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Everything posted by coneyislandchris

  1. ^ ^^ Not for nothing, but if you have a Busch Gardens platinum pass, the quick queue ends up being 50% off. Varied success with platinum passes from other SEAS parks, though.
  2. It's weird and really seems to be location by location. I can't even say it's chain by chain at this point, because I had stayed at a Country Inn in San Jose last August and they had their pool and breakfast buffet open. Then I stayed at that Country Inn in Doswell the following month only to discover everything, and I do mean everything, was still closed. Similarly, when I went down back in the beginning of April to Busch Gardens, I stayed at the Mainstay Suites near the park, and again it was another case of no breakfast and all the amenities closed. Then we flew out to California again and stayed at the Cambria in Anaheim, and they had a huge breakfast buffet that was jam-packed, their fitness room, and their pool and waterslides all open. The only guaranteed thing that seems to be out the window no matter where you stay is that you don't get daily room cleaning anymore, and I think that's just a thing of the past at this point.
  3. The Country Inn that's across the street from KD wasn't always terrible, and it used to be our favorite place to stay near the park, but like so many other midrange hotels during the pandemic, their level of care and quality has really fallen off. Their rooms are definitely not worth the amount they are currently charging for them, and the lack of basic amenities ("bEcAuSe CoViD") is an active strike against it. I probably wouldn't stay there again until I hear they've improved.
  4. Awesome write-up! It's been over two years at this point since my family and I have been down Smoky Mountains way, and this is definitely making me eager to get back there. Little surprised that the Rowdy Bear in Gatlinburg got picked up by Ripley's, but I guess they still have their other location in Pigeon Forge going strong with the tubing mountain and a few other coasters. I wonder if the mountain coaster market down there has reached saturation point yet...
  5. I really enjoy Lightning Racer when it's actually racing. That's the whole point of the coaster. The twister layout is perfect for that IMO, not every ride needs to be an airtime fest to be fun and enjoyable. OTOH, Wildcat is absolutely irredeemable trash. Bring on the conversion, if that's what's actually happening. That being said, I never saw the pictures of the blue footers, and when I searched for it, I found this comment on another forum from about a month ago. Is it legit? Hard to tell, anyone can claim anything with a throwaway account, but it sounds like an equally plausible possibility.
  6. I ended up taking tndank's advice, and although I wasn't able to get the passholder rate at Cabana Bay, it did end up saving me about $500 off my previous lowest attempt. I took a look at all the different deluxe hotels and sure enough, Portofino Bay was the cheapest with that passholder rate discount. The others didn't have it available for the dates I was looking at. In any case, the trip has been booked! Thanks again everyone for your help, and looking forward to finally getting back to Universal next month and getting our first rides on their elite coasters. Robb's recent video has definitely amped up my excitement.
  7. I'm not a fan of Batwing or Nighthawk, but what do you mean by "no fresh parts being made anymore"? They're made by Vekoma, right? I'd assume that if either Six Flags or Cedar Fair needs a part they'd be able to get it direct from them, no?
  8. ^^ That's the sort of crazy-ass, next level lifehacking I needed. Thank you so much!
  9. I do appreciate the help, thank you! I've spent some time looking a little bit harder into crunching the numbers, and even still with the passholder discount, this is what I'm seeing; Putting the difference in cost aside, the biggest drawback is that on the cheapest annual pass, the "3 Park Seasonal" pass, it has blockout dates for Volcano Bay that directly conflict with our travel dates. The bundle tickets have no such blockouts. Since both my son and I are big fans of waterparks as well as theme parks, we definitely want to dedicate one day to checking Volcano Bay out, so not being able to get in there after dropping $500 per person for the annual pass is a big deal-breaker in my book. Well, we're going to be at the theme parks for two of those three days, for sure. Obviously not splurging on Express would save a bunch of money, over $1000, but I'm not sure that during a mid-June weekend that close to the end of school that it won't be swamped and miserable in the regular lines. Considering Express Unlimited doesn't even include skip-the-line access on Hagrid or Velocicoaster, maybe it'd be better to just get the basic Express? Or just hope that we can knock them both out during early entry?
  10. Should clarify, I am not currently a Universal pass holder. Given our distance I don't think we would be back within the next year, so more than likely, we would only be there for these four nights and three full days.
  11. Just ended up booking a flight down to Orlando for my son & I during June 16th-20th, and we're planning on spending 3 full days at Universal Orlando for my first visit to these parks since... well.. since Back to the Future and Kongfrontation were a thing. Hell, I don't even remember if Islands of Adventure was even open the last time! Really looking forward to getting back there, and with any luck, making Velocicoaster the 400th in my count! I haven't booked hotels yet, but pricing out packages on their site, it looks like even with the included Universal Express Unlimited, attempting to stay at a premium resort like Hard Rock is going to be more expensive for two of us compared to staying at a place like Cabana Bay and buying the express passes separately. I'm not planning on getting a rental car or anything, just going to be taking a shuttle direct to Universal and back to the airport, so it makes sense to stay on site, right? Other than the current "buy 3 days get 2 free" deal that they have on their site (which I doubt we're even going to be able to take advantage of due to us getting in late on Thursday and leaving early Monday), is there anything else that might help us save a few bucks? I'm assuming the Express passes will be pretty necessary during the weekend? I'm thinking of splitting our days at the theme parks between Friday and Sunday, and then spending Saturday at Volcano Bay and Citywalk (and/or maybe swinging by SeaWorld later in the day if we feel waterparked out). Also, if I'm reading it correctly, it looks like both Hagrid's and Velocicoaster are back on early entry again? Can anyone confirm that's still the case? Thanks in advance for the help
  12. Well, that's okay. They still haven't opened a park that's an hour from your house with a drop tower and 5 coasters that are open 365 days a year.
  13. Man, it's so weird to just see that big empty plot of land in the middle of that prime real estate. I know Goliath typically didn't run much at all, but it really drew your eye. Here's hoping they figure out something to go there sooner rather than later.
  14. I'll be out at Knott's a week from today. Does anyone have any updates so far on Xcelerator reopening?
  15. I mean, honestly, if this upcoming Sunday is anything like last Sunday was, you'll be good to go without FL+. Take a look on the previous page for my trip report from this past Sunday, and that was on a day where it was in the high 60's. You'll be fine.
  16. Yes, both the Springhill Suites on site and the Comfort Inn across the road from the parking lot are good, affordable, and within walking distance to the front gate.
  17. I did not have that issue when I rode Xcelerator back in August, nor on any Californian coaster.
  18. We ended up visiting Busch on Saturday as well! However, we apparently just missed y'all. The original plan was going to be for us to drive down from NJ leaving early afternoon on Friday, hopefully make it to the park in time to grab some night rides on Pantheon, and then do a full day there on Saturday. Needless to say, 95 did not agree with our plans, as per usual. When we realized that even with a best case scenario we wouldn't make it to the park before they closed on Friday night, we made a pit stop at the Applebee's in Ashland, VA just a few miles away from Kings Dominion to grab some dinner. Ugh. I really should have known better. Saturday morning, I woke up and felt like absolute hell warmed over. It felt very similar to a bout of food poisoning I got a couple months ago, and so, cursing the shrimp and steak from last night, I retreated back to the hotel bed praying that I wouldn't throw up. Thankfully, the feeling passed after a few hours, I managed to down some solid food, and by 2:30 PM, I was feeling good enough to try for the park. So my son and I hopped in the car and swung by. Obviously at this point our first stop was Pantheon, and at this point, we were greeted with a reported 60 minute wait time. Since we lost most of the morning, we decided to invest in the Quick Queue Plus which included a one-time ride on Pantheon as well as Tempesto and Invadr (honestly, not sure why these two are still single rides only, but whatever). Was pleasantly surprised to see that they honored the discount from our SeaWorld San Antonio platinum memberships, and we ended up getting the QQs for half off! After a brief bout of planning, we decided on our course of action. We would save the quick queue for the evening, hoping to get a ride on Pantheon with their awesome lighting package we've seen elsewhere. We decided to hit up Apollo and Tempesto first before hopping in that hour-long line for Pantheon. Apollo; still great after all these years. Tempesto; damn you, "comfort collars". Crossing back over to Pantheon, we walked into the queue which was still posting up 60 minutes at the entrance, only to discover that the line was moving MUCH faster than advertised. From us getting in line to getting on a train, it only took about 25 minutes! At this point, I do want to note something. I'm pretty goddamned blind without my glasses, and so, I've been wearing a strap for them on every ride I go on. Pretty much every park I've been to, this isn't a problem. If someone asks, I tell them and/or show them that I've got a strap, and that's the end of it. Unfortunately, that's not the case with Pantheon. JUST Pantheon. Apollo, no problems. Tempesto, same. Pantheon, even with a strap, they are considered to be a "loose object" and need to be removed. I was a little bit upset about this, but complied, and after the ride was over, one of the employees took some time to discuss the situation with me. Apparently the story is that during the preview weekends, they were allowing people to ride with them, but during opening weekend, reps from Intamin were on hand and they put the kibosh on it. So unfortunately Busch's hands are tied in that regard. With that out of the way, I want to say that Pantheon is an incredible ride. I haven't been on Velocicoaster yet so I can't really compare the two, but from start to finish, it was absolutely thrilling. Lots of great moments, from the inversion right out of the first launch, to that swing launch with unexpected backwards airtime, to the trio of hangtime from the spike, top hat, and final stall inversion. We ended up riding it three times over the course of the day and it simply didn't disappoint once! I would probably put this in my top five, once I figure out what the hell the rest of them actually are. After we finished up our first ride on Pantheon, we backtracked through Italy to get to the England skyride station, and took that over to France. By this point in the day (probably about 4 PM?), Griffon was indeed open and serving up screams. We got the middle of the front row and this ride is always a pleasure. I know a lot of people hate on dive machines for whatever reasons, but this still makes me laugh and smile every single time. From here, we used our single ride on Invadr, which sadly was running a lot rougher than it had felt in previous years. Not bad by any stretch of the means, but noticeably rattly compared to opening season or its past few years. Even though the lines were minimal, we decided to not go for a second ride. Next up was my favorite invert and my son's 2nd favorite overall, Alpengeist. They ended up moving the Quick Queue entrance point for this so it merges into the station, instead of being around the exit side of things. We did two rides on this and at that point I felt like I had reached my limit. Given my stomach's sensitivity from earlier in the day, I didn't want to push it any further. From here on out, we made our way over towards Oktoberfest. We did a quick ride on the bumper cars, then noticed that although it was listed as being closed out front, Mach Tower was testing! We hopped on the next cycle and were rewarded with excellent views of the entire park. Then it was over to escape the Black Forest with a ride on Verbolten. As much as I miss the nostalgia of Big Bad Wolf, I really do think Verbolten is a fantastic replacement and a lot of fun. We backtracked a little bit to Germany to get a ride on the carousel, then with the skyride being temporarily stuck, decided to take the low bridge across the river to get to Loch Ness Monster. This was running surprisingly well this year and didn't have too much headbanging. By this point, the park had cleared out considerably. The sun was setting, temperatures were dropping, and crowds had thinned. We trekked back to Festa Italia, got our first night ride of the season on Apollo, then used our quick queue for the second ride of the day on Pantheon. At this point it was 8:35, and we decided to try our luck at a third ride before they closed off the line. We ended up riding in rows 4, 7, and 11, and there wasn't a bad spot out of all of them. To be honest, I preferred row 11, mainly due to the height on the spike, but I wouldn't complain about sitting anywhere on the train. This was also in effect at Pantheon, where Row 4 was the designated QQ lane. But when we were there in the evening, if the row was empty, the ride op on the mic was calling for volunteers to fill in. "Oh, let's give it up for purple sweatshirt and blue t-shirt! Wooooo!" Granted it could have just been because everyone wanted to get the heck out of there earlier, but they weren't sending out any empty rows during the night rides. For what it's worth, neither Verbolten, Griffon, nor Alpengeist had this rule in effect - you could choose any open row, mainly because the QQs let you into the station rather than through the exits. All in all, it ended up turning from what looked like was going to be a complete wash into one of the best days we've had at BGW! Fantastic start to our 2022 coaster season.
  19. My son and I ended up visiting KD on Sunday! It also ended up being pretty dead during the four hours we were there (11 to 3). Fast Lane was not only not necessary, it would have been a total waste of a purchase. With the exception of Twisted Timbers and Tumbili, we were able to get on every ride on our list as either a walk-on or a station wait. At opening, we power walked over to Tumbili to get it out of the way before the lines got too long. Apparently this only has two trains on the track, which was a little surprising to see. I absolutely agree that Tumbili flipped a TON. I've been on the similar free spins at Great Adventure, New England, Discovery Kingdom, and the Texas parks, and the only one that came close to this was the one at Fiesta Texas. And this was more insane than that! After getting some hangtime on the first dip after the lift, we did four full rotations in a row going over the first major drop, then got another two full rotations in the opposite direction on the second major drop. It legitimately felt like we were on a Zipper on rails. It's easily the most intense one of its kind that I've been on to date, and was a real shock to the system considering I went in with zero expectations. Definitely works as a good replacement for the Crypt... now here's hoping they can get a replacement as equally good for the missing coaster across the way. Once we got off, we hit up Reptilian (first public train of the day). Love the repaint! Clearly though there must have been a sale on orange paint this past offseason, between Avalanche and their Scrambler getting the orange coat, not to mention all the random rides throughout the Six Flags chain that have gotten orangeified. Afterwards, we made our way over to Flight of Fear to be greeted with a completely empty queue. We got a front row ride with a station wait, then a reride in the back row with no wait at all. 305 was up next, and I guess I must be getting soft in my old age because I'm finally starting to grey out a little on that pull out from the first drop. Still, two rides in a row here as well! Love this beast of a coaster. Afterwards, we knocked out Anaconda and Backlot Stunt Coaster in short order. My son wanted to do Delirium as he hadn't been on a pendulum ride in some time, and we got on with no wait, only for the ride to shut down due to another rider accidentally dropping their crutch over the edge of the platform. They had to completely turn it off and wait for maintenance to retrieve it, otherwise it could have been crushed when the platform lowered. Rather than waiting around for that, we ended up heading over to Racer (1 train wait, only 1 train on the blue side running). Not a ton of airtime on it this year, might have just been because it was still relatively early in the day and early in the season. Hopefully when we visit again in the summer it'll be back to its usual self. Next on our list was Twisted Timbers, the only ride to have a significant line all day. When we entered through the queue, the line was back to where the wrecked pickup truck is, and it was pretty slow moving. Couldn't help but notice that most of the trains being sent out had between 3-5 empty rows in them. Unfortunately after about 10 minutes of waiting in line, it started moving quick... and that was because the ride went down for maintenance and they were clearing out the line. Instead, we took a short detour over to the antique cars, then back to Delirium which was up and running once more. While on Delirium, we saw that TT sent a test train through the course, so after we got off the pendulum, we hightailed it back to find a completely empty queue. This was also our first experience with the new locker system, and suddenly, it made so much sense as to why most of these trains were being sent out with empty rows. Only two of the three kiosks were active, and the process to rent out a free locker took about 60 seconds. I can definitely see this being a huge bottleneck on busier days. We did one lap on TT before realizing we were running up against our self-imposed time limit of leaving by 3 PM. We were trying to make it back home to northern NJ by dinnertime. (Well, 95 had other plans.) And so, we decided to head back towards the front of the park and make Dominator our final ride before hitting the road. Still our favorite floorless! Overall, even though we were only at the park for 4 hours in all, it was 4 hours well spent. Great to get back to one of my favorite parks for the first time this year and hope to be back down many more times over the next few months!
  20. Unless something changed since my last visit in 2019, no, it did not. Doesn't appear to based off this promo photo on their website, either:
  21. I know this isn't exactly one of the higher traffic threads on this site, but just figured I'd mention some news. Just stayed at the Pocono Mountains location at the beginning of this month, and they've been doing some refurb work inside the waterpark. The toddler slides and wading pool area were completely tarped off and they were doing construction work throughout the weekdays. Not that that's anything mindblowing, but what was more noticeable from the outside is the fact that they were clearing a lot -- and I mean a LOT -- of trees from the outside area around the lodge. These photos were taken facing north from their parking lot. Combine that with the following message that was posted on their website about the lodge refurbishment... I know this is just speculation on my part, but given the wording of that statement about it being the "single largest investment made to [the] resort since its grand opening", it leads me to believe that they might be moving forward with an outdoor waterpark in the near future to compete with Camelbeach just a little bit further up the road. I honestly can't imagine why else they would be clearing this much space.
  22. I haven't been down there in a few years. I remember the TSUs being in the neighborhood of $40 and thinking it was ridiculously cheap compared to, well, pretty much every other park's unlimited line-skipping passes. This price increase is definitely more in line with its actual value, and I can't fault them for that.
  23. Yeah, that was my same experience during Howl-O-Scream last October. My family and I actually paid for the quick queues so it was a little surprising to see that they didn't have the staff available to man it. That was the only ride or haunt where the quick queue line didn't have an attendant though.
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