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Voyager's TRs - West Coast '09


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Robb suggested that I just start a thread and put all of my TRs in it, so this is it.


Here are some links to my past TRs:

Hersheypark, Knoebels, Cedar Point
Prowler Opening Day at WoF
Diamondback Auction, Opening Day 2009 at KI
KI, next weekend after DB opening day

The first TR posted in this thread is from the 2009 California Trip, and the index for that trip is the next post. -Mike

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Mike's West Coast '09 Photo Trip Report - Links


I will add links to each post/park below as I finish them.


Click on the park below for a link to that page of my trip report (TR):

Day 0: Bus trip, CGA sneak preview
Day 1: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Day 2: Gilroy Gardens
Day 2: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Day 3: California's Great America
Day 3-4: Six Flags Magic Mountain
Day 5: Universal Studios Hollywood
Day 5: Scandia
Day 5: John's Incredible Pizza
Day 6: SeaWorld
Day 6: Belmont Park
Day 7: Legoland
Day 7: Castle Park
Day 8: Knotts Berry Farm
Day 8: Adventure City
Day 9-10: Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure

Introduction, thank yous, etc.


AS I begin to write this I am still smiling from my trip to Holiday World yesterday with some friends. We got a lot of rides, including the two last rides of the year on the Raven. The weather was cool, but beautiful, and the leaves were starting to show color. Fall is definitely underway, so the California trip (CA trip) during the summer seems way off in the past. I'm amazed that I haven't had time to do the writing and photo editing for this TR until now.


While I remember names of trip participants that I hung out with a lot, I am terrible with names and have forgotten a lot of them since the trip. For that, I apologize.


This was my first TPR trip, and I decided to go because driving all over CA myself did not sound like fun, and the trip visited most of the parks in the state. I'd never been to any of the parks before.


I have to first thank Robb and Elissa for putting together a fantastic, though exhausting, trip. I felt very welcome.


Thanks to Mikel for being a great roommate, walking fast enough to keep up with me, and for sharing Q-bots and beers. It was nice to get the credits out of the way and have time to take photos and go back and ride the rides that we liked.


I apologize to everyone for walking so damn fast. That's just how I am.


Thanks to Robbie, Natalie, Kim, Neil, John, Matt, and everyone else for hanging out with me and giving good park tips, etc.


Thanks to Mike A. and Wes for sitting by me on the bus and for good (and entertaining) conversation.


Thanks for the photo compliments, thanks to those who carried or held onto my camera while I rode rides, and thanks for the "Hanno Award".


I'm also a member of ACE, and I had heard stories about the two groups not getting along. I found that was simply not true, and people were more concerned about riding, drinking, eating, occasionally sleeping and just having fun than what organizations you were a part of.


Thanks to everyone for making me feel welcome. -Mike


Now, on to the trip reports: Day 0: Bus trip, CGA sneak preview

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Day 0 - Thursday, Aug 6 - TPR bus photos and an evening at CGA


Just before the trip, I was on Maui for a business trip and to visit a friend. I took the red-eye from Kahului to LAX on Wednesday evening, and I arrived at the TPR hotel lobby about 6am on Thursday morning.


The first TPR person I met was Wes, and then most of the group filtered in for breakfast in the hotel lobby not too long thereafter. I talked to a few people, met Rob and Elissa for the first time in person, and we all headed for the bus.


On the way out of LA Rob gave the trip rundown, and kept asking for questions and cracking jokes. All I could think of to ask was "How long is your standup act?"


I think Rob thought I was tired of hearing him talk, but I wasn't - he was very entertaining - but that was really the only question I could come up with after taking the red-eye the night before!


After getting to know a bunch of people on the bus and looking out the window at the traffic and parched, brown hills, I got out my binder full of coaster photos and passed them around, and that turned out to be a really good way to get to know people.


The trip from LA to the Bay area was a serious haul, with not a lot of scenery, but multiple snacks.


Here are some photos from the infamous TPR bus on various parts of the journey.


The back of the bus - looks like I caught Ben by surprise.


Middle of the bus - pretty enthusiastic, except for one troublemaker


"Hi, I'm Robb, one of your tour organizers. I'll smile for your photo, but then get back in your seat and leave me alone."


The front of the bus - also in a good mood


We stopped in the middle of nowhere along the interstate. There was a McDonalds, a Carl Jr.'s, and some other stuff, but that was about it. The food was mediocre, and it was really crowded, since this seemed to be the only place to stop for miles.


Since it was a ~7 hr. bus ride, we needed snacks and candy once and a while to keep us going. One of the most memorable moments on the bus ride was when Robb turned into the snacky-snack guy (complete with dayglo orange hat) on a night-time bus ride.


Do not anger the snack monster or you will not get a snack!


After checking into the hotel, John and Matt and I sampled some snacks at the snack exchange (can you see a pattern here?) and we decided to catch a ride in the hotel shuttle van to California's Great America, which was literally a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel.


After arriving at CGA we were ready for our first rides of the trip.


After the stand-up Vortex, we headed for the Demon, which was exactly like the Demon at Six Flags Great America near Chicago.


Here's John and Matt (giving his official ride review) on Invertigo, the coaster that, four days later (one day after the official TPR visit), got stuck for about four hours with people on it. Personally I am very glad I missed out on that event.


The wild mouse coaster was the only ride with a significant line, as the park was basically dead on a Thursday evening.


Six coasters and credits later (Grizzly was the only one not running) we were happy to have gotten some rides in as we waited for the shuttle to return.


I'm not sure if I even ate dinner that night after sampling stuff at the snack exchange before heading to CGA, but everyone else had gone off to Bennigans to get drunk and have dinner (in that order, I believe).


I tried out the pool and the fairly slimy hot tub, and I think Mikel and I had a beer right before I took a much-needed shower and crashed after not enough sleep on the plane the night before.


First official stop: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

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Day 1 - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.


The drive to the park was scenic, giving us views of the bay and surrounding landscape. It was a nice day as we pulled into the parking lot.


Oh my God - coasters - RUN!!!!!!


Hey! This is not a coaster, this is the parking lot tram! Calm down!


If you water your wood coaster, it will grow and get taller! (Seriously, with the low CA humidity I wondered how they kept the wood from drying out and spontaneously bursting into flames, and now I know.)


Robb, Elissa, and Mike lead the TPR crew into the park; KidTums hacks the Q-bot to get free HBO and Cinemax and unlimited rides.


The camel is thinking - "Oh, hell no - this fat guy is not getting a ride."


The SFDK people had a variety of animals out for us to see before heading into the arena where they tigers performed. We watched the tigers swim and do a few tricks before heading out to our first ERT session on Medusa.


Medusa is a fantastic ride, and it took me a few rides to realize it had seven inversions. I got plenty of rides during ERT (five or so), and then Mikel, my roommate, and I fired up the Gold Q-Bot and started racking up credits.


The second coaster of the day was this very long kiddie coaster. Mikel either gives the count or wishes for peace.


The kiddie coaster produced a very nice photo later in the day when I was standing outside the gate shooting Medusa and Roar, and I just happenned to catch this shot through the palm trees.


Medusa and V2 were my favorite rides at this park, and Roar was also very good, though rough in a few spots. If it had been a little smoother it would have been faster, and would have seriously kicked butt.


My favorite flat was Hammerhead, but Tasmanian Devil also proved to be a lot of fun.


Hammerhead was fun, despite the super-snug harnesses - when you are hanging upside down from them you don't mind snugness.


After a fairly good ride on the Top Spin, we got stuck on it for 5-10 minutes when it didn't stop in quite the right place. This was made all the more unpleasant by the self-stapling restraints.


I think Mikel and I had ridden all of the coasters by lunch, which was in one of the picnic groves. After lunch, door prizes and announcements, they brought out more animals.


"I am the cutest animal you will see on the whole trip. Bow before me. I SAID BOW!"


I took some other photos of animals in the main part of the park.


In one tank you could pet a small stingray. They're actually not dangerous at all.


DOLPHIN ATTACK! Oh wait - the trainer has fish.


What does the "D" stand for? Not sure.... hey, what's that in its beak?


Hey, those are feathers, and I think the penguin we saw at lunch is missing...

"D" must stand for Dangerous. Bad penguin. Don't look at me like that or I will peck you to death!


Are these sea lions?


Whatever they were, they didn't want to look at me or my camera.


I spy a Bay Area Bash attendee in this photo!


ERT later that night was on Roar, V2, and Tony Hawk. Here Mike Austin actually appears to like a ride, and he's smiling, too, something you don't see often.


Hey, I know those guys - they're from Kentucky, what the hell are they doing here?


Earlier in the day, while most of the group was off touring a factory that made some kind of candy or snack food, I was taking photos.


From just outside the main gate, I could see the stop and go traffic on the highway, and I decided that a photo of California traffic combined with a roller coaster was an appropriate photo for this trip.


From this spot I could get great shots of Roar and Medusa. Let's start off with Roar - a very good ride, and there were some nice photo ops from just outside the main gate.


Front row - "Raj, I love you." "Oh Sanjeev, I love you too! I thought this day would never come!"


The one guy looks like he really, really, really has to pee.


A variety of reactions to Roar's first drop


The faces in rows 4 and 5 are kind of interesting


Five kids, five different reactions


After another drop, the kids look happier


Bald guys love Roar!


Medusa is just too damn photogenic. I couldn't stop taking photos of people having a great time on this excellent ride. Here are a lot of photos from various angles.


First drop reactions


Front row - we're lovin it!


More hot corkscrewin' action


The fun resumes with a great quick drop out of the midcourse brakes


Row 1 - bliss, Row 2 - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


More first drop fear


Out of the 2nd or 3rd inversion and the fun is just beginning


Write your own caption for this one, but be sure to use the phrase "moron with a camera" in it


Front row hair


Medusa is smooth and fun, and everyone in this photo is enjoying it


Check out the kid's face in the 2nd row


Look - Raj and Sanjeev, who just professed their love for each other in the first row of Roar, are now enjoying a front-row Medusa ride. How nice. I like the guy a few rows back on the right holding his sunglasses/head.


V2 is a great ride, and the 45-degree front spike with a twist is really fun.


Peekaboo, I see you!


More flying hair on V2


Looking straight up the back spike - nothing like floating about 100 feet off the ground - I wish it was taller!


Zero-G floaty fun


Her yellow shoes match the harnesses


I did not feel like getting soaked on this day, but many people did.


Father and son tear up the track


Mother and daughter are left in the dust


I see the logic of the mandatory boxes that lock, but I still don't like them, though I did find it convenient to stash my stuff in one for a couple of hours.


On another possibly unpleasant topic, some boomerang riders take their first plunge. This one wasn't that rough.


More really, really, really wet people - not an acceptable amount of wetness!


This ride was so bad I only took a couple of photos of it.


These riders head for the sky... and then the chiropractor.


Let's finish up with a great Tony Hawk ride, which was the scene of a massive soaking during ERT.


Proper riding technique!


Maybe my best hairtime photo of the trip!


Turns are fun


And finally - little Bobby and Tommy are in love!


At the end of the night, after a last V2 ride, a few of us headed quickly to the front gate and caught a tram. We got to the bus with 5 minutes to spare, thinking we would be some of the last on the bus before it left, as Robb said it would, precisely on time, and not a minute later.


We got on, and found we were the first two people back to the bus with the exception of Larry, the driver. The rest of the group arrived 15 minutes later! Of course by then we had already raided the snacks.


Next stop: Gilroy Gardens

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well, i would like to see.. but all of the photos are broken, at least on my end!

Looks like the images that I uploaded were lost when the site was hacked, but I just re-uploaded them. Enjoy.


More updates coming next week..... -Mike

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Thanks for the compliments!


I'll be posting more of my TR just as soon as I can upload photos to the proper directory. Robb is working on it (thanks Robb!).


I'll also upload some higher quality versions of the images from SFDK - some of those got compressed by the jpeg format more than I wanted, and that affected the sharpness and color. I'm trying to keep them under ~200KB each for the sake of my slow internet.


If you'd like to hear about the turn of events that resulted in the shocked expressions below, then STAY TUNED! -Mike


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Day 2 - Gilroy Gardens


We arrived at Gilroy on a beautiful Saturday morning. It didn't really look like the type of theme/amusement park that I'm used to - all you could see from the outside were trees - which was a nice change.


We headed to Quicksilver for our ERT, pausing for a group photo on the way into the queue. These people are awesome, yet mildly insane - a very fun mix.


It was kind of early, and it is only a mine train, so some of the group were a bit drowsy, while the rest were ready to ride. This is what the station looked like.


We had a bit of a wait while Gilroy's engineering staff approved Robb's sophisticated camera attachment rig.


And now what caused the expressions of shock and amazement?


Actually, they weren't expressions of shock and amazement, just boredom.....


"Oh crap, he's got like three super-sized rolls of duct tape - should we just take a nap?"


As we start ERT, at least Neil is showing ERT-quality enthusiasm.


Do not piss these people off, or they will take embarrasing photos of you on a ride. Also don't tell them your hotel room number or leave the door unlocked.....


Robb and his 200 mph duct tape job conquered the mine train. Seriously, this was one of the gentlest (but most scenic) mine trains I've ever been on. The camera would have probably stayed there with just a piece of gum sticking it to the car.


Some TPR members are beginning to awaken and show signs of life.....


....others are not.


OK, now these people are having fun! Or maybe they found an open bar?


This elevator, near the waterfalls at Gilroy, was the scariest on the trip. Tower of Terror could learn a thing or two from this one. Fortunately this ride wasn't operating.


Garlic - the ride. Dracula refuses to ride.


I was safely secured, with a seat belt AND lap bar, for my high speed, super-thrilling monorail ride.


The monorail goes REALLY, REALLY, REALLY fast!!!!


Well, no it really doesn't go fast, but we got a nice view of the butterfly building, but I didn't see any butterflies. Had I been attacked by a giant butterfly, I would have been in trouble because I was safely secured by a seat belt AND a lap bar.


Actually, I also rode the train, and it went MUCH faster than the monorail, but no seat belt or lap bar on that. Here's Mikel enjoying the view from the row in front of me.


You won't see a flower like this at most other parks. There were lots of nice flowers to photograph, so I exercised the macro lens.


The place is peaceful, and quite beautiful.......


.....until you throw a bunch of havoc-wreaking TPR people into the park.


Next thing you know, they're stealing hats and raising hell.


Seems like I've seen this photo before.....


What do TPR people do for fun? They get Chris lost in a rock maze, and then they give him bad directions while they watch from above. Chris soon had a near-breakdown.


Then the lost Chris finally finds his way out of the maze, and everyone makes fun of him while Robb videotapes! (And Chris even paid to go on this trip!)


This photo says it all - sun and swings are all you need. Life is good.


Just got this shot past some tree branches.... hey Kim watch out for those branches!


Natalie enjoys her swing ride, and I actually like the slightly out-of-focus shot. Happiness is a swing ride (until your butt goes numb).


I didn't even take a photo of the other coaster at Gilroy, but it was kind of fun in the back seat for a few seconds, then it was over.


I liked the banana-themed swinging ship ride (sorry, didn't get a photo of it), and the raft ride that we spun for most of the course (before the boat behind us ended up ramming us).


Here's what part of the walk out of the park looked like.


After our morning at Gilroy we took a very beautiful winding mountain road. Some people were concerned, not with the driver, but with the lack of guard rails.


Larry did a fine job navigating us down into some smaller agricultural towns, and then into the coastal area.


Next stop: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

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Day 2 - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk


Well, I already did all of the photo editing for my reports, and it looks like I maybe could have used a bit less compression on the images. (Oh well, it's not such a bad thing because one of Natalie's TRs is STILL loading since the images are larger files.) I might update some of the images later on.


Anyway, back to California....


It was interesting to go from tranquil, uncrowded Gilroy down into a Saturday afternoon crunch of people in Santa Cruz.


Driving into Santa Cruz we saw one thing - crowds of people. It was a nice day, and clearly it was going to be crowded on the boardwalk. We got off the bus and waited in line to get our wristbands, but people kept letting their friends in line with them, and we were moving at the speed of a government bureaucracy.


We found another line and got our wristbands, and headed for the first coaster of the day, a kiddie coaster. It took a while to figure out how to get to the line, and there was quite a bit of a line. After maybe 20 minutes we had a very fun ride. I took my camera with me in my backpack, and after getting off I headed down below the ride to get some photos.


I had no idea that such a small coaster would produce some great expressions from TPR people. Here Mike actually looks happy, and Robbie is having a good time. But what's going on in the back seat?


Oh, that's Natalie. I think the look on her face needs no description. I know she already showed this photo, but I felt that it was my duty to post the full resolution version. I know she will appreciate that.


The next train brought some more priceless looks of surprise. Again, Chris - terrified (thanks for pointing that out Natalie). The non-coaster enthusiasts a few cars ahead just look bored. This is proof that TPR members just have more fun!


"I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky."


If I remember correctly, next we rode the other steel coaster, the Hurricane, and the drop in the middle made me fear for the health of my back. It was a fairly violent drop, we were near the back, and I leaned the wrong way. I think I nearly killed whomever was sitting next to me, and to that person I again apologize. One ride was enough, and I didn't even take a photo of it.


We headed back to our private TPR deck for dinner, which was delicious. Yes, that's right, despite the massive crowds we had a private deck, and we all felt special. We also had unlimited beer for an hour or so.


I had no idea the people around me could drink so much beer in an hour. However, I actually wanted to remember my rides on the Giant Dipper.


After lots of beer, we played volleyball, and the quality of play accurately reflected our alcohol consumption!


Some of the "standard" rides were really beautifully done, with amazing paint jobs.


We met up for a tour of the underside of the carousel, and we got to see where the brass rings are dispensed from, as well as the mechanism underneath the carousel. This was followed by a walk-back inside the structure of the Giant Dipper. It was a lot of fun to get very close to the running coaster, and it provided some great photo opportunities that we wouldn't normally get, including getting to see the building that housed the running lift motor.


This is one of the first photos I took, and I didn't notice until later that there was a guy in the back seat smoking a cigarette! He's got his free hand up, so I'll give him credit for that.


In the front of the same train - definitely like father, like son!


As the ride finishes up, HE'S STILL SMOKING! Now that's dedication!


Great expressions in the front three cars....


...and the back three cars, including some MAJOR hairtime in the back row.


"Uh, hey, could the next two rows in front of me duck down so I could take a video of the ride? That's good - thanks. Oh, and try not to bang your heads on your lap bars during the ride!"


Probably my favorite Big Dipper photo - pure fun (and no one flipping the bird)


The look on the little girl in blue's face is priceless


"We need this huge motor to haul you fat asses up the lift hill."


Another fantastically decorated flat ride


As the clouds and fog move in, it is finally time to ride the Giant Dipper, and I'm eager to get in line.


Here's the group, waiting in the 15-20 minute line.


A nerd in the front seat of the Dipper. Wait... um... what exactly is going on in the row behind the nerd?


The ride was great, and I rode again later in the back seat, and I think I preferred the back. This is a really fun ride with some surprises in a fantastic setting by the ocean. Coming from Illinois, this was a real treat.


Later at night we tried more rides, including an awesome indoor Wipeout complete with very cool lighting and loud music. The Cave Train was interesting, but not too exciting.


I had fun watching people freak out on the Double Shot, right on the beach, while I waited in line. I enjoyed my ride in the dark, which featured a fantastic view from the top of the waves coming in. I finished off the night with a chocolate-dipped ice cream cone, and headed for the bus.


SCBB treated us like royalty, and we had a fantastic time. The beach volleyball was an unexpected bonus after a great meal, and though the boardwalk was really, really crowded on this Saturday night, I still had a great time.


The bus was full of exhausted people after this long day. I was glad I had and "easy" day on Sunday, since I'd already done most of the coasters at CGA on Thursday night. I decided I would take lots of photos during ERT.


Next stop - California's Great America

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Oh, that's Natalie. I think the look on her face needs no description. I know she already showed this photo, but I felt that it was my duty to post the full resolution version. I know she will appreciate that.


That's it. I'm making that my facebook profile picture (if you don't mind). It's just WAY too good.


My WCT trip report is gonna be on hiatus until I can get my laptop repaired. At least I can look at your awesome TR and reminisce till then.

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That's it. I'm making that my facebook profile picture (if you don't mind). It's just WAY too good.

Go for it. I knew you'd enjoy that photo. I also have some good ones of "happy Natalie" on the flyers at CGA, coming in the next TR installment.


My WCT trip report is gonna be on hiatus until I can get my laptop repaired. At least I can look at your awesome TR and reminisce till then.

First the camera, now the laptop? That's just cruel. Have you been skipping church or something? (By the way, did you get your camera fixed?)


I'm glad you are enjoying the TR, and I've been enjoying yours. It helped me remember quite a few people's names, and you do a great job catching a lot of the wider angle shots that I tend to forget about. -Mike

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