Trip Report March 23, 2012
As part of my 35th Birthday celebration, my friend Kijofa took me to Wild Adventures for the first time. I had no idea where we were headed as it was a surprise. Once we hit I-75N from Gainesville, I had a few places on my mind. When we got off in Valdosta, I knew. I had been wanting to go there ever since I heard of the park after I moved to Savannah from Charlotte in 2006 (I moved to Gainesville, FL in '09).
The park opened up at 10AM and closed @ 7PM. We arrived at opening and got in line to park. $10? Pretty decent I suppose. It was the first time he had to pay to park in a long time since we have annual passes to the parks we normally go to. Fortunately since it was a Friday, the local schools were in session, with only some neighboring areas out for Spring Break. The park was in general not busy, which was great for us.
After finding a nice shady place to park we get out and head to the entrance. As expected the "photorazzi" was waiting to take everyone's pic...lol
After picking up our tickets we head towards the turnstiles and get ready for a day of fun and excitement. After the usual restroom break and getting our bearings, we head out into the park.
First ride of the day: Ant Farm Express; Coaster Credit # 61. Who can resist a credit right? Since the line was non-existent, they were running it through twice, sometimes more every cycle.
Next up was Go Bananas!, a Maurer Söhne wild mouse coaster; Coaster Credit # 62. First time riding one by them and thought it was more enjoyable than those by Mack (Sand Serpent, Ricochet, etc.) even though the layout was basically the same.
Moving on we ride Pharaoh's Fury, a swinging ship. Surprisingly to some I had never ridden one before. I had only been on a looping ship before (Southern Star @ Carowinds when it was still called Frenzoid).
After that we rode the Century Wheel.
Now for Coaster Credit # 63: Swamp Thing. Now I have ridden one of these Vekoma Suspended Family Coasters before at Carowinds, and it was not an experience I would say I enjoyed. However, this one did not knock my head around into the restraints like the other. I would say it was somewhat enjoyable, and it also cycled through twice due to no line.
After tackling the "kiddie coasters", it was time to take a little break and visit Lorikeet Landing Aviary to check out the birds. The nectar was only $2 so we decided to feed them. This aviary had many of the same birds seen at other parks (like Busch Gardens Tampa), but is a bit smaller with narrow paths. Since the park wasn't busy there were only a few other people in there at the time. Outside the Aviary there were a few more animals and a new show called "Do You Zoo?" in a small theater next door (didn't watch). It appears that the other animal trails in that area are closed either temporarily for refurb or permanently. This meant we didn't get to see the bears, wallabys and other animals back there.
As we continue back to the rides, we come across some peafowl by the Fresh Corn Dog Co. They are scheming to try and snatch a bite from some unsuspecting tourist. They didn't have to try very hard though as the children were throwing them fries. I'm sure that isn't very healthy for them. I'm just surprised they were roaming free through the park. Across from there is the boardwalk around the park's lake where this beautiful Mute Swan was watching over it's nest.
Here is Aviator. I've always wanted to ride one of these and now I had my chance. It was quite nice and the views were great.
Next up is Boomerang (geez what is this, Vekoma Park? LOL); Coaster Credit #64. This was my first time riding a Boomerang. I can say the coaster was fun and ok, however I really didn't like going through the cobra roll backwards on that second ride I took. For me it's a try once coaster just for the credit, but couldn't see riding one over and over again. It still had the old restraints too, so I'm not sure if it's much better with the new ones or not.
After that I realized we hadn't eaten anything yet all day so I wasn't feeling my best. So my friend and I decided on what to eat. Unfortunately we didn't eat at any of the places posted above...lol. He ended up eating from Mamas Pizza and had some fries from the Fresh Corn Dog Co. I had the corn dog/fry basket from there. It was ok I guess. The fries were obviously fried in the same needing to be changed oil the corn dogs were fried in. I must say I wasn't impressed at all by the quality or pricing of the food here at this park. I would have to give this park the lowest quality/pricing rating of the parks I've been too based on what we had. They did offer a discount for buying 2 souvenir cups which included your drink though. Perhaps we should have tried one of those places pictured above...maybe next time.
Knowing that it isn't a good idea to go on coasters or spinning rides after eating, we decided to take the Safari Train and view some of the Asian and African animals on display. The theme song you ask? "Africa" by Toto. I love the song, but can imagine the ride operators are sick of it...lol. The 7 minute or so journey took us under the Cheetah coaster into the Asian area. In here there were Llama (pictured), Water Buffalo, Black Bucks, Fallow Deer, Nilgai and more. Then we journeyed into Africa where there were Ankole Watusi, Zebra, Greater Kudu, Impala, Oryx, Sable Antelope, Scimitar (pictured), Addax (pictured), Thomson Gazelles, Waterbuck, Wildebeest and more. At the end of the journey we come to the park's Asian Elephant "Shirley" (pictured). She is 68 years old; the oldest elephant in North America and 3rd oldest in the world.
Next we go over to the Giraffe viewing area. Here they do daily feedings with trainers. You can get very close to these giraffes as you can see from the pictures. I'm not sure what the cost was to hand feed them, but it's definitely cheaper than some tours you can take at other parks. You can see the Cheetah coaster in the background of the picture on the left.
Speaking of Cheetah...it was next; Coaster Credit #65. This CCI was actually a very smooth and fun ride. I guess the recent refurb job they did actually helped, as I’ve heard bad reviews of it before they did it. I would have to put it in my top 3 of wooden coasters ridden. It delivered a descent amount of airtime and as stated before was pretty smooth so I didn't feel beaten up after riding.
Next is Viking Voyage; Coaster Credit #66. This family coaster by E&F Miler Industries, came to the park in 2010 from Celebration City in Branson, Missouri. I didn't expect much from this coaster considering it's size. However, was I ever surprised. The airtime on this coaster was amazing (I know I was shocked too). The back row of course delivered the best ride. I kept getting back on this one. This coaster ended up being my favorite at the park. Too bad only a few of this model were built. It's a great family coaster and a good stepping stone from smaller junior coasters and a bigger woody or a looper of some sort.
Wild Adventures actually has a decent selection of flat rides. In the pic above are Rattler, Firecracker and Falcon Flyer. They also have a Yo-Yo, Whirling Wildcats (scrambler), a Frog Hopper, Kite Flyer, Swinging Safari (Matterhorn/Music Express type ride), bumper cars and more including many children's rides. The park's 2 water rides (Tasmanian River Rapids & Blackfoot Falls) and waterpark were not yet open for the season.
Here is Rattler, a Moser Rides Sidewinder, similar to the Huss Frisbee. This was my first time trying this style ride as well. I quite enjoyed it, which was a shock since I rarely get on rides with such circular motion. This was my favorite flat at the park. I wish Carowinds and Busch Gardens Tampa would get one of these. Of course I would think they'd need a much larger one to handle the crowds.
Next is Firecracker, an S&S Double Shot tower. It was pretty much your standard double shot ride. I've been on similar and always like the feeling of launching into the air.
Another first for me (sad, but true) are the Falcon Flyers. I skipped the one at Carowinds not knowing how fun they could be.
A Greater One Horned Rhino. It was located behind the Twisted Typhoon coaster.
Final coaster at the park to ride is Twisted Typhoon (formerly Hangman); Coaster Credit #67. This is a standard Vekoma SLC (689m). This was my first time riding one. I attempted to ride several times earlier in the day, but was unsuccessful. If it wasn't the storm that blew through shutting it down for over an hour, it was the e-stop that occurred on the brake run after it opened back up, causing them to evacuate manually. I thought it was odd they didn't do a test run after not running for that long. Oh well at least I wasn't stuck on it. After about 45 minutes or so it had re-opened.
I had always heard the horrors of the SLC. Well, those stories were not far-fetched. The first half of the ride going through the rollover and into the sidewinder was ok. However once it went around and hit that double in-line twist...HEADBANGER CITY. Needless to say I only rode this once and got a massive headache from my head slamming into the OTSR. Why in the world would they make them like that? I usually can prepare how my head is positioned to avoid the banging, but it didn't quite work out. Perhaps if I had ridden again, I could have fared better, but I wasn't going to make things worse. Hopefully they will have newer trains with comfortable restraints soon. Until then, I won't be riding....lol
After all that head banging, it was time to relax while my headache went away. So we watched the Tigers Of India show. It featured 7 Bengal tigers. There are 4 different color variations present: orange and black stripe (standard), white and black stripe (white), snow white and a golden tabby. This was an ok show showing some of the agility of the tigers and how they interact with trainers. I was a bit uncomfortable at one part of the show where the trainer had to discipline one of them for trying to bite his arm. I was thinking "Where is PETA"?
After that feeling subsided some, the show continued and they brought out a male golden tabby (pictured above with trainer). It was the "bad boy" of the bunch, or so they would make you think with it's theme music: "Bad To The Bone". Well I'm not sure about it being a bad boy, but it got a bit frisky with one of the females and had to be pulled away. They did some "tricks", nothing too over the top, just stuff they would do anyway such as roll over and sit up. Tigers are my favorite animal and despite the discipline earlier, I enjoyed watching them do more than lay around half comatose.
I had a great time for my first visit to Wild Adventures. I'm sure the light crowds helped. The most I had to wait to ride anything was about 5 minutes, or about 1 or 2 cycles for each ride. Most were a walk on. The weather cooperated for the most part as the high was about 84. There was a quick-moving storm that came through around 2pm which shut the rides down for about an hour. The only real complaint I have about the park is the food. Perhaps It was just a bad day, or was the places we chose to eat at. It wasn't horrible, but wasn't great either.
I will definitely be back someday. I don't see it in the near future though, unless I take my nephews and nieces. If I lived in Valdosta that would be different of course (which isn't gonna happen...lol). This park does have potential and hopefully it will get a signature coaster in the years to come to keep people like me coming back.