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Meteornotes

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  1. Mary has to go to some sort of computer programming conference that would no doubt increase the damage on my already well-damaged brain, but it's in Orlando, so I came along to enjoy the sun and visit some parks. We left a few days early to visit IOA/Universal, and here are some quick thoughts: Mummy - One word:GODLY! One of the best attractions in any park ever, and perhaps the best attraction now at USF. Great theming, amazing effects, and the coaster kicks ass! I got some amazing air time in the back on my first ride. And it has a single riders line, which made it easy to get multiple rides quickly. Worth the price of admission itself. The rest of USF - We had an excellent time. The park was very busy, but they do an excellent job of moving people through the attractions, and we also maximized our time by getting to the park before opening each day and banging out stuff that takes longer. Mary had an excellent time, and we rode every major attraction at least one (even the ultra-lame Twister!). Shrek 4D was also excellent and a lot of fun. IOA - Again, the park was exceptionally busy (there was some sort of cheerleading competition going on), but they can handle the crowds well. Plus, our first day we were there at about 8:40, and the gates were opened and rides were running, so we managed to get on every ride but the two water rides (wasn't quite warm enough for them) by 11:30! Everything was a near walk on that morning, except for One Fish Two Fish, which took us 15 minutes. With all of the attractions out of the way, that meant it was time for...MYTHOS!!!! Mythos is the best park restaurant EVER, and it still has amazing food. We enjoyed our excellent food (I almost ordered two of the tomato salads, as they are that damn good) and were also impressed with the excellent service - that guy got a good tip! Anyway, we had a great visit to IOA/USF, and though we rode almost everything the first day, having the two day ticket allowed us to take our time and ride stuff more than once if we liked (which we certainly did with Mummy and Spiderman!). Mary's conference starts today, so I'm spending the next three days at WDW. Should be fun... dt
  2. ^^Well, I was talking to Mary about Marble Madness and she gave me that blank stare. Of course, she does that with almost anything I say to her. My wife is video game challenged... Dave "almost older than the combined age of the last two posters" Thomas
  3. Yeah, Amazing Race is pretty much the only one I'll watch. I did like Dream Job on ESPN, but this time around it's all former NBA players trying for a basketball analyst job, and since I don't watch basketball, I don't care this time around. I have to say, Craft Corner Death Match is among the best TV show titles ever, though I'm sure the show is not as entertaining as it would be if I was in charge... dt
  4. Red Lobster is the craphole of the damned. Ok, perhaps it's not that good... And yes, the sushi at the California Grill at WDW is excellent. I'm hoping to eat there again on our upcoming trip. I don't know where it is, but there is a godly indian place in Orlando. Robb and/or Elissa should be able to point you in the right direction. dt
  5. Are there gators running wild and attacking random people? Because if not, that would make it more exciting... dt
  6. That is indeed odd. I do know that some science centers and such here in the US have attractions where you walk through giant replicas of human hearts and such. I remember the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia had a display like that. I can't imagine this going on display at a US park. Then again, you get the chance to see all sorts of exposed body parts at parks in the summer. Of course, they're often NOT what you wanted to see exposed, but... dt
  7. After seeing it in the Universal pics, I must have: Bad Tree, Do Not Use! dt
  8. Best overall park food: Knoebels. The pizza, chicken fries, tri-taters, the ice cream (hard and soft), pork BBQ...I could go on and on, but trust me, the food here rules, and it's pretty damn cheap too. Best Restaurant Inside A Park: Mythos - Could easily compete with any place out on Citywalk. So looking forward to my meal there soon! I agree that WDW has good food. Except the stuffed baked potato at The Land food court. That was horrid! I'll have to try some places in the World Showcase, as the only places I've been to are Japan (which kicked ass) and France (where we just had bread and cheese). Any suggestions? dt
  9. So in our continuing LA adventures from a few weeks ago, we continue our park journey with a visit to SFMM. Other than Hersheypark, SFMM is the park that I’ve visited the most times in my life. We used to visit almost every week when we lived in Glendale in the ‘90’s, so I’m very familiar with this park and its ups and downs. This place doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation, though I’ve always thought of it as an “OK” park. They’ve got some decent rides, but the way they handle crowds and other operational issues can be a problem. Since my last visit in January 2001, the park had added three coasters, including X, which I was curious to ride, and Déjà Vu, which I figured I would actually see operate… We decided to go to SFMM on Saturday afternoon, since the park now sells passes for the same price as admission, making a getting a pass a no-brainer, but at the same time no doubt greatly increasing the pass processing time. After getting to the park and seeing the missing overflow parking lot, we headed up to the front. We were slightly delayed at the ticket booth as the two individuals in front of us didn’t have enough money to buy their tickets. I gave them fifty cents, not out of any sort of civic duty, but more to keep the line moving! Pass slip now in hand, we head to the pass processing center, and were surprised to find the line only reasonably short, but the folks inside pretty efficient. The photographer guy, though, was bemused and confused by the shirts Mare and I were wearing (she, Enchant. I, Edguy. Count on us to promote our obscure bands!). We didn’t plan to really ride anything, but decided to take a lap around the park. The place looked pretty much the same as I remembered it, likely a bit worse for wear, but still seemed pretty familiar, unlike Knott’s, which had really changed in four years. The park was very busy and packed with cheerleaders, so the lines were pretty long. We eventually got to Déjà Vu, and I got to see what I had sort of expected: It was not running. In fact, the train and a section of track were gone, so there’s no way it was going to run any time soon. Actually, I was sort of happy about this, as I had now achieved the feat of seeing all the DV’s in the country not operating. I vowed to have my picture taking in front of it tomorrow to capture the honor… We eventually found ourselves over by Scream, and with Fastlane tickets in hand, headed towards the ride. The line was damn long, so the Fastlane tickets were very useful. We sat in the back, and after watching all sorts of screwing around by the operators and guests (There was some sort of VIP crowd that seemed to take over about three trains and involved a lot of switching of seats for some random reason) we were off. Scream is an OK ride. Not horrible, not great. It’s Medusa, without the hot monkey car destruction action like you’d get at SFGAdv. It is kind of weak that SFMM couldn’t be bothered to at least paint over the parking lot where they plopped down the ride almost RCT-style, but it’s not a huge distraction. This is the sort of ride I’d get on if the line was very short, but wouldn’t wait more than ten minutes for it. We headed out of the park after that, and enjoyed an evening of Mario Party and In And Out food. Mary is the burger connoisseur (I keep telling her she should start burgermeister-meisterburger.com and review them), and she enjoyed her first taste of In & Out, though we agree that the fries are ass. Anyway, bright and early next morning we find ourselves back in front of SFMM. Not long after arrival, we meet up with Mr. Six and his cousin Wendy, and DaBear and his friend. We also meet the Supercrack family. Gregg, Kristi and their kids are really cool, and Gregg was wearing a Rush t-shirt, showing that some other folks can have decent taste in music… Not long after that, Gregg got into a wrestling match with his clothing, and seemed to defeat it after a mighty struggle… Now, I was witness to something I had NEVER seen at SFMM: the park opened the gates 20 minutes early! I had never seen that before, but it gave me a chance to join the mad run to X early. And I do mean run, as that’s what everyone does (OK, at my age the run quickly devolved into a really fast walk). You apparently have to run, as if you’re not at the front of the line, you’ll have quite the lengthy wait. I found it odd that park security didn’t seem to care that people were running like madmen through their park, as this usually seems to be a pretty big deal at other parks. But anyway, we soon gathered near the bridge to X (minus Mary, as since X spins there’s no way she was going to ride it) and waited for the ride to open. Not long after that, I noticed something else I have never seen at SFMM: rides running with people before 10! Yes, Viper and Revolution were both giving rides fifteen minutes or so before the park opened. Very shocking! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Six Flags park running rides early, so this was indeed unusual. Right at 10, the gate across the bridge is opened, and again a mad dash is made to the ride. Again, I’m shocked that no one at SFMM seems to care that people are running across a bridge and pushing past each other, as you’d think this would be a prime area for guest injury. Perhaps I’m just odd in thinking about this stuff, but I wonder how many people do get hurt here. Anyway, we make our way into the ride (after laughing at people that ran past the entrance! Dumbasses!), and Elissa and I end up the first people in line for the last seat on the train. I have taunted Elissa for years about having to ride X with me, but I never thought she’d actually do it! Considering the face she made four years ago when it was suggested that she should ride with me, she has certainly gotten a lot braver…anyway, about a minute or so later, we’re loading, and a bit after that, we’re off. I had heard all sorts of stories about X, including how rough it is and how it will yank out your spine and beat you to death with it and all that. I had seen video, watched it in action, but still didn’t really “know” the layout. The ride up the lift seems to take forever, but once you’re over the top, I experienced probably the most disorienting ride I’ve ever had on a coaster. And not the most comfortable. It’s not totally brutal, but I did get bounced around a lot, especially my legs, which were bouncing all over the place and taking a good pounding. The ride ends at about the time I was thinking “OK, I’ve had enough” and we exit. I remember saying afterwards I’d never ride it again, but that’s probably not true. I would NEVER wait in a 4 hour line for it, that’s for sure. Not even an hour. X is an interesting idea, but it’s not exactly comfortable, and it might be better with the restraints used on the flying coasters, and maybe with some way to brace your legs better. It was indeed an unique experience, though it certainly would need some design changes if they were going to build more of them. With another credit out of the way (Yay!), we headed into the park, and ran into Eric “EBL” and his daughter and her friend. It was nice to meet someone close to my own age…. They accompanied us on our journey to DV for my picture. I now have my picture in front of all three non-operating Déjà Vu coasters. Woot! Go Vekoma! That task accomplished, we headed over towards Riddler’s and Batman, but noticing no line at Goldrusher, stopped there for a ride. This is still a fun ride, and it would be a shame if they took it out as rumored for their new “xtreme” coaster or whatever the hell they’re going to build. I was looking for random dirt scrapings, spilled paint, broken sticks or randomly scattered trash cans indicating construction, but was unsuccessful. Riddler’s Revenge was next, and it was still running well, and other than the Georgia Scorcher, is the only stand up coaster I like. Not totally forceless, and still pretty smooth. Mary can’t quite get her brain around a stand up coaster, so she skipped this one. Batman was next, and after the near-forceless Silver Bullet the day before, this really seemed to pack a punch. Really, it’s the difference between a ride that offers a smooth graceful experience, and one that kicks your ass and laughs at you while it does it. The Batman rides are still among the best B&M coasters out there, and it’s a shame they don’t build them like this any more. We were going to ride Colossus, but it was down. We thought about heading to Goliath, but it also appeared to be down, so we took another Scream ride. Still miss the monkeys. Maybe they could put a monkey colony in the middle of the ride and let them dismantle Déjà Vu trains. Goliath was running again, so we took a ride near the front. It’s now the tallest coaster Mary has been on, though she and I both laughed when it came to an almost dead stop on the brake run. The Helix Of Death was still pretty intense, though this ride would have been so much better with some bunny hops after it. The ride still doesn’t feel like a “complete” hypercoaster to me. At this point, after a trip through Bugs Bunny land (or whatever it’s called) and getting out picture taken with some characters, we called it a day. It wasn’t a bad visit to SFMM, we had a good time, though more due to the fact that the people we were with than the park. The place just seems sad and a bit run down. The park was pretty dead even though it was a nice day, which contributed to the amount of rides we got on. I’m glad I rode X, and hey, perhaps some day I’ll actually get on a Déjà Vu, or at least see one run with people… We had a great time on our LA visit, though we had just as much fun (if not more) just hanging out and playing video games and stuff as we did at the parks. I missed out on two credits, but then again, have already gotten three times as many as I did all last year. Thanks to everyone we hung out with, especially Robb and Elissa for putting up with us for two days… Next stop for us: Orlando dt
  10. I'm wearing jeans and a black shirt. I'm going to the grocery store and to Best Buy to get some network cables. I lead the most exciting life... dt
  11. Cold Pizza! Dave "ESPN Rules!" Thomas
  12. I'll buy one as long as it has a picture of Goliath on it... Dave "owner of many Goliath shirts" Thomas
  13. Top 5 is the show by which all other TV programs are judged...and they fail in comparison! How can you not worship a program that will take a topic like "Top 5 Things That Taste Like Chicken" and have the balls to make the #1 pick chicken?!? Pure genius, I tell you... Dave "Food Network Owns" Thomas
  14. My wife also pretty much only likes plain food, though she will eat beef and chicken. But she's not a pain about it, and is really cool about my wanting to eat odd stuff, and will just get rice or chicken if we get to a japanese restaurant. I try to convince her that sushi is plain food, since it's just fish and rice, but so far I have had no success... dt
  15. Goliath t-shirt sweatpants socks Dave "why the hell am I awake so damn early?" Thomas
  16. It’s been four years since I last set foot in LA. Mary had never been there, other than during a lay over on the way to Australia, so it seemed like a good time for a visit. Besides seeing friends and doing some random sightseeing (and enjoying LA traffic) we visited two local parks. First up was Knott’s, a park I had not visited since Solace 2001. Over the last four years, I’ve read all sorts of stories about how the park has deteriorated, how all the rides now suck, how operations have gone to hell and so on. I was curious to see what the years had done to a park that I once considered one of the best parks in the country… So after a fun-filled drive in LA traffic, we arrive at Knott’s shortly after 9 in the morning on Saturday. Why so early? Because we were getting passes, and we warned by our hosts for the day (Robb & Elissa) that getting passes would take awhile. They were not kidding. The pass processing place opened a bit after 9:30, with one person working in the building. At various points throughout the process, a random person had to enter the room and enter a coupon code into the computer, and then disappear. Also, two random employees entered the room, were confused by the camera equipment, and also left the room. At one point, the one woman asked “Do you know how to use a camera?” and I thought she was asking the people in the line waiting for their passes…but it turns out she was addressing one of the confused drones that really seemed like they had been picked up that morning out of LA’s homeless population and put into a Knott’s uniform to play some odd practical joke on either Knott’s or the people waiting. Anyway, we eventually did get our passes after about twenty minutes of waiting, and were actually done before the park opened. I felt sorry for the people waiting in line behind us (and it was quite a long line at this point). So we wander over to the front gates to notice a few things. The first was a giant cobra roll towering over the entrance. That was certainly different than the last time I was there. We also noticed the Closed Attractions sign contained no listed rides, which we thought was a good sign. The last thing I noted was the crowd gathered around the gate. It used to be that Knott’s drew a predominantly family crowd. The crowd gathered outside of the gates (and it was a pretty large one) reminded me of the crowd I used to see at SFMM in the ‘90’s when I lived in LA. Lots of teens/early 20’s, most of them shouting, cursing, shoving and the like. This really was not the type of crowd I was used to seeing at Knott’s and figured it was because the park has more “extreme” rides now. It was certainly different. So the gates open on time, and we go over to Silver Bullet, figuring that this will get the longest line. I have to say that seeing this section of the park was really strange from what I’m used to seeing here. I know parks have to change over time and all, but this still was sort of shocking to see, especially the new spilled bucket of water, err, “lake”. Anyway, we get up to the station, and watch them test the ride for awhile (interesting that the park didn’t seem to test the ride before 10 AM). After some test cycles and watching some line jumping, we get on the back row. Now, I really didn’t have a whole lot of high expectations for this ride, some because of the reviews I read comparing it to Talon, a ride I’m not too keen on, and some because B&M in general in the last few years really has not put out what I consider a kick-ass ride. I like the more intense ones, like Fire Dragon or Montu or Batman. But I’m willing to give it a chance, and I always figure that a bad B&M is usually better than a lot of other rides. So anyway, after waiting for them to check everyone, we’re off. We get to the top of the lift, and start to drop down, and immediately it seems like there’s not a great feeling of speed like on most other inverts. Sadly this continued throughout the ride, as it just never really generates a real sense of excitement. The ride moves through its course, and it feels like more of a graceful steel ballet than a kick ass ride experience. It’s very smooth, very quiet and not horrible, but at the same time it doesn’t deliver the sort of ride I look for in an inverted coaster. I’m sure that Knott’s got exactly the sort of ride they wanted, but to me this was the weakest B&M inverted coaster I’ve ever experienced. It’s a shame it doesn’t have a 48 inch height limit, as this would really make a good family coaster. So my first new credit is out of the way for the year, and we head over to Ghostrider. Now, I’ve also read all sorts of stuff about this ride over the years, some saying that it’s Silver Bullet smooth, and others saying that the ride has deteriorated to the point where riding Son Of Beast while midgets poke you with stun guns in your spine would be pleasurable in comparison. I was somewhat apprehensive, as I really like this coaster and would be really disappointed to see it in sad shape. While waiting in the station, we witnessed more line jumping (yay!) and obnoxious language and behavior by the crowd. Eventually I get settled in the front seat of the back car, and preparing for the worst, head out of the station. But my fears were unnecessary. Yes, it doesn’t ride exactly like it did when it first opened. Yes, it was a bit rough in spots, but it was not unrideable, and I thought for a day time ride not that long after the park opened, Ghostrider actually delivered a pretty damn good ride. I guess it did just come out of rehab (though how much rehab you can do to a wood coaster in two weeks I’m unsure of), and the capacity seems really bad, as they were constantly stacking trains (we decided they should open a gift shop/bar out on the brake run, since you get to spend so much time out there). Though I suppose some of this can be attributed to park patrons, as I witnessed more than one staring at the seatbelt sort of like a caveman would stare at a remote control. This ride also featured some of the new “interaction” that I dreaded, where some employee attempted to excite the crowd with random banter over the PA system. A bad idea made worse by the fact that this guy has an excellent future as a subway announcer, as he was impossible to understand, keeping me from discovering if he was truly funny or not. From what I could understand, though, he was not… Our next stop was to be Xcelerator. I’ve been looking forward to riding this for awhile, especially since riding Storm Runner this past year. We get to the ride and there’s no line. Yay! Wait, there’s no line because the ride is not running. And one of the trains is torn apart and is in pieces. And there’s no one working on the ride. This does not bode well. It turns out the ride is in rehab, though this was not noted on the sign out front. We walk pass Perilous Plunge, which was also closed. We walk towards the Screaming Swing, and that whole section of the park is closed off for repaving. On a Saturday. And the park was pretty busy, and seemed to be getting busier. OK, yeah, it has been raining a lot in CA, so perhaps this was the only time they could do this work. But still, to not note rehab rides on the sign outside (since there’s no damn way Xclerator was going to be open any time soon) and closing off a section of the park seemed kind of lame. So we head back the way we came and eventually decide to ride the log flume. They were only running one loading side, and it took us about fifteen minutes or so to get on. This is still one of the best log rides out there, though it looks like some of the interior could use a bit of work. It’s good that we rode when we did, as the line had GREATLY increased in size when we got off. Actually, at this point, almost everything we passed had a much longer line. I wanted to ride La Revolution (I think that’s the name), but the line was massive, and since I was told it runs pretty much the same as the one at Dorney (which means it won’t be very exciting and really short) we skipped it. We thought about riding Jaguar, but they were doing their infamous and confusing “one train empty, one train full” operation, and still managing to stack the trains for a good three minutes outside the station every time. I’m not sure how you can do this with one empty train, but, um, they were. We eventually found ourselves on Montezuma’s, and after a ride, we all decided that this was still the best ride in the park. It’s great that they still have this ride here, though it’s sort of sad it’s still the most forceful coaster in the park (well, Xcelerator might be better. I’ll have to wait to find out, though). We walked back past Silver Bullet, thinking we’d try it again, but one look at the lengthy line had us give up that idea. The park was pretty damn crowded, no doubt because it was probably the first nice weekend CA residents had seen for awhile, so we just decided to leave. I’ll admit, I had a better time here than I thought I would, but the park has changed, and likely not for the better. The operations didn’t seem as good as they once were, and the way some sections of the park look would really just take me awhile to get used to (I miss the lake). The “interaction” on the microphones has GOT to go, as it’s annoying and proves again that people that think they’re funny never are. The crowd in the park was really obnoxious, and line jumping is a big problem that really needs to be watched over. And how hard is it to staff the season pass processing booth with two people, or list your rehab rides on the “closed” sign? Sadly, this is not the Knott’s I was used to, and while it’s not the hellhole that some have described, I certainly wouldn’t rank the park nearly as high as I used to. Ah well, at least I got one credit…
  17. OK, I'll keep it spoiler free for our west coast viewers, but the two hour premiere of the new season of Amazing Race was on tonight, and it was damn entertaining. There are some really amusing teams in the race this time, and the show is up to its usual standard of comedy. I don't like most reality shows but this one amuses me to no end. Who else is watching? dt
  18. Some of the wisest words I've ever read... Dave "looking forward to the awesome horror that is Branson!" Thomas
  19. Like Gregg, I'm impressed how everyone here has been respectful of everyone else's opinions. On pretty much any other site, this topic would have already been closed and about five hundred people banned... Anyway, I don't believe. I've tried in the past, read the bible a couple of times, went to churches of different denominations, and in the end this is just something that doesn't do anything for me. If other people want to believe, I have no problem with it, until someone decides they must "save" me. Then there is trouble... dt
  20. Of all the ones I've stayed at, The Boardwalk is easily my favorite. It has the perfect location, it's really nice, and has a cool pool too! I'm staying at The Swan soon, so we'll see how that compares... dt
  21. I haven't listened to radio on a regular basis (other than Stern) since KNAC went off the air. It's all about the MP3 player. Though satellite radio does interest me... dt
  22. Until Quiznos gets rid of that stupid talking baby in their commercial, I refuse to eat there... dt
  23. I don't know the highest number, but I remember Robb and I riding Rebel Yell 27 times in a row at the Hypersonic media day. Instead of waiting in a four hour line for Hypersonic, we enjoyed Rebel Yell and Hurler, which were running better than any other time I've been to PKD! Another memorable moment was at the ACE con in 2000 at Holiday World, where we had three triple rides in a row after midnight. After the rides I remarked "If I have any more fun, I am going to die". Some of the best coaster rides ever... dt
  24. PKI - Wow, what a lackluster collection of rides. And it's really crowded. And it's hot. And it's not fun. One visit was enough. PCW - See above. With worse coasters. And the flat rides (other than the Top Spin that almost drowns you) were extremely overhyped. dt
  25. Anything on Top 40 radio. And can we please change American Idol to have the winner devoured by rabid poodles at the end of the show? Actually, can we do that to anyone that is on the show? The gene pool really needs to be cleaned... Dave "I really need to be put in charge of more TV shows" Thomas
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