Just returned home to the UK from a not-quite 2 week blast across the midwest.
Places hit were;
Worlds of Fun
Silver Dollar City
Six Flags St Louis
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
Six Flags Great America
And this is roughly the tale!
Day1 : Sunday 31st May
Starting out here;
Was inspired to pay this place a visit, mainly because of the new woody but also because
I never hear much about it and it seemed to have a few coasters that I tend to like (B&M
inverts and big hyper types).
My hotel was just over the road from the park so I managed to negotiate walking along the
highway and grass verge to get to the park (Americans don't half make it tricky walking anywhere,
no wonder that they are all **insert trite overweight-American quip here**).
Park was pretty quiet all day, wandered first off to see Prowler for a couple of stress
free first rides of the day;
Very good indeed this. Great first drop and then into heaps of speed, no more big hills
but lots of little dips and rises and banks and speed and stuff. Really good ride.
Very hard to photograph though (a common theme with the day) as you can't really see
much of it from the park unless you are riding it! The park railroad gave a few views
as well tho';
The drop, no train available at the time tho'
Next up (purely for the credit) was the boomer. I really dont like boomers. I recall the
first one I went on I really enjoyed.... how times change. Anyway they are always quite
Then up to that big ride I could see from the hotel, Mamba the nice big hyper.
I like nice big hypers. I like the big Morgans (SD2000, Steel Force, Steel Eel) and I
liked this too. Not anything like as impressive as SD2000, but hey its still pretty
nice although I think out of that list above they would all edge Mamba for some reason
Continuing the loop of the park, I happened upon Detonator - these are always fun.
Next up was the old woody (20 this year) - Timber Wolf. This was not good. 20 is clearly
not a good age for a wooden coaster. Not the roughest old wood I've been on (I think
Predator at Darian Lake might win that), but still far too much rattling and rough riding
for my likeing. (No pix either!)
Now this is more like it, the B&M Patriot. Almost very good - probably an element short
of that, but the good old B&m formula (Loop, ZeroG, Immelmann, banked turn, airtime hop,
wingover,twisty bit, finish) does the trick. Good stuff.
Last coaster (since I didn't lower myself to the Wacky Worm!) was the Spinning Dragons
which was installed as the replacement to the old signature ride Orient Express...
...well I think the punters were somewhat short changed as this was not great!
OK I suppose, but a bit of a filler!
Overall a pretty nice place - kinda Busch Gardens Williamsburg-Lite.
A lot of the flats are showing their age a bit I think, and theres a bit of repetition
in their styles. The coasters are a fair selection though, enough to keep me entertained
for most of the day.
Oh yes, by the way, don't go in this building; its a trap.
Day2 : Monday 1st June
No parks today
Drive down from KC to the next port of call, which will not suprise you to
know is Branson.
What an odd place this is. If I was feeling un-generous I'd describe it as a
hillbilly Vegas... (sorry!)
Theres a "main drag" through all the motels/hotels/food places, but most of all there
are theatres EVERYWHERE, all putting on shows from people I've never heard of (I suspect
I'm NOT the target audience tho') and like they are top-billing on Broadway....(Blackpool
pier summer show more like).
I am being very uncharitable here though, whatever floats your boat really...
At the end of the strip is Celebration City. This would have been a good place to kill
a few hours instead of being disparaging about the town; but as you well know the place
is shut at the moment.
This ride will not operate today;
Shame, this looked pretty good;
Went for an explore, there is a rather nice lake a couple of miles out of town
which I did enjoy pottering around taking a few pix thereof;
Nice lake though;
A tree at the nice lake;
The lack of coaster action today means you now get a picture of the hire car.
No prizes for guessing what tomorrow brings then!
Day3 : Tuesday 2nd June
Its Tuesday, I'm in Branson (::shudder: that means it must be Silver Dollar City day
Nice place, one of the few places that peeps seem to go to just to go to it (so kinda like
Disney and Universal at a push, there is just loads of peeps there just to be there. Am I
making sense? The place was full of OAPs, just wandering around (slowly, and its pretty
hilly in places, not so easy on the age-challenged). There are loads of shows and shoppes
and olde-west type stuff going on that the non-riding public could enjoy.
Anyway I certainly don't fit into that category, I wasn't there for the country nor the
western music... the olde-worlde-west shoppes held little interest... I can find cheaper
($50 entrance!) ways of wasting a few hours in the heat... but I was there for the coasters!
First up was the B&M looper Wildfire. Deceptively hard to find (the whole park is a little
hard to navigate to be honest) and interestingly located on the side of a hill, I was
looking forward to this!
Here they go;
Some idea of the view from up here, rather splendid
Certainly the location of this ride is excellent, top of a hill looking
down into the valley and lake below. The ride is pretty darned good also,
big drop into an immelmann, loop, big cobra roll, corkscrew, little helix
thats the lot. What it does have is really good, but a bit like Patriot
the other day, feels kinda "an element short". I liked it though lots,
Just next door (well down the hill a bit) is Powder Keg, the rebuilt ride.
I'm going to have to dig out a Buzzsaw Falls POV that I have at home to see
how much of the old ride is left.
Again I liked this a lot. Really odd setup where as soon as you leave the
station you move sideways (the whole track moves, like a transfer track)
up to the launch straight. The launch is good, not stupid fast but fast enough
and there is plenty of airtime over the top hat and the first hill - nice.
Thereafter its gets all fast and swoopy and ends up with a conventional lift
hill and drop right at the end (odd in itself, but not unique to this park -
Nearby is an old "classic" (ie "rubbish") coaster Fire in the Hole - basically
a cheesy dark ride with a couple of drops in it. Not great.
The other serious coaster (there is a kiddy one as well) is an Arrow minetrain
type called Thunderation, and that was pretty fun too - 2 cars face backwards
which is an odd sensation on this sort of ride - no pics of this though as it
is out in the woods somewhat!
They have a themed S&S swing - themed like a giant barn!
Self powered Giant Drop?
And the usual smattering of other rides
But what they do have which is pretty non-usual is the reason that the park
is where it is in the first place - a giant underground cave system that
you can go on an hour's trek through - pretty groovy, and not for those
with vertigo as you start out at the top of a huge cavern;
I tried to take some shots in the trek but suspect they may not come out
Overall a good place, they could do with a better park mascot though
Day4 : Wednesday 3rd June
I was going to go to Six Flags today, byt the weather was rubbish, I was feeling
rubbish and so I postponed until the next day (I had capacity in my schedule
to do this, luckily!). So I just drove up to St Louis.
Day5 : Thursday 4th June
So after yesterday's bad weather imposed delay (I went off to the flicks instead
and saw that Terminator film - "meh"), it was off to Six Flags over Mid-America
for me (I do prefer that name somehow?).
I've been here before, back in 2003, but they have kindly added a couple of new
coasters since then, so it was worth a looksee. And to be fair, the time I
went here before I really enjoyed the place so was well up for a revisit.
First up was theire new (to me) GCI woody "Evel Knievel". Not quite as
imposing as WoF's Prowler, but still pretty sweet. Was a really good ride,
smooth, fast, floaty, twisty, excellent! Them GCI guys are really getting
into the swing of this coaster malarky!
I did notice these signs all over the place as well... a reaction to that
stupid Georgia incident from last year? These signs were every few yards
on a lot of the fences around the place.
Electric Six (Flags)?
Next up was the other new (to me) ride - quick digression; how many other
coasters are named after real people rather than superheroes or film
tie-ins? And here I am going on two consecutively, bizarre.
This was a bit "meh" though, better than the similar Spinning Dragons at
WoF, but nothing too great.
The big woody here is The Boss, which I remeber being a bit evil (but fun),
today it was still a bit evil but running well - one of the better "big
woods" I think.
Their drop ride is new-ish to trhe park, but not new to me since I rode it
when it was in Houston, themed to Olde-England there, Superman here.
Also on the menu is a nasty old Arrow looper, which I think has one of the
best head-choppers going; when you twist underneath the chain return bit
about halfway through the ride, gets me every time!
When you ride all these coasters, its always good to take a moment to
realize how utterly brilliant the original B&M invert is. Revolutionary
at the time and stands the test of time fantastically. St Louis's is odd
in that it is a mirror image of all the other clones, but still an
excellent ride; far superior to many that have come afterwards.
The last coaster I rode for the day (also rode the mine train ("meh") and
the old woody Screamin Eagle which hurt me badly 6 years ago, but I
made it through OK today) was Mr Freeze. I do like Mr Freeze's, I recall
riding Texas's in the dark once and that was wonderful being lauched straight
up into the stars. No start today though (bright sunshine) but still a
Rest of the day spent pottering around the park;
Final "best buy" tip - if you are Brit, and off to these places on holidays
then try to get an "out of market" season pass (you'll have to ask for one)
as these are HUGE discounts - $45 for a Six Flags pass that will get me into
any other SF parks I may encounter in the next few days, and just because
I'm foreign-like! Cool!
So all in all; really good.
The park was clean, employees (in their bright new day-glo uniform) were
generally good, and despite the park not being busy they were running 2
trains on all the rides even with mininal lines - well done Mr Flags.
This is a really good park which (to me) just doesn't get the credit
some of its (slightly) bigger brothers get. This place was the third Six
Flags park (after Texas and Georgia) and was purpose built as such. Its not
quite as big as those two (or the other big Six flags "purchased parks")
but still very worthy! Me like.
And just some messing about on the way out
Day6 : Friday 5th June
Another day, another park Well actually two, but more of that later...
I'd stayed about 40 miles away from the next place since the next place
is in the middle of nowhere, Indiana... yes its Holiday World today!
When I got to the (free) car park, it was the easily the busiest one I'd
seen yet on the trip, clearly family-friendly parks in the middle of
nowhere Indiana are popular - the park itself was also the busiest I'd
seen so far this week.
I'd been here before in 2003, but since then they had gone and built a new
monster of a ride, so first up it was a brisk walk down the hill to the
rather imposing Voyage.
Clearly this ride has been lauded by the coaster-geek community, but that
isn't always a good sign (take Raven for example, coaster-geeks love it, to
me its "ok", a bit "so what" in fact) so I wasn't quite sure what I'd think
of it... well it was bloomin' FANTASTIC!
Big scary lift hill - check. Lots of airtime hills - check. Lots of
suprises - check. Lots of speed - check. Not too rough - check(ish).
This is a truly amazing ride, loads of air, loads of tunnels, drops in the
tunnel, and the most amazing thing to me was that it just gets faster and
faster. The end third of the ride is truly scary stuff, racing back into
the station complex picking up speed all the time when any sensible coaster
is griding to a halt. Utterly utterly impressive. Loved it.
Downsides - you can't take many pictures of it as most of the ride is off
in the woods and its a shame its a hybrid structure and not "all wood", but
I'm quibbling a bit here.
Now it takes a special moment for me to start to do water rides - it has to
be hot and they have to look good... now HW had gone and built a new "worlds
tallest", so I had resigned myself to having to give this a go...
But it seems HW have other ideas...
Anyway, not sure I missed much, it looked a bit weedy in the shadow of the
mightly Voyage next door - didn't look much "worlds tallest" to me, I'm sure
a few normal splash rides are that big, and how about things like the Mack
supersplash? But who am I to question park marketing?
Other "worlds tallest" at HW include their shot tower;
And other coasters are the aforementioned Raven
Which is good, just not fantastic like you are lead to believe (and too
short and they were only running 1 train, slowly).
and the Legend (which I prefer to the Raven anyway)
Its a popular place this, loads of family groups - queue patterns are weird
here as well, I waited probably 30 minutes for the Raven in the morning,
but an hour later it was almost walk on (same for the Legend).
Nice enough place, but a bit limited in its offerings (since I don't do the
So after a few rides on all the wooden beasts the park doesn't really hold
much else for me...
So hop in the car, drive 2 hours, make it to the next place for twilight
(half price) admission and here I am at Beech Bend!
There is clearly only one good reason to come here (if you are not a local
as it did seem like a good enough place just to "hang out" at) and that
reason is another GCI masterpiece, the Kentucky Rumbler.
Not quite as excellent as Prowler was and maybe lightly behind EvelK but
still an excellent ride indeed.
An interesting thing about it was that the station is buried right in the
middle of the ride, so waiting for the train (there is only one) to come
around you get three station fly-pasts, wonderful stuff.
But the park is so quiet, that I only every get to stand and wait for the
The rest of the park is a bit dull to be honest - its really a whole lot
of travelling rides plonked down on some tarmac. But so what, nice
enough atmosphere, the staff were all pretty friendly, the place is clean
and it is cheap!
They also have one of those common spinning Wild Mouse rides;
And a truly evil looking Pinfari looper;
(and a Dragon kiddly coaster (which was a bit rough (oops let slip that I
rode it, never mind (+1))))
So by no means a full day park, I laboured to spend 2 hours there, but it
was empty so eveything was walk-on. I had originally planned to go here
tomorrow (Saturday) when it might be busier I guess...
So now I'm running ahead of my schedule.... hmmmm.
Day7 : Saturday 6th June
So today was a "bonus day"; because I went to Beech Bend yesterday, I now
have an extra day. I usually try to avoid big parks on Saturdays (hence
why BB was planned) as they are always heaving, but today was a "bonus" so
off I went.
[ Bonus = not planned
Bonus = place with coasters
Bonus does not necessarily = a GOOD place with coasters though ]
I'd been here before as well, and this time they have managed to
REMOVE rides since then - the park has a whole section fenced off which
contains the Twisted Twins dual coaster and the shoot the chutes water
ride. Very poor Six Flags IMHO.
Because of this (and the fact that I didn't really rate the place anyway)
I was not planning to stop in, but given my "bonus day" I felt that at
least the old Schwartzkopf deserved some love.
Good ride as always from these machines, this one only slightly spoiled
by being right next to the road that runs RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF THE
Oh well, no accounting for park design then?
The only other decent coaster here is the big B&M stand-up Chang, which
is pretty good in fairness.
They just don't make 'em like they used to.
I guess this must have been the BIG SIX FLAGS investment to drag the park
upscale a dozen or so years ago when Six Flags were going for broke!
Anyway its quite pretty and a decent enough ride - I've done all the B&M
standups and this one is one of the better ones.
The park also has a little waterpark slap bang in the middle of it (!!)
which is popular with the locals on this hot summers day!
The other coasters inculde an early SLC named T2 (not Terminator themed
at all though)
This isn't great, but as with all SLCs they are a bit better to photograph
than actually ride (back seat, bouncy head = bashed ears).
And stupid single train ops on this mean I have to queue for an hour for
the priviledge of getting my ears bashed
And they have a Hurler-like woody called Thunder Run, which is also not
good, when the pre-lift hill bit shakes you up you do start to worry for
the rest of the ride. Ouch.
The closed off section is just behind this woody, so as you race around
the one ride you get a great view of the other rides that they have closed
You can clearly tell from a lot of those photos that there is a large
big wheel here as well, which I take my customary shot of;
Not a lot else to report really. Slow ops, busy park, (poor park to be honest)
but it was an agreeable enough way of spending a few "bonus hours". If you
are passing by, don't have the credits and have a spare couple of hours then
the place is worth a visit. But I wouldn't be recommending it as a
destination of any kind since it really does not have any stand out features!
Kinda suprised that Six Flags have not got rid of the place to be honest,
can't see what it adds to their portfolio!
Day8 : Sunday 7th June
Right then, the serious stuff is on now.
Its Sunday, it must be;
A top day at a top park riding some top coasters - I've had a
nice time today!
Clearly one has to start at the big newbie - so at opening hour a
brisk walk to the new ride (cunningly hidden in the kiddie-zone !?!?!?).
There is a very convienient single-rider entrance which meant I got to ride
it 3 times in the first 20 minutes of the day, on a busy Sunday with the rest
of the queue-line packed. The single-rider was not running all day, but when
it is I suggest you abuse it!
So what of this new popular ride... well it was OK, nothing revolutionary.
Certainly not a world-beater, but definately a crowd-pleaser. I think
that Nitro is better in terms of similar rides, but I prefer Apollo's
out of all the B&M hypers I've rode (not been on any of the recent
Goliath/Behemoth ones tho')
The splash is a bit pointless when you are riding; unless you are on the
back row when you arm will get wet, and if you turn to look at the splash
from the back row, turn INWARDS for a good view because if you turn
OUTWARDS (like I did), then you get a wet face!
However the view from the queue line overlooks the splash zone, so it adds
to the queue experience (although I never queued for the ride really).
So a really good, big ride. But nothing earth-shattering.
I grabbed the other credits that had appeared since I was last here (and
a couple of the minor rides I missed last time I was here);
The not-Italian Job was fun but a bit lame (I've been on Wonderlands too
and this one seemed a bit better but that could be my imagination!)
Any ride that is themed after a multi-story car park is struggling a bit;
Next up was Firehawk (which I had rode as XFlight in a former life), this
was OK, but rather spoiled as it broke down while I was on it, basically
they could not re-right the train after we got back into the station!
So I was stuck in the "down" position in the station for about 20 minutes
while they tried to mend it, eventually they gave up and manually released
us all from our prison (which you can imagine is a bit of an experience
given the rather bizarre restraint system on these things). Anyway that
pi**ed me off for a while, especially as they didn't even apologise
after they released us, thought I'd at least get an exit pass or
something, but they just let us go and sent us off down the exit.
Anyway its still a pretty coaster;
After a bit of a stretch and recovery from my ordeal, I resumed on the mine
train Adventure Express, which is fun, then a bit of not-Top Gun, which is
And that had got me limbered up enough to attempt what was one of the most
painful coaster experiences ever for me on my previos visit... yes it was
time for the (loop-less) Son of Beast... perhaps its neutered Son of Beast?
Well it certainkly was not as bad as last time I went, but it is a bit of
a pointless ride IMHO, just big and fast with not a lot of fun.
Much better is its Daddy, which I really like. Probably my favourite ride
in the park! Not because its a great ride (its rough, has some awful trim
brakes on it), but its 30 years old and still great fun! Hard to take a
picture of though as its all out in the woods;
Next door to Beast is a mega looper (and mega painful) Vortex, back in the
day when lots of inversions were the vogue, this thing must have been the
business; 2 loops 2 corkscrews a bat wing thingy... today it looks its age
and hurts a bit!
Loads of other coasters were ridden (they have 14, and I rode all but the
tiny kiddy ride which I did consider for a moment; shame on me!)
Gyro-Drop (these do still scare me, not the drop but the climb)
So overall a great day at a great park! It was busy, but its a big place
and the longest I had to Q for was Firehawk at about 40 minutes (before I
Day9 : Monday 8th June
Next stop was here;
Didn't quite know what to expect of this place, I had managed to miss it out
the last time I was around here, so it was going to be all-new for me (which
is always a good thing).
I thought Holiday World was in the middle of nowhere-Indiana, clearly I was
mistaken, turns out Indiana Beach is REALLY in the middle of nowhere-
Anyway it is an odd place - kinda one-part charming, one-part tacky - overall
its a bit like a mini-Blackpool, but nicer!?!
The biggest coaster there is the Hoosier Hurricane, which dominates the park
somewhat, running most of the length of it and what you always see in the
pictures of the place.
Intertwined with that is the much better Cornball Express, which is a bit
more twisty than the rather out and back Hoosier.
Neither ride is amazing, but pretty fun - and its quite impressive how they
have squeezed them into rather limited space.
Unfortunatley the other woody (The Lost Coaster...) was not running today
so no rides for me this looked a bit interesting as you could see the
older structure that it was built on top of. Bonkers!
Most of the flat rides are on little platforms out over the lake itself,
this one was groovy;
And somehow they have managed to squeeze in a Splash Battle in there!
Aerial shots come courtesy of the skyride or the big wheel (which ain't so
big to be honest)
And theres a steel coaster (Galaxi) in here somewhere;
Clearly the major attraction of the place for me was the new (last season)
S&S steel thing - you'll be expecting a load of pictures of that then
will you not?
Ok after that lame joke, here we go then;
...I really liked this by the way...
...I tried not to watch it first so the layout actually caught me unaware
after the first drop...
...and I particlularily liked the second inversion (counting the first drop
as the first one)...
...so there you have it, what Flamingoland in North Yorkshire has to look
forward to in the very near future...
Day10 : Tuesday 9th June
...count the flags then...
Yep, its Great America today.
I've been here a couple of times before, so there was not much "novelty"
involved, but its another GREAT park so how can one resist?
I had a bit of a trek up from my overnight stop and the Chicago traffic
was a pain so despite a stupid early start I didn't get into the park
until 11 and the sight of a car park full of school buses gave me some
The place was reasonably busy, lots of school trips (call this an education,
I don't think so, no wonder standards are slipping, anyway get out of my
line you bratty oiks) but the queues seemed to be moving pretty quickly.
First up I grabbed the credits that they had built since my last visit,
which were the earth shatteringly exciting sum of TWO mouse coasters FFS.
Firstly wa sthe mouse-in-a-box Dark Knight, which was unsuprisingly just
a mouse, in a box, with a bit (not much) of themeing. The queue was better
themed than the ride. And not a sign of a Batman anywhere (or did I miss
Then the slightly older (spinning) mouse Rajin Cajun. This was exactly the
same as any other spinning wild mouse... apart from it was the only ride I
saw a single rider line on so at least I didn't spend much time on that!
Therafter I spend the rest of the day wandering around all the other nice
coasters they have there;
Got wood? (American Eagle - they were only running one side of this )
Got even better wood? (The excellent Viper - the best cyclone clone that I
Raging Bull - has always been a bit of a fave of mine, lots of people dont
rate it much, but I really like it! Different type of mega B&M to
Diamondback so unfair to compare them (think I prefer the Bull to the Back
Totally original photo of the old Demon
A bit of the original Batman (which I have raved about earlier in this
thread - excellent stuff!)
And some not-yet-Bizarro:Ultimate Flight
And DejaVu looks a bit different these days...
(a splash battle sits there now, the shame the shame)
And what is this all about, all over the park and on all the PA announcements
at the rides they kept on goping on about the place being the "Worlds
Cleanest Theme Park"? Who says? How did you measure that? Lets see those
statistics please? Are you just having a laugh?
And then they say the "Hurricane Harbour" is the nations best water park...
I'm not water park expert, but I highly doubt that as well.
No wonder the GP are confused when parks feed them such tosh all the time!
Day11 : Wednesday 10th June
Right then, after yesterday's "big huge corporation" park, today was a
trip up to the "family owned but turned into a bit of a monster";
Mount Olympus at the Wisconsin Dells.
Its a bit of a monster as its an older "carts and coasters" park, joined
together with an older "outdoor water park" and another "indoor water park"
- physically they joined it all together by buying the hotel that sat
between them all and demolishing it - cool, theres vision for you!
I worked my way "upstream" here, started off with the indoor coaster,
which is another of those annoying spinning mice things;
Housed in a big tent-like structure, not so cunningly hidden behind this
big pile of themeing;
Next up was the junior woody Pegasus, which is a bit of a triangular
out and back, on a "family coaster" scale. Fun enough and an evil last
turn into the station.
Moving up the food chain to Cyclops, which has a scenic drop towards the
end that looked like it might give some satisfying airtime...
...but it didn't so much.
Now we are starting to get serious, next up is a true out and back woody,
Zeus. This was a bit rough on my first ride, but the next time I was
prepared and it was pretty fun.
Nicely warmed up then... now we are cooking. The real draw for this place
is of course none of the above, but rather this monster;
Nice big huge first drop...
Straight into a long tunnel all full of unspeakable evilness that races
off under the car park (how cool is that!) before emerging in the distance
only to turn around and do it all again
Thereafter it does a few ups and downs (one of them REALLY rough) and
speeds back into the station. Great stuff.
They didn't let me go on this one though;
As well as these FOUR wood coasters (and the lame steel), the place is
full of go-kart tracks, so I had a few circuits of them as well. I swear
they gave me the slow kart each time though?
Pretty interesting place all told, limited diversity of rides - if you
don't like coasters or karts you are stuffed for dry things to do - but
quite clean and well themed. Ride operations sucked a bit though, very
borted looking foreign kids running the coasters (often on their own),
with very little regard to throughput or customer experience. Oh well.
Day12 : Thursday 11th June
Did a very pleasant boat trip up the river today, and had a quck play on
the other coaster of merit in the town; Avalanche/Hell Cat (which doesn't
seem to make up it mind what it is called - they were still selling Avalanche
TShirts at the kiosk?).
No pics of this though, but was a fun ride.
Day13 : Friday 12th June
Drove back to Chicago, got on plane, got off plane, got into taxi, came home,
posted this (by now its the next day!).