We checked our son into the park at 7:00 pm on Friday night. Unknowing that that was the worst possible time to check in.
We stopped to get my son a quick bit to eat prior to the registration because we did not know what kind of food options would be available on the first night. Lucky we did. The Dreams Park people do a lot things right, but managing the check in process and the flow of traffic in and out of the park is not one of them.
There is only one way in and out for safety reasons, but this makes for a traffic nightmare at times.
We arrived at 7:00 and then sat in a parking lot for 3 hours. This is a great time for the players to trade pins with their competitors, but it is a long and boring period of time for the siblings.
Crazy Youth Parent Series
As you enter the park you are herded into one of ten rows of cars. The staff will release each row as room in the barracks area allows. We arrived at 7pm and were put into row 10. From our car, we could see each row be released. Once a row was released it was immediately filled again. When row nine was released we headed for our cars. After about 2 hours we got the green light. As we were passing row one, a parent mom jumped out and stopped the car in front of us and waved row one to proceed. Four cars from row one cut in line before the row 10 people who had waited 2 hours realized what was happening and forced pass the crazy mom. Some choice words were said to the mom from the car in front of us. She replied that row one had been waiting 30 minutes. She obviously did not realize how the queue worked. The additional four cars meant that our car missed our window to get into the barracks area. That cost us an additional 45 minutes. I secretly hope that this women gets hit with a foul ball.
Early Check in Friday Night or Regular Check in Saturday. You have two choices.
According to the coach of my son's team he would recommend the following. The head coach and the assistant coach should register the team on Friday. Then have the kids arrive on the campus around 9:30 on Saturday morning. Reason one. One less night of herding twelve, twelve year olds. The coach has meetings and registration responsibilities and these would have been easier without the added responsibility of watching the kids. Reason two. There is not a lot for the kids to do Friday night or Saturday. He thought that the kids would have had more fun spending time with their families Friday night and Saturday morning. My son was anxious to get their Friday night, but confirmed that Saturday was very, very boring.
If Friday night is the only option and you cannot be there early to avoid the rush, go to Cooperstown and have a nice dinner with the family first and arrive at 9:30 - 10:00 pm.
Drive up or walk up. You have two choices.
You can wait in line and drive directly to the barracks or you can park in lot C and walk your camper in. The walk from lot C to the barracks is not long at all. So if the cue is long and your load is manageable you might save a couple of hours. If you want the convenience of drive up, then get to the park before the suggested check in time (6:00 pm) to be the first in and the first out. Note: you cannot drop your kid off unless the coach is in the barrack area, so make sure that your coach arrives early too.
Registration time is a great time for the kids to trade pins. First tip. Make sure your team has pins to trade. Second, print a list of all the teams participating from the website. I downloaded the list into a spreadsheet and sorted by state. This easy check list helped my son collect all the pins.
The Main Point
Cooperstown Dreams Park is where dreams come true. Friday night registration is where nightmares come true. Following the tips above can save you lots of aggravation.