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Everything posted by Electerik

  1. When planning this holiday, there was a choice to be made regarding Playland. Should we try to visit during the PNE Fair, when the park expands with additional rides, shows, and crowds, or see it in its "normal" state? I won't say it was an easy decision, and I'm still not sure we made the right choice, but in the end we went with experiencing Playland in its flaccid form. (I know. I'm sorry.) Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 2: Sad Fountains of British Columbia We don't visit parks as often as we used to, but it's still exciting to go to a new one! Playland exists within the boarders of Hastings Park, which contains quite a few other attractions and special event spaces. This is Momiji Gardens. It's free, completely accessible from all directions, and unguarded (at least that we saw). This thing wouldn't last a week in the US. Momiji Gardens represents an apology, because we're in Canada. This is around the back of Playland, and I assume most people miss it unless the Fair is happening. Fun story: Right after this photo was taken, and employee walked out and added "Roller Coaster" to the Attractions Not Operating Today sign. While there is some landscaping, it mostly exists in the form of planters and such. Playland is basically a "Fair in a parking lot" kind of park, which is baffling because it opened in 1910 and is in the Pacific Northwest--a region that will literally just grow beautiful trees and flowers all on its own if you don't stop it. Well, at least the Kettle Creek Mine Coaster is running. Two of my favorite things: Pirate Ships and Water Fountain Lions. They have a glass maze. It's super easy though because there are no mirrors and the wooden floor has a path worn into it. Still, it's cool that it exists. Bug Whirled was surprisingly fun for an extremely short kiddy coaster. That fountain is just pitiful. I honestly feel bad for it. We skipped the Vekoma Corkscrew. I'm more of a "unique experience whore." This photo is really just here to show you what kind of park Playland is. Which is not to say that it's a bad park, or that we didn't have fun. But if somebody told me that this was a top 10 park for them, I'd say that they hadn't been to more than 10 parks. Once I was the King of Spain (now I eat humble pie)! Wait, what? Does that say orange ice cream swirled with black licorice ripple? That's too weird, even for me. Canada is different, man. Best photo op cut-out ever. Yup, there it is. The star of the park. The main reason to come here. A ride that still shows up on some pretty well-traveled enthusiasts' top 10 lists. Can't ride it, though. It's broke. The park hasn't gotten rid of the crew yet, though. And ride engineers are out on the track banging on stuff. So there's hope still, right? Mini golf is included with admission, which is nice. You may not know this about us, but we like mini golf. First we'll get some sweet tats. Then, cheeseburgers. And poutine, obviously. I mean, you can get it in the states, but it's still fairly rare. It's seriously everywhere in Canada, though. And amazing. And us fat Americans should love it even more than they do. I mean, it's friggin' french fries with gravy and cheese(curds) on it! Okay, yes, the name does start with "poo," but whatever. Let's call it Freedom Salad and get it out there to the US masses! I'm generally anti-upcharge, but I make an exception for walk-through haunted houses. This one screwed with my American sensibilities, too, because the pop-out figures come very close to you, and in fairly confined spaces. Anyway, it was good. I think she's a ghost. The antlers are a dead giveaway. Misty's first Enterprise. She was skeptical, but I convinced her with the word, "Schwarzkopf." Starflyers combine being absolutely terrifying with the sensation of complete boredom. And this one was no exception. I'm not sure what I'm doing here. She asked me to pose and I panicked. Corkscrew as seen from the Westcoast Wheel, and that for some reason looks all tilt-shifted. Still no movement at Roller Coaster. *le sigh* See, like, what's going on here? I'm not asking you to be Disney. I don't even really like Disney all that much. (Their parks are mediocre.) But that's clearly a brand new trailer more or less permanently installed on a walkway. It's like you don't even want to be good. Model log flume. I can't even be arsed to look up who made it. But at least it has a cool name: "Flume." There's a path around the outside of Playland that allows for some additional views of Roller Coaster. Still, it's not the easiest ride to photograph. But at least I don't have to wait for a train to be in my photo! We waited as long as we could. I'm not sure if it eventually opened or not. But let us not dwell on sadness. We had fun, and there's more fun yet to be had! Slidey slides! That's what they're called. Seriously, go back to photo number 2 of this report and look on the map. Slidey slides. This playground equipment looks suspiciously like exercise machines. To the local hobby board game store! We bought a comic book and a Canadian board game. I have no idea how much they cost, though, because I'm stupid and the exchange rate confuses me. We might be bankrupt now. There's really no telling. I'm pretty sure the gas stations were charging like $150 per gallon. Er...I mean, per millimeter or something. Board game cafes are a thing in several cities now, but this is a board game pizza parlor. The Sticky Little Prince. Did you know that Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada? You did? Well, I guess I'm not interesting then. Jesus Christ, Canada. You're making me cry here. That's a f**king shower head! Everyone is judging you! Perverted Ice Cream is the name of this place. And the ice cream was fine. But the esthetic was like a sex dungeon designed by junior high school kids who knew that their parents would eventually be coming by to see it. They're just trying way too hard here. It's soft serve, guys. I am immigrating to Canada. And then starting a fountain installation business. So far North, Superman lives here. Pixel Orca! (And like some witches or something. Canada is weird.) Thus endeth Day 2. Stay tuned for Day 3 in like a week or something.
  2. Hello! Remember when we lived in Pigeon Forge and we had a thread about all the cool stuff there? And then we moved to Orlando and did another one? And then we moved to Las Vegas and there was no thread? Well, now we live in Seattle, and again there's no thread. However, we did recently spend 5 days in Vancouver, British Columbia, doing pretty much everything touristy there is to do there. So I think that's worth a little something, don't you? Erik & Smisty's Vancouver Oddventure Day 1: Inside A Cobra Up early for a walk to the train station. Just like in Pigeon Forge, we (happily) don't own a car. This was to be a trip of firsts. Our first time on a proper train. Our first visit to a foreign country. Our first time having a bus apologize to us. No idea idea how I got so old without experiencing any of those things, but here we are. On the ride up, you have to fill out a customs form, which they take (while checking your passport) at the border. Also, you have to guesstimate how much poutine you're going to eat while in Canada. Be careful! If you guess too low, they don't let you in! Well, I can't argue with that. "Beautiful" weather today, eh? What can you do on a train? Well, you can get up and go to another train car and eat cheeseburgers, for one thing. You can also play a board game. Board games are basically what we do now instead of going to amusement parks all the time. This game is called Muse. See if you can figure out which card matches the clue, "Columbus Day." It takes about 4 hours to go from Seattle to Vancouver via the Amtrak Cascades. Definitely more enjoyable than flying, though clearly much slower. The gloomy Pacific Northwest weather had burned off by the afternoon. Or maybe Canada is just prettier. In Erik-&-Smisty-land, vacationing is not for the faint of heart. We don't lie on the beach and drink Mai Tais. We're on the clock here, people! Vancouver, obviously jealous of Seattle's Pike Place Market, created this: the Granville Island Public Market. I've been staring at this photo for 5 full minutes trying to think of a caption, and all I've come up with so far is, "Fruit." Puffcream, obviously. Bought with Canadian monies, which are much more interesting and colorful than US monies. Plus, they don't have pennies, because pennies aren't actually money, and their dollar coins are affectionately known as, "Loonies," which is awesome. Here I am on a boat, looking at stuff. Vancouver is a lot like Seattle, which is a lot like Portland. Really, the three cities are just very similar to one another, which probably means this was a stupid place to go considering where we live. But there are differences. For example, in Vancouver, the most popular fast food chain is A&W. So that's weird. Vancouver also has special trick-riding bicycle lanes. Smisty has never seen a swing she didn't want to swing on. Crazy black hole vortex fountain, with Canada Place in the background. FlyOver Canada is basically Soarin'. (Seattle has one, too! "Wings Over Washington.") Photos of the ride are not allowed. However, I found a clever way to photograph what it looks like on the inside without breaking any rules! At first, I thought this was a straight copy (mechanically) of Soarin'. But, we rode in the middle row, and there were no feet in our view, so it's not exactly the same. Also, unlike both Soarin(s) and Wings Over Washington, this one uses wipes and fades to switch between scenes rather than smash cuts, which is something I've always wanted to see in one of these. Unfortunately, there is a bit of dodgy CG work in some of the scenes, where they pretty obviously added something (like, say, a sailboat or a train) into a scene that clearly wasn't there when they filmed it. There was also a dreadful preshow that featured lots of parkour because that's what the kids like these days...? That could look better. Looking back from Canada Place. Note how Vancouver Lookout is basically just Space Needle/Stratosphere style observation decks attached to the top of a regular building like mismatched Lego. (Yes, of course we're going there.) What? We're tourists. If you look carefully at this photo, the next one will make more sense. Well, kind of. Fritz European Fry House was a tiny establishment with weird seating, but absolutely amazing pulled-pork poutine. We bought tickets and were directed to stand in line (ahead right) and wait for the elevator (far left). We were not instructed that we should first walk over to the elevator and push the button to summon it. Operational oddities aside, it was a nice attraction. But then, I am a sucker for observation towers. We got there right before sunset. (It's almost like we know what we're doing!) Vancouver Lookout is 168 meters tall. (Figure it out, filthy Americans!) It features a 360-degree observation deck and a rotating restaurant. (But we just ate at Fritz, so no restaurant for us.) Canada Place is the thing that looks like sails, and is a double-sided cruise ship dock and event space, as well as being home to FlyOver Canada. I really liked Vancouver Lookout's open floor plan. I'm good at photos. You'll just have to trust me on that point, though, because Misty took this one. Back down on the ground and in the nearby Gas Town area of Vancouver, featuring a clock that runs on steam for some reason. The view from our hotel room. Well, that wraps up Day 1. Let's see how long it takes me to sort out Day 2, which is the part of the Trip Report you're actually interested in.
  3. Dear Ms. Parton, Please make check out to: Erik & Smisty's Smoky Mountain Adventures Thank you,
  4. Aw...you're too kind! Go on.... Ours cousins, Tot, Al, and Stran (Gers not pictured).
  5. Greetings, friends! Erik (of Erik & Smisty fame) here. You may remember us from such trip reports as Lagoon & Salt Lake City or Scandia Ontario with Erik & Smisty. It's been said that a review tells you more about the reviewer than the thing being reviewed. So let me tell you who I am. I am a guy who likes small spaces, minimalism, and things that are odd, different, interesting, and/or funky. I'm also an aging theme park enthusiast who--while generally not unwell--is the heaviest and least healthy he's ever been. When I go to Cedar Point, I barely fit on the rides, and you're not going to find me marathoning The Voyage any time soon. But, happily, there are still places for people like me out there in amusement park land--special places. And I'm here today to tell you about one of those places: Enchanted Forest Of course, you'd better not have a problem with hills and stairs.... It had been 10 years since I last visit Enchanted Forest. I'd enjoyed the park immensely then, and I was eager for Misty to experience it. Boring stuff, because adults like that sort of thing. The left third of the park (very roughly) is walk-by and/or walk-through representations of classic fairy tale stories. I'm not going to show you everything, but suffice it to say that this is a small--but very detailed--park. Hey, kids, let's have fun reading! Apparently this was damaged and then replaced since my last visit. It looks the same. Indeed, the park really hasn't noticeably changed at all since the last time I was here. Here's a photo of Smisty's back. See, what happens is, I stop to take a photo, but she keeps walking. I tell you this for no reason. "Mad as a hatter" is a colloquial English phrase used in conversation to suggest (lightheartedly) that a person is suffering from insanity. The origin of the saying may derive from mercury poisoning (or Korsakoff's syndrome) experienced by hat-makers as a result of the long-term use of mercury products in the hat-making trade. If you already knew that, you may be old and sad. So, like, when they say "forest," they ain't kidding. This is a small maze. It is fun for children of all ages. While I've made much of how adult-friendly this park is, I wouldn't want to try to push a wheelchair around it. Wait...bears don't live in honeycombs. This can't be right. I'd like to speak to your supervisor. The Seven Dwarfs of Enchanted Forest are slightly different than Disney's Seven Dwarfs. Does that say, "Lumpy"? Okay, let's be clear: This is the least interesting section of the park, and it's still completely awesome. One of the park's most iconic images, and the first of its 3 slides. Note also four of the dwarfs who weren't selected for mining duty today, bottom-right. I believe that's Dinky, Shminky, Bobo, and Log. Enchanted Forest has an unguided crooked house! Also, Enchanted Forest *is* an unguided crooked house! This was the first thing the park's founder (more on him later) started building at Enchanted Forest. Yay, history! "Whee!" "Sir, are you all right? Are you having a stroke?" The middle third of the park is the kinda-sorta western themed Tofteville. "I can see it now! You'll be a star!" Remote control boats. I have zero interest, but at least these look nice. Fort Fearless contains the park's third big slide, as well as "Indian Caves." It's a crooked town. Inside the Opera House is a gift shop and continuous-looping history lesson about the park. Sorry for the spot on the lens. It rains in Oregon. I'm not sure if you knew that. Roger Tofte, the man who build this park, also drew the park map. Does this photo seem off, somehow? Anyway, this small BBQ restaurant is one of the very few new things I encountered on this visit. So we ate there. Boring old people love to eat. You know what else older active adults like? Muziums! I don't get it. Halloween is the favorite holiday of basically every adult I know. Whereas I like an occasion where I can take more photos of Smity's back. So, hey, how about a walk-through haunted house! (Also, "3 Tickets" is a weird address.) Spooooooky ghoooost haaaands....! Oingo Boingo are like, "This is stupid." The Haunted House is long, and mostly everything works. It's not particularly scary, and I don't think it really wants to be, but it is fun. Misty says it's the first thing she'd make better if we owned the park. This is a photo of a pathway that leads through an empty tunnel with no one in it. I guess this not-terribly-interesting dead-end kiddy ride section is park of Tofteville...? It consists of kiddy bumper boats, a small Ferris wheel, a Frog Hopper, kiddy train, and bumper cars. It's all fine, really. It's fine. Doesn't look like us old folks are going to be riding that. We can ride this train, though!. We didn't, but we can. Honestly, the train (while short) is the best thing back here. The landscape is themed with little fantasy buildings and the cars rock back and forth and have little buttons that make animal noises. So that's pretty cool. But even better is that employee's jacket! How do I get one of those?! That's right. Forget the rides, let's talk about clothes! One of the park's three big ride, the Big Timber Log Ride. (See, it even has BIG and RIDE in its name.) They still do loaner ponchos, too. Which is awesome, but also cheating and I'll have none of it thank you very much. This is seriously one of the two or three best log flume rides I've been on. At the top of the big lift hill, you enter into a section that's more than a little reminiscent of Knott's Timber Mountain Log Ride--but that's not a bad thing! Then we follow the terrain a bit, which is nice. Scenery is nice. Let's all have a sit. The woods here are blurry. It's not the photographer's fault. Also, I'm using an ancient and temperamental waterproof camera. But I really wanted you to see the waterless dip that's about to happen. The pacing is really interesting here. First you do the waterless dip and ascend, then a quick turn to the big drop finale. It's a great finish for a great ride. No poncho for me, thanks. I'm an adult. Yes, all three of the park's big rides are all right together. But while the Big Timber Log Ride is part of Tofteville, the Ice Mountain Bobsleds are part of the park's third area, the mystical Old European Village. This coaster was built in house, and has no restraints--unless of course you count being completely enclosed in your car as being restrained, which I guess yeah it is. Some of the course is icy and some is forested. Magic, I guess. That looks funky. Yay! There's no airtime, really--but this ride is weird, wild, and fun! You definitely need a car to yourself (especially if you're on the biggerness side) but that shouldn't be a problem if the park's not too busy. (And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't try to put you with a stranger in this thing.) Weird POV! Everyone has this photo. Challenge of Mondor is the park's third big ride. I think it was pretty new when I last visited. It's a trackless shooting dark ride. I didn't get many photos of this one. Because it's a shooting dark ride. But I can tell you the cars stop occasionally and spin. (Slowly, though--so don't worry, grampa!) The Old European Village proper is full of little details, window displays, and walk-throughs. So, like the rest of the park, it's awesome. Long John's Lookout is a small indoor seating area with a view of the Ice Mountain Bobsleds. Smisty's back likes to gift shop! Geppetto was not racist. A short simple animation show on a continuous loop. I'm not sure if the MC is supposed to be English or Australian, based on his accent, but it's fun and and and...this thing exists here and that's awesome! "Free Water Show" sounds like a trap. It's not, though. This eatery (pizza and burgers and such) has a dancing waters fountain show in it. Do you see why I love this place, yet? How about now? Also, I'm Oregonian. Check out my hat. This is a picture of benches. I'll put this up against a picture of benches anywhere. Go on, I dare you. Hit me with a better bench photo. Back at the front of the park, looking back up towards Old European Village. Smisty had a great time (true). Also, it was her birthday (not true). She's 5 now (really really not true). We end as we began, with a photo of the parking lot. But, really, isn't that how all theme park visits begin and end? Pretty deep, right? Enchanted Forest. Quite simply, one of my favorite places in the world.
  6. Well, with all due respect, I didn't say that you believed it. Dang it! I intended to mention that! Fry sauce is one part ketchup and two parts mayonnaise, and seems to exist everywhere in the region that french fries do. Thank you, everyone, for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed the TR. I always worry when I post something so wide in scope.
  7. Hello! Erik and Smisty here. You may not remember us from such trip reports as Lake Winnepesaukah & Rock City or Holiday World & Santa Claus, Indiana, because they were a long time ago. Here's the deal. We love theme parks. But not just theme parks. So there will be some photos of roller coasters--but there will also be lots and lots of photos of not roller coasters. Sorry about that. We live in Las Vegas, so Utah isn't all that far away. Of course, Salt Lake City isn't exactly located in the part that's close to us. Zion National Park is much closer. And awesome. I highly recommend it, if you like nature stuff. However, on this trip, we just drove by it. Our first stop, just south of Salt Lake City, was Draper--home of the only aquarium in Utah. Well, actually, I'm lying. We stopped for gas and to pee and stuff a couple times prior to that. But this was the first stop that I'm going to share photos of with you. It's a relatively small aquarium, but quite nice. It has fish. The South American area was the highlight--and was also itself an aviary. What do you think, Smisty? Good, right? We like mini golf. This was the one we researched ahead of time. It also has a proper golf course, driving range, and putting greens. But who cares? There are two 18-hole courses that both culminate in your balls being mummified. What? I like courses that have "rough" and "sand" areas. A nice course. We had fun. None of the water features were on yet, though. It's possible we should have waited a couple more weeks to make this trip. Spring hadn't really sprung in SLC yet. Leatherby's Ice Cream is a SLC institution, apparently. And it was good. We ended up going twice during our four day visit to the area. Saturday morning, we got up and walked across the street from our hotel. I will prepare myself mentally for not being entertained, thank you. Many parts of Lagoon are very pretty--I imagine even more so once things start to bloom. Lagoon has two old-school dark rides, and they're both extremely well-maintained. I don't think I'd ever been on a ride called "Roller Coaster" before. Lagoon has some issues, however. I was not prepared for the weird mix of "laid back family park" and "corporate park rule enforcement" that exists here. For example: Glasses, no problem. But bags and hats must be placed in lockers prior to entering the queue. Okay, fine. However, lockers either cost 75-cents (and there were no change machines) or they were free for a limited time but didn't work. One helpful employee suggested that we could just wait until it started working. This ride was closed in the morning. As you can easily tell if you walk all the way through the queue and up to the platform. We did ride it later, and I quite liked it. Misty thought Wicked was dull. Lagoon has a very casual approach to opening their rides in the morning. Of the four coasters in this area of the park, two were running by 10:30am and two still weren't. Again, we did ride it eventually, and quite liked it. I didn't much like the lines I had to wait in later, but hey. I'd always wanted to visit a park with this sort of old school chairlift-over-gardens midway arrangement. Obviously, Lagoon has expanded quite a lot, but it still has that. It also has a freakin' Rock-O-Plane! The Lagoon, I imagine. The back half of the park is largely made up of Pioneer Village, which was virtually abandoned for most of the day. But we thought it was great. The train goes around the lake and passed quite a few animal exhibits--most of which can't be viewed any other way. So the park doesn't really have a zoo section, so much as a zoo ride. Lots of walk-through buildings detailing frontier life. Quite well done, but of course the kids weren't interested in this area. And, believe me, there were a lot of kids in the park. In fact, there are a lot of kids in SLC, period. Like, 3 or 4 for every 2 adults. Is it time to talk about the Mormon thing, yet? No? Okay. This is my "no, I don't like trains particularly" stance. Which I have chosen to adopt in the train museum. Pioneer Village also contains the park's two water rides, which were running. However, it was still a bit cold. Also note in the previous photo (I know, I'm bad at this) that while the park seems to be strictly pay-one-price, and is entirely fenced in, the ride signs (even Cannibal) all list a cost in tickets. Also, you get your hand stamped when entering the park, and are asked to show that stamp at every single ride. I still can't figure it out. We asked several employees why they checked hand stamps, when you clearly had to buy full admission for park entry, but no one seemed to understand the question. Eventually, we gave up. Certainly, there are no individual tickets listed for sale anywhere. It's just weird. This is a photo of every single person on the ride at the time this photo was taken. Many parts of Lagoon are pretty, but some parts are just sort of "ghetto theme park." This area is both. They have Dole Whip. Also (and not pictured) a full-blown rip off of IOA's "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" ride, complete with imitation song. Not that I disapprove, mind you. I like the mushroom. That's not a drug reference. The tea cup ride had a very cool chandelier feature. Except for Pioneer Village, Lagoon doesn't really have individually themed areas. So sometime they just theme a ride to whatever they want and put it wherever, which is cool. At the ticketing windows up front, they listed one ride down for the day. It was not this ride, or any of the other rides that bore this sign. I didn't count, and I obviously would have gone into the park anyway. Still, it seems like bad form. And, yes, this is a generic sign that blames Europe for their problems. Me trying to be artsy. Cannibal opened last year, and has sort of a vaguely African theme. They could have called it anything, but they chose Cannibal. Which is, like Lagoon itself, both bafflingly stupid and incredibly awesome at the same time. This weird and elaborate set-up was, I think, designed to make people exit through the gift shop (though you could still go around that, so who knows?) Also, there were lockers, but they had all been disabled. Instead, four employees manned an elaborate station where guests placed their loose articles in plastic containers and were given a claim ticket for it. Even Cedar Point (literally, the most paranoid park I can think of) can sort out bins in (most of) their coaster stations. Like Lagoon itself...what? I'm not a huge fan of being held upside-down by a single restraint, which, were it to fail, would most certainly result in my unavoidable death. However, this ride is pretty great. The deliberate hang-time section just after the block brake is my least favorite part of it, but still. Also worth mentioning that this ride was designed and built largely in-house. What small parks do that anymore?! Ultimately, we enjoyed our visit to Lagoon. It's a good park, and well worth a visit if you're nearby. However, I didn't love the park, and I really wanted to. It has so much going for it, but it's just kind of...not quite amazing. For dinner, we went in search of a place in Farmington called Cherry Hill Pie Pantry, because that sounds amazing. However, despite its hours indicating that it should be open, it was closed. However, however, surprise mini golf! This, however, is a photo of a (dry) water slide. The whole place is an RV campground complex, or something...? This mini gold course didn't even come up in searches when I was standing on it. One 18-hole course, but pretty good. Inside the castle. An enclosed loop-de-loop. Great signage. Fun course. No pie. The original plan was to spend both Saturday and Sunday at Lagoon, but we'd pretty much done everything we wanted to by the end of Saturday, and we weren't as in love with the park as we'd hoped to be, so we opted to do other stuff on Sunday, instead. Misty is kind of a zoo enthusiast. I think this is our ninth proper zoo now? Like the aquarium, it wasn't particularly large, but it was quite good. Hogle Zoo doesn't mess around. When you walk in, you're not greeted by flamingos or alligators or something. No, this place is like, blam, giraffes! Zebras! Now Lions! Elephants! Go, go, go! Pretty much every zoo we've been to has had some really nice new sections, and some old crappy concrete sections. Not this one. Pretty much everything felt new and up-to-date. So much so that I actually looked it up to see when this zoo first opened. 1931. Best. Zoo. Ever. Don't eat too much, Smisty! You don't want to gain weight! See? I told you! The name of that restaurant was The Beastro, by the way. Man, I am so bad at this. Huffalumps. No indication that it would, but this did open later. And what a weird collection of animals on it. A praying mantis? Two snakes on a log? Sea lion. I'm just trying to generate responses, man. Grizzly bear. Not a photo from the aquarium that I accidentally put in the wrong place. Actually, the "small animal house" was the one thing at the Hogle Zoo that felt a bit dated. Still, a great zoo. The train had two sections. First it goes around the Savannah area, then it goes off on a weird "Rivers of America" type thing. Well worth the $2 upcharge to ride it, though. Zoo was good. How about a garden? They were having a special orchid show. All I know about orchids is that Hugo Drax must be stopped. But it won't be easy. Again, this place was really nice. But it'll probably be freaking amazing once SLC decides to join the rest of us here in Springtime. The map makes it look more intimidating than it really is. Sometimes I take okay photos. This one is for all you camouflage enthusiasts out there. If that comment confused you, look closer. There's actually a woman in this photo! Red Butte Gardens And right next door, Utah's Natural History Museum, why not? I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for some creationist stuff. The joke's on me, though, as a bit of post-visit research reveals that the Church of Latter-day Saints has no official position on evolution. Utah is actually quite famous for dinosaur fossils. That's not a joke. I'm all for Native American stuff. But is it really, "Natural History"? It is? Okay. Nice view of the city from here. This is as good a place to mention that Salt Lakers are a bit stand-offish. Not rude, exactly. But not friendly, either. Or, at least, they tend not to engage first. Eh, it's a museum. I'd wanted to check out a place called Chedda Burger for dinner. But, like so much of Salt Lake City, it's closed on Sundays. Luckilly, Lucky 13 was not. probably because it's pretty much a bar. But whatever, the burgers were amazing. Our home away from the hotel in Farmington quickly became Harmons Grocery Store. It has two stories and a gourmet salt section...? Monday was our last full day in Utah, and we wanted to see the Great Salt Lake. I guess I'd just assumed it would be a presence in Salt Lake City, but not really. Anyway, this is Antelope Island, accessible from the mainland via causeway. At one point, many of the LDS church leaders kept their animals on this island. Bison are doing quite well here. Some have even started to learn the art of camouflage. Demonstration ranch. Proceeds from which once went to the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which helped pay the way for new Mormon coverts to move to Utah. I learned a lot about Mormons on my trip to Salt Lake City. F-off, all you unimportant birds! Unimportant bugs who tried to get into our car the hard way. Downtown Salt Lake City is amazing. Of all the downtown areas I've been to, this one seems the most vital and of-a-piece with its city. What's not amazing, though, are the street names here. See, they don't really have them. And when they do, they're not actually real. (No, seriously, most actual street names here are honorary, and cannot by law appear on maps.) Instead streets are numbered in the style of longitude and latitude. Which might be pretty cool if you lived here and had mastered it, but ain't no damn good if you're a tourist. "Misty, where do I turn?" "Um...East 11600 South." "Excuse me?" "It should be here." "The signs says, 'Stevens.'" Right across from the true center of town--we'll get to that in a minute--is a giants indoor/outdoor shopping mall with underground parking called City Creek Center. Farr's is the other big deal local ice cream brand here. It was good, but Leatherby's was better. We weren't originally going to visit Temple Square or any of the "Mormon stuff." But, it quickly became apparent that so much of the character of Salt Lake City comes from that, that to skip over it would almost be not to see the city. So, I'm just going to lay it out here. We're atheists. So I think all religion is misguided foolishness, at best. Having said that, the Mormons aren't MORE crazy than anyone else. If anything, in my view, a lot of their beliefs make perfect sense--if you already believe the basics of Christianity. So, there you go, Mormons. Some faint praise from an atheist. Enjoy. Temple Square is the most visited tourist attraction in Utah, with more annual visitors than all of their many national parks combined. There are two separate visitor centers, the tabernacle, some administration buildings, a couple of restaurants, lots of gardens, statues, and fountains, and of course the Temple itself. There are also plenty of missionaries stalking the grounds, eager to proselytize unwary visitors. But, hey, you came to them--so you can't really complain, now can you? So, under fundamentalist Mormonism (and not currently endorsed by the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Adam and God are actually the same person...? In a nutshell, Mormons believe in the regular Christian bible, plus some extra stuff that came from their founder, Joseph Smith (or I guess, from God to Joseph Smith, if you're of a mind). For the most part, this "extra stuff" isn't particularly incompatible or even really all the different from the normal Christian stuff in terms of what it asks of its followers. Where it's a bit out there is in that it states that a tribe of Jews came to the Americas before Christ's birth, and that Christ appeared before them shortly after his resurrection. See? Trip reports can be educational. Unless you're a Mormon, in which case it's likely that all you've learned is that I'm going to Hell. Psych! Mormons don't believe in Hell! Okay, I'll stop. This is the Assembly Hall. Looks like a church to me. A pretty one, too. Misty says this one is better looking than the Temple. A model of the inside, since tourists are (not unreasonably) not allowed in the Temple. It's hard to see in this photo, but my favorite bit is the oxen. This is the angel Moroni, which no one had heard of before Joseph Smith started talking about him. (What? That's pretty neutral!) This is where God is buried. Okay, that was wrong of me. I actually don't have any idea what it is, but I like the photo. The Lion House is a restaurant. But it was once the home of Brigham Young, the second president of the church, the guy who led the Mormons to Utah, and the one who started the whole polygamy thing. Essentially, "Fundamentalist Mormons" still follow the policies and teachings of Brigham Young, while the modern church has moved away from (or, in some cases, rejected) them. One last shot of Salt Lake Temple. I'm glad we ended up visiting Temple Square--not so much because I wanted to make fun, but because it's legitimately interesting (to me) and quite pretty. Thank for reading about our trip to Salt Lake City, and I apologize to anyone that Misty may have offended!
  8. So happy to see that there weren't three photos of me standing around looking derpy! Oh, wait....
  9. It seems you're quite correct. I went to RCDB to figure out what other Milers I'd been on, and was quite surprised to find that they built the Big Timber Log Ride at Enchanted Forest, which is a ride I also very much enjoy.
  10. Hello! Erik and Smisty here. You may remember us from such photo trip reports as Southern California & Nevada, with Erik & Smisty or Erik & Misty's Smoky Mountain Adventures, featuring Dollywood. Or maybe you don't. In any case, a little over a week ago, we attended the second day of TPR's 2015 West Coast Bash at Knott's Berry Farm. We also visited Disneyland Resort and few other places. But none of those are what I want to tell you about. Let's face it, you already know whether or not you want to go to Disneyland or Knott's, or if you want to attend a WCB (for the first time, or again) and the answer is probably yes. So, instead, we're going to show you something a little more off the beaten path.... Scandia Fun Center - Ontario, California Yes, it's a FEC, but it's a good one. We opted for the all day rides and mini golf wristbands for $25 each, which I think is well worth it if you're going to spend a couple of hours there, and aren't just credit whoring. It's the little things that impress me. Like these little cups for your tokens in the arcade. The arcade was standard, and sort of medium-sized. But they had Skee Ball, so Misty was happy. Shooty thing that goes crazy when you use a flash. We don't care about go-karts, but there is this one course. So...cool. That is not the same kid. And you're racist. Now we're talking! There are two different courses. We did both, because we love mini golf. I didn't see any difference between them in terms of difficulty or quality. Both courses were well maintained, for the most part, with lots of water and greenery. If I had a complaint, it's that the chlorine water smell was overwhelming in some areas. Not that that has anything to do with this photo. This castle was quite large, and two sided. Plus there was a troll under it. He didn't do anything. But, still, a troll. Because Scandia has a Scandinavian theme. I probably should have mentioned that earlier in the TR. Remember when I said that the courses were well maintained, "for the most part"? Yeah.... Okay, good courses. But I see some rides over there! Actually, we did the rides first, but half of creating PTR's is rewriting history. Gearing up for their Halloween event. I dunno, might be a little too intense for me. Do you dare sit in...the spooky recliner?! Looks like they have two houses. This one is built under the big coaster and on the midway that is a second entrance to the park...? (That they're obviously not using at the moment? Or maybe they never do any more?) Is that too many question marks? Okay, so the big draw here is the Scandia Screamer. And, yes, the sign is very funny. But what I want to focus on here is: Who brings their broom to the park?! The Scandia Screamer is a 20-year old, 88-foot tall Hi-Miler. The ride is somewhat wild, and there is some airtime. The front was good. The rear was a bit of a back-breaker. If you like your coasters rusty, Scandia is definitely the place for you! Honestly, it's a nice little park. Sure, it's not Disney World or Cedar Point, but if that doesn't entirely sound like a bad thing to you, you might want to check it out. We're glad we did, but we're weird. We didn't eat in the park, but there is food. And, hey, I found the dustpan that goes with that broom! This train ride looked cute. The scenery is consistently nice throughout the park, and I like how this is built under the coaster. The ride operators were moving from ride to ride, so you had to be committed enough to wait for a few minutes at a ride that you wanted to go on. It was slow enough and the attendants were on the ball, so I didn't find it a problem. It was also advertised that way when we bought our tickets, which was good. Certainly, it was much better than what they do at Castle Park, which I'm still really bitter about. I think this is called the...um...kiddie coaster. *Pulls up Google* Ah, this is "Little Dipper Coaster." We rode it. It was pretty, and weird in that way that only kiddie coasters are. This kid seems like he's enjoying it. I can spin a little, but you're on your own here, Misty. All of the rides have these cool facts on them that help tie them into the Scandinavian theme. The other haunted house. I'm not sure what's normally in the spot, if anything. That's some quality right there, though. Always excited to see a Tilt-A-Whirl, but this one didn't whirl much. This little ride is called the Skagarrak Zoo, which is also the name of my band. I love the shout out to Liseberg, and also that they misspelled it. I would have ridden this one, but I was too fat. Except, I'm not really 100% sure that I was, because the restraints were adjustable, in the sense of being able to slide up higher. And while the attendant adjusted the restraints for others, she didn't for me. It really seemed like mine could have gone higher, but I don't really know. Certainly, I've been on similar rides with no issues, but I wasn't going to argue the point, because I don't want to be that guy. So...I don't know what happened here. But Misty enjoyed it. Who want to ride the Viking Poop Ship? Every park needs a Viking Poop Ship. Tiny (but cute) carousel. Not so tiny (but even cuter) me. Didn't ride, who cares. Nah, I'm just kidding. Again, I really dig Scandia's scenery. Looks like the Screamer has a second train. No idea if they ever use it, but they certainly didn't need it on this day. Welp, that concludes Erik & Smisty's Ontario Oddventures! And while I don't think Scandia is going to be anyone's favorite park, we've been to quite a few better places that were a lot worse. Thanks for coming along for the ride! Do you see what I did there? Here you can see both the Cliff Jumper drop tower ride and the *ahem* natural beauty of Ontario, California.
  11. I think they still do that, but we were done with the park well before closing, and didn't want to wait that long for it. I currently have no plans for that. Largely because I mostly stopped updating this one a while back. I wouldn't want to start something new unless I was fairly committed to it. On the other hand, our lifestyle and working arrangements will be different in Las Vegas, so who can say? But I'll definitely do some trip reports again in the not-too-distant future, and maybe even some from our upcoming trip.
  12. Well, here it is: the last proper update to Erik & Smisty's Florida Oddventures. We leave for Las Vegas in a few days. There were a few places we never got to--and a few that we did, that I just never got around to posting about. Apologies. But, we couldn't leave without giving you this... The Holy Land Experience The "main" entrance, that they apparently no longer use...? Sweet! Aslan! What's this now? There's actually quite a few static figures and displays in the parking lot and outside the gate. Therefore, by my scientific calculations, considering that parking is free, and it's $45 to enter the "park," you get a better, more cost-efficient experience by not actually going in. Super hero camel! Noah's all-kinds-of-jacked-up-scale ark! The best thing I did. Outside the gate. Free. Squinty cartoon guy welcomes you to his three-quarters of a shack. The main entrance. Guarded by Roman soldiers and their legendary war giraffes. These cardboard cutouts are everywhere. I guess it's cheaper than paying someone to stand there.... I'm...not even sure what's happening in here. The coffee shop is nice. This is that book of the bible where Jesus jumped the shark. So, the front part of Holy Land is the kid section. Which is weird. So I liked that. Inside the whale is an octopus and a starfish, both with creepy human faces, because the bible. Also, Jonah, who is levitating. Still, the kids area looked nice enough. I don't think I saw a child there that day, though. Jesus' balls. Sure, why not? This bench is closed due to penguins. Peace. Nothing happens here. I am biblically strong! Moses part the Red Sea, whilst fighting a flying shark. Next, on Syfy! The Church of Agony. Also called Something More Pleasant. The Church of the Triangular Alleyway Another nice store. Too bad they just sell Jesus stuff. King of the callback. So, goofy as it sometimes is, it must be said that much of Holy Land is actually quite nice. The Jesus Death Hole King of the callback. There's really just one restaurant. They serve Chick-fil-A. Not kidding. However, they don't just serve Chick-fil-A. Here are a couple of the other items. The Jesus Boat No, look, it actually says that. That's the name of my next band, by the way. OH MY GOD, FISH!!!!!!!!!1! Hey, check out my lake. Nice day for a walk, eh? Ha ha, just a little me humor. You look good. I'll be back on shore in a second. Did you see my boat? Not sure why I had that. Don't really need it. See? Pretty. This is just...weird. Please don't put your finger in my palm hole. Yeah, I know you want to. Just don't. Well, at least they're copping to it. ..ad, and looked at it smarmily. Tiny Jesus welcomes you. Oh! Oh! I know what that is! Some kind of show. I dunno. I didn't stick around. Sample joke from this guy: "Do you know why they closed all the Walmarts in Iraq? Because they just become Targets anyway." There's some kind of show about books or something in this building. We got really excited because it has a queue! Unfortunately, they don't allow photography, so we skipped it. Here's an angel stabbing itself in the head. The Scriptorium gift shop. This path winds between the lake and the fence that separates the park from the parking lot. And it has animals on it. I'm pretty sure you can see them through the fence. You know, if you don't want to pay to get in. I'm just saying. That's weird kerning. Wait, is that kerning? Or would that be something else? Well, anyway, it's weird. Here's a thing. To the side, there's a big dry erase board where ordinary weirdos can write nonsense. Jesus! Lions love Christians. Shroud of Turin exhibit. Well, this looks impressive. Too bad we can't stay. I can only assume they used to sell jewelry here. But now it's gifts and snacks. But still with the jewelry cases and chairs. So...yeah. I just Googled "The 7 Foods of Deuteronomy" and found this: Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. 0.o Forever and ever, ABBA. His eyes are on you. King of the callback. Hey, it's been fun. Stay out of trouble, TPR. And when you drive past something weird, and debate whether you should check it out of not, think about what Erik & Smisty would do. And then keep driving.
  13. Well, I'm sure there will be something. Just probably not this. If it makes you feel any better...the Holy Land has been visited! Now I just have to sort out all o' them pesky photos....
  14. The Jacksonville Zoo had been on our list for a while, being in Florida, as it is--but it wasn't until our friends Corinne and Lauren moved up there that we finally decided to make the trip. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Yay, a new zoo credit! Let's start with the aviary! Or, more precisely, an aviary. Because this zoo has a few of them. Which is good. I like aviaries. There's no joke here. Move on. Most of this zoo is very nice. There are a few rough sections, but this isn't one of them. It's laid out fairly well, too. This is the cheetah exhibit, allegedly. As almost-zoo enthusiasts, we can tell you, you're never going to see all the animals any zoo claims to have. "So what? I'm way cooler than any cheetah!" I really wanted to go on the train, but Corinne and Lauren were all like, "No, trains are stupid. Shut up, Erik." BFR, yo. YES NO This lioness was very disappointed by the fake zebra. No further explanation was provided, but we don't really need one, do we? I'm sure nothing bad happened. Why would anyone even think that? There were actually two bald eagles, but I only took a picture of one. Well, actually, I took photos of both of them, but I'm only going to show you one, because the other eagle was ugly. Yes, he's asleep. But very out in the open, so that's a zoological victory, really. Corinne, Smisty, and Lauren in front of some kind of plant monster? In addition to aviaries, this zoo also has lots of reptile houses. Which is, again, a good thing. This is a type of snake. And this is a frog doing pantomime. There's even a nice old lady exhibit. It's hard to make her out, but she's there, in the back, asleep. Jacksonians love feeding giraffes. This was the only thing in the zoo that was swamped. The gardens were a bit underwhelming--but, to be fair, it was February. The main restaurant was surprisingly nice. I didn't take a photo of the food, because I didn't want Corinne and Lauren to think me weird. In retrospect, taking a photo of the menu was probably just as bad, though.... My favorite part of the Jacksonville Zoo was The Lost Temple. A nicely South American themed reptile house inside, and Jaguars outside. I'm not sure what I was going for here, but I think what I achieved was a look of smugness...? A mother jaguar having a sleepy lick-fight with her cub, for those of you who are into super cute things. And, another aviary! I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, but he's very excitable. Hmmm, I see where the kids' entrance is, but how do adults get into the maze? Hey, a carousel! That adults can't ride, because screw you, Erik & Misty. Penguins. But the stupid kind you can see anywhere. Lauren is perplexed at how to brush a goat in a bucket. It's like they couldn't agree on what excuse to use.... The rear end of the zoo. Or, as we almost-zoo enthusiasts call it, the back part. Corinne is sad because she paid a dollar to feed lorikeets but none of them are hungry. Serves her right for not letting me ride the train. "We are not dead," insists this rather suspicious sign. Randomly, a pier that you can walk out on to for legitimately no reason. See, now, this is the reason we go places. Because, seriously, there's no reason for this and it's awesome. The, um...the what now? The Asia section is new, but has so little in it yet as for me to question why it's open at all. Heading back toward the front, we get some hot lemur action. By which I mean, here are some lemurs. Some of the primate areas were quite run down. But, to be fair, there didn't appear to be anything in those areas, so I guess that's okay...? And, anyway, this isn't a photo of that. This is a tiger. I actually did make everyone ride the train with me. Come on...it's me. The view from the train. And Erik is happy. Oh, yeah. An elephant and a giraffe. I have no idea what that is. Corinne is sad again because we didn't get to see the Great Ape Fight House. And, also, she's just sad a lot. Lie to all your friends about the animals you saw at the Jacksonville Zoo via your refrigerator! Thanks for reading. And thanks to Corinne, Lauren, and Alex (never properly shown, sorry) for hanging out with us and showing us around J-Town! J-Town. That's a thing, right? I'm just assuming it is.
  15. Cheetah Hunt. They built a ride to celebrate cheetahs, but they gave it a name that says you're going to be hunting cheetahs. You don't think the name implies that? Substitute the word "duck" for "cheetah" and try to argue that it sounds like you're a duck hunting things.
  16. To elaborate on what Misty said: We were going to possibly do the Water Ski Hall of Fame the same day as Fantasy of Flight, since they're quite close to each other. However, their hours are 10-5, Monday through Friday. I feel like I need to highlight this point: The Water Ski Museum is closed on the weekends.
  17. How many times have we driven by this one? Too many to count. Ah, but today! Today.... Fantasy of Flight It has a front gate. So that's exciting. And a ropes course thingy. Also, it's possible we may have been there a bit early. But there's plenty to do, even so! Like, take photos! Or walk around this labyrinth thing, which is all very new-age and meditative and not like a maze at all, unfortunately. Is it open yet? No? I'm very excited about a hanger full of old airplanes. COME ON!!! In addition to being an airplane museum, Fantasy of Flight is also a de facto tribute to its creator, Kermit Weeks. Maybe, too much so. Here we see an inspirational message from Mr. Weeks regarding the inspirational inscription on the building, also by Mr. Weeks. The reverence of it all might not be so weird if he wasn't so completely still alive. It's like going to a William Shatner museum. Hang on, I have to Google something. The main lobby gives you some options: An information counter, restaurant, bathrooms, and Amelia Earhart to the right... ...inspirational stuff and the gift shop (where you also buy the tickets, for some reason) to the left... ...and, kind of between those, the entrance to the hangers-full-of-airplanes and...wait, what's this now? "Immersive environments"?! I'm a man of the world, if you catch my drift. I've been to some airplane museums. I think I know what to expect at them. I did not expect to begin my looking-at-airplanes adventure today by jumping out of one, even virtually. And yet, here we are. I haven't even seen a real airplane yet*, and already this is the best airplane museum ever. *Actually, I've seen like 10 already, just not in a big hanger. Look, just, shut up. Ah, the fantasy of World War I, from the trenches! Look, it's an airplane! Maybe it'll be friends with us! The famous tunnel that connected WWI and WWII. By this point, I was about ready to erect an inspirational monument to Kermit Weeks myself. Sometimes people ask me what single thing I've taken the most photos of. (Note: No one has ever actually asked me that.) And the answer is: Misty's back. But wait, we don't just look at this WWII bomber, we actually walk through it. And we learn something. We learn that WWII-era servicemen were a hell of a lot skinnier than we are. I include this photo, not because it is good, but because I want to explain how cool this is. See, these are bombs. Well, probably not real bombs. But maybe. I don't really know. The point is, bombs, okay? And below this catwalk thing we're standing on is a video screen that shows your bomb bay doors open up to reveal the sky. Which is cool. Really cool. And, also, the same technology as Harry Potter! In addition to loving airplanes, Kermit Weeks is also a big Styx fan. (Please don't. I know. It was just a joke.) Leaving the "immersive environments," we find ourselves at last in a big hanger full of old airplanes and the world returns to sanity. A view from the catwalks (see background of previous photo). There's a weird thing up here, too. Every 10 feet or so, along the wall, there are either three different photos with the same captions, or three identical photos with different captions. Not sure what I mean? Scroll down! See, I would have said "whore," myself. Or, "alien." ... Why the hell is she standing in a swamp?! Sexy, sexy racism. For a bunch more money, you can fly in a real plane. Or, for no extra money, you can sit here and pretend. There are lots of little side rooms and workshops you can peek into, as well. I have no idea what happens in here, but I imagine it involves manly men drinking manly alcohols. This was cute. Except, you know, I couldn't for the life of me remember how to make a paper airplane. Hang gliding simulator. Clever idea. Some theme park should do this on a bigger scale. There are also lots of educational videos. But you're not here to learn, are you? Memorabilia. Interestingly, it all has price tags. Because it's for sale, or they're just bragging...? The Compass Rose Restaurant is in the main building, but outside the area you have to pay to go into, and attracts lots of folks from the nearby campground. The food's pretty decent, too. The gift shop is nice enough. One of these things does not belong. This tram takes you across the street to view other buildings full of incomplete and as-yet-unrestored airplanes. Its schedule never properly matched ours, however, so I can't tell you much more about that. A properly flying airplane! Behind, I mean. I suppose we could still do that. I certainly wouldn't object to returning to Fantasy of Flight. And Misty and I both heartily recommend that you visit, as well. Well?
  18. So, it's been over a year since I've updated this thread. I think that makes it officially abandoned. Except...it's not! Here's the deal: I don't have as much free time these days as I used to, and we've gotten really into board gaming over the last two years, so we haven't been oddventuring as much. Having said that, I do still have an update or two up my sleeve, and I want to get them on here, because... *dun dun dun* ...we're going to be leaving Orlando in April. That's right, after four years in the theme park capital of the world, we're bored. So, time for something new. To where are we moving, you didn't actually ask? Well, rather than give a direct answer (because that would be far too easy, apparently), I'm just going to direct you to our trip report from September and let you figure it out. I'm not sure how many more updates there will be between now and April, but I am working on one right now that I'm pretty excited about. So stay tuned! I guess you don't really tune in to this.... Um, keep your eyes peeled...?
  19. My one ride, circa 1997, it still had the guns. Which had seemingly been added to spice up dull layout of the ride. The problem is, it starts with the drop, then meanders for a while--instead of the other way around. I'm assuming they removed the guns because they all broke. But you can very much still see the targets. There's even a poster left. Even with the guns, and the inherent coolness of cruising around through the casino, it still didn't strike me as all that great. But maybe that's just me.
  20. Yes! Naked City Pizza was really good. I didn't mention it as I couldn't find a decent photo. I now realize I was also remiss in not mentioning that the San Diego Zoo has a Sky Ride. As for the glasses thing, in my experience, most US parks aren't concerned about it--nor should they be. The exception being Cedar Fair. But their approach on a lot of things runs contrary to traditional logic.
  21. The real reason for this trip wasn't to go to California's theme parks, but to visit our friends Seth & Natalie in Las Vegas. (You remember them, don't you? If not, check out From Sandusky, With Love) Since we'd be staying at their house, instead of having to pay for hotels, the Las Vegas portion of the trip was meant to be a bit more relaxed. And it was, to an extent. But, well, we're still us.... Part 2: Las Vegas, Boulder City, Buena Park So, it turns out that the Las Vegas sign is a tourist attraction unto itself. Seth & Natalie's house. We had no idea when we planned this trip that we'd be there on Fart Day. Cool, what's for lunch? Seth got us tickets to Le Reve at The Wynn. I'm not much of a show guy, but this was actually pretty darned cool. Natalie plays Roller Derby. That's her in the middle, 923. I really had no idea what was happening, but it was fun to watch. Now, I'm not saying this sport is dangerous. But the halftime show was a race between all the players who had broken their ankles this season, and even that didn't end well. Las Vegas has lots of casinos. (I strive to be educational.) We're not gamblers, but we do like architecture and theming, so we set out to see what attractions were available. First up: Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. Shark Reef is a lush, beautiful--though not terribly large--aquarium. Which is almost exactly the right combination of things to appeal to me. "Um...I'm not a fish. So, if you could just point me to the exit, I'll be on my way." Tunnel aquariums are the pinnacle of human civilization. They don't have a ton of different sea creatures, but they have all the good ones. Smisty likes octopi. Even though they're terrible creatures. Shark Reef doesn't name their animals, so I've named this octopus, "Hitler." Sunken ship room sort of thing. With sharks. So, yeah, awesome. The lady in the gift shop offered to sell us the octopus statue, but I assume the TSA doesn't allow one to travel with 800 pounds of evil incarnate. I hadn't realized that so many of the casinos would be connected to one another via some type of tunnel or bridge. Or, in this case, a mall. Okay, so The Luxor has an Ancient Egypt theme, but is home to a Titanic exhibit, a sports museum, and a Carrot Top show. Yeah.... I debated for some time, but finally decided not to pay $14 to experience for myself the alleged horror of "The Roller Coaster." (I think the tie-breaking factor might very well have been the name. I might have ridden "Manhattan Express." The worst part of Vegas is all the scumbags trying to sell you nonsense the second you step out onto the street. Although this I'll make an exception for. The Coca-Cola Store on The Strip offers a tasting thing. It's like Club Cool at Epcot, except with more flavors and less free. And, yes, they had Beverly. And something even worse whose name I've blocked out of my brain but that kind of tasted like stale Scope. The next day started with The Pinball Hall of Fame. Basically just a warehouse full of (mostly) pinball machines. That you can play. No admission fee, you just pay for the machines. And, OH MY GOD I'M FAT! Circus Circus seems like it's seen better days. A lot of stuff was closed, but seemingly for repair, so perhaps things will get better...? But the reason we're here is of course the Adventuredome. Looks like they had a log flume that was pretty seriously integrated into the place that they've removed in order to build an El Loco coaster. Maybe no one wanted to get wet indoors? There's also a Miner Mike with some kind of Satanic theme, so that's fun. Adventuredome is almost my thing. I like that it's small and sort of built around a central theme. The problem is that their ride selection doesn't much appeal to me. There's a pirate ship and a Disk-O, but not much else that floats my boat. I would've liked to have tried the log flume, but alas. Canyon Blaster was okay for an Arrow multi-looper. Seth liked it a lot more than I did. Misty abstained. Really wish I could have caught The Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus, but it would appear to have been long-since evicted. This is about all that's left. Well, that and a sign saying they can have their stuff back when they pay their back rent. No one really wanted to go to The Stratosphere but me, so we compromised and went. Funny story: There was a BS security check before you could go up to the top of the tower--because apparently The Stratosphere is such a big deal that terrorists want to blow it up. But, earlier, at Circus Circus, Misty had played some redemption-style arcade games. So when it came time to empty her pockets for security, she pulled out a plastic frog, a sheriff's badge, a noisemaker.... It's $18 to go up to the top of The Stratosphere, but it was worth it to me for the view. The rides, on the other hand, at $15 a pop.... A confusion of elevators gets you to the tip top, but only if you're paying to ride The Big Shot. The rides feel very tacked on and awkward, honestly. It's hard to get to them and hard to get around because of them. Kind of pointless if you're not in the front seat, eh? I liked it, but it feels like there are a lot of missed opportunities here. I know, let's go to The Venetian! I hear that's nice! Oh...sad day. The outside canal was open, though. Still, I bet there were a lot of complaints from hotel guests. (But, yes, The Venetian was actually very nice. I'd show you more photos, but this is a whirlwind report. Let's move on!) Treasure Island was doing its thing across the street. This is maybe the greatest sign I've ever seen. "If it's in stock, we have it!" The next day we headed for Boulder City and Hoover Dam. So, they built a bridge to bypass the tourism of the dam, but the bridge is so cool that it's became a tourist attraction itself. Irony, thy name is Boulder City. Speaking of which, most of the electricity generated by Hoover Dam gets sold to California. The neon lights of Las Vegas run on coal. No, not interesting? Fine. Look at how big that dam thing is! There are a lot of dam rules. The aforementioned, ridiculously named, Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The tour is worth doing. The dam really is an impressive feat of engineering. where the electricity gets made. But the dam's not really about electricity, it's about regulating the river.... Sorry. Big dam generators. I really should have bought this shirt. I f**king regret it now. Wait, what? The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail is worth checking out if you like outdoor activities and don't mind dying in the Nevada desert. Seth took this photo. And I quote: "It could almost be a metaphor for something." Our last day in Vegas begins with a trip to Fremont Street. Not really my scene, and probably even less so (but also more interesting) at night. Still, we had to go downtown anyway for legal reasons, so why not? Seth wanted to try The Heart Attack Grill. So we did. And...it was terrible. Just incredibly tacky. I want you to think for a moment about who just told you that this place is too tacky. More to the point, the food is not good. Let us analyze this "Double Bypass Burger." First of all, it has vegetables on it. Those are standard. You know what isn't standard? Bacon. Bacon is an add-on at The Heart Attack Grill. You know what isn't an add-on? Donuts. Fried eggs. Or anything even remotely interesting, in fact. Yes, a midget nurse will bring you your drinks in a little car. And, yes, she'll even spank you if you like. (Don't ask.) But while you're actually eating, you'll wish you were at Hardee's. Technically, we made two separate trips to KISS by Monster Mini-Golf. But I'm just going to combine it all into one thing and you'll be none the wiser. Oh, crap...delete, delete! Now this is the correct amount of tacky! We've played a fair amount of indoor, black-light mini golf. Most of it is terrible. But this was actually good. The best I've been to, certainly. They even had animatronics. Sure, Peter Criss was missing one hand and just directly pounding on the drums with the other, but still.... Leave a message for KISS in the bathroom. Because that's where they apparently hang out when they come to visit. Seth won at mini golf, but Misty and I got married by Las Vegas Gene Simmons, so that kind of makes up for it. And they had a cool fish tank. We got up early the next morning and drove to Knott's. Now, KBF is a tough park for me. I grew up with Knott's. I worked at Knott's. But Smisty had never been and was really excited, so I tried to just enjoy it through her eyes and not constantly complain about how much better it used to be. We went here first, because I figured Misty would love this ride. (I was right.) There's still some charm left at KBF. Cedar Fair hasn't crushed it completely. Some areas are better than others, obviously. Jaguar is the world's biggest kiddy coaster. I have no idea if this is Haunt stuff or just regular Fiesta Village theming. :OP Revolucion is a cool ride. But it's no Tampico Tumbler. My first ride on Xcellerator, as it was down for that cable thing the last time I was here. It is interesting how so many of the rides that are 40 or 50 years old still look fresh and exciting, while most of what Cedar Fair has added in the last 10 or 15 years looks old and stupid. But maybe that's just me. The Sky Cabin still runs, though the Parachute Drop is sadly long gone. My favorite color is green and this hurts my eyes. Coast Rider was fine. This whole area is hugely improved over the Perilous Plunge days. I just wish all this water didn't look quite so much like a swimming pool. And Flyers are always welcome. Not sure why this sign is still here, but I suppose I approve. I wish there was still a dark ride under it, too. I actually like the way they added Pony Express. And there are even a few theming touches to make it fit in better. The ride itself is too short, though. (And I don't normally mind short rides, if they're doing cool stuff the whole time.) It's probably quite scenic, but it's hard to say since KBF now hates people with glasses almost as much as Cedar Point hates fat people. While I'm here: Dear park owners with perfect vision, I understand that you think my glasses might fly off my face at any moment and attack a group of nuns. What I don't understand is why you think they couldn't possibly come out of my pocket, given their awkwardly un-pocket-fitting shape. And, also, the Pony Express is an effing kiddy ride. What the hell is wrong with you? Ah, unspoiled Knott's Berry Farm! Hooray! Well, I'm not saying it was *all* perfect. To their credit, Cedar Fair did a great job of updating the figures in what has always been the world's best water ride. They even added a bit of a storyline to it, which is okay? And sort of reminds me of Knott's Bear-y Tales. Can you tell what ride Smisty just got off of? (Hint: It was in the last picture.) The figures in the Mine Ride are non-updated, but I still love it. And also, there was a bunch of Haunt stuff in there, which is always weird during the day. And our driver wasn't a very good spieler. AND they were only running one train, which is unconscionable, considering the length of this ride and their line. BUT I STILL LOVE IT. Abuse me more, KBF! Oh, yeah, see Silver Bullet back there? I rode it. And I'm not wasting an entire photo on it. At least Cedar Fair haven't tightened up on Big Train security. Luckily, he left me alone once he realized I was married, and thus broke. I know, I know, it sucks now. Still would have been nice to get Misty on it. You know, this really was great when it opened. Honestly. I know you kids won't believe me, but it was. Smucker's recently discontinued the KBF brand. They still have it here, but who knows for how much longer. Even Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant now serves Smucker's. We bought a bunch of stuff and had it shipped to us. :OP I'm sure Walter and Cordelia loved their children. I just wish their children had loved Knott's Berry Farm. I sure did. It's not awful now. It's a good park. Misty really liked it, and I had a good time visiting. So, let's just end on that. :O) Since it was technically our honeymoon, we sprang for the Camp Snoopy room at the Knott's Hotel. Which comes with a visit from Snoopy to tuck in the kids. But we don't have kids. So, um, yeah.... Thanks for reading! We had a great trip!
  22. Hello! Want to see some vacation photos? Wait, no, come back. There will be roller coasters...! And, if you stick around long enough, maybe even Gene Simmons! That's what I thought. I grew up in Southern California, but Misty had never been. So it seemed like a natural place to go.... Part 1: San Diego, Anaheim, Primm MCO, 5:00am. It's going to be a long day. So we decided to skip all that boring airline/car rental stuff and just Sky Ride into SeaWorld San Diego. A lot's changed since I was last here. I suppose that would have been the early 1980s or so! We loved Manta. Fun, easy, comfortable, fast--what's not to like? This is what Cheetah Hunt should have been. SWSD has many more aquarium than SWF. This is Shark Encounter, though, which exists in both. Um...maybe this wasn't the time to make that point. We opted to skip the water rides due to our whirlwind schedule. I will say this: Orlando's infrastructure is better. San Diego feels more like a zoo than a theme park by comparison. However, we actually preferred many of San Diego's attractions when it came right down to it. Turtle Reef was much better than TurtleTrek. Possibly because it had turtles in it. :OP Pacific Point, however, was tiny and sad compared to Orlando's. I think I'm just gonna share photos of derpy animals with you. Much smaller than Happy Harbor, but not bad. Misty didn't want to get soaked, but I really wanted to experience this JTA. So I gave her everything in my pockets and got in line. And...it broke down. So, yeah...JTA. Probably just as well. Misty grew up with these in Texas. I grew up with them in California. They don't exist in Florida. First food place we went! And then Speculoos! The next morning we were up early. (No surprise there, as we were still adjusting to west coast time.) So we went and checked out Sunset Cliffs. Smisty loves zoos. And I hear this one is a pretty big deal. Certainly, it's big. And it has lots of animals... ...including some pretty rare ones. However, it's very hilly and very confusingly laid out. For example: Have we wandered backstage here? No. And make sure you keep to the sidewalks on the main pathways because of buses! This elephant is so dumb it can't even avoid this simple obstacle. "I am the king of dung!" "Um...does he think that's money?" Adolescence is hard on giraffes. Misty trying to stare down a snake. San Diego Zoo was okay, Maybe even good. And while I'm certainly glad we went, I've been to better. Time for more local fast food! Jack In The Box! So good, we ate at two of them on this trip. And our final stop in San Diego: Mission Beach. I love the ticket shack/gift shop/coaster museum. The ride was slower than I remembered, but I also think I liked it more this time. So...there you go. There's not much of note here besides the coaster, unfortunately. Genuine Southern California beach. Too bad we can't stay. The next day found us at Disneyland Resort. Okay, so, again, I grew up with Disneyland. Smisty had never been. The classic Disneyland sign is gone, but I was happy to see this at the Disneyland Hotel pool. Go ahead, insult the castle. Whatever, I so strongly prefer Disneyland to Walt Disney World that I have trouble putting it into words. But, here, let me try: Disneyland craps all over Disney World. I love Disneyland and I hate Disney World. Period. You may feel differently. That's fine. I respect your right to be wrong. Normally, I'm not a fan of dutch angles, but the dude surfing under the rope really sells this one for me. Real Space Mountain! (Yeah, yeah, Florida's was first. Are you really arguing with me? It's the internet, dude. Let it go.) I'd kind of forgotten that they'd brought the Submarine Ride back. And Misty was totally unaware of its existence. So this ended up being a nice surprise. I thought the Nemo stuff seemed kind of forced, but Smisty liked it. And if that's what it took to get it back, so be it. Even "it's a small world" is better here. Wait...are we actually doing this? Oh, crap, we're doing this. In all seriousness, I liked the addition of the Disney characters. It was subtle enough that you almost had to go looking for them, which made it kind of fun. Unlike, say, the way Captain Jack Sparrow's name is mentioned 15,000 times in PotC. I think Roger Rabbit might have been Misty's favorite ride at Disneyland. Gadget's Go Coaster. Um...frogs are cool. They should really build a Disney park in Florida some day. Lunch at the Blue Bayou, because why not? Service was a bit cracky, but you can't beat the view. (It, um, looks better in person.) Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Awkward name, great ride. (And if you tell me you prefer "Dinosaur," I will (verbally) stab you in the throat.) "Welcome to a tropical hideaway, you lucky people, you!" I'd been to DCA once, right after Tower of Terror opened, and I liked the park. This was my first visit to Cars Land, though. I don't rate the movie all that highly, but the land is freaking great. Theming-wise, it's desert-y. And there's puns. Whatever. But the three rides are really, really cool. Radiator Springs Racers is the real deal. A (mildly) thrilling, highly detailed indoor/outdoor dark ride with impressively large audio-animatronics. Oh, and it even tells a story that isn't just a retelling of the movie. I loved it. So, yeah, this is the big ride. But what about the other two? What impressed me the most, I think, is the fact that both of Cars Land's smaller rides were throwbacks to older rides. A sense of history amidst all this fancy new-fangled theming? Be still, my heart! Hearing Larry The Cable Guy spiel in very un-smooth Spanish is way funnier than it has any right to be. Even Flo's V8 Cafe was good. We walked by some kind of Incredibles parade. I took a picture. Which you're now looking at. I'm going to stop typing now. Monsters, Inc. was new to me. I liked it. The world needs more dark rides. Quick, name another dark ride that takes you through a bathroom! Man, the quality of merchandise has really gone downhill. Skipped it. (I rode it on my first visit, though. Not bad.) Misty didn't like California Screamin'. I think it's just okay. I made it a point to get her on the Sun Wheel. (*Sigh* Fine, "Mickey's Fun Wheel.") I thought she'd love it, but in fact she was kind of bored. I still really like it, though. Hey, guys, let's drive to Vegas! Whoooo! Cool. Now stare at this photo for the next 4 hours. Buffalo Bill's. Smisty loves Magnum XL-200, so I had to make her ride Desperado. It's not just cracky, it's ARROW cracky. I can't quite figure Primm out. Like, I want to say it's run down and dying. But...they're clearly still making and spending money, so...I dunno, it's weird. Clearly, the demographic is older, less glamorous folks than Vegas attracts. I mean, I guess that's it. It's an hour closer than Las Vegas. There you go. But still, it hurts my brain. Oh, you know, just a log flume through the casino. No big deal. If you like, you can take a cracky monorail from Buffalo Bill's to Primm Valley Casino. And then you can take this even crackier monorail over I-15 to Whiskey Pete's. Primm Valley has a mall. With expensive, "high-class" stores. And, like, no empty stores. So, it's doing well, obviously. So why do the casinos seem so pitiful? Especially on the outside, where it seems as if no one has swept in the last decade. I just can't figure it out. I'm sorry. I'll stop. Buffalo Bill's has a roller coaster and a log flume. Primm Valley has an outlet mall. Whiskey Pete's has Bonnie & Clyde's Death Car. Seems pretty fair. If you've ever wondered how the place got the name "Whiskey Pete's," this actually won't help clear it up at all. Employee housing, I presume. Since it's the only other thing around beside the casinos. Big finish! Stay tuned for Part 2! At some point. I promise (...ish). Ciao! Ciao means go. Go!
  23. Turns out the Congo River Golf location in Kissimmee has paddle boats. It really doesn't take much to talk us into playing mini golf. Okay, the flamingo boat is whatever. But just look at the cute little African Queen paddle boats! I'm not paying money to hold an alligator. But I would totally buy a shirt if they had them in my size. But they don't because I'm a.) fat, and b.) not a child. This location has two 18-hole courses. Both courses are very nice, but pretty much interchangeable. Several holes have these spinner things, in case you want to make the game wackier. And, like all Congo River Golfs, there's a scavenger hunt! I found the mask! Wait, I thought the X-Men were good guys.... [Fun with grammar!] Those three signs should allow you to triangulate the exact location of Congo River Golf, should you decide you'd like to play here some day. Man, Storm really effed-up that dude's ship. I was too lazy to walk up there, so I just took a picture. That was a joke, by the way. How's that spinner thing working out for ya, Smisty? This is the least goofy picture I could find of myself. Wait, he does? Okay, then we will, too! This photo was taken by the Congo River Golf employee who got us set up with the paddle boat. I don't know his name, so I've decided to call him Admiral Kirk, for no specific reason. HEART OF DARKNESS Well, that's not a good sign. About a quarter of the way into our journey, the steering gave out. ADMIRAL Kirk never bothered to check on our progress. It was only the fact of my genetically-engineered intellect that allowed us to survive. I could go on. Don't test me. Also worth mentioning is that the Admiral told us that the steering might go out, but didn't actually tell us what we should do if it did. But I shall have my revenge, I assure you. I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give him up! In other news, we are dead.
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