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Skycoastin' Steve's 2010 Season Extravaganza!!

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Another outstanding trip, as is usually the case! This one had me giddy with anticipation as I had been telling Steve to get me to CP for quite some time now. I fully expected this trip to happen in 2011 so the fact that we snuck it in this season was spectacular! He's done a great job of providing the details of the trip so I'll just offer a few little thoughts.


Kennywood was a great park and one that I'm looking forward to returning to. The crowds were a bit ridiculous and the weather at the end of the night definitely sucked but at least I was able to get the credits. Sadly, due to the insane line I missed out on Noah's Ark. Reason #1 why I need to return. And a poncho-free ride on Phantom's Revenge would be nice as well! I will say the VIP coaster tour is a great idea and we were lucky it was available. Definitely worth the few extra dollars on a busy day.


Delgrosso's...ummm, words can't really describe it. Images from that day are forever seared in my brain. The lovely example that Steve posted doesn't quite do it justice. I saw more of that woman that I care to remember while sitting on the Wacky Worm. I shudder at the thought. And the faces of the group of 10 or so staring at us as we sat on Crazy Mouse was indeed terrifying.


Lakemont was definitely a classic little park and quite charming. And what can you say about a 100+ year old coaster! Plenty of laughs and smiles on the ride.


Waldameer was also a fun time. Ravine Flyer II was excellent and provided some great rides. I definitely wouldn't mind going back to this park and spending a little more time. I'm still annoyed we didn't get a fresh baked cookie on the way out. They smelled outstanding!


And Cedar Point...what can I say. I loved it! I've heard many stories about Steve's trips there as well as work experiences so it was so much fun to actually see and do. And what he said about my time on Skyscraper is true. I was completely terrified, but managed to survive. I loved the park, loved the rides and loved the history! Overall it was the perfect way to end what has been such a fun season for us. I'm definitely looking forward to more great trips in 2011!

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Time for my first update in almost two months! This will be a two-part update to showcase the fun times that were had at Busch Gardens Tampa by myself and Jen (paiging_jen on TPR) on 10/10/10. The first part will highlight the rides portion of the day, complete with our VIP backstage tour of Montu! And the second part will highlight the animal portions of the day, which included feeding kangaroos and wallabies by hand!


Now for part 1. BGT is just one of those parks that has coasters that always seem to sneak up on me (much like Kennywood). Every time I go back, I have always forgotten just how good their major coasters are, almost to the point it's like riding them for the first time again. They definitely have two of the most intense B&Ms anywhere in Kumba and Montu, and also have a damn good dive coaster in Sheikra (which is crazy to think it's the 3rd best coaster in that park). Montu had crept slowly downward out of my top 10 this year as rides like X2, Phantom's Revenge, and the Intimidators leapfrogged it. However, Montu forced its way straight back into my top 10 after the rides I had on it this week (I went two days on my own, and my third day was Sunday with Jen). We also did the VIP coaster tour of Montu, which included the maintenance bay, transfer house, and a walk back that included climbing up to about 10 feet below the MCBR! For $20, it was a pretty cool experience to attain some of the knowledge that was shared during the tour, as well as get some photos that the normal public can't get. I would recommend it for anyone visiting the park.



Here are my extended thoughts on the rides portion of BGT that I experienced this week.


Montu - As I said before, jumped back into my top 10 steel coasters. Every element is intense, it has great pacing, the zero-g roll throws you out of your seat, and the batwing (even when trimmed) is as intense as it gets. My favorite seat was the front right.


Kumba - Still kicking ass after 17 years, this is one of the most intense B&Ms you'll find anywhere. Its zero-g roll, even more so than Montu, ejects you out of your seat no matter where you're sitting in the train, and if you happen to grab the back right seat, you get an absolutely CRAZY yank coming out of the inversion. The only knock on this ride is the corkscrews have gotten pretty rough, but it's still sitting pretty just outside my top 15 steel.


Sheikra - It is what it is, a dive machine. While I definitely love these rides, I really wish there was more to them. That's not to say they aren't great rides, but it always seems like they could be better.


Gwazi Tiger (Lion was closed for rehab) - The whole first drop was re-tracked, which made for a somewhat smoother ride, but it still has a lot of shuffling. Busch Gardens, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE get this ride some Millennium Flyers.


Scorpion - Classic Schwarzkopf, always gotta get one ride on it.



As a rant to end the report, I just want to say how appalled I was with Busch's operations. They've never been known for having a great operations staff (which is odd considering how good BGW's is), but they were AWFUL this week. They were slow, cared nothing for capacity, gave absolutely, positively NO effort whatsoever towards guest interaction, and several of them were just flat out rude. I honestly don't know how a park as good as BGT can have operations that are THAT bad. They make Six Flags' ride operators look like Gods in comparison, and anyone who knows me knows that I loathe Six Flags ride operators.


On two of my visits, Sheikra had three trains running, which was pointless, because the 3rd train would literally sit on the brakes for 5-6 minutes at a time while the other two trains were loading. In many cases, the 3rd train would be parked before the restraints were even locked on the 1st train! For the life of me, I don't know how they couldn't get guests on the train and have the restraints locked when given about 3 minutes to work with. They, along with Gwazi (which has the jackass "check seatbelts then lapbars" policy), were the two worst crews. And that's not to say that any other crew was that much better. Montu and Kumba both had slow crews, just not as slow as Sheikra and Gwazi. They need someone to take over that department and overhaul the departmental attitude, because as of right now, I would give them about a -1.5/10 overall.


Anyway, here are the pictures.


Montu from the parking lot.


New for 2011, it's Giant Crane and Massive Pile of Dirt Behind Palm Tree: The Coaster!


Montu doing its thing.


I always like to keep my head erect.


Bogey assembly of Montu! From what the guy explained, this is the fastest wheel combination they can have for Montu. Apparently, the first season it was open, they used this for every bogey assembly on the trains, but it ran way too fast. So since then, they have only been using this wheel combination on the front two cars, while the rest have softer, slower wheels. That means if you rode it in 1996 (pre trim and pre soft wheels), then you rode it at its absolute best!


Ratchet assembly for each of the restraints. These are strong enough so if you picked the train up by them, they wouldn't break.


More spare parts.


Transfer house!


The 4th Montu train. They always have one train that is taken apart and being rehabbed during the year.


Nerd shot.


Old wheel covers.




Shows you just how low to the ground the corkscrew finale is.


Under the first drop, a shot that normal guests can't get!


Montu pulls 3.85 G's going up into the loop after the first drop.


A zero-g roll that lives up to its name!


The trim on the batwing only caught about half the times I rode it. Insane element!


Climbing up into the brakes. The tour took us up the stairs to about 10 feet below the brake run!


Through the palm tree!


First drop view from under the brake run.


Train dropping off the brake run. Yes, we were that close to it!


Cool shot of the first drop.


Mini loop!


Such a great finish to an amazing coaster.


From behind the corkscrew. Once again, yes, we were that close to it!


Monster Immelmann makes for a good shot.


Only picture of Scorpion. Moving on!




Coming off the brake run.


Corkscrew #1


Corkscrew #2


Tallest loop in the world when it opened, and I love how it wraps around the lift hill.




Bigggggggg Immelmann


This kid was terrified. Either that or he really had to pee and sitting on the brake run for 5 minutes wasn't helping his cause.




Vertical drops rock!


Any chance we can get the water replaced with human blood for Howl-O-Scream?


The tunnel says OM NOM NOM NOM!


Air Grover! Credit #270!


Thumbs up!


Gwazi is a Liger. It's pretty much my favorite animal. Bred for its shuffling and jack-hammering.




What is that lurking in the field over there?

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And now for part 2!


As is always the case with BGT, I made sure the devote a good chunk of my day to checking out all the wonderful animal exhibits that are part of the park. Anyone who goes here and doesn't go to Myombe Reserve, Edge of Africa, Jungala, the Bird House, Walkabout Way, etc. is just missing out! There are some truly unique and beautiful creatures to be seen in this park while taking a break from riding rides.


Walkabout Way is the newest interactive animal experience offered by the park, and as has already been covered on here, you get to walk through an area full of kangaroos and wallabies and feed them by hand! I would be lying if I said this wasn't what I was looking forward to the most for this visit. Sure, the coasters are great, but I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to animals, and I eat up any chance I get to feed them up close and personal. This, along with the dolphin feeding exhibit at SeaWorld, will always be "must do" things for me when I visit those parks from now on.


Now for pictures!


The way this turtle was sitting just cracked me up. It's like he tried to belly flop into the water and landed on the rock.


Brave turtle!


Time to see some apes!


Whatchu lookin' at, Willis?


Hiding up on the hill.


Lounging away on the hill. I don't know how anyone could argue that we didn't evolve from this.


He's a little camera shy today.




More giraffes with their friend the ostrich.


Meerkats, the strangest/cutest creatures ever.


Snuggling Meerkats, which could be a good name for a coaster element. Or maybe a sex position?


Striped donkeys.


Not as charming as the singing vultures from Jungle Book, but at least he posed for the camera.


Hyena. "MUFASAAAAA!!!!"


Papa lion. Pay no attention to the giant balls.








haha, you looked!


All the lions were sleeping.


The other female lion. I guess papa lion is swingin' enough for two ladies.


She looks passed out for the moment, though.


The rhino looks, dare I say, horny?


Hey, who let the ACE-er in???


He looks angry.




I are sleepy cat........


......leave me alone.




Pretty birds......




So cool!


I instantly fell in love with these things. That's what she said.


Jen making a furry friend.


Love connection?


This one grabbed my hand and started licking it when I ran out of food. I guess you can say he turned my hand into a human ice cream cone.

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Wow, definitely one of the best BGT trip reports I've seen! The last time I went there was in 1997 when I was 10, and Montu and Kumba were at the top of my list at that point (hmmm...wonder if I caught Montu with that early wheel assembly? It was early 1997. Do you happen to know when exactly they switched over to the softer wheels?), and I have reason to believe they might still be when I finally get down there again. Thanks so much for sharing the Montu backstage tour; I love stuff like that.


I'm also a huge animal fan and especially loved the meerkat and tiger photos. That's awesome they let you get so close to them to feed them. One of the highlights of my visit when I was ten was a show featuring some very cute otters...oh, and my brother offering to throw me in the alligator pit.


Great, now you've made me so excited to visit this place again, but I just have to go and live 1,000 miles away

Thanks for sharing, Steve!

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$19.99 per person for a 45 minute tour? Seriously, that sounds awesome. Busch Gardens made it sound like you get to choose which coaster you get to tour, is that correct?


I can't get over how cheap this is compared to the $299/person for a VIP tour at Magic Mountain: http://www.sixflags.com/magicMountain/tickets/VIPTours.aspx


Yeah you get some better parking and snacks.


Can anyone compare-contrast them?

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^^Montu is the only coaster that is available for the tour. It sorta makes sense, since it has the most spread out low zone area compared to rides like Kumba and Sheikra that probably don't have as much space to walk around in.


^I was always under the impression that the vultures were created in likeness of the Beatles. The movie was made in 1967, so that would make perfect sense. Always been a favorite of mine!


EDIT: Here is an interesting blurb on the vultures from IMDb:


The Vultures were originally going to be voiced by The Beatles. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, approached the Disney studios about having The Beatles appear in the film, and Disney had his animators create the Vultures specifically to be voiced by the band. But when Epstein took the idea to the Beatles, John Lennon vetoed the idea, and told Epstein to tell Disney he should hire Elvis Presley instead. The look of The Vultures, with their mop-top haircuts and Liverpool voices, are a homage to The Beatles; one bird's voice and features are clearly based on Ringo Starr. When the Beatles departed the project, the song was rewritten as a barbershop quartet, to make it timeless.
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FYI on the tour...pass members get a 10% discount. Not a lot but every little bit helps. And like Steve said, well worth the extra money. There were only 3 of us on the tour so it was pretty personal. They actually have some relatively low priced experiences as I was looking through the site. I definitely want to try some of the animal experiences in the future.


Edit: an added perk of the tour - each participant is given 2 front of the line passes that can be used that day or later for any of the coasters. Our passes were good until Dec. 31 but we promptly used them for the 2 rides on Sheikra due to the horrendously slow operations.

Edited by paiging_jen
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$19.99 per person for a 45 minute tour? Seriously, that sounds awesome. Busch Gardens made it sound like you get to choose which coaster you get to tour, is that correct?


I can't get over how cheap this is compared to the $299/person for a VIP tour at Magic Mountain: http://www.sixflags.com/magicMountain/tickets/VIPTours.aspx


Yeah you get some better parking and snacks.


Can anyone compare-contrast them?


It is pretty easy to determine (based on the link you provided) that these are two completely different experiences.

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Really sweet Montu photos. Made me realize how long it's been since I've ridden that coaster; I am WAY overdue for a return to BGT.


Also, big cats of all types are the most beautiful animals. Gotta give some love to the kitties next time I do visit.

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Are those kangaroos or wallabys? Either way, they're ADORABLE! I'm planning a trip to Busch Gardens next month (I live like 30 minutes away). MUST. HUG. AUSSIE. CRITTERS! Thinking about doing that coaster tour as well since it's such a steal at $20.


Oh And I love the tiger tummy shot! I love tigers.

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Great photos! Now we know what Steve and his girlfriend Jen look like. Also, I am ashamed to admit I looked at the lion's nards.


I've thought about doing the backstage coaster tour. $20 for a 45 minute tour is not too bad!


And oddly, I was at Busch Gardens on 10/10 too, but during the last 90 minutes of park operations. I have to agree -- the ride ops didn't look very happy. Kumba seemed to be running louder too!

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Now we know what Steve and his girlfriend Jen look like.

Yes, unfortunately


These pics (along with knowing that tour is only $20) makes me really wish I had time to get to BG while Im in Orlando next week. Oh well, next year! Great pics, Steve.

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