Monthly Archives: May 2011

Time For Some Amusement…Parks

Now that Memorial Day 2011 is behind us, it means that the major amusement parks in the United States are open from coast to coast.  And from roller coaster to roller coaster.  If you need to travel to get there or if you’d like to spend more than a day exploring a particular park, you’ll probably need a place to stay. has guides to hotels closest to all of the most popular theme parks in the country.

Coaster enthusiasts know all about Cedar Point Amusement Park on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio.  Building upon (arguably) the world’s best collection of rollercoasters, Cedar Point adds the 300-foot tall “WindSeeker” swing ride in 2011.  Hot dog enthusiasts might be interested in the new “Pink’s”, an outlet of the famous stand in Hollywood.

If you’re into wet fun, you won’t find many water parks better than the Schlitterbahn family of parks found in Texas and Kansas.  The Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark continues to grow toward maturity (it’s a relative baby, opening in 2009), with six new surfing and tubing attractions coming in 2011.

The SeaWorld parks in Florida, California and Texas continue to be popular theme parks, with an educational side.  They’re all premiering a new “Shamu” killer whale show in 2011 called “One Ocean”.   SeaWorld San Diego is also busy putting the finishing touches on “Turtle Reef”, a 300,000 gallon aquarium scheduled to open this summer.  And if you’re looking for the ultimate in interactive experiences with sea creatures, you should take a look at the very special Discovery Cove, located next door to SeaWorld Orlando.

Busch Gardens in Virginia is often called one of the world’s most beautiful theme parks and it offers an interesting contrast to the history found in nearby Williamsburg.  The greenery found here (lots and lots and lots of trees!) add beauty, a respite from the heat and occasional excitement (“We’re not going to hit that tree…are we???”)  This year’s thrilling addition is “Mach Tower” – a 240-foot drop from high above the park.  If you want to do a double-feature of Virginia amusement parks, Kings Dominion is a short drive north of Richmond, about an hour and a half away from Williamsburg.  Their “Intimidator 305” coaster debuted in 2010 with a 305 foot peak and speeds of more than 90 miles per hour!

Our guide to hotels near major U.S. amusement parks also includes the usual suspects – places with “Disney” or “Six Flags” in their names.  So, get out there and ride those coasters…or those teacups.

Cruises from Galveston, Texas

The newest addition to the Cruise Guide Network is the Galveston Cruise Guide.  Galveston isn’t among the most well-known cruise departure points, but that could change over the next couple of years.  They’ve already got a couple of ships making 4-, 5- and 7-night cruises to the Caribbean, with more coming soon.  If you live in the southwestern or western United States, Galveston (less than an hour from Houston’s Hobby Airport) is definitely a viable option for Caribbean cruises.

Carnival Cruise Lines is the most active in Galveston, currently sending Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Conquest into the Caribbean every week.  Things will only get better in November, when the new Carnival Magic starts mixing week-long voyages to the western Caribbean and the Bahamas.  Carnival Triumph will take over the shorter trips while Ecstasy and Conquest move to new home ports.

Royal Caribbean offers cruises from Galveston in the cooler months.  Their Mariner of the Seas comes back to Texas in November, making 7-day trips to nice spots like Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Belize and Honduras.

Disney Cruise Line has already announced that they’ll be moving Disney Magic to Galveston in 2012.  That will instantly make Galveston a much more popular spot for families interested in taking a cruise.  The 7-night Disney Magic cruises will include  stops in the Cayman Islands, plus Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico.

And Princess Cruises plans to return to Galveston just in time for Christmas 2012.  The globe-trotting Crown Princess will take some time away from trips through Europe and New England to spend the winter months sailing the western Caribbean.

In addition to complete Galveston cruise schedules, includes all the info you need about getting to the Galveston cruise terminals, plus details on hotels near the Galveston cruise port.