Coasterville Commentary

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TR: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (5/20/07)

Trip Report: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
May 20, 2007
Louisville, KY

Today was the day after HoliWood Nights, and it seems like more often than not, we find ourselves stopping off at Kentucky Kingdom on the way home. This was of course the case, so after having the hotel courtesy brekafast, we push check out time to the limit. I noted the hotel had a business center, which helped, since I am in the .1% of enthusiasts that don't have a Six Flags pass, and see no reason for one. I was able to save $5 by printing off an advanced sale E-Ticket. ($34.95) We then took the hour plus drive to Louisville.

We had no trouble getting to the park, and had a somewhat strange experience for a Six Flags park. We pulled up at the toll plaza, handed the guy a $20, and got $15 back in change. As you know, usually when you visit a Six Flags park, you hand the guy a $20 and he hands you $5 back in change. Benefits of the parking lot not being owned by Six Flags.

We drive around the lot and eventually find a space not too far from the gate, then proceed to walk up to the park and show various tickets and passes. Entry is delayed by the metal detectors they place right after the turnstiles which really slow things down. Once inside the park and past the strong security presence, we note the front gate plaza area to be filled with Looney Tunes characters. More interesting is they had to antique cars (from the ride) parked near the fountain in the front of the park.

We enter the park and head to the right, and stop at Hellevator (Intamin Giant Drop), uhm, scratch that, the park has gone PC, the ride is now Superman: Tower of Power and sports a new red, yellow and blue paint job. It also sports a new simplified control system. Its an Intamin Giant Drop, but it has nice long seat belts, go figure. It also had a very effective drop, much better than the tower almost twice as tall up at Kings Island.

Having enjoyed that ride we start to make our way around the park. We note the faded out tubs on the (Huss) Breakdance received a fresh coat of paint. We headed for Road Runner Express (Maurer Shoene Wild Mouse), but decided the line was a bit long, it was all the way out to the entrance using the short path. We instead find ourselves taking a back car ride on Greezed Lightning (Schwarzkopf Launch Loop). Greezed Lightning may be one of the best rides in the park at the current time, but that doesn't excuse it for braking the train as it goes backwards through the station, killing the unique back car float on the back spike.

We had to kill some time before meeting Mark and Pete, so we took a spin on the Tin Lizzies (Antique Cars). They made me drive the car while they rode. It's not a particularly interesting track just one long elongated oval. We next caught a few moments of the character show in the ampitheatre, the Looney Tunes characters were line dancing to "Sweet Home Alabama" After that Dave and I take a ride on the (Huss) Enterprise. Be afraid, be very afraid. This Enterprise vibrated and shook the entire ride, and made real nasty noises. Unusual for a ride that is usually so quiet. The (Huss) Rainbow was down for the day, and it looked like the (Reverchon) Himalayah got some new paint to the railings, yet again. Maybe this time they did it right.

By this time, it was time to meet the others at the front gate, and Mark needed to get a season pass processed. After all that was over with, the lot of us took another ride on Superman: Power of Tower and Greezed Lightnin (we skipped the mouse again, the line was about the same as it was before). We then headed across was has become unaffectionately known as "The Damned Bridge"

Once across the bridge that separates the nicely laid out old part of the park from the haphazardly laid out new part of the park. They really should figure out how to move that fairgrounds entrance road. We all take a ride on the Giant Wheel. The line was through one switchback, and they were using 10 of the 40 cars on the ride. The Ferris Wheel ride was nice and scenic as it should be. What made it interesting is the operator. We will give her the benefit of the doubt and say she is brand new at operating the wheel. Besides not being able to park the wheel without jogging it back and forth several times, she also was losing track of which cars had had a ride cycle. We watched one group ahead of us get essentially a double ride, then she wanted to unload us after only one trip around the wheel. Needless to say all 5 cars in our group started complaining, so we got our full ride.

We headed around the park and looked athe the food court at the entrance to Splashwater Kingdom (don't want to use Hurricane in the name, might offend some) though they still had hurricane flags up as theming. The water park is getting a big make over, and we could see workers working on the parks new watercoaster slide. The food court prices were horrendous, but to see the funnel cake stand trying to pass off prepackaged funnel cakes off to its marks as fresh funnel cakes is beyond the pale.

I was the only one who wanted to ride Chang (B&M Stand Up coaster), so I did, it was a one train wait for the back row. I took the back left position, which seems to have some signifigance on lots of B&M coasters as being the best spot on the train. Chang did not disappoint with an inversion filled intense ride, followed by mandatory walk through retail as the exit goes through a gift shop. At least its arranged so there is a mostly straight shot to dash out. Oh, I did have to struggle to get the belt fastened on Chang, but thats no surprise on a B&M for me.

At this point the pathway was blocked for waterpark construction, and the park continues to make sure the pathways are different every visit. Essentially we have to backtrack all the way back around to Thunder Run. On our way there, we note that Rollerskater (Vekoma junior coaster) got a new station roof including a cute new sign. Dave noted the International Carousel lost its seatbelts. We took a pause to rest here before getting in line for Thunder Run.

The line for Thunder Run was just to the bottom of the stairs, but with single train operation and that patented slow dispatch times the ride is known for, it took a lot longer than it should have to get aboard. For our part, we didn't help matters by all insisting on riding in the front seat. So after waiting entirely too long, it was time for a front seat ride on Thunder Run. First let me struggle with this entirely too short seatbelt. Ahh, good buckled in, then do not pull back on the lap bar, the ride operator will do that for you.

We depart the station, up the lift, so far so good, down and through the banked curve, and I am getting the feeling that while last year this ride was somebody's baby and was running very smooth, its starting to roughen up. Mind you when I say rough, this is better than a lot of parks "smooth" wooden coasters. At least the triple hill out passage delivers the airtime. So the ride is still above average, but is starting to get rough, and with the bad QRR (Queue To Ride Ratio) we were disappointed with it. QRR - the longer you have to wait for a ride, the more the ride has to deliver.

Well we finish up Thunder Run, only one more coaster back here, its time to head back that long long dead end known as the Northwest Territory to ride Twisted Twins (commonly referred to as Twisted Whatevers) The ride in the back seat of the green train was particularly good for its ejector air on the first two or three hills. Overall though the ride is still rough and just isn't one of CCI's better rides.

At this time we check our watches, it is almost 6PM, and we need to stop for food. Thats puts us back in Cincinnati at 9PM to drop me off, then Dave and April get back to Columbus around 11pm. Sadly, it is time to go. We grab some Taco Bell in downtown Lousiville, then head on home. A big thanks to Mark and/or Pete for phoning us to warn us about that bug traffic backup we were therefore able to avoid.

Next up: Firehawk at King's Island - May 28, 2007

TR: Kings Island - 4/29/07

Trip Report: Kings Island
April 29, 2007
Mason, OH

Today was just a quick visit to the park. That's one of the benefits to being a seasonpass holder, I can arrive that the park just before 4PM on an 8PM close and not feel rushed or like I wasted money. My partners for this round of fun are Rideman and April.

Accordingly, we arrived just before 4pm, and used assorted Cedar Fair Maxx Passes to park and enter the park. We enter the park, and not wanting to overdo it, we head right to Graeter's for some of their wonderful ice cream. I had the black raspberry chip, if you care.

After having our ice cream, we deicded to start in Nick Universe, which would go well since we started in Action Zone last time. For our first ride, we rode the Fairly Odd Coaster (1972 John Allen PTC junior wood coaster) - its the classic PTC kiddie coaster layout, well except for the fact the final dip is missing, a trim brake has been added to the turn over the station, and the station is on the straight track rather than along the curve. It's still the best running wood coaster in the park despite the trim brake.

From Fairly Odd Coaster, April grabs a snow cone, then we head to Avatar (Zamperla Skater Coaster). April doesn't like spin rides, so Rideman and I take a ride on this spin ride while April enjoys the snow cone. This time we got an upgrade from last week, we were in row 5 on the end, instead of row 4 in the center. I really do like Avatar, though sometimes I question if it really belongs in the children's oriented section of the park. That ride may be a bit more than some kiddies may have bargained for.

From Avatar, April rejoins us, and we head to Rugrat's Runaway Reptar, (Vekoma Junior Inverted coaster). Owing to the awful station design where it can be hard to push through the crowds waiting for the back seats to get to the front, the line took longer than it appeared, even though it spilled just barely out of the station into the queue. We found seats in the middle of the train and rode another solid reliable coaster. April also noted for the first time that the park added Phantom Phlyers (Zamperla Kite Flyer)

We were headed to Wild Thornberries River Adventure, it was getting a bit hot, and the line was only through one switchback in the queue house. We wound up not riding, and April needed to take care of other matters. While April was off taking care of other matters, Dave and I started back in Coney where we started with a ride on Vortex. (Arrow 6 inversion multi element coaster) We took a ride in the second to last seat, and confirmed that yes, Vortex seems to be running better this year. Rideman noted evidence of some major track maintenance, and with video camera in hand, walked alongside the ride fence in Coney while I watched Three Point Challenge (aka License To Print Money).

After Dave got done taping, we both went for a ride on Shake, Rattle and Roll (Huss Troika) We had heard a rumor that the park had installed seatbelts, and a worse rumor that they were short seat belts. Never fear, while the park did install two individual retracting seatbelts in each car, they are plenty long enough. We figure the person who commented about the belts being short doesn't know how to work retracting seatbelts.

We saw a few friends at this point who informed us that Flight of Fear was running an hour wait. We skipped Flight of Fear and headed to Racer. We took a ride in a random seat towards the back of the train. Racer did get some care this year, and I can tell it's trying to perform, it really is. Now lets get some grease on, and the trim brake off.

We headed into Oktoberfest and noted the sign for a new Coke Oasis coming soon. We then headed to Adventure Express. We took a ride near the back of the train. Adventure Express delivers an intense fun peepy ride, and today was no exception.

We then headed into Action Zone, where we made the trek all the way to the back to ride Top Gun. As usual Top Gun was a complete walk on, so into the next to the last seat we go. Like most of King's Island's coasters, Top Gun delivers a solid ride, just nothing exceptionally noteworthy.

Next, we were going to ride Delirium, but we met back up with April, and headed to Italian Job instead. Italian Job had a short wait, it was back just past the bridge over the track. We wound up in the middle red car, which on this ride means its just a fun quick ride, the only airtime is in the blue car.

By the time we finished with Italain Job, it was almost time for the park to close, but we still managed to make it down to Adventure Express for one more ride. There was almost nobody riding Adventure Express so we all took front seat rides. By the time we were done, it was time for the park to close. So following what has become usual tradition for a Kings Island visit, a trip to Culvers was in order.

That's all the park outings for April, next scheduled outing is Holiwood Nights!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

TR:Kings Island - 4/22/07

Trip Report: Kings Island
April 22, 2007
Mason, OH

"A transition period"

I'm a coaster enthusiast from Cincinnati, and its opening weekend for Kings Island. Sounds like a natural to be, and although I got started a little bit later than planned, a fun day was in store for me.

When I arrived at the park, I started looking for changes. This is the first full season under Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, so I was eager to see if they put their fingerprint on the park yet. The first thing I noticed is that the giant marquee sign still reads "Paramount's Kings Island" this did not come as a shock as I had heard at an off season event that the big sign was not going to change right away. This sign was replaced just a few years ago and has a very distinctive look, it is meant to look like the front gates of Paramount Studios. Therefore, perhaps just removing the word "Paramount" isn't going to be enough. I did note that the parking prices so far are the same as last year ($10/$15 for "Premier" close in parking).

One of the first changes I noticed concerns the passenger drop off area. It seems that Cedar Fair isn't in favor of the gratuitous use of American flags as decorations. Last year the drop off area sported to United States flags, and two State of Ohio flags, this year it sports four brand new Cedar Fair logo flags. I proceeded towards the park when I noticed the chain link fence around the preferred parking area has been replaced with a ranch style split rail wood fence. I'm all for starting a chain link fence removal project, Paramount had an affinity with that stuff, sure it’s a cheap solution, but chain link fence has no place in a theme park. I also muse that the new fence will be easy to knock down if that preferred parking doesn't work out for them.

I head up to the entrance plaza. The movie posters on the right hand side have been removed, cases and all, but I was disappointed not to see "Kings Island" written in topiaries return. Give them time on that landscaping though, as there was evidence in the park that a landscaping project is in progress. For example a nice arrangement has been setup around the big light post in the center of the front gate plaza. And in regards to my earlier comment, yes they did leave the oversize US flag on its pole out in front of the park, lowered to half staff today in honor of the Virginia Tech tragedy. There were a couple improvements to the front gate plaza that didn't make sense to me. The first one concerns the concrete curbs that used to separate the tram lanes from the pedestrian lanes. Those concrete barriers are still there, less than a foot high, and with new vivid yellow paint. Obviously they felt the need to point out these trip hazards, but why not get rid of them all together since trams hardly run at all, and when they do they no longer go up into the old tram circle. I'm hoping this is a stopgap measure waiting for Cedar Fair to begin one of its blacktop removal projects. Kings Island has far too many blacktop midways.

I also noted the ride safety signs out in front of the park have been replaced with brand new ride safety signs, you know the ones that list the height requirements for all the rides and the general park rules. The new signs are missing a place to list which rides are closed, which seemed to me to be the most useful part of the old signs. I noted the canopy with the new logo has been installed over the entrance to the season, pass processing area and also noted some scary looking lines. I had processed last week, so it was forward and through the metal detector with no problem, and into the park. I also noted the "Park will close tonight at: " signs have been removed. It seems Cedar Fair is reluctant to share some basic information I would find useful before entering the park. I had no trouble entering the park with my faceless Maxx Pass, and since I was joining friends at the park I first glanced at some of the new shirts in the gift shop next to the gate, then grabbed a park map to look at.

The map is of the same basic appearance as the maps used to be. Sure, Son of Beast has been redrawn to remove its loop, and Firehawk has been added, but the same basic map is still there. What did change is the style template. Instead of using a Disney-like style, they used a Cedar Fair style. The park services icons changed to those that Cedar Fair tends to use, ride names are now printed directly on the map, and the ride safety guide, as well as the general park information has been moved to the back side of the map. I think a benefit is that the map drawing itself is actually a bit larger than it used to be. The brochure also includes an operating calendar, a show schedule, an acknowledgement of the 35th anniversary, and a blurb about Fear Fest. Soon Dave, April, and Rob had arrived so we headed to Action Zone. I noticed the return ticket booth still had its Winterfest alpine chalet look, and that nothing had happened at the Paramount Theatre. Oh, the keyhole photo people were still there in full ambush mode as well.

We entered Action Zone and I noted the water tower is still Paramount logoed, but the movie posters have been changed to ride and event posters. Our first ride was Drop Zone. Drop Zone was about a three cycle wait and there were no noticeable changes to the ride or the theme in the area. For the record I was able to fit, but it took operator assistance. At least the Cedar Fair "You must fasten it yourself" policy hasn't taken hold yet. I find it funny that Drop Zone is featured in the parks new television spot, and as they show Drop Zone the narration goes "Defy gravity!" I thought that Drop Zone was a demonstration of gravity. Maybe its because I am so tightly stuffed into my seat, that I actually like the smaller drop tower rides at carnivals and fairs better.

I looked over at Congo Falls where things appeared to be going normal and unchanged, then we walked past some more basically unchanged things: On Location Shop, I Scream Zone, Days of Thunder, Extreme Skyflyer. Son of Beast is still closed, but we took a trip on Top Gun. Top Gun lost the Mach 3 razor sponsorship, and new seat belts have been added that feed up between your legs and fasten to the bottom center of the shoulder harness. These belts will prevent some riders who were able to ride this ride in the past from riding again. I did not have any problems with it, and we rode a Top Gun which other than the modifications indicated is running about the same as it did last year.

As we exited Top Gun we craned our necks to look at the No Loop on Son of Beast, then headed back to the Action Zone proper. We made a stop for some Smurfy Blue Ice Cream ($3.50!), then headed towards Italian Job. We passed through Oktoberfest which didn't look to have changed. We noted the signs indicating that the Festhaus would soon add a Chinese station to the Italian station (in the form of LaRosas Pizza) , and the American station (burgers and chicken sticks). It's a building in Oktoberfest, themed to a German bier hall, and yet I don't think you can get a hot dog, let alone a bratwurst or mettwurst, and don't even think about schnitzel with noodles or sauerbraten. At least you can get bier in there as you sit in a subdued silence, as the German bier hall style entertainment has long been laid off, and in fact any live entertainment hasn't existed in here for over a decade, except for a brief stint during Winterfest. Come on Cedar Fair, turn this into a German themed Red Garter! Viking Fury was still swinging, and then we hit International Street.

The Emporium is still going strong, and are those Ohio Lottery tickets on sale. I also noted additional keyhole photo booths have been added one in front of Emporium, and the other next to Starbucks, bringing the total count to 4 pick up locations. We walked around Tower where the flags have been replaced by either Kings Island or Cedar Fair flags. I noticed the info booth is gone, the International Showplace is being prepped for its show to open later in the summer, and there is a tropical island set on the bandstand. Cedar Fair gutted Paramount Story, but left the gigantic Tomb Raider sculpture. We headed back to Italian Job but it wasn't open. I noticed the gas pump style bulk candy machines have been replaced with units that look like giant globes.

With Italian Job closed, we headed to Beast. We first had to dodge an ambush by one of those discount vacation booths, you know the kind that typically end in you having to spend part of your cut rate price vacation attending a high pressure sales pitch for a timeshare, condo or vacation club arrangement. I was hoping that would be gone, as I think it cheapens the theme park experience, this is the kind of thing I would expect to see at a state fair, not a major theme park.

We approached Beast, and the Cool Zone has been removed as well as some of the vending machines in the queue. The vending machines that remain have been lowered from $3.25 last year to $3.00 this year. The concession stands are selling soft drinks for $3.50 this year, and have a souvenir cup deal. You get a real low quality souvenir cup for $6.99 that makes you eligible for refills for $1.99. Of more importance for those of us that don't like needless steep hills, the fence separating Beast Exit and Entrance has been removed. This makes getting a second ride a little easier. Now if we could get rid of the tacky chain link fence for the Gold Pass Speedlane. I say get rid of the chain link, and post a greeter at the Speed Lane entrance. We headed to seat 1.2 of Beast. Same seatbelts as last year. On the ride one could note some new perimeter safety fence going up around the ride, and it looks as if there was a retracking project between tunnel 2 and lift 2. It's not glass smooth, but I've felt it run a lot worse.

We exited Beast, and stopped for some Bowler Roller fun, before heading to Italian Job. I noted the pizza stand is now advertising hoagies as a food choice, which is a good upgrade. We arrived at Italian Job and it was open with the line just reaching back to the queue maze. We were able to request and receive the front car, which is the only car of the three to get airtime, and the front seat is a lot better than the back seat in that same car. I was eager to see how this ride has gone special effects wise. Well the on board audio is still out, and it looks like they are removing the speakers from the cars. We launched, and I near grayed out in that first helix. It disoriented me enough that I was taken for a surprise that when we entered the s curve where you swerve around the police cars, not only did the police cars lights work, but their sirens as well. I don't recall those cars having sirens before. We went around the 90* bank curve, down the dip, scored a hint of airtime, and down the subway drop (still no subway stair effect), and into the show scene. The show scene looked to be running a bit better than it did at the end of last year, though the cars headlights still don't come on in the long tunnel, and the water splash finale was turned off as well. Not a bad ride by any means, we'll see how long the special effects hold out though. Oh, and the ride didn't get seatbelts yet.

After riding Italian Job we ran into some other coaster enthusiasts and chatted for a few moments, then headed up towards Coney. We watched the Three Point Challenge, otherwise known as "License To Print Money" before heading to Skyline Chili. We grabbed a lunch of cheese coneys and water before looking over to see the Dodgem cars still have those ridiculously short shoulder loops, and I took a look at the flags in the middle of Coney. I was wondering what was going to happen to these. Last year they had eight flagpoles and on them they had a United States Flag, and Canadian Flag, as well as flags for Ohio, California, Virginia, Ontario, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The places where you could find the original KECO parks, and then by association the Paramount Parks. I was wondering how they were going to add in the new states, but they didn't, they are now solid yellow or purple flags, similar to what Cedar Fair used for decoration in their other parks. The decorative flags above the Coney Mall arch received a similar treatment. Some more Bowler Roller was played and I noted that not only did the rides get brand new Cedar Fair style safety signs, but the games received new uniform signage, with fun shaped yellow signs. The gift shop in Coney has returned to being a teen rock type shop, called "Attitudes", and the other one is a candy shop. It's Fried is now Midway Treats and Eats featuring paninni sandwiches.

I also started to notice that the practice of a persons uniform matching their job function is returning to the park. Sweepers are in yellow, guest services in hunter green, games people are wearing referees stripes, and so forth. It adds a fun and colorful new look to the park. We then headed back towards Flight of Fear. This areas vending machines have also been removed. I for one appreciated the very low perimeter fence around the Firehawk construction site, allowing for a commanding view of the area. Can’t wait for that ride to open up.

We entered Flight of Fear and the hangar was about half full of people. I hear it was about a half hour wait, which did include holding out for the front seat. Contrary to rumors I had heard the seatbelts on Flight of Fear hadn't changed, and in fact may have gotten a tad longer. What also hasn't changed is the fact they are bringing you to a near halt on the mid course brake. In other words, its running about as it did last season, but hey there was a sign promising on ride videos soon, that should be interesting to see.

We headed from Flight of Fear to Racer. For the first round on Racer, Rideman scouted out the forwards side, translation being he doesn't care for backwards Racer (recaR). The rest of us gave a wonderfully retracked recaR a spin. How come the backwards side always gets all the love in terms of retracking. Rob and I headed back for a ride on Racer (forwards) and were pleasantly surprised by one of the better rides we have gotten on it in quite some time. Obviously Racer also got some love this year.

We headed from Racer to Adventure Express. Adventure Express received seatbelts, and the installation is very similar to Beast and Racer, meaning they will not pose any problems for larger riders. The ride itself is about the same as always, the drummers appeared to be working, but the big dude at the top of the lift must have been laid off a few seasons ago. There is a work area for a new cool zone next to the Cyber Sez attraction (that thing is still here??), and over at Slingshot the ride is down as it looks to be getting its springs replaced.

From Adventure Express, we took a spin on Delirium, with only a third of the queue maze in use. Delirium is still running a decent, though not exceptional ride cycle, and I didn't notice any real changes. At this point we made a run out to the car to drop off some things we didn't need, pick up a teddy bear that is the subject of one of those "Teddy Bears Vacation Photo Album" projects, you know the kind where you lend your teddy bear out to other family members and they get photos of your bear 'on vacation'.

We then headed back into the park. Somehow they are using the usual black light ink handstamps, but you can reenter the park at any admission lane, and those lanes are not equipped with black lights yet. Curious.

We headed up International Street, the Thrills are Paramount store is now Lotsapalooza, the Girls Space and the build-a-bear knockoff stores remain, as do the United States, Ohio and Kings Island flags in the flag display. I forgot to check at the base of the United States flag to see if the ACE marker remains. I glanced in the remodeled Laroasas, and checked out the menu at the new Fontana Bistro. We then headed to Nick Universe.

Nick Universe seems to be basically the same as it was last year. We took a spin on the Fairly Odd Coaster and Avatar. Avatar is still running the shortened program it inherited partway through last season. We noticed seats have been added to the former Slime Bowl, which had been gutted a few years back to use as a character meet and greet, and it is being returned to a live performance space again. Don't worry though, because at least today the characters were out walking Nick Universe and the front gate area in force. You know, the way they used to do before meet and greet areas were established.

We decided not to ride Reptar, and headed towards Rivertown. I noted that Wings is now a buffet, so the experiment at the end of last season must have worked out for them. The train ride was closed, shame the new owners also don't see the train as any more than transportation to the waterpark. Tomb Raider was also closed, what a surprise. We headed over to Vortex. Vortex, like Top Gun also got the crotch straps this year, something Cedar Fair seems adamant about in all their parks. Vortex, though, might, just might be running better than it has in several seasons. They weren't brining it to a near halt on the mid course brake. Happy 20th Vortex. Speaking of anniversaries - it is the parks 35th, Racer and Fairly Odd Coaster are also 35, Vortex is 20, Little Bills Giggle Coaster is 15.

The Action FX Theater was closed and we started to head towards Tower. We noted the Launch Pad, which is a trampoline jump attraction, is still around. We also noted the person who made the new signage for it clearly wasn't thinking. The sign reads: Launch Pad: $10 Per Jump. Yikes! That could get real expensive, real fast. We noted no one experiencing the Launch Pad.

We headed up to the top of Tower to get a view of the park from above, and noted it was going on 7:30. We decided to head out. In the Swiss Building, Animation Station has been replaced by another t shirt shop called "Thrillseekers"

All in all it was a good day, obviously the park isn't quite ready for prime time yet, but it usually isn't until June. It will be interesting watching the changeover take place, now that we know it will be more gradual and less in-your-face.

TR: Holiwood Nights (5/18-19, 2007) - Holiday World

Trip Report: HoliWood Nights 2

Holiday World

Santa Claus, IN

May 18-19, 2007

Today begins that springtime ritual that declares roller coaster season is really upon us. Most seasons the prime coaster season starts with an event at Holiday World and ends with one at Knoebels. Holiday World sweetens the deal by having a second bonus ERT session and meal the night before the main event. Technically the event starts at park close on Friday, May 18, but the admission ticket will admit you as early as 5pm, and we learned quietly that they would start admitting people at 4pm. This didn’t really matter as we plan our arrival time around 5-6pm and anything else you get is a bonus.

It’s about a three hour trek from my house to the park, so even though I could probably work a half day and then go to the event (and in fact when I had to punch a clock I would do just that) now I just take the entire day off. I started the day by trying out a newer Indian buffet in my area (It was your typical Indian buffet, seen one, you’ve seen them all). A short time later a Crown Vic containing Dave “Rideman” Althoff, Jr and April arrived at Coasterville and we started the 3 hour trek to the park. All told, we pulled into the Raven lot around 5:45. Since we knew we couldn’t do much in 15 minutes, we took the extra time to vulture (or is that Raven) a close in parking space donated to us by a departing park guest.

Holiday World has coaster events down to a science, I mean they just activate “Coaster Event Mode” So, with little fuss, we headed up to the main gate, collected our packets, and then returned to the parking lot to drop off the stuff we didn’t need. First to go into the car was the event T-shirt. It seems they have settled on a look for the Holiwood Nights shirts. The front has a smallish Holiwood Nights logo, and the back is made to look like a movie poster. Last year’s shirt was gray, and the movie poster was “The Greatest Coaster Ever Built”, this year the shirts were a nice cream color with the movie poster being “Attack of the Airtime Monster”. We also ditched the envelopes containing the event schedule, (after confirming that yes, it is the usual schedule), the coupon sheet and Saturday’s tickets. We took the name badges and Friday tickets with us and headed back to the main gate.

By this time the park had closed for the day, so instead of being sent to the picnic grove for the pre-event safety briefing and prayer, we were held outside the park in the entry plaza. As we would later find out this has great advantages, primarily we could talk to each other without having to compete with the PA system, we weren’t crammed into the grove with the herd, and when ERT started we were admitted through the front gate instead of joining the running of the bulls from the picnic grove. In fact, we reached Raven well before anybody starting from the picnic grove. Rideman made a smart comment about the sign “the park will close tonight at 6:00PM” as we enter at 6:30PM.

We started the night with two back car rides on the Raven. Since, by now, most people have been to Holiday World or have read a lot about their coasters, I’ll leave the track layout descriptions as read. For me the first ride was 6.1 and the ride seemed sluggish , like it hadn’t quite warmed up yet. We then went for a second ride, which I took in the back seat. Ah, yes there is that infamous strong dose of airtime the ride is famous for. And the ride seems to be doing a tad better than the first ride. At this time, April went to join friends for pizza at 7, and Rideman and I headed for a Pepsi Oasis to start enjoying those free soft drinks, and then went for a back seat ride on Legend.

Last year, we both thought Legend wasn’t performing well, it was sluggish and a shadow of its former self. We could tell right off with this first ride that Legend received a lot of attention and was already performing at or near as well as when it first opened. After Legend, we followed the shortcut path behind HoliSwings to go grab some pizza, and we made the silly error of continuing up the hill bypassing Raven instead of taking another Raven ride.

We entered Kringles Kafe to join the rest of the group already dining. Two jumbo slices of pizza, pepsi, phudge, potato chips and a veggie tray were on the menu. Apparently seconds are available on everything except the fudge. So we wound up having 4 slices of pizza. We sat for awhile chatting as we enjoyed dinner, and someone was walking around passing out free CD’s that contained a copy of the HoliWood Nights theme song. I gave it a listen when I got home, pretty cool. After having our fill of all the pizza we could stand, it was time to head for the main event We headed to Thanksgiving, first being thankful they had the path through 4th of July open which is a little bit gentler terrain. We entered the Thanksgiving section of the park where the Voyage was running. We would wind up spending the rest of Friday on the Voyage.

Rideman and I took our first Voyage ride in the very back seat. I could tell right off that Voyage is still “The Greatest Wood Coaster Ever Built”. In the back seat, the ride waits no longer than the first drop to start providing nice strong pops of quality “legs pinned to underside of lap bar” airtime. I mean airtime on just about every drop, and the turnarounds on either end are just wicked. We gabbed a drink, and followed that up with another Voyage ride, this time we took the first available seat, which happened to be the seat 4.2. It was a nice middle of the train ride, and we got to learn that the ride is no slouch in the middle cars. You may not get as strong of airtime as in the rear, but you do get nice floaters throughout the ride, and you still get all the wicked laterals in the turns.

Having finished that ride, what’s a coaster enthusiast to do? Well, get back in line and this time we found ourselves strapping into seat 3.2. The train left the station with an uneasy vibration and grinding noise under our feet. This train did not track near as smooth as the other train, leading to a much rougher ride. That was still a good ride, but not near as good as the other train. After this ride we met up with April’s group, and decided she needed the back seat experience. So, we all got in line again, and we all waited for the back seat. Coaster nirvana coming up, nice strong airtime, great laterals, a wonderful layout and total darkness. Folks, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

At this point, we were thinking about heading up to Raven, but hey we can squeeze in just one more Voyage ride. We got back in line, lined up for the back seat, and not much longer, looked out the station window to see the queue had been cut. Doing the math, we decided to turn 1 back seat ride into 4 car 3 rides. The only bad thing about it was we got the bad train, so while we got 4 rides on a great coaster, we were also feeling pretty drained.

All told I wound up getting 8 Voyage rides. 2 in the very back seat, 2 in the middle, and then a 4 circuit super ride to end the night (in car 3). The queue for Voyage never extended much further than the stairs out of the station, which meant it was easy to get multiple rides.

Woe to us, the Pepsi Oasis was closed for the evening, and we have, except for coming out of the back of Splashin’ Safari the harshest uphill hike to the front gate. We hiked up to the front gate, talked a bit in the entrance plaza, then headed to our car. We next made the trek to our hotel. The hotel website said it was off of the Dale exit in Huntingburg, it didn’t say it was on the far side of Huntingburg. Roughly 16 miles later we checked into our hotel in the middle of nowhere. Roughly 10 minutes later we were heading to Denny’s for some late night chat and munchies. Yeah, those hot and spicy buffalo wings at midnight were a great idea. Now, leave me alone as I enjoy a night of waking up about every half hour going “Why did you do that to yourself”

The next morning, I wake up, check out the somewhat underwhelming hotel courtesy breakfast. We discover the hotel hot tub is anything but hot. All told, after some missteps, and backtracking we arrived at the park around 12:30. We could have parked in the back of the Raven lot, but decided to chance the gravely Legend lot. It was also looking pretty bad, but we were able to vulture a space not too far from the stairs.

We walked down the stairs and tunnel, then the railings ensure you walk all the way to the front of the Raven lot, instead of taking the shorter path through the Raven lot. We arrive at the entry plaza to learn that Voyage was on the list of rides not currently operating. Boo Hiss. So with one of out 4 coasters closed, where does the group head? Towards Voyage naturally to see what’s wrong. By the time we got to Thanksgiving the ride was in fact reopened. However instead of going to ride it, or any of the other rides in Thanksgiving, we decided to check out the parks newest attraction, a brand new eatery called the Plymouth Rock Café. The PRC is a cafeteria style operation that serves up traditional style thanksgiving dinners. The concept is real simple, you get in line, choose 1 meat, any 3 sides (and they have darn near every side dish imaginable), and 1 bread. You take that up to the register, and pay just $6.99. Yep, a full meal at an amusement park for under $7. If you want to add dessert to your meal, its just $2.49 more. Don’t forget to grab a free beverage at the Pepsi Oasis located conveniently right outside the exit doors to the serving area. I opted for Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a sweet ice tea. All for $9.48, it’s a fantastic price, but how is the food. Well, the portions were generous, and the food quality was above average.

We enjoyed our lunch, had some nice conversation, then decided to go explore the park. April and her group headed to the waterpark. Dave and I headed to the rides. With Thanksgiving filling up fast now that people have figured out Voyage is open, we decided our futures were better served in Halloween. We headed to a walk-on Legend, and took a ride in car 2. Legend was running great, but it seemed rougher than our ride last night. We also ran into JerryD at this time. So the three of us went around for another Legend ride, this time in the front car, of the other train. This put Jerry in the same seat he just got out of, but on the other train. We agreed that the “A” train was running better than the “B” train and continued our park tour. Rideman wanted to get photos of all the rides, so we paused at but did not ride the Scarecrow Scrambler. I looked at the diving show, looks to be the same show as last year, except I noted in last years trip report that the American flag was displayed to the far right of a grouping of international flags, instead of the far left, this has been corrected this year.

We next headed for a walk on ride on the Raven. We took a nice back seat ride, and the Raven is warming up, should be a great ride by tonight. Next Dave went to get photos of the rides in Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch children’s ride area. It’s something about taking video and photos of children that aren’t yours that has raised a significant amount of interest in some parks and carnivals, so Jerry and I stayed back by chatting until Dave safely cleared the area. We headed past through Christmas in an effort to get to 4th of July. Once in 4th of July, we headed to Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride (an Eyerly Spider). It’s a particularly well running Spider, and I noted we had an all Dave sweep. The riders in both tubs on that sweep were named Dave, as was the loader. The ride seemed somewhat short, but it delivered well in the spin department.

We grabbed another drink and observed the Rough Riders bumper cars, they still have too many cars on the floor but they look to have been sped up a little bit since last year. We knew Liberty Launch has short seatbelts, not that I have ever been denied a ride, it just takes the operator really shoving on the bar. We decided to skip it owing to its line. We headed into Holidog’s FunTown so Dave could get more photos. It’s really a cute well done area. We grabbed some Orange N. Cream ICEE’s (no, those aren’t on the beverage plan, but the prices are reasonable) After enjoying our frozen slush, we headed back to 4th of July.

Our next stop was the Revolution (a Dartron Zero Gravity) which is a modern Round Up. He Zero Gravity features a quicker ride owing to the fact it gets up to speed quite fast and slows down at the end of the ride quite fast, leaving more time for the main part of the ride. Never fear it spins quite fast and is actually a great ride. I noted it got new restraint belts this year. From the Revolution we headed to the Eagle’s Flight (a Bisch Rocco Flying Skooters). Why do we continue to waste our time with this ride. I think it’s partially because Kings Island removed their Skooters a couple years ago and we are suffering withdraw, and it isn’t going to help that my last Flyers ride was on THE Flyer of Knoebel’s Grove. I tried to remind myself this isn’t going to be as good as the Knoebel’s ride, but this was just lifeless.

Jerry had to check into his hotel, so Dave and I headed into Thanksgiving, the line for Voyage still looked a bit long, so we thought we’d save that for ERT, and instead headed to the new Turkey Whirl (a Sellner G5 Tilt-A-Whirl), that I prefer to call “Turkey Twhirler” It’s a custom Tilt was the new open style cars that are made up to look like giant smiling turkeys. Its one of those ‘too-cute’ custom rides. We took a ride on the Turkey Whirl and to no ones surprise it rides about the same as a Tilt-A-Whirl. (What else did you expect?)

Next we headed to Gobbler Getaway (a Sally interactive dark ride). This just opened last year, and it appeared as if they were still putting the finishing touches on it last year. There was a bit of a line, but it had just reopened after a shut down, and once things got moving, the line pretty much is constantly moving. We get into our car, lower the lapbars, and grab our Turkey Callers. You know, I want to say Gun so bad, but Holiday World, like most theme parks, don’t want to promote guns and violence, so instead of guns you have Turkey Callers, or Fright Lights, or some other innocent sounding device. But here I think the premise fails, as a Turkey Caller should attract any Turkey within earshot of the device, not just those with line of sight contact. But let’s dispense with that, even the Holiwood Nights theme song uses verses like “Shooting Turkeys for points is so fun” and “Dark ride lovers, grab your guns” It’s the modern version of the shooting gallery, except to make it harder, you are constantly moving. Hey, if it keeps both shooting galleries and dark rides alive, I’ll take the fusion of the two concepts. Gobbler Getaway is a great ride, its got several long scenes where you just get to watch, so you still get the story, then in other parts, you tune out the visuals and the sound, its just nail those targets, nail as many as you can. In the end we see the other problem with using Turkey Callers instead of guns, near the end of the ride, the family is sitting down to dinner and the father says he just couldn’t do it, as he raises the silver lid on the platter to reveal a pizza. After that we go through the infamous room of dancing turkeys and chaser lights. The turkeys have won, and they are rubbing it in your face. I didn’t notice the strong pumpkin pie smell this year, which is a shame, as that would have led to tons of suggestive sales at Plymouth Rock Café.

From Thanksgiving, we head back up to Halloween. Dave needs a quick break, so I grab a ride on the Scarecrow Scrambler (Eli Bridge Scrambler). Then Jerry rejoins us, and eventually so does April’s group. We all head to Voyage, take 2-3 rides on Voyage, mostly towards the back, on our final ride of the regular day, we opt to ride in the front seat. Waiting for the front seat added another half an hour onto the wait, and made us officially late for dinner. The front seat ride is great for wind in your hair, and offers some nice airtime pops, but I think I prefer the back better. I think they were starting to clear the park when we exited Voyage, so we quickly pinned on our name tags, grabbed our meal tickets and made our way back to the Picnic Grove. They had closed two of the serving lines by the time we arrived and we were some of the last to get dinner, but to the parks credit, they did restock the buffet table even as we were grabbing our meal. They were halfway through the auction when we arrived. This year, I was good I totally ignored the auction, and didn’t buy anything. Especially not the massive Zinga vinyl banner, that the park suggested you could convert into the world’s longest Slip-N-Slide.

At the end of the picnic style dinner, we waited for the herd to leave the Grove, then Rideman and I headed for Legend, figuring that the crowds all headed off towards Voyage. One back seat ride on Legend later, and I was heard to loudly proclaim “Now THAT’s The Legend I remember” It all seemed so fitting to be riding Legend wearing an Arnold’s Park shirt. It was so good we rode it again, and then again with April and group, and then maybe again. Legend was running fantastic tonight. But let’s not get carried away here.

We did go up the hill and take some insurance rides on Raven, just in case we didn’t make it back up out of Voyage Canyon in time. Then we headed down to Voyage. I recall we weren’t as picky about where we sat on the second night, oh wait maybe we were, we did seem to wind up in that back car more often than not. We rode Voyage until it wore us out. Each ride seeming more intense and demanding than the ride before it. Voyage isn’t just a passive ride, Voyage is a challenge, Voyage is just about the most intense night ride there is out there, owing in large part to that wicked turnaround at the far end that demands bracing and anticipation, but you can’t see what is coming.

Around 11:30 we headed up to Raven and finished up the night on Raven. Again, more often than not in the back car. Raven is a great ride, but when taken right after Voyage, seems to lose a little bit of its luster. We then made our way out of the park, and back to the hotel. We decided against any late night dining adventures tonight as we were all pretty much worn out, and I think I was asleep within 5-10 minutes of getting into my room,

But wait, there is more! Stay tuned as on Sunday we head to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, watch for it in a separate trip report.

Thanks for reading.