So, it's been done - a quick report and also thanks to a bunch of people who helped me and sorry to those who I managed to irritate with a bunch of question and so on...
2nd June, arrived at LAX, a rest day after 12 hour flight in economy.
3rd flew from LAX->CVG, picked up the rental car and drove to KI, by then it was around 830pm, so I just had the season pass processed and went to BW Mason for a sleep. I had a dinner at the Wendy's next to the motel and apparently a guy there works at Banshee, he told me it's the best (obviously)...
4th Kings Island
It turned out to be a nice first stop of 12 park roadie - not too boring, not too intense. Did all the coasters except for Adventure Express.
My favourite had to be Banshee, and Firehawk. The Beast also impressed me. Flight of Fear and Backlot Stunt Coaster weren't my cup of tea. I didn't think I'd like Invertigo (or any boomerangs) but I enjoyed it a lot. In short, I quite liked it for the size of the park and they run good operations -I would come back here if I'm going to CP. Had Fast Lane and would definitely pay extra for beating the queue, especially in the hot weather I had.
5th Cincinnati and Dayton on route to Cedar Point
Had a quick look around Cincy and USAF museum in Dayton on the way to CP, pretty impressive setup they have there. Got to Breakers Express late afternoon, was pretty beat so, had dinner and rest. Found out that storm knocked the powerlines out and shut up the park on Monday. I had Fast Lane for 6th Monday but they gave me a free one for the next day and a free night's stay for Monday as well - which I thought was pretty good as it was my understanding they weren't obligated to do so. BE was cheap given the proximity to the park but otherwise service and cleanliness weren't all that flash.
So I had a downtime, went to Cleveland and did the tourist stuff, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and USS Cod and a few more, which I don't remember. Nice enough city.
7th Cedar Point
They got it up and running so I'm happy. Did Millennium Force, Maverick, Rougarou, Raptor, Magnum, Mean Streak, Blue Streak, Wicked Twister, Gemini, Valravn, Gatekeeper. Top Thrill Dragster was down most of the day - I think I heard it was back up running for a short time before put to bed for good for the day. Which didn't bother me a great deal, as I've been on before but then it would have been good to compare against others (e.g. Kingda Ka) MF is now my #1 coaster here (if not all time #1), followed by either Maverick or Valravn. Woodies didn't impress me as much as the first time I was here.
Rode most in either front or backrow (generally front on steel and back on woodie). The thing about MF is that it's always fun everytime I've been on and the sense of enjoyment or adrenaline rush doesn't decrease like others. As with previous times, CP ran good operations, I guess I was spoilt here (and KI) as there are some crappy operations to come...
8th Detroit on route to Canadas Wonderland
9th Canadas Wonderland half day
Got there in the afternoon ish, was fairly tired so just did a few flats. A few runs on Skyhawk had to be the highlight. Managed to get a good amount of spin after a couple of tries. Spinovator (?) was surprisingly fun.
By now, I'm getting pretty sick of all the school groups mobbing the parks and also realised that I can easily do all the rides (in my case, just roller coasters) in half a day with a few multiple rides on stuff I really like. (note that I have had Fast Lane and Flash Pass etc everywhere). Done all the coasters minus The Bat, Thunder Run and Dragon Fire - which happened to be excluded from Fast Lane list. I don't see why Fast Lane shouldn't get you to the front of the line to all the rides that have reasonably long queues - on this day, the queues on these rides were pretty long. I figured these were mid level coasters and didn't want to spend time waiting on mediocre rides. Leviathan and Behemoth were major letdowns - especially Leviathan. It looked like so much fun but in reality it wasn't.
So instead I spent the rest of the afternoon riding Skyhawk - I could have ridden it until the park closed with the Fast Lane, with no more than one cycle wait. The breeze died down and I was having problem spinning so I called it a day. Operations weren't as fast as KI & CP and they didn't seem confident for whatever reason. It was disappointing as I've heard good stories about the park - I won't coming back here, unless I happen to be in Toronto - if I do, then it'll be for Skyhawk only. Oh by the way, hardly anyone was using Fast Lane - there were some, not many at KI & CP but here, I don't think I've ever seen one person using it...
11th travel day to Six Flags New England
8 hour drive, luckily I stopped at Niagara Falls, which broke up the long driving nicely. I did a quick walk of the Cave of the Winds - didn't have the time for the Maid of the Mist (it was my second time here, so I'm not missing anything).
Had Flash Pass platinum - which was great for Superman, as the wait was fairly long even in the early morning - understandably so with VR slowing things down. Did it twice, one front row (w/o VR) and mid row with VR - I guess it's worth experiencing once but nothing to write home about. Apparently the original configuration as Superman was a great ride but this as is (with or without VR) doesn't do much for me. Did the new revolution VR at SFMM, I prefer SFMM one as it seems more interactive (shooting stuff although my gun got smashed fairly early in the ride). Superman here with VR is definitely a waste of a good coaster. Did the most of the coasters (if not all) - my favourite has to be Wicked Cyclone and #2 here is Goliath. They ran good operation (not counting VR but it's the nature of the beast) and I would come back for WC and Goliath.
I've been thinking about WC vs Twisted Colossus at SFMM , I feel WC is a bit more intense but TC does have its moments with those little hops and the "racing" aspect. I can't pick which I prefer at the moment...
13th Lake Compounce
This wasn't worth planning for a full day here - Phobia was pretty good, mostly for its sudden lateral movement (wasn't great for my back). Another thing wasn't good for the back was Wildcat but fun all the same. Was disappointed with Boulder Dash after all the things I've heard about it. I'd say it's maybe on par with The Beast at KI (or just a notch below). I was told to ride after dark but being in the middle of Summer the park closing time was way before sunset (I went back to motel for a break and was going to come back if sun set before the closing time). Good enough operation. Would I come back? If I'm passing through I might stop by for a couple of hours maybe...
14th on route to Six Flags Great Adventure & rest day
By now I sort of figured out what type of coasters I like and the types I don't. And I was getting a bit lazy so I started skip a few I figured I wouldn't like.
For example, dark indoor rides like FoF so I skipped Skull Mountain and The Dark Knight. But even if they are good rides, if I don't know what I'm missing,no
harm done, right? Anyway El Toro - it has to be #1 woodie (up there with the Beast but in a different way). Kingda Ka was definitely the highlight, which IMO trumps TTD easy. Nitro and Bizarro, I also liked enough to ride multiple times. Operations were good, it's a good park, if things are scattered around too much.
16th hanging out in Philadelphia
17th I dont remember much
18th Dorney Park
It's pretty underwhelming place - but then I have been warned. Steel Force is pretty weak, a bit of waste of space and "steel" unfortunately. Possessed was good but by now I've experienced bigger and better things so nothing special. Thunderhawk was lame.Now the upside - Demon Drop, what a crazy contraption that is! Talon was surprisingly intense but I didn't like it as much as I expected to. It might have something to do with the dislike I developed for inverted coasters and the hard overshoulder restraint which prevents hands-up riding... And I loved Hydra... I enjoyed my time here although I understand why a lot of people bag it.
I think it was Father's day Sunday - It was very busy probably because of it. I got what a lot of people rave about this place - I don't know if they have automatic organs all the time there but they had a few dozens of all different sizes running throughout the park - very impressive. As for the rides, I bought $20 ticket book, which got me on x2 Impulse, Phoenix, Twister and Flying Turns + Bumpercars. Impulse was a great fun, the others weren't all that - Flying Turns has a bit of a novelty value but I wouldnt bother riding it again. I really enjoyed the bumpercars - massive long queue but it was worth it.
It's less of extreme place but nice enough for good family outing.
Unfortunately this place turned out to be the worst in this road trip. Fast Track really disappointed me as 1) you can only get on designated rows and 2) the order you can ride each ride is randomly generated (or at least that's what the guy explained to me) and 3) it's only one off - it's a terrible product. Operations were rubbish - I had to wait around 5 cycles on Storm Runner with Fast Track - what is the point of having it at all? They have signage saying you wait at the exit for the attendant to come and let you in but that didn't happen. So at the next ride I walked through the turnstile and the guy says I need to stay outside - what is wrong with this place? It wasn't just two different rides, but pretty much everywhere. As for the rides, it's ok - Skyrush has its moment but that's mainly to do with the restraint IMO, the thigh restraint is a bit different from the others I've been on and it lets you slide around more (which I guess is more fun and slightly alarming, depending on how you look at it). Fahrenheit is good, probably on par with Knoebels Impulse. Id find other rides that are on par or better elsewhere. With the terrible experience I had, HP doesn't have anything I'd come back for. So I won't.
21st Travel day to Kings Dominion
Had a massive storm all day from Hersheypark all the way to KD, as if the storm was following me - lucky it was only travel day. Never seen so much rain in a single day.
22nd Kings Dominion
Having ridden Intimidator 305 now it's probably my second favourite coaster, #1 being Millennium Force. I've heard it used to be a lot more intense with cases of blackouts - not sure if people still suffer blackouts with the current configuration but it's just a plain great ride to me.
Other than I305, Volcano was a good fun and Rebel Yell was a good rough woodie that I could appreciate. This kid was sitting next to me at the backrow - unfortunately he was separated from his crowd by a few cycles. I don't know why he was there at the backrow anyway, because the other rows were mostly walkon. He was constantly yelling throughout the ride that it was too rough and complained to the ops once the train got back to the station - I just had to laugh...
23rd Travel day to Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Not sure what else I did... oh yeah I went to Colonial Williamsburg - quite nice
They put a lot of effort into putting theme in the theme park - great vibe and ambience. Rides weren't all that hot, I did like Griffon and to a lesser extent Alpengeist. Verbolten, I liked the outside part, not so much of inside but that's just my preference. Curse of Darkastle was ok, better than CW Mountain Guardian, if I put them in the same category. Didn't buy quick queue and worked out fine - it wasn't too busy. I'll probably visit again, next time I won't need to rush around too much I hope.
25th travel day to CVG
What can I say, 9 hour drive, boring boring boring... Driving through West Virginia was beautiful but I was keep losing radio reception and more importantly GPS & cell reception so got lost a couple of times.
26th travel day CVG-> LAX
Arrive in Valencia around 12, could have gone to SFMM but it was sooooooo hot (I'm not used to 100+F dry heat) so I just stayed in and watched TV. Really should have tried harder, knowing the many good rides they have...
27th Six Flags Magic Mountain
A big park - not too good on such a hot day, hardly any shelters and refreshment options were rather limited.
It was a bit of walk up the hill to Superman and Ninja & Tatsu - they must have utilised the terrain and decided not to flatten the whole park area...
I had platinum Flash Pass but it's not as good a value as SFNE & SFGAdv as there is one time ride limit on a bunch of good rides. By the time I got there (11am) the queue was plenty long.
Did the New Revolution VR, which was more fun (more interactive than Superman at SFNE) but tamer (the coaster itself isn't that hardcore), Full Throttle (which was unfortunately didnt live up to my expectation), Superman (ok for what it is, there was no queue so did it twice - it was a bit of a different experience riding coasters in dry heat), Ninja (not a fan of these but did it anyway), Tatsu (again, not a particular fan of flying coasters but this one has a great high g loop). Viper & Scream were also very enjoyable. Goliath was good but not great. Green Lantern was pretty much the same as The Joker at SFGAdv but rougher. Riddler - not my kind of coaster, I guess it's a ok ride but I wouldn't bother with it again. X2 was down so I missed out on it so I'll have to come back for it some other time. Now to my highlight of SFMM, Twisted Colossus - it's just too much fun, no other way of describing it.
Went back to find out if X2 was up and running, got there around 930 and waited for the season pass early entry - unfortunately it was still down and FT was too (I'm not too bothered with it but it would have been good to ride front row as well). So instead spent the next couple of hours at TC - a great way to finish the trip...
28th evening flight from LAX->AKL
now back to stupid reality
In summary, I found out that I'm not a true coaster junkie like most of you are - in that I get sick of riding stuff after around 6 hours. The coasters seemed like pretty much all the same after 2-3 parks (with a few exceptions, of course). Tripping solo sucks. USA in June is hot as hell. Sun in USA is blinding in Summer time. School groups suck big time. Any group of teenagers suck big time. Hersheypark sucks ass.
My top rides in no particular order:
Millennium Force CP
Intimidator 305 KD
Wicked Cyclone SFNE
Twisted Colossus SFMM
El Toro SFGAdv
Kingda Ka SFGAdv
My top parks in no particular order:
Thanks and goodbye