Theme Parks and rollercoasters are the best for a spot of excitement and adventure that doesn't involve much physical exercise.
Our guide to the top theme parks and rollercoasters will help you get the best from your theme park visit.
What to expect at a Theme Park
If you have never been to a theme park before, you are in for a great time. There are all sorts of rollercoasters and rides, so you should at least find one that makes you grin.
Type of Rollercoasters and Theme Park Rides
There are a range of different rollercoasters that you will find at theme parks all over the world. There are two main categories - steelies and woodies. Woodies were the first types of rollercoasters that were designed. These are still some of the best rollercoasters to ride as you feel all of the bumps and jolts.
Steelies are steel built rollercoasters and this enables the rollercoasters to be built higher and faster. Steelies also allow you to hang the cars from under the track (such as the Vampire at Chessington), or run them above the track, or even suspend them from either side. There are also the rides where your legs dangle free, such as the Batman ride at Alton Towers, or Nemesis at Thorpe Park. You can also roll, rotate and loop. Serious adrenalin rushes to be had.
The Best Rollercoasters
Video of the Top Ten RollerCoasters in the World for 2012
Millennium Force - Cedar Point
Lethiathan - Canada's Wonderland
King Da Ka - Six Flags Great Adventure
Top Thril Dragster - Cedar Point
X-Flight - Six Flags Great America
The Incredible Hulk, the Ride - Universal Island of Adventures
Manta - Seaworld
Colossus - Thorpe Park
Kraken - Seaworld
Sheikra - Busch Gardens
Do your Homework
Before you go, it is best to do some research into what theme park you want to visit, what rollercoasters are there, and how to plan your day. It may be that there is a particular ride you want to go on, such as the newly opened Saw at Thorpe Park. You will want to find out what other rollercoasters you can ride whilst you are there.
Get reviews of the theme parks and rides. Theme Park Critic Theme Park and rollercoaster reviews is a community driven review of America's theme parks. Ask your mates for what they think of the rides if they have been on them. Your friends will give you an honest opinion, but bear in mind that everyone has their own preferences. Some people prefer fast rollercoasters, some love big drops, some want lots of twists and turns, whilst others want a rollercoaster with loops.
Check out what rides and facilities are there at the theme park. Is there something for everyone? What other things are there to do as well as the rides?
Have a look at a theme park map on the theme park's website. You will get an idea of the layout and can plan the order you want to go on the rides and rollercoasters. It is often best to get there early and work from the back of the park. Most people tend to work from the front, whereas seasoned rollercoaster riders go from the back.
Look out for any height restrictions. You don't want to get yourself into a two hour queue only to find that they won't let you on the rollercoaster because you are too short.
Most theme parks will provide storage lockers for your bags. This means that you don't have to lug your stuff around with you all day. You will have to plan when to go and get your bag, especially if it has your lunch in it.
Queues at theme parks
During the school holidays, you will find that there will be massive queues for the best rides. Some friends recently went to Disney in Florida just before the Easter break. The most they queued was about fifteen minutes. The following week in the school break the queue time increased to typically two hours. Dire!
So, what can you do to minimise your time spent queueing for your favourite rides at a theme park?
The single rider pass is an unpublicised way of getting striaght to the front of the queue. Theme parks like Thorpe Park want to get the most people on the rides as possible in the shortest time. Most of the theme park rides sit two people next to each other. Where there are three people, one person ends up on their own with an empty seat. This seat can be filled with a single rider. Go to the theme park reception when you arrive and ask for a snigle rider pass. If you want to go on a ride and your mates don't, you can bypass the queue by finding the single rider entrance (which isn't always obvious). Typically you will only have to queue for about ten to fifteen mintues. You just take pot whether you end up sitting next to a screamer on the ride.
The fast pass is a system used at the Disney Theme Parks. When you enter the theme park, you will be given some fast passes. If there is a ride you want to go on, you scan you fast pass and it gives you a time when you can go on the ride. You then come back at that time and scan the pass at the fast pass queue. You still have to queue for the ride, but not as long. You may find that in the first few hours of the theme park being open that all of the fast pass bokkings for the entire day have been taken.
An unexpected way of getting on rides quickly is to ride during lunch times. there is sometimes a lull which you will have to watch for. Also, I have found that some of the more scary rollercoaster rides have shorter queues. Disney's Tower of Terror often has a short queue.
Food and Drink
Plan ahead and take your own lunch. You won't have to queue for it!
Theme Park Tickets, Discounts, Vouchers and Coupons
Theme Park Vouchers provide a nice way to get into theme parks at a discount or even to get free entry to theme parks. You can get theme park tickets online at the theme parks website. Look around for theme park discount vouchers in magazines, newspapers and on cereal boxes.
You should be able to find theme park tickets and discounts for:
Thorpe Park Vouchers
Alton Towers Vouchers
Drayton Manor Vouchers
Disney Theme Park Tickets
Universal Studios Theme Park
List of the best theme parks for teenagers and main rides