Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, October 02, 2004

TR: GOCC/ACE Fall Freak Out (PKI) + Stricker's Grove

Trip Report: GOCC/ACE Fall Freak Out 2004
Paramount's Kings Island/ Stricker's Grove
October 2, 2004

Today is to be an exciting day, after all PKI doesn't let you take behind the scenes tours every day. According to the preliminary schedule, a tour of Flight of Fear was scheduled for 8:30am, so I made sure to be at the park by 8:00.

After a stop at McDonald's on the way to the park for breakfast, it was time to arrive at the park before the tollbooths were even open. My ride dropped me off, and I made the walk from the drop off area to the season pass building to check in.

Check in was fast and efficient, and soon I had another funvelope full of goodies. I recieved an event lanyard which would serve as credentials, a nametag, a picnic ticket, and two schedule of events, one on black glossy paper by the pak, and one on white paper put out by the club. This would normally not be cause for alarm, except that the two schedules were different.

I stepped over to a table next to the old season pass entrance to get all my gear in order, and to my surprise, I heard Rideman's voice, and its before 9AM. I soon followed RIdeman's lead in performing a custom mod to remove the nametag from its holder an instead insert it into the back of the lanyard.

Not much later we were instructed that we could enter the park. We were lead through the big gates that bypass the security checkpoint and soon moade our way to the front gate turnstiles. I approach one of the lanes, and hand her my season pass. She looks puzzled, so I show her my lanyard. Initially I, as well as a group of others were denied entry "This isn't a gold pass event, you must have a ticket" After some initial confusion we were eventually admitted to the park.

The group stood around by the preview center for Italian Job, while we mingled and waited for the officil events to commence. I met a lot of coaaster enthusasits I know and some more I didn't know. Hi Gang! We also met fellow Monday Night Chat participant Don Flint. Some time later, we were being told to exit the park. It seems that security had arrived and insisted that everybody get screened. There was some delay in setting up the re-admission hand stamp lane, exiting the park, making our way slowly through the two lanes they had open for the checkpoint, by the time I got my hand stamped they had already started to admit screened guests into the park.

After we went through that exerice in futility , we were gathered up and proceeded back to the Flight of Fear building. Some opening comments about the day were made in front of the Flight of Fear building, working themselves around the usual array of comedic base announcements at Ft. Cooper. We were then led in through the exit hallway, through the unload station, down a flight of stairs, and under the brake run to enter the famed Flight of Fear bowl. Some time was allowed for photos and videos before a chiefrides maintenance person gave a short lecture.

That lecture included such fascinating tidbits as the fact the ride was first designed to launch via a flywheel cable system. That idea was short lived, however when they could not find such as system that would meet their needs. They then saw one of those LIM powered people movers and thought "If we scale this up", and thus the idea of a LIM powered coaster was born. Other tidbits were that due to the construction timelines, the building was constructed first, then the ride was installed inside the building (usually its the other way around on indoor coasters), and that the building has serivce cranes built into it. However, he got the biggest round of applause when he talked about changing the shoulder bars to lap bars, and detailed the 6 month testing process where they mounted a car on a piece of track, put people in the car and turned it upside down to see how it worked.

Then he offered us a surprise, "Do you want to see it launch?" HE then allowed us to take places around the perimeter of the drum (behind a chain link safety fence), where a few minutes later, with video cameras at the ready, they sent two trains through the fully lit drum for our video taking pleasure.

While in the Flight of Fear building we noted a few odds and ends sitting around, thinks like a lift chain, the King Cobra trains, an Outer Limits car (complete with shoulder bars), other cars in various states of disassembly, and ride parts.

We spent some time in the drum, then exited out the way we came in, and reassembled in front of Flight of Fear. We then walked through the park and deposited ourselves into the line for the Beast.

As is PKI''s tradition, the first Beast ride of the day is reserved for ACE, and so we got the riding day off to a start with a ride on Beast. All-in-all it wasn't a bad ride, and seemed to have some pep to it. Don and I waited at the exit ramp for Rideman to show up.

Don and I then ditched jackets and camcorders into the lockers by Festehaus, and joined Rideman for a ride or three on the Flying Eagles. They weren't my best Flying Eagles rides, but with the shortened cycle time, we don't have much to work with. After a few snap filled Flyer rides, we made our way to Flight of Fear to take a ride on it. The line wasn't too bad, just back to the round room in the saucer. We eld out and took front seat rides on Flight of Fear, which msy well be the best rollercoaster in the park.

Exiting Flight of Fear, we checked our watches, and determined we needed to head to International Showplace for the scavenger hunt meeting. Not too long into the meeting, we learned that a team is 2 people this time (it was 4 last time), and we had already planned on being a team of three. Then we go tthe questions. More changes to the format. Part A is a traditional scavenger hunt "Find as many of the numbered blue hidden Paramount Stars as you can, when you find one, grab it and take it with you" Part B was the part we all know and love "Sadistic Steve's Questions" Each part is worth a maximum of 22 points, for a possible total of 44. We looked over the questions, and found ourselves to be uninterested in this hunt. For starters a fair number of the questions involved Fear Fest, and others were just too easy.

I no longer have the paper, but from memory some of the questions were:

* Name the musical instrument on the oversize beir stein on the German Building
* What Harrison Ford movie opened Aug 3
* How many white stars in blue circles appear in the Top Gun line
* What does PSV stand for on the cars of a certain coaster? (I wonder how the alternative answer of "Pretty Shitty Vehicle" would have scored)
* What is the admission price of a certain beach advertised at Lt. Dan's Backporch Bar?
* How many snister pumpkins are there in a caertain pumpkin patch?
* How many bats appear in the background of the Scooby Doo meet and greet area
* What is the name of the castle in Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle
* What is the address of one of the haunted houses
* Which haunted house do you have to crawl through
* In a designted haunted house, how are people getting killed in the final room
* What character is sitting on the yellow bench at the Beastie exit
* How many pairs of eyes are in the facade for Ghoster Coaster

Anyway, we bagged on the Scavenget Hunt, and instead took a chilly ride to the top of Eiffel Tower to look aroundm and look at the Italian Job construction site. We stayed on top of Tower for a while, then came back down, collected cameras, and headed to the Beast behind the scenes tour.

On the way to the Beast I stopped into Rivertown Pizza where I noted you can no longer by just a slice of pizza. Pizza now comes in lots of 2 slices. I paid for and recieved two lukewarm slices of pizza. Ya know, it used to be the only thing PKI's pizza had going for it is that it was usually very hot when you got it, now the substandard pizza is made worse by substandard heating.

After that unstisfying snack, I joined the group assembled in front of Beast. The beast tour is a photo safari conducted by walking along the main Beast service road. You get to walk alongside the brake run, lift 1, the bottom of life 1 into the tunnel, the turn out of the tunnel, (where you can see part of the helix in the distance), you then pass by lift 2, (and you cn peek into the motorhouse) where you can see the train about to turn into the mid course shed, and also see it apporach lift 2, then out a gravel road where you see it approach tunnel 2, then you can walk over tunnel 2, see the roof for tunnel 2, and see the train come out of tunnel 2, a bit further you can brave a steep hill down to see the long ground hugging section between tunnel 2 and lift 2. About the only part you don't get to see is the mid course shed, and the helix. You then exit the same way you entered. It's a very fun experience, and allows you to get unique photos.

After being returned to the midway in Rivertown, we looked at our schedule and noticed the next two events were EHT (Exclusive Haunting Time) "I didn't know ghosts were so selective", at one of the Fear Fest haunts at 2:30, and the Son of Beast photo safari backstage tour at 3:45. Having no interest in either of those two, we decided to take a break from PKI and head out to Stricker's Grove.

It seems to take around 45 minutes to get from PKI to Strickers, and we got there halfway through the first of their two ride sessions. We didn't have much time at Stricker's but it would be enough. We paid the $8 admission fee for Strickers, which included free soft drinks. After first taking about 3 free soft drinks, we were advised to take a look behind the Skee Ball building.

Behind the skeeball building we noted the Schwabinchen ride, formerly of Cedar Point fame, in pieces. Looks like we know what Stricker's Grove's next new ride is going to be.

We then took a walk down themidway, where we could not help but pause when we saw the remains of the PTC Crazy Dazey (a two table Cuddle Up ride) . It looks like the Crazy Dasey is no more.

We then made our way back past the ever growing selection of classic rides to get to the Tornado. The line for the Tornado was only about halfway down the ramp, and soon we were getting into that back seat.

I still wish he would do something about the concrete-like seats, but the Tornado is still a great fun family coaster. Sure its developing a squeal that could rival Rolling Thunder., and the cool weather probably led to a sluggigh ride, but all in all its a fun little coaster.

Next we rode the other coaster, Teddy Bear, the parks junior coaster. Its a classic design, and runs great (though it too seemed a bit sluggish) The parks two wood coasters are painted white, with the Tornado recieing red trimwork, and the Teddy Bear getting blue trim work. The trimwork paint jobs seem very RCT-ish.

We then went back to the car, collecting a red handstamp, and our video cameras, so we could vidoetape the small classic park.

I looked in the Skeeball building since the park has been known to use souvineirs from defunct parks as skeeball prizes. I didn't see any of that, but I did see Stricker's Grove shirts. No gift shop, you have to win your souveniers.

Ilooked around to tryto find something a bit more ticket friendly than skeeball (maximum 11 tickes per game for perfect play), but noted that Strickers does not have any of the ticket-crazy redemption machines that issue tickets by the bushel basket full. So, I gave up on tht idea, though I noted the shooting gallery awards one ticket at coin in, and one ticket for every target hit, so one could get 16 tickets per game with perfect marksmanship, and at $1.00 a game, it would thoretically take only $6.00 to get the shirt.

We then went back and finished the session with several rides on the Tornado. Looking around the Tornado line, we got an idea of who the Scavenger hunt losers are going to be. We were not the only Freak Out participants to go to Strickers. We rode until the first ride session ended, and then stopped by for some more drinks, just in time to see more of Schwabinchen get delivered. We then headed back to PKI, and after parking, gathering up what we needed, and all made our way to the picnic grove around 5:15.

Shortly after 5:30, when one large group of picnicers left the grove, we were admitted. We enjoyed some free drinks at PKI, and waited around for the buffet to begin. The buffet was fried chicken, pull pork, hot dogs, mac and cheese, tossed salad, dinner rolls, drinks, and cookies. We talked and socialized and ate dinner.

After dinner, it was time for all the thank yous, and GOCC presnetee a plaque to the park. Then the keynote speaker, Jeff Gramke, PKI Engineering gave his speech,. His topic was the building of the Beast, all the way from John Allen giving them advice written on the back of an International Restaurant menu, up through design and construction of the beast, followed by Q&A. Overall a half hour long presentation.

After his presentation, it was time for the group photo, and then the park gave out goodie bags. Each participant got a bag full of Beast 25th Aniversary merchandise. My bag included a coffee mug, deck of cards (round), and a nice ink pen.

After goodie bag distribution, it was time to head back to the Beast so ACE could present the Beast with its Landmark Coaster award plque. It should have been an easy walk through Rivertown, except that Upper Rivetown was closed for Fear Fest, meaning we all had to walk the long way , around where the antique cars used to be.

We got another example of the park not planning things out when at both the meeting at International Showplace and for the Beast plaque presentation there was no PA system available. To make matters worse for the Beast plaque they had a presentation there you could not hear over the FearFest music played on the loudspeakers. Its a nice looking plaque that I'll take the time to read next time I am there with sunlight.

We then ditched our camera and goodie bags into Dave's car, and rejoined the park ready to take some rides.

We looked at the full Delirium queue house, and moved on, finally deciding on Son of Beast. Son of Beast had a short line, completely within the station, and soon we were riding in 6.2 (with Don in 6.1) The ride in 6.2 was not bad at all, I didn't feel beat up when the ride ended, so thats a good thing. We then walked back to Top Gun, where we were able to get a double ride as there was just about noone riding Top Gun.

We proceeded back past an out of service Delirium ride, and proceeded back to adventure Express.

Adventure Expresses line was back through the sheltered part of the queue, with people bailing out, the line didn't seem to take too long. The reason for the back-up in this case was that Adventure Express was only running 1 train tonight. This is a ride that normally can run 3 trains. At least is still provided a fun filled mine ride experience.

We made the turn into Coney Maul, and headed to Racer. Racer had a just about no line, and we waited the extra cycle or two to ride up front. We had a better than we have had all year Racer ride in the front seat of Racer (forwards/red train), that we decided to get back in line, where Don and Dave wound up in 1.3 and I wound up in 2.1 of the BLUE train. What a difference a train makes, as the blue train runs a lot worse than the red train, and to cap it all off Dona nd Dave got torque locked (or Althoff'ed)

We proceeded down the midway and finished the regular part of the day off with a series of Flying Eagles rides, where I can report my flying got better with each flight. After several Flyig Eagles rides we headed to the Paramount Theater to watch:

* The Italian Job promo video
* The full Beast 25th video, without commericals
* The awarding of the scavenger hunt winners
(High score: 28, 21 questions and 7 stars)

After the presenttions in the theatre were concluded, we proceeded back to the Beast for ERT. I managed to get in about 8 rides during ERT, espacially after the "Secret Passage" was opened, and later when you could just nick empty seats. I even managed a double ride in the back seat. I probsbly would have gotten more rides in if I hadn't waited towards the end 4 cycles for that front seat ride. Beast was in insane mode that night, insanely brutal in those wheel seats.

Around 1AM they called last ride, we rode, and then we made our way to the parking lot to end another day of fun and excitement.


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