Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Holiday World/ Beech Bend Weekend

Trip Report: Holiday World (Holiwood Nights in 3D) Santa Claus, IN - May 23-24, 2008
Beech Bend Park (Rumblefest) - Bowling Green, KY May 25, 2008
The Drive back home - May 26, 2008

Howdy once again, its time for the annual spring season opening event, Holiwood Nights at Holiday World, and this year Beech Bend Park is playing along by having Rumblefest the same weekend, and its Memorial Day weekend so we have the Monday after the events off, to get back home.

Day 1 T-shirt: The All Ohio Coaster shirt from last year's Coastermania

This year it will be Rideman and myself, so Friday morning I get packed, have lunch buffet at a local Indian (as in India, not native) restaurant, did a little shopping to get information on a specialty product at my local flag shop (you may get to read about it in a future blog entry if I ever get caught up!), and even had time to play some pinball. I was sure to return home by 2pm, to get Rideman's email that I should make that 3pm, at around 3:30 I get a phone call, you better make that 4:30pm.

4:30 is not d deal breaker, and in fact it might work out great, because we do have an hour time change to play with, and with a trip time of around 3 hours that gets us to the park around 6:30 local time, or really just after ERT has started. Friday doesn't include all day admission, just the meal and ERT, and okay if you arrive after a certain time they may let you in a bit early. Friday night is more of a preview night anyway, and hey it ends at 9:30 this year.

So Rideman picks me up around 4:40, we get the car loaded up, and out on the road, just in time to find ourselves stuck in friday evening Cincinnati rush hour traffic, ugh. We don't really shake the traffic until we have spent quite a bit of time getting as far as Florence in Kentucky. From there it is pretty uneventful the rest of the was to Louisville with one fuel stop on the way. Approaching Louisville the signs are flashing a warning of a traffic alert, we turn it on long enough to learn it won't affect us and proceed to Holiday World.

We pull into the Raven parking lot and find a space not too far from the gate. We proceed to walk up to guest relations, and since neither of us had preregistered, we had to fill out forms, name tags, hand over payment, and receive the usual packet with a coupon sheet, tickets, event schedule and an advertisement for Coasterbuzz's fall event. I also purchase the official event shirt for $15. With the procrastination tax added for on-site registration, our tickets came to just under $55. We then go make a mad dash for, the car, to drop off all the stuff we won't be needing on Friday night.

We return to the gate, enter the park, and check on eof the nice large clocks the park has added all over to learn its about 7:30 local time now. Between that rush hour traffic, the fuel stop, and getting registered, we ate up quite a bit of time. However, we still do not go to the coasters, we instead head to Kringles for a snack sponsored by the letter "P": Pizza, Potato Chips, Pepsi, Phudge, and Produce (in the form of a relish tray).

It was a tasty snack with each of us having 3 or 4 slices along with everything else that comes with it. From the pizza party it was time to hit the coasters, we first started heading for the appetizers, the the foreplay, the previews before the main feature.

We first headed to Raven, where first I notice the coasters have all received the looping safety announcements that started with Voyage. Raven was not popular so with only a 1 or 2 train wait, we were getting into the second to last seat. While Raven was running fast and furious through the curves, the airtime on the big drop in the middle of the ride didn't seem to be there.

We next headed to Legend, which was a total walk on, so we walked on to the front seat. I am very happy to report that after a few sluggish seasons, Legend is BACK. Legend was going through the course at full speed making the legendary 4 curves of doom make their presence known in a big way. Everything you used to love about Legend when it first opened, including the insane laterals and intensity are back. We stopped for a drink before heading the main feature.

It's a bit of a walk down to Thanksgiving, and when we get there we are shocked to learn that Voyage is also a walk on. Where is everybody? We head to the second to last seat on Voyage, it is already getting dark outside. What is to follow is coaster nirvana. Strong airtime on just about every drop on the ride, insane laterals on all the curves, the mid course brake was not trimming. Welcome to Perfection: The Ride.

The rest of night 1 would be spent riding Voyage over and over, with the periodic stop for one of the two services offered in the Pepsi Oasis building. After the first ride, we started just taking open seats as we got to the station without being picky. All to get the most rides in, and the air in the middle of the train is acceptable, its not the insanity of the back car, but its still quite nice. Towards the end of the night, Rideman and I get seperated, and as we are waiting for Voyage there was a 15 minute or so delay in the station. Unknown to me, Rideman headed to Raven as to avoid that long hill climb at the end of the night. I waited out the delay and rode Voyage. When I got off Voyage the queue had been cut for night 1. I had a few free drinks while I waited for them to run out the rest of the trains. Seeing no Rideman, I knew that if I headed to the car we would meet up eventually, so I made the long trek through the park out to the car. Once at the car I snag my cellphone out of the trunk and contact Rideman. Rideman is having a social chat right inside the front gate (how did I miss them on my way out?), so I returned to the front gate to join in.

After the front gate chat ended, we headed to assorted cars, and met up with Avalanche Sam, proceeded to chat some more in the parking lot until deciding to be more civilized and head to Denny's, where I proceeded to have breakfast. We spend a bit of time at Denny's partly becuase we were having good conversation, and partly because we having the usual Denny's slow service. After Denny's we head to our hotel in Evansville. No problems wit check in "You guys are the last to arrive tonight!" and soon we are in a first floor room with just under a jillion pillows on each bed. Ahh, good night, we have to get rested up for the full day version tomorrow.


We had decided neither of us had much interest in the waterpark ERT, and we also decided the park doesn't really have that much to offer to warrant getting a bright and early head start. We are up in time, however, to enjoy the hotel courtesy breakfast. Waffles, bagels, eggs, toast, cereal, but their feature item is hot breakfast sandwiches. Well you take them out of a refrigerator and microwave them yourself. After having our fill of breakfast, we load up the car with the itms we don't trust leaving back at the hotel, and head to back to the park. We manage to miss the 231 turnoff on the way to the park, so wind up taking the usual entrance route off exit 63.

We enter the Raven lot and here parking attendants direct us to a space about midway between tram stops 2 and 3. The good news here is there is a tram to go with those tram stops. We get parked and walk right over to a waiting tram.

Day 2 t-shirt: a Lesourdsville Lake shirt

Rideman left his nametag back at the hotel, but a quick stop by Guest Relations fixed that, and soon we headed into the park. We headed straight back into the 4th of July themed section, where Rideman started to take ride photos for his collection. The lines for Paul Revere's Midnight Ride (Spider) and the Rough Riders (bumper cars) did look a bit long. What caught our eye, though, was the new for 2008 addition. The old pool for the bumper boats was removed, and in its place was the new Star Spangled Carousel. It sits down a bit in a ravine but appeared to be a popular new addition. The change also makes the Betsy Ross Doll House walk through more visible from the midway.I decide to grab a quick ride on Liberty Launch (S&S Double Shot) using the single rider line, and despite having just ridden Big Shot out in Vegas multiple times last week, the entriely too short belts on this ride prevented me from riding.

We next head past the Freedom Train and I note the BBQ stand that is very rarely open, was actually open. We proceed into Holidogs FunTown and while Rideman is getting photos, I am getting a Dreamsicle , which here is vanilla soft serve mixed with Orange ICEE. Yum, what a tasty treat. We continue the camera tour of the park heading past Revolution and Eagles Flight. and the Indian River (Venture Canoe). We then head down into Thanksgiving and proceed to take a nice little wake up ride on Voyage, Holiday World plays holiday specific music over their sound system, so for example in Christmas you will here carols played all summer, and to be quite clear quite a few of them are in fact Christmas Carols in the religious and not secular sense of the word. In this park, the giant statue of Santa stands proudly receiving visitors right across from appears to be a life size nativity set. In the 4th of July section you can have your fill all the patriotic standards, in Haloween its the spooky songs, and in Thanksgiving, well you have some hymns of thanks and praise, as well as songs that can be tied in with thanksgiving and feating. As we started to board Voyage (as in the seafaring Voyage to the new world), I was tickled that the song on the PA was the seafaring ditty "What to do with the drunken sailor" no words , just the melody, but still it fits perfectly. And this ride will waken the drunken sailor quite nicely. That doesn't mean that later in the day when I was with some other riders who also recognized the ditty that we didn't start singing it...

From Voyage we head to the Tilt A Whirl, here called the Turkey Twirl with the new style G5 tubs custom themed to look like turkeys. We manage to get a decent but not great ride on the Turkey Twirl and for the first of many times today my LeSourdsville Lake shirt gets me noticed. From Turkey Twirl we ride Gobbler Getaway. The Sally dark ride where you hase down turkeys with your turkey caller. It s a nice long dark ride, with lots of crash doors, lots of targets, and if you hit the target a turkey will appear out of somewhere. It also includes an ending where the turkeys win out, and the father serves his family a nice large pizza under a covered dish before you go through the room with turkeys doing a chorus line. Hillarious ending, and Rideman continues to use the "I got a bad gun excuse" here as well.

Gobbler Getaway exits right across from Plymouth Rock Cafe, so we proceed to have our main meal of the day, and what a meal it is. For only $7.99 you get choice of meat, 3 sides, bread, and of course beverages are always free, $2.49 more adds the desert. So for $10.48 plus tax, I had a nice size portion of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, baked apples, sweet tea and pumpkin pie. I'd be hard pressed to put together a meal of that caliber outside an amusement park at a restaurant for that price. Not only is the price great, the food is also quality food.

We spent a bit of time enjoying our meal and meet back up with Avalance Sam. We start our rides together with a ride on Gobbler Getaway, and then Voyage. I notice that for Memorial Day weekend the highest pair of flags on the Voyage lift are United States flags, that is different then what I remember in the past, and even recent photos of the ride.

We then head out of Thanksgiving, have another drink, ride Legend, then ride Scarecrow Scrambler. From the Scrambler we watch the high dive show practice and I note they are tying it into the Olympics which is not uncommon for them, I mean they have a section of carnival games called "Olympic Tryouts" The high dive act stage is lined with various international flags to help set the Olympic theme.

We proceed to then take a ride on Raven before Dave finishes his photo tour with the Rudolph's Reindeer Ranch childrens area. Here, you may recall the ball crawl and kids climbing structure have been replaced by a custom themed Moser Spring Ride called "Reindeer Games"

By this time, its time to head back to Thanksgiving for the Voyage walk back. We all gather by Plymouth Rock Cafe and proceed to have the usual walk back up the steep hill alongside Voyage for the purpose of photo taking and seeing the ride from a whole new perspective. I note they allowed us further closer access to the turnaround section than I remember them giving us in the past. We finish the tour, and we meet up with a different gentelman whose name I forget though I have his card downstairs here.

We take a ride on Voyage, and then I take a ride on Revolution (Dartron Zero Gravity), we proceed to take a walk through Holidogs Funtown where we point out, but do not ride the Howler. Back through 4th of July where we proceed to wait through a full queue wait for Paul Revere's Midnight Ride (Spider), but the good news is we are rewarded with an excellent spin filled ride. I decide to get a Patriot Missle, which is a red and blue soft serve ice cream with yellow and red sprinkles. I enjoy my ice cream while we walk around the park. When we get around to the front, we decide to get our hand stamped, and take the tram out to the far reaches of the parking lot to move our car to somewhere up at the front of the lot . We know from past experience that they don't run trams after ERT, and you are lucky to have lights on in the lot.

We reenter the park, and head through the park to find people carrying roller coaster parts out through the park. We head back to the picnic grove where they have an area where they are selling off the old parts from the Legend trains they must have just rehabbed, as well as selling old park brochures, posters, stationery Voyage media kits, lift hill flags and more. I wound up getting a Voyage media CD and a nice travel coffee mug marked with CoasterCon so it must have been a giveaway during last years ACE convention. This means we get to the buffet just in time to be some of the last people to have our traditional picnic lunch of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, baked beans fruit salad, and more. Don't forget the cookies and brownies. We enjoy dinner then there is the live auction, and the announcements.

We start to head to Voyage, but it is having trouble waking up for ERT, so we mill around a bit and then proceed to take several Voyage rides, making sure we get both a front seat and back seat ride somewhere in the set, but mostly towards the middle. Voyage is perfection, I mean it just doesn't get better than this. Halfway through the ERT we go up and visit Legend where you could basically stay on as long as you like, as it had no line. Shame as it was running in kick-butt mode moreso than it has in years. We took a few rides here. Then we headed back to Voyage for a few more rides , then we made sure to get to Raven for the final 15 minutes, where we had stay in your seat conditions there too, aso ended the night and event with a multi ride Raven session.

from the event it was back to the hotel without a meal stop.

SUNDAY May 225

We continue our recently established pattern of pushing the hotel check out time to the limit. Beech Bend is not that big of a park. We pull out of Evansvile around 11:00 am or so, and with a fuel stop arrive in Bowling Green right around 1:20 or so. Thanks to Kentucky for abolishing the tolls on some of its parkways. We then attempt to check into the Econo Lodge on 231 near the park. Our attempt to check in is thwarted when they tell us they have a $10 early check in surcharge. Say what! We don't need access to the room, we just want to get checked in so we don't have to deal with this late at night. We have checked into hotels at other places early all the time with no hassle made of it. This is the kind of petty surcharge that makes me think I don't want to do business with Choice Hotels for awhile.

We opt to not pay the $10 idiot charge, and instead head to Culvers for lunch before heading to the park. The entrance to Beech Bend is more country club than amusement park, with ranch style fences lining the front and sides of the driveway where a single row of trees dots the center divider back to the park. One lane in, and one lane out. We pull into the lot and are lucky to get a spot quite close to the gate. We walk up to the front gate and spot an event registration table located just before the gate. We explain we are not preregistered, and proceed to pay the $30 fee each, and in no time at all we have wristbands (yellow tyvek) on our wrists that will be good for admission and rides, a stick on name tag on our shirts, a dinner ticket with a pocket sized copy of the event schedule stapled to it, and as an added bonus a ticket good for one go-kart ride. Just the POP wristband and the go-kart ride have a $29 value, so its a great deal. Beech Bend is one of the few parks left that still offers both POP and ride ticket packages.

We go through the front gate, take a glance in the gift shop, then pass the checkpoint where they make sure you have a wristband or handstamp. The park is basically one long rectuangular loop with a cut accross path in the middle. You enter at the the cut accross path. Here the waterpark is on the right (and is even included in general admission), and either straight or to the left are the rides. The pay extra go-kart track is right up front, but we pass that by for now. The description of the rides area of this park as an overgrown carnival that never left is quite fair.

We pass by a Sizzler (hey its a different Sizzler than the one they had, and this one looks like it might actually be a park mount), then a Wisdom Tornado, a couple kiddie rides, an Alpine Bobs, Rainbow Rock kids climbing attraction. At the corner is a Zamplerla Power Surge, and I delight in a ride while Rideman watches (he isn't much for the Power Surge). Power Surge is one of those demented rides where you go up and the cars spin around in a circle on a vertical orientation, and he seats are free to do rolls entirely by inertia. I was riding single so was awarded with a flip fest. Next to the Power Surge was a designated smoking area. Wow, a park in Kentucky limiting smoking to just a handful of small gazebos scattered through the park.

We next walk past a portable log flume, and that water looks too artificially blue for our taste. Next is the parks big 2006 expansion project. A GCI wooden coaster called Kentucky Rumbler, but the installation also included an outdoor seating area as well as a building that resembles a Cracker Barrel. Big front porch with rockers, and a gift shop and one of the parks main snack bars inside, large free rest rooms complete the deal of being just like a Cracker Barrel. What;s more the exit for Rumbler is routed through this building.

Kentucky Rumber is a walk on, so we walk right on to the front seat. It still has the glass smoothness of a GCI but I don't know I'm not that impressed with it yet, and I thought I recalled the front was where is was at with this ride.

We continue walking around the park and next stop at the Looping Star. We were both relly dreading the Looping Star, and against better judgement we went ahead an rode the Looping Star. It still has its safety sign from the Firecracker. That was the best part of the ride, it is still quite painful. The rides back seat was roped off today, and Rideman commented that all the seats should have been roped off.

We are reminded though, that Beech Bend is going all out for the friendliest most outgoing staff award, maybe even moreso than Holiday World. The operator chats with us and asks if we are staying for the event, we respond we are and she says she will see us later, we respond "Not if you are running this ride tonight"

We next head to the bumper cars, and last time I ecall we thought these were pretty good bumper cars. We were not so impressed this time owing to the fact we found some dead spots on the floor that if you hit them, you are out of luck until someone bumps you into a live area. I still like how they have both the regular and junior bumper cars in the same pavilion.

From the bumper cars we take a ride on the Starship 3000 (Gravitron) and then head to the Shock Drop, which is a portable model drop tower. Again friendly ride up, who is chatting as he gets us strapped in "This ride takes 1 minute to go up, and 3 seconds to go down", then he starts the ride "DROP in and see me sometime!", Dave responds "We'll be down in a minute" Watch out for the umbella over the ride operator if you get a cetain corner seat, its a close clearance. Luckily the brakes stop you before you would go crashing through it, so you have tie to dodge it.

We walk past the picnic grove and some kids rides. We opt not to wait for the parks Haunted House dark ride as the line was about as long as it was last time, and we know thats a long slow wait. This forms the next corner of the park. We also skipped the antique car ride and headed to the parks all new Scat 2, which replaced an older Scat 2 ride. Scat 2 is a stand up spin ride, where you have two cars which stand about 10 people each, two rows of 5 facing each other. The individual cars spin, and then the main ride boom spins, which also adds some height and angle variation as you spin around. Don't worry its bark is much worse than its bite.

We investigate the air brush shelter and realize it might have been a carousel pavilion at one time. We then walk around more kids rides under a shelter, just like at Stricker's Grove, and a Jumpiing Jumbos. At this corner of the park is a Zamplera Crazy Mouse titles Wild Mouse. We take a ride on the Wild Mouse and we both sit towards the center of the tub thinking that a balanced car will spin better, we wind up getting a totally spinless ride. We also get a ride where just about every trim brake is on hard, and it is taking the turns quite rough. Ugh, what a nasty eperience, but at least it was open, as it had just come up from some downtime.

The exit for the Wild Mouse is right next to the Wisdom Moby Dick. Moby Dick is one of those platform rides where you stay upright the whole time and this is the version where you sit facing outwards. Personally I prefer the version where you are facing the center. We do ride the Moby Dick, and then take a ride on the Tilt a Whirl. Rideman called the Tilt a Whirl puke orange, but I didn't think it looked that bad.

After Tilt a Whirl we fail to complete the lap by going through the video arcade, but instead head back to the center path. Here there is a ferris wheel, rocking tug, and some games, but we head to the miniature golf course. Here, miniature golf is included in the general admission, but you do have to put a $2 deposit down on the club which you get back when you return the club.

The course is strange in that hardly any of it is flat, but odder some of the holes have two holes a red easier hole then the noral hole. It does use three different types of carpet, the nice and smooth light green fairway carpet, the somewhat rougher dark green carpet for the rough, and a deep shag tan carpet for the sand traps. In addition tot hat it has some buildings that you shoot through or around. Its a very interesting course, and Rideman and I proceed to play a round of mini golf. At the end we return the clubs, get the deposit back and I note the place where you get the deposit back also has a fridge with cold drinks which sell for the same amount of the deposit, clever.

We then play the shooting gallery, hey its only 25 cents for 12 or 15 shots here. By this time its almost 5:30 and our picnic starts at 6. We also still have to redeem these free go kart tickets. We head to the racetrack to find the longest line in the park. Odd, since this ride is $5 and is not included in the parks POP plan. We then realize that it seems like just about everybody who is here for Rumblefest decided to hit the go kart track at the same time, which is futher made worse by the fact they only had four single cars running. Yes, they had some double cars, but they didnt let people ride single in them, which is just as well as the doubles are very slow.

So it gets to be our turn and we go to the pits, the ride uses the miniature NASCARTS, where I note here the roofs of the car flip up to allow you to climb inside. he cars are real low riders where you are reclined at a severe angle and your legs are propped up. I think the foot pedals might be even with the steering wheel and your head is just barely above that. The ride uses a big "V" shaped where there is a belt mounted above each shoulder and both belts come together in a buckle in the center that buckles in between your legs. The buckle is far enough out where it won't cause discomfort even if you get a person who grabs the adjustors and gives them a hard yank. That won't be a problem here as they barely even looked at the belts before securing the roofs of the car back in the closed position. The race starts, and the cars were okay nothing spectacular in terms of speed. The ride seemed short, but since everybody was riding on free tickets and they were trying to clear through a long line I could see why.

We take one final ride on the Alpine Bobs on the way back to the picnic grove. We see evidence of an attempt at a electro-magnetic lapbar lock. Their Alpine Bobs goes forwards and back and by the time it ends its time for dinner.

We head to dinner, where we turn in half of the meal ticket and hit the buffet. Third event meal in a row, and all three are different. This one featured pull pork BBQ, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, cole slaw, a sauce it yourself condiment station, soft drinks, ice tea (sweet and regular), lemonade, banana pudding and brownies. It was also the best event meal of the weekend. After dinner Dallas Jones the owner of the park, intorduces his family, thanks us for coming and notes that during ERT they are going to offer free soft drinks, hand dipped ice cream and fudge. Again, he is going all out to put on a great event. Then there were several door prizes, and a Q&A with the GCI crew.

After the Q&A, we get escorted to Kentucky Rumbler by the GCI crew and taken under and around the ride in areas that are usually restricted. Here people can take photos an see the ride from unusual angles while the GCI crew was talking about the different parts of the ride. It was a very enjoyable behind the scenes tour.

After the behind the scenes tour, all 4 coasters open. Most of the coasters will close at 9, and the Rumbler runs through 11:30. We take our first ERT ride on Rumbler towards the back of the train, have a pretty good ride, then go to ride again, but Rumbler has gone down mechanical, and hey say it will be about half an hour. We head down the midway, we have no interest in Looping Star, and we get back by Orient Express. We decide why not and take a ride on the Wisdom Orient Express kiddie coaster. The friendly operator gives us 4 or 5 laps around in our ride session. We learn from the other people on the Orient Express that the Wild Mouse is also down mechanical. We recall that the Scat 2 is also open for ERT, so we go take a spin on Scat 2, then get to Wild Mouse right after it reopened. This time we sit on opposite ends wih one of towards the center and one in an outside seat. Well at least this caused our tub to get a lot more spin. After Wild Muse we hear Rumbler has reopened so we head back to Rumbler. For the next hour or so the pattern is ride Rumbler, get a drink or snack, ride Rumbler, snack, Rumbler, snack, Rumbler, snack. Mostly just drinks, but in the course of the evening I do manage to get one dish of ice cream and two or three blocks of fudge. To be fair the fudge was just a bit bigger than a free sample size.

Things get even better we when at 10:55 we boar the next to last seat on Rumbler and don't have to get out of the seat until 11:28. I don't know the ride seems better in the back this year, with lots of nice airtime pops on the hills, and a great ride. We get bumped out just before the final ride of the evening, but we can't be upset we just had a half hour session without getting out iof the seat.

After ERT we mingle out in front of the ride chatting some more with people until the crew decided to leave, and then we leave via a service gate directly from next to the log flume right out to the parking lot. We get back in our car return to the hotel and get checked in. Of course it is after midnight, so we are checking in through a small window with a guy who is clearly acting like we are more of an annoyance to him. We then get to a room that is hot and stuffy. Even with the doors leading directly to the outside, we left the door open for at least an hour with the AC on to try to get the room aired out and liveable. It was not a very good hotel, but at least the lack of modernization also meant they had good old fashioned shower heads. Ahh, that felt good.


"All thats left is the ride back home"

Again we push check out time to the limit. We get checked out and head down the street and fail to eat at an unusually crowded Waffle House. We start the rive back home, we do pull off to take a look at the remnants of Guntown Mountain, and dive around the Cave city area where we pass one of the original WigWam hotels. "Sleep in a wigwam!" Cave City has a Dinorama that looks like the inspiration for the Dino themed area at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The area is lined with rock shops, mini golfs, go karts, an alpine slide and all manner of tourist trap novlties. We wind up going as far as the Mammouth Cave visitors center, though we don't take a cave tour.

After leaving the Mammouth Cave national park, we head back up the highway some more and it starts to rain and will continue to rain the rest of the way home. We make a stop at a Waffle House, a fuel stop, and a rest stop on the way home. The rain was really coming down when we got to Louisville, and so we skipped a stop at Kentucky Kingdom. All in all Rideman drops me off round 5:30 or 6, and even helps take my luggage in for me.

And so ends the Holiwood Nights Weekend.

Next up: Reports from Stricker's Grove and Coney Island.

Watch for them.


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