Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Coasterville Con - Trip to Florida - day 2

Welcome to day 2 of the big Florida trip.

As we had discussed yesterday, we decided to replace a full day at the Florida State Fair with a half day at Busch Gardens Tampa and then the evening at the Florida State Fair. We still planned on a full day at Busch Gardens Tampa on Saturday. We instantly liked the friday BGT idea as we figured it would give us a better chance at getting the park with ERT like conditions.

Therefore we awoke nice and early in the morning, got ready to go to the park, checked the internet for any important news, and headed to breakfast. I think one of the nicest perks hotels have added recently is the inclusion of breakfast, This particular Baymont offered waffles, fruit compote, cereal, pastrys, muffins, bagels, juices, coffee and milk. A nice assortment of food and a great way to start the morning. We noted the center building of the hotel also holds a conference center and a game room.

After breakfast we head to the car for the "Oh so close and yet so far" block and a half drive to BGT. BGT offers a multitude of parking options: Valet, Regular, Preffered. We opt for Regular, so that means we get to park in the lot accross the street from the park. The park has a very long entry drive to the park that wraps around one side of the lot which is clearly designed to be able to contain a lengthy traffic backup. Might I suggest that the park think about posting the parking prices further back along the driveway instead of waiting to break the bad news to you right asyou pull up to the toll plaza. We arrive at the toll plaza,and pay the $8 parking fee, for which we gain entry to the lot, a parking ticket, a flyer about the parks music concert series, and a flyer about security precautions. The toll plaza is at the farther reach of the back of the lot and we have a drive like in National Lampoon's Vacation as we zoom through the empty lot up to the area in the front. As we near the front of the lot, parking attendants guide us into a space very near the tram stop.

I note that for $12 you can drive through a tunnel and park in a lot that is located on the same side of the street as the park, but even that lot is behind the handicap parking area. We parked in regular parking just a few feet from a tram stop, which in effect sets you up even closer to the park gate than the preferred lot.

We decide to leave the camera equipment in the car today so that we won't be hindered during potential optimum ride conditions. We walk over to the tram stop, its a nice tram stop with canvas covers blocking the elements, and park benches andsoft drink machines for creature comforts. It looks as if the park may be thinking about self-service ticket kiosks as there was a row of small machines with dust covers on them,

We board a parking tram and are shuttled to the fron gate plaza. I note the park has created a seperate tunnel so that the parking trams are not hindered by other traffic. The park gives the usual spiel, stuff like "Make sure you have everything with you that you will need, such as your wallets", and a mention that those 21 and over with proper ID are welcome to enjoy a free beer in the Hospitality House. Now thats my kind of hospitality. In fact I think I'll crack open a nice Bud Light right now.

We proceed through the tunnel and as we reappear on the park side of the street, I note the fence has been decorated with several arrows pointing towards the park. Whats more important, each sign has the word "Welcome" written in different language. A nice classy international touch. We continue along the driveway arriving at the front gate plaza.

Speaking of classy touches, before you get to the ticket booths is a little building that is decorated with American and military flags. Its part of the parks "Here's to the Heroes" promotion where military personnel are given complimentary admission as a gesture of thanks. We have pre-purchased web vouchers so we proceed past the ticket boothsand note that thepark has several guest relations windows to the right as you pass the ticket booths, all the guest service windows were closed. We easily clear secuirty as we could go though the bypass line as we had no bags. BGT uses the same type of security check as Disney, where they merely paw through your bags.

We see another guest relations center to the left hand side of the entrance turnstiles. They had a grand total of one window open. We go to the guest services office and exchange our pre paid vouchers for our Fun Cards. A Fun Card is a cut rate budget season pass. BGT charges $58 for a single day ticket, and $58 for a Fun Card. A Fun Card is good for unlimited vists through 12/31/06. You don't get any of the season pass perks, but for the price, its a great deal. For us it was like getting a two day ticket for under $30/day. Passport processing is easy, they merely collect the voucher and check photo ID, they then give you your pass. There are no photos on the passes,and its printed on ticket stock. The tickets do have your name printed on them, and the endorsement that photo ID is required.

Passes in hand we join the queue for the turnstiles. At around 9:15 a band comes out to entertain people as they wait for the 9:30 park opening. Shortly before 9:30 the ticket checkers come out to take their posts and shortly after 9:30 a man who was supervising the front gate area bellows "Open em Up!" The park day has begun. As we enter the park, they do not check our photo ID's however they do have us insert our hands into a biometric hand scanner. Its quite similar to Disney's system. Okay, now they have taken a sample hand scan from all of us we enter the park.

Busch Gardens Tampa is an intersting park in that it is both a Zoological park as well as an amusement park, and some also extoll its virtues as a botanical park. The park has adopted an African Safari theme, and at one time was called Busch Gardens: The Dark Continent. The parks main shopping district is themed as a Morrocan village. We jaunt through Morroco, zip through a Zagora Cafe dining patio and come to a point of decsison. We can either head right to Egypt for Montu, or we can head left towards Stanleyville for SheiKra. We decide to head for SheiKra, and right on the outskirts of Morrocco, we pass Gwazi, the parks wooden coaster. We note lift hill start up alarms souding on Gwazi, and proceed to head towards the Bird Gardens, however the pathway is blocked with a sign stating that the area won't open util 10am.

We turn back towards Gwazi and notice the ride has opened. We decide to stop for a ride on Gwazi and we note that only the Lion side is open. We head up the ramp to Gwazi and are soon seated in the back car. I recently reviewed my 2000 BGT TR and noted that I commented on the short seatbelts then. Luckily that would not be an issue as I had no trouble fitting into the train. What has remained is the agonizingly slow loading procedure where they check all the seatbelts before allowing you to lower the lapbars, then they have to check the lap bars. They take their own sweet time doing it as well. Paul noticed the park has installed a "christmas tree" light pole that lights up and when the green comes on it is safe to dispatch the train. I noticed similar light poles on most of their rides.

I had heard bad things about how Gwazi has held up over time, but the Lion side seems to still run pretty smooth, and it still has nice hints of airtime. Some of the thrill of the ride is missing without having the other train running, but the layout is very interesting with lots of wists and turns, and some interesting drops. It has some nice minor airtime, but nothing extreme. Gwai was made by Great Coasters International and is dubbed a dueling coaster as when the trains leave the station at the same time, they will pass each other numerous times out on the course.

We enjoyed the ride, but BGT is all about the steel coasters, so we deicde to go find an open steel coaster, or at least get nearone of the parks bigger attractions. We see the path to SheiKra is still barricaded, so we decide to try our luck with Montu. We figure that even if Montu isn't open yet, it willbe by the time we get over there.

So we backtrack through Morrocco, cutting through the Zagora Cafe's dining patio and head past the Morroco Theatre which appears to be running a Cirque du Soelil inspired show titled Katonga. Passing the theatre we ender the Crown Colony where we pass the Clydesdale Hamlet while "Here is the king" plays on the PA system. We zip past the stables and I note that the building that used to hold the parks motion simulator ride has been replaced by the "Showjumping Hall of Fame Museum", well except for they still have the exterior theming for Akbar's Adventure Tours. Akbars marks the line between Crown Colony and Egypt. The entry to Egypt contains a games of skill area, a "See King Tut's Tomb" exhibit, a sandbox for the kids called "Sifting Sands" and an area decorated with heirglyphics.

But now is not the time to admire the scenery. We head to the back of the area and to the Montu entrance plaza. Montu has a plaza like area which provides for great ride viewing and picture taking. We note the gate to the Montu queue is open, and so we go on in, and walk right through the area that is themed to Egyptian ruins and emerge into the station. We note a short line for the back row,so we decide to give Paul the proper introduction of the first ride in rear left seat. We see a train leave and it is to be our turn when, uh oh. The ride suffered a mechanical failure. First, the announceements said they anticipated a short delay, and they recommend peole stay in line, then the announcements changed to we don't no how long the ride will be closed but you are welcome to stay in line, then changes again to The ride is closed, please exit the queue area" We decide to comeback to Montu later in the day.

We head back into Crown Colony and then decide to take the Skyride over to the other side of the park. This skyride station is unbelievably large, and I wonder how many people remember that the huge structure used to hold the monorail station for a former park signature attraction, the Safari Monorail. The structure still hold first aid and other park services according to the park guide. As we head up the ramp to the Skyride station, you actually head to a smaller structure in back of massive building in front. There is a minimal wait for the Skyride, so we are soon up to the front of the line. We note a signwarning not to reach out for the cars as they go past, that sign must not have been effective as they have installed a grille seperating the queue from the ride area. A bit further along we note the weight limit is 650lbs. We do the math, and decide that we don't want to push it on a Skyride. Paul and I get into one gondola, and Jerry into another. The Skyride passes over the safari area and gives nice views into the Serrengeti Plain. Ohter views can be had by riding the parks train ride, riding Rhino Ralley, or taking the "Edge Of Africa" walking trail. After passing over the animal exhibit area, we then pass over Rhino Ralley. Rhino Ralley looks and sounds interesting, we'll have to stop by here later. After passing Rhino Ralley we head down into what looks like it might have been a former skyride station, butis now disused, however you still have to stop here so the attendants can ensure proper spacing of the gondolas, and can push them back out onto the next segment of the course. The next portion of the ride passes over the Timbuktu section, or one of the older more amusement park like sections of the park, finally decending into the other station in the Congo section of the park midway between Kumba and SheiKra.

We exit the skyride and head towards SheiKra. As we approach the ride we are happy to see that there was no wait time posted. We enter the queue and I take a moment to give Ye Olde Test Seat a try. I have no problems with the Test Seat, but Jerry does point out that the test seat conforms to the standards of the larger seats. BGT has one of two seats per train that are a little bit more accomodating than the other seats. According to the park signage you may need to resort to the special seats if your chest is larger than 52".

We head through the empty queue area, and head to the very shallow stairway that heads up to the loading area. Sheikra has a double station where they can load one or two trains at the same time, by parking the trains one behind the other. I also note evidence of a disused fastpass style entrance lane. The queue area is almost but not entirely covered Instead of standard queue lanes, there are a series of bridges that head from the load side over to the track. We note the small crowd and decide to ake our first ride in the front row.

We are seated, its a tight fit for me, but we are safely seated. Once both trains inthe station are loaded, both trains advance out of the station, with the rear train being held on a staging brake immediately downtrack of the station. Once the staging brake releases, its a slight dip and right hand turn to the lift. What a lift it is, 200 or so feet tall, and the lift hill is banked steeper than tthe first drop on several coasters. It is evident the park wanted a large statementmaking coaster that did not take much land area. I also note the ride has a funicular railway that runs along the side of the lift for evactuation purposes. Sheikra uses weird trains, they are only three rows long, however they are eight seats wide. Loading two trains at once, this means they load 48 people per cycle. and they were running 4 trains. It also means there are effectively 16 front seats and 16 back seats per cycle. The official posted policy is that trains will be loaded front to bacl but that was not enforced.

Okay so our train has reached the top of the lift, here we can look out at our hotel and enjoy the view as we perform a turnaround to the right so that we are facing the park proper. I note the wind gauge spinning madly on top of SheiKra lift. As we near the first drop, we hit a second chain that travels ever so slowly, it catches you car and drages it nice and slowly inch by inch towards the brink of the 90 degree straight down first drop. It causes a nice effect where it hold the car with you looking straight down at the ground for about 5 seconds before the chain finally releases and you go screaming straight down. Lots of people exagerate that other coasters go straight down, well this one actually does it. After the amazing first drop, you go back up the second hill and into an Immelman inversion. To my knowledge, this is B&M's third Dive Machine,the only Dive Machine in the USA, and I think the only Dive Machine to feature an inversion. Yoou make a coulple curves after the immelman to hit the mid course brake run that runs parallel to the station. The brakes bring the train to a complete stop before advancing you to a second near 90 degree drop, this one is only about 130' tall, but it heads into a tunnel that runs under a pool of water. You go up a hill on the other side of the tunnel, perform another turnaround, and head right for that same pool of water. The train then dives into a nice dry trench that runs through the center of the water. The trains have been outftted with special scoops that cause copious quantities of water to be sprayed by the train as the train goes past, with the side effect of creatign a splash zone for those passing by. You may get wet watching the coaster, but don't worry, the riders on the train stay nice and dry. After the 'splashdown finale' you take a few more turns as you circle the station building heading into the final brakes You then advnace back to the load/unload area. The exit issomewhat unusual in that you exit via a cicrular tower using a spiral staircase.

At the bottom of the spiral stair you emerge into the ride photo sales area. I note that not only do they sell still photos, they also offer DVD videos for $20. From the footage they showed on the screen, it only shows the big drops and little more. I think I'll pass on the DVD offer. We note the line is still non-existant, so we go back for a back row ride. The first thing I note after taking my seat in the back row is that this ride features stadium style seating with each row a bit higher than the row in front. I like that effect. The ride rides pretty much the same no matter where you sit in the train, however I think I still like row 1 purely for the visuals, though the middle and back rows are good for hearing the reactions of those in the front row. vvWe enjoyed the ride, and we returned to try the middle row, and then we took a few more rides. Owing to the short line we got several rides on Sheikra before deciding to move on, Folks, "We have a WINNAH!"

We decide to head next to Kumba, and at first we head off in the enitrely wronf direction. We figure it out as we went past the Zambia Smokehouse so he eaded back past Sheikra, then the Stanley Falls Log Flume, past the closed for rehab Tidal Wave into the Congo area.

We took a detour in the Congo area to ride Python. Python is a bare bones standard Arrow Corkscrew. Paul did not have the credit, so we figured we had to go ride it once. Paul opted for the front seat, and Jerry and I opted for the back seat. There isn't much to tell, you go leave the station, turnaroundto the lift, turnaround for the first drop, then turnaround again for the corkscrew turn, then turnround once more for the brakes. Its a standard model coaster in a compact space, It gets points for having the storage track located underneath the station. I bet its fun to get a train up out of there. All in all its an easily forgettable Arrow ride.

We head through the Congo area, bypassing the turn towards Congo River Rapids, and head towards what looks like a kiddie ride area. There is kiddie hangglider ride, a kiddie wave singer, I think maybe a tubs of fun. From the kiddie rides we pass the Ubanga Banga Bumper Cars on our way back to Kumba. Kumba has a nice enry sign "Enter Here (If you dare)" followed by a bridge that has thoughfully had shade covers and sides installed. Those covers have a not-so-subtle Mountain Dew theme to them.

Kumba is fresh out of an extensive rehab that included repainting the ride, and let me tell you, it looks FABULOUS!!! We enter the queue area and quite by accident we wound up in the front seat queue. That one fork in the queue area is a bit confusing. We decideto stick with it though and wait itout for a front seat ride on Kumba. The first time I rode Kumba it was glass smooth in 1995, then it was running rough in 1998. Let's see how it runs today. I note seatbelts have been installed on the seats on Kumba. I don't recall them being original equipment on thsi ride. These belts were also a tight fit.

Soon we are out on the course on this B&M standard sit down multi element, It might be a standardcoaster but it have a very interesting series of inversions, tunnels, helix. I like how the lift hill threads the first loop, and there are some other very interesting manuevers. Best yet,My Kumba has returned to me, its running glass smooth again. It's an awesome example of a B&M coaster. We exit the ride and reenter, this time heading for the back seat. Its good back there as well, at the end of our second ride we learn that we can fill in empty seats for rerides, we proceed to go on a 6 ride Kumba session. Aftee our 6 ride session,we take another ride or two before continuing to tour the park.

Our next walk takes us to Timbuktu, well at least the park section known as Timbuktu. We note that Pirated 4D has soft opened in the Timbuktu Theater, though we pass it up. Instead we head to the back corner of Timbuktu where Cheetah Chase is awaiting us. Cheetah Chase is a Mack wild mouse, and has some history with the Busch park chainas it started life in Busch Gardens Williamsburg where it was installed the same year that Atlanta had he 1996 Olympics, and the ride was called the Wild Izzy after the olympic mascot that year. After the Olympics were over it became known as the more generic Wild Maus, now it has arrived at BGT as Cheetah Chase, though I note the control panel still says Wild Maus. The cards have just lap bars, no seatbelts, and I note that tall sides have been added to the sides of the cars. We take the lift up to the top of the lift, and at first the ride takes off with gusto taking the top tier switchbacks totally brakeless, the brakes hit as you enter the lower area of the ride nad don't let up as the ride just sort ofpeters out into nothingness. I did note that you cold tell if a brake was going to hit. The brakes that looked freshly painted were off, the brakes that looked dull were well used. We exit the ride and hear the faint 'click' of a coastere credit being counted. This is as opposed to the feelin as we concluded our first sheikra ride, thatwas more lot slotmachine jackpot bells going off to signify the new coaster credit being scored.

From Cheetah Chase we walk through Timbuktu, it contains a games of skill area, a unremarkable (rather portable looking) Carousel, a Looping Starship called Phoenix, a video arcade, and an Orbiter called Sandstorm. We didn't spend much time with the flat rides as the Phoenix was closed and the Sandstorm was about the slowestmost pathetic Orbiter you have ever seen. It has a unique paint job, but they have stripped off all the lights and midway flash the ride may have had. The other end of Timbuktu has a shopping crafters area, the Desert Inn, which is the parks large restaurant/theatre (ande looks like it was made with the same blueprints as the BGW Festhaus, just with a different facade and decorations)

But we can't leave Timbuktu before going over to visit Scorpion. Scorpion is a single loop Schwarzkopf coaster. Scorpion was originally a transportbale model coaster that the park has firmly rooted in what looks like little more thana fencedin gravel area. The ride runs with a 'fill from the front' policy owing to the very small station. There isonly a one train wait, then we board thetrain and pull down the lapbars. Yes lapbars only on a looping coaster. Its a refreshing change, and we note the signs telling us to keep hands down. This ride also threads track through its loop, and ends withan intense helix. ITs a really fun older coaster, withlots of brakes all positioned at the end of the ride. It looks like the ride was built to handle more than the one train BGT was running on it today. We take one ride, then decide to backtrak our way back around to Sheikra.

Its a long walk around the park and as we pass Sheikra we can't pass up a couple more rides. We then head around this time correctly past the splashdown area where I am able to avoid Jerry's efforts to push me into the water spray. At the back of the area we pass the train station, then head up a stairway, then down a ramp that runs alongside the Lorry exhibit. (a bird aviary), after the bird exhbit we head around Land of The Dragons, which is a wonderfully themed kiddie area with an impressive climibngand play structure and a few kiddie rides. I think the dino egg kids ferris wheel is cute.

After the Land of the Dragons we pass a Living Dragons exhibit featuring kimodo dragons, then past an area with pink flamingos. After the flamingos we decide to visit the Hospitality House where free beer is sampled. Don't mind if I do! You know there are some parks that give out free soft drinks, but here they give out FREE BEER! Having finished the free beer we head around bypassing Gwazi but I note the park has their own"Extreme Area" next to Gwazi, well its a Gwazi themed rock wall, eurobungy and Water Wars attraction. We zip back through Morrocotaking a look in the Marrakesh theater and noting a sign advertising prints from your digital camera. We head back to Egypt and this time Montu is open. We manage to get a few Montu rides, including a back seat ride , front seat ride and several mid train rides.

Montu is a 7 inversion B&M Inverte themed as if you were diving through trenches in an archeologicla dig site. They park has added a trim brake to if before the batwing, but all in all its a wonderful Inverted coaster thatruns nice and smooth. I like the back left of the trainthe best. So we take numerous rides on Montu and the teming adds so much to the ride.

After taking a few rides on Montu we decide to go take a ride on Rhino Rally. We head through the Nairobi section of the park. Rhino Ralley is not so subtly sponsored by Wendy's and Land Rover. We head down the walkway into the safari section of the park to the waiting area. We note the wait is posted at 20 minutes and we figure that although that is the longest line we have waited in all day, it will likely be our best chance at the ride. Rhino Rally is themed to an off road ralley type race. The queue area shows a course map and distress signals, and is sprinkled with the gear you would need for a ralley race. We are about halfway through the queue when the ride goes down mechanical. They say they don't know how long the delay will be, but we are lucky to be near a helpful honest host who tells us they had a truck break down, soas soon as they get it pulled off the course, the ride would reopen. The queue ahead of us almost totally empties, so that when it reopens we are on the second Land Rover out. The ride reminds me a lot of Jurassic Park with the land rover and all.

Our driver welcomes us, makes sure our lap belts are fastened, and intriduces usto our navigator (a fellow park guest). They set up the rally theme and tell us that the course is lined with black and green posts, as long as we follow the posts we will be all right. It also become evident that the park has decided to go with the corny humour style similar to Disney's Jungle Cruise withall the bad puns and bad actingthat go with it. In other words, while you do get tosee a few animals the presentation ismore comical in nature. The majoirty of the off road coursse is pretty tame, you do drive through a few small bodies of water. Just as the driver is tellingus, all we have to do is make this last curve andwe are done, well las you may expect you take a wrong turn andhead into a more hostile looking area. You note there are no more green and black posts. You head out onto a pontoon bridge when the rides signature effect occurs. The pontoon bridge comes apart andyou gl floating down the river avoiding waterfalls onyour little bridge section. IT just so happens that at the end of this section the bridge section just happensto perfectly reallign itself with a road and you head back into the station. Its a unique ride, I like the floating bridge section special effect. Thanks Paul and Jerry for putting up with going to see this.

After Rhino Ralley we decide to head over to the Florida State Fair in time toget some fair photos. We head back through Nairboi, then Morocco and out the main gate. We see them setting up a lot of portable queue in front of the tram stop in anticipation of the big exit rush. We board a tram and head out to the parking lot. I note there is a stop halfway back the preferred parking lot. I don't think its very preferred if you still need to ride the tram.

As we approach the exit tunnel, I note the arrows pointing the way out have "Goodbye" written in various languages. We exit the tram, head back to our car and head back out of the parking lot. We then retrace the familir drive back to the fair grounds.

We enter the free parking lot and are sent to the far reaches of the parking lot. We start to walk towards the fair and check to see if there is another gate by the amphitheater, but wind up walking back to the main gate in the center of the lot. We note the parking tram, but note that we have already walked far enough that we were able to beat the tram to the fair.

Jerry and I had presale admission tickets ($6), Paul did not, so we waited up for Paul to purchase a $10 admission ticket,. Passing the ticket booths, they had not only security pawing through our camera bags, but they also had up lift up our shirts and turn around, checking for concealed weapons. You will note there was no security on Thursday. We enter the fair and head through the Expo Hall once again.

we head towards the midway and stop off for Stromboli and soft drinks. After our snack we took a photo safari of the midway. You can check out my photos, see the photo link on my main site The photo safari took quite some time as we collected photos of every ride on the mian midway, and a sampling of the kiddie rides. After taking photos in the kiddie ride area, Jerry and take a ride on the Rok N Rol. The ride crew recognized us, I guess we left an impression. The midway was a lot more crowded on Friday, and it wqs a 2 cycle wait to Rok N Rol. After the Rok N Rol we return to the expo hall for a bathroom visit. Noteworthy only because they had restroom attendants and a tip plate.

we return to the midway Jerry and I had already redeemed presale wristband vouchers where we were able to get ride wristbands for $20, Paul, who did not have presale tickets, did have a Mt. Dew can which advertsed a $5 off offer for a wristband. The fairhas a real anal policy where you can't redeem the Mt. Dew can at the ride ticket boxes, he was supposed to redeeam it out af the grounds admission ticket booth, depsite the large sign at the grounds ticket booths saying to purchase ride wristbands on the midway. So Paul has to get hsi hand stamped go back out to the ticket booth, where he trades the can for a paper coupon to take back into the mdway back to the ride ticket cage. I hate needless bearacracy.

We take another photo safari of the midway to get night shots. We decide to take a ride on the Orbiter. The Tivoli Orbiter is like a Scramlber on steroids, and the one at the fair was running nice and really fast. After our Orbiter rides, we hold the camera as Paul goes to ride the KMG Wild Claw. Jerry and I don't even bother to try,

We then head down the midway stopping off at the Huss Tornado, we take turns holding the cameras while the other two ride. The Tornado contains several round 4 person cars that go around on a big turntable which raises up into the air. About the most interesting part of the ride is the scenery panel as we could only get the cars to rock bakc and forth, not spin. We tried balancing the tub, we tried severely unbalancing the tub. No luck. We ruled Tornado a lackluste ride and moved on. We then decided to send Paul back to the car to return the camera equipment, You see the fair was runing realy strict reentry rules. You needed both a a hand stamp and a time ticket. You then had 20 minutes to get out to your car, take care of whatever you needed to take care of and nd be back inside the fairgates.

While waiting for Paul, Jerry and I rode the Starship 3000. Its the spaceship looking ride where you spin really fast then stick to the wall as the wall panels go up to the ceiling. This particular Starship 3000 was running an exceptional light show, even though one of the best parts is when they turn off all the lights for a few seconds. The Starship 3000 also ran so smoothly you didn't even feellike you were spinning. The bad part of the Starship 3000 ride was that there was not an orderly line, just a mob that pushes its way towards the ride as soon as the gate opens, Survival of the fittest.

After the Starship 3000 ride I watch talker of the twleve in one build a nice tip. I manage to miss the comotion on the midway behind me. Jery and I then proceed to ride Nitro, again having to defend our position in another mob non-queue. I really like the Nitro version of the Claw type rides. After Nitro I snack on a corn dog and soft drink as Paul returns. Paul rides Space Roller as Jerry and I finsih our snack. Paul' Space Roller ride looked lackluster despite the addition of a fog machine. Paul reported that he also had to deal with the mob style of line. Ya know its not fun having to deal with hordes of people with no sense of manners or idea of howto wait their turn. By the end of Paul's ride the
line for Space Roller was clear back to the Starship 3000.

We decide to head over to the Moonraker, but find that it is still out of service. We waitthree cycles to ride Spin Out, and note the Spin Out operators had set up a nice orderly queue, so I suppose it is possible.

Remember what I said about those narrow midways, lined with joints with over aggressive game operators, well any remaining space was taken by a younger crowd of fairgoers that had just about packed every available square inch of ground space.

We note Moonraker was testing while we rode the Spin Out, so we headed tothe Moonraker. It was still closed, but we decided to take the gamble and camped out right at the bottom of the entry stairs, we only let the ride crew though. About 15 minutes later we were invited into ride. The SDC moonraker isa unique ride that looks like a big flying saucer, people board the flying saucer and sitdown facing inward, then powered shoulder bars lower down. The Flyingsaucer starts to spin round reallly fast creating strong positive G's, then the ride tips up like a big round up, but what is more unqiue is the ride turns around so thatthe whle ship and boom roatearound whie the ship itself is spinning. I found the bars to pinch a bit tighter than I would like, but it was a wonderfully intense ride. We would ride it again, except they onyl had 7 seats operational and by the time our ride ended a large crowd had already formed. The ride looks marvelous, has a good light show, but was just having severe mechanical issues, it didn't open Thursday, opened very little during the weekend, and sources tell me that on Monday it was replaced by a Dartron Cliff Hanger.,

After teh Moonraker ride he head to the Flip N Out. Here the mood of the crowd turned ugly and cutthroat as we negotiated the mob trying to board Flip N Out, where we had a much shorter ride than on Thursday. During our Flip N Out ride we decided the mood on the midway had turned ugly enough that we no longer felt safe. After the Flip N Out ride we hihg tailed it off that midway as fast as we could smake our way through the crowdd. We didn't slow down till we got back on the other side of the lake in a virtually deserted part of the fair. We did relax while we had a nice talk with the Boars Head Provisons guy while snacking on some of their hot dogs.

We then headed back to the Expo Hall to exit the fair. Big problem, the Expo hall was locked up for the night, and we appeared not to be the only people befuddled trying to find an exit. We start to walk around the expo hall and run into secuirty guard near the lost persons office That person directs us to the other end of the expo hall. We eventually exit down a dark unmarked path next to the ampitheatre. You knowif you are going to block off the usual exit, some nice large signs pointing the way out would help. As it is I can see a tragic result in an emergency evacuaion situation. The revised exit takes us down a serivce path that wraps around the expo hall so that we actually exit through the front gate structure past the front gate photo booth.

We note the parking trams are not running, so we head out to the car, and don't really calmdown until we aresafely in our car, headed out the exit driveway. We return to our hotel a bit earlier than we planned, and wind up staying up way too late watching Olympics and doing other computer pursuits.

And that ends Day 2 - check back soon for Day 3 where we are at BGT all day!


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