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Voyager's TRs - West Coast '09


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^Yeah, I remember at one point counting twenty cans of Fat Tire on the table. And that was just the Fat Tire, not all the other beer or margarita cups. It was insane.


There needs to be a "TPR Beach Party" on every trip from now on! Even if we have to build out own beach to have it.



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There needs to be a "TPR Beach Party" on every trip from now on! Even if we have to build out own beach to have it.

Don't forget, the Middle America trip goes to INDIANA BEACH!


This is what their beach looks like.


^Or, on Middle America, have a corn party instead of a beach party. Ohhh, or we can have a mullet party!


Not too many mullets left here - mostly shaved heads. Around here it could also be a soybean party, but it's definitely much easier to get drunk people lost in a cornfield (if it's tall enough by August).


I didn't get picked in the lottery so I'm on the waiting list for the Middle America trip. If all else fails I'm a 4 hr or less drive from HW, IB, SFStL and SFGAm and I can just show up with my camera and beg for ERT. -Mike

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Day 8 - Knotts Berry Farm


Here's what the gate looked like when we arrived. My challenge at Knotts was to ride all of the rides in time to get some photos in the afternoon light before the bus left.


ERT was on Silver Bullet and Xcelerator. I went straight to Xcelerator and got on the first train in the front seat.


This is one of the only Xcelerator photos that I took, because it broke during the afternoon and I got zero photos of it in operation. That was sad, because you could get very close to the launch area and the looks on people's faces would have been fun to capture.


When these launched coasters are working, there is not a more exciting feeling than being plastered against the seat as you rocket up to 70 or 80 mph, and then being thrown off your seat as you go over the tophat.


Thankfully the cable was intact for our visit, and I think I rode five times. I was about to get off and head for Silver Bullet, but there was a huge delay attaching one of the cameras, and I was stuck in a train waiting to come into the station for about 10-15 minutes. That shot the rest of ERT, and I did not make it up to Silver Bullet before the line had gone down the stairs. Still, it wasn't a long wait and I enjoyed it.


Silver Bullet was a fun ride, but not as exciting as other B&M suspendeds. However, with the afternoon California sun it was highly photogenic, and I was almost having more fun taking pictures than riding it.


Here's another group rounding one of the final curves.


This group has just "looped-de-loop" and they are ready for more.


I headed for Pony Express. The launch was fun and the ride is smooth, but it didn't do much for me. However, later in the day it produced some of my favorite photos from the park.


This group is not entirely ready for the launch!


While it wasn't intense, it was sure a lot of fun for this train full of people.


I headed for Ghostrider, and saw Wes getting into the front of the back car by himself. I yelled to see if anyone was riding with him, he waved me up, and I proceeded to skip the last bit of the line by filling the empty seat. (Sometimes I really enjoy doing the single rider thing.)


The ride was somewhat rough and a bit disappointing. I know people used to love this ride, but I couldn't even muster enough enthusiasm to ride it a second time, especially with a rather long line. I'll give it another shot the next time I'm there.


Wes and I decided to get some rides done, and we headed to the back of the park to ride the boomerang and the Perilous Plunge. These had no line at this time, and the Plunge was great in the back row.


Here John prepares for a front-seat Plunge.


By chance I caught Mikel taking the Plunge - looks like he's enjoying it!


The entire front row is afraid of the SPLOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHH!!!


This boat just looks terrified!


It is hard to find open sets of eyes on some boats.


Their boomerang was also photogenic. Some of these people seem to be enjoying their ride, and as I recall it wasn't that rough.


I like the palm tree in the background.


The top spin looked like fun, but I skipped it, having been stuck on one at SFDK.


We headed up to ride this very long coaster (the train and the duration) before lunch. It was a fun ride, and is definitely on my list of rides to try the next time I am there.


After this, we had lunch, and the food was really good. I was told their fried chicken was famous, and it certainly was good. Knotts gave us a ride warrior T-shirt and lanyard, and then we headed out to finish off the coasters.


Here Bas and Neil enjoy Sierra Sidewinder, which was fun, but definitely a family ride if the car is well balanced.


A couple of girls scream at Robbie. Who knows what he said to them.


Robbie and Natalie recover from the ride and from all of the screaming.


I tried to ride the kiddie coaster (didn't take a photo of it), but I was denied because I was too tall. I came back later and they didn't even check my height. It was actually quite a fun little ride, but I had to fold myself in half to fit under the lap bar.


I closed out the day by trying to get some good Montezooma's revenge photos, and I was lucky to find some TPR people enjoying a front seat ride.


This train was having a great time, and the guy in row 4 hadn't quite gotten around to flipping me off yet, though he was about to!


Finally, this guy did manage to flip what I am calling the "California Salute", since I saw so many of them on this trip. So buddy, do me a favor and flip off Nancy Pelosi for me, since you seem to be very good at it, and she deserves it.


Anyway, I had a good time at Knotts, but the downtime on Xcelerator was a bummer for my photography and because I wanted one more ride on it. Overall the park was clean, but some employees were not, shall we say, highly motivated.


My favorite rides were Xcelerator, Montezooma's revenge, and Silver Bullet. The S&S tower was quite good, and the ride-ops there were enthusiastic and were noticing the TPR wristbands. I had a good time talking to one of them who found an empty seat for me so I could skip a lot of line.


Ghostrider and Pony Express were a bit of a disappointment, but hopefully the former will improve in the future.


Next stop - Adventure City

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Day 8 - Adventure City


Well, after most of a day at Knotts it was quite a change of pace to head for this small park with two small coasters.


First I headed for the kiddie coaster, and it may have been the first ride I've seen that actually goes over a tree!


Next I headed to the one-passenger-at-a-time Tree Top Racers, which proved to be a truly wild ride. The cars reminded me of the theming of Wildfire at SDC, but it was a vastly different ride.


Before my ride, I shot photos from the station (producing the side-view shots), and after it I had to lean over a railing and shoot sideways nearly holding the camera with one hand (producing the head-on shots), but I managed to get a lot of good photos.


So, without further delay, here are the many faces that the Tree Top Racers produced.















I think this is my favorite expression of the trip, along with Natalie on the kiddie coaster at SCBB.


Bas looks determined.... to do what I have no idea.


Mikel looks bored






Can't wait to see this video


After this I took photos of people riding the small drop ride.


These people were on one side, having fun or faking it


I think they were really having fun


This group was on the other side, but they look less enthusiastic. Dave looks ill or concerned.


I was about to get on the next cycle, but they stopped us at the gate because there was a problem with the ride. We watched one of the maintenance guys come by and mop up a puddle of hydraulic fluid that had collected on the concrete.


Apparently this was normal, and they only closed the ride because someone could step in the fluid and slip and fall. After they mopped it up they reopened the ride!


Slightly concerned I had a fun ride and survived.


That was it for Adventure City, and we boarded the bus and headed for our hotel near the Disney parks.


Next (and last) stop - Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure

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Days 7, 8, 9, and 10 - Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure


Hard to believe it's November, and this is the last installment of my trip report from August. I'm kind of happy that it's done, but a little sad that it's done too, and the season is over. I closed out the season with a bunch of friends at Six Flags St. Louis on a November day when it was warm enough to wear shorts. Last ride of the year was the excellent Evel Knievel, in the dark. Anyway, on to the last part of my TR.....


On the evenings after Knotts and Adventure City, we walked from our hotel over to the Disney complex and enjoyed some not-so-busy weeknight evenings at the parks.


This is what the view from the hotel looked like on a typical gloomy morning before the marine layer of clouds had burned off.


On Thursday night we headed over to Disneyland for the first time. I had been to Disneyworld when I was very young, but my parents don't like rides and from what I remember we didn't go on anything that went faster than you could walk. To this day I still have never been on a coaster in the state of Florida, and I'm not sure when I will.


So, we headed for what would be my first Disney coaster, Space Mountain. Seemed to be a good way to start.


After a 40 minute wait the 12 of us managed to line up for one train, six people per car.


We, hopped in and moved forward out of the station, and paused as the train in front of us made a right turn and headed into darkness. We were all fairly amped up for what should be a great ride.


I was in the front seat with John. I watched the section of track in front of us flip over, switching us to a track that led off into the darkness to the left. We moved forward.... and stopped in what looked like a maintenance bay.


What did we do? Are we in trouble? Okay, did one of the people behind me do something really stupid?


A ride host appears with an explanation.


"Well, it seems that the twelve of you fairly average-sized guys are just too heavy for our train, so we'll have you get off here and we'll split you up."


Holy $@#!. We are so FAT that we JUST BROKE SPACE MOUNTAIN!!!!


Honestly, none of us was really fat, though. We're just average-sized guys - and no, I'm not talking about the average fat Chicagoan that eats bushels of kielbasa for breakfast - I'm talking easily riding Millennium Force-sized people. For Gods sake, the ride host - er, sorry - cast member in the photo above is much chubbier than any of us were!


We were a bit shocked, but a bit proud, I think!


We were unloaded with the aid of a stepstool, and of course all of our cameras came out and we started snapping photos. Not being a complete dork, I'll only show a couple.


Here the cast member steadies the step stool as two of our party exit.


Mikel is proud of breaking the ride as we exit through a rarely-seen backstage passageway and out a door labeled "Cast Members Only". Really it should say "Cast members or groups of twelve average-sized adult males only".


So, they put us right at the head of the line, and here is half of our group finally getting their ride.


I really enjoyed my first Space Mountain ride, which happenned to be in the front seat. I had no idea what was coming, and the multiple lifts had me fooled. Of course I wish it had more drops, but it was still a fantastic ride in nearly complete darkness.


So, the lesson learned here is that if you ever want to break Space Mountain, get eight to twelve average-sized male adults, get on one train, and see what happens.


After this we headed straight to the Matterhorn, which had maybe a 20-minute line. It was a great ride in the dark, and a nice way to close out my first evening riding REAL rides at a Disney Park.


The next evening, Friday night, I met up with Robbie, Natalie, Neil, and Kim at Quiznos across from the hotel and we headed over before the sun set. We went to DCA first, and rode Soarin, which was much more fun than I expected, having no idea what to expect. We hit he coasters next, the Wild Mouse and California Screamin.


I was really looking forward to Tower of Terror, because I enjoy the surprise of experiencing a ride like that for the first time.


The theming was great, as was the ride. I just put my hands up and had fun.


As it was getting dark we headed over the Disneyland and found massive crowds as we tried to get to Indiana Jones. After walking a little bit I turned around and the rest of my group was gone! Having no clue where I was, I walked a little bit farther and found myself back on International Street, not knowing how I got there.


I called Robbie and found out they were in line for Indiana Jones (thanks for waiting for me and looking for me, guys), and I backtracked through the huge crowd and found the entrance, which I had missed the first time by due to darkness and huge masses of people.


Thankfully, at Disney it is OK to catch up to your group in line (or so I was told), so I line jumped like a #$%@ing madman and finally made it up to where everyone else was.


I am glad I didn't bail, because Indy turned out to be my favorite ride in the park. The theming as you walk into the entrance and enter the underground world is just fantastic, and the holes in the roof open to the sky weren't noticed until the next day. The flickering lights and cricket-chirping sountrack were perfect.


I can't remember if we stayed until close, but we made a plan to use our "magic hour" the next morning, so we may have headed back a bit early to get some sleep. I got up about 6am and had breakfast, and then we headed over about 6:45 so we could get in at 7am. We headed straight for Space Mountain, and we were basically the first people on it that morning, with one of the cast members walking in ahead of us.


After this we headed for the other side of the Matterhorn (the one I had not ridden the night before), which was a completely different experience in daylight.


I had my camera out, and it was difficult to hold it steady because it was heavy, but I managed to get some good shots. This was the first coaster I had ever taken photos on (being a good little enthusiast).


I spotted other TPR people just behind us, heading up the mountain as our ride was ending.


With the sun still hiding behind the clouds, we headed to Big Thunder Mountain at some point, and this was what I got when I pointed my camera behind me.


Here's a photo under sunshine later in the trip.


We headed for Splash Mountain, which was a little wetter than I bargained for, and Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion. At this point some of the group were hungry, and I decided to get a Coke to help fight sleep deprivation.


I walked up to the counter to pay for the drink, and the young woman at the cash register noticed my shirt. I had just happened to put on my Voyage t-shirt that morning.


I'll give here credit - she recognized the ride, but then she said

"You need to get a Disney ride shirt instead of that one."


Being tired and somewhat brain-dead, I was rather proud of my response:

"You need to get a better roller coaster."


Then I picked up my change and walked away!


That was ONE of TWO things that pissed me off while at the Disney parks.


THESE were the OTHER things that pissed me off! I officially hate strollers and the morons who push them without watching where they are going or who they mow down.


Everywhere you looked, there were ridiculous numbers of strollers. I had them cut me off, clip my heels, and nearly trip me. They blocked walkways, and often came in widths of two strollers, side by side, pushed by oblivious idiot moms and Dads who were too distracted by all of the "Disneyness" to notice the ten people they had just mowed down.


I also noticed people paddling canoes. Was this an upcharge attraction?


Crowds were quite steady on this weekend, and this was one of the less crowded sections of the park!


Fortunately not all attractions were "sold out" for the day.


As we were walking around on Saturday afternoon we were also on the lookout for scavenger hunt items. After spending a few hours of time looking for obscure items in the crowded park, I broke away to take photos.


The hippos on the Jungle Cruise were very realistic, so of course I had to snap some photos. No ACE jokes, please.


What pretty fake teeth you have.....


The infamous "back side of water"


I caught some surprised expressions on Big Thunder.


Big Thunder was generally hard to photograph, except for this stretch.


This angle produced some good pictures - fun to look at the kids' reactions


This train is all smiles


I didn't know they packed them in three-wide on this ride.


An International Street shot


Walt - "Look Mickey, those morons with the stroller just ran over five people. Isn't this just a magical place?"


On Saturday night it got crowded, and I recall walking out of the park with Robbie after he got a custom-made set of mouse ears for himself. Though I have never desired a set of mouse ears, it seemed to help Robbie complete some phase of his life, and he was happy.


The next morning, our last day of the trip, Mikel and I resolved to ride a lot of rides.


We were organized - the Fast Passes and single rider lines were our friends on this day.


Here I am on California Screamin - my first ever self-portrait on a ride. Even though I'm pretty thin I still have an extra chin when I look down at the camera! Argh.


This is what the loop looks like.


Tower of Terror was a lot of fun, and I could take pretty good photos of the on-ride photo display. Here Mikel and I represent 50% of the people who weren't holding on for dear life.


Later in the day I put on my 2X attachment and effectively using a 400mm lens, I got some decent photos of people on Tower of Terror from the center of the park!


Can you find Mikel in this photo? This is very close to where I took the Tower photo.




You know these people are having a great time


Terror and tongue!


Future Top Thrill Dragster fans?


Check out the kid in the second row!


My last photo of California Screamin


Mikel enjoys a quick ride on the brightly colored carousel


To end this TR, I will show a few photos of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which started the modern steel coaster age.


A variety of expressions here.....


These all are taken right before the splashdown, and people are just getting their first look at the water here, and are wondering if there is supposed to be water, and if they will get wet or not.


And finally, the guy in blue wins the "getting ready for the splash expression award".


Holy cow, my TR is done. It's both relieving and saddening at the same time. Hope it has jogged many memories for trip participants.


Until next season.... -Mike

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


Well, it's done, all 16 park TRs are posted.


Hope you enjoy all of the TRs, and please post some feedback if you like the photos.


I thought I'd put a list of links at the end, too, so here it is.


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

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Thanks everyone.


Natalie, someday I hope to come up with captions like yours, but I don't have the time, creativity or inside TPR knowledge that you do.


I'll just have to let my photos (mostly) speak for themselves.


By the way, here are a couple of Holiday World photos: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=824095#824095


I have quite a few other TRs posted over on Negative-G, and there is now a link to ALL of them below in my signature. Please take a look if you have time.


Now it's the off-season and I'm in Voyage/Diamondback withdrawal. Sigh. -Mike

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