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TR: Prowler Opening Day at Worlds of Fun

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FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2009




My credit counter is spinning like a busted slot machine. Two weeks ago I made the epic trek to Cincinnati to get Diamondback on Opening Day, as well as get all the credits at Kings Island. I was going to go down to KC the last weekend of April, but then it became clear that Prowler wasn’t going to open with the park. Friends had reported that Prowler was awesome, so my curiosity was sufficiently piqued to make the trip down, albeit a week later than originally anticipated.


The trip down Interstate 35 was pretty boring. I’m a born-and-raised Minnesotan (and proud of it), but I’ll fully admit that most of the state is very, very flat and pretty boring to drive across. There isn’t much to say about northern Missouri, either. And let’s not discuss Iowa. Fortunately, the Sirius satellite radio in the car kept things interesting.


The biggest morale booster of the whole trip came just south of Exit 17, which is the turn for KCI Airport for travelers going south on 35. You come out from under the overpass, and suddenly there’s Mamba, Detonator, and the rest of the park skyline right in front of you. For someone who had really been dragging the last half hour, it was an instant shot of adrenaline. We’re almost there! Yay!


I got off at Exit 54 of southbound I-435, and got confused by the layout of the exit. Since I’ve never been there before, I ended up missing the second left turn up to the WOF entrance and ended up by the Village and OOF. By the time I figured out how to get into the park and get parked, it’s about 5:45 PM. I see two people with TPR hoodies coming out, and I wander my way into the turnstiles. I show them my VF plat pass, they give me food and drink vouchers, and I head into the park.


Worlds of Fun is a surprisingly hilly park. For that matter, Kansas City is a surprisingly hilly city. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, as the Missouri River valley is a deep one through soft ground. Still, your quads, calves, and hamstrings get a good workout at the park. It’s also not clear where to go once you get past the front gates. I follow some folks who look like they know where they’re going


It’s 15 minutes from the top of the stairs back to the head of the queue maze, then 15 minutes for each out-and-back in the queue maze. The maze was filled to the tune of three out-and-backs, which meant it was an hour wait for my first time on Prowler. The marshall at the entrance to the station was being quite strict on row placement, and I ended up in Row 6 in all three of my rides. Truth be told, I was not impressed with it on Friday night. It was certainly a fun ride, but not the kind of blockbuster that it needed to be to get within spitting distance of either a dark Renegade or a soaking wet Viper in Chicago.


Operations got better as the evening progressed. I waited 45 minutes and 30 minutes for my second and third rides, but the first train that didn’t stack Friday night would be their first.


After park close at 8 PM, I went over and checked into my hotel, then went looking for some barbecue. When it Kansas City, you eat barbecue, right? I ended up over at the Ameristar Casino (which is located about a mile from WOF), at Arthur Murray’s barbecue place giving the Plate-pourri sammich a try. I also made the mistake of ordering French fries to go along with it. When I finally got the plate, in addition to the massive sandwich, the French fries were formed into a MOUNTAIN! Talk about my eyes being bigger than my stomach. I managed to get through most of it before throwing in the towel. I really didn’t like any of the three sauces they had. After dinner, I went over to a crap table and proceeded to win $125. A great night in the City of Kansas!


The following morning had breakfast at the Waffle House, then entry into the park. This time I needed to stop at the toll plaza to show my VF platinum pass. The clerk scanned it, then scanned it again with a befuddled look, then put in a call to GR. This went on for about 5 minutes, then the pass was handed back to me and I was told to go ahead. I got parked, then went down to the entrance gate, where they were admitting season passholders. Two weeks ago at Kings Island, my picture didn’t come up when scanned. My pass was scanned, and sure enough it happened again. A call to GR led to an IPA slip being printed and scanned. The supervisor at GR mentioned that they don’t get a lot of IPAs out there. I told her that with Prowler, they were going to get a lot of them this year.


Finally into the park and back to the queue for Prowler. Shortly before 10, the park GM and a local TV meteorologist present the “first riders,” the winners of the auction for the Susan Komen Foundation of Greater Kansas City. After those riders were brought to the platform, the GM took a giant pair of scissors and cut a large cloth ribbon, and we were in business. Two rides here still didn’t do anything for me, and so I went off to check out the rest of the park.


First was the Vekoma Boomerang. This one ran better than the one at Knotts, if for no other reason than I didn’t get my head bashed in when riding it.


Then I kept going around to Mamba, Wild Thing’s brother in arms. No more than a three-train wait all day, but by the time I got up there they were done cycling one of the two trains empty. I went to get in Row 3, and the seats are soaking wet! It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a dry rag up on the deck to take care of that. Once we got squared away, we went out for a ride. If you could put together the first two drops of Wild Thing with the rest of Mamba, you’d have a Top 10 steel. I’m partial to WT’s parabolic hill, but the headchopper effect of Mamba’s spiral was AWESOME. Plus the fact that the mid-courses were hardly grabbing made for excellent air on the way back. Two rides in a row here.


Timber Wolf’s line was out into the midway, so I decided to take my chances riding Patriot. Two out-and-backs in the queue maze were filled, so I thought I was gonna be there all day. The line went surprisingly quick, only 20 minutes. Patriot is a BLAST! It’s been taken care of much better than close cousin Silver Bullet, and they have a good, brisk crew there.


At this point, I left the park to do some other things I wanted to do around Kansas City. These things included getting my state credit for Kansas, going to the NABC College Basketball Hall of Fame (unimpressive), eating at Rosedale BBQ (much better than Arthur Bryant’s), and going by 12th Street and Vine, the corner from the song Kansas City. By the time I had done all of this and returned to the park, it was about 5:30, and I listened to the Kentucky Derby on the satellite radio in the rental.


Back into the park, and time to get the credits on the top end I hadn’t done yet. Timber Wolf’s line had receded considerably, so I went there. It was only 15 minutes from when I entered to when I got into the station, but it took another half an hour to finally get on the train. Once there, it became clear that this was going to be a crappy ride when we were jackhammering on the lift hill! The main ride was no better. No airtime, jackhammer city, and ROUGH ROUGH ROUGH track. It’s not as bad as Son of Beast, but it’s within striking distance. Anytime a coaster is within striking distance of Son of Beast means it’s a pile of junk.


Another spin on Patriot, then over to Spinning Dragons to get the credit. I rode it with a mother and daughter from a middle school in St. Louis. Did I mention that there were a lot of bands and orchestras in the park today, from schools all over Kansas and Missouri? Line for this was about 20 minutes. Even with a very off-balance load, the thing wasn’t spinning. I wished them a safe trip back to St. Louis, and headed to the back of the park.


At this point, I intentionally took my time going back to Mamba, as it was getting dark and I wanted it to be as dark as I could get it for the night ride on Mamba that I’ve heard so much about. The night ride delivered. In fact, it was so much fun that I did it in the front car and back car. I still like the first two hills on Wild Thing better, but the headchopper effect with the columns is awesome after nightfall.


A funny thing happened on the way to the back of the park. Prowler woke up. Remember how I have said on multiple occasions that Prowler just wasn’t doing anything? I’m willing to bet that Prowler didn’t have many testing days where it operated fully loaded trains for 10 hours running. Cause by the time I got my first twilight ride, around 8:40, the ride had changed. Maybe it was darkness, maybe it was my own perception, or maybe it was the inevitable breaking-in a coaster goes through. Whatever it was, the ride was now AWESOME! I also think the Law of Unintended Consequences was in play with regards to the placement of the on-ride camera. The flash blinds you, then BAM! A hard lateral, and by the time you get your wits back, you’re going into the brakes.


At this point, I also found the single rider line. The guy up in the station was doing a good job of getting the train full, but the marshal at the entrance of the line was not. Frequently, she let groups into the queue. One duo asked me if they thought they could ride together. I told her no, you’re in the SINGLE RIDER queue. This was most unlike the marshals two weeks ago at Kings Island, where if you even looked like you knew the person next to you, you were sent to the main queue.


Anyhow, my final ride of the night came right after they cut the queue. I finally got put in with a group for the back row. I’d been trying to get to either the very front or very back all day, so this was going to be a great way to end the day. Sure enough it was. I was left in breathless hysteria as we rolled back to the station.


The following morning saw another Waffle House breakfast before rolling back to the Twin Cities, including a stop at a casino in BFI where I got a little bit more cash from a blackjack table.


So where does it end up on the ranking list? Prior to the evening session with an invigorated Prowler, my wood list went Rene #1, Viper (SF Chicago) in a hurricane, Prowler, Avalanche, Hades, Coaster in Vancouver, then the field. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve been deliberating for three days whether to put Rene or Prowler at the #1 spot. No, I’m still not made up my mind yet. I’ll have to get some rides on Rene once it opens up to assist in making up my mind. Yes, I know I’m missing a lot of high-profile scalps, but I intend to rectify that sometime soon.


Paul Miller

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If you mean the Voyage prototype at Mt. Olympus, the train carries way too much speed through the tunnel for the amount of maintenance that the Greeks at Mt. O do. It's currently my #5, but it's fading rapidly.


I know I've got to get the Holiday World trifecta yet. As for Waldameer, I'm not sure when I'm going to go there.

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The band and orchestra kids were there for Worlds of Fun Festival of Music. It's pretty much every weekend for all of spring for middle and high school bands, orchestras, and (I think) choirs. I went to Worlds of Fun with orchestra my eighth grade year for that.


Mamba was wet because it's right next to Monsoon and Fury of the Nile, so they get a lot of wet patrons. No different than Wild Thing. They just don't have time to inspect every seat for dampness ever time.

I have to say, I could barely disagree more about Wild Thing's first two hills being better than Mamba's. I don't know if you noticed but you get about four seconds of massive floater air on Mamba's second hill. Possibly because you didn't ride back row (although third row is fantastic).


Great trip report. Glad you enjoyed Prowler and Worlds of Fun!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Gahh! Timberwolf is my number 1 woodie that I've ridden (granted, that's not a lot)! The jackhammering is part of the fun!


Anyway, I can't wait to get back down the road to WoF and check out the Prowler. If I was smart, I would have taken a personal day from work this week and went before all the schools let out.

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