How to Have the Perfect Day at Minnesota's Valleyfair, In 37 Steps

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If you live in Minnesota and it's summertime, that means only two things: 1) It's above 40 degrees (hey, anyone from the Midwest can tell you that Minnesota winters are harsh), and 2) It's time for your annual trip to the best theme park ever created for this Earth, Valleyfair. Because no three months off school is the same without it — each summer, kids and their parents flock to the park, hoping that this is the year they'll finally be tall enough to ride the High Roller, then the Wild Thing, then Steel Venom.

Since the park first opened in 1976, it's established itself as the biggest source of summer fun for Minnesotans outside the Minnesota State Fair. And though it's changed quite a bit since its debut, one undeniable thing has remained the same about Valleyfair: As soon as you exit its turn styles, you'll wonder just how soon you can return.

But that's not the only feeling everyone who has ever been to the theme park has shared. Whether you were there as a child, a parent, or an older sibling who pretends she's too cool for Mad Mouse but secretly loves it anyway, you have experienced a day in Valleyfair that's just like this.

The only thing better than riding the Wild Thing? Seeing the Wild Thing from US-169S on your way to Valleyfair.

Almost. There.

Waiting for the park to open, you become overwhelmingly jealous of the empty test cars running on its roller coasters.

Why can't I be in there?!

10 AM — it's go time. Run immediately to the The Wave.

No line!

Tell your unsuspecting parent to watch the next car from The Wave go down the hill... and laugh uncontrollably as they get soaked.

Then immediately feel a little bit worse when you realize said parent is holding a fanny pack full of all your stuff.

No matter how early you get to the park, you will have to wait in line for The Corkscrew.

Is the roller coaster blue?

But, my god, will it be worth it.

The. Best.

11:15AM — Dippin' Dots break time.

It doesn't look like ice cream, it doesn't taste like ice cream, so what is it really? Soylent green?! Aw, who cares, it's delicious.

You sniff at Planet Snoopy on your way through the park.

Psh. Kids' stuff. Nerds.

Even if you wonder why you couldn't just be happy with the Flying Ace Balloon Race when you strap into Steel Venom.

Oh. That's high.

Marvel over how oddly short the line is for High Roller, the Neil Patrick Harris of Valleyfair.

Crowd-pleasing, reliable, and very white.

Ride it at least two more times, and wonder if it's worth checking out the rest of the park after all.

Because this is legen-wait for it-dary!

Remember that Mad Mouse is right around the corner and realize yes, yes it is worth it.

Oh, hello, you underrated roller coaster you.

12:30PM — caricature break!

And by "caricature," I mean "your childhood introduction to low self-esteem."

Ask one of your friends to run ahead to start lining up for Thunder Canyon.

Since its long, long line is anything but lightening speed.

Unwrap a stick of gum.

And continue to chew it, even after the flavor's gone. You'll need it later.

Wonder if you want to get completely soaked or stay completely dry.

On the one hand, dry is no fun. On the other, I am carrying my Nokia cell phone.

Contribute to the infamous gum wall.

You're now officially a part of history.

2PM — Cheese on a stick break!

And by "cheese on a stick," I mean "deep-fried lard." And by "deep-fried lard," I mean "pure heaven." (Hey, it certainly takes you one step closer to there.)

Which you immediately regret while sliding down the "Fastest" water slide in Soak City Waterpark.

But, hey, at least it will help you forget about that wedgie.

That said, the Lazy River is the perfect digestif.

No wait, no effort, no question you'll spend the next 45 minutes getting sunburnt on an inner tube.

Even if "Lazy River" is actually secretly an aggressive river.

Knee scrapes are as inevitable as a second cheese on a stick.

Bite your nails while walking up Hurricane Falls, the only ride where the trip up is scarier than the trip down.

So many stairs! So many gaps! You're convinced this will happen to you.

Dry off with the wind in your hair riding down the wooden Excalibur.

The oldest roller coaster in the park.

Did I say "dry off"? I meant "suffer extreme whiplash."

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.

Perform neck stretches in line for The Wild Thing.

Mostly because keeping your neck straight will mean seeing the insanely large line ahead of you. Alternative activities while you wait: Rock, Paper, Scissors; Would You Rather, and Can You Recite All the Lyrics In "One Week"?

Continue those neck stretches while in line for The Wild Thing one hour later.

But, you made it to the turn styles!

...And for another hour.

How does it take this long from the turn styles?!

Strap into The Wild Thing...

Can't wait!

...and immediately remember the friend-of-a-friend who got stuck at the top that one time.

Wait wait!

After the ride is done two minutes later, sort of wish that it were you.

Because you really, really never wanted it to end.

Head down to the photo booth, convinced you looked as cool as this.

A 207-foot hill? No sweat!

Find out you actually looked like this.

It was scary, okay?!

5PM — Funnel cake break!

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Use enough whipped cream to make Leslie Knope proud.

It might just be your last meal, because Steel Venom's next.

But it's not your last meal — because, after Steel Venom, the only thing that ceases to exist is your dignity.

You only have 15 minutes left... so you guess you'll do the antique cars?

And you guess you'll get kicked off the ride for trying to walk alongside the car?

Exit the turn styles, sad to have to say goodbye.

And sad that you wasted the last 15 minutes on antique freaking cars.

But know that wherever you go, you'll always carry Valleyfair with you.

Particularly on the car ride home — feels like you're still on The Wild Thing, right?