The last time I visited the Six Flags America theme park, about eight years ago, I ended up getting stuck on the Superman roller coaster just before it reached the top of the first drop.
After what seemed like forever, all the passengers had to climb out of their seats and walk down the steep track to the bottom. My husband, who was with me that day, and I still laugh about this experience. Surprisingly, it didn’t deter us from going on future roller coasters. But recently when a friend asked if we wanted to join her for a day at Six Flags, I admit I was hesitant. I didn’t have the fondest memories of that park. I could only recall dirty streets, overflowing trash cans, never-ending lines and large crowds.
After convincing me that the park had changed over the years, I decided to give it a try with my two boys. We went on a Friday in June, before schools let out for the summer. My friend has a season pass and we went on a “Bring a Friend Free” day.
The park doesn’t allow outside food or drinks, but my friend had two souvenir cups that include free refills for the season. I was impressed with the variety of dining options and healthy food choices. My friend also had a basic season dining pass which allows her a free lunch and snack at select dining areas every time she visits. For the snack that day, she chose a funnel cake that our four kids devoured like wild animals.
There are two main areas with rides appropriate for small children, “Whistlestop Park” and “Looney Tunes Movie Town.” In almost every area of the park, however, there are one or two rides that young kids can go on.
The height requirements for each ride seemed confusing and frustrating at first. My 4-year-old and 2-year-old could sometimes ride together and sometimes not. We learned later that if you visit the Main Street Service Center near the park’s entrance, they’ll check your child’s height and give them a wristband for easy reference. But there were lots of rides the boys could do together, and for most others, I was able to ride with them.
We easily spent two hours just in the two kiddie ride areas before heading to the water park, Hurricane Harbor. We spent most of our time at the “Buccaneer Beach” kiddie pool area, where we found vacant lounge chairs in the shade to store our strollers. We put our valuables and phones inside waterproof carrying cases and enjoyed an afternoon of wading through the shallow waters after our kids.
The water was pretty chilly but we all got used to it quickly in the hot sun. I liked that there was a variety of slides — small and medium, some with water spraying and some without. I wanted to go on the cool looking inner tube slides and rides nearby but my 4-year old wasn’t interested (bummer). We never even made it to a new multi-level water area called “Splashwater Falls,” the lazy river or the wave pool which requires renting a tube.
My overall experience was awesome. We ended our day with more rides and playing a midway game where the boys each won a super hero pillow. We enjoyed ice cream while working our way out of the park. My boys are currently obsessed with super heroes so I couldn’t help but buy them each a cute little cape as we headed out the gates. They were surprisingly only $6 each.
I imagine as the summer season progresses the park will get much more crowded, but as my friend pointed out, most of the crowds head towards the roller-coasters and bigger attractions. This leaves the toddler-size rides and kiddie pools more open.
There are also many ways to save money and time, such as season pass holder perks, fast passes for rides, discount meal deals and dining passes. These are great for families planning to attend the park a couple times throughout the year.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever get back on the Superman ride, but I definitely look forward to more visits to this fun, conveniently close, theme park.
The park is located in Upper Marlboro. For details visit the Six Flags America website.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.