Coasterville Commentary

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Friday, June 23, 2006

TR: Belmont Park - 6/23/06

rip Report: Belmont Park

San Diego, CA

June 23, 2006

Note: This TR is an excerpt from my California Mega-TR, available here.

We were driving through an oceanside village, and while stopped at a light, I saw an unmistakable wooden structure ahead of me. It was a white wooden structure with green and pink trim, we were driving past Belmont Park. Or are we? I could not have asked for more when the bus came to a stop alongside Belmont Park, and it was announced that here at Mission Beach, CA would be a 45 minute stop for those who wanted to take a dip in the ocean. Sorry ocean, I am much more interested in the Giant Dipper roller coaster that is mere feet from me.

Mon and Rhonda would join the group headed towards the beach, so that me alone to head to Belmont Park. Mike commented that it looked like the Giant Dipper was down for repairs as there were stacks of pre painted wood and other work equipment sitting under one of the turns of the coaster. I didn't have to wait long before I heard and saw the reassuring sign of a trainload of happy riders come zooming around the track. It's off the Belmont Park for me.

I walked through the parking lot and headed through the park entrance located about in the middle of the roller coaster structure. I then turned away from the coaster and headed to the gift shop, as that is where tickets are sold. I looked over my options, it looked to be either $5 a ride or $20 for the ride all day wristband. Hmm, what a dilemma, I knew I had time for more than one ride, but could I make good on the $20 wristband? Is the coaster worth $20 to me? I didn't deliberate long before I was purchasing a $20 wristband.

Belmont Park has an interesting story, it started out as one of many oceanfront amusement parks. As is common with oceanfront amusement parks, this one fell out of fad in the 1970's and a developer bought the park and closed it to make way for a touristy shopping area. So Belmont Park closed at the end of 1976, but the new owner made a couple important decisions, one was to keep the park's indoor pool, the Plunge, open as a membership pool, The other decision was, even though he didn't want to operate the rides, he kept the Giant Dipper standing as a tribute to the park that once was. So the roller coaster sat dormant for about 15 years, and fell into disrepair. Then in the late 1980's, early 1990's a group got together to restore the Giant Dipper to service, a group that would become known as the San Diego Coaster Company. The group acquired the ride, restored it, purchased new trains for it, and in 1991 returned the ride to service. The ride has been a regular attraction at Belmont Park since, and now the coaster is lined with other amusement rides. You might say Belmont Park came back to life.

I headed out of the gift shop and over to the Giant Dipper. The ride has a classic station with a highly polished hardwood floor. I waited in the short line behind the turnstile for the train to return to the station and unload. Then I was admitted and took a seat in the back car. Giant Dipper uses Morgan wood coaster trains, sometimes referred to as "California Style Trains" because there was a time, not too long ago when most if not all the wood coasters in California used these new style trains. Coaster enthusiasts in general dislike this brand of coaster train. Reasons for disliking them include the cars having a fiberglass instead of a wood or metal body, and the hard molded plastic seats with little or no cushioning. Those things don't bother me as much, and I really don't see why these trains get the dislike they do.

I sit down, and the attendant comes around and lowers the lap bars, yep that's a bit tight. We soon take off on our ride, we take a left hand turn out of the station to pass by the park entrance, then we go into the tunnel. The Giant Dipper still has a long lift approach tunnel, a feature that is not seen much these days. The official stated reason for these tunnels is to disorient the riders , but I have to wonder if they also afforded young coupled the change at a kiss. In this case the tunnel makes an elongated S so that you are now on the side of the coaster that runs along the street, but heading the same direction you were when you left the station, The tunnel exits out directly onto the lift hill. You notice the trim is done in what the park has called emerald green and cotton candy pink, on a white structure. The train is mostly white with teal/green trim. We reach the top of the lift hill, and there is not big steep first drop, instead the first drop is a swooping furst drop that also incorporates a turnaround, you start the first pass of the coaster over several hills that make a crossover so when its time to make the next curve, you are again curing from the street side, around to the park side. For the second trip you travel alongside the perimeter of the coaster. The ride has a classic series of hills and valleys all the way around. You then pull into the final brakes, then one more turn into the station. The Giant Dipper might be referred to as a Gentle Giant, because there isn't any strong airtime or laterals, yet it has the classic looks of a vintage wood coaster and a ride experience that is pure fun and a joy to ride.

So ride I did, a total of 6 times. Most of my rides were in the back car, and many of those in the back seat, but I did get a ride or two up front. I was careful to watch my time, since I had went off alone away from the group. He said 45 minutes, so I made it 35 in my mind to make sure I got back to the bus on time. I did take another look in the museum to look at the scale model of the Giant Dipper and an original Giant Dipper car, I also spotted some t-shirts that were left over from the rides 80th anniversary (2005) that were on sale, so I bought one of those. I then headed out to where the bus dropped us off, and just stepped out of the Belmont Park parking lot just as Mom and Rhonda were returning from the beach. We crossed the street and boarded the bus.

BONUS FEATURE: Loof Carousel at Seaport Village, San Diego, CA (6/23/06)

After a brief glimpse of the city, we headed to Seaport Village for a lunch stop. Seaport Village is a touristy shopping village. We had some hamburgers there at a hamburger stand, then looked around the shops. Set in the center of the village is a vintage carousel. The carousel pavilion building was easily recognized, and when looked inside the doors, I saw a magnificent Loof carsouel. Hand carved wood horses that had what looked like real horsehair tails. Several white horses, and the ride had a patriotic theme to it. I liked the use of hitching posts along the outer perimeter of the ride, and the downspouts that looked like horse heads. Signs around the carousel tell the story of Loof carousels, and another details where all the ride has been since it was built in 1895. I originally wasn't going to ride it, but then the children of the choir wanted to ride, as well as a few adults, so I joined them for the ride, The ride was a good value, with a 5 minute ride costing $2.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Universal Studios Hollywood - 6/22/06

Trip Report: Universal Studios Hollywood

Hollywood, CA

June 22, 2006

Note: The TR is an exceprt from my California Mega-TR, which is available here. .

We were referred to the hotel courtesy bus for transportation to the theme park, so shortly before 3pm a large group of us assembled and boarded the bus to Universal Studios. We had a nice bus driver who in addition to dropping people off at the usual spot in the middle of Citywalk, he was willing to make a second stop and drop people off almost right in front of the park gates, where the courtesy bus from the subway station stops.

When we arrived at the park, Mom and Rhonda needed lunch so headed into Citywalk, where I was more interested in getting into the park, It was already almost 3pm, and the park closed at 7pm. Not as much time as I would have liked, so I had to tour in overdrive. I headed to the park entrance.

Universal Studios Hollywood is almost entirely unlike Universal Studios Florida. The Orlando park was built as a theme park foremost, and had a token movie studio attached, the Hollywood park is chiefly a movie studio that has an amusement park attached. In fact the 'park' started out as just a movie studio tour that evolved into the world famous Universal Studio Tram Tour. More attractions were added to the studio tour until it evolved into an amusement park. I approached the park gates and noted the familiar iconic symbols of the hollow Universal Globe sitting out front, as well as the Universal studio gate in the middle of the entrance gate are in their usual places at this park.

I already have a complimentary ticket in hand from the organized group tour that I am participating in. I did note the dizzying array of add on options available for tickets. It seems that the base ticket is about $60, then it goes up from there. You can add on "Front of the line" privileges for about $40 more, or you can add on unlimited food (but not drink) privileges for about $20 more, or you can elect both add on options. I didn't add on any options and instead headed into the park. They use the same cursory bag check that the Florida theme parks are doing, then I noted the ticket validation computer must have been acting up as my ticket was manually voided by the attendant drawing a star on the back. Front gate formalities out of the way, it's time to have fun.

I entered the park and walked around construction walls that surround the parks front gate plaza sculpture. I didn't have time to look at that as I was ambushed not by the keyhole photo person, but by somebody offering me a free tote bag. I ask what the catch is and the person insists there is no catch until I reach out for the bag, then he attempted to drag me over to a booth to sign up for some credit card offer. I don't have time for this nonsense. I ultimately have to rudely tell the person to get out of my way, and I come to a crossroads.

Universal Studios has done something really neat, that is instead of putting a poster of the park map and a schedule in a case and calling that a park directory, they instead use a Digital Park Directory. What this means is that by the descriptions of the shows it tells you when the remaining performances of that show are going to take place, and by the descriptions of the rides it tells you what the status or wait time for the ride is at the current time. My heart sank when I glanced over at "Mummy" and saw "Temporarily Closed" listed as its status. That's a bummer. I proceeded to alter my park touring plans, I have since 'Monday morning quarterback-ed" my day in the park and realized I probably could have done things better, but as they say, it's too late to worry about that now. \

Right behind me was the Van Helsing attraction, and according to the digital board, it had no wait. I don't know what possessed me to see Van Helsing, but I found myself walking towards the creepy castle like building. The park guide billed this as a chance to see some props from the movie, so I expected a museum exhibition like atmosphere. Soon after I entered, I realized the attraction was really a walk through haunted house. The park is known for its Halloween event, so I figured this just might be a good haunted house. It was just a run of the mill haunted house which utilized props from Van Helsing, and even combined some live actors. Unfortunately for Van Helsing, I come from a region where a haunted house isn't good until you have a chain saw wielding maniac come running towards your group, combined with scenes of blood, guts and gore. I guess its okay for an all ages theme park haunted house. It did win points for the cool tableaux and the rolling barrel bridge illusion.

After I toured the haunted house, I started touring the park without the aid of a park map, and after strolling past the Blues Brothers stage and through an English themed area I came to Cyberdyne Systems. That can only mean one thing: Terminator 2: 3D, which I recalled from my visit to Universal Studios Florida as one of the best theme park 3D movies around. I joined the line, or I should say I picked up a pair of 3D glasses, and walked through the empty queue area up and into the pre show room.

The back story is that you are attending a media event for the company's newest product. The pre show room is meant to resemble the lobby, ahead of you are the doors to the auditorium with a small balcony above the doors, and a video wall off to the side. After they keep you entertained/distracted by flashing humorous messages up on a scrolling electronic sign, your host comes out on the balcony. Imagine the stereotypical PR person, you know infectious enthusiasm, sickly sweet in what she says, and yes a bit condescending. Imagine all those traits exaggerated and you have the Cyberdyne PR person. After welcoming the group she starts with "And how many have already managed to break the safety glasses you were given just a short time ago?" In my group there was a group of guests heckling the PR person, I don't know if that's scripted but the PR person was able to respond back and still keep in character. She introduced the pre show video as an introduction to her company.

The video was played on the video wall and offered an overly optimistic view of the company while detailing many of the futuristic projects they are working on. Or are they futuristic, in one case they talk about a future education system where "Every student gets exactly the same lesson, from exactly the same teacher, at exactly the same time", and I think of distance learning and web based training. In another case they talk about a mother who is able to tuck her child in, although she is halfway around the globe, and I think that I have heard that surgical robots are not that far off. The video is interrupted by static and then a rogue message cuts in, something about Skynet must be stopped. Just as you are wondering what Skynet is the PR video resumes and just happens to talk about Skynet which is a "Star Wars" style military defense system, where the Skynet computer would control missiles and command robotic soldiers that will take care of our national defense for us. "You can sleep easier at night knowing Skynet is there protecting you" . You switch back to the rogue video to learn that Skynet must be stopped before its too late, and it turns on the humans and turns the earth into a wasteland where the Terminator robotic soldiers take over. And, how do they know this, well the two ordinary people in the video claim to have come back from the future. They also come just short of saying there is a bomb in the building, but they do tell people they have 5 minutes to get out. The PR video returns and finished its overly happy spiel as if nothing had gone wrong.

After the video the PR host apologizes for the disruption and comments on how it only take a few sick, twisted individuals to ruin it for everybody. In short, unless you are familiar with the story, at this point you don't know who to believe, the bubbly PR person, or they nuts from the future. Soon the doors open and you go into the main theatre.

I entered the theatre, took a seat and prepared to watch the show. It starts out as a live action and animatronic show as the PR person takes the podium and introduces us to the robot soldiers they call the "Terminators" . On cue the robots appear on the sides of the auditorium on raised platforms and proceed to take target practice at the targets at the other side of the auditorium. It comes as no surprise that the robots are excellent marksman. Then the show gets interrupted as a terminator from the future comes riding through the audience on a motorcycle, and joined by the two people who were interrupting the PR video out in the lobby. They quickly take control of the auditorium and take out the PR person. Then what may be the signature special effect of the show occurs as the Terminator and the boy from the pre show get on the motorcycle and appear to ride right into the movie screen. The terminator robots lower down so you have a wide angle surrounding screen. They claim that you are jumping into the future to take on a then fully developed Skynet that has turned on its owners and turned the world into a wasteland just as promised. At that point the faux media event cover ends as you go into the future in the movie. The movie contains lots of good 3D effects, and you learn the seats have some motion base ability. What I don't get is why at the end of the show they slowly raise the seats up and then drop them down hard.

All in all the show was just as great as I remembered it, and soon I was joining the group of people heading out of the auditorium and down a ramp into the gift shop. A congested gift shop at that, there is one clear path out, but they have a large video game blocking that path.

I proceeded to walk across the back of the park skipping the Animal Actors Stage (see cute animals perform tricks), and Fear Factor (the park's new audience participation stunt show based on the hit TV series, and the character meet and greet areas until I came around to the Starway.

Universal Studios theme park is not a very large park and appears to be shoehorned into one small corner of the studio. That's not to say there isn't a lot to do, but it's a congested park. You enter through the original part of the park that has the tram tour and several shows along with the Back to the Future ride, some time ago the park decided to expand into a part of the lower lot. When I saw lower lot, I can't stress enough that this park is on a steep hillside, so to get from the upper lot to the lower lot, required either using the Starway or taking a van. Most folks opt for the Starway which is a clever take on the word Stairway. Yes there are stairs, but they also offer escalators. The difference in height between the two parts of the park require the use of 4 separate escalators to get from one half to the other. To help move people they have three escalators, which are reversible. I was lucky in the fact I was going down, and they had 2 lanes going down and 1 up. You can tell you are in a theme park due to the repeated announcements on how to ride an escalator, for those people that have never seen one before.

After going down the first escalator you come to a nice overlook where you can get a nice view of Hollywood, they even have coin operated binoculars whose timer mechanism looks suspiciously like a parking meter timer. They have also put some Apollo 13 props in this area. I proceed down three more escalators and arrive at the lower level. The layout of the lower level is pretty simple its basically a large I, you arrive at one end of the I which has Revenge of the Mummy on one side, and Jurassic Park on the other, then the center of the I has gift shops, food stands, a video arcade and a "I love Lucy" tribute museum. At the other end of the I sits Backdraft and the Special Effects Stages.

I noted the posted wait for Revenge of the Mummy to be 30 minutes, so I grabbed a soft drink from a conveniently placed kiosk ($3) and head towards Mummy. I admit I am not a skinny person, and I have had trouble fitting on some rides because of my girth, so I took a seat on the test seat outside the ride. The test seat signage indicated the pointer on the lap bar must go into the green area, however I could never find where the green/red markings were, so as a test seat it is pretty useless. I then placed my loose articles into the courtesy locker provided at the ride entrance/exit. One of the things Universal does is to provide electronic courtesy lockers that allow you to leave your loose items secure, while the timer makes sure no one abuses the courtesy (and collects fines from those that do). It's a interesting system here as the lockers don't use keys or combinations, instead the computer takes a finger scan when you rent the locker, so in effect you fingerprint becomes your key. Pretty nifty idea!

I entered the queue and was disappointed that the "Single Rider Line" was closed. Why is it that when I am at a park alone, the single rider option isn't available. I make my way into the large outdoor queue maze, and I must not have been in the line for over 5 minutes after I met up with the back of the line when they announced they were going "seeking volunteers for the single rider program, just present yourself to an attraction host" I wasted no time in bailing out of the line and presenting myself to the attraction host. I was directed back into the regular queue, but when I came to the first bend I saw another attraction host who was manning the single rider entrance. I indicated I wanted to ride single rider, so I was given a ride ticket and admitted to the single rider entrance. My wait just got expressed from 25 minutes or more, to third person in my line.

I noted the ticket I was handed explained the rules of the single rider program, namely that it is designed for single riders, not for groups, you will be seated on the ride as empty seats become available. (The rows on this ride seat 4, so if they have a party of 3 come through the regular line, they can take one person from the singles line to fill in the empty seat.) Again those arriving in groups will not be able to ride together. They stress that point two or three times in two different languages. We were then admitted through a special gate where we walked down a separate lane along the length of the indoor tomb like queue area. It seemed as though there were seats waiting to be filled as I think I only had to wait about a minute after I reached the boarding platform. My ticket was collected and I saw shown to the rear left seat in the car.

Instead of trains, Mummy uses individual cars, with 4 person rows, several rows per car. I took a seat and pulled down the lap bar, I felt an odd feeling as I lowered the bar when I noticed a mesh bag has been tied to the bar to hold loose articles. Apparently, any loose items that can't fit in the mesh bag can't be taken on the ride. We were soon loaded into the car and started on our way. This is billed as a roller coaster ride themed to "Revenge of The Mummy". Your car resembled a giant mine car and you start out at a slow speed almost as if you are riding a dark ride through the mummy's tomb. You travel through the cavernous tomb as you make abroad sweeping turnaround. After the turnaround you find out you have angered an Egyptian god or something like that as your car is catapulted to 40 mph and you traverse the roller coaster like portion. The coaster portion is mainly in the dark except for some static decorations that are lit by black light. The ride itself features no steep or sudden drops, and instead relies on a very twisted layout with lots of curves and gentle dips. That said, there is some slight floater airtime in the back seat. The signature element of the coater appears after you travel up a tall spike in the track as if you were headed to the top of the pyramid. There the walls are actually video screens and you can see snakes creeping out of the 'walls' headed for you as little brushes come in contact with your ankles to give the hint that there are snakes in the car. Neat special effect, then the brakes release and you travel backwards, but you don't go back the same way you came, instead a track switch has been activated and you go backwards via a different but similar route. At the end of the backwards section you travel into a room that is designed like you are in a part of the tomb that has a top opening where you can see the sun. This conveniently explains why this room is nicely lit, so that you can appreciate the fact your car is sitting on a giant turntable, which then rotates so that you pull back into the station facing forwards. The ride has two loading areas, one in back of the other, so that they can load two vehicles at once, and in this case you return to the opposite loading area than the one you boarded. I exited the ride, headed up the stairs to cross over the tracks, As soon as you make the turn at the top of the exit stairs the Egyptian tomb theme ends and its just plain walls as you exit the building, cross a bridge over part of the queue then come down stairs just in the right spot to stop at the on ride photo booth then you have access to the locker room along the exit path.

My overall reaction to the ride was that it seemed to be a bit too short. While I liked the special effects, and the novelty items like going backwards down a different track, and the turntable at the end, I think I would have preferred a slightly longer ride. Don't get me wrong the ride tracks real smooth, offers some gentle airtime, and is a solid performer, it could just be a bit longer.

At this point I got greedy and decided I wanted to take another ride on Mummy. I used the single rider queue again, but by this time single rider line was starting to get backed up, and it look me about 15-20 minutes to board (but the regular line was posting 1 hour). As fate would have it I was assigned the exact same seat when it was my turn in the station. There was a slight delay in the station ahead of me when a group who had entered through the single rider line, got upset that they could not ride together. I don't get that, every park single rider line I have seen specifically warns that "Groups will be split up" and that it is meant for single riders, yet groups get to the front of the line and then complain when they can't ride together. Its not just at this park, it seems to be common wherever I have seen single rider lines. I had another fun ride, I really do like this ride, just wish it were a bit longer. But I checked my watch and I hope I hadn't just made a real bad decision. I was relieved that I hadn't overstayed my welcome at the courtesy locker and was able to retrieve my items with no cost. Revenge of the Mummy is a ride that has a wonderful Egyptian tomb theme on the inside, but outside it looks like a soundstage building with the only signs of Egyptian theme being the ride hosts costumes and two sarcophagus that flank the ride entrance,

I headed down the walkway and got into line as I saw them filling the Backdraft theater. Unfortunately there were more people than room in the theater, so my impatience was starting to get to me as I had bigger things to ride, so I skipped out on Backdraft.

I also skipped the special effects stages and headed to Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park was posting a 10 minute wait so I decided to go for it. I entered the line and knowing it's a water ride I asked the host about a locker, and he replied that there are lockers available, even pointed them out to me, but then added that they cost $2. That doesn't make any sense as I could just walk back across the midway and use one of Mummy's free lockers. He assured me the ride wasn't that wet and my camera would be fine, in the same breath he offers to sell me a rain poncho. Why am I getting mixed messages here? I headed down a walkway where the tropical foliage has started to overtake the pathway, but I think that's part of the theme. I pass through the iconic Jurassic Park front gate, and why is that whenever I want to take a photo of a Jurassic Park gate at a Universal park the sun always appears to be in the wrong place. Jurassic Park the Ride is themed to a movie that is themed to an amusement park, so in a sense the ride is an amusement park ride themed to an amusement park ride. As most folks know, Jurassic Park is a fictional educational amusement park with real dinosaurs as the focus of its rides and exhibits.

At the end of the first walkway you come to some signs directing you around Jurassic Park, it appears the route to the safari tour (in the land rovers) is blocked off, so only the path to the River Adventure is open. Ironically, the book version of Jurassic Park details the River Adventure, but it is not shown in the movie, except possibly as Hammond details some of the future attractions. I enter the queue house for the Jurassic Park River Adventure", I note the single rider line is blocked off and that Hammond himself is featured in the looping video that plays in the queue house. The video has the safety warnings along with a basic description of the ride as Hammond shows off the boat (you can almost hear him say "I spared no expense" in your mind). The boat seems to come equipped with some rather unusual safety equipment for an amusement park ride, but of course Hammond says that its just there because it is required, as nothing can possibly go wrong. Towards the end of the queue maze, the line divides into two lanes, clearly marked as Lane A and Lane B. That would not earn a mention in most parks, but most parks don't label their virtual queue entrances as Gate A. I picked lane B as it was shorter when it was my turn to pick.

Just then I got a phone call from Mom telling me how wonderful the Studio Tram Tour was, so I made a note to head there as soon as I finished up Jurassic Park. I know the tram tour takes about an hour, it was nearing 5pm and the park closes at 7pm. I hope I didn't push it too long. I proceeded through the turnstile and the loader sent me to an empty spot in the front row of the boat. I noted an unusual queue gate arrangement, as after the queue gates opened, we stepped forward into yet another set of queue lanes, complete with a second set of gates. Then we boarded the boat, the ride has large lap bars that are shared by everybody in the row, and don't really come down that far. It made some of the smaller riders in my row feel just a bit uneasy.

The ride starts with a short lift hill, then you start to float past some dinosaur exhibits. At first everything seems to be going nice and tranquil as you explore Jurassic Park. Of course, you know that's not going to last, as you come to a fork in the path and your boat takes the one that is clearly marked as off limits. A cool effect is that the speakers placed alongside the waterway continue to narrate the dinosaur exhibit you should be seeing, and since each speaker is controlled separate, that narration comes from the path you should have taken, and adds to the going toe wrong way feeling. You then enter the side of Jurassic Park where everything has gone wrong, the power has gone out on the electric fences, and the dinosaurs have taken over. Quite animal exhibits no more, now they start attacking your boat. A real cool effect is when you pass under where you can see a turn in the safari tour above you, and a dinosaur pushed a land rover off the edge and it appears to be falling and stops just above and to the side of your boat. You then enter the show building, and go up the main tall lift while passing by some angry dinosaurs, all culminating in the signature moment when the T-Rex is about t have you and your boat for dinner when just as he is about to attack, you drop safely out of range as you head down the tall steep drop. At the bottom of the drop you emerge from the show building, generating a nice wave. I am glad I didn't get too wet, just a few drops. You then float back around to the unload area and exit into a gift shop. I dashed through the gift shop at high speed and came to one of those digital park guides. The digital park guide in formed me that it would be a 15 minute wait for the tram tour. I took off for the tram tour, which required riding back up the Starway (which had been reversed so two lanes were now going up) then through the confusing congested layout of the upper lot.

I reached the entrance for the Studio Tram Tour where the electronic signs were telling me the tram tour was closed for the day. "Please visit us another day". NO! I don't have another day! I also noted there was no gate, chain or other obstruction blocking the queue entrance, so I went into belligerent mode and entered the attraction anyway. I went across a walkway that looked down upon the studio below me, then started down an escalator. I was relieved when I started down the escalator and an attraction host at the bottom welcomed me to the tram tour. At the bottom of the escalator, I entered the tram station and took an empty seat in the back car of the tram that was being loaded. Moral of the story: don't always believe the signs.

We waited a bit for the tram to fill up. Knowing it would be an hour long tour I was glad the tram had cushioned seats, and looking around I noted the tram was outfitted with video monitors and along the tops were advertisements for their new and upcoming movies. Shortly before the tour started the gull wing doors on the tram cars were closed, and our host introduced herself, and it appears she is on camera so that even those of us in the back car can see her We soon departed the tram station and headed down the hill to the lower lot.

As we started the tram tour, it was revealed that we would have a second co-host, Whoopi Goldberg who would fill in other information via the video monitors. As we rode down the hill we got a basic introduction to Universal Studios and clips from some of their movies. We also basically made a lap around the lower lot of the park where I noted a Jurassic Park boat in a service area, then we got to wave at the guests in line for Backdraft. We then started driving between big warehouse looking buildings that were identified as sound stages. We were told that most of them were closed sets, which means that only authorized visitors are allowed to go inside, and that we would not be able to visit any of the soundstages during the tram tour, but the park does offer other VIP tour packages that would include the chance to see a production in progress. Seems most filming gets done on these soundstages.

We left the lower lot area and drove past a row of identical looking bungalows where visiting directors, actors and other movie personnel can stay during filming. I note the bungalows all look the same from the outside with no signs of personalization. From the bungalow area we headed into the back lot. The back lot is where the interesting stuff to see is. I'm not going to give a play by play because as I said its an hour long tour, but there were some highlights.

We toured various parts of the back lot which had different types of buildings. We went into an area that looks like the classic town square. We were informed that this town square is most famous as Hill Valley from Back to the Future, but by changing the fronts of the buildings it has been used in various films, and while we looked at the town on the back lot the video screens in the tram showed clips from films that showed this set in various incarnations. We then passed a New York City area, with some city areas and a row of brownstone houses. At the end of the New York segment we were told we had a chance to meet one of Hollywood's biggest stars, we then went inside a building and found ourselves on the set of King Kong. We saw King Kong swatting at the police helicopters, and then reach down and start to shake tram. As we exited the show building our host said "I did promise you would meet one of our BIGGEST stars"

We proceeded to tour other areas of the back lot including an old west town. While we looked at the western town our hose explained about perspective. Forced perspective is when you fool around with the reference points to make something appear larger or smaller than it really is. The example she gave was to notice how they have buildings with large and small doors and windows. When you film the damsel in distress you film her against the large building so she appears even more helpless, on the flip side, you film the hero against the small building so that he appears to be bigger and therefore stronger than in real life. We drove through a Spanish town with accents that look like they might have been used in Pirates of the Caribbean, at this point we stopped and watched a weather forecast on the video panels, which said the weather would be nice in all parts of the back lot except the part we were in where a flash flood was predicted, moments later torrents of water were rushing down the hillsides at the tram to simulate a flash flood.

Some time later we bypassed the collapsing bridge, but our host did point it out to us. A bit later we went past a row of picture cars, a picture car was defined as any vehicle seen in the movie, so we saw some of the more easily recognizable movie cars, finishing up with some cars from Fast and Furious. We then went into an open air round chamber where the tram curled around the outside edge of the space. The are had an urban Japanese theme with Japanese style vending machines along the walls, and in the center of the room were two card from the movie. Moments after the tram stopped an explosion took place and it looked like the cars were going to be hurled up and into the tram cars, but they stopped just in the nick of time. By that time the artificial fog cleared and we could see the robot arms. Our host asked the cars if they could do anything else, then some ballroom music came on and the cars moved in a way that made it look like they were dancing. She said, who needs "Dancing with the Stars", you've now seen "Dancing with the Cars"

Leaving that area we passed some props and things from Jurassic Park and headed towards Little Europe. Little Europe is so named because it can resemble any quaint European town, just by changing the language on the signs. Oh, and yes I know I probably got some of the elements our of order, but you can get an idea of how packed the tram tour is. We were told we would have the chance to visit a hot set. A hot set is a set where there is a production going on, so they want to restrict who goes onto the set in order to minimize the risk of continuity errors. The simple act of bumping or moving something on a hot set can cause a problem between takes of a movie were suddenly a prop disappears, reappears or moves around the set apparently on its own, or the time on the clock or calendar changes. We have special permission to visit this hot set because, its after hours and they have stopped filming for the day. We enter a soundtage and find ourselves on the set for Earthquake. Specifically we are in s subway tunnel where the roof caves in, water starts flowing down the stairs in torrents, and a gas truck falls from the road through the roof and catches on fire. It's a very impressive piece of movie special effects demonstration. The only negative is that you leave the building before you get to watch the scene reset. A bit later we drove down a dip almost driving through a pond so that we may get a camera eye view of a boat from another movie. We also rode past some more famous movie places, like Whooville, or the street from Desperate Housewives, the Bates Motel, and the house from "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"

We drove through the town of Amityville and the town is celebrating because they think they have captured Jaws and they have him in display. They don't have the only shark though as a shark pulls a man standing in the water down under the water level, then the hark reappears just a few feet from the tram. They even manage to work some impressive fire effects into this one as well. We also passed though an area meant to resemble War of the Worlds, we see commercial airliners in ruins, and a town in ruins and debris just littering everything. The tram even stopped for a photo stop.

We drove past more of the back lot and then things started to run together, there was a house built on stilts that is used in scenes where they need a house sitting over a lakeside, but you can see the house actually sits over a bowl of grass. Our host indicated the bowl area can be filled with water. And my, just like that it appears that an hour has flown past and we are pulling into the unload station. They thank us for taking the tour, and tell us to please refer and questions we may have to the attraction hosts as we exit.

It appears that they need to close the back lot early tonight as we saw them setting up for a party of some kind, and I get the feeling I was on the last tram of the day. The people at the exit didn't really rush us, but you could tell they were eager to get us out of there. At the escalators they had all the escalators out of the tram tour area going up, and as soon as we had exited the area the barricades went up. I also mentioned earlier the difference in approach between this park and Orlando. Here, you ride the tram tour and feel you have gotten a whole days enjoyment out of one ride, in Orlando, they took the various special effects segments, like King Kong, Jaws, and Earthquake and they made separate stand alone attractions out of them.

I exited the tram tour area and walked through a children's playground themed on Nickelodeon. Not much to report about it. I took stock in my options and realized I really only had two options, I could see Back to the Future the Ride, which I had ridden in Orlando, or Shrek 4D which I had not seen before. I opted to see Shrek, I entered the line for Shrek and the show must have filled for the group in front of me right when I got there because they cut the line for that show just as I had reached the turnstile. We waited at the turnstile for the next group to be admitted, while waiting the host went over the park guide for us and pretty much confirmed that I was right with my choices of where I could go. If I was lucky I may be able to squeeze in a ride on Back to the Future after this but that's about it. Some time later we were admitted through the castle gates around a passageway and into the pre show room.

We were in some kind of castle ante room. Of special note above our heads we could see the three little pigs locked in cages (one straw, one wood, one brick) with little video screens to show the eyes. Next to them is a metal cage holding an upside down pinochio, with an opening for a mechanical nose, and above the cage you can see his feet sticking up and waving back and forth. Next to him you had a video screen of the torture chamber showing the ginger bread man on a torture table. On either far side were the magic mirrors. The magic mirror fills you in on the story. Basically the evil master of the castle wants the girl, but Shrek rescues the girl and takes her far away, and now the evil master is torturing anybody he thinks ay know the whereabouts of the girl. The evil master cuts off the magic mirrors narration, threatens his torture victims, well except for ginger bread man who managed to escape. The last plea you here from the torture victims is to not enter the auditorium. You, of course, then enter the auditorium. The main movie is a 3D movie with certain theater stunts like vibrating seats on motion bases, or water jets that spray water on you or other things. The main movie continues the story from the pre show, were the evil master does in fact find the girl and captures her, you then travel along with Shrek and Donkey to rescue the girl and then everything ends all nice and happy. I noticed they sprinkled in a few jabs at Disney, and all in all it was a neat show, with maybe a bit too much gratuitous chair shaking,

The show ended, and I stepped out onto the midway and checked my watch, exactly 7PM. I'm not even going to try to find Back to the Future. I did look in some gift shops, and noted the cleverly themed Bedrock area with its Rock Vegas Casino games area, and an eatery that looks like the drive in from the cartoon. On my way out I spotted a photo opportunity area that had a sign "Visit Shrek Tomorrow", I laughed and took a photo, I wonder if that works like the saying on the side of Joe's Crab Shack "Free Crab Tomorrow" They do have some good theming, with a coffee cart named Brews Bros. placed across from the Blues Bros. show, or the Frank and Stein eatery next to Van Helsing. I took some photos of the main entryway and headed to Citywalk.

I went and met up with Mom and Rhonda at the PEZ store in Citywalk, and then we went to the Daily Grill. The Daily Grill was highly recommended to us by others on our tour, and I was just happy that there was no waiting. We had been told about the chicken pot pie. We ordered some, and they were the largest chicken pot pies I have ever seen, We followed that up with the largest Apple Peach Cobbler I have ever seen. Not only were the portions large they were also very good. Yes, I would have to agree with the group that the Daily Grill was an excellent dinner choice.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

TR: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (5/29/06)

Trip Report: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Lousiville, KY (USA)
May 29, 2006

So begins the final leg of our Memorial Day coaster trip. We awake, get ready, yada yada, partake in the hotel's courtesy breakfast, and decide we want to stop at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom on the way home. We are soon on the road, and with a quick refreshment stop along the way, we soon arrive at the park.

WE follow the signs to the park as we are unused to arriving at the park from the south, and we exit into an industrial area ride accross from the airport. The Twisted Twins rollercoaster looks somewhat out of place in this industrial zone, but we notice Holiday World has done it again and went and put a Voyage billboard up right accross from the coaster.

We almost miss the park entrance, but are soon heading on to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds (Hey, shouldn't that be the Kentucky Commonwealth Fairgrounds). WE are glad to see the parking lot is still run by the fair, so parking is at a reasonable $5. We enter the fairgrounds and drive down the entry road that literally runs right down the middle of the amusement park. This road in the middle of the park is part of the cause for the park's awful layout, as well as for a super annoying pedestrain bridge used to get from one side of the park to the other. Hey it looks like the staff doesn't care much for the pedestrain bridge either, as they have a ground level sidewalk. The sidewalk has a traffic guard using one of those "Stop/Slow" signs you often see at road construction sites. The staff is annoying in that instead of corossing in one clump they decide to go one at a time, and have no sense of urgency. We are eventually admitted to the parking lot and quickly realize there is another event goin on at the fair that is going to make parking harder to come by. In truth our space is closer than any space we could get at PKI, but it is still the furthest out we have ever parked for SFKK.

We park, grab what we need, and head to the park gates. Rideman and John have to deal with guest relations and using their Wyandot Lake passes, I have to deal with the ticket sales people. We split up, I take advantage of the Six Flags fights Gas Prices promotion to lower the $40 admission price to $25. We all take about the same amount fo time and wind up entering the park one after the other. Man it is hot, humid and judging by the fact the parks giant American flag is totally limp on its pole, no wind either. Hey the park did remember to take the flag down to half-staff for Memorial Day.

The park has metal detectors at the main gate, but the person manning them couldn't care less, no matter if the machine buzzed or not they waved you on in. We noted the Hellevator (Intamin Giant Drop) was closed as had been fortold on the sign out front. WE made a left and headed to Breakdance.

Breakdance is a spinning flat ride, and while we waited for it we noted all the changes the park has made to the ride over the years. ALmost all the flash, including the mirrors center spindle have been removed and the paint on the cars is faded. Inside the cars is where theings really get funky. The wheels that were in the cars have been removed, and the bench seats have been replaced with molded bucket seats, complete with a seat divider and a seat horn between your legs. Seatbelts have been added, and when we pulled down the lapbar we noted the self-release knobs have been removed from the lapbar and that mechansim covered over. We lock the lapbar and note short bars have beel weleded to the lapbar that run down from the bar and come to rest on the seat horns, effectively encasing each leg in a loop. Locking doors then cover over the openeings on the side of the tub. Did I mention the ride has no automatic release, so the ride operator has to come around and key release each tub. At least I can report that they give you a nice long fast ride cycle.

As we were riding the Breakdance we saw the Road Runner Express had opened. This is a Maurer Shoene Wild Mouse that has been themed to the Road Runner cartoons. We are able to enter throught the short entrance bypassing the queue maze, and they have this wonderful "Wait at the bottom of the stairs" until called policy. The cars themselves look like minecars, so when we are called, we board a car with Rideman and I in the front, and John in the back. We fasten the seatbelts and lower the lapbars as low as we though it would go. Our car advances but we are stopped because the lapbar isn't lowered to the computers satisfaction, stapling ensues and we are on our way. When I last rode this ride in October it was horrible, this time it was running a lot better. Very few brakes were in use, and the ride didn't seem quite so jerky. I do have to laugh that the lapbars spring open as soon as you hit unload, right before the one time you might want to use it.

We exit Roadruner Express and head past the Skycoaster and the Rio GRande Train. We pass an area of the park that a carnie would refer to as Donikered. The picnicn grove at the end of the pathway is now a storage area, the major coaster that emptied out into this pathway ha been removed, and so the only people using the path are those headed to or from the HUSS Pirat (Bluebeards Bounty) that is set far off the beaten path. There were game joints along this path at one time, but they have been abandoned. I told you it was a doniker location.

We rode the Pirat, and like the Breakdance this one is fading away in the sun. There is just a one cycle wait and the queue begins with a push gate to even enter the queue. Rideman and John get a nice sheltered end seat and I get a semi sheltered second to the end seat. Plently of room under the one position automatic lapbars. I do like the fact the ships mast , rigging and sails are still intact. That theming seems to be the first thing to go in these type rides. Speaking of things going, the park has sealed off the unload platform and done away with flush loading, presumeably so a single operator can handle the ride. They have also reconfigured the queue maze to allow for an exit path, where you exit through the gate with an upside down exit sign. You know you would think maintenance would catch that.

So far today, the ride operators seem just a tad bit more enthusiastic than in years pase, and they are really pushing the 45th Anniversary of Six Flags. We next head around to Greezed Lightnin, which is a Schwarzkopf shuttle loop. There is a one train wait, and we are soon in the backseats. More enthusiastic ride ops, then we are launched. A powerful launch leads us to the forward loop and up the front spike, the train runs out of momontum, so we go back down the spike, backwards through the loop, then return to the sttion where we get braked hard (when did they start doing that, in 2003 you flew up the back spike with gusto), so you hardly go u the back spike at all before returning to the station. The lapbars pop up as soon as the train stops.

We exit the ride, and head past the bumper cars that have lost their enclosure from last falls Halloween event, and the antique cars. We bypass some food and merch stands and cross the darned bridge.

At the other end of the darned bridge we decide to reverse our usual pattern and head towards Belgian Village first instead of towards Chang. We pass Swampwater Jacks and pass the former site of the Quake, a unique flat ride that never seemed to operate. Its ground has been taken over by the waterpark and a Proslide Tornado put in its place. WE noted the park did not opt for the tube conveyor option so those poor suckers have to carry those heavy cloverleaf tubes up to the top themselves. I notice all the game joints and even the arcade in this section of the park have been closed, and one of the games buildings claims it will soon by a Guest comfort station with first aid and other guest services. We take a few moments to look at the parks Carousel, and I note the water fountains on the restroom building near the carousel have been removed.

We decide to take a quick ride on Rollerskater. We pile into the back three cars, fasten the belts, lower the bars and off we go on this consistently fun kiddie coaster. We then opt for a ride on Flying Dutchman. This is a fairly unique ride, its like a circle swing ride except you ride in big dutch (wooden) shoes. I have only seen one other ride like it, at Kings Island, and there are some that claim this is the exact same ride. We board our shoes and you will be stunned to learn Six Flags has removed the lapbbars from the shoes and replaced them with seatbelts. Its a nice cool relazing ride, just what is needed in this hot humid 97 degree day.

We next head to Thunder Run. It is just a station wait and a walk on unless you wanted the frnt seat, like we did. We waited a few trains for the frnt seat. They have added sternly worde signs reminding you to use the safety restraints properly, and I thought these lapbars used to be orange, but now they are black. A new policy has been instituted on the ride where you are to fasten your seatbelt but not pull back on the lapbar. After your seatbelt has been checked the operator will lower your lapbar. Soon we are in the front seat, and man this ride still has short seat belts. I struggle but I do get my belt fastened. We are soon on our way, turnaround, up the lift, turnaround again and the top of the lift is lined with Holiday World style lift hill flags, and down the first drop, though the banked turnaround then out on three nice airtime filled hills, turnaround again one hill on the way in, another turnaround, circle the lift hill structure, then trurnaround and head back to the station. It's very similr to the Hurler line of rollercoasters. Last fall this was running ultra smooth like it was somebody's baby, now its not running bad, but it is running a bit rougher than last year. I notice the Severe Weather (Tropical Storm red with black square) flags in the Waterpark are fluttering about in some kind of breeze from somewhere.

As we exit the ride, we seem to add one of the parks, shall we say day-care-service guests to our group, We start to head around past Top Eliminator DRagster back to Twisted Twins, when alas, Kentucky Kingdom has done it to us once again. I think the layout of the back half of the park changes every time I come. The front half is straight forward, a ring of family rides circling kiddieland. The back half is more or less a ring of rides that circle the waterpark. First they added Belgain Village section with rides games and stuff, anchored by Thunder Run, and the Giant Wheel on the way to the waterpark. In 1998 they added a "Northen Exposure" looking area that runs from Mile High Falls (near the carousel) running back along Thunder Run, the area was lined with flat rides, food stands, merch, and games, and anchored in the back by Twisted Twins.

The section first opend as a big dead end path, accesible only from Mile High Falls area. Either offically or unofficially a path was made through what looked like it was an employee area so as to form a loop that came out by Top Eliminator. The park then sealed off the pathway that ran under Thunder Run in order to make a big old Duell Loop. It was probably the best layour for getting people back by Twisted Twins, but it annoyed those of us used to the walkway between Top Eliminator and Thunder Run to no end. Over time they have ripped out almost all the flat rides in the new section, and closed the food stands and games and stuff. So last fall they used much of the area as a haunt with the area from the Carousel restrooms to the restrooms by Twisted Twins blocked off, making the only access back to Twisted Twins by Top Eliminator once again making it a dead end section. This year they have returned to the original configuration, where the only entrance is alongside the now dead midway from Mile High Falls. At least it looks like theymight be going to remove Top ELiminator so we can hope something better replaces it.

We walk back to Twisted Twins and make a quick stop to find the restroom building air conditioned. WE think we'll just relax here for several minutes. Outside they have nice cool water fountains. See at the park, where they have water fountains they are generally really cold, which is a good thing. There were several guests playing with a water bottle filling it up and dumping or spraying it at each other. This is what happens at a park when its this unbearably hot and humid out, and peopl don't want to pay the concession prices. I remember playing in the lawn sprinklers at Great Escape for much the same reason.

We note a new stage has been installed where Thriller Bees used to be, and they were using it for Karaoke. We go back to Twisted Twins. At elast they have added lots of shade trees and plants to the Twisted Twins plaza, and they have added a new second entrance which bypasses the ridiculously large queue maze you used to have to walk through. Much to our delight they had both sides running, so we go up the front stairs and ride the pink train first. We take a back seat ride. This ride, while not as rough as it was last fall is running noticeably slow and sluggish. There are still two nice airtime moments at the start of the ride, then the ride just sort of meanders around the course until you come to the end. We exit,walk around, and board the teal train, again in the backseat. This side starts off with two strong ejector air moments and runs a bit faster than the pink side. Overall this ride has not aged well at all.

We exit the Twisted Twins area, and stop for water as we watch a horrid rendition of "Devil Went Down to Goeorgia" at the karaoke booth, I mean it was so obvious the guy was merely reading the screen and didn't put any kind of emotion into the song. This was followed by a rendition of "Chantilly Lace" that was only decent because I could not hear the guest star over the backtrack. We start to head towardsT^2, which of course demands we stop for another front seat Thunder Run ride along the way (John and new pal opt for back seat).

We then head towards T^2. Back when T^2 was first built it was the only ride at the very end of a long path that goes around the back of the waterpark. I was sure they would add several flat rides along the way, but they only added Blizzard River, and with the weather like it was today the line for that was totally obnoxious. We did pause at a nice misting fan before pasing some food stands that are literally in carnival grab joints, and headed back to T^2. T^2 was a 1 or two train wait for end seats, and Rideman and I opted for the back seat, and John and Pal headed to the front. The vegetation under the lift hill and around the station approach have not been trimmed in a long time. I find my ride wasn't really that bad using defensive riding posture, Rideman aggravated something in his leg, and John came from the front seat to tell us the ride was awful from up there. Looks like I faired the best out of that ride. Oh, and even with walk on conditions, the park was running two trains on T^2. Thats something I have not seen them do in a while.

We bid our new friend bye, and headed towards Chang. I noted the Chaos has been removed, its mechancials pit filled in, and the area is now a smoking area. I think the smoking area will get more use than Chaos ever did. Only John and I rode Chang, and we were able to walk right onto the front row. I was glad to see the park added shade canvas over the queue area. They were also running two trains on this as well. Perhaps the new owners are making a lot of the right minor changes to operations. I really like Chang, it was a nice smooth, somewhat forceful action backed B&M coaster. Chang is also on its third paint job. You may remember it started out all Yellow, then went to lime green with purple supports, now its yellow again with blue supports.

We went from Chang and took a ride on the Giant Wheel. Ah that was a refreshing cool ride. We then crossed te pedestrain bridge back to the other side of the park. Now I thought the idea of smoking areas as to place them in out of the way areas, but the pedestrian bridge is apparently a smoking area right in the narrow area at the older side of the park. The park has removed the railing down the center of the stairs.

We headed for the HUSS Rainbow. They were filling all the seats, and we got a very nice forceful ride on the Rainbow, one of my better Rainbow rides. We spotted a Smoking Permitted symbol on the front of the Rainbow gondola. Huh?

Ww next headed to Enterprise and noted she was cycling the ride empty, the ride was not running to the operators satisfaction. We watched a second test ride as the ride barely went halfway up then came right back down. Clearly something was amiss with the Enterprise, so the operator did the righ thing and closed the ride.

We noted the motion sim theater is showing the same Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera movie that seems to be playing all the Paramount parks. Gee with Iwerks big movie library why does it seem like all the motion theaters in the parks all decide to play the same film at the same time these days. We skip Thrill Park Theater. We walk past the Himmalayah ride without riding and note that the new paint job on the railings already looks like crap. We cut through the kiddieland and all through the 'old' side of the parks the Loony Tunes characters are walking around, and earlier today I saw them at a distance doing a character show. I really think the new owners of Six Flags are onto something. Take SFKK, I think this is really the best this park has been run in years.

We finish up the day with a double ride on Greezed Lightnin in the back car. We then head to the Crown Victoria Ride.

We exit the park and we get hunger pangs right after we pass La Grange, where is hwere we learn that outside of gas station fast food, their really aren't any convenient food places between La Grange and Florence. We stop by a Ponderosa Steakhouse that was woefully short staffed, and you can guess how the service was. This Ponderrosa was still runnng a seafood fest on selected nights, and they hd strung up the tradition oode of signals nautical themeing. I didn't have my translator guide with me, but I remembered the flags. "L - N- Diver Down - Tropical Storm" in other words the flags they chose really did make no sense. Though I do see in my guidecard that "L" can stand for " "I have or had some dangerous, infectious disease on board."" That's reassuring going into a restaurant...

Soon, Rideman and John drop me off and so ends this weekend of roller coaster excitement,

Sunday, June 04, 2006

TR:Rumblefest - May 28, 2006

TR: Rumblefest - Beech Bend Park, Bowling Green, KY (USA)
May 28, 2006

We awake, and we are pushing the hotel check out time to the limit. We clean out our room, get dressed and don't really have time to adequately enjoy the hotel courtesy breakfast. Soon we are on the road.

We are heading to Beech Bend Park, its a park that we have often talked about visiting, but in the past it was just too far out of the way for what it offered. This year, Beech Bend upped the ante in two major ways, first they introduced theirnew-for-2006 wooden coaster, the GCII Kentucky Rumbler, then added a coaster event the day after Holiwood Nights. With this new information we headed to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

We were dutifully following the GPS monitor, but in the sunlight the state line looked just like the purple line, and we were driving past the Casino Aztar before we realized something is wrong. We pulled off onto a side street, recalibrated our course, and were soon headed the correct way to Bowling Green, KY. We found a turnpike we could use to gofrom Evansville to Owensborro for just 50 cents. Geez, we go from the park that gives free soft drinks and sunscreen to the Comonwealth that chrages to use its parkways. We make a fueling stop before we get on the turnpike from Owens that also involves sime minor automotive maintenance as well as a stop at G.D. Ritzys for a wonderful double cheeseburger basket and an even better giant dip of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip ice cream, complete with a huge chunk of solid chocolate. Hmm, was that good,

So get on the turnpike from Owensboro to Bowling Green, and $1.50 and some minor construction later we arrive at Bowling Green. We attempt to check into our hotel, but the hotel would not budge on their check in time, So it looks like we will be checking in at 1am. We head to the park. Beech Bend is one of those parks that sits far, far, far, off the main road. You drive down a two lane road with trees lining the center of it. It looks more like you are heading to a country club or city park than an amusement park. You see the big fancy campground gate but right before the campground gate is the one lane exit to the amusement park parking area.

We park in what we thought was a fantastic parking space, until we realized where the front gate was, then the sapce was downgraded to merely a good parking space. We admitted we could all use the walk anyway. We headed up to the front gate where we are greeted "Here for Rumblefest? Sign in right over there!" Gee, was it the coaster shirts that gave it away? We enter the queue for group sales and there are just about 3 people ahead of us in line. We check infor the event. I recieve the t-shirt I had preordered as well asa nambadge. The park mispelled my name on the name badge, but I told themnot to worry about it, besides from the looks of I won't be wearing the thing for too long anyway. The name badge holder also contained a card with a schedule of the days events, and even more importantly our meal ticket. They also apply a yellow ride all day armband to my wrist.

The name badge holder came with a length of string to put around our necks sort of likea lanyard. The aranagement looked like it would fly off the first time we tried to take it on a ride, or worse the namebadge could get jammed in some ride part and cause a choking hazard. These may be fin name badge holders for convention credentials, but they don't look like the right kind of name badge holders for riding thrill rides. So I put the meal ticket in my wallet for safe keeping, and I put the name badge in my pokcet. Hey if I am asked to show it, I'll pull the thing out. Oh and if you saw a David Bowes at the event, that was me.

Oh, and of course we have to run the t-shirts out to the car. I examine my nice blue t-shirt. It has a small Rumblefest logo on the front, and a Kentucky Rumbler logo on the back. It also has a top ten list.

"Top Ten reasons to attend Rumblefest '06"
1. Kentucky Rumbler is 100% wood!
2. Three station rumbling fly bys
3. Twisted track with thirty crossovers
4. Only woodie with headlights
5. GCI builders Jeff, Chris and Clair are operating the controls
6. Weighlessness! Twelve airtime moments
7. Crazy, insane night rides
8. Steep baked curves, head choppers, lateral g's
9. With this much wood, its gotta be good
10. To ride the Kentucky Rumbler OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER!!!!

Okay we head to the front gate, they use the Hersheypark approach where you pay the gate admission as you enter the gate in a one step process. The regular admission lanes to the left, the group sales area to the right and the exit and re-entry lanes in the center.

A wristband is all that is needed to re-eter, but no one was manning the reentry gate so we headed on in. We go through another little gate where we pick up park maps. The park map here s most unusual, it shows the path layout of the park, then has little pictures of the rides located where the ride would be in real life. A novel and interesting idea.

It looks lke the park is laid out in a big figure 8, and the entrance is located right next to the center crosspath off the eight. Eyeing the map the waterpark is to the right, it looks like kiddie rides straight ahead, so we veer to the left.

We first pass the Go-Kaart attraction. The go-karts are not included in the POP so we passed them up. At first we started walking the park without riding. We turned left at the Wisdom Torndo and headed along that loop of the park. Along the way we passed Wisdom Sizzler, Chance Flying Bobs, Hampton Combo, a kids teacup ride, a couple of game joints, a Zamperla Power Surge (closed all day) and took the next right to walk along side the lake, passing by the portable log flume. When we hit the entrance for Kentucky Rumbler we decided to take a ride. I'm glad I have this wristband, as the Rumbler is priced at 10 tickets ($5) per ride.

The queue maze was unused so we headed straight and to the right, then headed left under ths trackworkwhere we came to the stairs up to the station. The line was just about halfway down the stairs. Not bad at all. Ah, I do like the looks of an all wood woodie. GCI's wood coasters scream instant timless classic. Whether it be the all wood structure, the graaceful curves, the twisted trackplan, or the very classic trains. We were not picky about seats and found somethng towards the back.

Kentucky Rumbler - Coaster Credit #257

We got seated in the classic red Flyer train, fastened the shared seatbelt, and lowered the lapbar to the first notch. Soon we were off, we exit the station and make a right turn as we parade past the ride exit ramp, a little dip and we do a swooping turnround to the right to go up the lift. At the top of the lift, I note the Kentucky Rumbler flags already look to be in bad shape, perhaps they got hit by the storm. At the top of the lift you make a totally odd turnaround to the right, the train gains speed even though you have not really been down the twisting first drop yet The drop drops and twists you to the right. From hereon out I haven't a clue. The second drop has a nice headchopper under another piece of track, then you do the station fly by where you are even with the station, where you can look in at the people waiting, and they can look out to see you waitng, you do a figure 8 ish manuever around the lift hill structureto set you up for the next station fly by that goes over the roof of the station and down the other side. More twisted track ensued on the other side including a liitle bump of maybe 5' that provides a nice airtime jolt. The ride is an instant classic. Its not a top rollercoaster like Voyage, but it is an instant classic. So many twists and turns I was disoriented by the time the train rolled back into the station. Initial thoughts were its a neat layout, has classic looks, has trains that are way cooler looking and a whole lot more comfortable than anything PTC has come up with, but so far the ride isn't really doing it for me, of course it is awfully unfair to the ride that it has to overcome two nights of Voyage ERT.

Ride Ticket Equivilants used: 10

We exit the ride down the obnoxiosuly long series of exit ramps, which spill out into a fenced walkway that forces you to enter the Kentucky Rumlber gift shop. Boo, I hate exit through retail. The Rumbler gift shop contains the ride on-ride photo booth, gift shop, fudge shop, ice cream stand, and the Rumbler Cafe snack bar, oh along with a set of retrooms. The outside of the gift shop kind of reminds me of a Cracker Barrel with its front porch lined with rocking chairs. The gift shop building is a sign of how much money went into ride accesories and really makes for a classy entire package for the new addition. We take the next right turn past a kids ride area with a Mangels kiddie whip, Zamperla Convoy, Zamperla Jumping Star and Zamplera Crazy Bus. We then pass the new petting farm and head to the Looping Star.

Looping Star is the coaster your mother warned you about. We had not heard good things about it, but of course we had to ride and find out for ourselves. Worse yet, we could not even get a coaster credit as we had all ridden this ride when it traveled wih Amusements of America. We did hear it recieved a new train this year, and at first glance that was confirmed.

We had a one train wait, which was delayed as the crew was insisting the trains went out full. I sat down in row 2, and ack the seat is like maybe 6 inches off the floor of the car tops. It ake be the first coaster where my knees were literally even with my head as I crammed myself into the entirely too small coaster car. I had to lower the shoulder bar very carefully and very gingerly slide my head through it. This is not going to be fun. I do get the bar to lock in maybe the loosest setting I have ever ridden a ride with a shoulder bar, It looks like one sudden stop will be enough to cuase death by shoulder bar. Still I remain seated as the ride starts.

In other words this is one of those coasters that is screaming "Run like hell" yet the coaster enthusiast gene demands you ride. As we exit the station the ride safety sign has a very distinctive picture of an animated firecracker character. Why I do beleive thise maybe a relic that came from Holiday World's Firecracker rollercoater, though this was not the Firecracker, but another coaster Amusements of America carries around was the Firecracker.

The ride starts up the lift and so far so good, we make the turaround again so far so good, down the first drop, okay, around the next turnaround and OUCH as I get slammed into the side of the shoulder bar, through the loop, not too bad, then into the helix, and OUCHOUCHOUCH back accross the ride,around the next turn OUCH around the perimiter of the ride and one more OUCH then we head into the station. We hit the unload area, and without warning the shoulder bars pop open as if jet propelled. You may recall how gingerly I lowered the thing, well it wqas wrenched up and gave e a good whacking on the chin. It was a good thing my mouth was closed or that would have hurt like hell worse than it already did, We exited the ride making comments like "That ride demands we create a whole new category for rides where SUCK is too good an adjective for them" I pull down the shoulders of my shirt and there are two nice bright red splotches on top of my shoulder blades that hurt with the lightest touch.

Ride ticket equivilants used: 14

We continue our tour of the park and hit the bumper car pavilion. The park has placed both their kiddie bumper cars and their adult bumper cars side by side in the same pavilion. Yes there is a barrier sperating the two rides. Its only a one cycle wait, and se are on, Ah finally, bumper cars that hae some speed to them, and with lapbars. This may be one of the best bumper car rides I have seen in awhile, Nicely done.

Ride ticket equivilants used: 16

We exit the bumper cars and head to the kiddie coaster, a Wisdom Dragon, Due the number of adults ridin ghtey were only loading 3 people per ride, and giving 2 cicruits per ride, so the line took a little bit. Soon though I was getting into car two, where I pulled the bar down and had more room than than I get in many adult coasters.

Dragon Coaster - Credit #258

We head up the tire drive lift and head down the first spiral, then we head over to the upwards spiral and the train almost xomes to a complete stop, just barely making it over the top to let us finish the ride, then we did it all over again. We exited the ride, and rentered the midway.

Ride ticket equivilants used: 18

We skipped the Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel and the Wisdom Starship 3000 and headed to the ARM Supershot (they call it Shock Drop) Just a one ride wait for Shock Drop which was enough to learn there is aqbsolutely no pause at the top, as soon as the carriage his the top, WHAM it comes on its fast decent. We are loaded on the side of the ride facing the campground. Ba rs down, belts fastened, up we go. I realize there is literally nothing to hold onto which heigtens the open vulnerable feeling. We were talking about if we were near the top when rightqas it was going up, with no hesitation it just dropped. Wow that was an exciting fall. We exit the ride.

Ride ticket equivilants used: 22

We pass a food grab joint called the Rockin Raceway Diner, and I wonder if it came from the failed Pigeon Forge attraction. We continue along the outer perimter of the park where we see them setting up the picnic grove for tongihts meal and pass a few kiddie rides, like the Happy Pond, Bumble Bee, Jitterbug and Super Slide.

We make our way to the Haunted House. I thought this was a true vintage Haunted Pretzel, but after reading the nice article about Beech Bend Park on the "Dark Ride and Funhouse Enthusiasts"(DAFE) website, I learned the original darkride was gutted when Beech Bend Park closed in the early 1980's, and since its reopening they have built a new darkride using vintage Pretzel cars and ride system, along with a collection of Funni Frite and home brew stunts. So yes, the ride used vintage darkride hardware, although the ride itself is not a vintage ride. The line for the hanted house was stretched clear accross the front of the attraction, andwe would soon figure out they had 3 two seater cars working. The outside of the house has a white brick facade with several rahter startling figured painted on it, as well as some poor guy getting a big shock out of an electric chair. They had a 4th car pushed off the track, the cars themselves have high backs that look sort of like hearts. After quite a while Rideman and I are ushered in.

Rideman makes a crack about how the ride probably won't be air conditioned, when the operator overhears him and comments, "Normally you'd be right, but today you'd be wrong" She explained that she decided to air condition the place up today for her special guests. As I would soon discover the ride operators at Beech Bend are everybit as friendly and personable as those at Holiday World, and maybe even moreso.

We enter the Haunted House, and aw "Old House Smell" Yep its got that musty smell you associte with old houses. Hey, its a haunted house, that shoudl add to the effect. Its your classic haunted house dark ride, to sets of crash doors followed by a very curvy track, around each curve some stunt either lights us, a buzer sounds, or some animation starts, or a combination. Stuff like the falling barrels, or a giant rat for example. I do think the stunts mat not be timed exactly right, case in point would be the giant coffin towards the end of the ride, as we turn to face it it slams shut, then as we are just about passed it it starts to open again. Two more creash doors, and we are back outside. That was nice and nostalgic, a piece of americana, the old traditonal style dark ride,

Ride ticket equivilants used: 24

Okay, now its time for an intestinal fortitude test. Next to the Hauntd House is a rare ride piece called a Scat II. To the uninitiated it loooks like a stand up Tempest. We baord the Scat.

Unlike the Tempest instead of 4 octagon shaped cars, you have 2 long rectangular cars, each with about 6 bays on each of the narrow ends. This means up to 24 per load. I take my place in one of the bays, and secure the seatbelt accross my body. Pick your bay carefully, they have the backrests at different heights and they are secured by cable ties so they are not adjustable. There is also a ridge along the floor to suggest where to keep your feet. The ride starts and first the two big cars start going around, then the individual cars start spinning. It's more like a Storm than a Tempest in that the spin of the individual cars seems to be very controlled, and thus very smooth and very fast. Its a real neat ride, but I must say it's bark is worse than its bite.

Ride ticket equivilantes used: 27

We skipped past the carousel, Dizzy Dragon, Tilt-A-Whirl (but I like the classic paint job on the Tilt), noted they still have one of those Water Wars water baloon games, and then we slid past Moby Dick.

Our next stop is the Wild Mouse. The Wild Mouse isa Zamperla Crazy Mouse. he queue area has 2 switchbacks full, so thats 4 trips along the entire frontage of the ride. We note despite the long line several cars are going out with just 1 or 2 riders. We eventually make it up to the station. I really like the Reverchon cars for this ride better. The Reverchon cars have two bench seats with nice well padded overhead lapbars. In fact both lapbars are usually chained together so its one size fits all. One of the first things Zamperla must have done is totally change the car style. I kind of like the high backrest on a spinning mouse, but I hate the individual molded hard seats, with the seat divider molds and the seat horns. These are all of course made necesary becuase the ride has individual T-shape lap bars for everybody. The lap bar support arm has a big triangular grab loop. We leave the station and head up to the top. Man,I don't think I have seen a crazy mouse braked quite this much. All in all its a reliable Crazy Mouse ride with more braking and less spin. Oh one positive is the park stops the cars for load and unload,no needed to jump into and out of moving cars.

Oh, and almost forgot:

Crazy Mouse - Credit #259

Ride ticket equivilants used: 31

We next meet up with Wolf and his party. Wolf's party wished to challenge my cast iron rides stomach to a duel. I tell Wolf to name his battlefield. Wolf tells me he has something special picked out. I pick up the gauntlet that has been thrown at me,

We first walk past a shelterhouse cotaining small kids rides and a Jumbos that has a lot shorter line than I have seen for the Jumbos rides at a chain of very famous theme parks. We take the time to walk through the arcade. One pinball machine, out of order. We also walk around past the small waterpark. Let's see pool, interactive sprayground and a handful of water slides. This returns us to the front of the park.

I suspect Wolfis leading meto the Tornado, but we walk past the Tornado and the Hampton Combo. I find myself looking at what Rideman dubbed the Demitasse Cup Ride. Yep, this is clearly a teacup ride that is intended for small children. Wolf fails to notice ita a kiddie ride,and actually acts shocked when the operator won't let us ride. I TOLD you so!

We backtrack to the Tornado, where Rideman, John Peck, Wolf and myself all crowd into one tub and lower the lap bars. You know you are with a group of geeks when as the ride is being loaded they start discussin which series of rotations will cause the greatest amount of force. Several years ago Rideman tried to shake me to my core on a King Frolic, he did come close, but no puke, no foul.

This time all three juys tried the same manuever, that is to spin the tub as faste as you can one way, then when your stomach is getting the hang of things, suddenly reverse the rotation. Sorry guys, I have the Cast iron Stomach V.2 with me today. In fact I got the last laugh as I had taken my hands off the wheel right before the end of the ride, so the three of them got to experience the full effects of having the wheel ripped out of their hands as the tub brake activated bringing us to an instantaneous stop. Tee Hee.

Ride ticket equivilants used: 34

Okay we have now walked the perimeter of the park,, so we next headed for the center cross over walkway. It contains the entrance to the waterpark, some food joints, a Rockin Tug, Rainbow Rock, Eli Wheel, Jalopy Junction, and the miniature golf course.

Rideman and I go take a ride on the Starship 3000. Here something odd happened, they had speakers outside the Starship blasting loud music as is common on Starship rides, but the speakers inside the ride were turned off, and you could not hear the music inside. A quick poppy Starship 3000 ride ensued and soon we were back on the midway.

Ride ticket equivilenats used: 38

We all took another fun filled spin on the Bumper carss.

Ride ticket equivilants useed: 40

We then headed back to the Kentucky Rumbler. The line was just barely out of the station, so Rideman and I waited for a front seat ride. Folks, the front seat is the best spot to ride the Kentucky Rumbler, much better airtime. And with that, we are officially late for dinner.

Ride ticket equivilents used: 50

Value book of 50 tickets = $20
Plus Gate Admission $10
So we got $30 worth of rides at pay per ride + dinner + all the ERT rides at night for $20. Shoot that even beats the parks standard POP price ($24). Its not often a park offers you admission, POP , dinner and ERT for LESS than the normal days admission.

We made our way to the picnic grove. I decided to actually wear my name badge during dinner, and retreived the lunch ticket from my wallet. It was merely a red generic two part raffle ticket. I turned in one half as I startede into the buffet line. Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob, cole slaw hot dogs, pull pork, BBQ Chicken, the sauce it yourself station, banana pudding, rich fudgy brownies, and icetea/lemonade/water to drink.

I filled up a plate, piled high, balaning both a brownie and a bowl of banana pudding on top of it while clutchin some sweet tea and headed out of the shelter where Wolf was and where I saw Rideman heading. Rideman disapeared so it was dinner with Wolf. I liked the BBQ sauce, and though dinner overall was excellent, the brownie was nice and rich, the banana pudding was alright. I think Beech Bend got a rude awakening into the eating habits of coaster enthusiasts as the group collectively gave that buffet a workout.

After dinner I found Rideman in the shelterhouse and found a seat for the presentations. We got the opening remarks from the park PR person, and the big Beech Bend welcome. They stated that it is their very first coaster event, and they were hopng to get 200, but they were amazed they attracted 480 people to their first event. They talked a little bit about Kentucky Rumbler which was the seque into Jeff and Chris's presentation. Clair could not make it. Jeff and Chris toolk some questions from the floor, many of which they could not answer, like "What is your next project?" and "Will somebody build a corkscrew on a wooden coaster? they did get the "Will you ever sell MF trains for someone elses ride" Yeah, right they are going to take their very unique and superior coaster trans and just sell them off to their competitors, Yeah right. They gracefully answered much that it is a branding issue. You buy a GCII coaster and you get the looks, the solid engineering, the tight curves, and yes those trains. It's all part of a package. Jeff and Clair excused themselves saying they had to get the headlights on the trai ready. I thought they were joking about the headlights.

The park then gave away many many many door prizes, and if they didn't have the shirt in your size, no poblem you can exchange it in the gift shop. I tell you the park is seriouslyh bending over backwards for their first coaster event, they may give Holiday World a run for the title of friendliest park. They also announce that members of park management, the maintenance team, and Jeff and Chris will be around Kentucky Rumbler all night to answer questions.

The group adjourns to the coasters. As it is not quite dark yet, the headlights aren't turned on right away. We proceed to ride the coaster numerous times in various seats, and right after nightfall, the headlights are turned on. They are two bright LED lights mounted at the very botom of the car chassis. It lights the track ahead but little else. I think its great the gimmick of headlights has returned to coasters, and maybe the low draw of LED lights will mean the batteries will last all night, not that Beech Bend has many night time hours on their schedule.

The ride does start to get better and better, with nice gentle airtime. Its a very rerideable ride, easily marathonable. The park also kept the gift shop, photo booth and snack bar open throughout ERT which was a nice touch. Also permitted hand slapping along the first turn out of the station that runs alongside the exit ramp. As this sort of behavior was banned at HoliWood Nights, it was rebelliously refreshing.

We took numerous rides on the coaster, the line never growing much further than just the bottom of the stairs. What happened to the long insane lines we had all feared? At around 8:45 we went to Looping Star to meet somebody, they weren't there but we did meetup with Wolf, who talked us into a in-the-dark ride on Looping Star. I mustered my best c3po voice "I'm going to regret this" I took a seat in the back of the train, and the operateorsknow their ride, andwere quite willing to joke along with how painful the ride is. I must admit that due to improved defensive riding posture the second ride wasn't near as bad as the first, and I remembered to hold down the shoulder bar at the end of the ride to thwart the automatic release.

We did meet April who apparently had not obtained any of the Beech Bend coaster credits yet. Hmm Looping Star and Wild Mouse are scheduled to close in 10 minutes. We tell her that Wild Mouse is the better ride, but Looping Star is the rarer ride. We opt for a ride on Looping Star. Man, I am almost getting to be old hat at this,then we make the dash accrosspark to Wild Mouse. They did keep the lights on at the dark ride building to help guide us, We found Wild Mouse to have one half of a switchback full of line, They did keep the ride open until all had ridden, and maybe then some. No strict ride closing times here, no sireee, not when you have VIP guests to entertain, We took another ride on Wild Mouse before heading back to Kentucky Rumber.

The rest of the evening from about 9:20 to 12:30 was a cycle of ride Rumber, ride Rumber, ride Rumber, ride Rumber, etc. We did take about a 20 minute break to chat up one of the maintenance men, and between two of the rides I went to the snack bar. They had run out of ice, but that did not stop them from charging full price for drinks. That will be $1.75 for a lukewarm Pepsi. That warm soft drink may be my only compaint about the park.

We kept riding, and riding, and riding, and riding,until as you know All Good Things Must Come to an End, and they had cut the line. We made our way out of the park before the park owners had formed their recieving line.

On the way out Power Surge and Rocking Tug were performing well as light pieces to help guide the way out to the parking lot.

Many Thanks to Dallas Jones and family and staff for having us, and congratulations on your first very succesful coaster event.

We made our way back to our hotel where we did get checked in on the second try, made our way up to our room. Futzed around on the internet and prepared for bed.

Next up: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (with no organized coaster event)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

TR: Holiwood Nights (5/26-27, 2006) - Holiday World

Trip Report: Holiday World - Santa Claus, IN (USA)

Welcome to Memorial Day weekend, often thought of as the start of the prime amusement park season, that reputation lives on as Holiday World has opened their gates once again to around 1,100 (per Paula Werne) coaster enthusiasts as part of its new Holiwood Nights coaster festival.

Our group this year consisted of Rideman and John Peck from Columbus, OH, and myself from Cincinnati, OH. I was expecting the group to pick me up around 2pm, so I took the opportunity to grab some lamb curry at the local Indian cuisine restaurant. I was also grateful for the late departure time as our area had a terrible storm on Thursday night that left us without power from 7PM-2AM, but we were lucky, the house four doors down from us is dealing with the aftermath of a fire caused by the storm.

So at around 2:15 I jump into the car and we start making our way to the park. We have some pleasant conversation on the way to the park, and stop once to make sure the car and its riders get enough to drink. Oh, and Moon Pies! Must Have Moon Pie. Yummmm. We arrive at Holiday World just before 5pm and make our way up to the front gate. We are lucky enough to park in the main (Raven) lot just two rows behind the handicap parking area. We walk alongside the Raven and make our way up to the festive entry way. Just beyond the ticket booths are the event registration windows. John Peck gets faster service owing to having a last name in a seemingly unpopular part of the alphabet. I show my ACE membership card and I get handed a goode packet consisting of: a Holiwood nights T-shirt, a park map, a name badge, a FUNvelope with tickets, meal passes, in park coupons, and a schedule of events.

Okay, we have our tickets, so now its time to, head back to the parking lot to drop off all the stuff we don't really need tonight. Basially all we keep are the Friday admission ticket, the Friday meal ticket and the name badge. We committ the nights schedule to memory and put everything else in the trunk.

I take a moment to look over the event t-shirt. This years shirt is grey, and the front bears a small logo that looks like a movie marquee with the words "Holiwood Nights - a Holiday World & Splashin Safari production" the back contains a large graphic that looks like an old time movie poster. Said poster has what may be a low res image of Voyage's lift hill, and reads: Thrills!!! Hills!!! Turns!!! The Voyage starring in "The Greatest Coaster Ever Built" Featuring: The Raven, The Legend and introducing The Voyage. Directed by Will Koch. Produced by Larry Bill, Chad Miller, Korey Klepert, Michael Graham and Will Koch/ Transportation by PTC/ Power provided by Sir Issac Newton/ Financing by 90 Degree Banking/ Filmed in Tunnelvision/ rated P for Perfect, contains Airtime, Speed, and G-Forces. A banner over the poster reads May 26-27, 20006 Holiwood Nights Exclusive Engagement.

All in all I think is a cool shirt astetically, though the big graphic on the back make me leery of wearing it in the hot and humid Holiday World climate. I also look at the ticket sheet. Holiday World has improved the ticket sheet this time around. They were notorius for not having the tikets on the strip in order, and ite always seemed like the Friday admission ticket was in the middle, this time the tickets are in the order they will be used.

We take our new tickets to the gate and proceed into the park. Once bast the ticket checkpoint we find ourselves in Christmas. To the left are some park services like guest relations and locker rental, and to the right is the rental center and some gift shops. We ignore those and head towards the giant christmas tree that is in the middle of the walkway straight ahead. Christmas carols fill the air and how can one not pause if just for a moment and suddenly feel all relaxed. It will soon be time to head to Thanksgiving where I understand the park is giving me my 2006 Christmas present early. :) We ignore the first turn to the right that leads to "Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch" childrens rides area and the giant Santa Claus statue and proceed forwards. We note the Appluase award sculpture has not yet made its way to the parks fountain. Instead of pursuing Christmas further, we take the second right, past the nativity sceneand head into Halloween. We had been warned to ride Raven and Legend before heading back to Voyage, just in case you never make it bak to the rids in the front. Therefore we headed down the ramp, through the wrought iron gates with "Raven" over them and into the Raven queue. There was just a little challenge getting into the queueas the high dive show was in session and folks tend to stand and watch the show from the Raven's queue area.

We headed up the driveway where no switchbacks were being used, up on the porch, through the front door of the Victorian house themed station and we met the line about halfway up the stairs. We headed towards the back of the train and found some seats in car 5. Buckled in, lapbar down, its time to go for a ride. We left the station, did a turnaround to he left over the queue area and then into the carriage house. The carriage house was added last season when the ride was upgraded to two trains, At the time, we saw one train operating, but really given the short wait that was reasonable. Coming out of the carriage house, a quick jog to the left amd its up the lift. From the top of the lifthill you can see more people arriving at the front gate. A turn to the right leads to the first drop and into the tunnel at the base of he first drop. We experience some airtime on the drop, then we come back up, a slight turn to the right, and dwon another drop, back up and then a big turn to the right for the swoop turn over Lake Rudolph turn. Coming out of the Lake Rudolph turnaround we turn to the left to run alongisde the outrun of the coaster, a small dip is followed by a turn to the left which is followed by the rides major drop that goes down depp into the ravine. At the bottom of the ravene the ride stops focusing on hills and drops and stars focusing on a series of curves designed to fling you both ways. Its both experiences combined, that make Raven a great coaster. We soon arrive back at the brake run after the S-Cure and the follwing left turn. We are soon advanced back into the station. Ah, Raven Air is still its usual consistant self. We continue down the hill, bypassing the Scarecrow Srambler and Frigtfull Falls (log flume), proceed though the games area, pick up our first of many free soft drinks, and head down the stairs to Legend.

Legends queue starts with a flight of stairs to go down under the break run, then there is a queue maze setup inside the home stretch of the coaster, then you go back up the stairs to the 1 room schoolhouse themed station.

The line is just to the bottom of the stairs but the switchback in the station is not being used. Without too much of a waitwe are in row 4 of the train. We hear the schoolbell ring, and offwe go. We exit the station andturn to the right togo up the lift. As we climb the lift we see thecoaster mechanics preparing the second train for tonights ERT. We climb the lift,remembering to Wave to the Wave, and at the topwe are pleasantly surprised that the"Don't Look Back!" audio clip has been resotred. A turn to the right at the top of the lift leads us to the frist drop which ends in a curve to the left through the first tunnel, we then go over a speed hill, then job a bit to the right up hill 3, and down the 'cured drop' which runs around Zinga. We start our journey back with an airtime hill 4, then a slower hill 5, through tunnel 2 which leads to the 540 degree helix. Unlike most helices, this one does not just calmly spiral around,, no its one side is tunneled, and ont he first pass you go into the tunnel high, down a drop in the tunnel and come out low, the second pass you enter the tunnel low, climb a hill in the tunnel and come out onthe highter part of track. After the helix you hit what has become lovingly known as "The Four Turns of Death" One sharp turn to exit the helix and dive through the lift hill stucture, the second turn (in the opposite direction) to head back towards the station. You diver under the hill on Frightfull Falls, then come back up again just in time for turn 3 (again in the opposite direction) which diverts you away from the station at the last possible moment. You then head around the ride queue area, which leads to Corner of Death 4 which is a turnaound to bring you back to the brake run. (So the 4 turns of death are left, right, left, right) Legend is still an okay ride, but it just isn't running as fast as I know it can run, and therefore just doesn't have that usual intensity. This can be felt the most as it just sort of meanders around the Four Courners of Death instead of racing through them at high speed.

We grab a soft drink, then we just can't wait any longer. We walk right past HallowSwings and the water park entrance. There is a pathway that is not well marked that runs behind the ampitheater and seems to go right from the edge of Halloween to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the parks newest themed section. The walkway circles the slide tower for a couple water slides, and in fact one slide even goes over the new walkway twice. Look at the waterslide now because once you come to the next curve, your view will be comanded by Voyage as you justsee a massive lift hill going off into the woods. The station end trackage is mosty well hidden by the brake run. Be careful, especailly at night as there are some wooden posts in the middle of the midway at either end of the wooden bridge like section.

We cross over the bridge and whie still mesmarized by the track head towards the station. We note there is a signifigant secion of track on the opposite side of te walkway than the station. We head for the ride entrance but alas the line has already been closed so that all in line may ride before park close. ARRRGGGHHH!!! We forlornly look at the coaster for a few minutes before looking over the new themed area.

As you come into the section a huge Thanksgiving sign on the Voyages structure welcomes you into the area. Along the new midway on the left you come to the giant cape cod type structure that houses the Vyage station. It's at least three levels complete with dormer windows in the attic. Next to the station is the Voyage gift shop, and further along is the future site of the Plymouth Rock Cafe. On the right side of the midway is a comfort station inlcuding a Pepsi Oasis, then behind the front buildings which are all done in blue is a big red barn looking building that houses the Gobbler Getaway dark ride.

We decide to take a ride on Gobbler Getaway, the linewas just outside the entrance doors. We enter the buildingandthere is a nice mural in the foyer and I see the ride has a "Single Rider Line" which was not open today. We move into the main waiting room, which I am pleased to report is air conditioned. The queue was taking its shortest route, which meas going the width of the building and back. As we were about halfway through the line, the park closed the front doors cutting off the line after opening upthe indoor queues so tha all guests who were due a ride could wait inside. Before you get to the ride itself, you pass an animatronic that I called "Grandma" Grandma is sitting in her easy chair petting her cat with one hand and waving around a Turkey Caller in the other. Yep, in the interest of making it a non violent dark ride, instead of being on a hunting expedition and killing turkeys, you are merely 'calling' them using your Turkey Caller. Grandma explains the story to you (or she would if the park would turn the volume up, I think the overall volume for the sound in the entire attraction could stand to be turned up several notches. ) I think the milk and cookies onher end table evoke feelings of Christmas rather than Thanksgiving. We soon reach the boarding area. The cars seat 4 in two rows of two, with stadium style seating where the back row is a bit higher. Riders are secured with two accross lapbars, thenyou pick up your Turkey Caller. and are on your way. You first head to the target practice wall which is full of targets where you can get the feel for how to use the Turkey Caller. I don't know about using a Turkey Call as a pointing device, the top is a big rectangle and there is no real mark on the caller to help aim the thing, and besides if its a call, it should work by emitting a sound, which does not depend on line of sight aim. I say lets loose the turkey callers, and install toy shotguns in the cars.

You turn away from target practice and the socreboard in the car resets. You then pass through what must be the time warp tunnel that Grandma was talking about, but more importantly for dark ride fans, this dark ride usued actual inertia powered crash doors at the begining and end of the ride as well as at several set changes during the ride. I thought the era of using crash doors on dark rides had come to and end, so it was nice to see this nod to traditional styling. You first pass trrough several scenes with no targets, I guess they still want to get the story accross, since they know you won;t be paying much attention in the rooms where you are calling turkeys. You don't shoot at turkeys, but if you hit the targets, turkeys will appear. In the first room inside the actual ride itself, they pump in pumpkin pie smell, and it smells so good, that if they were to have installed a pumpkin pie booth at the ride exit, I would have bought a slice. The remainder of the ride does have a few spots with no targets, but overall I think the ride needs more targets to shoot at. Since each target can only be hit once per car, if you have a full car thats not many targets to divy up. Oh, and yes the Tukey Calls do "Call" by emitting a funny noise when you use them. Towards the end of the ride, after the turkey calling is over there is a scene of the family sitting down to table, and the father says "I couldn't do it" and lifts the cover on a big serving platter containing a pizza. The last room contains, I kid you not, what look to be dancing turkeys complete with chase lights. Since we could not really here the rides sountrack, we added our own, starting first with "It's a Hershey's Chocolate, Hershey's Chocolate, Hershey's Chocolate World!" and continuing with the Small World theme song. We noted the ratings chart has not yet been completed, and we were still singing the Small World tune as we hit unload. The ride operator kindly reminded us that we were in the wrong park for that song. Oh, I advise caution getting out of the cars its quite the step down to the floor. We then exit through a plain black exit hallway and back out onto the midway.

Holiday World is very much a theme park. For example the banners lining the walkways are different colors for each theme section, the rides and things all have thematic names and each area has thematic music. For example, Christmas plays Christmas Carols, you can hear patriotic standards in 4th of July, Haloween has such hits as Monster Mash, and a certain Tocatta and Fugue you normally associate with haunted houses. In Thankisgiving, I heard a some hymns (We Gather Together), as well as some lighter fare "The Mashed Potato", and even "Candyman" figured into the mix.

We grab some refreshments, then head to the picnic grove for the opening meeting. The opening meeting consisted of soem opening remarks about the park "Our mission is to provide a fun, safe park experience at reasonable prices" or something like that., I especially liked how the return run on Voyage was dubbed "The Ewok Adventure". Then we went over the schedule of events, then we had a safety briefing. We were also informed that the park had already removed two enthusiasts for violation of park policies. Pat Koch have us a heart felt personal welcome back and let us in an opening prayer. She very briefly acknowledged the last time she led us in prayer at the picnic grove was not a happy occasion, and that was the only allusion to the incident during the entire event. Just the right move, I say, they felt the need to somehow acknowledge something happened, but in the same breath, move forward. Very gracefully handled. They also announced they had some bad news for us, Voyage would only be running two trains tonight, something about parts.

We were then releqased back into the park. We made our way down to Voyage. We crossed the thin wooden walkway over what I would later realize is the station fly under tunnell. Hmm, I think the visual would have been a bit more effective without the metal grating, but at the same time I can easily see why its there. We entered the cape cod style station and we made a left turn, up a stair or two then two more left turns to the stairway up to the station. We were anxious to get onto the ride, so we made our way to a row near the back half of the train, which offered a minimal wait of a train or two.

The Voyage - Coaster Credit #256

Ah, I am now seated in the blue PTC train with red and gold trimwork on the sides, and the exposed metal parts that are usually silverish are gold tone. The train floor is a black diamond plate. The train, has no headrests, the new open style seat dividers, seatbelts and black ratcheting lapbars. So its still true, there are no orange lapbars at Holiday World. So I fasten the belt, lower the lapbar several clicks and we see the tumbs up given. It's time to ride a coaster I have been waiting for since, well like the middle of 2005. I sure hope I don't get bit by the anticipointment bug.

So we go straight out of the station, then a little jog to the left puts us on the lift hill, we see the other train flying overhead into the station tunnel. Man this lift is high, it is also fairly steep and the lift chain is nice and fast, which makes short work of climbing the lift. Holiday World is known for lining the top parts of their lift hills with brightly colored flags, no design, just nice solid colored flags. We notice the flags on Voyage are more squarish or at least more traditionally shaped than the tall narrow flags that line the lift hills on Raven or Legend. My I barely have a chance to enjoy the views of the new Bahari section of the waterpark and the employee parking area when its time.

Drop #1, a nice float all the way down steep drop 1, then right back up into a nice tall hill 2, over the top and a nice float down the other side. Its the ultimate out and back coaster, but wait now the bottoms of the drops contain short tunnels. Cool, there is a Tremors like moment where you come out of one tunnel crest a short hill, then its right back into another tunnel. The outband leg is classic textbook out-and-back coaster. John Miller would be proud. We then hit the turnaround. The turnaround is where we first get the hint this will be no ordinary coaster. Forget a simple swoop turn or fan turn, you can't really call it a helix or figure 8. Its the oddest bit of track. You first take a jog to the right while going down a drop, with airtime, what a totally insane feeling, the melding of lateral and negative G's. You go around the turaround which mas a few more random direction changes just so you can't really get too comfortable. This sets you up for the set of two 90* banked turns in opposite directions. By now, you realize this coaster is calling out notions of the Crystal Beach Cyclone. Yes, I heard more than a couple event attendees make the reference to the revered Crystal Beach Cyclone. Just when you think the turnaround is done, you make a hard slamming turn into a drop into a tunnel, when you come back up out of the tunnel, you come to the mid course brake. Luckily the brake is not used to slow the train down, yet with the way the ride is laid out, and the way the terrain is, the brake is only like 6' off the ground, yet the train can afford to roll over it at a relaxed pace. Take advantage of it, this is the last chance to catch your breath, once you leave this part of the ride, you won't get another good breath until the final brakes. The ride next does its Mauch Chunk Railway impersonation as you are about to traverse a 100' downard elevation change. What better way to do that than an enclosed triple down in the dark.

Moden coaster designers seem to be leary of using double downs as they wish to curtail airtime, and here we have a triple down. As you might expect the airtime gets a bit stronger with each drop. Coming out of the triple down, we go up a slight hill, where we have another airtime filled drop. The ride now goes into Will's Ewok Adventure mode as it still goes up and down hills and provides all kinds of airtime, but it does it while zigging back and forth underneath the outbound ride structure, culminatng with the rides thirs 90* bank turn to start the station return run, We zip aroundf the base of the lift hill, and a severe righ turn and a nice airtime filled srop through the station tunnel. If you glance you can see the ride queue area for a split second. As you come out of the station tunnel, you may have some crazy thought that the ride is about over? Whatecer gave you that idea as instead of heading to the right to return to the station, you instead dive back down and head left through a tunnel under the midway where you pop up on the opposite side of the midway by the Pepsi Oasis, you then doubel back and head into the brake run which is right over the entrance to this section of the park. You are then brought in around one more right turn over another block point, then an S-curve into the station. At this point ou applaud, you catch your breath, gather up your sense of direction and balance and attempt to exit the train. There is an exit ramp at the front of the station and an exit stairway at the back end. Those exiting the front exit go down a nice covered interior hallway/ramp that leads towards the back of the station, where we join the people coming down the stairs from the back exit, then everybody goes down the second ramp which then exits the station at the front. You then make a couple turns to go under the lift approach, then over the station tunnel and finnally out next to the gift shop.

Notice I said NEXT to the gift shop, not THROUGH the gift shop. Holiday World is not that heavy handed with reatil yet, but with both Legned and Voyage, they did put the ride entrance and exit right next to each other, and near a Pepsi Oasis. See, they really do care about us. WE grab a drink and get back in line. This time we enter the station building and we turn right, down a flight of stairs, turnaround to the right down a couple more stairs. We walk alongside the windows that look into the station tunnell. OOoohh Ahhhh. The tunnel windows are to the left, and a big unused at this point queue maze is to the right. Luckily we are directed to go straigh ahead and up a flight of stairs, then turnaround to the right alongide a hallway, then a jog to the right and its up the stairs and into the station. The load side of the station is a big open area, with lots of room to wait for the row of your choice, the bad thing is this can lead to confusion in the back of the station trying to determine who is waiting for which row. We decide to take a ride towards the front. Again WOW.

We exit the ride and head to the gift shop. I purchase the on-ride photo ($8), and the Holiday World pictoral history book ($20), which was then personalized and autographed by Pat Koch. I did notice that despite the note on the event FAQ stating that the Voyage rugs are NOT for sale, signs in the gift shop stated that there were, in fact, for sale, and by Saturday I noticed they were gone. At this point John Peck had ogne back to the car to get money to buy the book for the book signing and we got seperated from Rideman on the walk back to the Voyage.

I decided to take a ride on Gobbler Getaway. Hmm, Pumpkin pie smell, hmm, my Turkey Calling isn't getting any better. On this ride we noted a problem a friend had told me about. Maybe they have too many cars on the ride, which causes the Small World effect where you have cars backed up through the last few rooms of the ride waiting to unload. Hmm, the pizza gag at the end of the ride. Wait that reminds me, I have to pick up my own pizza.

I start to leave Thanksgiving, but instead I find myself stopping at the Pepsi Oasis, then getting into line for Voyage. We still just zip through the lower level, and soon I am up in the station, I hold out for the back seat. It takes some time to get to the front of the back seat queue. I notice that the walls of the queue area and station for Voyage are decorated with a few sets of "Generic Nautical Theming" You know, ships wheels, harpoons, cargo nets, large diameter rough rope. Conspicuously absent were the traditional "International Code of Signals" flags you typically associate with nautical theming, but then I just looked those up, and they were developed in 1855, and the ride is developed around a more 1600's experience. For the same reason, I suppose I can leave my semaphore flag signalling kit at home. I kind of likes the Captains Quarters sign on the control console. We need to work in how to mount a ships wheel on there, if only for decoration.

Out on the circuit I go for my first ever back seat ride on Voyage, and twilight is starting to set in. We crest the first hill, and remember everything I said earler, well multiply the airtime quality by 10. The back seat ride is absolutely insane. This is the #1 perfect coaster ride. It was right then and there, that I offically made Voyage my new #1. The folks at Gravity Group have just raised the bar on wood coaster construction.

However, its kind of like going to a buffet: You want a tall lift, you want a steep drop, you want airtime laden hills, headchoopers, tunnels, sudden direction changes, surprise direction changes, a triple down? Okay great, here is everything you ever wanted in a wood coaster all crammed into one ride. Some folks might declare it to be a bit too much for one ride, but I just think we have now advanced to the Extreme Wood Coaster. Funny thing about it is, that during the course of the weekend, I didn't see one member of the GP get off that ride upset, or vowing to never ride again. We may think its extreme, but I think for the average park guests its actually just right. Its a very noteworthy wood coaster, and unlike us, they don't try to repeat ride,and turn it into an endurance contest. They will ride Voyage, then go down and ride Gobbler Getaway, then head towards 4th of July, etc.

I exit the ride, and check my watch. My, my its 8:20, and the pizza party is scheduled to end at 8:30. I don't think Holiday World would cut the line off at 8:30 sharp, but when it comes to food, one can never be too safe. I make my way quickly but carefully from Thanksgiving to Christmas using the "new" walkway behind HalowSwings. Let me tell you, it was on that hike I learned. "Holiday World is not flat" I always knew the park has its share of hills, but the walk from Voyage to Kringles is just one solid uphill trek. Must, Reach, Kringles!

I head into Kringles and sure enough there is still food being served. I pick up my 2 slices of pizza, root beer, potato chips, and a piece of chocolate pecan fudge. The fudge is the limited item for which you surrender your meal ticket. I also notices some relish trays and nachos set out. Lo and behold as I am looking for a table, I run into Rideman and John Peck, and later Rastus joins us for dinner and conversation. Hmm, good food. I go back to get some more pizza. You know its not really anything special about the pizza except the fact its Holiday World Pizza. I deicde to put my fudge into my bag for a late night snack. While the others finish up eating, I run my purchases back to the car and rejoin the group.

We head out, and the original plan was to ride Raven, then Legend and then head back to Voyage. By this time though it is near 9:00 so even though we technically entered the Raven's queue, John and I back out and head down to Voyage. It is a good thing we did as Voyage was now using a good portion of the lower level queue maze. With the queue maze and all I would say it made the wait about 30 minutes or so. We see Rideman entering the lower level maze just as we are heading up the stairs to the ground level. We take seats near the back of the train and experience Voayge in near darkness except for lighing in the Thanksgiving area and around the lift, and one light above the mid course brake, the rest of the ride was totally dark, including the wild and insane turnaround. It just keeps getting better and better.

We exit, we grab a drink, we reenter. We wait through the lower level queue. Just as we are about to go up the stairs, we note no one entering the queue. Hmmm. When we make it to the second upwards staircase we can see the queue entrance has been cut. We make it into the station, and we hold out fo the back seat. John loses his patience and gets worried that they may consolidate the remainig riders so as to run as few trains as possible after 10pm, but they dont' John bails in time for 2 rides in a middle of the train seat, while I was the last rider in the back seat, for 1 back seat ride. Quality over Quantity! That back seat, in the dark is sheer coaster nirvana. And just think, tommorow we get to come back and do it all again!!!

John and I meet up as we exit Voyage about 10:20, grab drinks, and make the long arduous uphill climb to the front gate. We meed Rideman by the fountain. He had finished out the night on Raven. By the time we finished said arduous climb we more like "We're tired out, and its only night 1" As we exit the park, I note the giant christmas tree had its lights on, then a big surrpirse that showed the true hearts of the Holiday World crew. At the park exit was a sign, the sgn informed us that Kentucky Rumbler at Beech Bend Park had been repaired and would operate on Saturday. Now I ask you, how many other parks would advertise, much less give ride status notices about competing parks? This is part of what makes Holiday World the friendliest theme park in the world. We head out to the car, fire up the GPS mapping system, put on some George Carlin, and make the trek to Evansville for the night. We get checked into our room where we probably stayed up too late messing around on the internet and such. Then it hits us, Waterpark ERT, 8:45 sharp, that means getting up at like 6AM. Totally uncivilized, this is like a WORK day!

Better get to sleep!

Day 2!

We wkae up, get ready, yada yada, enjoy the hotel's courtesy breakfast, and we all gather into the car right around 7:50. That gives us just under an hour to get to Holiday World. Thanks to GPS we make it to Holiday World without incident, also aided by the nice large signs the park has placed at each turn coming from exit 57. We pull into the paring lot right around 8:30 or so and pull out the items we would need for a waterpark.

We make our way to the front gate plaza and join the large group of event members waiting for the gates to swing open. Right around 8:45 the gates swing open and we enter the park and make it all of about 500' of ro when I stop to get in another line for locker rental. Yep, unlike the others in my group I am a locker person when it comes to waterparks. There were only a couple lines, but the lines did move at a pretty fast clip. I handed over the $10 for locker rental ($7 of which is a refundable deposit) and filled out a little registration card with my name and phone number. Key in hand I make my way down to the waterpark. In hindsight I should have propably surveyed the area around locker rental for John and Dave, but I just assumed they went on down. I fell into line with the group taking the new shortcut between Haloswings and the Louis and Clark Trail, labeled "Shortest way to Splashin Safari" and soon made my way into Splashin Safari and at the the bottom of the entrance ramp found the main bathhouse.

Let me get off my chest right now: I HATE public bathhouses, particularly the ones with one large room like back in gym class in which to change. This may be why I don't typically do waterparks. So I find one of those private changing booths, you know the ones where you have to change while half the booth is occupied by a toilet. Okay, now that I am changed, lets head out. Man, I never did get used to walking around barefoot outside. Note to self: Next time bring the aqua sox. Next game is to find my locker, which I locate across a small wooden bridge. Its a tiny locker, so I still have to cram my swim bag into it, lock it, and put the key, well actually up near the elbow, as thats where the elastic key ring feels snug enough on me that I won't loose said key.

Here I learn how spread out Splashn Safari is. When I first started going to Holiday World in 1996 I thought that Splashin Safari was kind of a small waterpark, man has it grown in size. After about an 11 mile hike :) I find the Bahari section. I also find a line of event memebers and I learn that the line is for the parks courtesy breakfast. I pass on the breakfast and head towards Bahari Wave Pool. Its a nice large wave pool with a stairless entrance like at the beach, and the entry area is lined with some water jets. Noticeable along the decorative sides of the pool which look more like rock formations than a concrete pool side are several idol masks, each of whcih is sprayign water into the pool. Its also an unusual shape pool, more like a V shape with a lifeguard station that juts out into the middle of the pool. Its also a very cold pool, yikes. It takes me some time to get aclimated to the water temperature. I know they are those that beleive in the quick-submerge and get it over with, but I fall into the gradual approach, you know a few steps further each time.

Ah how nice it is to be in a pool. I stick around for one wave cycle. They alternate 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. However, like with most newer wave pools, I think the deep end in this pool is 5', I am 6', so it just never gets deep enough. I kind of like the old school wave pools, like at the Beach in Cincinnati that reach like 8-10' depth.

I exit the pool and note the breakfast line hasn't gotten any shorter, so I make the trek to Bahari River. This isn't one of those wateprarks where things are literally piled on on top of each other. Its a short walk to Bahari River, and then I learn the entry/exit point is on the island in the center of Bahari RIver, so I cross over the bridge, and make my way through the empty queue maze. I like how most of the waterpark queue mazes are built using PVC tubing, which won't burn your hands when the sun beats down on it. I enter Bahari River, now somewhere in my home movie library there is a 5 minute or so film on Super 8 that was shot at a pool in Florida that involves numerous attempts at getting into an innertube that merely resulted in the tube flipping over, unceremoniously dumping its payload into the pool. WE had numerous members of my family try to board said tube, and more othen that not the result was "Splash!" into the pool you go. That was real funny back in 1985 when it only involved family members, it was not so funny in 2006 when I displayed the exact same ineptitude at getting into a tube in Bahari River in front of total strangers. I guess I never did learn... I do have to commend the Splashin Safari staff member who was right there as soon as I flipped over, even if it did add to the embarament factor, but hey no blood no foul, just a nice scrape across the knuckles to remind me thats why we used to attempt to board said tube at the deep end of the pool.

So now succesfully on a tube, I start making my way around Bahari River. Okay I like the rock formations for the sides of the pool. There was one section that had jacuzi like jets, then there were a couple of waterfalls, but these elements came few and far between. I suppose I like a little more action in my lazy rivers. I do like how whenever there is a waterfall or water element it is designed so that you may bypass it, and speaking of bypasses, I chose not to bypass the grand canyon section of Bahari River and went the long way around. There are a coule water curtains under the footbridges to and from Bahari River. The water current moves at a fairly fast clip and it seemed like I was back to the single entry/exit point in no time. I wonder if Splashin Safari ever considered using a lazy river as Transportainment like at that famous waterpark in Texas. You know grab a tube at Bahari section and float around till you reach the original slide tower, then float some more till you reach the locker rental area, then float some more for Wautubee and Ottorogo, float some more for Zoombabwe and Zinga, finally completing the circle back at Bahari.

The Bahari River exit is interesting in that the PVS tubing suggests a U shaped exit, whereas I observed most people stepping through a small gap and avoiding the little extra turn. I make my way back towards Bahari Snacks. Okay, this line isn't going to get any shorter, now is it?

I get in line which has stretched back to right accorss from the smoking area, and there are some annoying gnats to contend with, but the line moves fairly quickly and I soon pick up my muffin (Banana nut), a fruit cup, and a beverage. I took a few minutes to enjoy my breakfast before heading back towards the slides. I find it interesting that waterparks have food concessions located near the water activities as I grew up in a "No swimming until one hour after eating" household, that and where do people stash their money to use at said food stands? Splashin Safari has many food stands and arguably some of the best food in the park is in Splashin Safari. I mean the only fish, chicken and wraps stand, the Bosco Sticks. Yummmy!

Okay, I choose to ignore that motherly advice about waiting an hour, and head for Jungle Racers. Jungle Racers reminds me of the old time Giant Slides that have all but disapeared from major amusement parks, and now seem to be relegated to state fairs and carnivals. In this one you grab a mat from a bin at the bottom of the slide, then make you way up 50' of stairs to the loading area. There must be about 10 or so lanes, and the lanes take on that classic triple down configuration seem in the old time giant slides. And to add to it they race you. Here is where the thing differs from those Giant Slides of old. Do you remember what you always wanted to do on those slides, but couldn't? Yep, slide down head first on your stomach. Well that is the only way to slid down Jungle Racers. So you place you mat into the water being very careful not to let it get away from you. You then kneel on said mat, and then bend over and grab the handles with a nice tight grip. Depending on your size vs/ the mats size you may be able to more or less lie down at this point. The position you assume is almost like that of a track racer in the starting blocks, getting ready to push off the back wall of the pool with your legs. ush off and away you go, keep hloding on tight, as we are about to experience airtime on those humps. Whee!!! You eventually (in like all of 6-7 seconds) reach the checkerboard pattern run out at the bottom of the slide. If you are light you then have to pick up your mat and walk to the end of your lane, if you are heavy like me, don't worry physics will propel you to the end of your lane. Wow, that was so fun I did it 3 more times. I did note the electronic scoreboard at the end of the slide was not changing between races.

Okay, time to grab something from the Pepsi Oasis, then head towards Zinga. Zinga was the hit of ERT with the line about halfway down the stairs. The line moves fast however and I did join ito a conversation as we made our way up the stairs, and even identified another single rider, so I was already paired before reaching the top. At the top. the sliders are responsible for picking up their own tube from the tube conveyor and then the slide attendant helps position the tube into the water. We boarded the cloverleaf shaped tube and with a little push to get things started, found ourselves sliding down the dark twisty enclosed slide. This is of course just the appetizer, the main event is when the tube slide becomes very steep and dumps you into the funnel. Here you slide back and forth going up the sides of the funnel, never too fasr but you go back and forth like an extreme sprots person doing the half pipe, until the funnel narrows into another short slide that slides you into the landing pool. Neat, I like Zinga, and there is a reason why the Proslide Tornado has become the most common waterpark installation in the past few year. I head back to Bahari Snacks and join in with some conversation that is going on, and at the same time find both Rideman and John. Oh, and then we saw what maybe the most infamous ERT participant, the guy who chose to do the waterpark ERT in a full body wet suit. And the point of participating in water activities while taking every precaution not to get wet would be?

Towards the end of ERT John and I decided to sample a couple other Spashin Safari attractions. While Rideman was headed toward the rope to make the Exodus to Voyage, John and I headed to ZOOMbabwe. We found it to be a popular choice as there was already a sizeable line of ERT participants awaiting the opening of Zoombabwe. When the queue opened and the line filed in, by the time the line stopped filing in, we were almost to the top of the stairs right before the line splits into two lanes. It took a while for the line to settle in, becuase being near the end of ERT we were not exactly sprinting up the stairs.

The last time I rode ZOOMbabwe, I did not enjoy my ride, mainly due to an incident that occured that may have well led to the "2 adults max per tube, 600lb max per tube" rules being added. This time instead of putting 4 of us into a tube, it was just the two of us. I noted the water curtain at the top of the slide was off, and after a push away we went. Wow, Zoombabwe is a long slide, much longer than you would expect. Every now and then they have patterns punched into the sides of the slide, similar to the idol carvings in Bahari rivers. These let in just the right amount of light. Now I can say I really enjoyed Zoombabwe, its a nice long dark slide with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

We headed from Zoombabwe to Wautubee. Wautubee uses the same type of tubes ats Zoombabwe, meaning the large group tubes, except that Wautubee uses an open slide instead of an enclosed slide. On the way up the stairs I looked at Otorongo which has three single person tube slides in a pattern not unlike a set of body slides at Boomerang Bay at PKI. As we were nearing the top of Wautubee, a single rider asked to join us. John and I who were both in the 2003 Zoombabwe incident were a little leary, but apparently three on this ride is okay.

We had the first clue something interesting was about to happen when the slide attendant at the top needed all of her strength to inch our tube out onto the slide, then we slid for about 5' and stopped where we then pushed ourselves off the sides until the tube started moving on its own. Once it started moving, did it ever pick up speed. I mentioned this was not an enclosed slide, but the curves have higher walls on them, much like a bobsled run. I think we almost hit the top of the walls on every turn. We didn't know this slide coudl be so wild, but the best was yet to come. As we were nering the end of the slide, we saw the lifeguard try to move out of the way. You know how most lifeguards seem to have nice dry shirts? Well, when our tube hit the splash pool, it caused a nice tidal wave that completely soaked the life guard from top to bottom despite attemps to jump out of the way. What was better is that the way our tube was positioned we got front row seats to watch it happen. I suppose we should now aplogize for the fact we could not stop laughing for the next two minutes.

At this point John was going to had back to the Bahari Wave Pool, but Voyage was just calling my name in a loud voice. I bade John farewell, and headed to Locker Island to claim my swim bag, then I headed back to the bathhouse, changed into street clothes, and then chucked the swim gear back into the locker. I then made the trip up the hill where I realized how close the walkway to Thanksgivng comes to the walkway out of the waterpark. I admit I was very tempted to climb up the grass and climb over a couple railings, but decorum prevents. The walkway to thanksgiving walks around and under the parks original slide tower and slides, and also runs right alongside the flooded town scene in their rapids ride. Hmm, maybe I should have ridden the rapids ride to see what other changes needed tobe made to acoomodate Thanksgiving.

I made my way down to Voyage where I spotted Rideman shooting video of the ride. I went ahead and took a couple rides. I mean hey, once making the trek back here, you really need to make it worth it. I noticed the lower level queue maze was in use, and here is where I got a nice realization of just how cool that lower level room is. Its almost refreshingy cold in there. Between this and Gobbler Getaway, the park is adding some nicely cool waiting areas. The Voyage waiting area reminds me of a cartoon I saw in "The unofficial guide to Walt Disney World", becuase from the midway you see people going in one door, then a few feet over you see people coming out another door, and up the stairs. What you don't see from the midway is the completely hidden lower level queue area. So it appears that people enter turn and then go up the stairs, when in reality they go into a whole nother secret area for quite some time. Its almost just like the cartoon of the disney queue that shows a building where people appear to be going in the front door, then right out the back door, till you see the second block where you see they go in the front door down stairs to a big queuee maze then back up the other stairs.

We got to the part where we had just reached the top of the first set fo stairs on the way up, right by the doorway to the rides service area when Voyage decided to take its 15 minute coffee break. A few people bailed line but not as many as you would think. Eventually I made it up to the station, and took another ride. Yep, the Voyage still has it, even this early in the morning the ride seems to be running all out. I tell you perfect ride, number one. So I took another ride on it. I was happy to see the maintenance crew prepating Voyage's third train,and I also noted that the safety line had not yet been painted on the ground for the photo walkback.

By the time I left Thanksgiving, free beverage in hand, Rideman must have moved on, so I decided to take a lap around the park to experience Holiday World's other fine rides.

My first stop was the Revolution, this is a Dartron Zero Gravity which replaced the parks earlier Roundhouse round-up ride. The ride action between the two is nearly identical, and the paint jobs are very similar. The revolution has a bit more flash, and a lot more get up and go as it gets to speed a lot faster, and it parks itself a lot faster. So even though the ride itself is actually shorter than a Roundhouse ride was, you spend almost all of that tie at full height and speed. The safety straps on this one seemed to be a bit longer than the ones on the portable model I rode at the Florida State Fair. That said I think the operator for Revolution could use a loudspeaker, as the operator this morning had a fairly soft voice so it was hard to hear the safety instructions. Revolution was a walk on.

From the Revolution I headed accross the midway to Eagle's Flight. Eagles Flight was a 2 cycle wait, but hey isince my home park hearlessly ripped out its Flying Skooters, I need to get these rides in when I can. I observed the rides ahead of mine, and to be quite honest, a still quiet is not what you want to hear while waiting for Flying Skooters, I didn't see anybody getting any snapping action. It came my turn to ride, where I was informed "You must have 2 people per bird", along with "400 pounds maximum per bird" Truth be known, I didn't press the issue, but I was a bit disapointed as I left the ride area without an Eagle's Flight ride.

I skipped Holidog's Fun Town as I already have the Howler credit, and have already experienced the Freedom Train. I heaqded back up the other side of 4th of July. I skipped Thunder Biumpers on Chesapeke Bay due to the 250 pound weight limit, and the fact that prior rides on it have taught me its a slow hot wait. But, how many other parks include thie bumber boats in with the POP? I headed to Liberty Launch. I was ready to take full advantage of my eligibility to use the singe rider line, until I looked at the ride line and noted that the Single rider line had 8 people in it, and there was less than one load in the regular queue. I entered the regular queue and was able to board the next cycle.

Liberty Launch has the tightest seats I have found ofr an S&S Tower ride, and I admit I needed operator assistance to get the bar down far enough to get the belt fastened. This is something I don't usually need on S&S Tower rides. So we get loaded and we launch up bounce a few times, then there is the downwards thrust, bounce a few more times and its over. In a park known for airtime laden rides, Liberty Launch is run in a weaker setting that offers no airtime. I know the Double Shot can provide the goods after riding the one at Playland Pier in Ocean City, NJ. A neat thing is that launch towers seem to lend themselves, almost demand that they be used as giant flagpoles. Holiday World's is no exception, I guess that gives a whole new meaning to "Let's run it up the flagpole and see who salutes" :)

From Liberty Launch I headed next door to Rough Riders. Rough Riders may look like, but it is not a bumper car ride. Bumper Bison and Bumper horse, or Bumper Cow ride maybe. The ride units are all shaped and painted to look like animals one may find in a stampede. The ride also has adjustable, comfortable safety belts that don't feel as if they are going to choke you on the next hard bump. The ride starts, and its an okay bumper ride, the 'cars' could stand to be a little bit faster, and bump a bit harder but all in all it was a good ride. I exited Rough Riders, had yet another free soft drink. Exiting the free drink station, I noted the parks's hero's memorial complete with its row of 14 American flags. I wonder how they settled on the number 14. The area also has to childrens rides the Salmon Run (Winky the Whale) and the Indian River Canoe (Venture Canoe). The Virginia Reel Tilt -A-Whirl was removed at the end of the last season.

I then headed over to a one cycle wait on one of my favortie flat rides in the park, Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. Its a spider ride that if you even look at the ride tub funny it starts spinning. This ride was no exception and a wonderful spin fest soon ensued. After PAul Revere I took a look around the Liberty Bell Shop, where none of the souvenirs really jumped out at me. I then headed up towards Christmas. It was now about 1:30 or so. I walked past the Toyland Museum (as I also avoided the Betsy Ross Doll Museum in 4th of July) The area has some shops like the Glassbower, the bakery, the fudge shop, the ice cream parlour, and Krinlgee Cafe. Further down is the Holiday Thetre, Santa's Storytime Theatre, the skeeball building and such. I stopped in Kringles for yet another drink, then headed towards Halloween.

I passed right by Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch kiddie area, which has a very unque seahorse ride I don't think I've seen anywhere else. I kept right on going and entered Halloween where I took a ride on the Raven. It was a station wait for the Raven and only a two train wait for the back seat. While waiting for the Raven I noted the rides new computer control console,which apparently has the neat feature in that the status display panel can inform the operator which lap bars have not yet been locked. Neat feature. I soon paired up with another single rider, and soon found myself sitting in the back left seat of the train. We took off, and the back seat of Raven still has it. The first drop was good, the second drop was great, but man look out for the nice powerful sustained airtime moment all the way down drop five. Raven is not taking the news that it has a new much larger brother in town lightly, Raven still wants to show that it can be a world class rollercoaster. Thanks for flying Raven Air, indeed.

I exited Raven and headed through Halloween, bypassing both the Scarecrow Scrambler and the Frightfull Falls. I noticed the high dive show which appeared to be in a rehearsal mode. The show is titled History of Diving and the stage area is decorated by various international flags. Flags, I might add, that are taken down at night. I'm not quite sure if proper flag etiquette is being followed, what with the Amerian flag being to the right of the stage instead of the left, but right now I have important matters to attend to.

I take a trip through Merlin's Arcade and note the lack of pinball machines, then I took a ride on Legend. Man, there was hardly anybody riding Legend, as evidenced by the fact I had the entire back two cars to myself. As I was sitting down, I noticed a cell phone in the seat, so I turned in the phone to the operator, and wondered if anybody would have the guts to try to claim it, I mean after all the signs expressly forbidding taking cell phones on the ride. The ride started, and whereas Raven is trying to be all that it can be, Legend is more in "lie down and play dead" mode. Its just going too slow, although it still gives that one nice airtime pop midway through the ride, the former 4 corners are just weak. I did notice that the water in the Frightfull Falls attraction appeared to be quite skanky from my vantage point on the Legend train.

From Legend, I went to take a ride on Hallowswings. Halllowswings is one of the parks newer rides, and is a wave swinger type ride, but done up in a Frightfully funny halloween theme where even the skulls are smiling. It was a fun ride flying above the halloween section of the park,then I headed back to Voyage. I took another ride on Voyage, where I noted the autospiel starring Will Koch himself. Its something about preparing for your Voyage to the new world. I especailly liked the line about loose articles will be washed out to sea and never seen again. I took another ride or two on Voyage in middle of the train seats. The middle seats on this ride are better than the end seats on a lot of other coasters. After my second ride, I realized it was getting close to 3pm, and I knew the photo walkback of Voyage was at 4pm. So I got a soft drink and headed out of Thanksgiving, and headed down into the water park.

Paul Drabek had hertily recommended the Bosco Sticks,so I was curious and wanted to try one. You know that line "I'd walk a mile to smoke a Camel",well thats how it felt getting back to the Bhari Snacks stand. Bosco sticks are cheese filled breadsticks served with your choice of pizza sauce, garlic butter, or nacho cheese. I followed Paul's advice and opted for the garlic butter. You get two sticks for $2.49, and the dipping sauce will run you another 49 cents, so $3. And worth every penny, hmm those were good. I washed them down with a drink from the Pepsi Oasis then made the trek back to Locker Island where I emptied out my locker and retained the key. I then made that arduous trek once again up to the Christmas section of the park. At this time, I am all for Holiday World's next ride being an in-park transportation system. Say a Skyride from Christmas to he intersection of 4th of July/ Thanksgiving/ Haloween, and Splashin Safari. So one more arduous trek up the hill, then I stop by the locker rental booth.

I had feared returning the locker rental both would take time as they looked up the reigstration card on the deposit envelope. Nope, they have a pretty efficient filing system, and they use your phone number (which you wrote on the envelope) as a passcode before releasing the $7 refund. I traded the key in for the refund, and then ran my swim bag out to the car, and picked up the camera. For re-entry you put your paw on Holidogs paw print on the support poles of the front gate for the uv magic lamp handstamp to glow. I took a few pictures, and made a stop to return all these free soft drinks I have been enjoying. I then returned to Thanksgiving via the shortcut path. Hey at least this time it was DOWN the big hill. I entered the Thanksgiving section and found the crew assembed in the smoking area and basically filling the midway alsmost all the way back to the Voyage gift shop. I picked up another drink, and man is it hot and humid and not all that pleasant standing here on this blacktop. I son joind the group that was waiting inside the Gobbler Getaway building. We enjoyed the air conditioning until we saw the crew outside moving forward for the photo walkback.

There were a couple muddy spots to avoid as we passed the construction site for the Plymouth Rock Cafe, and then we spotted the orange lines that would demarcate the boundaries we are to stay between for the walk back. I took a nice walk alongside the entire length of the Voyage stopping several times to take all sorts of various photos. It is also along the walkback that you get a beter appreciation for the terrain the ride sits on. It is a nice long steed hill up to the top of Voyage. They did allow a spot where we could walk out on the ground covering the tunnels for better shots of trains exiting and leaving tunnels, and unlike during the construction tour, they opened up a hillside going down so that we could get near one part of the turnaround. Not only was the photo walkback good for taking photos, it was also a good downtime as all the trees in the area actually made that part of the park nice and cool. I also enjoyed some nice conversation back by the turnaround (Hi Wolf!) and as we walked back the same way we entered to head back to Thanksgiving.

At the end of the photo walk back, we had some more drinks, then we rode Voyage. It was a short wait and so we all decided to go for back seat rides. Sure, no problem, back seat rides are my favorites on this. When it came time to board, I had my camera plaed in a free courtesy locker. This is just another case where Holiday World excels above other parks. The park realizes that people may not feel comfortable leaving their belonging out on shelfs, so they also provide lockers, but unlike other parks, they do not charge for these lockers. Yes they are coin operated lockers, which I don't understand, but Holiday World provided the coin. And wow antoher ride of Voyagey good perfection. I want to run down to the gift shop and get my very own Voyage to take home with me.

We look at the clock, we look at our schedule and realize we probably don't have time for another Voyage ride before the meeting in the picnic grove. We head up into Halooween, and take a Legend ride instead. We grab a second seat ride, and yes the camera goes into a nice courtesy locker. We mmet up with April and some other people on LEgends platform, so after our ride we have some drinks and head back to the picnic grove.

We enter the picnic grove using the entrance near the rapids ride, and at first I see what I think is a line to be admited to the picnic grove, but turns out to be a line to get to the sales tables and silent auction. I get into the line for these aspects of the activity. It is soon announced that in order to serve people faster the buffet lines will open early. Hmm, smell that fried chicken. Unlike the punctual opening of the buffets, the sales table area opens quite late.

There were two rows of tables, one row was for a silent auction, the other was for straight sales. I headed first for the sales table. I dub this the Holiday World Mainteance Warehouse Flea Market. Items for sale: Road wheels ($30), coaster bearings ($1),Holibolts ($1), lift hill flags ($30), PR/Marketing B-roll video ($10), Raven cicuit boards ($10) envelopes ($1), tickets allowing the bearer to photo/video Gobbler Getaway ($10), and possibly other items. Now it is no secret that I have gone to just about every Holiday World event since 1999, and have tried unsuscsefully to obtain a lift hill flag at auction. (At auction they have gone upwards of $50), so my first prioirty was to acquire a lift hill flag. I found a nice purple one (BTW:Purple is my favorite color), sure its a bit faded out, and yes there is some damage to the both corners on the fly end, but hey I'm not purchasing a flag to fly in front of my house, I am purchasing a rollercoaster flag that has some providence and history, and the fading and the damaged spots add to the authenticity of same. I decide to toss in a Raven bearing so I can have a part from each coaster and $31 later I am heading to look at the auction table. I note the Holiday World mainteance crew was standing around the area and they were engaged in answering coaster maintenance questions from the coaster nuts in attendance. Oh, and they even had a credit card machine setup.

Over on the auction table there were Voyage media kits, lapbars, coaster car dividers, a signed framed Voyage photo, Gravity Group shirts and mugs, and much more. The oddest thing on the auction table was a big plastic pail labeled "Will Koch's Coffee Mug" I'm sure there is a story behind that somewhere.

I soon took my purchases and headed up to the blue shelter house to obtain my buffett dinner. Okay, we grabbed plates and silverware then proceesed to play "Guess which condiments I need" since they have the condiments set out before you see what dinner consists of. We pass some dinner rolls, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, fruit salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, soft drinks, and all sorts of cookies. We fill our plates, then we went to join the rest of our group who had acquired seats in the red shelterhouse. Its not easy balancing a full plate of food, beverage, a coaster bearing, and a lift hill flag. And,now that I have the flag at home, I am wondering what AM I supposed to do with a 6'x2.5' piece of purple fabric complete with white header and4 grommets down one side.

But I make it to my table without spilling or dropping anything. It was a delicious dinner, and at the end of it we piled a community plate full of cookiews to bring back to the table, Hmm, Cookies. Don't worry there wan't any sign of that plate of cookies by the time we got finished with it, And they were so soft, like they were right out of the oven. After dinner, there was a much shot presentation where the reitterated the safety rules, thanked everybody for coming, and announced the winners of the auction prizes. They then asked anybody holding a Gobbler Getaway photo ride ticket ($10),to assemble near the front of the grove to be escorted to Gobbler Getaway, then the rest of the group would be released. I think the exodus from the picnic grove came earleier than the park planned. We spotted a security guard, and he merely told us to stay in either the Halloween or Thanksgicing sections of the park. Rideman and I both wanted to drop off lose articles to the car, so we asked about park reentry, and the guard replied that park reentry was not yet available.

We decided to head to Raven so that we wouls be near the gate when the time came to allow us to return stuff to cars and reenter. So yes, it was me that caused the Raven to stack as I loaded a courtesy lockcer up with Rideman's camcorder, my camera, a Raven bearing, and a Legend flag. We took a middle of the train ride on Raven to start ERT and the ride was no ad at all, I soon reclaimed all the aforementioned stuff out of the locker and we spotted other enthusiasts who were returning from their cars, so we made the dash out to the car. "Leaving already??!??" We dropped off a lot of stuff,then we renetered the park, gathered up our group, and headed for Voyage.

From this point until about 11:30 the pattern was approximately this "Ride Voyage, grab drink, get back in line for Voyage". We saw the line shrink from using the entire lower level queue maze, to just going downstairs and right back up by the end of ERT. WE got a front seat ride, we got several back car rides. With each ride the Voyage seemed more and more out of control. At one point we though, hey instead of lockers, purhaps the park could install a 3 compartment locking treausre chest next to each row.

At one point we went to take a break by riding Gobbler Getaway, and we were in the seat queues to be the next group loaded when the ride broke down for the night. We exited by going forwards onto the loading platform then took a left and exited the ride. Our requests to walk through the dark ride were cheerfully ignored. :)

Okay back to Voayge it is, and so we took more and more Voyage rides until abou 11:40 or so. We deicded that now was the time start making our exit. WE made the arduous journeym drink in hand, up to Legend, where we came into a totally empty Legend station and John and I took a front seat ride, and Ridean took a backseat ride. We then headed over to Raven, where Rideman and I scored a double ride in the backseat of Raven, then when John entered the back seat queue, we moved up to seat 4 and finished off the night with a quadruple ride in seat 4 of Raven. As we exited Raven Pat Koch was on the exit ramp, so we thanked Pat for having us, and headed towards the front gate where Paula, Pat and Will were all stationed in sort of a recieving line. WE gave our thanks for being invited back to the Coaster Enthusiasts Family Reunion at Holiday World and headed out to the parking lot. It was a very fast trip back to the hotel for John and I as I think we slept most of the way back to the hotel. Sorry bout that Rideman,.

Again, Many thanks to Will, Pat, Paula and the rest of the Holiday World staff and family for having us once again, thanks for putting on what continues to be one of the best coaster events. We'll be back, thats for sure!

Next up: Rumblefest at Beech Bend Park, Bowling Green, Kentucky.