Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

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Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Nitro1118 » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:10 pm

Kings Dominion 8/23:

A little background before I begin- Kings Dominion is a park I have only visited once, way back in March/April 2005. Since that time, a lot has changed at KD. The park has seen a change in ownership/management plus added a variety of new attractions, including Intimidator 305, which has been a bucket-list coaster of mine for 7 years now. My opinion of KD based on my 2005 trip was that while it was a good park, it seemed to be missing...something. Keep in mind, I caught the park very early in the season with Drop Tower and Grizzly down for maintenance and Hypersonic broke down at about 11am right before I boarded (and never reopened). Still, I never felt compelled to travel back to the park, despite the park having no significant flaws.

Anyway, on a random night 2-3 weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to take a small roadtrip to end the summer.. I had already visited LC and SFNE this summer on a mini-trip. I hit Hershey last season as well. That left Knoebels or a KD/SFA combo. Considering I needed that I305 credit and had never visited SFA before, the choice was easy for me...KD/SFA it was.

PSA-Up until Sunday night, my plan was to stay at the Centerstone Inn (basically an on-site hotel) from Tuesday-Thursday. We booked the hotel two weeks in advance. With the weather report showing scattered thunderstorms all day Wednesday since early last week, we decided we would try and play things safe and book Wednesday-Friday (arriving Wednesday, visiting Thursday, then hitting SFA on the way back home on Friday). However, the Centerstone Inn was very shady about re-arranging the dates. At first, they said that they had no rooms with a queen bed available on Thursday. Then, they said that they had no reservations booked for us on the original dates. This was bull as when I initially gave them my last name to retrieve booking info, they confirmed that my first name was Alex. After arguing with Expedia over this hotel's shadiness, we got our refund and booked the Days Inn across from the park instead.

Day 1:

Considering the weather in Doswell today, we decided to hit SFA instead as the forecast seemed more clear. However, while driving down the NJ Turnpike, we noticed that Superman was showing up as closed, so we chanced buying the 2-day ticket for KD instead to get in a couple of rides tonight before our all-day stay tomorrow. This turned out to be an amazing choice. After an uneventful 4.5hr drive from central NJ, we arrived at our hotel about 3:30pm. The hotel is very meh, but for $60/night we weren't expecting much. The shuttle to the park is extremely convenient and saved us from the usual, pricey parking upcharge. Anyway, we ended up with 3.5 hours for the night...

Ride count:

Intimidator 305- 7x (2x front row, 4x back row, 1x 3rd to last row)
Flight of Fear- 1x
Volcano- 1x
Backlot- 2x
Drop Tower- 1x
Dominator- 1x
Avalanche-1x
Eiffel Tower- 1x


Notes:

-After reaching 150 coasters tonight, and being an enthusiast now for nearly 20 years, there isn't many coaster experiences out there that are new or different for me. I305 is definitely an exception. For 7 years now I have pretty much known the layout front to back. And while I have seen the POV's and many glowing reviews, on the surface it never really grabbed my attention. Still, I knew there had to be something more to the experience than what meets the eye, so it always was near the top of my bucket list. After 7 rides tonight, I can safely say that this ride is an absolutely INCREDIBLE, completely unique experience. There is no coaster I can really compare it to. It surpasses Skyrush's overall intensity with raw speed and positive G-forces instead of airtime. What caught me by surprise was the random pops of ejector in the back rows, in spots I didn't think there would be any airtime. This was most noticable in that middle twister section, where you get a dazzling array of speed, positive g's, laterals and sprinkles of ejector all in one.

I am not ready to rank I305 yet, but it is definitely in my top 5, possibly top 2-3. I can't tell if I prefer the front or back row. The front row gave the best sense of speed and had the best positive g's on the first turnaround (I stayed grayed out until the airtime on top of the 2nd hill). The back row gave the more intense airtime and laterals during the 2nd half of the ride. I can't wait to try both out again tomorrow!

-The park was DEAD the 3 hours I was there. If I had wanted to I could have marathoned I305 all night without getting off. The longest I waited all night was two trains for Volcano. This was especially helpful since it allows more time to focus on family rides tomorrow with my 8 year old step son (Julien) tagging along.

-Volcano was running as well as I remember. Very underrated invert.

-Backlot was a new credit for me and a priority since I knew my step son would love it. As usual, Premier delivered an exceptional ride, and it was a favorite for Julien. Great balance of thrill and pure fun.

-FoF was running a lot rougher than what I remember. It was still a blast and instantly made me miss Chiller at GAdv, but I definitely had to brace myself quite a bit.

-Finally got my lost Drop Tower credit after 12 years! Zumanjaro definitely killed some of the experience for me as it felt exactly like a scaled-down model of it. Still, it was very fun, despite the very abrupt braking which crushed my man-region. I had the side that faced the Twisted Timbers construction site which was cool.

-Speaking of Twisted Timbers, it's amazing how much action they will pack into that footprint. It will be even more compact than the animation suggests. I remember very little of Hurler, but I do remember it was rather uninspired and unenjoyable. Twisted Timbers will be the perfect, airtime-filled counterpart to I305 that the park needs. Super excited for that addition.

-Dominator was interesting as I had ridden it back in 2003 as Batman: Knight Flight. The coaster is still my 2nd favorite floorless next to Kraken. It is unusually intense for a B&M floorless and breaks the standard layout protocol. Unfortunately, the 2nd half has the worst B&M rattle I have ever experienced, but it didn't kill the experience for me. I'm very glad CF salvaged this ride.

-Overall, the park seems to be in much better condition to what I remember from 2005. CF seemed to have put in a good amount of work into fixing the park's aesthetics and has infused some amazing thrills for good measure. Everything about my 3.5 hours tonight was fantastic and I cannot wait to spend a full day tomorrow!

Pics:
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View from the hotel parking lot.
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Kings Dominion entrance plaza.
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Girlfriend and step son.
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Unfortunately, there aren't too many good views of I305 since most of it is outside of guest boundaries. This is one of the better vantage points.
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I305 RIPS through the course.
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Volcano doing its thing.
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Volcano and Avalanche from Avalanche's exit plaza.
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Obligatory shot.
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Backlot Stunt Coaster. Very cool family coaster. I would kill for a similar coaster at GAdv.
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Drop Tower.
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Obligatory shot #2.
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Hurler construction. This ride will run very low to the ground. Cannot wait to crest these ejector hills next season!
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Dominator.
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The fountains from atop the Eiffel. My camera did a terrible job of capturing how good the color display was.
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A shot down the main midway.
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Possibly the best picture I have ever taken; Dominator at sunset.
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Another one.
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I305 at sunset.
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Love all if the different displays they have around the park. Tobs of great photo op's.
Last edited by Nitro1118 on Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:08 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby CedarFanboy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:21 pm

I would kill to have the experience you did in place of my experience on Saturday. I305 is an amazing coaster without a doubt. I agree with you about Flight of Fear, it was running rough quite a bit on Saturday too. Don't remember it being like that in May, though. It's always been a bit rough, but hopefully they will fix whatever is seemingly wrong with it now.

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby ThemeParkJunkie51290 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:08 am

Wonderful! =)
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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Canobie Coaster » Thu Aug 24, 2017 3:07 am

Great report! Glad you liked I305. It's a good coaster but personally not my cup of tea.

I'm just thankful Flight of Fear doesn't still have the OSTRs.
Top 5 Wood- Phoenix, Boulder Dash, El Toro, Voyage, Cornball Express
Top 5 Steel- Iron Rattler, Fury 325, Twisted Colossus, Millennium Force, Phantom's Revenge
Top 5 Parks- Disneyland, Knoebels, Cedar Point, Magic Kingdom, Busch Gardens Williamsburg
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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Nitro1118 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:16 pm

Day 2 ride count:

Intimidator 305- 5x
Grizzly- 2x
Woodstock Express- 2x
Volcano- 1x
Flight of Fear- 1x
Dominator- 1x
Rebel Yell- 1x
Ricochet- 1x
Anaconda- 1x
Flyers- 1x
Delerium- 1x

Notes:

-Had a very good, but exhausting day at the park. Was there from rope drop until the very last ride of the night on Intimidator 305. Crowds were low-moderate. Most rides were walk-ons. The rides that had waits never saw lines past 20min or so. One thing that went unnoticed last night due to the extremely low crowds is the very slow ride operations throughout the park. Almost every ride had slow operations staffed by uninspired employees. Every coaster with 2 trains was stacking, and coasters with 1 train were taking forever to load and dispatch. I305, Grizzly and Rebel Yell were all running only 1 train.

-Got some better looks at the Twisted Timbers construction site. They seemed to be working on the brakerun area throughout the day. That stretch of 3 straight camelbacks is going to be absolutely amazing.

-Finally got my Grizzly credit after 12 years, and I found the ride to be fantastic! Some really solid airtime moments, great setting and it was acceptably smooth. After I305 and Volcano it was possibly my 3rd favorite coaster in the park. Very underrated. Sidenote- who the hell thought it'd be a good idea to make you walk through the Dinosaurs Alive gift shop to get to the Grizzly entrance? It took us far too long to find the ride, which is already hidden by trees as it is.

-Rebel Yell was just as forgettable as I figured it would be considering I had 0 recollection of it from my 2005 trip.

-This park has some fantastic offerings for families and guests of all ages. My step son loved Planet Snoopy and could have spent all 10 hours there. Woodstock Express is a great coaster to transition little ones from baby rides to the moderately thrilling coasters. We saw two shows; "Jump" which was a dog show, and "Cirque" which was a take on "Cirque De Solei." Both shows were well-done and broke up the day for us nucely. The Kings Dominion Theater was really nice for your average theme park show theater.

-After 5 more rides on I305, including on the last train of the night, I officially have put it in my top 3, behind El Toro and Wicked Cyclone, above Skyrush, and neck-and-neck with Superman: The Ride. After some more rides I do think I prefer the front two rows compared to the back of the train. I can't wait to get on it again next season. Considering how highly I value Wicked Cyclone, the I305/Twisted Timbers duo should pack a serious punch!


Tomorrow I will be visiting SFA for the first time so look out for that update. I am very curious to see how it goes considering its reputation, but either way it will provide new credits and break up the 5 hour car ride. Crossing my fingers that Superman is open since it appears to have been down the last couple of days!

Pics:
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Julien and I in front of the fountains.
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Dominator in the distance.
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Random shot from Planet Snoopy.
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Dominator again.
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I305.
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One train ops all day on I305.
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From the dog show, "Jump." In this one the dog was in mid-backflip going for the frisbee!
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Another pic from the show. This one is borderline animal abuse lol.
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Anaconda from the queue. Decently smooth for an Arrow looper. The underground tunnel was pretty cool.
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Anaconda again.
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Volcano.
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Volcano's entrance.
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Candy Apple Grove. Very glad CF didn't go with the coaster community favorite "Rotten Apple" name for Twisted Timbers.
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Ferris Wheel.
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Twisted Timbers construction. Work was focused on the brakerun most of the day.
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Windseeker. Didn't bother even entertaining waiting in line for it at any point this trip. NESS at SFNE really spoiled these types of rides for me.
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Great place to see a show if you get the chance.
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Underrated gem of this park.
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This is about the best view of Grizzly you can get from the ground. It is nicely hidden by the trees for most of its layout.
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Delerium made me want a Giant Discovery for GAdv even more. Great ride.
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A random but nice clock display.
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Kicking myself I didn't set aside some time to take a spin on this.
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Thank you KD for a fantastic trip!

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby CedarFanboy » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:15 pm

Always happy to see some Grizzly love around here. Glad you like it! Great pictures, too.

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Nitro1118 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:01 pm

Day 3- Six Flags America

Ride count:

Superman: Ride of Steel- 3x
Joker's Jinx- 1x
Wild One- 1x
Apocalypse- 1x
Roar- 1x
Pirate Ship (don't remember the name)- 1x

Notes:

-Being my first time at the park, it was hard to go in without certain expectations. I've been hearing about the sketchy clientelle, poor operations, ugly aesthetics and mediocre lineup for nearly two decades now. After my visit, I would say the park met all of the negative expectations I had. It was definitely a rough park atmosphere, although everyone seemed to be relatively well-behaved despite very little security presence. The operations were beyond terrible. Everything had a 1 train wait, which was understandable since every ride was a complete walkon. But it still took almost every ride a minimum of 5min to dispatch, with some approaching 10min. Some ops were cursing loudly, an op on Joker's Jinx missed securing a rider's seatbelt during his check, guests were getting borderline yelled at for touching their lap bars on Roar, and also on Roar they were very loud about hoping for a thunderstorm they could go home. Aesthetically, the front of the park is rather nice, but the back half is hideous.

-Superman was honestly better than I expected! The airtime was great, the helices were forceful, and the straightaways didn't bother me as much as I thought they would. A lower/mid tier hyper for sure, but definitely a very good ride. I did notice a fair share of rattle and shuffling in the back of the train, but it didn't hinder the experience at all. If anything, it gave the helices and straightaways a little wildness that they would have otherwise lacked.

-Roar was closed upon entering the park but opened later on. I had no idea they had recently done a fair amount of trackwork to the ride. We got front row and had a really good! It was relatively smooth and had solid pacing and laterals.

-Wild One was slightly disappointing. Don't get me wrong, for a 100 year old ride it runs amazingly well. Nice speed and some great pops of airtime. However, it has a serious shuffle/some jackhammering, notably in the 2nd half of the ride. I enjoyed the ride, but was missing why some people hold it in high regards.

-After riding FoF yesterday and Joker's Jinx today, I think I prefer Joker. The lack of MCBR makes the 2nd half very intense and I felt it was considerably smoother as well.

-Apocalypse was as I remembered ut from its Iron Wolf days. It gets more hate than it deserves. Solid, forceful little standup. A bit of a chore to prevent headbanging, but not enough to kill the experience. I lol'd at how long SFA designed its queue.

-Batwing was closed most of the time I was in the Gotham City area. I got in line inside the station when it was testing, however it broke down when one of the rows wouldn't rise (pic down below). Never felt the desire to check on it at any other point of the day.

-Overall, I do not plan on coming back unless they make some major upgrades, which is doubtful. My 3-4 hours there were decent enough, but uncomfortable at the same time. The lack of shade, bad operations and rowdy atmosphere were kind of distracting, especially after 2 great days at KD. Glad I lucked out with Superman and Roar considering they were down the last few days, though. I'm glad I got the new experience and credits.

Pucs below. Sorry for the quality, we were in a time crunch so I had little time to find good angles or wait for 1 train every 10min to come thru:
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The entrance plaza.
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Closeup of the entrance.
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The Main St area was actually very nice. Unfortunately, it did not represent the things to come...
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This made me miss Movietown Water Effect at GAdv.
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Early in the day, Roar was closed, but it opened up about an hour after this pic was taken.
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Over-hated standup, albeit still mediocre at best.
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Gotham City- Doing its very best to rapidly boost the rate of skin cancer in the greater Washington D.C area.
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Love this tangled mess of track and supports.
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Thank god Superman was open for my visit. Easily the highlight of the visit.
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The Zumanjaro of the coaster world. This coaster is ridiculously out of the way.
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Superman from the exit.
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These bunny hills provide pretty strong ejector.
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Last Superman shot.
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The long walk to a broken down Batwing.
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Another Batwing shot.
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The cause of Batwing's breakdown.
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Great coaster duo in a terrible themed section.
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100 years and still going strong.
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Random shot of the park's Flyers.
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Shot of Roar in the station. Note the empty queue on a Friday at peak time with 1 train ops.
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Best angle I could get of Roar besides the entrance plaza.

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby ThemeParkJunkie51290 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:32 pm

Nice report! =) Six Flags America is a park that's been on my bucket list for years, but I never took out the time to visit. It provides a challenge for me because most parks that people call "terrible" or "not the best" are the parks I usually have a great time at. Maybe I need to accept the this challenge like I did when I went to Mt. Olympus and see how my experience turns out. ;)
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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Nitro1118 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:28 pm

ThemeParkJunkie51290 wrote:Nice report! =) Six Flags America is a park that's been on my bucket list for years, but I never took out the time to visit. It provides a challenge for me because most parks that people call "terrible" or "not the best" are the parks I usually have a great time at. Maybe I need to accept the this challenge like I did when I went to Mt. Olympus and see how my experience turns out. ;)


I mean, the collection is solid and I have a strong feeling everything is pretty much always a walkon, so it's worth a single visit just for that. But it is definitely a park that is in a pretty terrible sad state.

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Re: Photo TR: Kings Dominion/SFA 8/23/17-8/25/17

Postby Ed Farmer » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:18 pm

-Apocalypse was as I remembered ut from its Iron Wolf days. It gets more hate than it deserves. Solid, forceful little standup. A bit of a chore to prevent headbanging, but not enough to kill the experience. I lol'd at how long SFA designed its queue.


It's always nice to run into a comment like this from time to time. I enjoyed it at GAm and was sad to see it go.
"Next, we are going to solicit the children of strangers so that we can go on a ride designed for children. This is so I can post online and impress other people who are very good at procuring unfamiliar children in order to go on rides designed for children, and thus have a higher arbitrary number than me."

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