Paramount's Kings Dominion is in Doswell, Va., about 20 miles north of Richmond and about a 11/2-hour drive from Washington on Interstate 95. Two children's areas -- Nickelodeon Central and Kidzville -- are frequently visited by licensed, suited TV characters such as SpongeBob, Patrick, Scooby-Doo and Dora the Explorer.

The park is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Aug. 28. Dates and hours of operation vary after that until it closes Oct. 30; during spring and fall, the park is a weekend destination. Single-day admission at the gate for ages 7 to 54 is $45.99; seniors 55 and up, $39.99; ages 3 to 6, $31.99; age 2 and under, free. There are significant discounts for online ordering. Parking is $8 per day.

BEING PATRICK: Applicants for theme park character jobs must be 16 or older. No experience is necessary, though some of the performers seem to be drama students in college or high schoolers interested in going that route. The park's human resources office is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and applicants can drop in for an on-the-spot interview -- no appointment required. For more information, call the park's Rising Star Job Hotline, 877- 753-5627, or check the "Jobs" section on the park's Web site (see below).

INFO: Paramount's Kings Dominion, 804-876-5000,

-- Peter Mandel