Written by: Courtney Miller
For $31 in advance, or $34 at the door, you can enjoy five hours of children-free fun at the Pacific National Exhibition’s Playland Nights events. Running from 7 p.m. until midnight on Fridays in July, if you’re an avid amusement park ride enthusiast, then you need to cash in on the opportunity.
The major selling feature is that the event is 19+. You don’t have to deal with kids, or stressed-out parents running after their kids. If you’re in your mid-20s, this night is pretty much made for you and your friends.
Sadly, not every ride (like Atmosfear) is available during this event series, but most of the major players are ready for action. Something they don’t advertise (but should!) is that the lines are pretty short. They’re at their emptiest right at the start of the night, and you can get on the Wooden Roller Coaster, the Corkscrew, or the Hellevator in under three turns.
Lines only get a little longer throughout the night, except for the Wooden Roller Coaster, which can take six or seven turns around 10:30. The great news is that if you’re a fan of The Flume (better known as the log ride), you can ride that sucker all night long because somehow no one wants to get wet on a Friday night.
Playland offers a VIP experience for $81 advance and $84 at the door, but it’s not worth it. You get to jump the line at 10 different rides once each, an express entrance to Playland, and a special bar, but that doesn’t justify the added $50 spend.
They also have other adult-oriented experiences, only one of which is included in your ticket price. New this year, if you trek to the back of the park at any hour on the hour, you can be treated to a 30-minute mini-burlesque show, featuring several different acts that aim to delight an audience that grows throughout the show, with their fun and tasteful clothing removal.
There are, as always, some downsides to what seems too good to be true — and brace yourselves, because they’re worth considering if you’re not going to Playland Nights for the rides. It’s an expensive evening. If you’re looking for alcohol, you’re better off hanging out with friends beforehand and getting your pre-drink on because these bad boys are not student-budget friendly.
Beer starts at $7.50 and cocktails and martinis go up to $12. You might be thinking, “oh, that’s about on par with some restaurants,” and monetarily, you would be right. But considering they use small plastic glasses, you’re not getting all the drink you paid for. And don’t forget: you can’t take your drinks on the rides with you.
Unlike during the day, you also have to watch out for the overly intoxicated gangs of friends roaming around the park, threatening to puke after the spin-tastic anti-gravity experience that is Alien Invasion. If you like drunk people, or you plan to be one of those obnoxious groups, then you’re all set.
So if you love the adrenaline rush and can enjoy yourself without buying too much liquor, it’s a no-brainer. You can circle through all the rides a few times before you turn into a pumpkin at midnight and get thrown out. If you just want a fun night with drunk friends, maybe find a bar with drink specials or get rowdy in a friend’s basement instead.