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Photo TR: Tom's North American Adventure!

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I'd like to check out more of those Arrow suspended coasters (only been on BBW and Vampire--with its Vekoma trains). Vortex looks pretty good.


I am both intrigued and repulsed by Tomb Raider--banging people around in bird cages? The hell? Call it, "Ow, Canaba." The thought of a Vekoma Top Gun is pretty frightening, too.


Looking forward to seeing more of your travels, Tom.

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That was a really fun couple of days. You even managed to get a few photos of the paparazzi themselves.


I could have got more if I didn't have such a heavy camera!


I'd like to check out more of those Arrow suspended coasters (only been on BBW and Vampire--with its Vekoma trains). Vortex looks pretty good.


Yeah, I thought Vortex was rather good. It's the same ride as the Top Gun suspended coaster at King's Island, and after the high turnaround it flies along relentlessly.

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I am both intrigued and repulsed by Tomb Raider--banging people around in bird cages? The hell? Call it, "Ow, Canaba."


I pretty much only ride it when someone needs the credit.


The masochist in me can't help but stick around to see the look of hatred on their faces as they get off the ride.


Those volaires just plain suck.

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Hey Tom, I hit 300 at CW just the other week too - spooky huh!!!


I timed it wrong though, and it was Silver Streak....... (I kinda wanted it to be Dragon Fire in memory of all the Arrows done, but hey, turned out it was a Vekoma in memory of all those instead)


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I'd like to check out more of those Arrow suspended coasters (only been on BBW and Vampire--with its Vekoma trains). Vortex looks pretty good.


You've been on the only halfway decent ones. but then again I hate suspended coasters.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK folks, sorry for the lack of updates in the last two weeks. I've been getting missing credits in the UK, helping people get their cars out of floods and have generally been worked off my feet. But this trip report is gonna get finished! Hopefully before the TPR Midwest Trip happens.






Part 3a - Everybody Loves Marineland!...Or Everybody Loves a $40 Five Mile Walkathon.



Today started off with a fantastic sight. We were greeted by every Animal Rights activist in Niagara Falls. Now because I knew almost nothing about this place, maybe it wasn't a good omen. But acutally these folks do have a point. Marineland's animal welfare record isn't the best. Their record for whale deaths would be commended by the Japanese fishing industry, but in a zoo it doesn't go down well when an endangered species dies when it's not just grown old. Of course this is all up for debate, but I'm not here to debate animal welfare for the whole topic.


What I am here to talk about is the park itself. And seeing as I can count the number of big rides on one hand, that shouldn't take too long.


But unfortunately, a bit like this report, it will drag on for a long time.


They've got a very large Arrow Looper called Dragon Mountain, which courts infamy for a few reasons.


One: It features a lot of very flat and very boring track. I mean, who cares about the world's only Bowtie element if it takes about 6 years for the ride to get there?


Two: Marineland claim its the world's largest steel looping coaster because it covers so many acres. Rather in the same way that the Big One at Blackpool is the tallest, fastest, steepest coaster in Europe - i.e. it's probably a load of bollocks.


Three: The park still hasn't finished the theming despite the coaster operating for well over 25 years. In fact, the volcano halfway around the circuit was only just finished last year. But don't worry, you should still be able to enjoy the Girder Falls for many years to come!


The ride itself wasn't bad. It wasn't good either, and it took forever just to ge to it, which brings me the biggest problem with the park. There are only a few rides here, most of which are connected with yard after yard of path. Everything seems like it's a mini-marathon just to get to.


And it's not just getting to places. Their rides also take forever to get built. Dragon Mountain has been sitting unfinished for a quarter of a century, and there's a Topple Tower right by the entrance which is built, but I fear may take just as long to get open.


None more so than the Sky Screamer, which when it was finally opened a few years ago became visible from almost anywhere in the park. It's a 300ft tall S&S Combo Tower placed on top of a 150ft tall hill, to make a grand height of 450ft tall, and the world's worst pathway to get to it. Marineland claims it's the tallest tower ride in the world. What they should claim is the World's longest pathway which spirals up a hill to get to the alledged record breaker. If you're gonna make a ridiculous statement, go the whole nine yards.


Sky Screamer does get you some like views overlooking the Falls area, and the whole of Dragon Mountain, which does look quite impressive on the hillside. But once you're done, it's a long walk back down to the rest of the park.


And the rest of that park is, a few whales, some bears with adajcent flat ride themed to bears, some other flat rides placed at distant intervals, and an arena and aquarium. It's certainly no SeaWorld. The enclosures look very basic with no cerature comforts to speak of. I know that if I was a whale, I'd rather not be couped up in Marineland.


And then there's Deerschwitz. If you've been to the holocaust site, then prepare youself. This is much worse. Hundreds of drugged up deers looking for food from unfortunate guests. Paul took one for the team, and then we left.


After the kiddie coaster, the bee ride and the large rockin' tug style ride, it was time to get out and leave the park to the mercy of the Animal Rights protesters. Sadly they'd all gone home, something I wish I could have done and points during the visit. It's a strange park, but not always in a good or funny way.


So, in a quick capsule review: Go there once, get some exercise, then leave.


And if you count credits, pray they don't build another coaster there soon. It'll mean you'll have to go back in 25 years.


Here's how it looks...


Thanks for bear-ing with me! We had a whale of a time. Stayed tuna-d for more coming soon!


Nikki loves Jer's new hat!


Dolphin Mountain. So big, you can't take a good photo while trying to throw another one on top of it! Maybe I'll just pull this bottom one out and try again.


And Rockin' Boats!


As are Bee rides!


Kiddie credits are always fun when you're with people.


Captain Paul Sparrow. The most feared Canadian in the Seven Seas!


Nikki and Jer are ready to set sail!


Time for some more rides. Anyone up for a high seas adventure?


Come on Nikki, gimme a kiss!


Especially if you're a whale.


No dead animals on the yellow buggy, that's a good sign!


They've got him cornered! Be strong Paul!


Woah girl, easy now!


Everyone's got a thing for Canadians!


Paul tempts some horny doe.


Veal nacht frei!


It's Deerschwitz!


The Yellow buggies are back!


Jer and Paul get ready to flip the bird to the American Falls for being rubbish compared to Canada's Falls.


Tom takes photo of Nikki taking photo of Sky Screamer.


They're not actually tired of walking. They're just fed up of the "So Big" captions.


The path. So big, we need a filler photo just to show how big it is!


The path. So big, the ride opens at 12 noon because it takes 2 hours just to walk it!


Sky Screamer. So big, you can see it from Space!


The Bowtie. So average, it's lacking a humorous caption!


Jer. So big. That's what she said!


The trip report. So big, we couldn't just have one photo of a loop!


Dragon Mountain. So big, we could only fit the loops into this photo.


Dragon Mountain. So big, it takes one train operation a whole 7 minutes to complete one cycle!


Dragon Mountain. So big, we can put our feet inside a Dragon's mouth!


Dragon Mountain. So big, it needs two lift chains!


But this is what we're really here for.


Exclusive construction shot of Topple Tower! Not many years left get this photo!


But I think they wanna go ride their Huss Bear ride instead of sitting around!


They look so happy.


Fed on a nutritious diet of Corn Pops.


First stop, the bears!


But anyway, we've got a park to walk around.


Nice to see they took advantage of Marineland's free parking.


Protesters! And yes, that sign does read 18 DEAD SINCE 1999!!!


Alright, here we are! I wonder who's gonna greet us?


This is how Jer gets fed when driving.


Niagara, here we come!

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Part 3b - Niagara Falls, Martin's Fantasy Island and the Anchor Bar!




After a hard morning of walking and feeding breakfast cereal to animals, it was time to do some sightseeing. Being next to Niagara Falls, you'd have to be a fool or a serious hydrophobic not to see them.


The Falls are really impressive. Even the American Falls! They're just not as cool as the Canadian Falls. The sheer power of the water is truly a sight to behold as it crashes nearly 170ft down to the Maid of the Mist.


Both sides of the Falls are quite the tourist trap, so we didn't spend too long there. But to have seen a wonder of nature was worth the short time we spent there.


After that, we got to Martin's Fantasy Island for some Silver Comet action. But it was broken most of the time we were there, and we only got one ride in. But it was very good, and I think I'll be back at this park for some more Comet-time next year!


The park doesn't have much, but it's quite cute and has a few good rides. And the starlight admission of about $12 is really decent too. So go to this park, and see how great Silver Comet is!


The final call for the evening was dinner at the Anchor Bar, the home of the original Buffalo Wings. This place was seriously awesome. Great food, great atmosphere, and I bought the t-shirt too. Go to this place if you're in Buffalo, you won't regret it!


Once again, I can't thank those people enough who took time out to put me up in their homes, and come along for the day and hang out. You're all awesome!


Thanks again to Paul, Nikki, Jer and Nicole. You folks are amazing! Sorry Derek.


Just don't let me sort the money out next time!


Anchor Bar was seriously awesome. Next time I'm in the US, I'll be sure to come back here!


No trouble for Paul though. He ate more wings than all of us put together!


But for some reason, they really scare Nikki!


Jer really loves his wings!


Aww, I'm sorry!


Nicole didn't appreciate me trying to get her drunk.


Sam Adams. Not always a good decision when in my hands!


Hot Buffalo Wings are the order of the day.


We ended up at Anchor Bar!


Jer was wearing a Sens shirt, which wouldn't go down well in Buffalo. So after putting on the magical TPR hoodie...


Complete with graphic signage!


The park has a very quaint selection of shops.


We even got a giant so drunk he passed out on the floor!


Paul found a very cute purse. Suits him well!


I tried out a hat that my brother would aprrove of.


Paul did some lion taming.


We didn't like the idea of a Skyflyer as a subsitute to the Comet, so we made our own fun.


Sadly, that would be our only ride. It broke again and didn't reopen. ::(


Thanks to Buttcrack Repair Man, we got a ride in!


Time to check if Silver Comet is working...


Here's the new ride, Full Tilt. Kinda like a Falling Star.


Nicole and Paul were just happy to get on a ride.


This was the first Crazy Mouse of the trip. And it wouldn't be the last.


But when we got to Silver Comet, it was broke! So we all blamed Paul and went for the other credit.


Here's a map for the directionally challenged.


Nicole couldn't believe that we went to Marineland without her.


But we still made it to the park with a couple of hours to ride Silver Comet!


But first you have to cross the border. This is actually the toll on the Canadian side. Border control would have probably taken my camera off me.


You're welcome! And now we're off to Martin's Fantasy Island.


And a drop tower which was very closed.


And a very expensive big wheel.


Complete with Canada's very own brick city!


Clifton Hill is the big tourist area on the Canada side.


Apologies for the Marineland tower in the background.


Thanks to Paul's arms once again!


These crazy Canadians like to take a shower au naturale as possible without taking their clothes off!


And here's Good Falls! With the Maid of the Mist at the bottom.


Our very unflattering group photo is brought courtesy of Paul's long arms!


Here's Bad Falls.


Here's a map, just in case you weren't sure how to get to the Falls. Quite how you could miss them is another question.

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Part 4a - Darien Lake. Oh dear.




Well this was a low point of the trip.


Darien Lake was spat out of the Six Flags chain earlier this year along with a few other parks that Mark Shapiro decided were surplus to requirements for his chain.


Because the park had already sold some season passes with the Six Flags brand (and terms and conditions) printed on them, the park are honouring that for one last season before the park begins a fresh season next year. And with a Season Pass costing $60 plus tax (cheaper than a day's entry at Alton Towers), this really was my main reason for coming here. With Great America and Kentucky Kindgom on the horizon, a cheap season pass would be great value.


But if they expect to sell any season passes next year, they've got a lot of work to do. The park isn't the prettiest flower in the bed, mostly down to the awful ashpalting which is cracking up like an ageing Hollywood star's face.


With the exception of few rides including Ride of Steel, most of the rides are getting on a bit, especially the 25-Year old Arrow Looper at the rear of the park. Their SLC gives El Condor a good run for its money as the worst I've ever been on, and the Boomerang wasn't much better. Even Ride of Steel feels like it's "rolling down a hill in a trashcan", to quote Nicole.


But I get the impression that a lot of the park's problems, lifeless atmosphere, poor rides, broken rides, etc etc. are not their own fault. Remember this park was under the helm of a Six Flags management team who may as well have honed their business skills from the 1920's and 1930's boom and bust era.


Hopefully the new management can give the park some decent investment and importantly give it some life again.


Not even free tickets are gonna tempt me back soon. But seeing as I'm done so quick, I'm gonna check a couple of other parks out in the area. Stay tuned...


Sorry Darien Lake. You just didn't deliver. Hope you get better soon, and kick the old Six Flags management in the midrift for me!


I'm sure they were playing the "Last Post" as I left.


Well, what do you think?


Well, if you paste the link into your browesr, turn the sound up and press the keys, here's some of the things I was shouting on the way around this awful coaster (Not suitable for those with delicate ears): http://www.rathergood.com/buffy/


It's an SLC! Ahh heck, How bad can it be?


But hey, what's that in the background!


Denied the kiddie credit.


Generic corkscrew shot #101.


And these weren't much better.


Butterfly of searing pain.


In it's time, this was the first coaster with 5 inversions. That was ever such a long time ago though.


So I had to go and ride this instead.


No aerial photos today. :(


Darien Lake sure does put the "Boo" in Boomerang.


But neither are very nice when the side of your head hits them at high speed.


Check out the awesome ashpalt (that's tarmac in American)! Almost as alluring as the Boomerang in the background.


Even through the trees shots aren't much to talk about here.


This thing has some awesome airtime, and some not-so-awesome flat bits.


Ride of Steel. Not so super anymore.


No Summers & Dinn headaches for me today.


Predator was still closed. Oh well, I'd be more bummed if it was supposed to be a good ride.


Shame that the park didn't live up to their hype. Anyway, here we go...


Border control were awesome today! They even hyped up Darien Lake!

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^Yeah, I've never heard a good review of it so it's no big loss.


Darien Lake really is a "credit run" park. I did a full lap in less than 1hr 30mins, including 2 goes on Superman (front and back). Most of the time I was just taking pictures!

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Wow - it looks like Darien Lake has really gone down hill. I was there in 1998 (or maybe 1999), and it actually was quite nice. Shame to see it like this, hopefully the new owners will fix the place up over the next few years..



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I think Darien Lake could be good and PARC management could be the best news to hit DL if Screamscape thinks PARC is going to add an indoor water park.


However, like Geauga Lake, the rides area is in need of an overhaul and a new signature attraction as well.


Tom, thanks for another great "DL sucks" TR!

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