Pros: Season Pass Cost, Small crowds during off-season, friendly employees
Cons: Food cost, Skycoaster cost, hard games, and parking!
It may be a small park... but its a GREAT small park. I have been going ever since I was three years old and have had a season pass every year since. Buying a season pass saves you money even if you were to go to the park ONCE, for several reasons. Included with the pass, you get a coupon booklet full of great deals inside the park, coupons for hotel and camping at Six Flags Darien Lake and other, and FREE ADMISSIONS for friends on selected days. Right there, you are talking about more value than the price of a one day ticket... if you can, try getting a season pass. They are good for any day the whole season, even special events! (just not concerts and extra-charge attractions)
- Try to go during the "off-season"
The off-season is before Memorial Day, and in and beyond September.. there are usually very small crowds and the lines won't be too long. Always be sure to check out the concert listing before you go, and avoid weekends during the normal season because the lines can get VERY long and the park turns into a disaster.
- Playing games is hard, and expensive
Sure, who doesn't absolutely love playing games at carnivals and amusement parks? Sometimes we just need to hold back on the habit when you don't always know exactly what's going on. For example, sure many games have huge prizes lined up around the game, but in some cases you have to win a large amount of times which might be *easy* but will take a lot of your money away in a short period of time. Other games don't clearly have the rules stated, for example the mini-lane bowling. There is no sign stating the cost, ho many balls you get, etc... until the attendant tells you before you play. Other games have huge prizes, but cost a lot of money for such a hard game. The park seems to be adding more and more 2$ games, that only give you one chance. After 5 seconds, boom, your money is gone. Just be sure you know all the rules of the games, and consider what you are going to win before you invest your money on them. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions to the attendants if you are unclear exactly how the game needs to be played, or if any clarification is needed.
- Food can be very expensive:
Darien Lake doesn't have any public pavillions, and they do not allow bringing in your own food into the park, so they lock you into buying food from them! Nobody likes paying more than $2.00 for a "medium" soda, people don't like to wait in lines or play around with money, they just want good food and service. Sure there are many stands around the park that offer food from subs to cotton candy to corn dogs and pretzels and other food, but some stands have more benefit than others. If your trying to get the cheapest meal that will fill you up on an empty stomach, the first stop would be the General Store. Located in the way back of the park, toward Twister, in Darien Square hidden away in the corner. This place has apparel, supermarket items, drinks and more, all at a smaller price than inside the park. Instead of getting a 20 oz. bottle of soda in the park, you can get a full 2 liter bottle for just about the same cost! You can cut down a lot of money here if you take the time to walk there, and you may have to do some work yourself if don't want the full service. Of course when your in a park you don't necessarily want to be making a sandwich on your own, you want someone else to do it for you. But if you really want to save on costs, I recommend visiting the deli and have them prepare something for you for much less of a cost. Like I mentioned, this would probably be a last resort, if your low on cash or just want to save some money. For full service restaurants, I believe the Beaver Bros. Cafe is a great place for good food that isn't too expensive. The atmosphere in the air conditioned "lodge" is very comfortable, and themed very nicely to go along with its name. They offer everything from simple burgers and salads to dinner entrees to fill you up with the goods. The food there has always been excellent, the service is great, and everyone is friendly. The beaver bros. cafe also has an outdoor bar and seating area upon request for those who prefer that. Inside that park, your best bet to feed a large amount of people is just ordering a pizza. For around 13$ you can get a "decent" meal that will feed a large group of people.... because it can get quite costly ordering food in a restaurant or at a normal food stand when having to accommodate more than 3 or 4 people. Pizza is something kids always like to eat, and can satisfy your taste for one of the cheapest meals in the park. Be sure to eat and drink responsively, we wouldn't want you throwing up on a coaster.
- The dreaded "extra" charges:
Reading this will help you prepare for visiting the park, what exactly is extra charge, and how to avoid these costs in any way possible (For a full list of prices on extra charges, visit my website located at the end of this review). One cost that people always hate to pay is PARKING! There really is no way to overcome this unless your a season pass holder (see pass benefits). At a whopping $7.00, this charge hits you in the face before you even set foot in the parking lot. If you stay at the hotel or campgrounds, you can bypass these charges since they are included into the cost. The water park has some costs involved as well. Sure, the water park has been "free" since '93, but other costs factor into this. If you need a place to store your stuff, your going to need a locker. There are no "75 cent one use lockers" around the park anymore, the only way is getting an expensive all day locker. Some alternatives is leaving your stuff in the car while you in the water park, or just a find a place for it inside crocodile isle (the wave pool area) to leave your stuff. Although there is no security in the area, and the park is not responsible for stolen items, you stuff is usually safe just laid in there (not your valuables!) and lots of people do it. You should always consider getting a locker for your safety and comfort, there are other alternatives in cases you may not "need" a locker. One thing that is free are lifejackets for the wave pool. Free life jackets can be obtained at the raft building just outside of Crocodile Isle. Rental tubes for crocodile isle wave pool will also set back a cost. Although it costs less now than before, its still a charge some get surprised about. Other extra charge attractions include the Skycoaster and Superhero Speedway (Go-Karts). The skycoaster is the most expensive ride of its type in the US that I know of, spending upwards of 20$ a ride... while at other places around the country they are less expensive.
- The employees:
I have seen a major improvement of the friendliness of the employees for the 2001 season... they are always willing to help out, and always have a smile on their faces. In previous years, some were snotty and didn't have a clue what they were doing.. but I am definitely commending their work now since I have seen such a huge change in them. Good work staff!
Here is a nice guide for people who love roller coasters, and intense rides:
When you first get to the park, you will have many choices of where to go first. Depending on your specific taste, would decide what coaster you would want to go on. Below, are the list of roller coasters and people who would like them most.
This ride is the Green, Looping coaster, toward the back of the park. Obviously, if you cant stand loops, this is not the ride for you. If you get sick easily, for example on a cruise ship, taking a Motion Sickness pill is actually a good thing, and work on most people. If you are not sure how it will work, try a gentler, non looping coaster with a pill first, if you are not sure. The Viper goes upside-down 5 different times, and pretty much spread out throughout the ride, and not one after another. On the intensive coaster scale, from 1-10, I would give it a 7. The waiting lines are probably shortest here than any other ride in the park.
This is the only wooden coaster in the park. It does not loop, and is not too tall, the best coaster for kids and adults alike. Although the ride can be very rough during the 2001 year, they re-tracked it, making it MUCH smoother and more fun that it ever has been. With more than 10 hills, and high speed that will make you come off your seat a couple of times, I think this is a fantastic coaster. The coaster is good to test how sick you get, and would help you decide the maximum your body can handle. A rating of intensity from 1 to 10, I would give it a 9. The lines are not too bad at this ride, usually.
Boomerang Coast To Coaster:
IF YOU GET SICK EASILY, this is DEFINITELY NOT THE RIDE FOR YOU. Now that I have said that, lets carry on. If you have never been on a similar ride like this before, this is probably the most-sickening coaster ever made. Even if you don't get sick on any ride, you may get a little woozy after this one. It loops a total of 3 times errrrrr 6 times. The ride goes forward and backwards, and can be a little fun.... because of the sudden drop. This Coaster has teal track, and white supports, near the big 'ol Ferris wheel. The line on this ride is usually not too bad. Intensity rating from 1-10 I would give it a 7 (its not really intense, but can be repetitive/sickening)
This is an inverted coaster, meaning you hang under the track, with legs moving freely. It has red track and teal supports, in the back path of the park. This ride goes through loops about 4/5 times and can be pretty intense at times. Can reach high speeds at times, and may be a little scary for some. The ride isn't that tall, but making it over water may add to the excitement, and make it look bigger than it actual is. The ride is really cramped together, leaving you having no idea where you will go next. Intensity rating from 1-10 I would give it a 8/9. The line isn't too long, but can be very long at times.
Superman Ride Of Steel:
Leaving the most intense for last, the coasters sheer size and steepness is enough to scare anybody, (not to mention the front seat on first hill!) truly amazing. This coaster has red track, and track being the tallest point in the whole park, although it may not look it, its taller than the Ferris Wheel (yikes) You have to endure intense speeds, with mind boggling G-forces, and tons and
tons of AIR-TIME (coming out of your seat) Just because it has no loops, does NOT mean its a bad ride, in fact, the sheer size makes it get a thumbs up to begin with. When all the different components come together, it makes the ultimate ride. You will not be disappointed with the ride. Intensity rating out of 10, I give it a 9 1/2 - 10 !
For people who are not in to coasters, there are other intense rides in the park.
This ride has to be one of the coolest flat ride (non coaster) I have ever seen. This spine-tingling ride made my Jaw-Drop the first time I saw it in action. Very intense, I recommend you don't look at it before you ride it :-)
Ranger: Another favorite of mine, you enter a "space ship" Which inverts (goes upside). This ride is similar to a Pirate Ship (goes back and forth) except this goes all the way over, and slowly at times. Definitely a must for anyone, if you don't get sick easily. Oh, and one other thing, you don't want to ruin your trip by losing keys/wallets/etc. Secure ALL pockets, things are easily lost, and will not be retrieved.
If you need more action, the SILVER BULLET might just be for you. Located in the center of the park, this ride goes round and round until you go upside down. There is no belt or buckle here, but the sheer force against you holds you securely in place. As with any ride that goes round and round, be careful not to get too sick.
Some other rides include the UFO, a standup version, similar to the Silver Bullet, and also the Rodeo Roundup, where you ride in little "cars" as they jump up and down from the center (popcorn popper)
If you are a Thrill Seeker, theirs plenty to enjoy at the park, and you should not be disappointed.
For FAMILY trips:
Six Flags Darien Lake is a perfect place to bring a whole family. The Park includes many rides for both Kids, and adults alike.
There are two main "Kiddie" Sections in the park. Looney Tunes Seaport is an area with the most rides for children. The other section is located in the back of the park, (look for mind eraser).
There IS a specific reason they are separate. Looney Tunes seaport is the area that BOTH Kids and Parents may ride together, while the rides near the Mind Eraser, are only for children.
The rides included In Looney Tunes Seaport are generally mild, and should be suitable for all kids. There are over 10 rides included in Looney Tunes Seaport, a long with a restaurant and play area. Rides include a "Monster truck" ride, that lets your child and/or you ride in a mini-truck around a track. The child has no control, but steering wheel is included to give them the feeling they are really driving.
Other rides include a Hot Air Balloon ride that sends riders spinning, and leaving the ground up into the air. A Submarine ride, lets you sit in a sub, as it spins around. There are some other Looney Tunes themed rides as well, that ant exactly stuck in my head.
Now, on to the rides in the back of the park, near the Mind Eraser (the ride with the coaster cars under the track, with feet hanging, red track, and teal supports) I believe there are 3 rides their, only kids allowed on them. The rides include a little roller coaster called the Brain Teaser (appropriately named after the Mind Eraser) It goes around a track, a rather small track, a couple of times. The other rides include a Jr. Bumper car area and a motorcycle ride that goes over "jumps"
There are other places/rides that kids would definitely enjoy. For the slightly older bunch, theirs the Log Ride, which kids will always love, and then the antique cars give kids a chance to "really" drive.
The Ferris wheel is a ride the whole family can go on, but not for the faint of heart being the 2nd tallest Ferris wheel in the US it's a very nice view of the whole park.
IF your kids are into Water, than Hooks Lagoon is perfect for them. You can go along with them into this Water Playground, but watch out carefully for them, its very easy to get lost. Kids are usually afraid at first, but once they get wet for the first time, they should be fine, leaving you to get wet yourself, with no choice. Just don't try to AVOID to the water, it will get you worse later.
Finally, always ask a child what they want to go on, and NEVER force one onto a ride they don't want to go on, I don't think you realize the horror in their body sometimes. If you do force them on a ride, they will MOST LIKELY either:
A. Want to ride it over and over and over if they liked it.
B. Wont ride ANY ride, since that one was too scary.
Keep this is mind, if you came to ride roller coaster, but brought young children a long, have a non rider with you, staying with the kids, do not force kids onto a coaster.
Well there you go, if you need any more information about Six Flags Darien Lake, also known as SFDL, please visit my website: http://sfdl.coasterbuzz.com for updated news, information, photos, and everything else about Darien Lake!