I get worked up making sure we visit title-holding “world’s largests” for Go BIG or Go Home. I try to find a way to make all our travel fit in somehow. Usually, I can find some BIG link, however insubstantial. This time, we didn’t go to the world’s largest theme park. We didn’t even go the largest park within the world’s largest theme park chain. But we DID go to a Six Flags theme park — one within the world’s largest theme park company — so we’re counting it!
Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
On paper, it was a kid’s dream itinerary for a long weekend. Three days spent at the Six Flags Great Escape theme park in Lake George, NY , with its Splashwater Kingdom outdoor water park. Two evenings to enjoy the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, which has the White Water Bay indoor water park.
Dreamy, except for the torrential rains and temps which never exceeded 65°F.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
Have you seen the Six Flags commercials imploring you to “Go Big, Go Six Flags?” For some reason, the slogan resonated with me. Actually, I had an assignment to write this review for FamilyVacationCritic.com, so we were going regardless. But some quick research lead to the discovery that Six Flags is the world’s largest regional theme park company, based on the quantity of properties. I didn’t realize that there are 19 parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada.
We’ve now added Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ to our bucket list, because it’s the largest Six Flags in the country, and it’s home to some BIG attractions: Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster; the world’s largest drive-thru safari outside of Africa; and one of the world’s largest adventure rivers.
Okay, what was so cool about it?
We really enjoyed staying at the Great Escape Lodge, with its picturesque location in the Adirondack Mountains. The 38,000-square foot White Water Bay, the only indoor water park in the Lake George region, was open from 10am-10pm. We let the kids stay up late to enjoy it when it was practically empty. The Boy, who blanches at the sight of a roller coaster, had no qualms about dragging an inner tube up four flights of stairs to plummet down the 290-foot Snow Shoe Falls water slide, or attempting to kneel upright on a boogie board on the Boogie Bear simulated wave rider.
The Johnny Rockets restaurant on property was a hit with The Girl, who delighted in feeding coins into the jukebox (Mom needed her Bee Gees fix), and dipping her fries into the ketchup smiley face created on her plate by our waitress. The Kids Klub offers scheduled crafts activities, as well as character meals and dance parties with Scooby Doo, Scrappy Doo, Shaggy, and the “Timbertown” characters, like Spruce the Moose, Frankie the Fox, and Sheldon the Turtle.
For us, the Great Escape theme park was a mixed bag. Our experience was colored by the incessant rain, and by the fact that we had recently been to the wonderful Busch Gardens Williamsburg in VA. It’s an attractive park, with ample shade from trees and oversized umbrellas. But many attractions, dating back to the 1980’s, are showing their age with faded and peeling paint.
And oy, the rain. Never had a $5.00 purchase of plastic rain ponchos been SO worth it, although I did have some “green guilt” worrying about their obvious lack of biodegradability.
Our favorite attractions were those we haven’t seen anywhere else; most notably the Swan boat ride, and the Thunder Alley go-karts, which were unique in that the cars were ’50s convertibles —including some pink ones – traveling Route 66, with music of the era playing. The Girl’s favorite section of the park was Kidzopolis, because she was big enough to go on all the rides by herself. That’s a big deal for a four-year old.
There were also several shows presented at different locations throughout the day. Our favorite was the Arctic Olympic Games Splash Theater, with high divers dressed like rascally penguins training for a diving competition.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
6. I may have scored it higher had the weather been better. But even then, this park has seen better days. On its own, the Great Escape Lodge is an 8 in my book.
Hey you! Go BIG!:
1172 State Route 9, Queensbury, NY 12804
The Great Escape theme park is open on weekends through October, although Splashwater Kingdon is only open through Labor Day. The Great Escape Lodge, and its indoor water park, is open year round.
Disclaimer: The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge provided us with theme park tickets and a reduced room rate.