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Everything posted by mattnz

  1. Thanks for sharing Aaron. Two consecutive TRs - nice job! The Storm Coaster looks fun. Those riders pictured look like they're holding on for dear life.
  2. Is this 'roller cowster'? I was looking for this on the 2011 TPR visit, but no dice! I really must get back to Hershey for Skyrush. Looks so amazing. What ever happened to you roller cowster?!
  3. I'd give Raptor the edge. But it's amazing what terrain can do, Alpengeist wins in all other departments in terms of themeing and landscaping. It's amazing how that can add to the ride experience.
  4. Next up on our journey after the awesome TPR Texas Midwest trip was beautiful Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and 'beautiful' really is the word to use to describe this wonderful place. There are very few parks I've visited where I can't think of a single thing to critique, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is one of them, up there with Knoebel's and Silver Dollar City for me. So what makes the place so special? Aside from the beauty and upkeep of the park, which you'll see in these photos, the setting is one of the best things about it. The park's location is perfect for terrain coasters, and they certainly use the terrain well. You can view the park from up high by taking a round trip on the Skyride, which has three different legs, providing amazing views. The coasters are all excellent, with some stand-out B&Ms, including Alpengeist, Apollo's Chariot and Griffon. Loch Ness Monster is an iconic ride that I've wanted to ride all my life, so it was great to finally get on this unique, and very fun, Arrow coaster. Finally, Verbolten was a big surprise for us, and I really enjoyed the tricks inside the event building. I had heard mixed reports about the ride, but I think it's an absolutely perfect fit for the park, and rather undderated among coaster enthusiasts too. The Curse of DarKastle was another surprise, and much better than I was expecting, having been on Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure. I had also read somewhere that the park was light on flat rides, but that's not true at all! I can count off multiple flats without thinking too hard about it, and some of them were rather rare too. Rides aside, there is plenty at Busch Gardens Williamsburg to occupy your day, and if you weren't into thrills you'd still find some fun things to do, especially if you like animal exhibits and shows. With the beauty, setting, themeing and great rides, add excellent customer service and you can count me as a big fan of Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We visited the sister park in Tampa (stay tuned for the TR), and I definitely preferred this park. I look forward to visiting again in the very near future. We finally made it to England! Busch Gardens' version that is. It started out a bit gloomy today but the weather steadily improved for us. Next door to England is Scotland (duh...), famous for the park's Highland Stables, featuring beautiful Clydesdales horses. In Scotland you'll also find the Loch Ness Monster! I didn't realise this ride was as well-themed as any at the park. Station shot. We thoroughly enjoyed the Loch Ness Monster! But to photograph it you have to go down this steep hill to the river... The money shot! Another view of the famous interlocking loops. I love how the coaster begins with a big drop over the river before a turnaround, this second drop and first loop. The rest of the ride is fun too, with an enclosed helix followed by a second lift and final loop de loop. A real classic. The river also provides great photo ops for some of the other coasters in the park. This viewing area is deceiving though! It takes a LONG time to get to Alpengeist from here - it's on the other side of the park even though it's just a stone's throw away from the Loch Ness Monster. One last shot! We wandered around the park in a clockwise direction. The train goes clockwise too, and we got a ride in later on in the day. Next up was Sesame Street Forest of Fun! Lots of things for the kids to enjoy. The area is also home to a Zierer junior coaster named Grover's Alpine Express. I can't recall if adults can ride this or not, but we opted not to try. We get embarrassed in our credit whoring without TPR! Moving onto Italy we came across Escape from Pompeii. This is how to take a simple shoot-the-chutes and theme the hell out of it. We rode later in the day and enjoyed it despite some obnoxious teenagers behind us. Anything with fire effects is fun! Beautiful Italy! Across this bridge was the Festa Italia area, themed around Marco Polo and Roman mythology. Urgh, at least it's well themed... We were looking forward to B&M's very first mega coaster. Apollo's Chariot was fun, with some nice elements to it making for a top tier B&M. But this was the only photo I took - the ride goes way out into the distant terrain and is hard to photograph! There were quite a few flat rides in Festa Italia. Who says this park is lacking in flats?! There is also a rapids ride tucked away in the far corner of Festa Italia. Around the corner is San Marco which we thought was the most beautiful area of the entire park. Stunning! I loved Da Vinci's Garden of Inventions and the uniquely themed rides. We gave Da Vinci's Cradle a spin. Well, what's this? ANOTHER flat ride! Even the kiddie rides were beautifully themed. We could have spent the whole day exploring San Marco. Especially because of this... Yay, wine! This long suspension bridge led to Germany. Anyone know what all the pirate stuff is about? A look back to the Loch Ness Monster. We didn't take the boat ride this visit. It looked very pleasant. Looking over the other side of the bridge. Next up: Verbolten! The nicely themed queue. The spiel in the station with the German woman shouting "auf wiedersehen" must drive the ride ops crazy! The ride itself is excellent. We loved it! Especially the launches, show building and fun 'drop' track. This drop was fun too. I love how the park pays tribute to the Big Bad Wolf with a similar final drop on Verbolten. In all, we thought Verbolten was a big win for Busch Gardens. The lines were quite long all day long. I guess if you don't want to ride you can pet some sheep? Nearby was Mäch Tower, which was closed all day long, the only disappointing element of our visit. I was intrigued to ride, so it was annoying to see it testing all day without opening. Bugger. We ate in the Oktoberfest hall. Who needs to go to the real one when you have a great recreation right here in Virginia! (Though seriously I would love to go to Oktoberfest someday...) We were entertained while we ate. Oktoberfest has a nice, authentic feel to it. Next up was the Curse of DarKastle. This was another surprise for us. Again, some middling reviews had lowered our expectations. We thought it was GREAT! After we took this photo we saw a sign saying this was for children only. Whoops! BOOBS!!! The Land of the Dragons was pretty cute. We finally made it all the way around the park to ride Alpengeist. I thought the queue was gorgeous. But there seemed to be no one riding today. It was a walk on. That is a looong way up. The coaster is absolutely enormous. I liked the sweeping first drop. As others have noted, Alpengeist's elements are so oversized, the ride seems kind of drawn out, taking away a bit of the intensity. (B&M's NEED intensity to be good!) But it's still pretty forceful, and a great ride, aided up the absolutely amazing setting. We gave Le Scoot a ride. It was a short but fun log flume. New France had an outdoor grill that smelled fantastic. How 'Silver Dollar City' of them! In France we found Griffon. Yay for our first-ever B&M dive machine! This is a good gimmick to get your heart racing... ...because it works! 90 degrees! You really feel the Gs at this point. Griffon was a fun ride. Fun to photograph too! Parks should build these instead of wing coasters. Splash downs are always fun to watch. Especially when people make faces like these! Continuing around the park you come to an area with animals, including wolves, which was pretty cool. Not to mention eagles! We were disappointed to see this ride closed for a Howl-O-Scream refit. Europe in the Air seems to get bad reviews, so that means we'll probably like it, right? There wasn't much else to do in Ireland... But it was pretty. So that takes us around the whole park. Of course we didn't quite do the park in a clockwise manner... Not when they have a Skyride to help you get around. Leg no. 1 took us back over Ireland. It was a long way up at some points! Across to France. Griffon just looks amazing from up here. That's a steep lift! Leg no. 2 of the Skyride took us across Griffon's brake run. And onwards to Germany. Back into the Land of the Dragons. Leg no. 3 took us back over the river. Great views of all the rides from up here. We loved taking the Skyride. It was a nice ending to a fantastic day. Thank you for a great day Busch Gardens Williamsburg. We'll be back!
  5. Looks like an awesome day. I love your photos of the lady making Michelada (which I had to Google - yum!). I always enjoy the surreal moments and it looks like you had quite a few. Thanks for sharing!
  6. This is a great analogy! These two coasters have a big impact for their respective parks. Every time I've been on TTD and Kingda Ka, they've absolutely taken my breath away, and that's not something you can say about many coasters. They also have a big impact visually - especially TTD placed in the middle of Cedar Point. It's amazing to me that they have a stage seating area for people just to watch the coaster - and those seats always seem to be occupied. Cedar Point made a great investment building the ride, and it's still paying off today.
  7. Great TR Aaron - it took me a while but I finally got round to reading the whole thing so far! I love that you include nature/culture photos like Yosemite National Park and the Museum of Modern Art. We need to make more stops like these on our journeys. Epic trip.
  8. Wow, I wish we had a Mexico next door to NZ where I could get my teeth done! That's awesome!! Good on you for credit whoring Tijuana, Chris. Those Pinfari coasters look a little rickety, but I figure if TPR can get on some of those incredibly dodgy-looking Chinese knock-offs, a Pinfari probably isn't too bad. Looking forward to more.
  9. Hey Chris, have thoroughly enjoyed your TR. I'm fascinated by Mexico City so I say bring on some more!
  10. Very excited to see your TR underway Andy. I often saw you poised with your camera and knew we were in for some fabulous photos. (I was right!)
  11. Yin: Fortunately I have been on El Toro, which is my no. 1 coaster. mhuffva: Thanks for the info. I could definitely see the 'patchwork quilt' coming from the Paramount years, much the same as at other former Paramount parks. Great to hear some of the old themed areas are returning for the park's 2014 anniversary, I wish them the best. Nice to see some other Grizzly fans out there!
  12. We bid a sad farewell to our fellow trip participants in Cleveland as we flew to our next destination - Virginia. We chose Virginia as we had a couple of days before we were due to meet some friends in Florida, and there are two very well-known theme parks that live here in close proximity - Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion. We heard that Intimidator 305 was down for the count the day we left New Zealand and would have re-considered our plans entirely based on this one factor alone. But when you plan international trips you can't bank on everything going your way, so we had to swallow the very bitter pill of Intimidator's closure and pray to the Intamin gods that the ride would open on time... But it did not! This was our first missed credit due to the dreaded 'Intamin cable'. Intimidator 305 looks absolutely amazing, and we'd heard multiple reports that its a contender for best steel coaster on the planet. Needless to say we are determined to get back to Virginia some day... So what is Kings Dominion like without its best ride? It's hard for me to judge in a way as I'm skewed toward being a little bitter about it, but we were impressed right away when the park refunded part of our Fast Lane Plus tickets due to Intimidator's closure. That was nice. But customer service petered out a bit after that, mainly due to the lack of staff. As we discovered, the park was pretty dead the day of our visit, which was quite late in the season, and numerous rides didn't open until midday. I'm in two minds about this as I can understand why parks would reduce staffing depending on crowds, but it's annoying to have to wait around for rides to open when you don't have too much time on your hands. Kings Dominion has some very good attractions apart from Intimidator, especially Volcano, a very fun inverted coaster with an amazing launch, and Flight of Fear (though it was heavily braked on the midcourse unlike its outdoor cousin in Texas). The park has some unique coasters like Avalanche, which was our first Mack Bobsled coaster, and Shockwave, which was terrible but one of the last remaining Togo coasters in North America. There are also a couple of 'not bad' coasters at Kings Dominion like Dominator and Grizzly, but when you add it all up you have a pretty long list of mediocre credits. Balacing out some of the cruddy coasters are some great flat rides, especially the breathtaking Drop Tower: Scream Zone. I love an Intamin gyro drop tower, and this one really delivered the goods! One last point I'd like to make is how beautiful we thought Kings Dominion was. Like the rest of Virginia it just seemed blanketed in trees. But I'll save my praise for Busch Gardens Williamsburg, which was truly STUNNING - and totally made our Virginia excursion worthwhile. In the meantime here are some photos from our visit to Kings Dominion. A definite 'mixed bag' but by no means a mere credit run... We hit the road in our rental car in Virginia. It's scary enough driving in a different country, but it's terrifying when you're not used to driving on the righthand side of the road. (But we did OK!) We stayed at a cheap motel in a room that smelled like beer and cigarettes and immediately started to miss the Alvey's better judgement on things like this... Well, if we're going to slum it, we may as well go nuts! While in Richmond, we had to visit a local eatery we'd seen on Man vs Food. Buz and Ned's offers a little taste of 'real barbecue'. It was wonderful! (And cheap!) The next day it was time to stop by Kings Dominion on what turned out to be a very quiet Monday for the park. Well-trained by TPR we rushed straight for the best coaster in Intimidator's absence. (Which turned out to be totally unnecessary today.) Volcano is a coaster I've wanted to ride for a very long time and it did not disappoint. It is an amazing and totally unqiue experience being blasted out of the park's old Lost World/Smurf Mountain structure. The queue was pretty snazzy too! I also enjoyed the heartline rolls high in the sky. But I do agree that it's a bit of a shame you then take an 80 foot drop straight into the final brake run. It would have been cool if there was a final helix over lava or something like that! Squirrel Mountain! One last shot of the best ride in the park in Intimidator's absence. Nearby Avalanche was not open yet... Neither was The Crypt. In fact, I don't recall seeing this operate at all on our visit. It looked beautifully themed, though. We may as well get this over... Curse you Intamin gods!!! How long does it take to ship a new freakin' cable from Switzerland?! (I'm sure the issue was more complicated than that - I'm just bitter.) Anaconda was probably even worse than usual today with Intimidator sitting idly next door... Can't complain about the queue though. This was a definite ear-basher. I liked the underwater tunnel... ...but that was a small mercy for one of the worst Arrow coat-hanger layouts I've ever seen! Arrow coasters are at their best when they go in straight lines. The area around Backlot Stunt Coaster was one the most generic at the park. The ride (still closed at this point...) was originally themed to The Italian Job, but this kind of reminds of me LA - soulless and ugly! Wow, quiet day... Shockwave was also closed for now. It was nice to see Geauga Lake's old Ferris Wheel operating here. Rebel Yell was next. I do enjoy an old out and back racing woodie, and this one is a childhood memory for me courtesy of the 1977 movie Roller Coaster. But we were very disappointed to see only one side operating the whole day. That's another missed credit. If this was purely down to low staffing - then boo! Rebel Yell had great views of Intimidator... Every Cedar Fair park has to have at least one large area of asphalt. We gave WindSeeker a whirl. I do like these rides for what they are. Hurler was still closed... But next door was an open and very nice Wild Mouse coaster. This was a 'large park' Mack model with some pretty decent drops. At one point all the trains stopped on the blocks, but it was a temporary glitch. (Probably a slow guest in the station or something like that...) Dinosaurs have come to Old Virginia courtesy of Dinosaurs Alive! We were in search of another coaster I've always wanted to ride... Grizzly! Another empty queue. Grizzly was fun, hidden away in the trees and featuring some nice pops of air. It screeches around the track at some points but I'll join the Grizzly fan club for sure. We came across this really beautiful corner of the park. Nice. Structures like these are great in the summer heat and look very pretty too. The park's carousel... Shockwave opened on schedule. It featured trains with restraints that looked like torture devices. Is this even safe?! Shockwave has a nice circular loop. You then race over this hill... Into a really terrible helix! Brace yourselves! Kings Dominion features this long walkway from the Grove area to the Eiffel Tower. We rode the Blue Ridge Tollway, which must be one of the most scenic car rides in any theme park. Looking back over our photos, I'm still impressed by the beauty of the park! The Eiffel Tower had ride attendants at the entrace all day long with no idea if it would open or not. It did not, alas. It's just an elevator, right? Andrew and I LOVE Intamin Looping Starships. This was a really good one with no netting above you. Not a comfortable ride by any stretch of the imagination, but always scary fun! We finally got round to riding Dominator. It was a very solid B&M coaster. With a BIG loop! The coaster had some funky inversions tightly interwoven around itself. Almost as if it had been designed for a different location... Geauga Lake's loss is a definite gain for Kings Dominion. B&M's kind of pointless interlocking corkscrews were a feature here too. We had to get a spin on Woodstock Express, the park's original junior woodie (that can also be seen in the movie Roller Coaster at one point). It was a fun little ride! We saw Boo Blasters on Boo Hill and thought "why not?" I don't remember thinking very much of anything about this ride, but here's a photo of the cool building. Avalanche finally opened. This was another fun coaster at the park. While the Intamin version of the bobsled coaster is more authentic (using just the one car), I enjoyed Mack's version too. It seemed to pick up some decent speed. In this other rather generically-themed area we finally got on Flight of Fear. I love Premier launched coasters and this was awesome! Backlot Stunt Coaster opened to some of the only queues we saw all day. I almost felt bad bypassing everyone via Fast Lane, but not quite. We paid for it, didn't really need it until now, so tough! The karaoke show attracted a bit of a crowd, which was nice to see on such a quiet day. Drop Tower: Scream Zone is the park's other ride that tops off at 305 feet. It may not have quite made up for Intimidator 305, but we loved it. The drop seemed to go on and on. Top-notch thrills from Intamin! Hurler also got round to opening... After a heavy trim brake on the first drop the train jackhammered around the rest of the quite interesting layout. I WISH Cedar Fair would look after their coasters better rather than just using trim brakes and hoping for the best. It is certainly not just an issue for Kings Dominion. At this very nice theater... ...we found a show just for Jared! (Alas it was closed, but nice to see this craptacular spectacle has travelled beyond Cedar Point!) We saved the log flume for last, but it didn't turn out to be a wet one. So that wraps up our visit to Kings Dominion. Final thoughts...? The park NEEDS Intimidator 305!!!
  13. Hope you get on a trip sometime soon but enjoy Kings Island and Cedar Point - both parks we visited all by ourselves too. You'll find lots of great advice on this forum about how to hit them up. Thanks for your comments all!
  14. Looks like another very well-themed ride for Australia! Amazing job by Sea World, and a great fit for the park.
  15. Fantastic TR. Six Flags Mexico looks great, and doing 'culture' with TPR is definitely a fun experience too!
  16. Shame about WindSeeker, I would have definitely given it a whirl when we visited back in August (of course it was closed). What was the ride experience like in terms of the view up there? (Not just LA smog, right?) I'm sure it will have a very welcome home at Worlds of Fun.
  17. Cheers Kyle. I really thought you guys went "out of the way" to make our evening fun. Definitely one of the best ERT sessions I've ever been a part of. Thanks for your comments everyone!
  18. This update brings us to the end of the Texas Midwest portion of our trip, but stay tuned for updates from Kings Dominion (without Intimidator 305...), beautiful Busch Gardens Williamsburg, all four Walt Disney World Resort parks, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, the amazing Universal Orlando Resort parks, and finally Knott’s Berry Farm (without Xcelerator...the Intamin cable strikes again!). When you're a roller coaster enthusiast from New Zealand, a country with precisely three credits, you tend to want to get to as many parks as you can when you travel, and this trip was no exception. And all three of our trips to the US have seen us stop by Cedar Point - always a natural destination for any coaster enthusiast. Our three days at the park in 2013 were our favourites due to the wonderful, wonderful Fast Lane Plus. I prefer Cedar Fair's 'fastpass' system over any other - while I appreciate virtual queueing, I like the simplicity of a basic two-lane system and think Cedar Fair have, by and large, got it right (whereas other parks seem quite inconsistent from ride to ride). And when you're an international visitor, a fastpass system is absolutely essential at a park like Cedar Point! Our last two visits saw us waiting up to two hours for rides like Maverick, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster (and even Raptor). It was great to stay on site again at the historic Hotel Breakers, which allows not only early morning ERT but more of a relaxing day as you can come and go freely from the park. And as with our last visit with TPR, a lot of us rounded out our days at TGI Friday's... I have to say my thanks again to Robb and Elissa for the entire trip and the awesome perks we got at Cedar Point, which was the icing on the cake. Aside from Fast Lane Plus, food vouchers and some lovely final trip meals, we got backstage tours of Millennium Force and GateKeeper, and incredible ERT sessions on Maverick (or Maveshark as the fabulous ride crew named it) and Millennium Force. These were absolutely epic! Cedar Point, like many other parks from Texas to the Midwest, lit up at night for their giant dance party-style event called Luminosity – Ignite the Night (goodbye and good riddance to the awful American Portrait show!). It was a fun way to end some great summer days at one of my favourite parks in the world. There is just something about Cedar Point that I really love. Yes, the park is barren in spots, with generic or no themeing, and they have some of the worst (and overpriced) park food out there...but it's immense, has a stunning setting against Lake Erie, and everywhere you look is coaster after coaster after coaster, with the roar of the trains and screams of riders surrounding you. The following are photos from front to back of the park (and back again) across all three of our thoroughly enjoyable days at Cedar Point in 2013. We stayed again at Hotel Breakers. Word on the trip had it that certain hallways were haunted...but we couldn't detect any bad vibes. How can you when you have a view like that?! For most visiting Cedar Point, this is their view nowadays. It's a pretty impressive entrance. But I'll just get this out of the way: I thought GateKeeper was so-so. Better than X-Flight, sure, but at least as uncomfotable to ride, distracting you from the amazing view the ride features alongside Lake Erie. And this hill...has no airtime. For something so impressive-looking, GateKeeper is pretty damn forceless. Look at that setting! How did B&M mess up the wing coaster concept so badly?! Ah, well, hats off to the crew who were excellent, really getting the trains pumping through. (Hey, DJ PJ!) Upon entering Cedar Point, most guests will also be accosted by one of those annoying park photographers. Hey, it's a free photo! The front of the park has its share of charm. Beautiful! This is another colourful corner of the park. MaXair doing its thing. The GateKeeper entrance is looking pretty generic. What can I say, I thought Disaster Transport was a really fun ride, and the 330-foot Space Spiral was good too. Can someone tell me why Wicked Twister never seems to get much of a queue? It is a complete and utter mystery to me. I think it's a great ride. WindSeeker was definitely worth a spin, especially to hear the terrified screams from Neil! It's the windest WindSeeker out there! Cedar Point has a lot of flat rides... The park also features an iconic midway that has been much-copied around the world, with Corkscrew in pride of place. I think I nailed this photo! Corkscrew is an OLD school Arrow ride. I love the retro station. So many of those early Arrow coasters feature a small drop out of the station. Corkscrew isn't very good, but I do love the airtime hill. I wonder how it compares to Marriott's original Turn of the Century coasters and their infamous airtime hills? But enough Arrow for now (this park has a LOT of Arrow by the way!), another giant blue coaster awaits... We got an awesome backstage tour of Millennium Force! We also got up close and personal to 'Bone Town' as seen on the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad. Yep, we all geeked out. It was great to snap these behind-the-scenes shots of Millennium Force. The ride is hands-down one of the best steel coasters in the world, if not my favourite. There is just something about it that's so much fun! It may not have the most airtime (it DOES have airtime, I will point out!), but it packs so much speedy, fun elements into its length you get a lot of bang for your buck. It's also very sexy-looking. "Nothing to see here, move along..." "Nothing to see here either, move along..." As Neil pointed out during our amazing ERT session, this coaster is SEX. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'll have some! It was especially delightful to bypass much of the queue later in the day with Fast Lane. God bless you, Matt Ouimet! Nearby Millennium Force is another coaster I quite like (unlike a lot of other coaster enthusiasts). Andrew and I both love the standing coaster concept, and we've never found Mantis to be particularly rough. This trip was an exception to our past experience - we both got a bit of an ear bashing... It's still nice to ride an intense B&M coaster. And Mantis really roars! We encountered an immense queue, even with Fast Lane. Top Thrill Dragster is another top-notch coaster at the park. As per usual, we had to wait a pretty long time between break-downs to get on this contraption! But we made up for it a couple of times courtesy of Fast Lane Plus. Top Thrill Dragster lives up to its name. It's truly breaktaking each and every time you ride. I'm in the Magnum fan camp, and not just because of this sexy 80s station. When the queue for Magnum looks like this, you know it's a BUSY day at Cedar Point! Magnum was as great as ever. Painful airtime in the front (unless you really brace yourself), a bit smoother in the back. All in all, an absolute classic that I hope the park will keep around for a long, long time. I'm glad Cedar Point still have their Enterprise too. Gemini midway, soon to get a bit of a makeover. Speaking of Gemini, this remains one of my favourite rides at the park, even when it's not racing (as in this photo). We did get some racing rides in, and they're just hands-up fun. The ride also features its share of decent airtime. But for a lot of our visit, the ride looked like this - with the red train stuck on the brake run. At certain points, the ride also looked like this! There were quite a few break-downs on this visit. Here's Cedar Creek Mine Ride stuck on the second lift hill. It's a pretty bad mine train anyway - mostly just meandering around an unimaginative course. The very back of the park is quite pretty. Antique Cars... At some point we also rode Mean Streak... To me, it's not too bad in terms of roughness (due to heavy trims), but it's a pretty boring ride. It doesn't LOOK it, but somehow it's just not up to much at all, and I never seem to be able to remember very much about it. Maverick, on the other hand, could well be the best ride in the park! We had my favourite ERT session of the whole trip on Maverick (or should I say, Maveshark!). It helped that the ride is great, but also racing in the dark is an epic experience, helped by the absolutely awesome ride crew, who were pumped and just lots of fun the entire time. We really appreciated it - thanks guys! Just watch those 'neck choppers' and Maverick is as smooth as can be! Cedar Point has a few different museum-style attractions, and this was the best one. They had quite a few models. Mean Streak... Blue Streak... As a log flume enthusiast I should mourn the demise of White Water Landing, but Maverick is just too good. The museum had plenty of historic artefacts too... Like all this miscellanous stuff... Alas, Skyhawk was closed the entire duration of our visit. Bit of a shame - I love S&S Screamin' Swings. Chick-fil-A was new to us... Friends back home told us we weren't allowed to eat here, but I heard they'd reneged on all the anti-gay stuff? There was something quite unsettling about this! (Never in New Zealand!) Ah well, Mr. Cathy and his chicken lovin' bible bashers can have their money. The food was damn good! We didn't do the water rides on this visit, but it's a good idea to do all three in a row if you're staying on-site at the park. You can pop back to the hotel for a quick change, and they're all fun rides (even Shoot the Rapids). We explored the Frontier Trail... It's one of the few areas left at Cedar Point still covered in trees, which makes for a nice change of pace. We decided to pop inside all the little shops and stops along the way. The Grist Mill was pretty cute. The whole area has a very nice feel to it. A peek inside the Red Garter Saloon. This was something we were very surprised (and delighted) to see at more than one park on this trip... Same-sex hand-holding! Dan Cathy would NOT approve! On each of our trips to Cedar Point we've taken the Sky Ride for some scenic photos. One of the more historic buildings at the park... It's a beautiful-looking ride... Raptor still packs a punch after all these years. It's a very intense coaster. And for some reason, it always seems to have long, long queues. We've never been able to work out what's the best time to hit up the ride. Thank the Intamin gods for Fast Lane! I wish I could be riding Raptor right now... Your toes tingle after a ride on this thing! Still one of the best inverts out there. Blue Streak is not to be forgotten. It's honestly one of the best coasters at the park! Lots of fun-filled airtime, and a bona-fide classic. Cedar Point looks great at night. I loved the changing colour schemes on Power Tower. And this photo of Luminosity brings me to end of this segment and the end of the TPR portion of this trip report. Thank you to Robb, Elissa and all our fellow trip participants for making this such a great trip. We miss you guys!
  19. Yep! It almost became comedic the way we lucked out!
  20. It's a little-known fact that Superman loves gumbo. He could never get it on Krypton or in Smallville. Haha! That explains it. ^ Hey Thad I think I will keep on going through our Virginia/Florida/LA excursions. We absolutely loved some of the parks we visited, like Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Islands of Adventure while others were a bit disappointing due to closed rides. Thanks for your comments everyone!
  21. Cheers for the link in the new Club TPR newsletter Robb and Elissa! Our next stop on the Texas Midwest tour was a park that I'm more than a little obsessed with - Six Flags Great America. I've been a Great America fan for a long time. In fact in all honesty I'm a Great America nerd - I even recreated the park in RCT3 for God's sake, so bear with me as I show you lots and lots of photos of buildings and other miscellaneous things I find rather fascinating! Six Flags Great America is the better Great America as everyone pretty much agrees. Paramount tore out so many great attractions from Santa Clara's park, which is a real shame. In Gurnee you'll find a lot of the old Marriott charm still very much alive and well, along with beloved rides such as Whizzer still thrilling guests after all these years. And Six Flags really helped us have a Sixtastic day at the park, with early morning ERT on Raging Bull, first rides of the day on X-Flight (along with a special pass to skip the queue later on), a buffet lunch, backstage tour, and late night ERT on Viper, which was running backwards and even more fun with a DJ who turned the station into a dance party. Awesome line-up for an awesome day! The only disappointment really was X-Flight. This was my first B&M wing coaster and I have to say I thought it was a very tame ride with surprisingly uncomfortable restraints. It does 'funky' stuff, but without any excitement or forces to speak of. If I had to compare it to another coaster I'd put it alongside an S&S El Loco. It's crazy-looking but takes every element very, very slowly. The ride experience is not helped by bumpy outside seats and harnesses that seem to get tighter and tighter as the ride progresses - a particularly big surprise for me for a B&M coaster! We re-rode X-Flight at night to give it another chance but all got off with a similar consensus. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, Delicious Alcoholics.) Nevermind, the park is packed with so much to do it hardly mattered, and while a lot of the coasters are clones (Batman, Dark Knight, Demon, Superman, Vertical Velocity, even Viper) they're pretty good clones and there's more than enough to do to keep you entertained. We made sure we rode both log flumes, took a spin on some of the myriad of flat rides the park has, and stopped for a beer here and there. Six Flags Great America is a lovely park that seems as well run as it did during our first visit in 2010. Our visit in 2013 definitely redeemed Six Flags for us after a shaky start on the trip. I look forward to visiting again and hopefully getting on their new, utterly insane-looking RMC woodie! We're ready to have a Sixtastic day at Great America! You have to admit, the Great America parks know how to make a grand entrance. Fun fact #1: The Sky Tower didn't open with the park in 1976, but was added the following season and is a 285 foot tall Intamin Gyro tower. On clear days, the Chicago skyline is visible. We were here bright and early! (Theme Parks are one of the few things I like getting up early for. Scratch that, they're the only thing.) This was the old Hometown Grill. Still looks good. In Santa Clara, this has been turned into a Panda Express... This eatery was originally named in honour of the wife of David Brown, who headed up Marriott's theme park division, but seems to be under Aunt Martha's management now... Oh well, it still has a 'Hometown' ring to it. I love how Six Flags have themed their Southwest Territory. It was not an original area of Great America, so kudos! We were here for morning ERT on Raging Bull. Raging Bull was built in 1999, so that must make it an intense B&M, right?! B&M mega coasters probably have the most comfortable restraints of any coaster I've ridden, thanks to those wonderful clam shells. Raging Bull is definitely a great ride. But it's ruined by the strong trim brake on the second hill! I'd almost take a flag off for it, but it was the same in 2010. (When did they add this vile thing?!) The backside of American Eagle is HUGE! Next up we got to beat the crowds to ride X-Flight. It's a funky-looking coaster that seems to lack any intensity whatsoever. I wonder what the general public think of it? The 'before' shot. How did Arrow manage to make this concept work better than B&M?! The very first element LOOKS cool, but somehow just isn't all that thrilling. X-Flight is a New Romantic roller coaster. It's all about image! We got off hoping Cedar Point's GateKeeper ran a little more thrilling... Next up: Q-Bots! Definitely a must at a park like Great America if you're planning to have a Sixtastic day. We decided to hit up American Eagle next. The queue goes on and on... The coaster is here somewhere... "Are we there yet?" Almost... Yay! I really like American Eagle. The first half is excellent. The return journey is definitely a bit bumpy, but all in all it's a solid classic for the park. (Built by Intamin. In 1981.) R.I.P. Barney Oldfield Speedway. At least you're still operating in Santa Clara. Speaking of lost rides, Iron Wolf may not have been well-loved, but it's left a bit of a gaping hole in the park. I'm looking forward to Goliath taking it's spot in 2014! Onwards into Yukon Territory... There were some nice scenic spots. I think this might have been where we had our first beer. I spot another great ride... ...Little Dipper! But Batman of course is a Great America classic. And a GOOD B&M. Some of the original buildings of Yankee Harbor still look great. Fun fact #2: Both Great America parks opened with a ride called The Lobster, but Santa Clara's Lobster was an Eyerly Monster while Gurnee's was a Schwarzkopf Polyp ride. 2013 was the last season for Ragin' Cajun. While not a great ride, I liked how Six Flags themed it to fit the Madi Gras/Orleans Place area of the park. TPR are ready to spin! Six Flags also managed to get their Top Spin into the Mardi Gras spirit, naming it King Chaos. Orleans Place is a beautiful area of the park! Alright, I have to admit Superman doesn't fit the theme here, but neither does Top Gun/Flight Deck, so both Great Americas managed to mess that one up. Superman clones are a bit slow loading and always seem to attract long queues... Q-Bots to the rescue! The best part of these clones are always the lift, drop and pretzel inversion. The ride just seems to meander around the rest of the course, but I love the flying coaster concept and think Superman is a lot of fun. A Great America eatery that still operates under its original name - Pizza Orleans! Next door is another superhero coaster... The Dark Knight (or Mack mouse in a box as it's more popularly known among nerds). Don't expect too much, and it's not a bad ride! Rue Le Dodge has a great facade but I've never been inside for a ride. I'm not really a bumper car person... Most beautiful of all is Great America's amazing, ornate, double-decker carousel. It's absolutely gorgeous. At this point we went round the park for a second time! Another look at some Hometown themeing. While Coke's all over this building now, Great America have always had tie-ins and merchandising deals. Thank the Intamin gods Gurnee still have their Whizzer coaster alive and kicking! It lives in a really scenic corner of the park surrounded by trees, which adds to the sense of speed as you race around those low-lying turns. I love the spiral lift hill! It's such a good ride. What can I say, nice job, Mr. Schwarzkopf. For Ian, it was an excellent #200! Neil liked it too. A definite thumbs up ride. (Don't mind the surly girl in the row ahead of us.) Next up was Viper, a ride I loved in 2010 that was turned backwards for the 2013 season. Yikes! Viper has a pretty cool station. We're ready (and a little nervous) to ride... Backwards Viper was excellent. It probably helps that for some mysterious reason it's a very smooth wooden coaster. It was quite unnerving riding a Cyclone-style coaster backwards as you race through the structure of the ride. I see an Intamin drop tower! Not every coaster nerd is a fan of these, but I LOVE them. Random flat ride. Demon didn't have much of a queue today. It's another surprisingly smooth coaster. I do wish the airtime hills were still there instead of the loops, however. Another 'oldie but goodie' for Great America. Fun fact #3: Buccaneer Battle sits on the former site of Déjà Vu which now resides at Silverwood in Idaho. Before that, it was the site of the much-loved Sky Whirl, a unique Intamin triple Ferris Wheel-style ride. But you all know that, right? Buccaneer Battle is not a bad replacement for Déjà Vu. Having ridden the splash battle in Silver Dollar City, I have to admit it's a really fun ride concept. Six Flags have done a great job with the themeing too. We all wanted to give the park's interconnecting log flumes a ride. As with all water rides, the queues were long, but fortunately on Flash Pass. First up was Logger’s Run. I enjoy an old school Arrow flume. Logger’s Run has the double down drop. It's really fun, and very wet! Yankee Clipper still operates in Gurnee. Paramount got rid of theirs in 1998 for Stealth (later the water park expansion) - boo! At the time of opening, these flumes were among the grandest ever built! Yankee Clipper has a small jump at the bottom of the big drop. Great America has a lot of areas like this that are just so nice to hang out in. I do love an Intamin impluse coaster so had to give Vertical Velocity a spin. Still no holding brake on this installation, but it's still a great ride. We managed to get on just before thunderstorms (briefly) interrupted our day. I wanted to take the train, since we didn't get a chance in 2010. It's a good way to take a tour of the park. The backside of Roaring Rapids. One last random photo of a building: Sticky Fingers! (Love the name!) We ended up back in the Southwest Territory for a special treat... Hot wings and beer! Oh how I wish New Zealand knew how to make (or had even heard of) hot chicken wings. It's one of my favourite foods in the United States along with Tex-Mex cuisine, and these were pretty good. (Maybe I should open a Tex-Mex eatery downunder?) As night fell, the park lit up for IgNight. I LOVE how theme parks are turning into giant dance parties after dark this season. So simple but so much fun! We also re-rode X-Flight. Oh well. I know Six Flags Great America have a bright future and I wish them well with Goliath. I look forward to a return visit soon!
  22. Very impressed - looks like another quality ride for Australia. I've never been to Perth (and it's a long way from anywhere, really!) but would love to take a trip out there to ride this thing and see what else the place has to offer.
  23. Little Amerricka is a small park in Wisconsin geared toward children and families with an enticing four credits. When I saw the itinerary for the Texas Midwest trip the credit whore in me scanned it carefully to see if a stop here could be a possibility - so you can imagine how delighted I was when our bus pulled off the highway for a little unscheduled credit run... But Little Amerricka is more than a credit run and much more than a small park for kids. It's a really charming place with great old school attractions, some of which we weren't able to experience as the day was getting long and we still had a long drive ahead. Train enthusiasts in particular should note the 1/3 size railroad that covers two miles of Wisconsin countryside. The coaster line-up is particularly old school and includes a relocated 1950s junior woodie, a 1960s Allan Herschell Mad Mouse which I've always wanted to try, and a Chance Toboggan (there are almost none of these left - and that might possibly be a good thing!). It may have helped that many of us were drunk after our day in the Dells, but I think stops like these always put TPR in a good mood, alcohol or otherwise. I for one really appreciate surprise stops on TPR trips, so thanks again to Robb and Elissa for the chance to visit Little Amerricka. I imagine many great memories are created for the young and young at heart who visit this gorgeous little park. Our bus pulled off the the highway for a little unscheduled stop in Marshall, Wisconsin... We were here for a quick visit to Little Amerricka, a park that has been on my radar for many, many years. YAY! Little Amerricka is known for their old school attractions. Ferris Wheels are known for scaring the living beejesus out of some hardened coaster enthusiasts! I had always wanted to ride an Allan Herschell Mad Mouse. We're not-entirely-sober but we're ready to ride! Like all good Wild Mouse coasters, you have to squeeze your ass into the tiny little seat. Oh God it's really happening! I loved this ride! It wasn't comfortable in the least - very much like a trash can rolling down a hill! - but (like all good Wild Mouse coasters) it was pretty death-defying, especially the final bunny hops. Meteor is the name of the park's relocated Philadelphia Toboggan Co. junior wooden coaster (or was it in fact completely re-built?). Either way it ran great! Gotta love an old school woodie. Move over Great America, Little Amerricka got their junior woodie credit first! Yay, the park has a Roll-o-Plane! I loved the version at Knoebel's. Credit #3 was another quality Allan Herschell creation. This is known as the 'coaster of death' due to the graveyard backdrop, but I totally forgot to grab a photo of the tombstones in the distance (I was drunk!). It was a real 'back slapper' - watch those drops against the metal seats, ouch! I love how Little Amerricka has a junior parachute ride - didn't all theme parks used to have these for adults too? The awesomely named 'Whisky River Railway'. May the Intamin gods have mercy on us all - it's a Chance Toboggan! I cannot believe I got to ride one of these crazy contraptions. Andrew and I even managed to squeeze into one car. At this point you loose every shred of virginity you ever had! Everyone should head out to Little Amerricka to ride this thing at least once - there are so few left! Thank you Little Amerricka for hosting TPR. I had a great time and really appreciated your awesome hospitality. What a great ending to a great day.
  24. Here 'ya go! Haha! Awesome! Wow, there were more of us drinking than I remember. Nothing like a little collective boozing in the Dells to forget Hades!
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