A few weeks ago we took the kids to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo. Like every admission park in the middle of summer, it was hot, crowded and expensive — yet we ended up having a wonderful day. They have some amazing coasters (their latest, SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight, is out of this world!) that my nine year-old twins adored, and a great new headline show, Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, that combines Cirque du Soleil style acrobatic acts with their best dolphin performances.
If you’re planning a trip to Six Flags Discovery Museum this summer, you probably already know that it’s best to visit on a weekday, arrive early and stay late. Here are five more tips I’ve come up with to help you make the most of your day at the park:
1) Never pay full price!
If you buy tickets at the gate, they will cost $39.99 for kids under 48″ and $59.99 for everyone else, but you never have to pay that much. Just purchasing your tickets online at the Six Flags website will save you at least $10, and if you buy in advance for a weekday, you could pay as low as $39.99 for an adult ticket. Don’t want to purchase online but still want the same discounts? Look for discount coupons at McDonald’s restaurants, drugstores or credit unions. We ended up paying $35 per person using a coupon from my credit union. A simple Google search for “Six Flags Discovery Kingdom discount” can save you big bucks
2) Invest in a Flash Pass
With the money we saved on admission tickets, my husband and I decided to splurge on a Flash Pass, the park’s ride reservation system that holds your place in line on the park’s most popular rides. Being the cheapskate that I am, it hurt to have to spend extra money — but it turned out to be the best decision we ever made. We used the time we would have spent waiting in line on activities like watching a show, touching stingrays, and taking a much-needed cotton-candy-and-churros afternoon break. We got to pack in so many more rides and activities, and we didn’t have the stress of waiting in line. You can find out more about the Flash Pass on the Discovery Kingdom website, but here are a few more things to bear in mind about the system:
* You can only reserve 1 ride at a time — but as soon as you check in with the ride attendant, you can make a reservation for another ride.
* You can’t show up at a ride before your reserved ride time — if you do, you’ll be asked to wait.
* You can show up at a ride after your reserved time, but don’t be too late! We noticed that if we didn’t show up within 5 minutes of our reserved ride time, the system would move our reservation time back by 5 minutes… then another 5… then by 10 minutes! Note, we purchased the Regular Flash Pass, so this may only apply to the Regular level… or our Flash Pass monitor could have been malfunctioning?
* Make sure you return your Flash Pass monitor before the scheduled park closing time — you’ll forfeit your $100 deposit if you turn up late.
3) Cut down on the grease
Six Flags has a long way to go before they can claim to have any healthy food options, but you don’t have to settle for the first burger and fry stand or pizzeria that you come across. California Crepes is located in the park’s Sea area, probably as far away from the entrance as you can get, but it’s worth the trek to enjoy their turkey and avocado crepes. Not far away is Macho Nacho Burritos, which serves decent burritos and fiesta bowls, as well as Panda Express, the popular Chinese fast food chain (okay, it’s fast food but at least they serve veggies!).
4) Leave your purse at home
… or in your car, or with a friend. None of the thrill rides allow riders to leave purses, backpacks or bags in the ride loading/unloading area. The only items they allow are flip-flops and water bottles. Six Flags has installed a set of lockers near each thrill ride entrance for riders to store their stuff while riding ($1 per use, or $5 for multiple uses at any locker throughout the park). If you don’t store your stuff in a locker, you have to leave it with a non-riding friend, or you’ll be asked to leave the ride and store your stuff. They are serious about this. I’ve seen riders who have lined up for 30? 40? minutes get turned away because they had bags with them! If it doesn’t fit in your pocket, don’t take it on the ride.
5) Leave the phone in your pocket
Everyone wants to shoot that cool video while you’re going up and down on a roller coaster, but don’t try it at Six Flags. Riders are no longer allowed to pull out phones or cameras out of their pockets while on the ride. At all the thrill rides I went on, I noticed signs warning any violators of this rule will have their phones confiscated and will be expelled from the park. Take this warning seriously! We boarded a roller coaster that stopped halfway up the first incline and stayed there for 10 minutes. Mechanical failure? No, it turned out that one woman in our car had been verbally warned 5 times to keep her phone in her pocket… and she still took it out to take a photo on the ride. A security guard confiscated the phone, and once our roller coaster ride finally resumed and finished, the guard was there to escort her and her friend out.
Oh, and three more pieces of advice….come on a weekday, arrive early and stay late!