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the_rock401

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  1. Here's my two bits on this whole situation. [rant] It is indeed ironic that SFMM may fall victim to the development that it was originally built to promote. As for the potential for the addition of AT LEAST 125,000 new residents to the Santa Clara Valley over the next 10-15 years, you would think that a lot of official entities would be viciously opposed to this development. Such entities include: -Local water utilities (After doing a little digging, there is no guaranteed water source for most new developments -Local school districts (they can't build up schools fast enough) -CalTrans (Apparently I-5 is already a joke over Newhall Pass, and where do you think all the new residents are going to work?) Those are the only ones I could think of, although there are a ton of other entities (Sierra Club, etc) opposed. Also, building in a floodplain is asking for trouble. The reason I'm saying this is that I live in an area northwest of Minneapolis that is growing exponentially because of a volatile combination of freeway access (I-94), farmers ready to retire, build-and-run developers, and city councils who approve anything that doesn't bite them first. [/rant] Paul
  2. I'm surprised that the SFMM property isn't already part of one of the cities surrounding the park. Paul
  3. ^ I don't know when you last went to SFGAm, but I was there on June 30, and the dispatches were just fine. The line was long (to the head of the queue mazes, but were not using any of the mazes), but it only took about 30-35 minutes to get through the line. It was down mechanical for a bit later in the day, but it was running for the vast majority of the day. And I didn't think the ride was very rough, nor the restraints very bad.
  4. I thought Valleyfair did a very good job of handling the PR fallout from the Wild Thing crash. And as for the biohazard, that is the PC version for someone having ridden the coaster one too many times. When we were at BGT, that happened right when we were going to get on Kumba. Paul
  5. I know there is already a thread about this, but this is the first time anyone from here at TPR has gone out there and gotten some photos of the markings and stakes, so if future discussion could be concentrated here, that would be great. Also, if anyone else posts photos in this thread, let me know so the tagline can be updated. FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006 VALLEYFAIR FAMILY AMUSEMENT PARK SHAKOPEE, MINNESOTA Since I was last out to my home park, Valleyfair (a week), I have been doing some digging into what may be going in at VF. A combination of a new version of Bench: The Ride and the world's largest Pepsi machine seem to be the rumor du jour about the newest installation. However, that rumor has been around since 1999, and has gotten a bit stale after we got out invert (Steel Venom), but not that bench-and-Pepsi machine combo. Last Friday was the first time I had seen some stakes out at VF, and I figured I had better go out there, get some photos, and try and make heads or tails out of the mess, which is what I did today. After making the usual circuits (Wild Thing 3 times, High Roller, Corkscrew, and walking out to Venom which was down mechanical), I headed back to the path going out to Excalibur and Thunder Canyon. For those of you who haven't seen it, the clearing on the other side of the path from the Hurricane Falls splashdown zone has four stakes with various colored ribbon on it. All the stakes have orange ribbon, and some of them have blue ribbon. There are also wooden hubs pounded into the ground near the stakes with blue ribboning on it. The stakes with blue and orange ribbon on it are control points. For those of you not in the survey business, control points are used on construction sites to establish where the total station (our very handy-dandy instrument) is. From there, you can put down any point you have loaded into the instrument. That's the simplest way I can think of to describe control points. Since there were only four stakes for a suspected coaster, I figured I had better ride Thunder Canyon and see if there were any more to be had. I ended up riding three times, which is more than I have ridden it in about the last 10 years. The first time was to see if there were any stakes, and there were two more control points in the Thunder Canyon course. The second time was to read the markings on the stakes, and the third time was so I wouldn't look like a total doofus going around to the exit ramp to try getting pictures of the two stakes in question. Since it's a boiling hot day, it didn't feel bad to have wet shirt and shorts, a condition that two fast rides on Excalibur quickly rectified. What's even more interesting is that on the second ride, I saw an area cleared out behind Thunder Canyon, on the river side of the property. There was a large rolloff Dumpster, a large pile of steel pipe, and equipment befit of a construction site (a front end loader and other accessories). Presumably, the steel is for piles, as Valleyfair sits on at least 30 feet of glacial river bottom silt, and you have to go a ways before you hit sufficient bedrock to build on. All was quiet at the site. I would have taken some pics, but I didn't want to chance either A) dropping my camera in the river, B) getting caught by Cedar Fair's camera policy, or C) soaking my camera. VF is going to be able to keep this thing a very tight secret until it goes aerial, and even when it does go aerial, they don't have to start their steelwork where it's visible to the public until after the season is done. However, I suspect that us enthusiasts may get some sort of clue at Coaster Craze, two weeks from today. I just hope this coaster isn't like American Eagle at SFGAm, that is SO FAR from the park that it's a royal pain in the butt to re-ride. I'll keep TPR abreast on the goings-on out at VF, and when we hear something concrete, you'll be one of the first to know! Paul Now on to the pics: This is not a good sign... A close up of this stake, taken through the fence The stake on the left side of the last pic "...You do the hippy stake-stake with all your might!" The other two stakes up front "...you stake it to the right..." "Well, you stake it to the left..." The knoll area again And the other stake. The last tow pics are from the exit ramp to Thunder Canyon. Stake #1 in Thunder Canyon. Sorry about the quality, or lack therof. This was cropped from a photo taken at 6.4:1 with a digital zoom. The area behind the sundry store, across from the waterpark. Pink flags designate wetland. I'll leave this caption to your dirty mind. Sattelite photo with site overview.
  6. Vertical Velocity is the same as Steel Venom, with the holding brake on the straight spike. The only difference is that V2's holding brake isn't nearly as loud as Venom's. Go to Superman. Go DIRECTLY to Superman. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of Raging Bull's line as well. It never took longer than 30 minutes to get completely through the ride. Ride Iron Wolf to get the credit, then move along.
  7. Wild Thing has been operational every day since about June 15. I drive within sight of Wild Thing's lift hill every day, and have seen trains going over it every day. It's running fairly well, as it goes. Much better ride later in the day, though. As for Xtreme Swing, it has been operational every day I've been out there, but only Opening Day and last Friday have both sides been operational. One side has always been running. And you can come see the markings for whatever it is VF is putting in for next year. Probably Bench: The Ride Redux or the World's Largest Pepsi Machine. Paul "I'm thirsty" Miller
  8. Very nice, Jahan Vertical Velocity at SFGAm had all the Driving Force ads, about the three Force sisters. However, it hadn't overrrun the station yet.
  9. It is for that reason that despite the Intamin name on the nameplate, I think El Toro, within 3 or 4 years without proper maintenance, is on the path towards becoming Son of Beast II. There are eerie similarities in both height and speed, and wood is TERRIBLE in fatigue. Since woodies at SFGAdv aren't exactly known for their maintenance, SoBII = El Toro. Paul
  10. Here's my diagnosis on this. Keep in mind that this is coming from the mind of a senior one semester away from his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree, and a member of ASTM, an organization that writes standards for just about everything: This crash sounds like either A) miscalculated wood fatigue or B) a bad piece of wood. Based on the fact that more of the structure didn't collapse when the beam/column let go, I'd say a bad piece of wood. The piece of wood has been loaded cyclicaly since the inception, and it chose sometime after Sunday's inspections to let go. Suddenly, the load distribution pattern changes, and when the first train gets to the weak spot, there is less stuff under the track, and the track deflects beyond the allowable limits. After the train passes by, the track returns to it's normal position until the next train comes along, when it deflects again. On the train, it feels like you are hitting a pothole. Each train that passes over the weak spot hits the pothole harder (and deflects the track further) than the last, and this continues until such time that hitting the pothole caused injuries to riders. Not sure who's going to catch the most heat over this. PKI, RCCA, the PE (professional engineer) who signed off on the plans, the general contractor, or some combination therof. As for your question about the track movement, most woodies (and all structures, for that matter) have a built-in deflection tolerances. The structure is designed to move some amount. The parts on a wooden coaster that are designed to move a large amount on a regular basis must be replaced every so often, as wood is TERRIBLE in fatigue loading. Paul "This is my fifth attempt to post this" Miller
  11. If being able to see your car from a lift hill is a litmus test for theming, then you'd be SOL at most places, as most theming isn't intended to go up 100+ foot tall lift hills. The theming at BGT is FANTASTIC, at least compared with the other parks I remember going to (I've been to WDW, but I was only about 7 at the time, so I don't remember very much from there). Paul
  12. I've had several great conversations in line. I talked with two women from Fort Lauderdale in line for Sheikra, and it was a great time. Also, I was in line for the tube bowls at SFHH-Chicago and talked with the group of four from Michigan that I ended up hanging out with the rest of the day. So a well-placed conversation can yield much.
  13. By the sounds of the TRs, it sounds like SFMM is the ultimate feast-or-famine park. Either everything goes fantastic, or everything goes to hell in a handbasket, with very little room in between.
  14. And the rest of the photos. If anyone wants high-res version of these photos, please let me know. Me and the Michigan Four (me to the left) That's as full as the lot got today. Much of Great America's coaster firepower Viper Demon The Vu
  15. Yeah, I forgot to ride Whizzer. I plan to go there one more time before the season is over. And now on to some photos... Hey Marvin! I thought this was pretty damn cool Batman at dusk Rajun Cajun Pepe Le Pew trying to fumigate the place Most of today's pics came around nightfall The non-exclusinve, exit line shot of Superman diving down the first hill. Superman testing is a good sign. You know you're in Wisconsin...
  16. Superman: Ultimate Flight wasn't much better on Friday at SFGAm. You'd think that they'd be doing SOMETHING different to try and improve throughput on a signature ride. Line was back into the queue mazes all day, and it took well over an hour to go that distance.
  17. I plan on going out to Canterbury Downs to play the ponies, then down to Delano for beer and fireworks, then hustle home to bed, as 0500 will come early on Wednesday morning. Paul "Tap that keg!" Miller
  18. FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 2006 SIX FLAGS GREAT AMERICA GURNEE, ILLINOIS Last week I made my annual visit to the Wisconsin Dells, and when I was there, somehow the seed got planted on pushing on another few hours to Six Flags Great America. I spent the next week trying to contact friends who live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, to no avail. So I bit the bullet and got the cheapest hotel on Expedia within driving distance of SFGAm, which was the Microtel Inn in Racine, Wisconsin. Racine is about 35 minutes north of Gurnee. I took off at lunchtime on Thursday from my normal job at MnDOT, and after goofing around a bit, headed east on I-94. I have a newfound respect for U of Minnesota students who come here from the east coast of Wisconsin, because the drive was a pain in the butt. However, making the Ho-Chunk Nation pay for some of your expenses en route doesn’t hurt. I get to Racine intact, but exhausted, and don’t stay up very long. Friday morning, after jamming myself full of IHOP pancakes, I took the free highway down to SFGAm. I paid the $15 (gulp) to the troll at the toll plaza, and parked front and center, which was considerably closer to the front gate than the $20 preferred parking lot. I got there about 9:10, and by 9:30, the area between the ticket windows and metal detectors was filled with people. Being used to the size of Valleyfair, where a crowd like this at T-minus 30 minutes usually meant a very crowded park, I thought that was going to happen here. The metal detectors opened up at 9:40, and let the crowd fill in the front plaza. At 9:50, the pre-open show started with a perfect way to open the long 4th of July weekend, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A family from Sedalia, Missouri had been taken up to the upper deck of the carousel to be the official “first ride of the day. This took place to much fanfare, and promptly at 10 AM CDT, the rope dropped, and the crowd took off. Having read the SFGAm tip thread, I took off for Superman: Ultimate Flight (coaster credit #44), as well as half the crowd in the front plaza. We arrived at the entrance to S:UF, and stopped. And waited. The line kept getting longer and longer, and by the time the queue opened, 20 minutes later, the crowd was all the way back to the carousel. Since I was close enough to the front of the line, I decided to go to the front row, since there was just about no one else in the front row line. When I got to the front of line, three trains later, I emptied my pockets to the cubbyholes, and sat in the very comfortable seats, but then the seats turned forwards. This was my first flyer, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the restraints. They were very unusual in that your butt is completely out of the chair during most of the ride. The flying sensation is awesome, and then you hit the pretzel. Holy crap, was that fun. After that, the ride just fizzles out. After we got back, the line was already back into the queue mazes near the front. When I was waiting impatiently outside the line at the open, my logic was either wait 20 minutes now or wait for 2 hours later. Keeping in with the tradition of hitting the low-capacity stuff first, I headed over to Vertical Velocity, but along the way I got my credit on Rajun Cajun (#45). Standard Reverchon spinning mouse, as in it spins like a crazy dude. Then over to V2 (#46). Same ride as Steel Venom here at VF, but with a slightly different belt configuration. I was enlisted as a partner for a group of three where one rider didn’t want to be flying solo. V2 seemed to have a little stronger kick of air than Venom did in Row 4. Next on the circuit was Iron Wolf (#47), a primitive B&M standup. This ‘ol boy was no Riddler. It has not aged well. Back on Revolution, I was tall enough to sit over the top of the OTSRs. On Iron Wolf, I had the exact opposite problem. I was tall enough to get my ears boxed out. Also, the trains were not exactly aesthetically pleasing. One and done. Since I had seen Déjà Vu (#48) running, I figured I better get that credit before it goes down mechanical. The station for this looks like the starting gate at your friendly neighborhood horse racing track. The operations were such that the line was long, but they were doing a good job of cranking people through the ride. I had no problems with height (I’m close to the 76” listed maximum height). These Deja Vus get kind of a bum rap as far as the ride goes. It’s a fun ride, I had no headbanging, and it was doing a good job of chewing through a line. After the Vu, I headed over to the Great Southwest for some B&M goodness, Raging Bull (#49). The line was back to where the queue goes down the steps. It looked like it was going to be a long wait, but boy was I wrong. The line was one of the fastest moving ones I’ve ever seen, and I was through the ride in less than half an hour. As for the ride itself, wow! Lots of kick and floater airtime, smooth as glass, and a great crew! If this isn’t a Top 10 steel, it’s a rotten shame. I’ve cleaned up the steel credits, so it’s time to get the woodies. Since Viper (#50) was close by, I headed there. The line looked very long, though. But I was proved wrong again. This was another fast-moving line. I sat in the very back, and the ride was nothing too spectacular. Next came the long, long walk back to American Eagle. This is the one of the longest queues I have ever seen. It’s a long hike out to where the line splits for the Red and Blue trains. LONG hike. I started on the Blue side (#51), and got a ride a lot like Viper. Kinda smooth, fast, but not much in the way of either floater air or kicks of air. Same with the Red side (#52). However, contrary to reports seen here on TPR and elsewhere, my second ride on the Red train actually ran racing against the Blue train, and it wasn’t until this happened that I noticed the trim on the Red side going into the helix. Either way, either side of Eagle wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t SO DAMN FAR TO GET BACK TO THE LOADING PLATFORM! It’s a hot day, and I’m thinking about going over to SFGAm’s new Hurricane Harbor waterpark. But first, I decide to go over to the original Batman: The Ride (#53). I notice that unlike the queue out at SFMM, which is themed like a disaster area, the theme for the SFGAm queue is a construction site by Gotham Public Works. The line had some great techno music in the queue, until the CD ran out. Next CD up: the batman soundtrack with “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal on it. It was a bit unusual hearing “Kiss from a Rose” in the queue line for a major roller coaster. But the ride was just as I expected it to be: fast, forceful, and fun. Rode in Row 2 first, then row 8. Great ride. After this, I decide to get Demon (#54) out of the way before heading to the car to change equipment. Semi-standard Arrow looper, except in the very front, where for some reason, the nose cone has been closed off part of the way. There was still plenty of room for my legs, though. I liked the lights in the tunnel after the second vertical loop, but otherwise, nothing too spectacular. The crowds up to this point hadn’t been too bad, and I soon found out why. I then went to the car and grabbed my trunks to head to Hurricane Harbor, the waterpark. I got there, and holy cats! The place is a nuthouse! I change, and go over to the waterslide tower with the two body slides, two raft bowls, and two other raft slides. I first go up the body slide staircase, and experience the second-longest wait of the day. There seemed to be some confusion on trying to get people to both slides. I got back down to the bottom, and I grab a hold of one of the double tubes, and I head up the stairs. The line on this side of the tower is almost as long as the body slide line, but faster moving. While in line, I somehow get to talking to the foursome in front of me. We have one of those fun but brief waiting-in-line conversations, and they split up to go down the bowls. I got through the bowl, and as I scrambled out of the pool, dragging the twin tube along with me, here come two of the foursome over to the tube pile. They ask me if I want to go on some rides with them, and since I’m there myself, I gladly take up their offer. We introduce ourselves, and we get to talking. They’re from Battle Creek, Michigan, they had some campground/hotel problems last night, and they get to make the 4-hour drive back to Battle Creek tonight after leaving SFGAm. We decide to ride the big tube slide, and of the two on the tower, we go for the purple one, the one with the long airtime run. It’s a great time talking with these folks on the way up. We have to split into twos to ride the slide. Me and Tyler, the other guy in our group of five, opt to go last. We come out of the tunnel absolutely flying, and we get some MONSTER air. So much air that had we all gone in one tube, as had been originally suggested, we would have likely been scraped up somewhere around the Wisconsin border. The lifeguards get SOAKED, and we all collapse in hysterical laughter. We got so much air that Tyler hurt his shoulder on impact. After we change, we split up. I have to go out to my car to get some of my stuff (camera, phone, wallet), so we exchange phone numbers so we can meet back up after I get back in the park. After making the swap, I call Tyler’s phone about a dozen times, to no avail. By this time, the sun is going down, and I get some inspiration on what to shoot for video and pictures. One of the songs that just came on the park’s background sound is “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb. I started shooting lots of sundown footage with this inspiration. After circling the park getting lots of footage, I run into Tyler and company by accident. They are getting tired, and are ready to head back to Michigan. It was very nice meeting you all. If you are reading this TR, message me. Anyway, after bidding the Michigan Four adieu, I shoot footage until my camera battery dies, and then I start taking night rides. Viper really came alive as the sun went down. I rode in row 6, and it went from a “meh” ride in the back row to a “Wow!” ride in row 6. Had it not been so damn far back to Eagle, I’d have gone back there to partake in some more wooden madness. I went on two more rides on Raging Bull (rows 8 then 9), with the ride getting better and better. At this point, it’s 9 PM. Apparently there are going to be fireworks and a show near the one train station at 9, so I wander over to see what it’s all about. The show is unwatchable, so I start positioning myself for a fast run over to Superman after the end of the fireworks, thinking that people are going to start pouring out of the gate after the end of the fireworks, and will draw people out of the park. The fireworks were decent enough, and as soon as the last shot is fired, I walk very quickly over to the Superman queue. The line has indeed shrank (it’s been back in the queue mazes all day) to about half the distance to the station, but it still takes half an hour to get up to the platform. When I get up to the station, I go to Row 7 of the train. Lo and behold, I line up along side the same three people I’d ridden in the front row with way back at the open. We make lots of comments about how the day is best book ended by rides on Superman. The flying sensation is still great in row 7, but going through the pretzel I thought I was going to black out. Force, force, and did I mention force? A great final ride of the day before I decide to quit it. I get back to my car, then I start making my way back to the Microtel in Racine. That open-faced turkey sandwich at the Perkins at Kenosha, WI never tasted so good. The remainder of the trip featured stops at the Wisconsin State Fair Park/Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and Lake Zumbrota in rural Wabasha County, Minnesota. All in all, a fine trip to celebrate America’s independence. THE END
  19. I'm in the same boat as DerekRx. I live in Minneapolis, so most my flights have been on the Big Red Shark, Northwest.
  20. MySpace is just creepy. While Facebook usually isn't much better, at least there are a few attempts at control on Facebook.
  21. Someone did make a point about the differences in forces from right to left only in the 4-abreast B&M trains. That is simply due to the properties of rotational acceleration. The further from the axis (center), the stronger the rotational acceleration is.
  22. I'm thinking about going to SF Great America next Friday, June 30. Keep the tips coming! Paul "Staying with college buddies in the Chicago suburbs" Miller
  23. Going to the taxi stand may be convenient, but it'll be about $14-$15 each way. I highly recommend the light rail. One fare will get you to and from there, provided you don't spend more than 2.5 hours in the Mall. Valleyfair may be 20 minutes away on a Saturday morning with no traffic on the 494 Strip in Bloomington, but try that during the week between 6 AM and 6 PM. Forget it. You'd need to rent a car (no bus service within 5-6 miles of VF), and by the time you got out there, you'd need to come back to turn it in, and you'd likely miss your flight. Just be warned, it's a LONG way from security out to the LRT. Paul
  24. I live in the Twin Cities, and go to the park regularly during the winter months. In order to go to the MoA from the airport (I'm assuming you're flying through on Northwest) go out to the LRT (light rail transit) station. Before going down the last set of escalators, make sure you buy a train ticket. If you don't, and you get caught, it's a $180 fine that'll ruin your day. Then, take the train to the Mall of America and go into the park. After getting the coaster credits, go back out to the transit station and head to the Lindbergh Terminal. Paul
  25. Dells are another 3 hours past SFGAm, and you have to fight your way through lousy traffic and perpetual road work in Milwaukee and Madison. Paul "Better Dead than Wisconsin Red" Miller
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