10 Things I Learned the Hard Way at Six Flags New England

Six Flags New England
••• Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • 01 of 10

    #1 - The Parking Lot is Far Away

    Visiting Six Flags New England for the first time? Read these 10 tips, and avoid learning these lessons the hard way... like I did during my family's first visit to New England's largest theme park in Agawam, Massachusetts.

    #1 - The Parking Lot is Far Away

    When you reach the entrance gates at Six Flags New England, you are far away from your car if you've parked in the official Six Flags lot. In order to return to your car, you'll need to exit the park (have your hand stamped if you plan to return), climb tall stairs or navigate a long ramp to a walkway over Route 159, descend and catch a tram, then walk what may still be a considerable distance to your car. This makes returning to your car to fetch swimsuits or anything else you've left behind impractical: It's easily a half-hour proposition. The only alternative is to pay even more than the $25 it costs (as of 2017) to park in the main lot and to take advantage of preferred or valet parking.

    While you may be able...MORE to save a bit on parking by leaving your car in one of the privately owned lots you'll see along Route 159 as you approach the park, keep in mind that you'll still need to walk inside the main parking entrance and cross the bridge over Route 159 in order to reach the Six Flags New England entry gates.

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  • 02 of 10

    #2 - Most of the Rides at Six Flags New England Are Too Scary for Me

    Six Flags New England Scream Ride
    ••• At Six Flags New England, rides like Scream--which ends with a 20-story free fall--are not for wussies. Darren McCollester / Getty Images

    #2 - Most of the Rides at Six Flags New England Are Too Scary for Me

    Six Flags New England is a destination for serious adrenaline junkies: I found my palms sweating and my heart racing just watching some of the park's roller coasters and other thrill rides in action, and I returned home with enhanced admiration for my colleague Arthur Levine, Theme Parks Expert. "You are one courageous dude!" I admitted in an email.

    Since the Shipwreck Falls water-flume ride was the biggest thrill I could handle (no way you'll ever see me on 2017's new THE JOKER 4D Free Fly Coaster), you'll have to rely on Arthur for a review of Superman the Ride, which he's dubbed the "best coaster on the planet," and Batman The Dark Knight: two of Six Flags New England's chief thrills. And, if you're a scaredy cat like me, it's important to know that the park has very few tame rides for grown-ups visiting without little children.

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  • 03 of 10

    #3 - There's Plenty for Preschoolers to Enjoy: Not So Much for Grade Schoolers

    Rides for Little Kids at Six Flags New England
    ••• Preschoolers enjoy the rides and entertainment in what was originally the Wiggles World-themed section of Six Flags New England. Kim Knox Beckius

    #3 - There's Plenty for Preschoolers to Enjoy: Not So Much for Grade Schoolers

    When Wiggles World and Thomas Town debuted in 2007 at Six Flags New England, the theme park, which already had a Looney Tunes Movie Town area catering to little kids, solidified its position as the region's leading provider of entertainment for preschoolers. (Note: As of 2010, the Wiggles and Thomas branding are gone, but the rides in these areas, now dubbed KIDZOPOLIS, remain the same.) Our daughter, who is entering second grade, was a bit beyond the Krazy Kars and Whirlybirdz helicopter rides, although not yet ready--or tall enough--to ride the majority of the park's livelier rides. She didn't even meet the height requirement for the Stampede Bumper Cars (48" to ride with an adult)!

    If you'll be visiting the park with grade schoolers, it's a good idea to review the Six Flags New England ride guide, which provides thrill ratings and height requirements for each ride, before leaving home.

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  • 04 of 10

    #4 - Don't Wear White

    #4 - Don't Wear White

    Because we made a last-minute decision to head for Six Flags New England on a sunny July day, I wasn't really thinking about my attire. Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword, who we met near Wiggles World, weren't responsible in any way, but by the time we left the park, my favorite L.L. Bean white lobster logo polo shirt was filthy. Next time, I definitely won't be wearing white.

    I also made the terrible mistake of wearing dangly earrings without backs. We watched in helpless horror as one flew out of my ear, bounced across the floor and fell through a crack in the floor of the Dorothy's Rosy Tea Cups ride (now Krazy Kups).

    One thing you should wear when visiting Six Flags New England: sunscreen.

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  • 05 of 10

    #5 - AAA Members Save on Shopping at Six Flags

    Six Flags New England Blizzard River
    ••• On Six Flags New England water rides like Blizzard River, you WILL get wet. Kim Knox Beckius

    #5 - AAA Members Save on Shopping at Six Flags

    How, you ask, did I learn the hard way that my AAA membership card entitled me to savings at Six Flags New England retail stores? Well, I not only dressed myself wrong for our day at the theme park, I failed to carry extra clothes in with me for my family, and with the parking lot so far away, we didn't want to take the time to retrieve a dry shirt when our daughter wound up soaked and shivering after riding Blizzard River and Shipwreck Falls.

    Luckily, I found a Muppets T-shirt in her size on clearance at a shop near the water rides, and the cashier was kind enough to ask if I had a AAA card, which saved me money on this unanticipated purchase. AAA members save 10 percent on merchandise purchases of $15 or more. Next time, I'll carry a waterproof tote with a change of clothes.

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  • 06 of 10

    #6 - Bathing Suits May Only Be Worn in the Water Park

    #6 - Bathing Suits May Only Be Worn in the Water Park

    Six Flags New England's rule that bathing suits may only be worn within the Hurricane Harbor water park further compounds the problem of choosing attire for a day at the park. Because we'd left our suits in the car, we were only able to wade into Commotion Ocean--a 500,000-gallon wave pool--and we missed out on the rest of the water park rides. However, we didn't relish the idea of carrying a big bag of suits and towels on all of the other theme park rides.

    Wearing a swimsuit under your clothing may be a solution, but you still have to deal with toting wet gear around after your Hurricane Harbor stop. Lockers are available, but the price is insane, plus you'll pay a key deposit on top of it. And, lockers need to be emptied before Hurricane Harbor closes, which is earlier than the rest of the theme park.

    Because Hurricane Harbor offers so many options for water play, the best strategy may be to choose to spend the entire...MORE day at the water park on a hot day, rather than attempting to do both.

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  • 07 of 10

    #7 - There's Only One Way Out of Hurricane Harbor

    #7 - There's Only One Way Out of Hurricane Harbor

    We found out the hardest way possible that there's only one way in and out of Hurricane Harbor. After a greasy dinner of fried fish, clams, shrimp and scallops at Captain Brady's Seafood (that set us back $27.80 for three), we walked toward Hooks Lagoon and the Tornado water funnel ride, only to discover that there is no exit from the water park once you reach the end: You have to return to the entrance. Not that we couldn't use the walk after our caloric meal, but our daughter was spent by this point, and while she may be too small for many Six Flags rides, she's getting awfully big for piggyback rides.

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  • 08 of 10

    #8 - Tuesday's Not the Day to Visit If You Want to See a Show

    Six Flags Mr. Six
    ••• For an old guy, Mr. Six can really bust a move. Kim Knox Beckius

    #8 - Tuesday's Not the Day to Visit If You Want to See a Show

    I've already confessed that I'm a coaster wimp, but I love to see shows at theme parks. Imagine my dismay when we perused the summer entertainment schedule available at the entrance gate (but not on the Six Flags New England Web site) and learned that most of Six Flags New England's premier shows run several times daily--except Tuesday! Of course, it was Tuesday, and even the Best of Dick Clark Bloopers--a theater show--was not showing. Our entertainment options were extremely meager, and those that were available, such as Storytime In Thomas Town, held as little appeal for my daughter as many of the preschool-appropriate rides. We did catch the Dance Party with Six Flags mascot Mr. Six--twice. In the future, we'll call ahead or check individual show dates online. The Six Flags New England information phone number is 413-786-9300.

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  • 09 of 10

    #9 - My Daughter's Knowledge of the Looney Tunes is Woefully Inadequate

    #9 - My Daughter's Knowledge of the Looney Tunes is Woefully Inadequate

    Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Tazmanian Devil, Marvin Martian, Yosemite Sam: They're all classic cartoon characters from my childhood, but to my six-year-old daughter, they are strange, unfamiliar beings. That made meeting the characters at Six Flags New England much less of a priority than it was for us when we visited Disney World. We finally convinced her to warm up to Bugs, but Daffy was a no go. Before we visit the park again, we'll have to watch a few Looney Tunes videos online.

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  • 10 of 10

    #10 - It's Possible to Spend $26 on Two Stuffed Animals

    #10 - It's Possible to Spend $26 on Two Stuffed Animals

    Admission to Six Flags New England is expensive (be sure to take a look at these coupon and discount offers before you go), but what really surprised me is how much more money you can drop once you're inside the park. Be prepared to spend about as much inside the park as you did getting in the gate.

    I packed sandwiches so we could eat lunch on the drive up, but a beer at Hurricane Harbor's Tiki Bar (as of 2009) was $6.99, ice cream was $3.50, dinner set us back nearly $30, I invested $6 in a dry T-shirt for my little girl, and yes--we spent $26 playing games (Whack-a-Mole was $5 per person!). It was worth every penny, though, to beat my husband at the water race game.