What's New for 2013 at Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom | Kids Out and About Albany <

What's New for 2013 at Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom

by Katie Beltramo

It's summertime and high season for  Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, a favorite family destination located near Lake George. Whether you're a season pass holder every year or just considering your first visit, here's a guide to what's new for 2013.

Gold Season Pass

This season, there's a new pass in town: the Gold Season Pass. If you think that you're likely to visit the park more than once during the course of the season (I'll bet your kids would vote yes!), compare:

  • A single regular general admission price for a day is $53.99 + tax
  • Season passes are $63.99 + tax
  • Gold Season Passes are $73.99 + tax if you purchase four or more at the same time

As you can imagine, it's worth it to go for a season pass right away. All season pass holders get perks like unlimited admission to all other Six Flags parks, a coupon book full of discounts on everything from food to sunscreen to special rides, and the chance to bring friends for free on special days.

The new Gold Season Passes include free parking (usually $20) on every pass, an extra bring-a-friend day, and VIP early entry to the parks, giving your kids an extra 15 minutes or so to head to their favorites ahead of the crowd (or giving you a head start to score your favorite chaise lounge at the water park).

The Return of the Whale

For locals who remember visiting Great Escape as children, this summer's biggest excitement might be the return of the pink whale, who was a centerpiece of the park long ago when it was Storytown USA. Back then, kids would stand inside the whale's jaws for a fountain spray of water and to pose for pictures for their parents. 

Many of those kids have their own children now, and they've been pining for the opportunity to continue the beloved picture-pose tradition. The restored pink whale is located between Cinderella's Castle and Ghost Town. Brand-new visitors to the park might be surprised to find so many elements remaining from the bygone era of Storytown USA. Even my big kids are charmed by the miniature nursery rhyme houses around the park.

Screamin' Eagles

This flying ride successfully straddles between "kiddie" rides that a big kid might judge too boring and the high-thrills rides that are too much for the little ones. Great Escape describes the ride as "interactive" because the controls are ultimately up to the riders, who can play with wind resistance to swoop up or dive down as they pilot their flight. The mechanism is simple, but the impact on exactly how each airplane moves is surprisingly great.

During my flight, I couldn't help thinking (and I had time to think, because my 8-year-old absolutely refused to share control with me at all), that the ride would be a terrific basis for a science fair experiment on wind resistance for a persistent child. I wanted to chart our "airplane's" course myself with repeat rides to test how we'd move with a hard left versus a hard right. This opportunity for flexibility and change is what makes this simple ride one that your kids will want to do over and over again.

Blizzard Indoors

A giant igloo has appeared in the Fest area of the park, and it contains the scrambler-style ride that's called Blizzard Indoors. My kids were skeptical, at first, about lining up for a ride that they couldn't see ahead of time. But the promise of air conditioning won them over to give it a try. Inside, it's dark and chilly--a welcome respite from the summer heat--and once the ride started, lights and popular music made the scrambling extra fun. Both of my kids ran, shrieking with joy, out the exit and directly back in line for another turn.

All-Season Dining Pass

Season pass holders are also eligible to purchase a special Dining Pass, which allows visitors to eat lunch and dinner every time they visit. The dining pass costs $69.99 for a summer pass (valid until September 29th) or $74.99 for a summer and fall pass (valid until October 27th). Several locations and entrees are available (you can see the list here), but drinks are not included.

Dining Pass holders just offer their Season Pass ID to swipe at the register to get their meal. If you have older kids or teens who explore the park on their own or with friends, the dining pass offers a convenient way for you to make sure that your kids can eat without worrying about them losing cash or your credit card. For any family, the dining pass becomes a better deal the more you plan to visit the park and eat while you're there. The folks at Great Escape estimate that if you visit four times or more, the dining pass is a great deal for you, and of course it's nice to get the payment out of the way and just focus on the fun.

There are new food venues and tons of new shows for 2013, too, but I haven't had a chance to try them all yet. Readers, do you have a new favorite that you'd recommend?

© 2013, KidsOutAndAbout.com

Katie Beltramo is editor of KidsOutAndAbout.com-Albany and also blogs at CapitalDistrictFun.com.