets to ride but if they need a parent with them the parents need tickets too.  Sometimes that price is reduced like on the boat ride when the driver is $1.75 and the rider is $1.00 so they cut you a break.  But on other rides, like the Panther cars, it doesn’t work like that and both riders pay full price.

We had two $20 books of tickets and here is the amount we spent on rides for 6 hours in the park:

  • Motorboat ride (both kids, both parents): 5.50
  • Panther cars (one kid, one parent): 2.50
  • Balloon ride (one kid): 1.00
  • Helicopter (one kid): 1.00
  • Firetrucks (one kid): 1.00
  • Pioneer Train (4 kids, two parents): 9.00
  • Black Diamond (1 parent): 2.50

And the grand total for the trip for rides using ride tickets was…..drumroll….. $22.50

Yep, that was it.  Our kids are over 48 inches so there is no way we’d make out here with a pay one price.

Why you may ask didn’t the kids ride more?  They didn’t want to.  Our kids were so busy will all the other things at Knoebels – the diggers, the boats you can drive, the games, the squirting things and the arcade – that they couldn’t have cared less about the rides.

Other expenses

But if you think we got off cheap, no way baby.  Even though we brought our own water and snacks, we still paid out quite a bit for food because we like Knoebels food.  We also played a lot of games. Here are the rest of our expenses (mostly put out in quarters):

  • Fishing game (1 child 4 tries) $2.00
  • Drive your own boat (2 children) $2.00
  • Sno Cone (kid and Dad) $3.00
  • Candy Apple (Dad) $2.25
  • Arcade (total for the day, estimated ’cause we lost track – all in quarters) $20.00
  • Photo Booth in Arcade (2 parents, 2 kids): $3.00 – you should do this, it is the old black and white 4 picture kind
  • Digger (1 child many, many, many times, 1 kid once): $7.00
  • Squirt Gun activity (2 kids): $2.25
  • Nachos (kid): $2.50 – this was a great value, he ate out of that bag of tortilla chips the whole day but he hated the cheese
  • Baked Potato (Mom): $2.25
  • Hotdog (Kid and Mom): $4.50
  • Hot Sausage (Dad): $2.75
  • Baked Sweet Potato (Dad): $2.25
  • Drinks (Dad and kid): $4.50
  • Ice Cream Cone (kid): $2.50
  • Ice Cream Sundae (Mom & Dad shared): $4.75 – oh my, a hot fudge sundae made with coconut ice cream!  Was like a Mounds bar!
  • Haunted mansion (kid): $1.75 – son went with big sister who paid her own way
  • Water Gun game (2 kids): $4.00
  • Icee (I forget who got it, probably Dad): $2.50
  • Fries (kid and Dad): $3.00

Grand total:  $78.75

Yep… there you have it folks.  We came home with ride tickets left in our pockets but we were out of quarters.

What can you learn from this?  Some disclaimers:

I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t think our experience with our small children is “normal.”  We have season passes to Hersheypark and we go once or twice a week throughout the summer so my kids did not care about any rides Knoebels had that Hersheypark also had.  Your kids will most likely be different and want to ride a lot more.

Also, our daughter at age 5 discovered the magic of arcade games that give out tickets.  Once she saw how that worked and that you turn them in for a prize, well, the day was over.  It was all she wanted to do.   This COULD happen to your kids too so I suggest you give them a certain number of quarters early in the trip and tell them that is all.  We did not do that because we are arcade junkies ourselves and we love to play.  We save quarters up all year for skeeball season so that money really was ours to splurge from our quarter kitty.  We wouldn’t have brought it if we didn’t want to spend it.

The answer to this question varies greatly from family to family I believe, but as you try to decide between tickets and pay one price for your family here is what I think you want to consider:

  • Is the pay one price plan available on the days you will visit?  It is usually only available on weekdays.  There are a few weekends where they offer it but not many.  Check the Knoebels website.  You may not have a decision to make if you visit on a day when there is no pay one price.
  • How crowded will the park be and how many rides per hour can you really do.  Busy park day 2-3 rides per hour, coaster 1 per hour.  Not busy park day most things will be 10 min wait or less except for Flying Turns which you should do first on any day.
  • Check the ride price list on the Knoebels website and pick out every ride you want to do and add up the cost to get an idea of ballpark expense.
  • Think about if your child would rather play games or ride rides. If you’ve taken them to a local carnival you probably have a good idea about this one.
  • Check how many rides your child would ride alone and how many you would have to go on with them to get actual ticket cost.
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Jun 212014
 
I will NOT tell you how many quarters we put in this thing... frankly I don't remember

I will NOT tell you how many quarters we put in this thing… frankly I don’t remember

My family made a trip to Knoebels before my oldest went back to her Marine duty and one thing that stood out to me on this trip was the number of food venues that did not take credit or debit cards.  You’d expect something like that at a cart or small stand but at the prime ice cream stand in the park?  Yeah… it was a little strange.  Some ticket booths took card, but Haunted Mansion did not.

While you are at it, bring a roll of quarters, especially if you have small children.  From the power boats to the diggers EVERYTHING works on quarters.  There are change machines in various places like the arcades so if you have CASH you can get quarters.

So be prepared.  There are ATMs on site but you would be much better off getting cash to bring with you before you come so you don’t have to pay the extra fee which was around $3.

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Jun 172014
 
Hersheypark's Boardwalk - safe water fun

Hersheypark’s Boardwalk – safe water fun

So it was a special day at our house today, Bub day.  Our son Bub had his yearly allergy testing – not a fun thing – so we name the day after him and he gets to do pretty much whatever he wants.  We took him to his favorite toy store, had a picnic in their parking lot while watching a construction crew digging a hole and after his sister Fuzz got home from her school field trip to Indian Echo Caverns we went to Hersheypark – specifically to the Boardwalk.

I will be the first person to admit I am not a waterpark person.  I don’t swim well and I wear glasses (have to wear glasses, so blind without them) so being in the water is something of a challenge.  BUT I knew there were areas at Hersheypark’s Boardwalk that I could enjoy even with my issues.  So we all put on our swimsuits and hubby drove to the park.

We arrived around 630 and found the park empty as usual on a June Tuesday.  My absolute favorite times to visit the park are on Tuesday and Wednesdays during the second through fourth week of June.  The weather is good, the place isn’t crowded and the Boardwalk is open until 8pm.  We made it through security and entered the park.

A word of warning.  The Boardwalk area is far from the entrance of the park and it is mostly uphill.  Hubby has a pedometer on his phone and it came up nearly 3/4 of a mile.

So it was nearly 7 when we got to the Boardwalk. We started off at The Shore which is the kiddie wave pool.  My kids are not swimmers yet so this was a great place for them to get re-aquainted with the water – hubby and I too since I haven’t been in a pool since Walt Disney World in 2001.  I don’t know when he last swam.  The maximum water depth here was 3 feet and both our kids at ages 4 and 6 are well over that.  There was a slide that they enjoyed (me too!) and we spent nearly 35 min there.

It was at that point that I wanted to venture into East Coast Waterworks.  The first thing hubby saw was the purple slide and he was off to climb the stairs.  Now let me tell you it is very hard to keep track of your children in that place.  Since both our kids had never gone down a water slide and our daughter is still a little afraid of water I didn’t want them venturing off by themselves. (Bub also has a habit of getting in trouble no matter where he goes.) So the kids and I hung out and waited for hubby to do the slide. There were 4 people in line but it took about 15 min till he got his turn since they have to make sure the person in front of you is clear of the slide.

Everyone then went to the orange slide and there was no line.  My hubby and kids went down. He went first while I stayed above to make sure our son did not disappear.  He retrieved the kids at the bottom – our daughter needed some coaxing but did go and loved it.  I on the other hand was too chicken and ended up on one of the red slides.  They all wanted to go back and do the yellow slide but the whistles sounded for closing time before they got to do them.

Trust me, if you want to slide a lot, hit the Boardwalk on a weekday after 530 PM.  People who started the day there are on their way home and the place empties out.  Weekends do not work this way generally.

So we got everyone redressed and we wanted to ride the Dry Gulch RR but it was temporarily closed so we went to the Monorail instead.  From the Monorail we saw the Dry Gulch was open again so Bub and I went there while Fuzz and hubby went to play Skeeball.  While taking a ride behind Janelle we saw them backing Skooter into his shed for the night. Most likely the closure was to get him and his cars off the main track.

From there we went on the Cocoa Cruiser.  Bub convinced me to ride in the front car – watch your knees folks, it’s a killer.  Then we went to do Convoy while hubby rode the Kissing Tower.  Then more Skeeball.  Then Reese’s Xtreme Cup which is our family’s favorite ride.  Lastly we stopped and got 4 kids sized ice creams (3 with sprinkles) for under $8.  Can’t beat that.  We left a little after ten.

Great trip to the park and we’re all anxious to go back to the Boardwalk.

 

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