Amusement Parks and Fireworks; Better Together

Those of us who are on a continuing mission to seek out new fun and entertainment tend to think that if something is good by itself it will be exponentially improved by adding something else of equal or greater fun value. Why have just ice cream when you can have ice cream and cake? Beaches are great so how much better will they be when you add waves and surfboards? Fourth of July fireworks are fabulous alone so they've got to be positively swoony when viewed from a ginormous Ferris wheel or glimpsed at ridiculously fast speeds as you whirl upside down on a roller coaster. Where can you go to experience both pyrotechnics and thrill rides? Read on for a few of my suggestions.

Hersheypark in Pennsylvania is planning a 15 - 20 minute fireworks display starting at around 10:15. The park has a one hundred foot tall Ferris wheel with cars holding six passengers at a time. There are several roller coasters from which to choose, including the Sooperdooperlooper, billed as the first looping roller coaster installed on the East Coast. But bad news for parents who can't find babysitters, the website specifically says no handheld infants on this ride. (I tremble to think what incident prompted them to post this warning.)

Cedar Point in Ohio, the self-proclaimed roller coaster capital of the world and home of some heartstoppingly intense rides, is celebrating the fourth with a fireworks display at ten pm. The show is put together by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale; a company that has been making fabulous displays for more than a century and likes to call themselves the first family of fireworks. The show starts at ten and will be followed by the everyday summer light show which features 25-foot torch-like flames set to music. You'll also have the chance to buy a nice meal grilled on a ridiculously large grill capable of cooking 750 brats at once. Does it make the food taste better? I've no idea but I suppose there is a simple way to find out.

Carowinds in North Carolina is offering both a picnic and a spectacular fireworks display. The picnic runs from 5 to 7 and features traditional types of outdoorsy food: chicken, baked beans, potato salad, hot dogs, etc. I could not find any information about the availability of checkered tablecloths or ants. It looks like you may be on your own for those. The pyrotechnics will start at ten (a popular time) and will be entirely controlled by computer, allowing shells to be fired "in precise time to music with an accuracy of 1/100th of a second." I think that will be particularly soothing to any androids in the audience who would feel a kind of dissonance if the accuracy was off by much more than that. The extravaganza will run for (exactly?) 25 minutes and use up a thousand shells.

Now there is one city in the US that is essentially a theme park in and of itself. If you happen to live near Las Vegas you probably need something a little different so you should head over to Hills Park in Summerlin for the Las Vegas Philharmonic's "Star Spangled Spectacular." The finale of the performance will be the 1812 Overture with the thunderous booming of fireworks taking the place of the cannon fire. Zambelli Fireworks Internationale is in charge of this show also so it should be splendiferous. If you're feeling posh you may want to spring for the VIP pavilion and enjoy a full buffet, soda, wine and lovely seats for ninety dollars per person.

This week's one sentence review is of a game called Ragnorak Online and comes from Takomas. "Anime style game with MMORPG style play." (That means Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. I know, I know, you already knew that, but someone else might not have. We don't want anyone feeling left out.) Have you got a one-sentence review you’d like to submit to Quality Time? Send it in to me at and I'll run the best ones. You don't have to focus on games; you can review movies, books, music, or anything else that fits a family entertainment format.