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Photo TR: Mid-West Journey (Fun Spot, Dells, SFGA & IB)


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Well, the time had finally rolled around for Catrina and I's big coaster expedition of the summer. While it may not have been a huge week long epic journey, we did manage to cram a good bit of travel into a short amount of time. Visiting a handful of parks we had never been to along the way.

 

While on this trip I learned a few things ...

 

- The drive from Youngstown to the Wisconsin Dells is pretty much a corn tour of America with only Chicago separating the endless rows of green everywhere you look.

 

- More than I ever realized before, weather can take a top ten ride to the bottom of the list.

 

- The Mid-West can be absolutely brutal in the month of August. Temperatures as hot as the sun's surface really start to take a toll on the body.

 

But enough with my blabbing and onto the report ...

 

Day 1 - Fun Spot - 8/2/07

 

With some people talking that this might be the last season for this bizarre little park in Indiana, Catrina and I decided to make a stop and see what it was all about. The expectation level wasn't too high, but the staff was super kind and went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

 

The sign at the entrance let's you know where you're at.

 

After paying a modest General Admission charge, Catrina and I headed back to the gift shop to get some ride tickets.

 

Afterburner would be the first ride of the trip for us. Some of you older enthusiasts might have had a chance to enjoy this ride in it's previous life as Zoomerang at Boardwalk Baseball in Haines City, Florida. I actually chickened out of it when my father took me there in the mid 80s.

 

As you can see the park wasn't too busy on this day and this might help to explain some of the rumors that have been circulating concerning it's demise.

 

Hey! Look! It's another coaster!

 

Just a reminder kids. Stay in School.

 

If the park does meet it's demise, I am sure that it won't be because of their child labor policies.

 

Our chariot awaits.

 

A quick look at the "Zyclon" layout.

 

Catrina was not too fond of the "Zyclon" coaster as it claimed one of her earing backs. But not until the OTSR slammed the stem into her head. Why does this thing need these again?

 

Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I am a huge flying scooters fan. This model has all the marking of a Bisch Rocco but the tubs are way different than anything that I had ever seen before. The actual tub and back fin are all one piece and have a real streamlined look to them.

 

After about four or five rotations of the ride the operater stopped it. I didn't really get kicked off the ride, but the op told me that I was free to go now.

 

Here are a couple other shots I grabbed on our way out:

 

Walkway

 

Zamperla Balloon Race

 

Huss Tristar

 

Chance Calypso

 

On our way to the Dells we also passed by South Bend and having never been there, got out for a few photo opportunities.

 

Welcome

 

Looking up at Notre Dame Stadium.

 

The infamous "Touchdown Jesus".

 

Coming Next ... The Dells!

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Day 2 - Wisconsin Dells - 8/3/2007

 

We did our biggest segment of driving on day one and stopped the car in Madison, Wisconsin. The morning of our departure, I saw a large number of bikes in the parking lot and asked one of the guys where they were heading. When they told me "Sturgis" I found myself very jealous. As much as I like coasters, I would rather take a ride through the black hills any day!

 

After a short drive north, we arrived at the Dells about 9am. We first made a stop at Timber Falls where I met with Brent Stowell (General Manager) and talked with him a little bit about Avalanche and it's impact on his small park. With a little luck, I will have a report on that sometime soon.

 

Next up was Mt. Olympus. I have wanted to visit this park for some time but never managed to fit it into my plans because it really isn't on the way to anything. It is a place you go to. Not a place you end up at.

 

With the heat climbing and no end in sight, I made my way to Dive to Atlantis figuring that if I was going to ride it then I better ride it early.

 

Shoes and shirt don't seem to be a requirement on this ride so I guess they won't mind if I hold on to these.

 

My boat taking the plunge.

 

It doesn't look that bad, but trust me. You get absolutely soaked on this ride.

 

The aftermath.

 

Hey. At least my shoes are dry.

 

After receiving a nice soaking on Dive to Atlantis, what better place to go than to the air-conditioned indoor coaster. My guess is that Mt. Olympus built this facility to help compliment their indoor waterpark during the areas colder months. On the outside it looks like a big tent with some columns in front of it, and it doesn't really get any better on the inside either. Kind of like riding rides in an airplane hanger.

 

Opa was just your standard run of the mill spinning mouse. Other rides in the indoor park include a small version of Disk'O and some Kiddie Teacups. All the indoor rides come courtesy of Zamperla.

 

Catrina and I stand in line for the kiddie coaster only to be told 10 minutes later that we would not be allowed to ride. Really, the operator could have told us this earlier as we were standing right next to her.

 

I got a couple of pictures of it anyway for all you kiddie coaster enthusiasts.

 

Another

 

My biggest complaint about Mt. O was the people working the coasters. There is no safety spiel and all the rides except Hades only had one person working the station. This picture was taken in the Cyclops station where it looked like the rest of the ops came to socialize on their break. 2 rows were closed off (one missing a lapbar and one missing a seat) and the operator for Cyclops was waiting about 2-3 minutes after the train filled to begin checking restraints. When you only have one train on every coaster, you need to do a little better than this.

 

Even with the questionable operations, Cyclops was my favorite ride of the day and after one ride in the last row, I saw exactly what everybody has always been talking about for years. The big hill doesn't so much have airtime as much as it feels like a bull trying to "buck" you.

 

Our last ride was Hades and I was really excited about the ride because I had seen so many good things written about it. I was curious to see how it stacked against some of my favorite woodies and to tell the truth was kind of disappointed. Maybe it just isn't my kind of coaster, but it didn't really do a whole lot for me. I liked the tunnel section but did not think that it made up for some of the ride's shortcomings.

 

To be completely fair, none of the woodies were really running all that great for our trip to the Dells. Brent at Timber Falls told me that they were experiencing one of the area's worst droughts in seven years. With the insane amount of heat and lack of rain, I imagine that the woodies were all running nowhere near there potential. Most of them were just plain rough.

 

Climbing the stairs to Hades tall station.

 

Through the trees!

 

A train full of exhausted riders make their way back to the station.

 

And with that, we say our goodbyes to Mt. Olympus.

 

Next park ... Timber Falls!

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Nice pics Ted!

 

It look's your experience with Mt. Olympus had all of the fine points that our last 2 trips there did:

 

1. Brutally hot Midwest weather (and we were there in June!)- CHECK!

 

2. Lazy, apathetic employees in the stations that often don't care about their own safety, much less yours.- CHECK!

 

3. A kiddie coaster that you can't ride, despite the fact that there is no height restriction and you know plenty of people who have.- CHECK!

 

4. Employees on golf carts that nearly run you over every 10 minutes. (OK, you didn't actually post a pic of that but I'm assuming it happened).- CHECK!

 

Awesome! You guys truelly got a first-rate visit here!

 

Seriously, this is one of those places that really has to be experienced first hand. Kim and I just shake our heads and laugh at everything. We can't wait to go back next year!

 

I loved Hades when we rode it back in 05. I'm not sure how it's been keeping up. Like you said, a hot/dry summer won't do a woody any favors.

 

Did you guys get a chance to ride the go-carts at all?

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Strange. The worse I've ever got at Mt. O would be the Mouse not running and poor ops. That place is home to my favorite coaster (Cyclops), and once you take poor management and those damn goats away, its really a good park.

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4. Employees on golf carts that nearly run you over every 10 minutes. (OK, you didn't actually post a pic of that but I'm assuming it happened).- CHECK!

 

Check. I can't believe I failed to mention that one.

 

Another funny tidbit was the op on Opa standing in front of the train to check the restraints. Classic stupidity. Do they not show repeats of Rescue 911 in Wisconsin.

 

Sadly, we did not make it onto any of the Go-Carts. We will have to wait until our next visit. Unfortunately, that probably won't be until they add a second train to one of their coasters

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Day 2 - Moosejaw Lodge - 8/3/07

 

After spending the morning at Mt. Olympus, it was time for lunch. Not knowing much about the food offerings around the Dells, we stuck to what we knew from TRs I have seen posted.

 

"Ted! What on earth are you doing to that Moose?"

 

Around town it is tough to miss these characters making their deliveries.

 

Moosejaw is a Brewpub as well as a restaurant. Catrina ordered up some of their in-house root beer. And I had the ...

 

Six point sampler! I would had opted for the 10 point, but with the heat being the way it was, i did not want to dehydrate myself so early in the day. The beers covered the whole range of craptacular (Honey Ale) to the spectacular (Pale Ale).

 

Catrina's grilled chicken sandwich was pretty sub par, but my pulled pork sandwich was quite good. We topped off the lunch with a piece of "Moose" pie complete with peanut-butter cups and whatnot.

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[Hades] Maybe it just isn't my kind of coaster, but it didn't really do a whole lot for me. I liked the tunnel section but did not think that it made up for some of the ride's shortcomings.

 

That pretty much sums up my feeling for Hades too. It actually reminded me a lot of Millennium Force, such that the elements seem so big and far apart, that it never feels like anything interesting is ever happening (excluding the tunnel, which rocks). I certainly don't dislike Hades (like I do MF), but I feel very "meh" towards it.

 

Your Mount O experience also parallels my own - I have felt very little need to return.

 

Cameron.

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Day 2 - Timber Falls - 8/3/07

 

After lunch, we headed back into the Dells and spent a couple hours at Timber Falls. For a small little park, this place makes excellent use of it's space. Overall, we loved the place and I think that we actually spent more time there than at Mt. Olympus!

 

The park features two 18 hole mini-golf courses. One that is contained with in the coaster and log flume and one across the street.

 

Showing my true dork colors with both park wristbands on.

 

Even though the golf courses were excellent, our main purpose for visiting Timber Falls was to ride the infamous Avalanche.

 

No matter where you sit on this thing, you are going to get a good helping of airtime. It might not look huge, but this thing is not for the weak-hearted as it is a true test of endurance and intestinal fortitude.

 

The only real drawback to the ride are the abnormal turns at each corner of the ride. The park had them reprofiled and retracked last year by some fellas out west, but they are still pretty brutal.

 

The straight sections, however, are pure bliss.

 

Airtime!

 

Timber Falls is also home to a Hopkins flume and they pretty much always kick ass.

 

This particular flume featured two great drops and a nice long tunnel where the pace picks up much like the equally awesome flume at Waldameer Park.

 

Coming down!

 

Skloosh!

 

And like every other great flume, it gives you enough water to be refreshing without drowning you.

 

"Hey Ted, do you want to ride the Bumper Boats?"

 

"Sure!"

 

Even the bumper boats were fun with their built in squirt guns!

 

Goodbye Timber Falls! We really enjoyed our stay!

 

Next up .... A Bowling Alley?

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That pretty much sums up my feeling for Hades too. It actually reminded me a lot of Millennium Force, such that the elements seem so big and far apart, that it never feels like anything interesting is ever happening (excluding the tunnel, which rocks). I certainly don't dislike Hades (like I do MF), but I feel very "meh" towards it.

 

Your Mount O experience also parallels my own - I have felt very little need to return.

 

Cameron.

 

LOL @ working in a dig against MF. I'm going to have to agree that Hades isn't all that, especially with Avalanche right down the road. At least Hades doesn't have hoardes of fanboys that will swear to the death that it's better than sex with Jessica Alba.

 

As for food in the Dells, I suggest the Cheese Factory.

 

http://cookingvegetarian.com/

 

Yeah, it's a vegetarian restaurant, but the food is quite good. I'm not a vegetarian, and I didn't miss the meat at all.

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Day 2 - Knuckleheads - 8/3/07

 

With a little time to kill before heading towards Chicago, we decided to add another stop for Friday.

 

I had recently noticed a newly opened FEC in the Wisconsin Dells but hadn't really given it much thought until Brent from Timber Falls gave it his endorsement. Turns out that one of the owners of Timber Falls also owns Moosejaw and Knuckleheads as well as having started Great Wolf Lodge and Noah's Ark. I imagine that he is doing fairly well

 

Knuckleheads is a rather large Bowling Alley/FEC located next to the Tangiers outlet mall a couple exits south of the main strip.

 

As far as Bowling Alleys go, this one is pretty pimped out. It has lanes on both sides of the bar and HDTV scoring and TV to boot. Also, instead of sitting on old-school plastic chairs waiting your turn, Knuckleheads has these awesome couches right down on the lanes.

 

Catrina and I gave their Family Guy themed pinball machine a try before heading back into the FEC portion of the building.

 

On our way back to the arcade we passed the indoor go-kart track (unfortunately I didn't get a picture of that). It was interesting to see these electric karts running inside and they made absolutely no sound at all. It was actually kind of freaky.

 

Inside the spacious arcade, they had a nice little selection of smaller flat rides including a Tornado, Flying Tigers and Himalaya ride.

 

Flying Tigers are much like a whip (for those not in the know) except they swing out around both turns. For the small footprint, it is actually a pretty cool little ride.

 

Flying Tigers detail.

 

"Wow! This is a whole lot smoother than the real Blue Streak!"

 

Cheapest credit ever! With the coupon we snagged from the timeshare nazis at Mt. O, we were able to get our ride on for $1.50 a piece.

 

"Minor" Mike?

 

This "Minor" was of the non-powered variety and was pretty interesting as it was built on a weird set of stairs. The ride basically consisted of a long ramp down the stairs at which point you rolled through an unbanked helix at full speed. I can best describe it as the Indoor/Kiddie/FEC version of the Kennywood Thunderbolt.

 

Next park ... Six Flags Great America!

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I"m gonna have to hit this place next time I go to the Dells. That coaster looks...interesting for a kiddie. Plus I still need to hit Avalanche and the other parks...and more Cyclops goodness ofcourse

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Day 3 - Six Flags Great America - 8/4/07

 

I have never really been much of a Six Flags fan, but for years I have always heard how great of a park that Great America is and how much different it is from the average Six Flags experience. And it was all true!

 

New for 2007. Wiggles World! This giant inflatable statue was there to greet us in their honor.

 

From the entrance, the Intamin Observation Tower really stands out.

 

As does their beautiful double decker carousel. A holdover from the park's Marriott beginnings.

 

We arrived to the park pretty early, so we got to see the morning festivities before the rope was dropped.

 

Holy crap. I knew that it was going to be a busy day, but i wasn't counting on it being the last day of their "Read to Succeed" program and also Naval graduation. At least we have our Gold Flash Pass reserved and waiting!

 

More song and dance from the Looney Tunes characters.

 

Great googly-moogly! They just keep coming!

 

Thanks Flash! With your pass by my side, getting all those credits should be a breeze.

 

Anyone who has been following my trip reports for the last four years knows that when it comes to Deja Vu rides, I am like Kryptonite. But look carefully at this photo, because there is something going on here that I have never seen.

 

Holy crap! There is a train on the track and it's RUNNING!

 

Better hurry and get this credit before it is too late.

 

Success.

 

Crazy thing was, it ran all day. I have never even seen anyone in the station before (In six visits at two different parks) and now it runs all day.

 

Like the sign says ... The wait is over.

 

Since Rajun Cajun was not one of the Flash Pass attractions, I figured that it would be good to get there before the crowd does.

 

Crap! Looks like we are too late.

 

Batman had a nice little line too, but thanks to our Qbot, we won't be waiting for you today.

 

Pointless and insignificant signs for $5000, Alex.

 

Through the trees!

 

One ride on Batman and you can see exactly why the ride has been cloned 3456 times in 186 countries. It is just that damn good.

 

Vertical loop goodness.

 

Our next ride would be on Vertical Velocity. I had been on Superman at Geauga Lake so this was nothing new to me, but Catrina had only been on Wicked Twister. I like this version of the ride much better and Catrina agreed. I think because of it's shorter spires, it doesn't need to push you until you feel like your teeth are going to explode.

 

Unfortunately, Flash pass doesn't get you around the station

 

Hiking back across the park, we found what must be the only Mardi Gras themed Top Spin.

 

With our time up for Superman, we blew past the two hour wait and got our ride. Now we got all three!

 

Now back over to the other side of the park where Raging Bull was awaiting our arrival.

 

While I would rate this one as my least favorite B&M hyper, that would still put it above 95% of the other coasters in the world.

 

The front of the ride is fine, but the back is where it really shines. Pity that they felt the need to ruin what was probably once a pretty good piece of airtime on the third hill.

 

A shot of the train coming down the second hill.

 

The third hill. Trim brake and all.

 

After a couple of rides on the bull, we made our way to one of other flashpass-less coasters, Viper.

 

After a modest 20 minute wait, we got our ride. Viper was not necessarily a top ten coaster, but it is VERY good. Of all the Cyclone clones I have been on, this one definitely tops the list. it has the excitement and airtime of it's Georgia likeness without the brutality.

 

Into the trees!

 

Exclusive!

 

Our last coaster of the day was Demon as Catrina wanted to truly save the best for last

 

At a wait time of 45 minutes, this was the longest wait of the day (I told you it was crazy busy)

 

Goodbye insanely filled amusement park. We had a great time!

 

Next park ... Indiana Beach!

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Haha the old pretend to be getting my picture taken while we really want a picture of the people behind me.

 

It's too bad Hades wasn't running that well for you; it blew me away two years ago. Avalanche is just so ridiculous. Cannot wait to see the Indiana Beach part; I love that park.

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It's too bad Hades wasn't running that well for you; it blew me away two years ago. Avalanche is just so ridiculous. Cannot wait to see the Indiana Beach part; I love that park.

 

We probably lucked out riding Hades right after it opened.

 

Avalanche seems to go faster then should be physically possible.

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Congratulations on experiencing Deja Vu. I have yet to even see a Deja Vu, much less experience it.

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Glad to hear you had a good time in the Dells. I'm sorry you had to endure the typical Mt. O treatment though. Hades does seem a little rough this year, but maybe it was because of the prolonged drought we have had this summer. I rode it during that period as well.

 

The "wierd stairs" that the Minor Mike coaster is built on are there because the building used to be part of an old greyhound track. The property had probably sat empty for the last 10 years or so, until Knuckleheads/Buffalo Phils opened this past winter.

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from what I have heard from a few people, Hades is running better this summer than ever before.

 

I read the Melago report too and I was pretty excited to ride it, but unfortunately it didn't live up to expectation. Maybe next time.

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Day 4 - Indiana Beach - 8/5/07

 

After a night in South Chicago it was time to drive up to Monticello, Indiana to meet up with the TPR Mid-West trip and some of the fine people we met last year in the UK.

 

Welcome to Indiana Beach to the members of Theme Park Adventure Coaster and Waste Management?

 

Since we got to the park a little bit ahead of the group, we decided to start knocking out some coasters early. The weather wasn't looking too good and since we had never been before we wanted to make sure we got them all in. After quick rides on Cornball Express and LoCoSuMo, we headed over to the Tigrr Coaster. This one had Catrina a little concerned due largely to the fact that it has no lapbar and no seatbelt. As a matter of fact ... it has no restraint whatsoever!

 

Over by the Galaxie coaster, the Indiana Beach faithful were participating in a time old tradition ...

 

The feeding of the carp.

 

Robb and the TPR gang arrived at about 2:30 and rushed around the park to get some POV footage where there was still ample lighting. Here they are exciting LoCoSuMo.

 

LoCoSuMo (Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain) is a very unique and enjoyable coaster, but the small trains can make for some long waits on a busy day.

 

Casey and his "Harem" enjoy a ride on LoCoSuMo.

 

While Chuck works on his Facebook/MySpace pose.

 

The short outdoor portion of LoCoSuMo is made up of about 3 small hills. It was nice to see this coaster not live up to it's violent reputation. Overall I thought it was a great coaster and Cameron said it best when he stated "I think this is probably the most accurate mine train ride out there". Very true.

 

Like the rest of the trip, Indiana Beach was hot! Here Catrina demonstrates the proper way of cooling off.

 

Along the "boardwalk" there are a nice selection of classic and new flats. This Falling Star provided some entertainment later on in the night when we enjoyed back to back rides, making the operator question our sanity.

 

The park's Skycoaster has an awesome placement along the midway.

 

Two other great rides that make the most out of their environment are the Yo-Yo and Flying Scooters. This Larson model has good action and you really can't beat the feeling when you look down and find yourself swinging over the lake.

 

The water park side of Indiana Beach was my favorite spot. Live music, Skeeball, Fascination and the smell of corn dogs filling the air.

 

The beach and pool area are separate from the park, but IB sells a wristband that will get you into both attractions all day.

 

I might no look like some of the newer fancy water parks, but I am sure that it is still a great way to cool off on those oppressively hot Mid-West summer days.

 

Since we were already on the far end of the park, Paul and i decided to grab a ride on IB's famous Double Shot. It might not look like much, but this thing really packs a punch.

 

Ready for launch.

 

Some familiar faces and some new acquaintances crossed paths throughout the day.

 

Nevermind the silly face. Here I am grabbing a ride on the park's Scrambler with Casey.

 

Chris and Paul look like they could almost fall asleep.

 

The SoCal car seems much more interested in getting self-portraits.

 

How many MidWesterners can you fit in a Scrambler car?

 

A few of us made our way through the upcharge attraction, Frankenstein's Castle.

 

Much larger than I expected and worth the additional cost. My favorite area was the hallway with many doors.

 

Catrina's favorite giant.

 

Enjoying a ride on the park's Pirate Ship.

 

To finish off the night, we went back and played a few more games of Fascination.

 

The park's Fascination parlor is almost like a living breathing piece of history. Most parks used to feature this fine past time, but there are so few left.

 

One of the highlights of the evening was getting to see Kristen again. She was only about 24 hours old the last time we saw her!

 

Well, that the end of our little Mid-West adventure. I hope that you had as much fun reading as we did experiencing it for ourselves!

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