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The Great Zo

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  1. Yeah, how'd you sleep that night? Was it restful? Poland seems like probably not an every-Europe-trip destination, but I bet I'll get back there at some point. I wouldn't mind seeing Krakow at a more leisurely pace, and Energylandia will probably have another 18 roller skaters to pad my numbers with, so...
  2. Thanks, I figure they're not for everyone but at least I've got you and Garbles! Was just thinking that "Krakow Kings" would also have worked if we were trying to stick with alliteration.
  3. Thursday, July 25, 2019 Day 14: Rhymes With Schiphol Part II Yeah, we're gonna give Day 14 a title about Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport even though we didn't ever actually make it back to Schiphol. That was supposed to be our layover stop on the way to Sweden, but it was not meant to be. Probably because Schiphol is a ... well, if I just came out and said it, it would give away the joke. I know they don't rhyme exactly. It's close enough. But here we are, ridiculously early on a Thursday morning, preparing for a transition day as we fly across Europe, hopefully to end with a fun evening at our next park: Liseberg. Most of us got just a few hours of sleep. Some didn't get any sleep at all. But bright and early, we were ready to head out of Krakow. Let's get to the pics! A night scene of the entrance to the Krakow airport. Heading into the check-in area at -- no joke -- 4:30 AM. Yeah, it was still pretty quiet, and we had a little extra time. So, of course, I found the Observation Deck. I have never met an observation deck I didn't like, even if it charges you 2 złoty to enter. A corridor lined with awesome airplane photographs... ...and a nice view of the small airport (though, unfortunately, behind glass). Look at that lucky Lufthansa plane with a jet bridge. Like so many airports in Europe, there are a lot of bus gates here. A few more airplanes on a misty morning, just before sunrise. More time to kill, so a view outside the airport. There's the hotel! The walkway and drop-off area. Krakow's airport is named for Pope John Paul II (Kraków Airport im. Jana Pawła II). The main building has this really strange triangular prism shape. Honestly, it's really cool for photography. So, yeah, gonna share a few pics of it. Everything is sideways. Sunrise in Krakow! Heading back inside, and almost time for our flight. So, we'll head through the second level of the airport. Waiting areas near some of the gates. We had to head all the way down to Gate 1. And here is our gate. KLM Flight 1992 to Amsterdam, departing at 6:40 AM. We were through security. Our luggage was checked. We were standing in line to wait to head down to the airplane. And then we were denied boarding. Well, not just us, but everybody who was flying to Amsterdam for a connecting flight. Turns out Schiphol was having a little problem. The day before, the airport's main fuel supply system completely broke down. In case that sounds bad, well, it's hard to fly an aircraft if it doesn't have any fuel. So hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed, and people had to sleep at Schiphol airport overnight. The problems and delays cascaded into the next day -- our Thursday morning -- with severe attempts to limit the numbers of passengers flying into Schiphol for connecting flights. So, our group of 24 or so people -- denied boarding for a flight that still took off without us -- was essentially stranded in Krakow. Here's where you learn one very important key to traveling with TPR: if something gets screwed up, you want Elissa on your side. We tried to find ways to help. I ran around and talked with hapless check-in agents, who through no fault of their own were unable to help us rebook. Others in the group started looking up alternate flight options, and even the possibility of traveling by rail to Warsaw, where additional flights might be available. But ultimately, after spending literally hours on the phone with Delta, Elissa began to announce the changes to our plans. There was no possible way to get all of us on the same flight, and it wasn't even going to be possible to get all of us to Gothenburg that day. But the morning malaise turned to excitement as our next agenda item became clear: we'd be splitting up, rebooked across multiple airports and multiple flights, eventually making our way to Gothenburg in small groups. Going alphabetically, we were essentially split into four parts. One group got out quickly, and actually had time to make it to Liseberg that evening. Two other groups headed out in the mid to late afternoon, eventually re-uniting in Munich for a flight to Gothenburg. The final group became the "Polish Princes" -- stuck with a flight the next morning, but choosing to wisely use the extra time to explore more of Krakow. For those of us in the second group, including me, we had some time to spare. So at least a few of us headed back to the hotel to catch a little extra sleep, then ... back to the airport for Krakow Departure Day, Take Two. Back at the airport for another go. Oh, and have you ever heard of obwarzanek krakowski? It's a rolled bread (sort of like a bagel or pretzel) that vendors were selling dirt cheap in the airport. Surprisingly good. Should have gotten more than one. First ever airport credit named after a pope! Yeah, back at the observation area again, because the hotel booted us out at noon. Planes from Germany and Poland at this relatively small airport. A Ryanair 737-800 lands. Fly Dubai and Norwegian (both 737-800s). Ryanair 737-800 again. LOT Polish Airlines Dash-8. Swiss A220-300. A very new plane. To make up for the, uh, inconvenience ... the airport gifted us 42 złoty! That's about $11 US, but it went further than you'd think at this airport. So, we got pizzas... ...at Boccone Trattoria... ...which was a pretty nice airport restaurant. Perhaps you could kill some more time by reading Polish romance novels. Or, let's face it, we're ready to head out. Lufthansa flight 1625 to Munich! I even caught our plane -- a CRJ-900 -- on its way in. So, it's back to the gate, and this time, we actually get on a bus that takes us to an airplane. Amazing. Our ticket out of Krakow has arrived. Boarding the flight to Munich. Any fears about luggage getting misplaced during our travel issues were put to rest -- everyone's stuff made it. And then we're up. Goodbye Poland! ...and hello Germany! Krakow's airport is small. Munich's airport is massive. Those giant hangars that dominate this photograph? Those are for Lufthansa's A380s. That pyramidal hill is actually a designated planespotting location for the Munich airport! We passed some large planes (including this A350-900) as we taxied to... ...another bus gate. Yeah, this is fun, driving around the outside of the airport. Well, we got inside, and I tried to figure out the quickest way to get to our connecting gate -- as we didn't have a ton of spare time. We went up... ...then back down to the tunnel that leads to the K/L gates. An underground train goes from one side of the airport to the other. POV shot! See, there's ride content in this post! At our gate, if you're bored, you could play some virtual reality games. ...or just get ready to board Lufthansa flight 2432 on an A321 to Gothenburg, because we're all ready to get to Sweden. Guten Flug. The funny thing about this unexpected visit to the Munich airport is that my additional travels at the end of my trip were always planned to finish in Munich. It was always a part of my itinerary. I just got in an early visit. Really interesting planespotting airport, too, even if you're just taxiing and looking out the window. Here's an Oman Air A330-300. South African A330-200. What are you looking at? A rare Lufthansa A340-600. There aren't many left, and I think they might even be retired now due to the pandemic. Turning onto the runway. Goodbye, Munich, that was a fun couple hours. That A380 in the picture really stands out, doesn't it. Views of some small villages... ...and huge cities, as we went over Berlin. This view really takes my breath away. Finally, a sunset in Sweden. Beautiful views over the Kattegat. ...and one more stinkin' bus gate! Mad that I overexposed this shot, but I'm using it anyway. That's a little better. Hey, it's a Volvo. That must mean... ...we're in Gothenburg! Or Göteborg, if you'd prefer. I flew out of this airport at the end of my 2016 trip, so it wasn't my first time here. The Hotel Lorensberg, not far from Liseberg. It was too late for our group to get to the park, but I did get some dinner at the Stage Door restaurant across the street. They had just closed the kitchen, but made me a burger anyway, and it was fantastic. I tipped them well. A 7-11 just down the street was also nice. Oh, and we may have had some fun with Lorensberg's extremely old-fashioned elevator. That brings an end to a long, extremely strange day of travel -- with the best group in the world to share a strange day of travel with! And that means we've got a full day at Liseberg up next!
  4. This is a short two-part update to cover some odds and ends between theme parks -- so no roller coaster content this time around. The first part will cover the end of our time in Poland, and the second part will cover our travel day from Krakow to Gothenburg. Well, for most of us, anyway... Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Day 13 Part 2: Poland, Continued When we last left off, we had just finished a half-day at Legendia. About a quarter of the group stayed at Legendia a little longer, but about 3/4 went ahead to our next destination. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum If this doesn't seem like a normal stop on a TPR trip, it's because it's not. I believe it was Kristen's idea originally, then coordinated by Elissa. It's not far from Krakow, and for many of us, perhaps the only time we would ever get the opportunity to go there. No, I'm not doing a full report of Auschwitz. I couldn't do it. And no one would want it anyway. So I'm going to share one picture. "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." We toured both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II - Birkenau. You can't really describe the feeling of being there. You wouldn't want to wish it on anybody. But to see it is to understand the magnitude of the atrocity, even if no reasonable human could ever understand the reason. And to understand that oppression and injustice aren't things locked in time, but things that can happen again. And that's something no functioning society should ever forget. --- We returned to our hotel, and shortly thereafter, hopped in a couple Ubers for... One Night In Krakow (and the world's your credit card) Truth be told, we didn't have a whole lot of time in central Krakow, but just enough for dinner on the main square (Rynek Główny) followed by some very quick sightseeing, and one specific photograph I'd made it my goal that evening to acquire. First a few shots from our hotel, which I'd yet to cover. The Hilton Garden Inn is directly across the street from the main entrance to the Krakow airport. It's got a check-in desk, because it's a hotel. It also had a free laundry room! Right in the middle of a TPR trip, that's a huge plus! Ooooh, the fancy "L'atmosphere" hotel restaurant. Not bad. This walkway leads from the hotel (left) to... ...the airport. You'll be seeing more of the airport soon. So, we arrived in Old Town Krakow just as dusk was falling, making our way toward the main square along cobblestone streets. I think we ended up with 10 or 11 of us at this Polish/Italian restaurant, which was not bad at all. After dinner was done, the group split up. I had done very little night photography on this trip, and wanted to get some shots of central Krakow in what limited time I had available. We discussed meeting back up to share an Uber back to the hotel a little later, and after a quick stop for ice cream, I pulled out the mini-tripod and got started. ^ Saint Mary’s Basilica (Kościół Mariacki) ^ Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) ^ another view of Kraków Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) ^ Town Hall Tower (Wieża ratuszowa) ^ Church of St. Wojciech (Kościół św. Wojciecha) ^ Saints Peter and Paul Church (Kościół ŚŚ Piotra i Pawła) ^ Wawel Castle (Zamek Królewski na Wawelu) At this point, I headed out on a bridge over the Vistula River to get the one shot of Krakow I'd wanted more than all the others. Wawel Castle, with its reflection on the waters of the Vistula River. A classic shot. And I got one more, zoomed in. I took this picture at 11:53 PM. Within a minute of that, I checked my phone and found a message from my friends. Some of them were going to stay out later, but the rest were getting an Uber and heading back to the hotel, so I had to meet up with them. Problem: I was nowhere near their location, and the Uber was just about there. So, that was the end of night photography -- I proceeded to jog through the streets of Krakow and cover 1.2 miles in 10 minutes, despite being exhausted as heck at the end of a long day, because I was not missing my ride back to the hotel! (Maybe the hardest I've ever worked for two single pictures?) Well, that wraps up our adventure in Krakow, and our adventure in Poland as a whole. Here's a map of our travels. More to follow...
  5. I'm comfortable with some low-impact road trips with limited itineraries as it is, but vaccination will open up more ideas for me. And I usually go to Florida once a year so somehow I have to get there in 2021. I'm fairly pessimistic, though, about the idea of other countries letting us in any time soon. I don't have anything specific planned as of now but I am hoping to do a bunch of US-based travel in the second half of 2021. The "ideal" version would move Florida up from Sep/Oct to Apr/May, if things work out that I can get some needles in my arm by early spring.
  6. Thanks! Lech is definitely worth a trip back at some point. And it does have the more photogenic of the two in-station inversions. Oh, did they spin. I would have gotten a picture of the spinny thing in the middle of the cup, but yeah, other family in the cup with me so that was already awkward enough.
  7. I don't know the whole history behind the Kings Island Resort Hotel, but right now that land is owned by "Warren County Holdings LLC" -- a faceless company with a PO Box and no names attached. They purchased the property from "OHMI Investors LLC" in 2018. That's a whole lot of boring nothingness to basically say I have no clue who actually owns that property or what they're doing with it. On a similar note, it's interesting that the Camp Cedar property isn't owned by Cedar Fair. The plot is owned by "Kings 71 LLC" which appears to be related to Terra Firma Associates, who are mentioned as co-owners of the camp in the press release on the previous page. Cedar Fair has contracted to manage the property.
  8. Guests of the new campground should have a great view of the rotting carcass of The Beach right across the freeway. Wonder if anything's ever going to happen with the big plot of land where the KI Resort and Conference Center used to be?
  9. I always try to capture the aesthetic of not just the park, but where it's located. Most parks in the US have pretty homogeneous surroundings, though you'll find the occasional oddball -- the arid mountains around SFMM, the surrounded-by-water feel at Cedar Point, or (lol) the graveyard at Little Amerricka. But in Europe, it's so much more varied. I don't disagree with the Eastern Bloc comment -- I definitely got that feel from some parts of the park and some of the older buildings nearby. However, both the park and the area around it have quite a bit of new development too, so change is on the way. Great point on Lightning Run -- that is a coaster that Lech also reminded me of, though Lech is obviously superior by a pretty good margin. But they both try to pack a lot into a small footprint, they're both very well designed, and they're both non-stop action the whole way. I'm still kind of surprised more Hyper GT-X coasters haven't been built, but hopefully Vekoma's got more Lech-like stuff up their sleeves. That's a really tall order, but it's penance for their sins as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for the comments everyone!
  10. More pics! Continuing with a loop through the park to check out some of the various flat rides. I mentioned in the TR that Dragon Wrestling Tournament was no longer. That's a shame. Mainly because it's one of the best names in a park full of awesome ride names. But also because ... this. This is amazing. RIP, Dragon Wrestling Tournament. (for those wondering, Dragon Wrestling Tournament was a Huss Flic Flac.) Next up on the way through the park -- Giant Water Pump. Giant Water Pump is an extremely small frisbee-type ride. I think it only seats 6 people. Like a smaller version of that bell ride at Hansa Park (that I actually somehow got on). Music Box -- another kids flat. A carousel! Phoenix. It's not just a coaster at Knoebels. This one is an Enterprise. Given that these are disappearing, it's good to note that Legendia still has one. Magical Lake Expedition. Yeah, that's some magic. It's a pirate ship, with zero pirates in sight, but a gratuitous amount of mermaids. Magical Lake Taxi is some kind of boat ride that goes out over the lake. Not sure it was operating on the day we were there. Would be good for some closer views of Lech Coaster on a day with a little more time at the park. The Tea Cups are ... just called Tea Cups. The Carousel is ... the Carousel of Love! The Royal Ballroom is... ...a Trabant! Wonder Garden is ... actually, I'm not sure what it is. Did anybody go through this? It looks like it's some kind of walkthrough in a spinning tunnel, maybe with weird effects of some kind? I really wanted to check it out, but as I recall, I was running short on time to either get to lunch or get out of the park. They have inverting bicycles. That's a hard pass from someone as clumsy as me. Join the circus! This is what you always wanted! These are all your dreams come true! Circus Hoppala, unfortunately, was down for the count (and has since been removed). I believe it's a Moser Hoppla, and it basically just inverts a lot. Not sure I've seen one of these before. This picture barely looks like it was taken in a theme park. A pleasant scene. Open areas for people to just take it easy. Play areas for kids. European parks are smart for building things like this. US parks should take note. Finally -- what's in the dome? Like I said -- it's Hawaii. Or Florida, or the Caribbean, or whatever. It's a beach party. Also, there's a cow... ...and a robo-mower, which I was way too amused by. Scary Toys Factory was inop. I'll have to find my scary toys elsewhere. Across the water, it's Dragon Temple. Skyflyer is flying. That brings us to lunch, in a nicely themed restaurant. Seriously, in this one picture, there's more cohesive theming than in that entire other ... er, fine, I said I wasn't going to talk about them anymore. Lunch is served! It was great! The Fanta Shokata (Elderberry-Lemon) I'm not as sure about,, but I'd never seen one of those before, let alone tried one. Anyone up for some Polygamy? Alright, Lunch is done, so let's get back to Lech. Lech is visible from pretty much anywhere on the park's waterfront, so with a long enough lens, you can get a whole variety of different angles. Here's one that shows off the steepness of the drop. A big flip into the first inversion. Airtime -- and that big white bird again. Also, if you look closely, I'm pretty sure Steve is in about 70% of the Lech pictures in this part of the TR. Just look for the bald guy in the red shirt with his hands up! More airtime! Lots of crazy track on this view, and you can see the inversion heading into the ride station. This is sort of the best "full view" of Lech from across the water. Cresting the lift. Lech Coaster is 131 feet tall. It has three inversions. Lech has a max speed of 59 MPH. Lech is 2979 feet long. I think that's all the pertinent stats. Thankful that the sun came out for a bit so I could get a couple good cycles with nice lighting! And now a few pictures from closer to the coaster. That's a drop alright. Going down? Nowhere else to go. The big white bird makes a nice prop for pictures like this one. Plus I got really lucky on the timing here! A closer view of the bird. A big inversion from the back side of the station. So many good photo angles of Lech Coaster, and I barely scratched the surface of them. Another inversion shot! (another appearance by Steve!) Into the station! (seriously, did Steve ever get off this ride all afternoon?) The in-station inversion needs to find its way into more coaster designs. It's awesome. So many emotions. I have no idea what this award is, but whatever it is, Lech deserved it. Barry and David agree! And now here we are, in 2020, and we're actually advocating for parks to buy new Vekoma roller coasters. What a world. One more ride I got a few pictures of -- Diamond River, the park's splash boat. Diamond River is adjacent to Lech at the north end of the park. It actually has two hills and two drops, but I only had time for pictures of this one. The splash begins. Skloosh. Water everywhere. Diamond River looked like it wasn't a complete soaker, but nearing the end of our time at the park, I wasn't going to risk it. Extra credit for the nicely-themed boat, too. Heading toward the exit, but one more place to stop on the way out. This is Korona Ziemi. Literally, Korona Ziemi translates to "Crown of the Earth" ... but what it actually means in Polish is "seven summits." As in, the highest points on the seven continents on Earth. And Legendia has a museum for it. Amazing. Mountaineering artifacts and informational signs! Boots and helmets and other mountaineering equipment! The star of the show? Gigantic scale models of the seven summits themselves. The grand-daddy of them all, Mount Everest. North America's highest mountain peak -- Denali in Alaska. The level of detail on each mountain model is pretty stunning. Somebody spent a lot of time on this, and I absolutely love it. That brought me to the end of my day at Legendia, with the group about to head out. I waited several minutes for a train to run on Lech Coaster for this closing shot, but no such luck. This will have to do. Such a cute little park, with a really bright future. Hope I get to visit again some time. That's it for this TR segment. Will try not to wait 5 months between segments for the next one.
  11. More pictures! ERT was complete, but we still had one more coaster to ride. Welcome to the Dream Hunters Society! It's ... a Galaxi. A very very pink Galaxi. Also, there's a random dragon thing, for whatever reason. As I recall, the run into the brakes was a little ... sudden. Colin is having the time of his life!!! So is Steve!!! Dreamflight Airlines was up next, and it's a Legendia original! These are the airplanes we'll be flying in today. It's a pleasant swing out over the park. A look at the loading platform just after our ride had gotten going. Chuck and Larry are waiting for the next cycle, and they'll be waiting a while. A look at the station platform from full swing. Flying over castles in the clouds! Flying over kiddie play areas! And a nice view of the Legendia Flower -- the park's Ferris wheel. I have several pictures of the Legendia Flower. Here's one with some cloud porn. The Wheel and the Dreamflight Airlines tower. Proof that we're in the city -- the wheel and some high-rises nearby. So, I made my way up to the Legendia Flower. To the best of my knowledge, I'm the only person from the group who got on the wheel, so I've got some views that haven't been shared yet. It was about a 10-minute wait to get on board, and I was grouped with a small family -- one or two parents, plus a young girl. So, there's just one other problem. This is one of those wheels where you can spin the gondolas. The girl wanted to spin. I wanted to take pictures. So, I took pictures ... while we were spinning. It was an interesting time. Looking down from the wheel. The park was not too busy during our visit, and this is one of the only rides I saw with much of a queue. Inside the spokes! Now, a view of the park from left to right -- roughly west-to-east. There's Dreamflight Airlines and Lech Coaster on the west side of the pond. A view over the middle of the pond. Lots of open space at this park. A view toward the south/east part of the park, including the main entry area. This really gives you the idea that the park's right in the middle of a city. The entrance to Basylizsek, not far from the wheel. Cameo appearance by the Colonel. Dreamflight Airlines and Dream Hunters Society make an appearance. A look at the top. The hexagonal shape really reminds me of the Golden Zephyr at DCA. There's a rainbow thing. It's called Dragon Temple, which is the best name for one of those ever. A small kiddie flat called Fish 'n' Wish. Another great name Off across the water, the cable car station, and Diabelska Pętla. The best view I have of Diabelska Pętla from the wheel. Wasn't lucky enough to catch a cycle. A sky slide and a Kamikaze type thing called Skyflyer. A wider view of the far east end of the park, and the cityscape behind it. The main entrance to the park is just above the big dome, with a bunch of flats scattered around nearby. What's in the dome? Hawaii, actually. Across the park, a few more flats, some nice landscaping, and... ...Scary Toys Factory, the one credit we missed out on. Let's get to the fun part -- aerial views of Lech Coaster in action. Look at that twisted mess of Vekoma track. Dramatic top-of-lift shot! This drop is good. One big twist to the right! Down you go, at what looks -- from this vantage point -- like some kind of impossible angle. The first inversion, right after the drop. Love getting it framed with the station building behind it. A bit of twisty airtime follows the first inversion. Maybe even some hairtime. The inversion through the station! Another twisty bit -- and hey, there's that big white bird again. Only got one batch of pictures of Lech from the wheel since it was running one train -- totally justifiable given the crowds, but tough for photography. More of Lech still to come, but for now, a look around the city. The cityscapes are so different in Europe, so I always like to get a few pictures of things outside the park as well. Some older residential buildings in the area. But also some newer office buildings, and I think I somehow get a church spire in every single segment of this TR. A mix of older and newer construction in sort of an urban/suburban area. Downtown Katowice is just a few miles away. This is part of a big upscale shopping mall, not far from Legendia. Another view just east of the park. I mean, I usually go to Europe to try to get away from Kentucky. Alright, time to head down from the wheel. More pictures to follow.
  12. Pictures! We have arrived at Legendia! Wanted to show some scenes of the city outside the park. Bike path, train tracks. The view the other direction. The end of a rail line next to the park -- I think this line goes into the bigger Silesian Park that is adjacent to Legendia. Legendia flags... Legendia Coke machine... And this little guy, who I think is required posting for every TPR trip report on Legendia. Waiting at the front gate and just about to get into the park. Hi, Lech Coaster! Joanna welcomes us into Legendia! We're at the park's main entry area, sort of a "main street", which was updated in the past few years. Joanna was a great host, and told us a lot about the park's history. I'm sure I'd have remembered more of it if I weren't writing this 17 months later. We started at Jama Bazyliszka, the big indoor area that is home to the Bazylizsek dark ride. Sign close-up! It's nice! This indoor area has more than just the dark ride, though. There's also a restaurant and a kids play area, plus the requisite gift shop. It reminds me of a smaller version of the big Arthur indoor area at Europa Park. The main ride sign and entrance for Bazyliszek. The queue for Bazyliszek is really great. There are artifacts from research on mythological creatures... ...such as this thing! We've also got werewolves... ...and dragons. Seriously, "employees only" is boring. These signs are amazing. The ride station for Bazyliszek. Each trackless vehicle seats 6 guests. The guns are really easy to use, with laser guides in the dark areas when you aren't looking at screens. After you save the village, pick up a plush version of your new best frenemy from the ride! Alright, we've got some Lech Coaster action coming up. I love this sign. Simple, clean, and the natural drop shadow from the sunlight is just perfect. Lech Coaster's station. It's sort of a castle thing. Inside the station. Really nice, and a great compromise between the "indoor" castle feel and still keeping it open at the top. The year of construction in the keystone of the arch. Nice touch. A look at the beautiful new Vekoma trains. The vest restraints are much nicer than B&Ms, and let's not even mention Premier. TPR is ready to ride. They're all about to get wowed by a Vekoma! The zero-car emblem is awesome, and that legendary bird will show up again later in this report. Holy crap, even Kristen liked it! Universal high praise for Lech Coaster. Also, an inversion through the station!!!!! (this was a pretty tough picture to get!) Lech is a rollercoaster! A very very good one. In July 2019, the rapids ride was under construction. Rapids ride construction photos! Admittedly, it's kind of boring posting construction photos of a ride that's now complete. Two interesting things in this shot. First, you'll notice the station of a cable car / gondola ride. That's actually outside Legendia, and is part of Silesian Park. While we were there, we saw exactly one enclosed gondola on the circuit, moving very slowly. I did see a lot more activity (with regular chairlift vehicles) in a video I watched from 2020. Second, you'll notice the sign in the foreground. I didn't know what it was at first, until I saw this picture from the park's original front gate. It appears to be the heavily-stylized "Miasteczko" from the park's original name. Next up -- the Devil's Loop! A Soquet coaster that used to be at two parks in the UK before finding a home in Poland. The trains are nicely painted. Not sure who made them. I only rode once or twice, since I liked but didn't absolutely love the ride, and I wanted to get some pictures anyway. So, here's a train of TPR riders heading down the curved first drop. Excitement! Coming through one of the inversions. These loops are very, very green. More positive Gs on the back half of the ride. A first look at the ride's infamous back car, where the second-to-last row faces backwards. The final helix into the station was a little janky, but not too bad. Overall, no big complaints about this coaster. (sorry for the overexposed photo) Rector contemplates his doom as he prepares to ride backwards. Kind of a mix of emotions here. Again, not a bad ride. Red hairtime. Looks like Rector survived. Ryan and Barry lead the way back into the station. Thus ends our ERT/Filming. Pictures to continue below.
  13. Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Day 13: Legendia Our second and final full day in Poland began with a drive west out of Krakow -- this time in a vehicle that was a little less refrigerated than the day before. Our destination: Legendia, a small theme park in the city of Chorzów, part of the Silesian Metropolis (and close to the larger city of Katowice). Legendia opened in 1959 under its original full name, Śląskie Wesołe Miasteczko. The park was originally more of a small city park, with less of a focus on amusement rides, but that changed over time. The biggest change came in 2015, when Tatry Mountain Resorts became the operator of Legendia, beginning a significant period of investment into the park. The most important investment so far, at least for coaster enthusiasts, was the 2017 construction of Lech Coaster -- the ride that really put the park on the map for people in our hobby. However, the changes at Legendia go well beyond a new coaster -- and having visited in 2019, we were there at a time when the park's overall evolution was readily apparent. Some of the older elements remained, but were on their way to being removed or renovated. The new areas were all well-themed and well-constructed, nicely fitting in with the landscape. Perhaps most importantly, the small city park charm remains, with landscaped pathways, open grassy areas, and peaceful views over the lake that the rest of the park surrounds. This is one of only two comparisons I'm going to make to Energylandia in this entire post, because I really don't want to talk about Energylandia. But here's the truth: Legendia still has some work to do, but they're on the right track, with a sensible plan, and they're doing outstanding at executing that plan in an intelligent manner and with copious attention to detail. Literally none of that is true about their larger neighbor to the southeast. For that and other reasons, it's safe to say that Legendia was the highlight of TPR's first visit to Poland. Entering the park at 930 AM, we spent the morning with Joanna Ciesielska, Legendia's Operations Manager. She guided us around the park, gave us the run-down on Legendia's history, and set us up for our filming/ERT sessions on three rides -- Bazyliszek, Lech Coaster, and Diabelska Pętla. It's a shame I got this far into the post without mentioning Bazyliszek, a top-tier trackless shooting dark ride that opened in 2018. Diabelska Pętla's not a bad coaster either, and I hope it sticks around for a while, even as other older attractions are cycled out. We had some free time after filming was done, so we split up to tackle some of the other rides, before joining together again for a (very good) private lunch near Lech Coaster. We had another hour or two after that, before most of us headed out of the park at around 200 PM. This is random and I have nowhere else to put it: one of my favorite quirks about Legendia is the "extremely specific noun" three-word ride names. Scary Toys Factory. Magical Lake Taxi. Giant Water Pump. Dream Flight Airlines. Dream Hunters Society. Magical Postal Service. Oh, and the dearly departed Dragon Wrestling Tournament. Maybe I'm overselling this a bit, but honestly, this is a million times better than just naming everything Goliath. Thanks to Joanna at Legendia for the hospitality! -- Ride Reviews -- Lech Coaster: The biggest problem with the amazing coasters of the Vekoma Renaissance™ is that there are just so damn few of them. If Lech Coaster is proof of what Vekoma is capable of in modern times, it's almost enough to apologize for all the Boomerans and SLCs they inflicted upon us over the past few decades. That's a really round-about way of saying it, but Lech Coaster is absolutely amazing. First off, Vekoma's got the mechanical logistics right: the track is smooth, the transitions are properly engineered, and the trains and restraints are very comfortable. Secondly, the coaster is just an amazing amount of fun. The way I described it on Twitter right after our visit was "imagine an intense mini-I305 with a GeForce drop and RMC inversions." Lech Coaster does a little bit of everything, and it does it all really well. Perhaps the most unique elements are the twisting first drop (like GeForce but maybe even steeper), and the inversion through the station. I've seen station fly-bys before, but this is the first station fly-by inversion that I'm aware of. Lech Coaster has positive Gs, negative Gs, snappy transitions, and it's comfortable from start to finish. It's an outstanding ride. Is it the best coaster in Poland? It's between Lech Coaster and Hyperion, and I have both in my overall Top 20. I dislike so much about Energylandia that I really want to give the win to Lech, but speaking strictly as a coaster fan, I have always loved huge coasters that cover a lot of distance and do so with an exciting layout. I will give the win, very narrowly, to Hyperion. But ignore what I just said, and visit this park first. Lech Coaster is worth your time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOpTon3Wa6g Diabelska Pętla: This thing has been around a bit. It opened at Lightwater Valley in 1988, moved to American Adventure in 1995, and arrived at Legendia in 2007. Its name was changed from Tornado to Diabelska Pętla (Devil's Loop) in 2019. We were all a little nervous about this coaster -- it's made by French manufacturer Soquet, it looks like it's trying to be a Schwarzkopf, and it's on the older side of things. Surprisingly, it delivered a fairly good ride. Not a top-tier coaster or anything, but smooth and thrilling enough to stick around for a while. Probably a good stepping stone / first inverting coaster for families. Oh, and it's got the seats in the back car facing each other, but I guess I wasn't brave enough to ride backwards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fBbIO1pF94 Dream Hunters Society: This is one of two nearly-identical Zyklon Galaxi coasters at Legendia. Dream Hunters Society operated when we visited, but the other -- Scary Toys Factory -- did not. Both are still listed on the park's website, though RCDB indicates that Scary Toys Factory didn't operate in 2020. Nothing much to write about Dream Hunters Society -- if you've been on a Galaxi, you know what to expect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeXqkNn-e6I Bazyliszek: This is really good -- one of the most enjoyable shooting dark rides I've been on. You get to help a kid save his village from the namesake Bazyliszek, a mythological bird/lizard creature. It's a nice mix of physical sets and screens, and it's never quite as manic and crazy as other rides of its type -- like Iron Reef or Justice League. I liked those two, but Bazyliszek is better. Dream Flight Airlines: A very interesting old flat ride, made in-house, and dating back to the park's opening. Chuck said it reminded him of Captive Flying Machines at Blackpool. To me, my point of comparison is the Golden Zephyr at Disney's California Adventure. Guests sit in one of six long airplanes, suspended from a central tower, which rotates -- with the planes swinging further out over the park as the speed of the rotation increases. This ride takes a long time to speed up and slow down. I timed our ride cycle at just about an even 10 minutes. But when it's at top speed, it's actually a lot of fun, and the views are fantastic. Others: I should note that we saw a few older attractions that appeared to be on their way out. Based on the park's website, Dragon Wrestling Tournament and Circus Hoppala have been removed since we visited in 2019. However, we also got to see some of the early stages of construction for Dolina Jagi -- a themed rapids ride near Lech Coaster at the back of the park. Dolina Jagi opened in 2020, and it looks like a fun family attraction. Pictures coming up next.
  14. And if we're going to frame this discussion as an issue of "investment" or finance, Quimera is an old, portable, compact coaster, in less-than-perfect condition, from a park that no longer exists. Indiana Beach is probably picking it up for pennies on the dollar, even if it's going to require some refurb work. They get to add something thrilling at what I can only assume is a low financial risk. IB is exactly the kind of park that should be looking for this kind of opportunity.
  15. Well, that's a change. Montaña Rusa was rough and uncomfortable, but that layout should have been fun if they'd kept it in good shape. Given the park's new focus, I guess it's not surprising they opted just to scrap it. My first impression on the wheel is that 50m (164ft) is not particularly tall by modern observation wheel standards, but there's enough of a gradual increase in elevation from the downtown core to the center of Chapultepec Park (where La Feria is located) that it should be a nice view when looking into the city. It's a bit higher than the Castillo de Chapultepec elsewhere in the park, which sits on a hill about 120ft above its surroundings. I guess Soarin' Over Mexico City is an upgrade over the Jules Verne Orbinaut.
  16. That's a great prediction and all, but it was made five hours after Indiana Beach announced the new coaster on Tuesday.
  17. A new article about the American Dream mall from the NYT. An interesting contrast between the optimism of the developers and the reality of the situation. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/business/american-dream-mall.html The optimism... ...and the reality.
  18. This is awesome news and also really funny. The thing was shut down for maintenance (maintenance???) on the 2015 TPR trip, so we didn't get to ride it. I won't have to travel as far to ride it now.
  19. Thanks! And that last point was very much not assured. In the few days before I went, I was checking the websites for both parks and they were not being consistent about updating their hours. I remember at one point thinking one of the two (can't remember which) wasn't going to be open. But as it turned out, despite the low crowds and lousy weather, both parks were open until 10 or 11. Thank you. And yeah, I really sorta skipped over all the other stuff. Now that you mention it I remember seeing the Haunted House and I wish I would have remembered to at least get a picture of the front of it, but I did not. When I was taking those pictures, I thought to myself "somebody's going to comment about the sponsor and it's probably going to be an Alvey."
  20. So, for a long time, 2020 was looking like it was going to be the year without a coaster for me -- for largely obvious reasons. And then I rode a looping Pinfari and a Vekoma boomerang. Which is actually quite a 2020 way to end the drought. In September, I planned out a road trip through the mid-Atlantic. A largely keep-to-myself adventure just so I could get out, do some photography, visit some places I'd never been, and so on. Theme parks weren't even really a consideration, so it's not like Ocean City MD was some big destination. Just another stop on the way. Hey, did you know that Ocean City, MD is 3,073 miles from Sacramento, CA on US-50? Now you do. But as I put together the itinerary, I realized it made sense to spend an evening in Maryland's biggest beachside resort town. So I got myself a hotel a block from the ocean -- for under $100 on a Sunday night, when the same place was over twice that the night before. Good timing. For a few reasons, this wasn't a typical beach visit. 1) I'd only be there at night. 2) It was 45 degrees with wind gusts of about 35 mph. 3) We're still in a pandemic. Nonetheless, I decided to check out Ocean City's two small amusement parks -- Jolly Roger at the Pier, and Trimper's Rides. Three coasters between the two parks. Could I pull a few credits out of this otherwise pathetic year? Yep. And was it safe? Employees outnumbered guests at Jolly Roger. Trimper's was only slightly busier. Two of my coaster rides were completely solo. I think there were two other people at the back of the train on the boomerang. Very easy to keep my distance. Both parks also have Ferris wheels, a bunch of flats, and Jolly Roger's even got a dark ride. I didn't ride anything else, so this is no comprehensive review of the two parks. Got in, got three credits, got out -- but took a bunch of pictures on the way. Let's get to it. A trip report from September 20, 2020. A stop at Homer Gudelsky Park on the way into Ocean City for some views. A look over the water. This is just the south end of Ocean City -- it's a miles-long stretch of hotels. A bridge across the intracoastal waterway. Beach ball water tower! Faux-pirate ships and boat cruises, probably not running on a crummy-weather day in the offseason. Behind the boats and marinas, that's the hotel where I stayed. The ocean is out that way behind the breakwater. Catch some fish. And now for a look at the two parks, just across the water. This is all that's visible from Jolly Roger at the Pier. An older Ferris wheel with un-enclosed cars. You can also see the top of the Pinfari. This is an overview of Trimper's Rides. It's about the same size as Jolly Roger, but has some larger attractions. The Inlet Eye is a newer wheel with enclosed cars. Color-coordinated cabins. After waiting about 10 minutes, the boomerang (Tidal Wave) finally operated. This is 2020. Driving three states over to take pictures of a boomerang. There's also a drop tower. I'm not sure that I ever saw it run. First-ever Vekoma Boomerang / US Coast Guard combo photo? Vertical loop! Wider view of the business end of the boomerang. Ker-chunk. Yep, it's a boomerang. And that's about it from this spot. Now, heading to the beach. Outside my hotel, which was not quite a ghost town, but close to it. View from my balcony. Nobody using the pool on this chilly day. Looking west from the hotel (this picture was taken the next morning). Sunset over Ocean City. An additional view of the sunset. Sunset and birds. The drawbridge over the bay at sunset. Cleaner photo of the above from the next morning. Trimper's Rides, visible about a half mile to the south. Wheel colors. More wheel colors. A wheel and a boomerang. Now it's green. Alright, down to the beach. Actually not my first time in Ocean City MD -- went there once for a couple hours in 2016 on a similar trip. Weather was much better then, and it was quite busy. On this day? Not empty, but not a lot of people around. Your typical boardwalk shops with their supply of edgy-sloganed t-shirts. Just past sunset. Two wheels -- and a moon. To the left is Jolly Roger at the Pier, which is on a platform that extends out over the beach. To the right is Trimper's, which is set back from the beach at the far south end of Ocean City. Jolly Roger's two main attractions -- the Ferris wheel (sponsored by Pepsi) and Looping Star, a looping pinfari. Meanwhile, past a Ripley's Believe It Or Not location and a bunch more cheesy shops, Trimper's is visible. Notice how smooth the sand looks in the foreground. These are long-exposure shots, and the sand was blowing and drifting like crazy due to the wind. I guess what I'm saying is that I got sandblasted to get these pictures. Another view of Jolly Roger. There are lots of other rides, including one of those 360-degree pendulum things. Pretty sure they don't allow single riders on the Ferris wheel, though. My first credit of the day -- and of the year! -- was Looping Star. Over 450 coasters on my list and this is my first-ever looping Pinfari. According to RCDB, Looping Star is a Zyklon ZL42, and it has been operating since 1996. So, how was Looping Star? Surprisingly not bad. Reasonably smooth. The loop was actually kind of fun. Overall, better than expected. The back side of Looping Star. Getting ready for a dispatch. It ran every 5-10 minutes or so, usually with just one party on board. Another dusk scene at Jolly Roger. (sponsored by Pepsi) Flags in the (rather stiff) wind. Long exposure of a train at the top of the lift. Looping Star train on the first drop. Both Ocean City wheels had really good lighting packages. Another lift hill view of Looping Star. I think that's a skycoaster or something also. Parking lot long-exposure view. Long exposure shots were tough due to the wind. A view of Jolly Roger from the boardwalk. This is the pier that Jolly Roger is "at." It had closed for the night, but I wouldn't have wanted to go all the way out there with the wind anyway. Still a pretty good view from the open section of the pier. A dark, windswept Ocean City. Jolly Roger from the pier. I did not need a "night time arm band" -- both parks sold single rides on their coasters, and that was all I needed. A view of both parks from the pier. The wheels are pretty bright. Still some color in the sky as night continues to fall. A wheel and a boomerang. I remember this parking lot being packed full of cars when I visited in 2016. Trying to make a Vekoma boomerang look good with long-exposure photography. One great travesty from this trip -- was too busy taking pictures to get some Kohr Bros. Bad decision on my part. Didn't get very many of these long-exposure wheel shots to turn out due to the wind, but I tried. Wheel and moon. (yeah this one's wobbly but it's still kind of cool anyway) Adjacent to Trimper's is the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. There is a large anchor. There's a watch-tower -- lit up by the lights of the Ferris wheel. Also, a really big fish. A view north from the end of the Ocean City boardwalk. There were actually a few people around here. The Inlet Eye -- the large, modern, indoor-cabin wheel at Trimper's. The Inlet Eye and a few mostly-empty flat rides. Live music and a long-exposure round-up! Definitely kind of a unique picture. Obviously, we're talking about huge crowds here. Maybe 15 people in attendance for the concert. I'll watch from a distance. Alright, getting to the two coasters at Trimper's. This is a spinning coaster called ... Spinning Coaster. Very creative. Long-exposure Spinning Coaster! Spinning Coaster is one of those SBF Visa spinners that are appearing absolutely everywhere. It was installed in 2015. Tidal Wave is up next. The entrance to Tidal Wave -- 12 points on your Trimper's card. Tidal Wave has been here since 1986. So it's an older Boomerang. That gave me some concern. (also, thumbs up to the ride op) Long-exposure Tidal Wave! The verdict? Not completely terrible, I guess? I do not like Vekoma Boomerangs, their uninspired layout, or the fact that most of them are just old and bad and rough. But I'm struggling to think of a Boomerang that rode better than this one. Maybe Speed of Sound at Walibi Holland? So yeah, ending the night without a Boomerang headache was a pleasant surprise! It's still a one-and-done coaster, but in 2020, I'll take what I can get. A final view on the way out of Trimper's. Back on the boardwalk, the arcades were open, and well lit, but mostly empty. Boardwalk ghosts at the end of the night. That wraps things up from Ocean City -- and my only trip report from 2020. (updates to my Europe 2019 TR are coming soon) Thanks for reading!
  21. These are common answers, but I'll go Cedar Point, SFGAdv, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Hersheypark. All four of those parks have multiple coasters that I consider best-of-the-best, and very good supporting lineups. Honorable mentions to SFMM and BGW, both of which have several really good coasters, but none that I think are truly top-tier. In Europe, have to mention Walibi Holland. A top-heavy coaster lineup, but that Top 3 is outstanding.
  22. One feature I was looking for and then discovered tonight is the ability to preview a post. There's a button for that on the editor toolbar. Another feature I was wondering about -- is there a way to save drafts like on the old forum?
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