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Rai Fox

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Everything posted by Rai Fox

  1. ...I miss conventions so much right now. Crossing my fingers that Atlanta is in my future again this spring. If it is, I'm putting the Vortex on my must-do list! I need that Hell's Fury burger. Nice pics and it looks like a great time, I can't wait to see more!
  2. Alright, Indiana Beach! So, I'm looking past the flying bobs out over the water, at the jetskis darting around the bigger boats. To one side, there's the bang of an old dark ride car coming through the crash doors, next to the skull that leers down at the midway, just beneath the multicolored chairlift... Wait, I'm supposed to be doing a TR on Indiana Beach, not going on about childhood memories of Rocky Point. I don't know how many people, if anyone, around this place remember Rocky Point Park, and given that they're both small parks, there probably isn't a big cross section of people who've been to both it and Indiana Beach, but Rocky Point was a small park in Warwick RI, the second oldest running amusement park in the US, until it closed in 1996 after the board of directors embezzled all of its money away. Rocky Point was one of the best parts of my childhood, it's almost solely responsible for my being such a fan of amusement parks, and I have so many memories of it. Indiana Beach ended up being something unexpectedly special for me because of how much it brought those memories back, more than any park I've been to since Rocky Point closed down. It looks so much the same, right on the water even if it's a lake instead of the ocean, they use the same simple old style park decor, even the same colors, it shares so many of the same rides, they run the rides the same way...Indiana Beach was like going back in a time a quarter of a century for me. But you're here for the photos and all. So, the day didn't start off looking like it was going to be particularly good that morning. In fact, the day didn't start out looking like I was going to even make it to an amusement park at all. I was seriously doubting my GPS right up until I saw the entrance to the park. If you've been to Indiana Beach, you probably know what I mean; if not, well... Thiiiiiis is what it looks like 30 miles from the park. Oh look, corn. ...And 20 miles from the park... ...and ten miles from the park... ...Five miles from the park, and we still have corn... And this is less than a mile from the park. I don't know about you but I was growing a bit concerned at this point. Just beyond those trees in the distance though, it turns out Indiana is hiding a lovely lakeside resort area. Huh. Unfortunately a fair number of rides weren't running that day, including the park's biggest coaster, and their flyers. A bit disappointing. The entrance to the park is picturesque, though, nearly cinematic with how it appears from nowhere, in the middle of these fields... ...and over a big, swinging and bouncing suspension bridge. The park isn't quite on an island, connected to the rest of the shore at the far end, but you could be forgiven for missing that from here, and this is quite a way to head to the main gate. I'd gotten an early start and got through the gate while most of the park was still waking up; the skyride wasn't running yet. It might have been nice to get the layout of the park from the air before anything else, but there would be time for this later. Like so much else at this park, the multicolored, open air chairlift style ride across the midway immediately brought back memories for me. As did the Flying Bobs down near the water. I always love these rides but this was on the "not running" list for the day. Too bad. The ferris wheel did run, but not quite yet. I forgot to get back to it later, and wish I had; it probably would have been a nice view down by the water. Not even down the entrance ramp into the park itself and they're already trying to make me hungry. Apparently these "pronto pups" aren't actually corn dogs but a sort of pancake battered dog that predates normal corn dogs? Meant to try them but didn't. Only a few people in the park so far, and the first rides just starting up along the midway. I've never seen a view quite like this at a park before; it's not quite like any boardwalk I've been to; halfway between the craziness of most of them and the more laid back classic feel of, dare I go as far as say Knoebels? I noticed a few little projects like this, with new bricks and materials going in, scattered around the park. From what I've heard the park's previous owners didn't take particularly good care of it, but the current one seems to be putting some work into getting things back in shape. Some parts of it still look a little dingy now, though not terribly so, but I'm curious to see how it'll look in a year or two now. No Wave Swinger at this park, but a classic Chance Yo-Yo instead. I don't know if I can really say I like the Yo-Yo better, but it's comparatively rare enough to be much more exciting to see one. Also one of the first "adult" rides I ever got on at Rocky Point... This one hadn't opened yet but would soon. Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain was running, and I could barely stop myself from sprinting to it. It had been ages since I'd seen the first pictures and video of that bizarre coaster, and it felt sort of surreal that I was actually going to get on it, especially after hearing about IB's "closing forever." Pretty much everyone already in the park was in line here, and with the coaster's rather pitiful capacity it was a good 45 minute wait. I didn't really mind, given that it was the last 45 minutes of a decade plus long wait. The skyride started up while I was waiting here. I was going to have to get that view of the park at some point! Almost there! So, Lost Coaster of Superstition mountain is...it's really difficult to think of a word other than "unique." The hydraulic vertical lift is definitely not something I've seen before. Neither are the cars, which are a bit cramped but reasonably comfortable, even riding backwards like I ended up. The ride is deceptive though; it's not big and it doesn't hit any real high speeds but it feels a lot faster riding it. The twisty, bumpy course throws you around quite a lot as it winds around and inside the mountain, especially when you can't see the elements coming, but it's not harsh and no overly restrictive restraints to bounce off of, so the constant bounces and twists manage to be more fun than they look from off ride, without being rough on riders. The theming inside the mountain isn't exactly Thunder Mountain, but it's enough to be fun, and give the ride at least a bit of an (admittedly mostly incomprehensible) story. It's not something I could call a must ride, but it's definitely a step above your average small coaster or wild mouse, and there's really nothing else like it that I'm aware of. Different enough that I wasn't disappointed after waiting so long to get on it, at least! Most of the rides down the midway still hadn't started up yet. But the antique cars had, and there wasn't much of a wait, so why not? These have an interesting layout with quite a lot of track packed into a very small area, twisting over itself something like three times. I can't imagine fitting more track into one little plot than they did. Unfortunately it only had something like three cars on the track, with most of the rest half-disassembled to server as "scenery." Not too much of a problem today but hopefully in a better year they can have more running. The "road" sneaks in under Lost Coaster, then runs alongside Cornball Express. Taco Time? It was still barely past breakfast time, but...that doesn't mean it can't be taco time...made a note to stop for one as soon as I got off the cars. Up close to Cornball Express here. I did stop by the taco stand but decided on just grabbing a travelling taco for a quick stack and to compare to Knoebels version (basically the same thing). Quite a few of the flats are built on platforms out over the water. I wanted to see if that made them feel any different, but they were mostly scheduled to open at 2. Cornball Express was supposed to be running, but wasn't yet...wait, no... First train of the day. I was going to have to head over that way soon. But since I was right here and the Scrambler had just started running, it wasn't going to hurt to make time for it. This one didn't run as fast as the Scarecrow Scrambler at Holiday World, but the breeze off the lake made for a wonderfully relaxing ride, and it seemed to run forever. Despite not being one of the faster ones I've been on, I think this has to be one of my favorites just for location. Being over the water does make a different, it turns out. The shooting gallery built into the bottom of Dr Frankenstein's Haunted Castle shares its theme but looks a tiny bit out of place on the colorful midway. There's also an arcade underneath the castle with...Bump N Jump and Mr. Do? Okay, as if I hadn't already been getting "back in time" vibes from this park... For some reason my camera managed to make it look like this one wasn't working, but it was; everything in the arcade appeared to be despite its age. I'll take this stuff over a Six Flags redemption arcade any day! Dr Frankenstein looking down on the midway. Rats! I assumed this meant I could expect my ankles to be tickled somewhere in the castle... The Haunted Castle itself is really something spectacular though. It's a slight upcharge, a few dollars to get in, but it's absolutely worth it, and I can't encourage anyone who gets to Indiana Beach enough to make sure they do this. It's an old style walk through dark attraction but it's kept up very well with all the props and scenes in good shape as far as I could tell, and it goes on absolutely forever, using up every bit of three stories of an expansive building. I didn't take pictures inside since I wasn't sure it was allowed, and I wouldn't want to ruin some of the surprises anyway, but there are some great ones, including a room of doors that I got lost in for an embarrassingly long time. In my defense, there's more to getting out of it than just checking all the doors...the actual exit is even better hidden. Eventually there's sunlight ahead... But you come out up here, a couple stories above the midway and looking down on Sea Dragon, with nowhere to go but back into the maze, where it winds on for quite a while longer somehow. Okay, I did take one picture; this area inside the tower was bright enough to get a shot without needing to use a flash, and silly enough that I had to get a picture of it. It really is a surprisingly big attraction, absolutely worth the extra cost. Out back here, Air Crow. Probably not as good as the Knoebels flyers but I imagine if you catch a good breeze off the lake you can get a good ride on this one if they run at any decent speed. Not going to find out today though. Everything is packed in wherever they can fit it at Indiana Beach. Kiddieland is stuck in underneath the coasters here. And Tig'rr is on top of a restaurant. I'd never been on a classic Jet Star before; it looked like a slightly bigger version of the Flitzer that had been at Morey's Piers until recently, but it's a far more intense ride, and there were no brakes at all on this one. It doesn't look like much but that first banked turn feels more like Intimidator 305 than a family coaster! Definitely a deceptive ride, and one I hope stays at the park for a long time, old or not. ...Also, unlike Flitzer, you don't need three separate harnesses to mummify you into the cars; there's practically nothing for restraints at all, which for this kind of ride is far more comfortable. I would not have wanted to have to evac from this one though. That is one very sketchy walkway. Maybe at least fix the completely missing boards, IB? Turning around from Tig'rr, you take the stairs right up into the mess of structure of the two coasters above to get to Cornball Express' station. Which I apparently failed to take any pictures of. Cornball Express is a pretty middling coaster though. It seems a little unsure of what it wants to do with itself; there's a bit of airtime, a few laterals, some modest speed, but it doesn't really do anything well enough to really stand out, and it's definitely on the rougher side ; probably the roughest coaster of my week that wasn't at Six Flags St Louis. Not unrideable, but not great either. Hoosier Hurricane at least looked like it might be better, but wasn't running. This tiny kiddie ferris wheel stuck right under the coaster where it barely fit in got a laugh out of me. Anywhere they can fit things at this park. Fascination wasn't open, but I don't think I would have wanted to spend much time there alone anyway. Besides, I was going to Knoebels not long after this, with friends, so... Pretty standard flume, out and back with a bit of twisting on the way and a middling drop. An average log flume is still a good ride in my book though! Could have done without the chewed-gum covered tunnel though. There's a food stand offering all sorts of take-a-year-off-your-life treats nearby, but the prices are a bit much. I had to go for one anyway, of course. I hoped for $7 this would be at least a king size snickers; it wasn't, just an ordinary size candy bar. Definitely tasty but not worth that much. Further back, a Music Express. As someone else pointed out in a recent report here, this is far from the best looking music express out there in that rather half-assed building. Don't let that keep you from riding though! This may have been the fastest one I've ever been on...at least since I was a kid at Rocky Point (again, I know, but really)...and it runs a very long cycle...and then backwards at full speed too. Who cares what the building looks like from outside when it runs like this!? Behind that, Steel Hawg, the El Loco, which was a new experience for me. Was not a fan of : The shoulder-crushing restraints, which reminded me far too much of the long gone and not missed Viper at SFGAdv. Was a fan of: Everything else about this thing. I don't know whose idea this coaster was but it's a great way to fit all sorts of new experiences into a very small areas. The far-beyond-vertical drop, outside banked corners, extended hang time upside down...this thing just keeps throwing crazy things at you until you're back in the station. I can't think of much else you could fit into a plot like this bigger than a wild mouse and I'll take this over one of those any day. Out behind it, Triple Loop being set up. Not in time for this summer though, pretty obviously. I'm always a little bit uncomfortable with chairlift style skyrides, I admit, and this one was a bit sketchier than most, but I wasn't going to miss out on the views. At the far end of the skyride, back near the main entrance ramp, is a...maybe surprisingly classy sort of gift shop. Cute anyway. Bumper boats! Fun but they had a pretty good line; I wasn't interested enough to wait long for them. Picture came out awful in the sun, but the Yo-yo running, apart from the waterfall effect around the platform that I believe is usually there...which makes no different on the ride itself. Unlike some I've been on in the last few years, this one still has its tilt mechanism working and all. These do feel a little more "exciting" than Wave Swingers for some reason, maybe just the way they often feel like the seats are going to crash into each other. A nice change from the usual wave swingers anyway! After that I figured I'd get on the paddle wheeler and get some views of the lake. The boat could use a little TLC and paint but still made for a nice relaxing ride. And some great views of the park and surrounding areas. I don't remember if the (small) Double Shot drop tower was running or not but it was missing its topper, which with its sort height just sort of made it look like it was cut off halfway, like some sadistic RCT player was planning to launch riders into the sky off of it. Not that I ever did anything like that... Another view of Triple Loop being rebuilt. These cottages can be rented by the week. You can also rent boats etc on the lake here. That may be in my future for some summer soon, I think... It must be nice to be wealthy enough for a lake house. This area is kinda hilarious though. It's such a nice little lakeside resort area, but those trees there...that's the end of it. Beyond that double row of trees...yeah. It's corn. Corn for miles. Ended up being a nice ride, and longer than I thought. Unfortunately on the way back to the dock some asshole on a jetski decided to try to cut in front of the boat. Paddlewheelers, it turns out, aren't particularly maneuverable, and having to make emergency maneuvers in them doesn't end well. We ended up hitting the corner of the dock and doing some pretty visible damage to it and the side of the boat. If you're on a jetski, you can turn a hell of a lot more easily than a big old paddlewheeler. Don't be a dick =/ Apparently the boat has been around quite a while By time I was back on shore (especially since it took a while to circle back into the lake and line up for a second try at docking) I was getting pretty hungry...and heading down the midway to see what I could find, I smelled pizza. Apparently Earl's Pizza is a new addition to the park this year, so I stuck my head in, expecting typical amusement park pizza. Instead, they were making pizzas, personal or full size, from scratch in an open kitchen, and it smelled fantastic. All, Cesari's is no longer the best amusement park pizza. This wasn't just the best pizza I've had at a park, this was up there was the best I've had anywhere. Definitely give this a shot if you're visiting Indiana beach. Awesome, amazingly thick crust, great sauce, tons of cheese...the only thing I'd like to see is more available toppings. SO good though! ...I'm eating a salad at my desk while I write this and now I'm just sort of sad. And hungry. Next up was Den of Lost Thieves. This is an old, classic dark ride, updated with guns, since every park seems to want a shooting dark ride these days. In this case, they pulled it off pretty well; the addition of the shooting gallery doesn't really take much away from the classic feel of the ride. The guns don't even look terribly out of place on the cars. This was a pretty top tier dark ride; everything was in good shape and working well from the props and sets to the guns and targets. Nice job melding old and new with this one! Nearby on the midway, the carp feeding station. I thought this was going to be some sort of midway game. Nope...it's...a carp feeding station. The carp are clearly a fan of this one. If only carp were better eating... Across from there, a classic Polyp ride. I'd wondered since I saw this on the Indiana Beach website why this one had that ugly fish face theme. Now, looking back at the carp feeding station right there, it made sense! Cute. I'd always thought these rides looked like an inferior knock-off to a proper Spider or Octopus, without spinning cars or anything, but that was because I never saw one in motion. The difference here is the vertical motion; it's not a slow up and down like an Octopus, but a sharp jerk into the air. This one is more like someone bred one of those rides with Downdraft at Knoebels; far more fun than I ever thought it would be. Definitely changed my opinion of these quickly. I like the little detail with the ride's history here. Gene Staples has commented on liking older rides better than new ones, something I can frequently agree with, and seeing details like this with them is pretty nice. The paratrooper was running by now. Like with the Scrambler, the breeze from the lake was nice, but it was running pretty lazily otherwise. Plummeting towards the lake might have been somewhat different than the usual here too, if it was running. Since it wasn't, I didn't have to make excuses not to find out! I wonder if this runs as fast as the Music Express. I wish I could have found out. I'm not one to pass up a train ride...even if I'm the only one on it. It's a short track, by necessity at such a tiny park, but scenic. ...at least, a scenic view of the undersides of some of the coasters. Could use a little touch up here. Tig'rr, again. From here you can see how it's built onto a roof. Whatever fits! The train also goes through Frankenstein's castle, with the inside of the tunnel featuring on animatronic diorama to try to lure people into the walk-through. Tried to get a picture of that but you're past it too quickly for my phone to want to adjust from sunlight to the darkness in the short tunnel, and it didn't come out at all. I made a few rounds for repeat rides on some flats here, before heading out a bit early. Indiana Beach has a few warts here and there, some no doubt just from 2021 being what it is, and others like some of the neglected paint and such probably remnants of the last owners. From the maintenance projects visible here and there, that's hopefully something that will be improved on soon. I hope Cornball Express gets a bit of work too. As is right now the classic flats and the location are the stars of this park (and the pizza!) but that and the nostalgia were more than enough to make me love the place. The oddball unique layout with everything packed in on top of each other is sort of fun too, and for the most part the staff was better than most of the parks I saw this week; not quite WoF or SDC but definitely beating the rest. I definitely want to get back here in a less difficult year, and I'd love to take other people with me, especially other people who have the same memories of Rocky Point that I do for this place to bring back. Not my absolute all time favorite park, but one that definitely had something special to offer me, and I'm already looking forward to next time. It's all the more special after seeing it "close", so all I can say is a huge thank you to Gene Staples for this one. I'm hoping for a very bright future for this park now. On the way to my hotel for the night, I was thinking the day probably couldn't get a lot better, but... ...oh. OH. YESSSSSS. If you haven't had Albanese Gummy Bears, they absolutely earn their "world's best" label. A factory outlet? I had no idea this existed but I was not missing that. Gimme... So much amazing candy! I want it all! Yes, I'm six years old, why do you ask? If you see these anywhere, grab them. They are the ultimate gummy bears. Unlike a lot of these kind of things they really do all taste like what they're supposed to. Blood orange, mango, and black currant ones are just....mmph. Yeah, this salad isn't cutting it right now, but these are one of the reasons why I have to eat salads for the next few weeks after my trips >.> These? Pass. Ugh. I love anything hot. I'll happily just nibble habaneros. These are just not good though. The jalapeno is decent, but the sriracha just tastes like ass, the cayenne and habanero have no flavor, just heat, and the reaper...well, that was too much even for me. So much pain. Maybe good to try to get other people to try if you're evil though. Party trays of Albanese gummy candy. Okay with me. Yeah, I bought so much here that I had to pay overweight baggage fees on the way home... In my defense it was mostly gifts....mostly... Stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Merrillville, IN...like everywhere else I'd stayed at so far (is that so far hanging heavily enough for you? There's only one more hotel after this, right...?) it was comfy, and the staff was exceptionally friendly. No problems recommending this one either
  3. Alright...week at Knoebels down. A few years back I put up a report here on a week at a cottage there. I did the same thing this year with mostly the same group, so I'm not going to be bother with a full report again, as it was mostly the same, only not quite as good, because 2021 is just rough everywhere, but still a fun time. Penn's Cave is still a great way to spend an afternoon. Camel Beach was an absolute dumpster fire; they happily let us all in at full price before letting us know that a part of the park was closed because of storm damage, and they have absolutely the worst fast pass system I've seen anywhere (no separate entrances, no management; an "expresspass" armband just entitles you to shove your way up the stairs past everyone else. Three hour lines for one waterslide... Dorney Park was Dorney as usual, which for 2021 was not a bad thing...operations were pretty much normal for most of the day, with all but a couple flat rides and food stands open, almost no lines, and coasters running well. Knoebels...is having a rough time of things, with about half the park actually open, but they're doing their best with what they have, and Twister is running the best I've seen in something like fifteen years going there now. Also, we discovered Marley's, 20 minutes from Knoebels, which...I suppose I'll have to make a post in the Knoebels thread for that one later! But we're here for the midwest parks, and Thursday of my week at them was Kentucky Kingdom. This wasn't a park I'd originally even thought to add to my itinerary, but was suggested to me here, and I decided it was definitely worth checking out. As it turned out...Kentucky Kingdom is an...interesting little park. Kentucky Kingdom is literally set up in the middle of the Kentucky State Fairgrounds, almost entirely surrounded by the parking lot and fairgrounds (mostly the former). Just getting to the park was a challenge the day I visited, since there was a major event (National Hot Rod Association finals, apparently), going on at the fairgrounds, and traffic was being diverted with some entrances closed, which left my GPS rather unhappy with me. I was able to my way in, past a gate attendant who commented on how crazy a day it was with so many confused drivers, and parked up in back, where I could get a decent view of Kentucky Flyer. I also had an interesting view on the path around the back of the park to the gate (a bit of a walk, really)... Separated from the fairground by just a chain link fence, I walked past an almost endless lot of classic cars. If I didn't have plenty to focus on at the park, I definitely could have spent a lot of time on the other side of that fence too... But I had this view of Lighting Run to keep my attention where it belonged on the other side. I got to the (surprisingly small) gate just as they were opening, without too many people in front of me. I was most interested in Lightning Run, but almost everyone headed left toward it, and having perhaps learned my lesson at Holiday World, I went the other way this time. About five other people did. Looked like I'd have some time without lines here. The first thing in this direction turned out to be kiddieland. It...took me a bit to figure out why it was "King Louie's" playland. Sometimes I'm just not very smart with all that word stuff, I guess. The first adult ride, a Reverchon (I believe) Himalaya. No line at all made it worth stopping for, but sadly it's not a great one. Very plain, and the rather abused looking wooden floors of the cars seemed a little concerning. It didn't move particularly fast, either. Next door to it is the "Movie Store" advertising 4d movies, but at the time I had no real interest in the Kentucky Show or Yogi Bear. T Scream Extreme was a bit more my speed. A solid ride, but a very short cycle; it barely reached vertical before we were coming back down. The ops here also made it clear they could not care less about being at the park, just ignoring the guests and looking straight ahead with thousand yard stares. This was about fifteen minutes into the day... This turned out to be the case with most rides and staff here. Some sort of show pavilion here, but I didn't put too much effort into checking it out in the morning. One of the more...unique things with Kentucky Kingdom is that it's build on two sides of a significant road. Towards the center of the park, there's one bridge to cross, but at this end, it's just a crosswalk with two guards. The back half of the park starts to look nicer than the front half though. I know, this place isn't a big fan of ACE, but this was slightly interesting. Lots of little points of interests at other parks but this one has a general coaster timeline going on. Oh hi Flying Turns! Mile High Falls had water running but wasn't open yet. Too bad; I love big shoot the chute rides and this is definitely one of the biggest ones I've seen. At least the back half of the park has some shade. ....aaaaand RMC track! Yes please, heading that way now. Storm Chaser is anything but big, but it does everything it can to make up for its size, with an intense inverting first drop and enough ejector air to make Phoenix feel self-conscious. Aaaand since everyone else had gone towards Lightning Run at the start, I was going to have no trouble at all getting on it as many times as I wanted here. There's as much air as it looks like right about there. And this hill, while small, will make you REALLY grateful for secure restraints, because the train wants you off of it here. On top of the air, Storm Chaser never seems to lose any speed until the final brakes, and there's not a bump or rattle on the entire track. Not a big coaster, not my favorite RMC, but definitely still a fantastic ride, especially for its size. Heading back towards the center of the park, and towards a bit more classic wooden coaster. I was a little nervous about Thunder Run given that it's not a new ride now, and my back had not appreciated the Legend the day before, but I wasn't going to just skip it either. At the time being, I didn't realize this was basically the same coaster as Hurler, and it's probably as good thing that I didn't, since I might have passed on riding it entirely. Thunder Run, despite being the original that Hurler is a mirrored version of, has one major difference from the later copies; it doesn't suck. I can't say what's so different about this one compared to Hurler (at least the one at King's Dominion), which, every time I rode it managed to be pathetically slow, incredibly rough, or both at once, but Thunder Run is actually a solid coaster. It held a lot more speed than I can remember ever getting from Hurler, and it did it without beating me up at all; even with an already sore back I didn't find any painful spots here. It's not a terrifically creative layout and isn't going to knock any coasters off my top ten list, but it's not a bad one by any means either, and I could definitely enjoy a few laps around it. Heading back in that direction anyway, I stuck my head head into the carousel pavillion to take a look at it, and...I'm not sure what to make of this carousel. It wasn't running to start with, but the sort of stained and discolored brassy look makes it look like it's on its way to becoming a horror movie prop at some dilapidated park where half the characters won't make it out alive. It's also called the Bella Musica carousel, but the music it was playing was horrifically unpleasant, again like it should have been in a horror movie or at least running as a halloween attraction. Very strange... Kentucky Kingdom strikes a midpoint between free drinks at Holiday World and Lake Compounce and most other parks with overpriced drinks; soda is 99 cents, which is hard to complain about, but keeps people from dumping half finished cups all over the place, making a mess and attracting wasps. This might be the best approach, really. Out on the back edge of the park, the forest-y look disappears again and we're back at parking lot fairgrounds. I am not usually a fan of ring of fire rides but I clearly had all the time I was going to need today, so I figured I'd give this one a shot. Bleachers? Are these rides that much fun to watch? Who thought this was needed? As far as the Eye of the Storm...I'm still not a fan of it. There's nothing wrong with this one but anything with really quick repeated vertical loops, especially ones that stop short upside down, definitely leave me feeling off for a while after, every time. I'd been considering going back to my car to get my swim suit and tower, since I seemed to have plenty of time and the water park looked to have some good stuff, but the water coaster wasn't running, so...much less temptation there. A lot of water rides didn't seem to be running, sadly. This was going to have to be the first rapids ride I missed this week. Aaaaaand then we have T3. I knew what I was getting into here, but I had to know just how bad it really was. For anyone not familiar with it here...SLCs are infamously rough enough, yes, but T3 is not just an SLC. T3 is an SLC prototype. That can not be good news. It was well after 1:00 at this point. I really wanted to try this thing though, so I hung around for a bit. I wasn't the only one waiting for T3 by time it finally opened an hour and a half late. Some of us just don't have very well developed self-defense instincts, I guess. T3 has restraints I've never seen on anything else; it's almost like a 5 point harness, all belts, attached to a lap bar. It's strange and looks a bit awkward, but it's actually fairly secure and comfortable. As for the ride itself...it's an absolute piece of crap. It thunks and bangs its way around the track like the wheels are falling off, and I'm not even sure how it even makes it through the course with the way it gives these constant shudders like it's about to suddenly screech to a stop with something horribly broken. And yet...it's not actually painful at all with the newer restraints, so it's actually...sort of enjoyable? It's something along the lines of a coaster version of a so-bad-it's-good movie? There's no arguing that it's absolutely awful, but I can sort of enjoy it for that since it doesn't actively beat you up anymore. The only really bad part is that on the final brake run, the restraints slam down hard on your thighs enough to make Skyrush's restraints feel loose. My legs were going numb by time I actually got off. Other than that...I didn't bother riding it again, but I probably could have. Strange ride. Taking this picture, I was asked to leave the area by the staff of a nearby basketball game. I have no idea why, it's just a patch of open pavement between the ride queue and the game, with no signage and nothing there, but apparently standing here is forbidden? Kentucky Kingdom's layout is just plain strange, between the split over the road, and the way dry and water park rides are just tossed in next to each other. It's not difficult to get around or anything, but there's definitely sort of a "kid's first RCT park" vibe to it...or maybe just someone playing that one scenario you just want to finish and get over with to move on to the next. Just drop stuff in wherever it fits. Kentucky Kingdom isn't big on theming, but at least they made a bit of an attempt with Kentucky Flyer, and it's a theme I can definitely appreciate. Even the trains have a bit of extra detail to them. It's still just a family coaster, and you can't expect too much of it, but it does give a very smooth ride and some nice pops of airtime, more than you'd expect just looking at it. By this point I couldn't keep my eyes off the other side of the park's skyline though. I was going to need food first though, but my plans were shut down pretty quickly with yet another closed restaurant. With my original plans off the table, I decided to just get something healthy for the first time in the week and grabbed a salad. It was...fine. Just a prepackaged salad with range dressing, but the veggies with fresh enough, and decent, red tomatoes. Not bad! More waterpark in the middle of the dry park. Or vice versa? Good sized ferris wheel, not running... Aaand finally Lighting Run! Only...on the other side of the road. At least there's a bridge to get there at this end. And a pretty cute little antique car ride. I could see that there was no line at all for Lighting Run, so I let myself delay a bit more and get everything on the way to it, the cars included. This was one of the nicer looking parts of the park. Right, these things. The majority of the rides had recorded spiels about putting your belongings in the lockers, where they would be safely secured until the end of the ride. Not one ride actually has lockers as far as I saw. They all have yellow u-line bins. It's...an attempt, I guess, sort of. At least they put a little more effort into one of their cars. This was definitely one of the nicer looking antique cars out there, and was going to be mine, but the kid behind me in line was so excited by the flame paint job, I let him and his father go in front and take it. The ride is much more meant for kids anyway... Nice enough for anyone to enjoy though. SDC's Cinnamon Bread was already amazing. This place has it with bourbon glaze. And...I entirely forgot to come back for any on the way out. Not happy with myself. The Breakdance was opening up just as I got close to it, which was close enough to a sign for me. They're fun enough flats anyway, and this one ran a reasonably good, fast cycle. The flyers less so. These weren't moving fast enough to bother with. Especially not when I was a few weeks away from Knoebels... Swinging ships have to get a bit higher than this to interest me these days. And here we go, this is what I was waiting for. Lighting Run looked smaller than I expected up close, but I wasn't going to let that kill my excitement. Still no line... Interesting trains, the looooong nose is a bit awkward. Comfortable though. S So, Lighting Run...is pretty great, really. It's an unusual hybrid of new and old, with it being designed as a newer coaster built to limited budgets; it seems to use a lot of older technology and construction style...tubular spine track, internal guide wheels on the trains...but built with modern computer aided design. The result feels sort of a classic arrow coaster, but with actual smooth transitions, and comfortable restraints. It has a wild feeling that's missing from a lot of newer coasters, but without the jostling or rough elements, and with comfortable trains and restraints, and a whole lot more grace and flow in the layout. I absolutely loved it, and I just can't see why this is the only coaster of it's type so far. I don't know if the rumors of Rye Playland looking into one still hold any water, but I hope that's still possible; I'd love to have one of these near me. Great, great ride, not even considering that it's meant to be a compact, budget ride. I wonder if there's any reason these aren't capable of inversions? I'd love to see something like a recreated Vortex from KI, with the smoother ride this kind of coaster has... Rode this one enough times to have lost count, loved it every time. I've been on a lot of frisbee type rides, but none completely inverting before, so Cyclos was a first. It's positively dimunitive compared to something like Harley Quinn or Black Widow, but it doesn't feel it as much as you'd think once you're on it, and the hangtime is surprisingly intense. Expected to be a little let down, but I actually really enjoyed this. Back at the front of the park I took at look at the show pavillion, where they were doing a seal and sea lion show. Didn't stop to watch; it was just too hot and I was really looking for air conditioning. Right...there was...the theater. Well, it was probably air conditioned! Not a Yogi Bear fan, so I headed in to see what the Kentucky Show was, expecting very little. ...and somehow got less. The Kentucky Show isn't actually a 5D attraction. It was...this...and it didn't actually play at the scheduled time either, probably because no one was there at all besides me, standing back here, enjoying the cool air. I did decide to go around and try the Yogi Bear 5D movie instead, as a friend mentioned that she'd heard some good things about the new Jellystone show on HBO and I thought there was some chance it might be connected to that. I should have known better...this was the worst motion theater ride I've ever experience. It uses the less-than-great system with two attached tilting chairs on each motion platform, like the old Days of Thunder ride at King's Dominion and all the versions that followed; not my favorite of the motion platforms. Much worse than that is the utterly awful actual movie, which...is not even in first person. It also has nothing to do with the new show; it's an uncanny valley CG thing that features a mostly nonsensical attempt from Yogi Bear to build and very briefly fly a makeshift plane, but it's in a normal movie third person viewpoint, making the chairs' motion feel completely disconnected, and more like just watching a terrible movie in the back of a car while someone drives off a cliff. Why does this thing even exist? I have no idea. Why would anyone want a motion theater movie that isn't even in a first person perspective, with a move that's more bad comedy than motion? Still no idea. Pass on this one. Please, everyone pass on this so they replace it with something worthwhile. Like a restroom or a food stand or just an empty room with air conditioning...wait they had that... I decided to head out at this point, but by time I drove past Storm Chaser on the way out I wished I'd gone back around for more rides on it. Maybe next year! Overall impressions...I'm really not sure what to make of Kentucky Kingdom. It's in a strange, awkward location, with a strange, awkward layout. The staff mostly seemed to hate their jobs, and several attractions seemed to be just taking up space. On the other hand, the coasters were mostly good, generally even better than I expected, and even T3 was enjoyable in its way. The place definitely has potential, and I'm more than likely going to visit again next time I get the chance, if only for Storm Chaser and Lighting Run, but I definitely hope the park's new owners can work on some of the rough spots...at least the ones that can be changed. I suppose they're pretty well stuck with the location and layout. Stayed overnight at the Best Western Edinburgh/Columbus. As with everywhere else so far, it was more than acceptable and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone traveling through. For the second time in a few days I had a hole-in-the-wall mexican place next door, Sabor De La Vida, and decided to go with that again for dinner. It worked out the first time... And did this time as well. One empenada, and one massive sandwich with everything you can think of on it, from steak to ham and eggs to cubed hot dogs...yeah, a bit weird, but I'd had similar at another mexican place years back and it had actually been really good, and was this time too. Cheap and tasty, would definitely do again. Tomorrow was, I hoped, going to be a good day...I'd been waiting so many years to get to Indiana Beach...
  4. Will finish this report in a week or so. Got other stuff to distract me this week!
  5. Was just on it last week; It still runs very well and the tilt still works unlike some of them but, but no tricks with slowing down. I wonder if that's up to the operator?
  6. Busch Gardens does have some of the best B&Ms around!. Montu is unbeatable, and Kumba is still fantastic and easily beats most of its bigger successors. Disappointing to see operations so terrible though. That definitely wasn't the case the last time I was there, but it's been a few years, and that obviously wasn't...well, 2021. Busch Gardens without quality food just seems sad.
  7. The forum seems to be running okay but I'm unable to edit any previous posts; any attempt to change the description on my current trip report or add a link to the later posts ends up in an error page without it saving. Something is still odd.
  8. They all run on a hydraulic drive and there's really no "programming" needed. It's just a valve that feeds the hydraulic fluid in the other direction. Apparently a lot of parks won't run them in reverse though because someone managed to fall out of one years back so now it's a liability issue (see the current discussion in the Lagoon thread...one idiot ruins things for everyone...) Of course if an operator just says that, people will beg, so they always just claim it can't. That said, the one at IB is a Mack Musik Express, KK's is a Reverchon Himalaya, and while I definitely can't say for certain that the Reverchon models aren't as good, I've never personally seen one that runes nearly as fast as the best Mack models. The one at KK was...okay, but not what I'd call fast.
  9. If only he were the only one to suffer consequences. Wonder what the odds of that skyride seeing 2022 are now? Or any of the others left anywhere else.
  10. That's what I've heard from everyone so far, and seen in other TRs. I don't know what was going on the day I was there. Guess I'll just have to hope it's more like it's usual self next time!
  11. What djb0808 said is entirely true. The Music Express might not look like much but it's the best I can remember...preeeettty much anywhere. They run it flat out and for a long cycle, forwards and backwards.
  12. It's been very for a couple weeks, although today it seems to be pretty much okay?
  13. Preeettttty sure that's a Zamperla Windshear (or possibly a chinese knockoff of it?) but I have no idea where it is... No, found another view where you can see the supports, and definitely going with "chinese knockoff".
  14. I did actually get on the mine train, it just didn't make too much of an impression. Having been on Thunderation the day before, it really didn't have much of a chance. An RMC Boss could be pretty fantastic; that would definitely get me back to the park! I really wanted to love the other wooden coasters. One just managed to mess my back up (it wasn't even a rough ride, it just caught me juuuust right...) and the other...well, I don't know what happened with American Thunder, but I do hope I can get on it again when it's running better sometime!
  15. Day three was an early start and off to Six Flags St Louis. This was not among my must-do parks, but not only was I driving through the area but I have a couple local friends there, one of whom hasn't had a chance to get to an amusement park in many years, so I arranged to meet up with them and head for the park. Neither really wanted to spend a full day at a park, but I was generally fine with that; I could hit the important stuff here and then rest up a bit since SDC had been so tiring, and I still had most of a week of walking left. There was at least one thing I was looking forward to there, though not one of the coasters at all. When I was much younger, in my high school junior year, my school took us to Six Flags Great Adventure, where I really wanted to get on their giant Evolution. Of course, I walked up to the ride, took one look at it, and decided that maaaaaybe I'd try it later on after I worked up some nerve. Unfortunately, when I came back later, the ride was broken down for the day...as, apparently, was frequently the case. Two years later I returned to the park, and...it was down all day again. Shortly after that it was removed from the park, but was moved to Six Flags St Louis and renamed Excalibur, where it's now the only Bussink giant Evolution running anywhere in the world. I'd chased it halfway across the country and now I really wanted to finally get on it. Of course there was a lot of park between the gates and that ride. The entrance area is cute enough; pretty typical Six Flags but not bad! It quickly starts to look...a bit more early 2000s Six Flags again though. ...alright, not ever Six Flags is doing great with the landscaping, I guess. We skipped past American Thunder and the flume since everyone else was heading that way, and planned to start right at the back, but turned the corner to find Justice League open with absolutely no one in the queue. ...which...was good because the queue was not a particularly attractive place to hang out in the direct sunlight. A little nicer indoors, but still empty. Six Flags actually made some effort with theming on Justice League. Disney it's not, but not bad! The ride itself is definitely a budget version of some of the bigger interactive dark rides; the vast majority of the action takes place on screens with only limited physical sets, and only the screens are interactive. Two of the guns in our car didn't seem to work either. Still, it's worth a ride through, and it does make good use of the cars' movement. Not Spider-Man or even DarKastle (RIP) but amusing, especially with no wait. Heading out of that ride left me with a towering blue spire right in front of me. Well, I wasn't missing this one! Both of my friends were...not up to starting out with that kind of coaster, but there was nearly no line, so I let them find some shade while I headed over to Mr Freeze. Six Flags really could do something with the central area here and make the ride look a bit more attractive though. ...and...they could do a LOT with the area closer to the station building. Noooot the chain's best effort here. Inside, though, the station looks pretty good. It's a pretty nice setup two, with two loading areas to load and unload one train while the other is carried to the center on a transfer track and launched...backwards...out to the spire. It rides pretty much like the other older Premier launch coasters I've been on, Flight of Fear, Poltergeist etc, which is to say it's not the smoothest ride out there, but not too unbearable. The launch, especially backwards, is pretty intense. After that you've got a reasonably tall top hat, a fast overbanked turn, and then a climb up the spire before doing it all backwards. Er, front-wards. It could be a better ride with some attention to theming instead of just plopping it in a messy field, but still a fun coaster. There was absolutely no one in the station except waiting for the front row when my train returned, so I got another ride out of it, and could have stayed for more but felt a bit bad leaving my friends, so headed back to meet them, so we could finish heading to the back of the park. About the greenest part of the park... REALLY? Halfway across the country, and for the third time... I was not thrilled...but not particularly surprised either. Didn't see much need to prioritize this after just riding Spinning Dragons the other day. Supergirl...great ride, still not as good as a classic Enterprise. One of my friends said they were at least up to doing a classic wood coaster, so we both looked up at the treeline behind Supergirl and I tried not to cringe. I'd heard enough about the Boss... I was nice enough to warn my friend, but...they were not dissuaded and I was going to want to get on it eventually anyway. It...looks pretty good! I love the layout. The BANG THUNK BANG noises the train made tearing past were not promising though. There used to be a helix back there. It was apparently removed because it was too rough? ...What about the rest of the coaster? When the train comes back into the station, the op asks how the ride was, and everyone on it groans, you know what you're in for. The Boss was not the worst coaster I've ever ridden. Hercules at Dorney still takes that spot, especially the last year before it was torn down. The most painful that's still standing though? Easily. I really wish this wasn't the case; the coaster's size, speed, and layout really should make it a great one, but I barely remember what it actually did after the first drop; I was trying to brace myself to avoid major trauma, and trying to reassure my friend that no, coasters aren't usually like this. I'd love to know what The Boss is like when it's running well, if it ever runs well, but what a disaster. Needing something less likely to result in spinal fractures, and wanting to let my second friend who was not feeling up to major rides come along, we decided it was worth waiting a bit for the River King mine train. For a family coaster, it's...fine. It's not even in the same league as Thunderation, or any of the major Cedar Fair parks' mine trains, and it seems to spend more time on lift hills than actual track, but...it's fine. That's about all I can say for it. I remember seeing in Bert's report from a couple years ago that the carousel was in absolutely tragic shape. Fortunately they seem to be doing something about that. The carousel looks a little sad just sitting there without horses, but I'm not going to knock any points off the park for that if it was in such desperate need of restoration; at least they'd doing what they need to do. No one was particularly inclined to do this "coaster" either. And I didn't really need to go out of my way for another Boomerang...but Screamin' Eagle looked more tempting. According to the park map, and the app, there was a shoot-the-chute ride here. They might want to double check that, or consider some serious changes to their theft prevention strategies.. The artwork here is starting to look a bit sad. Some pretty solid floater air on the first hill here. Screamin' Eagle was not bad, certainly better than The Boss. Unfortunately it hit one serious pothole coming off of the second airtime hill, and I hit the seat just wrong and wrenched something in my back very painfully. The rest of the ride was mostly spent trying in vain to keep any more pressure off my back, so I didn't get to enjoy it much. I got off the coaster seriously concerned about my back for the rest of the trip. Definitely time for something calmer for a bit to rest after that anyway, so I gathered my friends for a circuit about the park on the train. It's a full size train, at least; somewhat more than I expected here. River King from the back side. Not exactly a monster of a coaster there. I didn't think any bandits were going to be jumping the train from this one. Scenic rusted shipping containers. Really, Six Flags. Yet Another Batman...Both of my friends were absolutely terrified of this one. Yes, I know. Hello GCI curves! Now we're talking...maybe this park had something worthwhile after all. Cute little switching engine...not sure what a small park railroad really needs one for but still... One more try for Excalibur, aaaand nope. Still closed. Ffffffff... Apparently this is a show venue, in Better Days, but just background scenery now. It was well past lunch time, and we all decided on Chop Six, which was, of course, now at the opposite end of the park, but everyone was feeling like chinese food. Well...everyone except the park. Hungry as we were, we settled for burgers and bbq at Mooseburgers Lodge. This was a nightmare. The staff in that restaurant had no idea what they were doing and wanted to be anywhere but there. I tried to buy lunch for everyone, attempting to use my meal plan for myself and the 50% off from my membership for the other two lunches, but the woman at the register could not make this happen. First it was one lunch at half off, then everything half off, then one free meal from the meal plan but the rest full price. Eventually I gave in and paid full price for my friends' meals, because we were getting nowhere. At that point we were just sort of waved off to go wait with the horde of people also waiting for their meal. No one was calling numbers; we were left to figure out on our own to bring our receipt up to the window to the kitchen area and ask the staff there for what we'd ordered. That was when I figured out that the woman on the register had rung up the wrong meal for me, because the woman who checked my receipt decided the proper response was to scream at me that I'd ordered something different than I said I had. She also would not hear it that they'd rung it up wrong, insisted I had ordered the wrong meal, and would not hear otherwise. (The two meals were, also, exactly the same price...) I understand that, especially this year, park food staff is stressed, and I try to give them a lot of extra room, but this was the single most miserable person I have ever dealt with at an amusement park. We finally managed to get three pulled pork sandwiches...not what I'd ordered but food all the same...and asked for the bottles of water we'd ordered to go with them, at which point we were told the register girl was supposed to give them to us and we had to go back through that line. For what it's worth, the BBQ was not actually bad for Six Flags food. I think it was more sauce than pork, but with how hungry we were, it tasted good. Actually getting our hands on it was a ridiculous process though. By time we managed to deal with lunch, we all figured it was time for some water rides to cool down. Six Flags St Louis has a pretty decent looking raft ride with huge twelve person rafts, and people getting off of it ranged from soaked to half-drowned. We were up for that. The queue for the raft ride there also offers some good views of Mr Freeze from the back side. We managed to get to share a raft with a guy who spent the entire time in line talking about how masks and vaccines are a hoax, there's no covid in florida, it's all just politics, etc etc, which was...quite a delight... The actual raft ride is fairly simple, just a big square loop, without much in the line of effects, waterfalls, etc, but the back stretch has a series of increasingly fast and rough rapids that, at least on our ride, the raft spun at a perfect speed to subject a new pair of seats to each one. One of my friends and I were just barely spared by the first wave, which pretty well soaked the people next to us, but they just kept getting bigger, and of course heading into the last rapids, we were riiiiight there for it. I've gotten wet on raft rides before; I have never had a wave come up over head height. Absolute drenched...a good thing in the day's heat though! Given how wet we already were, there wasn't much reason not to do the flume now. ' SFStL's flume is actually two different flumes, not mirrors of each other, but only one was running with the moderate crowds. Neither flume is particularly big, but...I'm not sure there's a such thing as a bad flume? My friends had to find somewhere to sit again though, because I was not going to a park with a GCI and skipping it. The line for American Thunder didn't look long, but it was absolutely crawling, and by time I was halfway through I was getting texts asking where I was. Ah yes. Crew of the week. Two of the crew of the week were spending quite a bit of time in the station with their heads down looking barely conscious. Again...I know staffing is hard at parks this year, but...operations were abysmal. On one hand, American Thunder is by far the smoothest of the wood coasters at this park. On the other...I don't think I've ever ridden a GCI coaster that crawled over the track like this. It barely felt like it had the momentum to get over most of the hills. I've read good things about this one in other reports, and it seemed like it should have been as good as I'd heard, if it just carried any speed...and looking up POVs on it, it definitely used to...but this year or at least when I was there, it just was not that coaster. Maybe it's just desperately in need of maintenance right now, but this was the only time I'd ever been badly disappointed in a GCI coaster. Unfortunately wrapping it in American Flags and putting up signs about how great the staff are do not replace actually taking care of the ride. As is it makes a better metaphor than a coaster... I was running out of major coasters and the only one I'd really enjoyed so far had been Mr Freeze...but I still had Ninja, which I'd been warned about as well. Still, it was a classic Arrow, I wasn't going to skip it. Not the biggest of the old arrow multi element coasters, but I rather like the layout. I was expecting a beating though. An exciting (**TURBULENT**) ride. Yeah... Gotta say though, maybe it was just a low bar with how bad I expected it to be, and how much The Boss and Screamin' Eagle had beat me up, but I didn't think it was all that bad? Certainly smoother than Vortex at KI had been (and I very much enjoyed Voxtex anyway). Much to my surprise...this ended up being one of the two coasters there that I actually liked. The half cobra roll into the helix felt pretty unique, especially on a coaster of Ninja's age. Solid ride and I'm glad to see that despite everything else Six Flags seems to be generally taking care of it. After the long wait for American Thunder, I felt a bit bad about making my friends wait any more, so I decided to pass on Batman. I'd been on plenty of those clones before and I'd get another chance at one later in the week...a somewhat more "special" one at that. My back was extremely unhappy with me, too, so we decided to make it an early day so I could rest up and hopefully not be in pain for Holiday World the next day. ...but not without a funnel cake sundae first. Six Flags' funnel cakes are generally the best but one of my friends had never had one, so... Overall...there were a couple reasonably decent rides, but Six Flags St Louis definitely does not come across as the high point of the chain. A lot of it feels badly neglected, many of the rides are in rough shape, and the staff was absolutely awful. This was, fortunately, the low point of my week and the only park I was unhappy with for the most part. If I do this trip again next year to bring others with me like I want to, I'll be skipping this one and doing the St Louis City Museum instead, I think Unless Excalibur is actually open, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Required photo of course. For anyone else coming out this way, I stayed overnight at the Baymont by Wyndham Evansville North/Haubstadt. It felt like a much more expensive hotel than the $65 or so I paid for the night, was very clean and comfortable, and offered what looked like a quite decent breakfast (that I didn't stay for, because I was headed to Holiday World).
  16. Yeaaah, about that one...getting to that shortly. Fair enough! It's not a coaster I see in a lot of people's top fives or anything, but it definitely did just work for me. It is sad, if understandable, that the park doesn't get any real investment, but it's definitely worth a trip every once in a while.
  17. Sorry. Fingers got ahead of my brain while typing. Last weekend I was at Great America and they sold out. This weekend going to Great Adventure and trying to get one before they do.
  18. Does anyone with a Six Flags Membership know how to actually get the discounted flash pass? I have a diamond elite vip membership; the membership benefits sign-up page still lists discounts on flash pass for all membership levels. Once I'm in the membership portal though there's no actual mention of it, and nowhere that I can find to make additional purchases. I can buy through the app but it doesn't apply any sort of discount at all. Hoping there's a way to do it ahead of time without having to get to the park, since last weekend Great America had apparently sold out ahead of time; I don't know if that's going to be the case this coming weekend at Great Adventure but I'd rather not risk it.
  19. Haven't been in the fall but I just got back from the park. If you want the full version... Short version though, it's one of the best parks I've ever been to. Short on coasters and big rides compared to huge thrill parks, but what they have is wonderful and it's just a beautiful place with so much more than just coasters and rides to do.
  20. I just did a week long tour of 7 different parks on my own (apart from one that I met a couple local friends at). It ended up being a great time, having the freedom to just do whatever I wanted at the parks and not have to worry about anyone else. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks; do you really think anyone is looking around to see who's with who else? A lot of parks do single rider lines for a reason...it's not that uncommon. Just go and have fun!
  21. Day 2 - Silver Dollar City While I ended up enjoying Worlds of Fun so much more than I expected, it hadn't been one of the parks that I'd desperately wanted to get to from the start. Silver Dollar City was; it was Time Traveler that really started me thinking about this trip. I really could not wait to get here, though if anything I was a little worried that putting it so early in the trip might ruin the rest of it, setting too high a bar for other parks to live up to. Part of me was a little worried, too, that after WoF subverted my expectations, SDC might too, in a less positive direction. This....did not turn out to be the case. Silver Dollar City is incredible. Starting from the beginning though... SDC is a sizeable park, with a lot of parking, way out behind the park. Just look at Wildfire way out there on the horizon. Fortunately they do have trams to bring you to the park entrance. I hadn't particularly cared enough about Wildfire to be all that excited to see it from back here; that would change enough later on. Right from the entrance, Silver Dollar City is a beautiful park. You can tell what sort of place you've found right from the start. If you haven't been here, Silver Dollar City is sort of a Busch Gardens part, with the very heavy theming and equal focus on shops and food, not just rides, only themed to America, so with a much less "fake" atmosphere. It's sort of what would happen if Knoebels had a Disney budget. It also has an amazing, if tiring, setting up on the mountainside. I've never been to another park quite like it (I assume Dollywood is close, but that's on my list for next year.) With the number of pictures I took here I'm going to run out of captions quickly. There's only so many ways I can say "Silver Dollar City is beautiful." Silver Dollar City IS beautiful though. I stopped on my way in to get a Trailblazer pass; I'd been given the suggestion not to get one ahead of time but to consider it if the weather was nice and I expected crowds. The weather was absolutely perfect and there seemed to be quite a bit of traffic following me into the park, so it seemed wise to pick one up. I didn't regret buying it, though I probably could have made do without it as most of the lines never got too bad. It did turn out to be convenient a couple times though, especially later on. The implementation of the Trailblazer pass is a little bit frustrating though, one of the few things that SDC that seemed anything less than perfect. To start with, instead of getting a wristband, or the fastpass watch type device, or anything along those lines, you get a literal pass card on a lanyard; one you're expected to wear and hold on to at all times, that can not be replaced. This is not the greatest of all solutions when you're doing to be riding things like Outlaw Run. I can only imagine how many of the expensive, non-replaceable passes get lost. I ended up tying mine around my wrist for most of the day but it was not the most comfortable solution. It's clear that the Trailblazer passes are a newer system as well, too; only the newest few rides look to have been designed to support them. Almost everything else just has Trailblazer entrances going in the exit, or what looks like an emergency exit, or just entirely out of the way. They're generally marked by very small signs as well and some are not at all easy to find. Scavenger hunts are fun and all but the pass is supposed to save time. Relatively minor nitpick but definitely something I think the park could improve on. Pass in hand, I headed straight for Time Traveler. This was why I was here, at Silver Dollar City, in the midwest to start with, and I was not giving it a chance to break down or anything before I got on it. One thing that very quickly became clear; Silver Dollar City does not hold back or spare a cent when it comes to their stations and the staff in them. There isn't a plain looking ride anywhere and every ride crew has their own uniform. Staff was almost universally great too, as friendly and helpful as I've seen anywhere, and all very efficient. After I got off Time Traveler the first time, this guy took a look at my Kings Island shirt and pulled me aside to tell me that since I was obviously an enthusiast, I had to go back around and try row 7 this time. Sound advice; Row 7 gets you hauled backwards over the first drop in spectacular fashion and is definitely the row of choice for TT. You don't get to see much of the ride from within the park, buried in a valley as it is, but this window from the queue does give you a look at the tangled mess of track here. Promising! One more look at the impressive cars. Not a missed detail on them. The actual ride starts with a vertical drop straight into the canyon, and after that it's hard to even keep up what happens. There's not much more disorienting than a good spin right through a corkscrew. There are a couple of brief moments to catch your breath before the two launches, the first of which brings the train to a complete stop before sending you back into the tangles of track, but beyond that it's just craziness. Not one I'd recommend for anyone who suffers from motion sickness though... Between the ride itself and the theming, Time Traveler absolutely lives up to all I'd heard. I went around for a few rides hers, but there was a lot more of SDC to see. Thunderation next, since it was right there, and a good park can do a lot with a mine train! Not sure if the 1880s Steam Train was supposed to be this one or the actual train nearby in the park, but no matter. Like a lot of coasters here, it's hard to get a lot of pictures of Thunderation, since it drops over the side of the valley and disappears from the park for most of the ride. It's quite big for a family mine train though, and gets moving faster than I'd expected through some respectable drops and tight helixes. It might not have the theming of Thunder Mountain for just the ride itself it might be the best mine train out there. It does feature a slightly odd, almost Adventure Express ending, where it climbs up a long lift hill far above the start, then dives down a sharp drop and picks up a ton of speed, only to immediately slam into the brakes and return to the station. Felt like there should have been more at that point...but still a good ride! Christmas Hollow, in August? They were already putting up Christmas lights elsewhere in the park though. Silver Dollar City does not skip a chance to theme anything. It's 2021 and even a rural park is providing charging stations, which is pretty great...but even better that they're doing it in style. SDC also had a food festival of sorts going on. This was unfortunately let down by their staffing issues meaning a significant number of their food stands weren't actually open. You really can't go to SDC and not ride the train. I just missed one leaving the station though, and with only one train running it was going to be a half hour before it returned. The station here also revealed one other minor possible issue with the trailblazer pass; with my "badge" on my lanyard here, I was stopped by three different groups of people asking questions about the train and the park, all assuming I was a park employee. Of course I'd done my research on the park, so I was able to help all of them! Not sure how well that usually works out though... Since I had time to kill I diverted over to the Flooded Mine. This is a somewhat unusual, almost Old Mill ish floating dark ride. I don't know if it's an older ride that was refitted as a shooting ride, or originally conceived that way, but it does feature guns now. I didn't have too much idea of what to expect here but it turned out to be pretty solid. The theming starts even on the bridge to the ride. Like every station in SDC, this one was entirely in theme for the ride, and the staff as well. The ride op in his "cell" was having a lot of fun playing in character and taunting riders, especially the younger ones. And here we go. I got a boat to myself; one of the ride ops suggested that I grab as many guns as I could and go at the ride with all of them at once. I did try at first, but amusing as it was it's too hard to hit anything that way. The old school dark ride type scenes do suggest that this ride existed long before shooting gallery rides were a thing. There are targets everywhere though. All of them seem to work as far as racking up score but not many seem to actually do anything in the ride scenes, which was a little bit disappointing. Toward the end we get an outdoor scene before heading back to the station. It's a reasonably lengthy ride and by time I was done and back to the train station it was almost time for the next train to arrive. And here it comes, right on time. The very charismatic conductor seemed to love his role. Definitely one of those rides that needs someone with personality for it to work well, and this guy delivered. The train almost immediately heads out into the woods behind the park, skirting the back of it to give some behind-the-scenes views. Including some great views of Outlaw Run. Sadly the coaster didn't want to oblige me with a train actually running through any of the elements while we passed them. A bit later you pass a wrecked train that supposedly flew off a curve; they do have an actual old engine just rusting in the woods for this scene. Soon after though it turns into a much more theatrical ride. As the train pulls to a stop here, it's obvious something is going to happen. Bandits, of course! The pair trick the conductor into going off into the woods to look for "yankees" and then attempt to hold the train up in cartoonishly clueless fashion, before the conductor returns to save the day. We got a bit of a special version of the show on this ride, as the conductor messed up one line and forgot what day it was, which led to everyone dropping character entirely to roast him for it. It was an amusing enough scene to start but that definitely had everyone in the train laughing. A bit predicable otherwise but quite a lot of fun and well acted. Getting off the train, I headed a little further into the park... Making a note for something I definitely was going to want to try later. Which one though? SDC is a little bit confusingly laid out, but the park helps with signs like this right on the pathways. Why don't more parks do this? Towards the back corner is a tall observation tower. It was closed off at the time but it looked like guest might be allowed in it at other times, or perhaps previous years? Firefall, the park's drop tower is small but exceptionally themed, like everything else here, built into a rustic fire station. I skipped this one though; themed or not an 80 foot drop tower didn't hold my interest all that much. Mystic River Falls though...that had my attention. Unfortunately, while it had been running for an hour or two at the start of the day, it apparently broke down just as I approached it. That doesn't seem unusual for this ride, from what I've heard. Across the path...the legend. I figured I'd save that for later though; I was going to want lunch soon and real food sounded like a good plan before treats. Christmas lights going up in August. Tom and Huck's Riverblast sits around the corner from the cinnamon bread here. This seemed to be getting completely ignored by most of the guests, but it looked fun to me! Groups of 3 or more? Groups of 1 or 2? Groups of...anyone at all? Given how warm it was, I really don't know how this ride was so overlooked. Riverblast sits you in ten person ish boats (or, in my case, one person boats) with big water cannons powered by hand cranks. These will give you a bit of a workout keeping them firing for the entire ride...but the manual power almost means you can take some people by surprise with them if you put a little more effort into cranking them! "You can't hit me up here!" Wrrrrroooooong! There are all sorts of targets through the course, and while there are no electronic score keepers on this ride, a lot of them do trigger effects; some just cute props, some that will soak spectators, other riders on your boat, or yourself! Of course, the most fun targets are the people lining up to shoot back at you from the sidelines! It's a fairly lengthy course too and densely packed with things to see, shoot, and soak. Really great water ride and I wish more parks had these! More people seemed to be interested in blasting the riders from the stationary cannons than riding it, so I got off absolutely soaked, but I'd like to think I gave better than I got! Mystic River Falls...still closed with the elevator stuck up at the top. The Great Barn Swing is an S&S screamin' swing with far better theming than the usual ones. ...is it though? Unfortunately, despite the lovely scenery, the flats at this park, even the big ones, are a tiny bit of a letdown. They all seem to run very short cycles; the screamin swing barely got up to full height before it was done. These never run long cycles but this was definitely the shortest I've seen. Outlaw Run though is not a flat ride, and I expected a bit more there... Not sure how many times I can say that SDC goes all out with their stations. If there's a bare spot they find something to put there. That's a decent sized lift hill. Outlaw Run roars back into the station sideways. So...Outlaw run was one of the coasters I was most excited for on this trip. I've never been on an RMC I didn't love. I actually got off this one a bit underwhelmed though at first. Part of that was my expectations; somehow I missed that this was not an i-box track but an older one and it definitely did not give the same sort of ride. It was actually fairly rough though with serious bumps in places I didn't expect them. It does have some great, intense elements but it didn't seem to flow all that well compared to others I've been on, and it's painfully short. I went around for a second try in the back to give it another shot, but got off that thinking that it was just something of an overrated ride. Not bad, but not so good as I'd heard. (Before anyone even says anything, let me jump ahead and spoil things a bit. I did go back on it later after dark, and...yeah. We'll get to THAT.) Lets take another look at Mystic Riv...nope. Still stuck. Not looking great here. Bitter butter sounds pretty awful to me. Muddy butter sounds worse. Silver Dollar City is pretty. I may have mentioned that. As I'd mentioned earlier, a lot of the food stands were closed due to staffing. This one was really disappointing. I'd been so looking forward to this. I wasn't sure if getting a burger at a park renowned for unique food was a good plan, but I'd passed a lot of closed places, I was getting very hungry and the Wildfire burger did look good. The outdoor seating area was really pleasant too. The burger was not bad by park food standards but maybe not up to a lot of the other food at this particular park. A bit skimpy on the toppings and the portion of fries was a little sad, but the burger itself was still very good. I didn't mind the smaller portions too much either since it meant I'd more likely have room to try other things later. That's...uplifting? No, wait, that's the opposite. I'd been waiting a long time to get on Fire in the Hole. I love unique dark rides and this was definitely that. SDC Station Porn. I didn't take any pictures in the ride itself, since apart from it being dark and them being unlikely to come out well, I knew the ride had surprise drops and I really didn't want to lose my phone in there. I'm not actually sure if the rules allowed it or not on that ride anyway; I didn't even care to look. This would not have been a good week to spend the rest of with no phone. It's a great ride though with a lot of fun scenes (and a couple good drops) but it did seem like a number of props and scenes weren't working. Maybe they were just meant to be static, but I've heard others say it needs some work too. Nothing that made it really less worth riding though. The bridge drop really is great for a dark ride. The first time through, I got very wet on the drop into the water break, too. Oddly I went back for more, got put in the exact same seat, with the same fully loaded train, and got almost no splash at all. Really though...what is it about rural american parks and dark rides about fires that burned the towns around them down? SDC has history too, not just rides. On my way to Expedition Ever...oh, nope, this is Powder Keg. Powder Keg is a very strange ride. It opened more than twenty years ago as a Premier water coaster named Buzzsaw Falls. From what I've heard, it was great if you got a chance to ride it, but it suffered absolutely constant technical issues. Only a few years later the park gave up on it in that form and called S&S in to rebuild it into a launched coaster. This resulted in a bizarre hybrid franken-ride that absolutely looks like nothing else out there. It has a very cobbled-together-from-mismatched-bits look to it, and features a bizarre station that leads into a transfer track that lifts the train diagonally up into the launch platform. From there, you get a solid launch, into an average track with some decent floater air but not a lot of real action, and then a long lift hill back up to the station area, from which you can see the troughs that used to carry the water part of the ride. It's not bad by any means, just very unusual, and definitely worth a ride, but personally I'd call it the weakest of the park's coasters, though the launch is decent. The launch section, at the top of the transfer track. From here I headed on up to Wildfire. Welllll, sort of. The Wildfire sign is about a quarter mile from the actual ride and it's not even the first ride you get to up this way! SDC is a very pretty...you know what, nevermind, just look. On the way to Wildfire I found myself at American Plunge, the park's very nice flume ride. Themed to Great American Feats of the 1880s, apparently. Outside the queue...yeah, I don't actually know what this is about. Probably best to keep it away from the Ozarks Voltage Tree though. aaaaand... Skloosh! I made my way around to the ride entrance, looking for the Trailblazer pass entrance, but I absolutely could not find it here. Not by the entrance or the exit! After getting a bit frustrated, I reasoned that the regular line wasn't really even that long and I still had a ton of time in the day, so instead of worrying about it I'd just get in the regular line. After waiting in that line for about ten minutes I looked further up the path and realized that if you ignored the signs for American Plunge, left that area and followed the signs for WIldfire...then you would find yourself at the flume's Trailblazer pass entrance. Right then. The flume itself starts by heading into a long dark tunnel that meanders about a bit... Before emptying you into a very nice little glade out here, hidden from the rest of the park! ...before it returns into a shorter tunnel...and then there's the Skloosh! GREAT flume overall though. Now I could actually head up to Wildfire. You can't see much of the ride from out here; you have to head around to the observation platform behind the park for that. Wildfire's station. Wildfire was not one of the coasters I'd heard much about. From the numbers it would make sense that it's not a standout coaster; it's very much on the smaller end for a B&M coaster, just a "plain" old sit down coaster, not particular fast. Far more than its numbers would suggest though, Wildfire is elevated by its...well, elevation. Built right on the side of the mountain, it offers incredible views out over the valley. The first immelman off of the lift hill dives down to the valley's edge, and even though it's only a 120' coaster, when the ground drops away in front of you as you twist back up into the sky, it feels hundreds of feet taller. The same in the cobra roll, if you look to the side and see Branson stretched out beneath you and the horizon so far off in the distance. It's a small coaster that gives an unlikely illusion of flight because of those views, aided by being one of the smoothest B&Ms I've been on in years. The layout isn't incredibly intense but it has a nice flow to it too, perhaps less forceful but more graceful, that works well with the scenic location. I don't think it's an incredibly well loved coaster but I have to call it one of the most underrated in my opinion. I kinda fell in love with this one and the views off of it, and went back for I don't even know how many rides...which was easy to do with no lines and the exit opening right into the empty trailblazer entrance for the front car. Wildfire goes down as one of my favorite pleasant surprises of the trip. Sure, why not. ...well. I at least hoped for something silly. That's just kinda sappy. Very...Missouri though. This is an actual functioning church and they do hold services here if you're interested in that sort of thing. Funnel cakes! These looked great but with cinnamon bread in my future, I passed. I've been trying to get in shape lately and this trip was already not going to help that. There's so much more to Silver Dollar City than rides. Like I said before it's very reminiscent of Busch Gardens with tons of shopping, shows, and demonstrations; something for everyone, definitely. Silver Dollar city is an ____________ ________ ______. You can finish on your own now! Right, that grilled cheese! I went with the brisket one in the end. Lots of cheese, plenty of brisket, tasty sourdough bread, absolutely recommended. Good sized sandwich too. Heading out towards the "expo" at the back of the park. Even the kids area here is themed to...the science of insects, okay. Multiple rides back here fit into that nicely though. The "Magnificent Wave Carousel!" Pretty but actually a little disappointing. I feel like this could have had some really spectacular views if it was positioned just a little closer to the mountainside, but as is it's mostly just trees. It also runs a very short cycle, on top of having the hard plastic seats that are anything but comfortable compared to the Zierer wave swingers. I...have no idea about these. They look tasty but very awkward to eat? Mystic River Falls...still closed but the op told me she thought they'd be open in 30-60 minutes. The elevator was moving and testing at least. Just one more shot of the park being forest-y and lovely. I had some time to kill before my scheduled lantern light cave tour...so probably to the surprise and disappointment of some on these boards, instead of Time Traveler or Outlaw Run, I spent it on Wildfire. This is, apparently, the fantasticflying machine that you are theoretically riding on Wildfire. I wonder why they call this Hill Street? SDC is wonderful, but exhausting. Some of these are perhaps a bit wiser than others. Getting closer to cave tour time, but a quick stop in the Apple Butter Store first. All kinds of sauces, jams and such here. Incredibly tempting but I had to fly home after this week, so lots of "stuff" was not a good idea. Also, I'd just visited Vermont a couple month's ago and still have a year's supply of jellies and jams (which would probably be a ten year supply for anyone else...) I did get a bit of a weird experience here though. The back of the shop has a counter selling apple turnovers and such, but the gentleman running it seemed very distracted with something and I just could not get his attention. Not wanting to yell and feel rude, I decided to just wait for him to finish, and went to look for other things. Nearby was a barrel of cold sodas, one of which had a different cap on it so I reached in for it to see what it was (it turned out to be sarsaparilla) and the man behind the counter immediately whirled around to ask what I was looking for with what felt like a very accusing tone. I asked if I could get one of the apple fritters and he told me he'd just sold out for the day, rather snappy about it too...that sounded odd with as few people in the park as there were this early, but not something I felt the need to make a big deal about. Just a very strange interaction when all the rest of the park staff was amazing. I also did make time for Grandpa's Mansion here, which is a small but fun little fun house full of optical illusions. Most of them are pretty standard park fun house stuff but some of them are quite effective. I don't want to ruin the fun too much for anyone who gets there but the final room definitely will make you question what you're looking at and feeling a bit! It was time for the cave tour then. For those that don't know the story, the tour of Marvel Cave was the original attraction for Silver Dollar City. Only when it started to get particularly popular and they had people actively waiting for tours did they start adding amusement rides to give them something else to do. As the cave tour guide put it, Silver Dollar City is just the waiting area for Marvel Cave. I've done a few good cave tours before, so I'd opted for the (very modestly priced at an extra $15) upcharge lantern light tour to make this one more interesting. Little did I know that that would not have been needed anyway... Even the map in the waiting room has a story to it; this is an original map created by one of the cave's explorers, who you'll hear about if you ever do this tour. From outside, it just looks like a big sinkhole here. Heading down into the cave entrance. The first room in the cave in incredible. Absolutely enormous; the guide pointed out that you could fit a New York city block in here with room to spare. Easily believable. Also rather terrifying for someone who doesn't love heights, coming down that tower into it. Sadly this is the only picture I got inside the cave. I'm not certain whether or not they were actually allowed further in, but I'll tell you this much...when you're navigating a cave by lanternlight, climbing a slick, wet, rough cut two foot wide staircase, hunched over with less than four feet of headroom, and a hundred and fifty foot drop into sheer blackness on the other side of the slippery handrail...well, I was not letting go of either rail nor lantern for a moment. I've been through cave tours that were giant open cavern filled with easy walking platforms for the whole family. I've been to underground boat tours. I have definitely never been to any that involved tiny passages, incredible drop offs, treacherous stairs, anything like this, nevermind doing it in the dark. The lantern night version of the tour is also extended, apart from being in the dark, and goes into parts of the cave the other tours don't. I have no idea how their insurance company allowed this. This is not in any way meant to be a complaint, just a comment on how few places would offer a tour like this; I'm glad they're able to, I absolutely loved it, though I'm never going to say I wasn't utterly terrified on some of those stairways and passages. It's beautiful too though, and definitely a notch more authentic an adventure than most of the other tours I've done. Our guide (I wish I could remember her name, I'm sorry that I can't!) was great, and a fantastic storyteller as well...and this was a place for stories. Other cave tours I've been in have guides that talk about the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, how long it takes rocks to form, and how we should never touch walls. The Marvel Cave lanternlight tour featured stories about Spanish conquistadors and native American explorers, guardian cave spirits and elves, Baldknobber bandits and underground cabins, stories about stories and the consequences of telling them. There's something to be said for geological education but I loved every minute of this...even while I was clinging white knuckled to slippery guide rails. This was an experience like nothing I'd ever done before, and I'd call it once-in-a-lifetime if I wasn't determined to get back and take friends with me. If you get get to Silver Dollar City, Absolutely Do not skip this tour. Be aware that it's going to be difficult if you don't like heights or caves, but if at all possible do it anyway. At the end you're treated to an inclined railway to get back out so you don't have to climb the whole way up again...at least when it works. I was lucky. I'd think that the staff was just playfully hyping up how unreliable it is but I've seen comments from others on TPR about people having to walk back out, so it seems it's not all exaggeration there. When I got back to the surface it was getting late in the day and the lights were just starting to come on. I still had a few things I wanted to do though. Like... Yessss, it's open! And it's popular. As soon as it opened everyone flocked to it. That Trailblazer pass finally seemed useful! It was only good for one time for Mystic River Falls but that would do. Mystic River Falls might be a bit troublesome, it might not have all the kinks worked out, but when it's working, it will ruin other raft rides for you. Even without the elevator and drop it's a very good one, with a very fast, aggressive and lengthy course that doesn't need to rely on lots of waterfalls and such to get you wet, just well designed and fast rapids, and lots of gorgeous scenery as well. The elevator and drop add so much to it too though. The elevator is a bit crazy; when you see how many moving parts it has it's easy to understand why it's down so often. Riding it up while on that big raft is exciting though, and the slide portion is far more intense that it looks from the ground. The size of the rafts makes it look deceptively slow when you're looking up at it. It is not slow. The raft barrels down the raceway and careens down that final drop into a massive splash at the end. Absolutely fantastic. Aaaand wet. I thought it might be time for some cinnamon bread, but peeking into the shop I realized they only had one size loaf and it would be too much for me to eat all at once. I didn't want to carry half of one around the park so I planned on coming back later for it. SDC gets even prettier as night falls. Especially the area around Mystic River Falls, which turns absolutely magical. I was headed for Outlaw Run though. I hadn't been impressed before but I'd still been encouraged to ride it at night. It was actually darker than it looks here; my phone likes to make night shots look bright, but by time I got on this it was almost pitch black. I would guess that more people know of the Beast's legendary difference between day and night than Outlaw Run's. Outlaw Run's is even more intense. Not only is it pitch black, but it also is apparently an entirely different coaster. During the day it ran rougher than I expected, fast but shaking its way around the course. At night it doesn't feel like it actually touches the track. It doesn't even sound the same. The wheels scream as they fly over the course. It moves like its being driven, like gravity alone doesn't seem like it should be able to explain. It seems to pick up more speed on every drop and never lose any. It takes corners and inversions and the double down like it wants you out, wants to throw you, and all while you can barely see a hint of the track ahead. The final heartline rolls before the station don't even make sense, they're too fast to keep up with, the darkness around you just goes into an impossible spin. Outlaw Run during the day was decent, but I really thought overrated, clearly RMC's freshman effort and not up to the standards of the later ones. Outlaw Run at night is indescribable. The guy riding behind me looked at my King's Island shirt and asked if I thought this was as good as The Beast at night. I'm honestly not sure. Apart from being wood (sort of) coasters that disappear into the woods, and transform at night, they're such different experiences...I can definitely say I've never been on anything that feels like Outlaw Run after dark. The Beast has something with disappearing into the woods, into a different place for a few minutes...but Outlaw Run skips anything so cutesy and just tries to show you what it can do to you in the dark. Yes please. I planned on getting to Time Traveler after dark too, but I failed that and just stayed at Outlaw Run until it was time to head out. By time I left the park looked deserted. The remaining guests were up here at a dance party; noooot what I expected but it seemed fun! I had places to be though and another drive ahead of me. I passed on taking the tram out to my car though and chose to walk out, to give myself a few more minutes at the park and to look back at its lights. Silver Dollar City is...a complete experience in a way most parks can't be. It has some top tier coasters, certainly, but there's so much more to it than that. Closer to Busch Gardens, yes, but with an authenticity that they lack in trying to set bits of other countries in themselves, while Silver Dollar City only has to be itself. It might be a cutesy idealized version of America, sure, but it's one that it makes feel real enough around you. From the settings and the food to the virtually unmatched park staff and experiences like the cave, from rides like Outlaw Run and Time Traveler (and Wildfire!) to the appealing silliness of the train ride and the River Battle, it really is a park for anyone, and I just can't imagine any way anyone could fail to have an incredible day there. Most of the small complaints I have are just 2021 being what it is, and I'm sure the park will be even better in the future when we get past these times. It was only day two of the trip but I was already certain I was going to have to do this again next year or as soon as possible to take friends alone, if only for Silver Dollar City. In all the fun and adrenaline right after a park, it's easy to say that it's my favorite and forget how much other parks were every bit as good...but even without having the absolute most rides or biggest coasters, SDC is just bigger in its own way than anywhere else I can think of, and it's somewhere I already desperately want to get back to. Oh...and in case anyone was concerned, I did remember to go back for the cinnamon bread on the way out, and made an incredible sticky mess all over my poor rental car with it. It is every bit as good as everyone says it is. I almost hate to leave off a report on such an incredible park with something so anticlimactic, but in the interests of being helpful for anyone planning their own trips, after an hour and a half ish drive I stopped at the Baymont in Ft. Leonard/Saint Robert for the night, and can easily give it a recommendation for anyone else coming through. Cozy, clean, friendly, reasonably cheap, comfy bed, easily good for more than just crashing for a night but certainly did the job for that too. That said, I don't think I've ever spent less time conscious in a hotel room than this one. I barely remember it...after a day of climbing up and down the hills of SDC and getting in at midnight, I barely made it to the bed. Day Three will be Six Flags St Louis, and a much shorter report as I didn't spend nearly as much time there.
  22. Selfies are just not something that ever even occurs to me, I guess. I assume people are more interested in the parks than seeing me. Just a me thing, I guess! I suppose it makes sense; as much as enthusiasts want to see new rides there, the park sort of has its local market that is going to be going there no matter what they do or don't add, and that's probably about it. Not sure why I typed Kansas, I knew better, but I guess after typing Kansas City enough times, my fingers get ahead of my brain! That makes sense, as far as it being a river. Definitely a bit strange looking in the twilight though! And I do appreciate the help, thanks! SDC report coming shortly!
  23. Day 2 - Silver Dollar City Day 3 - Six Flags St Louis Day 4 - Holiday World Day 5 - Kentucky Kingdom Day 6 - Indiana Beach BIG trip report incoming! As always I apologize for my photography; I'm terrible at it, and on top of that my phone was fighting me for much of this trip; in its old age it's decided it does not like to function in heat or direct sun, so quite a few pictures I tried to take just didn't work out. I also tend to get a bit excited about actually riding rides and forget to even take the pictures I meant to, but anyway... So, for quite a few years now I've had a list of parks I very much wanted to get to out in the Midwest. Holiday World has been on my list since I first heard of The Raven. Silver Dollar City has always looked nice, but every since Time Traveler was announced it became a must-see. Indiana Beach was one I'd badly wanted to visit, and then I thought I missed my chance entirely when it closed, only for it to get a second chance. A year or two ago I started idling thinking about how practical it would be to get to as many parks out there as possible, but figured it would just be too much driving, too much to deal with. Several months back, Time Traveler came up again and I started looking into it again. Playing around on Google Maps, I plotted out a route between parks, some places I could stop for the night, etc, and started looking for people who might want to go with me if I decided to do it. While I was in the middle of setting up the map, Robb posted a video of The Raven here. Sometimes life just gives you the little bits of encouragement you need, you know? It ended up becoming clear pretty quickly that if I was doing this trip it was going to be alone. Most of my closer friends aren't quite as into parks as I am, and seven days of them nonstop would not be their idea of fun. Those that might want to go weren't able to for a variety of reasons from work and personal ones to closed borders. I considered cancelling, but thought a bit about how much fun it would be to just go and not have to worry about what anyone else wanted to do, or them getting tired, or any sort of the usual cat-herding. Besides, I had vacation time to burn somewhere after all the quarantining. For a little while it seemed like the trip was cursed; problem after problem cropped up trying to get it planned; from difficulties with flights and cars, to the midwest suddenly becoming a COVID hotspot as well as a the site of a projected massive heat wave, to health problems flaring up just before the trip, but despite everything, last saturday I found myself at T.F.Green airport ready to fly out. I have never in my life seen an airport so deserted. Zero people in the TSA line; the gate areas were all but deserted. Despite the general state of everything, it felt amazing to just get on a plane and fly away again. Landing for a stopover in Chicago; the first time I'd see the Windy City in a week's time. I can't help but see the Hyatt Regency out there in the distance while landing; hopefully I'll be back there in a few months for a convention if the state of the world allows... After a slightly too brief stop in Chicago (45 minutes does not leave much time to grab lunch and run between terminals - especially when even McDonalds is running on a skeleton staff and painfully slow...), I was on to Kansas City. Kansas City airport is...well, it's a dump. The worst airport I've ever flown through. Stained carpets, trash everywhere, bathrooms turned into ponds by overflowing toilets. The architecture was...something, too. Not somewhere I wanted to spend any more time than I had to. The exterior of the place looks more like an abandoned strip mall than an airport. Usually I love being out in the rain but there was no denying that it just made this place look even more bleak. One shuttle bus ride later (car rental isn't actually at the airport here but a little ways away), and a short chat with a very friendly and helpful woman at the Dollar rental car counter, I was told to pick any car I wanted from the "full size" part of the rental lot. That's always much nicer that just getting whatever car they hand you the keys for! In a sea of monotone grey and black, this one instantly jumped out. I hate the trend toward colorless cars, so that was already enough for me to go straight for this one. On top of that my last several cars have been Fords and I know my way around the infotainment system and controls and such, which I figured would save me some time getting on the road and getting navigation set up. The Fusion turned out to be incredibly comfortable inside too, and I knew I was going to be spending a lot of time driving, so that was going to be important. This turned out to be a good decision; it was a great little car that made for pleasant cruising, even if the 1.5 ecoboost under the hood didn't make it particularly fast cruising. There was going to be a lot of driving in my future, but not today; my hotel for the night wasn't far away. I'd settled on the Quality Inn and Suites in Kansas City; I've had pretty terrible luck with Quality Inns in the past, but this one was cheap and well reviewed. It turned out to be nice enough that I wish I could have stayed more than one night. Big room, well kept, perfectly clean, and probably the single most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. Would easily recommend to anyone staying in the area! Being a very midwestern sort of place though...I was a little amused at having to walk down a hallway between The Prayer Wall and The Military Heroes wall to get to my room. Well...Kansas City. Can't say I was surprised. I'd noticed one other thing when pulling in, though. My hotel shared a parking lot with a little hole-in-the-wall type Mexican restaurant. Well, as those of us that travel enough know, tiny hole in the walls are either the best or worst when it comes to Mexican food, without much in between. I really planned on getting barbecue, since it was KC and all, but after being up very early and travelling all day I wasn't really in the mood to explore, and it was right there, so I checked out the reviews, and it definitely seemed promising. I figured I could just get take-out and eat in my hotel room, and save at least one indoor encounter; I wasn't planning on letting the pandemic slow me down more than necessary on this trip, since I'm vaccinated, generally healthy, and easily able to quarantine when I got home, but I also didn't see any reason to take entirely unneeded risks in a major hot spot on day 1. So, I ordered chips and beans, a "puffy fried taco", and a pork chimichanga, as well as a margarita - the place advertised their margaritas pretty heavily, so I figured that was worth a try. They offered quite a few flavors...mango, pina colada, watermelon, blackberry, blue... Not blue berry, not blue Hawaii, just "blue." Well, of course I had to order that one. One again I underestimated the amount of food I was ordering. They gave me basically an entire tostitos-bag sized bag of chips... The house hot sauce wasn't particularly hot, but it was tasty. The puffy fried taco was really tasty; under all the lettuce and tomato was a lot of nicely seasoned beef, better than I expected from the look of it. ...The blue margarita was a slush puppy. If you've ever had a blue slush puppy you know what they taste like; they're not quite just general blue raspberry but definitely have their own unique slightly odd taste to them. This was a blue slush puppy with tequila in it. Utterly ridiculous, and yet I can't say I didn't love it. And then I tried the chimichanga. Now, I already wasn't expecting it to be amazingly authentic mexican, since chimichangas aren't that to start with. I was expecting the pork to be carnitas, though. Perhaps I forgot where I was, or just misjudged Kansas City, because what it turned out to be was a bbq pork chimichanga. It was delicious. I don't care what offenses it committed to mexican cuisine, I could eat one of them every day for the rest of my life. Rapidos Mexican Cuisine, 3/10 on authenticity, and that's if I give them a point just for seasoning their taco meat, but 10/10 just plain /good/ Cheap, too; I think it barely broke $20 for all that including the good sized "margarita." Loved it. I spent a few hours lounging around playing with my Switch until I was ready to sleep, and passed out in the supremely comfy bed. I wish I could have taken it with me. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to sleep with how excited I was, but that turned out to be no issue at all, and in the morning set out for Worlds of Fun. I did not have high expectations for WoF. I hear very little about it and most of what I do hear is that Cedar Fair doesn't even care about it. The only suggestion I remember being given about it was to not even bother with it and go to Kentucky Kingdom instead. Well, at that point I'd already fit KK into the schedule, so I kept WoF in there anyway. After all, I had a Cedar Fair season pass so it wasn't going to be much of a stretch to at least check it out. After a year and a half of pandemic times and all, actually seeing this on the horizon was absolutely thrilling. The first B&M Invert I've seen in something like three years now. Patriot may not be one of the best regarded of them but I was practically desperate to ride it at this point. Keeping my eyes on Patriot on the way in. There's a lot of greenery at WoF too; shade doesn't seem like it'll be a problem. From the entry plaza, WoF is at least clean and well kept. The chain isn't neglecting it that badly at least. I visited in the middle of their "Grand Carnivale" international festival. Some of this was pretty good, some less so. The creepy heads staring over the hedges, definitely on the "less so" side. With my hotel right nearby and a good night of sleep behind me, I'd gotten there early enough to have almost a half hour to wait for rope drop. A half hour seems like a long time when you've gone a year and a half without any parks at all. (I know, that's a bit privileged, but I don't think I've gone that long without getting to one since I hit a double digit age). Being tempted by a flume through the trees. Not a huge flume, but still! More temptations. Cedar Fair parks usually have pretty great funnel cakes in my experience; 22 toppings sounded even better. Rope drop and we're in! I wasn't sure if I was going to need fastlane at all, but I'd budgeted to be able to go all out for the week, so I figured I'd get it and if I didn't need it...no big deal. After picking it up I headed for the first coaster I saw; I know, heading to the back is wiser, but there weren't many people here yet anyway, and everyone waiting at the entrance had been talking about how Spinning Dragons builds up crowds fast. The signage there isn't great so I entirely missed the fast lane entrance, but given how few people were in front of me I didn't even bother going back to look for it. Spinning Dragons is a perfectly standard spinning coaster, but I was happy enough to get on it. I was hoping to get put into a car on my own and get some really good spinning that way, too. Still watching Patriot from the queue though. Unfortunately...the only activity I'm seeing over there is someone mowing the grass. Not great... Spinning Dragons' Station. I really want to know the story behind Panel Bear and Panel Mushroom. The first attendant paired me up with three other people, but then as we moved to get into the car another asked if I was with them. I explained that I wasn't but I'd been told to ride with them; she held me back and put me in the next car on my own. Getting a solo ride on these spinners is always pretty ideal; the weight imbalance makes for a nice spinny ride. This was no exception; the coaster was running well and spun like crazy. Not a huge coaster but a fun start to the trip. Bamboozler, a pretty standard old (super?) Round Up. Points for panda theme, but I was more interested in getting to the unique rides for now; I figured I could come back to this later if I had the time. Patriot still wasn't running when I approached, and just as I started to feel disappointed, an op came over to take the "closed' sign down. Good timing! This would not be the first time this happened this week. Thanks to the delayed opening, this was the wait Patriot as I got into the station. Not needing that Fastlane pass so far. I don't remember if I got on the first or second train of the day, but definitely not much wait time. In the front, Patriot is...decent? It's an enjoyable enough ride; I don't believe there's an inverted coaster that isn't. The numbers on it aren't particularly impressive and it's not incredibly forceful, but it is a smooth ride. It suffers most from lack of theming and landscaping, I think; it's just thrown in the park over a bed of grass and gravel. In the end, it's a B&M invert and at the time that was enough to make me happy. I went around for another run to try the back, but it doesn't make a huge difference on this ride. The central plaza in this area is rather pretty. Whether you're impressed by WoF or not, there's no denying it's a nicely kept park. Windseeker! Or...whatever they call this one. Steel Hawk. Same thing. I didn't expect there to be a lot to see up there, but I do enjoy these rides; there really is a sensation of actually flying up that high. They definitely test my fear of heights, but that just made me want to get on it more; I didn't want to start a week out by chickening out of intimidating rides, or I'd risk starting a pattern I didn't want to get into for the week! (If only I knew what that fear of heights was in for later in the week...). So, I did get on it, and yes, I can definitely not confirm, most of Kansas is very, very flat. It's still a great ride, but there is not a lot to see up there. Nice view of the park though? It was a warm day and I was already getting thirsty, but I'd thought ahead enough to add unlimited drinks to my platinum pass. This was lucky, because not only was I going to need a lot of hydration that day, but... Worlds of Fun has this. I assume it's regional, I don't know, but I've never seen it before, and I probably went through a gallon and a half of it in one day. So good! From there I headed up to the back corner to find Timber Wolf waiting. \ I'm pretty sure I'd read that Timber Wolf was the park's rough coaster, and prepared myself for quite a bit of pain here. I can generally handle rough though, so I wasn't going to skip it. The entrance is around back, and teases with views of a coaster that makes Timber Wolf look like a kiddie ride beneath it. Chicken exit. Maybe chiropractor's exit if the ride was as expected? The station staff here was doing something I don't remember seeing at a park in quite a while; they were clearly enjoying their job. Just being very friendly and chatty with riders in the station, talking up the ride, trying to get people to howl like wolves if they wanted to ride; granted it was early in the day, but they were energetic and getting people psyched up for the coaster, and actually looking like they liked being there. ...Didn't expect to see that in 2021, and not at WoF. The thing is, maybe I was thinking of a different coaster, or I misread, or maybe Timber Wolf has gotten some major work done on it. I'm not sure what the case is, but it wasn't even remotely rough. (Looking it up now; it looks like it did get a retracking. Seems it was a pretty successful project then!) Definitely a "classic" style woodie with that old out of control feeling, but not what I'd call rough at all, not even slightly painful. The layout is actually a bit on the tame side; most of the hills aren't sharp enough to throw you out of your seat, and it features a a number of high, moderate speed turns, like a lot of Dinn coasters I've ridden, but for something I went into expecting to get beat up, it was a pretty enjoyable ride. Not going to be a favorite, but one I could re-ride quite a bit. Dominator, or Detonator, or whichever CF Grab Bag recycled name they used for this one. Not going to be a priority for me, I've done enough drop towers like this and far bigger. Still, it's not a bad setting. I wasn't actually sure what this was. The signs made it clear that it was an indoor spinning ride, so I guessed indoor scrambler. Not quite, though! This one is an indoor Wipeout. Unlike the ones I've ridden at Six Flags parks though, this one is set to "kill." I don't think I've ever been on a Wipeout that moved as fast as this one, and yes, that includes Knoebels'. The ride felt like it was trying to hurl its riders straight into the ceiling...which seemed very close overhead at times. It's light on special effects beyond a steampunk-y looking fog machine and some bright "glow in the dark" painting on the walls, but the actual ride cycle was long and crazy fast; without a doubt the best of the type of ride I've been on. I got off absolutely unable to stop laughing. That was about the point where I realized that, so far, despite my expectations, I was very much enjoying WoF so far. Mamba still looming over the park back there. Mustang Runner, a Huss Troika; pretty sure every CF park has one of these now. I actually do very much enjoy this for a family ride, and this one is, like the rest of the park, well kept up, nicely painted and shaded, but I decided not to worry about it yet. I'd have plenty of them to ride this summer if I didn't get back here. The center part of the park is quite pretty. Unfortunately the train was just sitting here shut down; I hoped it would run later, but didn't know at the time it had been down for a long period of time. Apparently it just started running again this last weekend, so I missed it by a week. I would have liked to get on it; it looks like a nice ride, and eal steam train, not some little diesel park toy. SDC was going to be the next day though, so not that big a heartbreak. There aren't many places in the park that you can't see Mamba from. Boomerang. Not sure why I felt the need to get on this, but...again, it had been a couple years, and there was no line. I walked up to the station, and the staff asked me to wait a bit as they were cleaning it, because someone had just thrown up on the ride. I hung out for a few minutes, and jumped on somewhere near the back. As Boomerangs go, it's one of the better ones; not quite as impossibly smooth at Morey's Piers', but other than that one, I think the best one I've ridden. The newer trains seem to help some, but LC's Zoomerang has them too and is much rougher than this one. As I was getting off, the ride ops announced that they were temporarily shutting the ride down again to clean it, because someone had been sick on it again. Poor staaff... What's that? Through the trees? YESSSSSSSS. Enterprises might have been everywhere once, but that's just not the case any more, and I'm always excited to see one that I can still get on. I was going to wait a bit on that though; it was getting to be lunch time. Sea Dragon on the way to the front of the park. Setting them over water is always a nice touch, or maybe I just think so because I insist on doing it myself in every RCT type game. I was planning on hitting the Grand Carnivale International Food Festival for lunch. Unfortunately, due to staffing, it was only going to be open for dinner hours. Still, I got to get a look at what was on offer for later. How about that authentic German cuisine? (If you don't already see it, you might want to google German Chocolate cake. Samuel German was an American baker...) Despite that little research blunder, a lot of it looked really good. Portions looked to be decent and you could get a tasting card for 6 different items for I believe $30; not at all bad. For now though I'd have to settle for a more usual park lunch. I went with pizza, figuring that would hold me over but not be too filling when I wanted to be hungry again for dinner. It was a giant piece of pizza (it doesn't look it without anything to scale; the pieces of pepperoni were similarly oversized) but rather mediocre; edible but not great. Still, mediocre pizza is still pizza...and the garlic knots that came with it were actually really good, nice and crispy and not at all short on garlic. Over to the Viking Voyager flume then, since I was right there at that point. A smallish log flume, with a very vague viking theme that didn't extend past the boats at all. Sea Dragon from the flume's station. Bumping down the flume; despite its size it was a reasonably aggressive flume and set a pretty good pace through the course. The drop at the end failed do to much more than offer me a bit of mist though; it was a warm day and I was hoping for a bit more than that. Heading back into the area where I'd seen the Enterprise, I passed the Scrambler, which appeared to be set more at "gently fold" than "scramble". Passed on that for now. Work going on on the train bridge! Maybe it was going to open soon? As I mentioned earlier it wouldn't for another week. Here we are! Zulu, the park's well maintained Huss Enterprise. I tried to get a picture from the ride while it was moving, but my phone would have none of it. This is still one of my favorite views at any park though. Rocky Point Park's Enterprise was my first big, real "thrill" ride as a kid, and nothing has ever knocked them out of my list of favorites. Zulu is an unusually good example of the remaining ones; it ran a longer cycle than most, and it pinned me into the seat with far more force than I'm used to from these anymore; most of them move fast enough to get you over the top, but with a lot of floating up there; Zulu keeps enough speed to keep you /firmly/ in your seat the entire way around. Definitely made me smile to find an increasingly rare ride running so well. Next to it though...ahh, this one I'd heard good things about! Well, any coaster with a big black kitty mascot is off to a good start with me. You can see a bit of the coaster in the background, but it's a very hard ride to photograph; most of it is far out in the corner of the park, in the woods and away from any paths. This is about the only other shot I can offer of the actual track. For any more than that you'd need a camera out on the actual ride. So, how much am I going to make you listen to me go on about Prowler? First, I have to say, the crew running Prowler that day was the absolute best I've seen, at any park, in as long as I can remember. Not only were they racing through dispatches as fast as possible given that the coaster has rather difficult and annoying newly added seat belts, they were doing it with a lot of humor and spirit. Lots of good natured teasing with each other and jokes going around, and they seemed to be challenging each other to just keep making up new spiels for dispatching the ride. In all the times I rode it (which turned out to be...a LOT...) I never heard the same line twice; some hilarious, some cute, and some so awful they were amazing. The staff had also apparently decided they were going to refer to everyone waiting to ride as "kitty cats" every chance they got and try to make people meow. (Yes, hi, if the icon didn't give it away, I am very much a furry, but my fox character is older and these days I'm more often a black cat around much of the internet...so this was amusing me quite a bit!). As good as the whole station experience was, the ride is a bit more important...and...the ride... I'm not sure where I stand these days for ride credits; I'd have to go through the whole list and try to figure that out, but if I had to guesstimate, probably in the high 200s. With that many coasters behind me, Prowler just neatly made itself my #1 wooden coaster. It's not even a big ride; I don't think it breaks a hundred feet? From the top of the lift to the brake run though, Prowler is relentless. It's like someone looked at the TPR forums here arguing over if Phoenix airtime or Twister laterals are better, and asked why they can't just do both in one coaster, but why not put some of Boulder Dash's terrain coaster style in too, and then stick it out in the woods like The Beast? I mean, why not just put the best attributes of all the best wooden coasters into a single ride? We can do that, right? They did do that. GCI built a masterpiece here. I've ridden Mystic Timbers too, which I've heard described as an even better Prowler, but as much as I did enjoy that one, I can't agree; Prowler is the better of the two. The mix of ejector air and quick turns, on top of the way it just hauls through every inch of the course like there's a jet turbine strapped to the last car...wow. In the front it's great. In the back...absolutely my current favorite. No matter what you think about Worlds of Fun in general, you need to get out there just for this coaster. I only wish I could have gotten in a night ride or two, but WoF wasn't open until sunset that that. I had to settle for nine or so times around in the day, and I wish I'd gotten more. I also wish I had better pictures, but it's really just not possible to photograph from within the park. As much as I loved Prowler, there were still other things to get on...and it was getting hot once I was in less shady areas of the park. Fortunately, the park had Fury of the Nile to take care of that! Unfortunately the line was an hour and a half. ...Back to fortunately, I did have that fastlane pass that I'd yet to need before now, and jumped right on. Fury of the Nile station. And Mamba again. The days of 205 feet being a monster coaster are long over but in a park with mostly modest sized rides, it still has a serious presence. Fury of the Nile is a solid raft ride with some light theming that mostly consists of an egyptian tomb/cave at the end. Unfortunately I ended up sharing a raft with three girls who looked to weigh about a hundred pounds each; I'm not exactly heavily built myself. With a relatively light raft like that we mostly bounced over the rapids without getting very wet at all. The girls riding with me seemed happy about this; I was hoping to be soaked though! Well...there was still one thing I could do about that. Passing Coasters on the way; Cedar Fair must have gotten a deal on prefabs for these diners or something, as far as I can tell every park has one exactly the same as the others. Here we go. Viking Voyager barely gave me a light mist; Fury of the Nile gave me a couple damp spots. Monsoon though...I was pretty sure it was up to helping deal with the day's heat. Unfortunately Monsoon is actually considered part of Oceans of Fun, not Worlds of Fun...meaning that while I could still get in, my fastlane pass wasn't good there. The shorter pass beneath the raised part of the ride was also closed for some reason, so to get to it I had to take a long detour up and around, through the changing room area of Oceans of Fun, and back down to the ride, then wait in a considerable line. ...I really wanted that splash though. I'd gotten the former picture of the actual splashdown before getting on the ride; if you go back and look at it, and the tree branch over the center of the drop, and compare to the second picture I took after getting on the ride, you might notice one detail that I hadn't before getting on the ride. That drop is a double down...in a shoot the chute ride with absolutely no actual restraints, not even a real lap bar, just a static grab bar. A double down with ejector air and no restraints, and me entirely clueless that it was coming ahead of time, going down the drop with my hands in the air... So that was definitely an unexpectedly intense (and pretty great, really) moment there...before a /huge/ splashdown. Mission successful; I was absolutely soaked. Alright then; it's been starting me down for the entire day, so... Mamba isn't an exact clone of Steel Force at Dorney but it's close enough to fool anyone who doesn't know better. That meant, if it rode mostly the same, some decent floater air at the very least, so well worth getting on, especially with no lines. These big old brick Morgan trains are a bit awkward looking but very comfortable, especially for an older design. After riding it...definitely very close to Steel Force but I have to give the edge to Mamba here. More airtime on the first couple of hills, and a much more intense feeling helix. Sadly the MCBR hit hard here and the bunny hills on the return leg weren't all that impressive. By now it was last enough for the food stands to be open, so I headed back to the front of the park and grabbed the six item tasting pass. "Taste" number 1, pretzel nuggets. They had me at beer cheese. The pretzels were good; just a bit crispy and with enough flavor that they didn't have to bury them in salt, but the cheese was the best part. I took a moment after that snack to go for a round on Fjord Fjairlane, since I was right there and I generally like the rides. Unfortunately either it was running a bizarre tame cycle, or something was wrong with the ride. Once it was up to speed the cars just sort of hung out at an angle, with one set or the other occasionally making a half-hearted attempted to ride up further, then dropping back down. Nothing at all like these rides usually run. That was about all the altitude any of the cars ever got this time. Odd. By time I got off they had one of the Grand Carnivale shows going on. These sorts of park shows are often pretty questionable but credit where it's due, the performers were putting a lot into it and seemed to be having fun doing it. I didn't stick around long though. After all, I'd been wanting the berry and lemon curd crepe all day. There was quite a lot there for a "tasting portion", and it's loaded up with lemon curd on the inside. Nice fresh berries too; I really enjoyed this one. I also went and grabbed some fried ravioli (tasty, though I don't think I'd had fried ravioli before so not much to compare it to...I liked them though and the sauce was decent as well) and a Cassata cake; Less impressive, the "cake" was a very small (though tasty) ball of pound cake in the bottom of a cup, topped by most of a cup full of strawberries and cream. That didn't stop me from devouring it before I even though to get a picture. It was getting late ish at this point, and I had a long drive to Branson that I'd been warned I didn't want to have to stop on, so I wanted to try to make it while I was awake, before dark if possible. I thought that over a bit, and decided that leaving to make sure I could make that drive as easily as possible would be the smart thing to do. And then I went back to Prowler again anyway. Priorities. One of the best wooden coasters in the world, hiding in the trees like its jungle cat namesake there. I hit Zulu for another ride too, since I don't know how long old Enterprises are for this world anymore, much less any running as well as that one does, and then rather regretfully headed out. SIlver Dollar City was calling though. I still had food credits left so I used them for the french ham sandwich and german chocolate cake, figuring those would survive the drive fine and I'd be able to have them for a snack once I got to my hotel in Branson. This is their idea of a tasting portion? It's about eight inches long and a decent lunch on its own! Was simple but very tasty, with surprisingly good bread, plenty of ham, and the herb butter was quite nice. The German Chocolate Cake might be amusingly...not German...but it was pretty spectacular anyway, covered in caramel and coconut, and delicious even at room temperature after a long drive. I had to grab a mango lassi as well on the way out, which didn't last long enough for me to get a picture of...oops. Maybe not quite as good as I've had in some Indian restaurants, but...it was a mango lassi, it was good. See you, Worlds of Fun! Given what I'd been told about it, I had the lowest expectations for Worlds of Fun of any of the parks on my list, but it really took me by surprise. Even without it having a low bar to clear I would have very much enjoyed myself there. It doesn't have the most or the biggest coasters, but the ones there are all well cared for and run great, right down to the Boomerang. The coasters I thought could torture, I enjoyed, and the one I thought I might like, I absolutely loved. The majority of the flats are in great shape and run as well great cycles, with the slow scrambler and maybe-broken Fjord Fairlane as the only exceptions. Very much to my surprise, though, it was the staff that really made the biggest difference here. The vast majority of the ride crews and even the food service staff were putting in real effort and just plain having and being fun. It might be that Worlds of Fun needs investment from the chain, it might be a bit forgotten or not change or get new rides often, but after spending a day there I feel like it doesn't get enough credit for the things it does right. It's never going to be a Cedar Point thrill destination, but it's a pleasant, clean, well maintained, friendly park with enough above-average rides to make for a great day. Even the food, at least for the Grand Carnivale event, was very good. ...Aaaaand it has Prowler. I don't know why but this made me laugh. As an east coaster, I'm entirely aware that Wichita is a real place but it just never seemed like a place I'd find myself... The drive to Branson after was much less pleasant. That area of Missouri is empty, boring, and just not a great place to be. It ranged from flat and empty... To...whatever this lake/swamp was. Low water with dead trees sticking up all through it. It looked like the bog in Mad Max, really. Creepy, especially since it got dark while I was driving through here. Fortunately my rental made for an easy drive anyway, and I had plenty of podcasts to listen to on the drive (I did a lot of catching up on Skyjacks on this trip!). Once in Branson, I checked into a motel 6...which I admit I'd been a bit cautious about, since they're not exactly generally top end lodgings... This one was just fine for an overnight though. I wasn't thrilled with the look of the simple metal frame bed but it turned out to be perfectly comfortable. Not only that but the hotel offered me an amusingly unexpected solution to a problem I'd run into that morning; I discovered that somehow I'd failed to pack a hair brush. Somewhat more of a problem for me since this is the first trip I've been on since growing my hair out...and I kept failing to remember to stop anywhere to get a new one on the drive...only to go to grab a late night drink from the hotel vending machine and find... ...I've never seen a vending machine with a hair brush stuck in next to the chips. How strange! Something about gift horses though... After the relatively long day and drive, I slept just fine on that motel bed, even excited as I was for Silver Dollar City. I'll get to that one next time though.
  24. Nah, don't let it keep you from going. If you're going for the rides, you'll still have a good time. The staff is just lifeless; they're not going to do anything to add to the day, but they're not going to ruin it either.
  25. Sadly I have to agree on the staff. I was there on Thursday and it was just...not good in that regard. For the most park the staff really did not seem like they wanted to be there at all. I know it's a rough year for everyone, but out of all the parks I did, KK's staffing was...well, maybe not quite as bad as Six Flags St Louis, but close.
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