REVIEW: Valleyfair

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Valleyfair amusement park for the first time.  Here’s my review!

Valleyfair is not perfect by any means but it still is worth visiting at least once.  The park is impeccably clean and well maintained.  There are a variety of rides for all tastes.  The park is much, much smaller than Six Flags Great America, which leads me to believe that Valleyfair is definitely overpriced at $25-42, depending on what sort of discount ticket you can find.  Six Flags isn’t much of an option here since it’s in Chicago so I guess Valleyfair doesn’t need to compete so much.  There are a few fun coasters but not many and they are often super short in length.  If you’re just going for roller coasters, you’ll probably be disappointed.

One thing that’s great about Valleyfair is their Soak City Waterpark.  I was worried about the logistics of doing a water park and theme park in one day but it was actually pretty manageable.  I dont know how they treat their water but I did not leave the water park feeling sticky or smelling like chemicals.  We skipped the pricey lockers ($7) and just changed in the car under a towel.  There wasn’t anyone in the parking lot so a towel probably wasn’t even that necessary.  Since the park is small, it’s not that hard to go back and forth between the car.   We were even able to find lounge chairs in the shade.  They have a “premium seating” area where you can rent a chair in a grassy, swap area away from the activities, with no shade for $20 per chair.  To no one’s surprise, this offer was not taken by anyone on the day I visited.

We also went back to the car for lunch and ate out of the cooler since the food at Valleyfair is pretty terrible.  The only options are overpriced fried foods and high fructose corn syrup “treats” (with the exception of Ben & Jerry’s).  If you’re looking for something “fresh” or light, you’re out of luck.  I did grab a $14 double hamburger + fries while I was here. The fries were great but the burger, which I thought would be hard to screw up, was just plain weird tasting.  It didn’t taste like beef, more like overly seasoned tofu or maybe even too much bread crumb filling.  How hard is it to make a mediocre burger?  Definitely bring your own food.  They also have water fountains at every restroom.  We made a point to stop frequently to take a sip and stay hydrated.  This beats spending $3.50 on Dasani bottled water which is horrible for the planet anyway.

We went on a day where it was not terribly busy due to a morning thunderstorm.  On many of the rides, there was only a 10 minute wait or less.  It does get frustrating, however, when there is a 20 minute or so wait and you see empty train cars that they were choosing not to run.  I figure this is because they do not want guests to get bored and get through the park too fast but I find running at half speed to create a wait much more annoying.  I would definitely try to go when the weather is not perfect, especially in the morning.  The short lines made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Two hours before park closed, the power very briefly flickered out and everything got f-ed up.  There was no public announcement over the speaker why almost all the rides were closed.  There was no indication that the park management was concerned about the happiness of their guests or efforts to make sure we didn’t leave home grumpy because there was nothing to do except spend money on games.  Why not hand out coupons or at least get the message out that you’re sorry?

As an end note, I’d mention that their “Fireworks Nightly” advertising is all trickery.  Below this message  it says “on select nights” in much smaller print.  I guess they thought “Fireworks nightly – but not really” looked bad on a poster.