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Wisconsin and Illinois: A Narrative Photo TR


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I just got back from a weekend trip to Chicago. I played piano for a show at the Chicago Improv Festival. But since this is Theme Park Review and not Improv Festival Review, I will try to stick to the coasters!

 

After an hour delay, I arrived in Milwaukee to begin my mini Midwest Coaster adventure. However....

 

The weather did not look good.

 

But I got into my rented KIA and headed up to the Dells.

 

According to my GPS, I would not arrive until after 2pm. And the parks close at 5pm. However, I realized that the GPS was still on Eastern Standard Time and not Central. Woo hoo! An extra hour!

 

But first, a little snack! I love Frozen Custard, although my favorite is still East Coast Custard in Cleveland, OH.

 

You know you are close to the Dells when you start to see mega indoor water park resorts.

 

And slides....

 

Tacky tourist shops

 

A Ripley's museum...

 

And an ode to the Magic Kingdom!!

 

I rounded the corner to Mt. O and saw the most horrifying site known to coaster enthusiasts everywhere....

 

Buses. Rows and rows of yellow school buses. I only needed 4 credits, but this may prove harder than I thought.

 

Luckily, most of the kids were at the water park which meant the lines were short, save for Hades. And speaking of Hades, I was able to capture the ride ops at what they do best: sitting on the track between trains, ignoring the guests, and texting their friends back home in Greece!

 

My first ride was Zeus.

I was not impressed.

 

The face of disappointment.

 

Next was Cyclops.

I promised to keep an eye out for it!

 

Hmm...why is there no one in the back seat?

 

Since I was one of about 10 people over 18 that day, I opted to ride the ejector seat from hell. It wasn't too bad, but very rough.

 

2 down....2 to go.

 

Ah....Pegasus. This was actually a good little coaster and not your typical mini coaster clone. And the ride would have been fun if the two girls behind me were not SCREAMING at the top of their lungs from start to finish. It's fun to ride a coaster while plugging your ears...not.

 

Pegasus through the trees.

 

Finally I headed inside to ride the park's newest coaster:

 

OPA!

 

I guess they didn't want to commit to the coaster long term, so they never bolted it to the ground. That makes me feel safe!

 

And there has to be a safer way to load trains instead of standing in front of them!

 

Oh...but wait....I had one more elusive credit to score!

Yes....Dive to Atlantis!!

 

But where is it? I mean....there's the sign....

 

And there's the....picnic pavillion.

 

Oh....remove the ride but leave the sign as an homage? Sort of like the Euclid Beach Park entrance sign, right??

 

I cried. I shed a single tear.

 

Well, since I was able to get all four credits in about an hour, I headed down to Timber Falls. I had heard great things about the Avalanche, and I was not disappointed!

 

This way to fun!

 

I was the only one in the park.

 

And on the coaster!!

 

Great first drop!

 

Nice laterals.

 

And a fun log ride, too!

 

I decided to take a little break and head to my luxurious accomodations for the night: The BlackHawk Motel!!

 

Ah, yes! Step back in time and relive the 70's by staying at the BlackHawk!

 

A front porch for entertaining

 

Bedding from your grandma's attic

 

The always classy fridge, microwave, TV combo with in wall AC unit.

 

You have been warned.

 

The next morning, I was back to Mt. O to ride Hades before the crowds arrived and then on my way to Little Amerricka.

 

More water parks

 

Farms

 

A barn

 

The town of Marshall, Wisconsin.

Main street USA.

 

I made it to the park in time for their noon opening and was one of about 5 people there!

 

Fun but SO rough on the final few bunny hops. I think I need a new spine.

 

Adorable! Such a cute little coaster, and kudos to the park for using the traditional hand brakes and rounded loading platform.

 

P.O.V from the back seat!

 

I even rode the Kiddie Coaster though the ride op was nice and did not subject me to a 2nd ride!

 

Ah, the Toboggan. Now, I am not one for tight spaces, and I had heard that this one was pretty small. But I wanted to get the credit, so I approached the station, palms sweating.

 

I sat down in the car and asked the ride op to let me see if I could handle the confinement. As he closed the top, my head was hitting it. And my back was being squished. And I could feel the life leaving my body.

 

Um....no thanks. I think I will pass.

 

So call me a wuss, but I just couldn't do it. Plus, I still had a 2 hour drive to Chicago. Oh well, c'est la vie.

 

I did ride the park's powered monorail.

 

 

A front seat view.

 

Anyway, I was off to Six Flags Great America. I only needed two credits: Ragin' Cajun and Dark Knight. However, I was not prepared for the following sight when I drove up to the park:

 

 

ARE YOUR SERIOUS??

 

I paid my $15, parked my car in the back lot, and walked right to Guest Relations to complain.

 

And if you think $25 is too much to pay to park a car, feel free to let Six Flags know as well!

 

http://www.sixflags.com/greatAmerica/footernav/contact.aspx

 

And just to prove my point, I did a little research and came up with the following:

 

Discovery Kingdom Parking is $15

Magic Mountain $15.00, Valet $30.00, Buses 20.00, RV's $25.00.

Over Georgia Regular $15.00 and Premier parking for $20.00

Kentucky $5.00 per vehicle for parking

America $15 per vehicle. Preferred Parking is $20

New England Valet $30, Preferred $25, General $15

St. Louis Daily parking is $15

Great Adventure Daily parking is $15, Preferred Parking is $25

SFOT General $15.00, Preferred $20.00 Valet $30.00

 

 

OK...off my soap box and on to the rides.

 

It spun. I did not barf. I got my credit and will never have to ride it again!

 

How is it that Viper is an amazing coaster while similar clones (Georgia Cyclone and SFMM's Psyclone) suck??

 

The Bull was Raging. Get it??

 

Dark Knight. Ok theming, ok ride, WAY too long to wait. I spent about 1 1/4 hours in line, and the park was pretty dead.

 

Now, the front of the park has all these posters advertising the various themed lands. They may want to check these out since this one STILL advertises ShockWave!

 

Then again, on the Sky Tower, the pre-recorded Spiel touts Deja Vu!!

 

Saturday I was off to downtown Chicago to perform my show. Here are some pics.

Outside the theatre

 

Backstage with Mark, the star of the show.

 

The stage.

 

The audience.

 

The show.

 

Sunday morning. My flight back to Orlando was not until 6:30pm, so I decided to head back to Six Flags for more fun.

 

More Flags. More price gouging.

 

Ah....have a Coke...for $3.50

 

Or a Powerade for $4.50!! More expensive than a gallon of gas!

 

You go girl!!

 

Me with Tweety and....Whore Bird??

 

From the sky tower I got some great shots.

 

The Bull had no line all day!

 

My favorite coaster in the park! Fast, smooth, and a great location.

 

Front lot: suckers who paid $25

Back lot: suckers who paid $15

 

Hey, what's that empty lot??

 

Ahhh, no more Deja Vu.

 

Fine by me!!

 

I headed to the park's IMAX when the skies turned very dark grey.

 

This can't be good.

 

The rain which lasted about 2 hours.

 

After it stopped, I gave the Demon a spin and got my butt soaked. Good times!!

 

They never did run The American Eagle when I was there.

 

I left the park about 2pm and went across the street to Gurnee Mills for lunch that would not cost me an arm and a leg!

 

I then made it to the Milwaukee Airport at about 4:30pm for my 6:30pm flight.

 

But the earlier storm had pushed my flight back two hours.

 

Or so I thought...

 

I ended up FINALLY leaving Milwaukee at 1am, 7 hours after my initial flight time and arrived in Orlando at 4:15am.

 

Zzzzzzzzzzz

 

 

Thanks for reading!

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I'm with you on the parking...

 

There is something seriously wrong with a person that is willing to pay 10 extra bucks to park closer, considering that they will be spending a day in a park in which all you do is walk and be on your feet.

 

I always wonder what makes people pay the extra money...do they not know that they share the same lot with the non-premium spaces? Do they think they can park inside the park?

 

If Six Flags really wants to make some money...they should sell premium toilet paper or premium forks. I'm sure people will buy it.

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Nic report and pictures! I stayed at the Black Hawk last time I was in The Dells too and LOVED it! The Indoor pool, with slide, was a nice touch and the place just felt very comfortable. It sucks that Mt O was full of buses, we all nkow that place can suck when it gets busy. Cyclops was rough? That's odd, it was running fantastic for all 4 of my visits to the park, almost in my top 10. Again, thanks for the pics and report! I enjoyed it!

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There is something seriously wrong with a person that is willing to pay 10 extra bucks to park closer, considering that they will be spending a day in a park in which all you do is walk and be on your feet.

 

I always wonder what makes people pay the extra money...do they not know that they share the same lot with the non-premium spaces? Do they think they can park inside the park?

Nikki and I usually pay the extra money to park closer. We gotta save our legs for the park!

 

But otherwise it makes no sense and perhaps we will shy away from it in the future.

 

Edit: Awesome that you stayed at the Black Hawk! That place RULES!

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At California's Great America, parking is $10, preferred parking is $15. And a Powerade is $3.50. That's still expensive, but $1 less is quite a bit.

 

Great TR by the way. Some of Six Flags prices and policies need be thought over and redone. And with gas prices SO high, high parking prices on top of gas is not the way to attract guests.

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Some of Six Flags prices and policies need be thought over and redone. And with gas prices SO high, high parking prices on top of gas is not the way to attract guests.

Like... lower admission prices?

 

Not to mention that Six Flags season passes are the best deal in the industry. My renewal was $60 this year, which gets you unlimited access to every Six Flags park for less than the cost of 1 day at Universal or Disney.

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^ Except that price doesn't ring true for all the parks. Which I have never understood. $90 at SFGAm, and $60 for SFKK? Huh?

 

Great report John! I think we missed each other on 94 be mere minutes going in opposite directions.

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^ Except that price doesn't ring true for all the parks. Which I have never understood. $90 at SFGAm, and $60 for SFKK? Huh?

 

So, move to Kentucky. It'll save you $30!

 

Actually, my pass is from SFMM, which I haven't even been to for over a year and a half. Online renewal FTW. $90 is still about $60 less than the comparable Cedar Fair pass.

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I got my SFGAm Season Pass for $60-something last year when they had that crazy-insane special .. I wouldn't have bought one otherwise.

 

And the people in the $25 parking area are not all "suckers who paid $25 to park" .. a percentage will be "suckers who paid $50 for a season parking pass"

 

Excellent report, by the way. I'm always envious of people who ride Avalanche...!

 

Cameron.

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And the people in the $25 parking area are not all "suckers who paid $25 to park" .. a percentage will be "suckers who paid $50 for a season parking pass"

 

Cameron.

 

Actually, the season parking pass was $65 inside the park. Just seems like they are really sticking it to the guests when they should be catering to them and trying to promote good will. See Holiday World for example.

 

Free parking+Free soft drinks= Happy Guests!

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Actually, the season parking pass was $65 inside the park. Just seems like they are really sticking it to the guests when they should be catering to them and trying to promote good will. See Holiday World for example.

 

Free parking+Free soft drinks= Happy Guests!

Yet feet not on the floor of the train == banned guests? Hand slapping == stupid? Breathalyzers == happy guests?

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Just seems like they are really sticking it to the guests when they should be catering to them and trying to promote good will. See Holiday World for example.

 

Free parking+Free soft drinks= Happy Guests!

 

I'm with you, John. Unless you're paying for valet service with Fort Knox-type security, it's only ever gonna be a freakin' parking lot. A place to park your car for the time you're spending money in the park. Nothing more, nothing less. Regardless of whether it's a football game, a concert, or Six Flags, a $25 charge is simply gouging.

 

Places like Knoebels and Holiday world get it right. Take Knoebels for example. If I had paid $10-15 to park, I would have sampled $10-15 less of their great food offerings, and been dissapointed about that. In the case of HW, if it had been any other big park, I would've spent $25 or more on drinks for the two of us. But simply offering free drinks on a blazing hot day helps me forget about no hand slapping in the station, or perhaps slower operations at times. I just don't see how paying a ridiculous parking fee creates a better guest experience.

 

 

Oh, and nice report, John!

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I just don't see how paying a ridiculous parking fee creates a better guest experience.

 

I couldn't believe when I went to Boston for the first time and found out the amount that they charge at some of the parking garages...especially before Red Sox games. $50-$100 to park a car for a few hours?? Are you friggin' kidding me?? I am used to paying $5-8 to park for a Sabres game in downtown Buffalo. Granted it is not even close to Boston, but that is just insane...I couldn't believe it.

 

And theme park parking charges are ridiculous. I agree - this is Corporate price gouging at it's best. Probably someone's stupid Six Sigma project on how to increase profits without having to invest any park revenue...pathetic! The crazy part is, whoever came up with this "brainstorm of pure nonsense" probably got a promotion and a six or seven figure salary to boot!

 

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox, too!!! Great TR, John!

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What a great report, thank you for sharing!!!!! I'll be at SFGA next week!!!! I hope the parking pass that I got here from SFOG lets us park up front? Does anyone know? Any info on the park would be great. Do they have Flash Passes? I figured if the park is packed we might get one since there a group of us going!

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