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Elissa's Thoughts on the UK and Europe Trips!


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A lot of times I feel that Robb and I only get one opinion, and while most of the time we do share similar opinions (heck there's a reason we're married) I do want to make sure that I get some of my thoughts out as well!

 

I'm going to go day by day with some of my highlights and lowlights...

 

Day 00

London Sightseeing Day

 

I love London, and I especially liked getting to show it off to a group! It gave me this awesome tour guide feeling and everything went soooo well. Almost as if I do this tour planning thing for a living!??! KT and I broke off and had our own private meal at Pizza Hut just off Picadilly Circus. Pizza Hut's all over the world crap all over the US incarnation of the brand. Seriously, do yourself a favor sometime and experience a British or Asian Pizza Hut, you won't be disappointed. Today was also the start of "How many Sea Life Aquariums can we hit on one trip". Hit up the one right next to the Eye and while it was nice, I'm finding myself more and more jaded by the whole 'Sea Life' brand. Especially when you're used to places like the Georgia Aquarium or Sea World type parks. Dinner was at Wagamama and boy do I wish they would take off here in the US, although the concept probably wouldn't go over too well here. Oh well, I'll just have to travel more to get my fill!

 

Day 0

Adventure Island

 

It's rare nowadays that Robb and I hit up a park that's new to both of us, let alone a park with FOUR credits! Really liked the park and it was way better than what I had been anticipating. The food at the Sands was REALLY good, and I was impressed with their portion sizes and the awesome outdoor venue that was setup for us. Dinner at Sipson Tandoori was probably one of the best meals I have EVER eaten. It's no secret that I like Indian food, but you can get REALLY bad Indian food and I was just so overjoyed that this place ended up being so amazing in so many different ways. Plus it was cool seeing people try and like the food for the first time. Seriously, if you're ever in the Heathrow area GO TO SIPSON TANDOORI!!!!

 

The LHR Airport Hotel we had been staying at for the past few days was a really decent Premier Inn. We had stayed at this location previously when it was a Travel Inn and it seemed even better. Plus it had a play area for KT that she LOVED!

 

Day 1

Chessington

 

There was nothing new or exciting for us at this park, but getting my mom on Vampire was certainly fun! Tons of animals, by now I'm sure you're all aware of Robb's Capybara photo!!!! Oh, and another Sea Life! Sea Life in a tent. Actually you couldn't really tell how temporary the thing looked once you were inside, but it was about now I had figured out that all Sea Life's are exactly the same. Pizza and Pasta Buffet was great! Really Elissa friendly pizza and breadsticks plus unlimited drinks and food made me quite happy. It was sad to see MegaBlitz gone (not really) but I felt that Coney Beach actually looked a tiny bit better. Snack exchange this night was really great to see.

 

Holiday Inn Swansea was great when we stayed back in 2006 and equally hardworking (though understaffed) this time around. Great garlic bread!

 

Day 2

Oakwood

 

Another day of nothing new for Robb and I at the park, but KT LOVED this place and all of its awesome kids attractions. The true highlight of the day was by far The Crystal Maze. Really bummed to hear the reports that this is the last year for that attraction as I can't think of anything else like it on Earth. It was amazing having our whole group take it over and run around like crazy people. I'm still mad at TPDave for constantly making us take the "not a slide" shortcut, but I guess it was good cause we kicked ass!!!

 

Day 3

Alton Towers

 

So I was finally going to ride Thirteen, after ALL of the complaining, bitching, whining, PR, praise, whatever about this ride I was ready to form my own opinion...

 

I loved it! I totally agree that it is the stupidest theme and marketing EVER, but if you just judge the ride itself it's REALLY cool. Had the ride had some sort of Expedition theme and was slightly more geared to the family market you'd all be going GA GA over it, but because it was hyped beyond belief as the scariest thing ever I can get the disappointment. But judging the ride itself, it's really fun and has that great element at the end. Just ignore the marketing and theme and go enjoy the ride.

 

Now onto one of the highlights of the entire three weeks. Splash Landings ERT...oh crap I am now SOOO spoiled. I have decided that we must have more Water Park ERT in the future as it's truly the best way to enjoy a water park!! No lines, no terrible kids doing bad things, just tons of friends, no worrying about leaving your stuff unattended, it was just AMAZING. I must have ridden the rides 10 times each and hung out in the lazy river, pool, kids area a ton! Seriously, need more ENTIRE WATER PARK ERT!!!!

 

Past two nights were at the Alton Towers Hotel, very nice hotel as always, but to me it seemed like the entire resort had gone downhill a bit. I hope to see it improve a bit in the future, especially with the hotels and staff. For example, why only have the Woodland Walk open from 10am - Noon!?!??! That means you can't use it to get to Hotel Guest ERT and you can't use it at the end of the day to bypass the crowds walking or taking the monorail to the parking lots!?!? STUPID!!!!!

 

Ok, will continue more later!

Edited by SharkTums
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Now onto one of the highlights of the entire three weeks. Splash Landings ERT...oh crap I am now SOOO spoiled. I have decided that we must have more Water Park ERT in the future as it's truly the best way to enjoy a water park!! No lines, no terrible kids doing bad things, just tons of friends, no worrying about leaving your stuff unattended, it was just AMAZING.

You'd have me sold if you included "no clothes"

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Elissa, I love that you're doing this thread!

 

Totally agreed on Crystal Maze, I really am gutted to hear that it's going. Though it's a good thing that you guys are around to bring us that information as plans are now formulating for a Brit Crew weekend to say "farewell" to the Crystal Maze!

 

Totally agreed on Thirteen, if you ignore the marketing and take it for what it is, it's a really fun ride. I just don't get why they marketed it the way they did.

 

I was incredibly impressed with that Premier Inn, it was HUGE! I would absolutely stay there again some time. I'll need to see if we can work out a Brit Crew trip to Sipson Tandoori at the same time!

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Now onto one of the highlights of the entire three weeks. Splash Landings ERT...oh crap I am now SOOO spoiled. I have decided that we must have more Water Park ERT in the future as it's truly the best way to enjoy a water park!! No lines, no terrible kids doing bad things, just tons of friends, no worrying about leaving your stuff unattended, it was just AMAZING.

You'd have me sold if you included "no clothes"

 

Speaking for all that were there, I think we showed quite enough skin. Showing any more would be criminal in more than one way!!!

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Continuing on...

 

I forgot to mention yet ANOTHER Sea Life at Alton Towers...ugh...so done with sea animals after this trip!

 

Day 4

Alton Towers / Drayton Manor

 

I actually skipped out this morning and just relaxed with KT and my parents at the hotel before heading out to Drayton. I was very excited though to hear that our Thirteen ERT went quite well!

 

Drayton Manor...ugh...so my first visit in 2002 was fine, nothing special or great but not a dump either. Then in 2006 I felt like the park had just taken a giant step backwards. I'm not a fan of any of the coasters and G Force certainly didn't help, so other than Apocalypse there wasn't much here for me. Also the food just seemed like it was carnival booth crap. Now in 2010, with the addition of Thomas Land they certainly seemed to clean up the place quite a bit. Granted the rides still are pretty bad (with the exception of Apocalypse) but food had improved and the Thomas Land was AMAZING! KT loved it, and if she had been a boy there would have been no way to get out of that Thomas Store for less than $300!!! (We got out for around $75 including presents for friends) I'm assuming that Hit Entertainment basically told Drayton if they wanted the license they needed to clean up their act and they certainly seem to now be on the right path again.

 

This night was another fabulous meal, this time at the Big Blue Hotel (one of my favorite hotels in the world). I even got to play hostess! Seriously though, this hotel is so well layed out and super great for enthusiasts and families alike. Unfortunetly, it seems that a lot of what we had been told by locals was correct and the Pleasure Beach itself had lots of issues. As a logistics kind of gal, my biggest peeve was having the South or Hotel gate now freaking CLOSED!?!?! WTH is the point of having an onsite hotel AT the park, if you have to walk half a mile up to the main entrance and back when you can see your room from the park!!?!?

 

Day 5

Camelot / Southport / Gullivers

 

Camelot was a NEW park for me!! Yay!!! Credits!!! Except one was a relocated I already had and two were powered! Oh well, I still got two credits. The park was really nice and seemed like a great park for like 8 - 12 year olds. Knightmare didn't seem to fare so well in its move from Japan to England, the Spinner was using hexagonal wheels and was the roughest of any of the Maurer's I've ever been on, but at least the kiddies were all fun!

 

Southport was kind of sad to see. I was prepared for what it has become (basically a place for carnies to store their rides and operate them if they feel) but it was still sad to see the funhouse with nothing in it and pretty much everything but like 10 carnival rides there.

 

Gullivers really blew me away. What a perfect park for like 2 - 12 year olds. Almost like a Legoland without the Legos. Rides and attractions everywhere plus playgrounds and just great stuff. Really makes me want to open up a park just like that here in the US and see if it could work. Plus the pancake (or crepe) girls were here and they were just too funny and making awesome fresh crepes with whatever you wanted on them!

 

Back to Blackpool for another dinner, this time at one of their restaurants just outside the park, wasn't as good as the hotel restaurant, but that's okay, I got my McDonalds instead!

 

Day 6

Blackpool

 

I really really love Blackpool, and I wanted to go in not thinking about what a lot of the Brits had said about the place going downhill but they were right. Keep in mind Blackpool in its current state is still better in my mind than 90% of the parks out there, but it certainly was a bit disappointing. From rides being down to management being clueless, it was just a little frustrating. Had a great day though for sure. Steeplechase is still one of my favorite rides ever. AMAZING dinner this night at PIZZA HUT!!! Again, as I said earlier in my first post, you need to eat at a Pizza Hut outside of the US, they are sooooo good!

 

Back to the Big Blue for our last of an amazing three night stay. Again, this hotel is just fabulous and I look forward to staying there more in the future.

 

More later!

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...and while most of the time we do share similar opinions (heck there's a reason we're married)

 

LIES! It's all for business purposes!

 

You're dead on about the Thomas merchandise, at least in my case; not too long ago my entire room was done in blue/yellow/red, and if I'd known then that my parents had magical pieces of plastic called 'credit cards', I'd have taken the store.

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WTH is the point of having an onsite hotel AT the park, if you have to walk half a mile up to the main entrance and back when you can see your room from the park!!?!?

 

 

It's a built in exercise program. Just think if Cedar Point had that type of program, all coaster nerds would then be forced to lose weight, or eat more!

 

...From rides being down to management being clueless, it was just a little frustrating.

 

I spent 5 years in hospitality management, and finding competent staff was my biggest issue, the property practically ran itself, but just needed someone to give a hoot about it. As frustrating as it was for our guests, it was twenty times more frustrating for me to have to continually apologize to guests and discipline/hire/terminate employees, it really really sucked which as much as I hated to leave what I loved, for my sanity, I scooted.

 

Nonetheless, I am really enjoying your perspective on the trip, I followed the posts that were out there and while they were very entertaining, I love getting "the rest of the story"

 

Thanks!

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^^ Totally correct. Im 19 and still have all the original Thomas and Friends videos and a Thomas sleeping bag that I have had since I was little. (Quite sad really) The really sad thing is that Ill watch them when Im making a park on RCT2 or doing homework. There are several stores that had Thomas things in them and I wanted them all. I was told that I had thrown a really bad fit and I got almost $400 out of the parentals in Thomas stuff. Again the sad thing is that I have ALL of my Thomas stuff still. And still play with them sometimes

 

ERT at Splash and Safari would be to die for. I would kill to do that (and some ERT in the park wouldnt hurt)

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I always thought the reason the Alveys shared similar opinions is because Elissa is one of those good 'obedient wives' who does as her husband instructs. Oh wait, wait, I got that backwards, Robb is one of those obedient husbands who does as his wife instructs. Yes that's it.

 

You have to admit that you have a uniquely awesome union, where you can share such similar passions in life. How many people can take a hobby, build a website around it, travel the globe, and play tour guide to 50+ people in the process? Only Robb + Elissa!

 

I agree with you about London, its a great city to visit. A few years back I spent two weeks there and had an amazing time. (Though I didn't sample any Pizza Huts, I did of course visit a McDonalds or two)

 

These continued updates are great, and like others have stated Waterpark ERT sounds fantastic!

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Elissa, this thread is AWESOME!! It's really great to see the trip from the perspective of one of the organisers and look at what went well and not so well. I want one of these for ever trip (even retrospective ones!!)

 

The true highlight of the day was by far The Crystal Maze. Really bummed to hear the reports that this is the last year for that attraction as I can't think of anything else like it on Earth. It was amazing having our whole group take it over and run around like crazy people. I'm still mad at TPDave for constantly making us take the "not a slide" shortcut, but I guess it was good cause we kicked A$$!!!

 

I'm telling you, that slide must have got us one or two more games in, especially running up it

 

Dave "surprised I didn't pass out after using that shortcut about 50 times!" Wilson

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Awesome reports Elissa! I was always wondering what was up with the "we love this park/ride" in all Robb's PTRs! I was thinking, ok, there is no way they both like EVERYTHING the same!

Actually I'd say that about 95% of the time, Elissa and I probably share the same or similar opinions. But also remember that when I'm posting these updates live from the parks on Facebook (and then those photos and captions are pasted over here), there is only so much you can say in a short amount of time.

 

If you read the full updates we've been posting, they get a bit more indepth.

 

--Robb

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Great topic, it's really nice to hear your opinions.

 

Sea Life Centres are all pretty meh and the same. But London's wasn't a Sea Life till very recently and prior to being a Sea Life it really was really dire. Free (on the Merlin Pass) aquariums are always good though, as they have a horrible habit of being overpriced.

 

Also nice to hear that you liked 13, because I thought it was decent too!

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Sorry for the delay! Been busy prepping for the next trips coming up!

 

Day 7

Lightwater Valley / Flamingoland / BONUS PARK!!!

 

Day started out at Lightwater Valley where I laughed while watchign people get beat to hell on the Ultimate. Park is still very much the same. Didn't really seem to get any better or worse than our last few visits. I really feel this park could use another big attraction. The food was better than in 2006 but that was also because we knew what to avoid from last time! I was a bit shocked at some of the height restrictions. KT was not allowed on the Zierer Kiddie?? Nor was she allowed to ride a horse on the carousel, she had to ride in a stationary chariot and was quite upset by this! Espeically when the day before she rode the freakin Derby Racer at Blackpool!!!

 

Flamingoland also seems to be going uphill more and more. It honestly looked like a carnival in 2002, looked like a real park in 2006, and some areas looked like a theme park this time around. They also seemed to be trying to improve food around the park but weren't quite there yet. This park also has installed the most evil terrible kiddie coaster ever. It was the roughest piece of Zamperla crap I've ever been on. I got so beat up on it I couldn't believe it. Mumbo Jumbo really surprised me, I was expecting the worst and found a really fun smooth ride! Looking forward now to Indiana Beach in a few weeks to try out their version of the El Loco.

 

Next up was a bonus park, Robb and I worked REALLY hard to make this work and people seemed a bit more underwhelmed than I had hoped for. It was at this point, I kind of realized that I think people expect too much from us. People were starting to expect bonus parks, bonus meals, bonus ERT, just everything from us. We can't even surprise or have fun anymore, cause we're supposed to give like 135%. The bonus park was cool and KT got another credit and I got beat up on another stupid Vekoma Boomerang!

 

The hotel was very cute this night and even had ACTUAL KEYS!?!? When was the last time we saw those!

 

Day 8

Skegness!!!

 

LOL, how do you even explain Skegness. It's as if a really skanky flea market had millions of dollars and chose to buy some roller coasters to attract people to their market!?!? The SLC was down, even after we were told it would be working. I have the credit so I wasn't bothered but I felt bad for our people. It's not like it's a good ride or anything, but it's certainly interesting and unique. I'm pretty sure that thing runs like 3 days a year and that's it. The people were REALLY scary and the 'goods' they were selling were even scarier. Luckily I got some McDonalds to eat while everyone else bitched about how long the food took (it didn't take that long if you were there early, and the people when they got their food all said it was really good).

 

Next we were off to Botton's which is a small park right on the seashore. It was much more alive than last time we visited and KT got like three more credits! I still think that Fabbri spinning mouse should be banned from existence (and after the latest Fabbri accident I may get my way!!!).

 

Stopped at a motorway services on our way back to the Heathrow Hotel and it was great. Seriously, why are the European 'rest stops' so much better than in the states? The closest thing I can think to compare would be like the 'Maryland Houses' we have on I-95, but the UK stops are still better.

 

KT played a bit more in the playplace at the hotel, we met up with all of our Europe early arrivers, and got ready for a full Thrope day the next day!

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Elissa, thanks for the new update, great to read you thoughts on the trips

 

 

 

Next up was a bonus park, Robb and I worked REALLY hard to make this work and people seemed a bit more underwhelmed than I had hoped for. It was at this point, I kind of realized that I think people expect too much from us. People were starting to expect bonus parks, bonus meals, bonus ERT, just everything from us. We can't even surprise or have fun anymore, cause we're supposed to give like 135%. The bonus park was cool and KT got another credit and I got beat up on another stupid Vekoma Boomerang!

 

 

 

 

As for the above, as you know going on my first trip in three weeks. I can honestly say the reason I am going is not for ERT perks, but for the simple reason I get to travel with 50 or so other people who like to visit parks and ride coasters. Anything else is a major bonus and one that I am very thankful for.

 

Looking forward to reading the next update.

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Next up was a bonus park, Robb and I worked REALLY hard to make this work and people seemed a bit more underwhelmed than I had hoped for.

 

People just don't realize how much time and energy go into clubs and organizations. I have a similar problem myself with work related events and leagues that I've worked hard to put together. I really don't mind doing the work, I rather enjoy it. However, the wants and glorified expectations from some, sometimes make it less enjoyable for me when the event or outing occurs. I have learned to take it with a grain of salt and make an effort to ensure those people don't have a chance to influence anything in the future

 

Before joining this site and later the club, I lerked for quite a few years. I'm glad I'm a member and thankful for the hard work you and Robb put forth for the enjoyment of myself others across the country. It takes a special type of people to dedicate their every spare moment to a club or organization, or in this mid season election time, a politcial campaign, and I have to say the two of you are those special type of people willing to, I'm sure at times, sacrifice here and there to ensure others have a good time. I mean think about it, you two have put together something that reaches people all over the world, and have done a damn fine job in the process. So when people criticize, expect more, or complain about something that you've work really hard to put together, and something that's not even on the schedule, then maybe they deserve a boot to land somehwere

 

Oh, and thanks for the update, I am thoroughly enjoying it. I seriously hope to have the opportunity for WCB next year.

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Next up was a bonus park, Robb and I worked REALLY hard to make this work and people seemed a bit more underwhelmed than I had hoped for. It was at this point, I kind of realized that I think people expect too much from us. People were starting to expect bonus parks, bonus meals, bonus ERT, just everything from us. We can't even surprise or have fun anymore, cause we're supposed to give like 135%.

Yeah, I also just wanted to add that if there was one moment on the trip where I was actually disappointed with our group (other than the pussies who only rode Olympia Looping once because it was "too intense" - gimme a f**king break), this was it. I don't really care to hear any of the excuses anyone would bother to come up with "It was a long day", "We had a long drive", whatever, it was just very clear by the reaction from the majority of the group that this bonus park wasn't a big deal and our extra efforts were not as appreciated as I would have come to expect.

 

This park has already been closed to the public for three hours before we arrived, and it wasn't the easiest thing to convince the park to have staff stay late and open up JUST FOR US so that we could all get in a few bonus credits that we otherwise would have had to drive right past. Not even a single person cheered with the first train was dispatched. It was really disappointing for me.

 

Three or four years ago on a TPR trip people would have been jizzing pixie dust out of their asses when we arrived at the bonus park. This time around it was like "Meh...figured we'd be doing more...whatever." Elissa's right. It was like anything extra we do is no longer a surprise but expected now. In fact, at our goodbye dinner I actually had some people show disappointment that we hadn't rented out Legoland as a "bonus" that night as our dinner location was only a couple of miles from Legoland.

 

This really opened my eyes to a few things. And really what it came down to was this - "Why should we bother going the extra mile if the group isn't going to appreciate the extra effort?"

 

I will say that we will continue to get as much as we can for our group trips and I will never stop going the extra mile, but if the difference in reaction between doing 110% and 135% is the same...we're going to stick to doing 110%

 

Sorry, but that's just the reality of it all. When we're doing so much work as it is, I'm not going to make more work for myself if no one is going to care.

 

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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I've had limited Internet access on the road for the past week, so I'm a little late to the party, but I wanted to chime in. As far as the UK trip, I agree with Elissa's analysis on just about everything (except for the things I didn't experience myself, like foreign Pizza Huts--and I kind of liked The Ultimate, in a quirky sort of way).

 

Having said that, on the topic of being surprised about the bonus park time at Pleasure Island, I can speak only for myself when I say I was absolutely blown away. I didn't ride two of the three attractions they opened for us (which I don't mean negatively--I normally shy away from inverted coasters and Diskos/Frisbees since I tend to have a weak stomach for them), but I loved having the opportunity to see the park, and even after seeing the Boomerang in the distance from the road, I didn't suspect a thing. Of course, that's a big part of what hooked me on TPR trips in the first place--I always get more than I expect, even when I expect to get more than I expect. If that makes any sense.

 

And the water park ERT... magnificent! I am 100 percent not a water park person, and I shunned the water park takeover at SFMM on the West Coast Tour, but adding the qualifiers "indoor," "climate-controlled" and "private"... I mean, come on! The only way it could have been more enticing was if someone had been handing out $50 bills to everyone as we walked in (I hope I didn't just miss that...). I spent most of my time floating around the lazy river (curse you, waterfalls!) and lounging in the open pool, and it was just plain fun. I actually think I enjoyed Splash Landings more than Alton Towers. And then, of course, came the "getting more than expected" coda with the amazing water park dance. And Mai Tais while listening to "bad karaoke" that turned out to be a hired "professional" singer at the Dragon Bar!

 

Anyway, I really enjoyed this thread. It's kind of like a backstage tour of the trip itself.

Edited by printersdevil78
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(other than the pussies who only rode Olympia Looping once because it was "too intense" - gimme a f**king break)

 

That I just can't comprehend!! I mean, I can understand riding a tivoli coaster or a wacky worm ONCE for the credit, but Olympia Looping?? ERT is a gift, and a perk of the highest kind! The ONLY time I can remember NOT riding the most I could at an ERT was at Happy Valley Shanghai on Fireball, when I was pretty sick with the flu, yet I still managed about 7 rides during ERT. (If you've seen the video, I look more lethargic than usual!)

 

... years ago on a TPR trip people would have been jizzing pixie dust out of their asses when we arrived at the bonus park.

 

I can vouch for this! In 2006 when we pulled into Coney Beach, we were stunned!! Awesome! Not only more credits, but something different to experience! Now granted, Coney Beach was a real dump, but we managed to have a really GREAT time!! It was fun, it was funny, it was a culture shock (for some of us), and a total blast!! (except for the "hamburgers! )

 

This park has already been closed to the public for three hours before we arrived, and it wasn't the easiest thing to convince the park to have staff stay late and open up JUST FOR US so that we could all get in a few bonus credits that we otherwise would have had to drive right past. Not even a single person cheered with the first train was dispatched. It was really disappointing for me.

 

Again, I can't comprehend this at all!! Are people going on these trips just for the evening activities as a priority (drinking, sex, etc...), and not the parks/coasters? I just don't get it. You can do all that other crap at home!! Many of these places you'd never get to if R&E didn't put in so much hard work.

 

I can't imagine even asking a park to stay open for people 3 hrs after they close, just to be open for a private group. Yeah, I could understand an hour before they open, or the hour after they close - but 3 hours??

 

For participants to not even acknowledge that - Well, that is just damn ungrateful!! I can understand the Alvey's frustration.

 

Have any of these people tried to plan a trip of a week or more on their own?? Do they realize the difficulties in just getting to the parks, much less working to get ERT, meals, behind the scene tours, nightly accommodations, schedule stops for drivers, additional extras before and after a trip, even helping with flights, and a big-ass ETC...??? And don't forget - they're doing that for 40-50 people!! Maybe they should try doing that stuff on their own first.

 

I just hope you people didn't screw it up for the rest of us that may be going on future trips.

 

 

 

JJ

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^^ Thanks Jason. Much appreciated. You've done quite a few trips with us and I'm sure you must have noticed the lackluster response to the bonus park that we noticed.

 

I'm glad Elissa started this thread because it IS kind of like the 'behind the scenes" version of the trips.

 

I just hope you all can appreciate and respect our candor.

 

--Robb "Not everything is rose bushes and pixie dust..." Alvey

Edited by robbalvey
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