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Photo TR: TPR's Steaming Hot Mid-America Trip


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Chapter 3: TPR Makes a Pilgrimmage to Holy Ground--at Worlds of Fun

 

Our day at Adventureland was like an orgy before Lent--like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Yes, much fun was had, but our souls had to be purified afterward. There was much praying and mortifying of flesh and wearing of hair shirts on the bus as we made our way to Kansas City, for that night we would walk on sanctified ground.

 

Prowler.

 

Yes, brothers and sisters, the sacred Prowler, hallelujah! The holiest of coasters! The one ride that exalts all valleys and lays all mountains low! Praise its mighty name!

 

But more on this later--what about Worlds of Fun itself? My understanding is that the park was originally themed to represent the countries visited by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's classic Around the World in 80 Days. And while that theming has become a bit jumbled as the years have gone by (for example, the red, white, and blue Patriot roller coaster adjoins the park's Oriental section), Worlds of Fun is a very attractive park with quite a bit to recommend it. Here's how the coasters stack up (best to not so good):

 

Prowler--Approach it only on your knees! OK, I kid the fanboys, but this is an excellent GCI woodie. It offers plenty of airtime, as well as those abundant GCI laterals, as it rumbles over its long, twisty course. Our nighttine ERT session was great--as is Prowler's crew (my thanks to them for making a good ride even better through their enthusiasm and good humor). Definitely the best ride at WoF.

 

Mamba--Although the old Morgan hypers are not quite "top-ten" material, I like them quite a bit, and Mamba is no exception (although I think I give the edge to Steel Dragon).

 

Timber Wolf--OK, maybe I'm a bit sick, but I rather like this coaster. Yes, this woodie is a bit on the rough and rattly side, but there's some pretty insane airtime, and I like the layout. Call it "a diamond in the rough."

 

Patriot--This B&M invert is fun, but nothing all that special, despite its unique layout. It's better than Silver Bullet at Knott's, but I think most ot its cousins at other parks (such as the Batman clones and Alpengeist) are better rides.

 

Spinning Dragons--Gerstlauer strikes again! Our car didn't spin all that much, but others were all a'blur thanks to the rotation. Not a big fan of spinning coasters, but this one is OK.

 

Boomerang--Not a big fan of these, either, but WoF's was better than many (such as Knott's). I only hit my jaw once on the OTSR, which isn't bad for one of these Vekoma instruments of destruction.

 

Wacky Worm--It is what it is. That is all.

 

All in all, I enjoyed our evening and day at Worlds of Fun. The park staff treated us very well, and the Prowler ERT was great. I even found another flat ride to like in Cyclone Sam's Cloudpoofer 2000--who'd a thunk it?

 

Here's a look at a good evening and day at Worlds of Fun. Unfortunately, my nighttime photos are a bit blurry.

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Weary pilgrims near the end of their quest.

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Vikings of Hispanic descent are one of our most misunderstood minorities.

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"Wor! Huh! What is it good for?!" Wait, that's "war," not "wor." My mistake.

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Here's a bit of "Snoopy's Hot Summer Lights" or "Magical Christmas" or something. The lights were quite purdy.

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Oh, hell no! (Actually, not all that bad.)

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"In case I don't survive this, tell Elissa and Kristin the will's in a mayonaise jar in the fridge!"

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Chuck. TPDave. Put them together, and they are FURY!

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This is one of my few night shots that turned out pretty well. All downhill from now on, folks.

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Cedar Fair does make pretty good signs.

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"Hi there. I'm Mamba. You've already seen my lifthill from the other side. So, whaddaya lookin' at now?"

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More of "Snoopy's Magical World of Dry Color"--enjoy.

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Sigh! I fail at taking Timber Wolf photos.

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But here's the ride's "Chicken Exit." Yeah, I rule at taking pictures of that!

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The inscrutable Orient is well represented by Spinning Dragons.

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The car is spinning. You have my guarantee on that.

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Divv honors America on Patriot.

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"I'm proud to be an American, 'cause stuff at WalMart's cheap! It all comes from China, where the workers never sleep!"

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Larry had to see what was in this building.

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This is what we found. Hey, the ride is fun and all its effects seemed to work. Good job, WoF!

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"Do not gaze upon this sign, and take off your shoes, for you trod upon holy ground!"

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"Our quest is at an end! God be praised!"

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The Holy Tabernacle of Prowler.

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"Bringing in the sheaves! Bringing in the sheaves! We are riding Prowler and bringing in the sheaves!" We shall see more of the Blessed Presence later.

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Again, I would like to say that although I kid the ardent fanboys of any coaster or other attraction, I really enjoyed Prowler.

 

Meanwhile, back at Worlds of Fun . . .

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After being blessed by Prowler and dazzled by Snoopy's magical lights, we returned for a morning and afternoon at WoF.

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Our Patriot ERT was delayed by technical difficulties, but they got'er goin'.

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Behold! Patriot trains being transferred!

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Testy test test test test.

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Amy rocks the Wacky Worm!

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Lauren rocks the Wacky Worm!

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TPDave rock . . . er . . . is on the Wacky Worm.

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"Oh, yes. I will rock it. Indeed, I will."

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While I waited to rock the Wacky Worm, I snapped a few photos of Mamba.

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Here from the safety of our blind deep in the jungle, we see the mamba in its native habitat, plumeting to earth at outrageous speeds.

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I do like those comfy Morgan trains.

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We hope you enjoyed this episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom . . . oh my god!

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The world was not the same after the Plush Doll Holocaust.

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Look Larry!

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Stuffed monkeys!

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Don't do it, Dan! You're young and have so much to live for!

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Not Angus McNasty approved.

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"I want those game operators dead! I want their booth burned to the ground!"

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Sponsored by Andrew Dice Clay.

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All who touch the Holy Goblet of Prowler are bathed in its heavenly light!

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For the pilgrims of TPR, there is yet another quest to fulfill . . . a Holy Walk on the Blessed Fields of Prowler!

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Boo to John Vasquez for telling us that Cloudpoofer 2000 was a "scrambler".

 

Yeah to Cedar Fair for keeping ONE indoor flat ride in the chain and theming it so well. Cloudpoofer 2000 was awesome.

 

Thanks to Stacey for sitting next to me so that I was not next to some big sweaty dude.

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Prepare yourselves, for you are about to gaze on sacred ground--the Holy Pastures of Prowler!

 

Again, my thanks to the great staff at Worlds of Fun, and to Robb and Elissa, for making this up-close look at Prowler possible. It was a great day.

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The group walks in reverent silence. Even the mighty Mamba seems moved.

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Prowler has blessed us!

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Hmm--Dave, are you praying, or did you step in something?

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Only a hat remains! It must have been the Rapture . . . of Prowler!

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The ascent.

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"And, lo, every two minutes and thirty seconds, unto you, I will return!"

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Remember, the sign is for Prowler's protection--not yours.

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Prowler whips back in after frollicking through the fields.

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People show their faith in different ways. I am silent and reverent.

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Others weep with joy.

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Still others sacrifice themselves through crucifixion while the faithful bear witness.

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But, seriously, Prowler is a lot of fun.

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The night rides were especially good (better than during the day).

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"Almighty Prowler! Give us a sign!"

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"Praise be to Prowler!"

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"Here we come! Walkin' down the street! We get the funniest looks from everyone we meet!"

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Our audience with Prowler comes to an end . . .

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. . . but not without one, last sweet glimpse of the Blessed Presence.

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Adieu, Prowler.

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Well, now that all the holy crap is over, it's time to put on the feed bag--yee haw!

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We had to wait awhile before dining, so we checked out some of the other local delicacies.

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You get a special deal if you buy bottled Pain along with a can of Whoop Ass.

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They also carried this entire line of fine, TPR-friendly products.

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Hmm--think I'll pass on this stuff.

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Seriously--you do not want to miss these deals! I'm sure this place is perfect if you need a lime-green shag-carpet remnant or a three-legged dining table.

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At long last dinner.

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A gallon! A gallon of Coke for TPDave!

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Yep--only in America.

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The chicken-fried steak has met its match!

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The utter devastation--and the "throwed rolls" were good, too. That's all for now.

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Awesome reporting yet again Chuck.

That Lamberts meal was actually disgusting, and it was only saved by the hilarity of a man throwing rolls at people and the massive cups of drink we got!

 

Also, is it odd that I thought Prowler was better in the day time than I thought it was at night?

 

Ah well.

Good stuff Chuck!

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Chuck- Absolutely amazing report! I know I told you on the trip many times that I can't wait for your trip report...and I am not disappointed! Great pictures and even better captions...hilarious!

 

BTW I have no idea what I was doing with that Prowler support!

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Chapter 4: Caves, Explosions, and Guys with Socks for Ears . . . What More Do You Want?--Silver Dollar City

 

I was surprised that any of us were able to move the day after our gigantic meal at Lambert's. Maybe having to catch rolls on the fly sharpened our reflexes and made us more alert. We certainly got plenty of exercise stomping around the hilly terrain of Silver Dollar City in Branson, the Pigeon Forge of Missouri. Homer Simpson once said that Branson was "Las Vegas as designed by Ned Flanders," and that's a pretty good description; that being said, this city hosts one of the best theme parks in the United States--and the best one of the Mid-America trip.

 

Like its cousin Dollywood in Tennessee, SDC uses state and local history as its theme. For instance, the park itself was originally a "re-creation" of Marmaros, a mining town that used to sit on that very spot in the 1880s. Marmaros was burned to the ground by an imfamous of gang of masked, sock-eared vigilantes called "the Baldknobbers," an even that's re-created in the park's classic coaster/dark ride, Fire in the Hole. SDC's original attraction was Marvel Cave, which provided a hideout for the Baldknobbers and was a source of bat guano, which was used in the making of gunpowder (this industry also provided part of the inspiration for the park's launched coaster, Powder Keg). The park's maps are even themed to resemble a 19th-century newspaper, and there's a "Splash Battle" ride inspired by the works of one of Missouri's favorite sons--Mark Twain.

 

I loved this park, as did the rest of the group. The theming is excellent, the staff is friendly, and the food is plentiful--and good! And there's not a bad coaster in the place, either:

 

Powder Keg--What do you get when S&S redoes a problematic Premier water coaster (Buzzsaw Falls)? You get a great launched coaster than appeals to the whole family. The launch is just intense enough to be interesting, and the rest of the twisty, windy course is a lot of fun. They even kept the old ride's original chainlift and drop (sans water). Plus, there's fire! How can you go wrong?

 

Wildfire--This is a very good, compact B&M looping coaster with OTSRs. It takes its name from the fuel for a "flying machine" being developed by one Dr. Horatio Harris. Not a "top-of-the-line" B&M ride, but still enjoyable.

 

Fire in the Hole--OK, this is as much dark ride as coaster (but RCDB calls it a coaster, so I am too ). Take on the Baldknobbers as they burn the town to the ground--and steal some poor guy's pants!

 

Thunderation--This is one of the best of the old Arrow mine trains, and it has a gimmick all its own: You can ride in some of the cars backwards! The backwards rides are fairly intense, and even more fun after dark. The ride uses the park's hilly terrain very well.

 

I passed on the "Grand Exposition" kiddie coaster because the lapbar didn't like me. (Oh, well--I never cry over missed kiddie coasters.) There's a fun shooting dark ride, too--the Flooded Mine. I recall Dollywood having a similar ride years ago, but not as a shooter.

 

Here's a look at a great day at Silver Dollar City. Unfortunately, I failed at taking pictures of food (but I'm sure other TRs will make up for that.)

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"What was the name of that group comin' in tonight?"

 

"I forget--just call'em "Roller Coaster Tour Co."

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Hmm--pancake-and-waffle restaurant and King Kong. Reckon this is a tourist town?

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Once, the sinking of the Titanic was a horrible, tragic event.

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Now it's fun for the whole family!

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This is the Ozark Wildcat, a coaster at the defunct Celebration City amusement complex. Let's hope it finds a good home someday.

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But enough downer stuff--this park's open!

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And it's all historical and stuff.

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Happy 50th Birthday, Silver Dollar City! They were giving change in silver dollars in honor of the event this summer. When the park first opened, they gave out nothing but silver dollars in change. People would spend them at restaurants and gas stations and people would ask where they got them--a great source of free publicity!

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Noted and understood.

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Hmm--seems that Enos Buttwhumper's cow gave birth to a two-headed calf last week. Interesting.

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I believe it. (This came up during a trivia contest during lunch, as I recall.)

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You know, Arrow did make pretty decent mine trains back in the day. This might be the best one.

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Note the backward-facing seats.

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Rich prefers to see where he's going.

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Not a problem. Thank you.

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"Listen to the whistle, the rumble, and the roar . . ."

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See the credit whores wait. Wait, whores, wait!

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See the credit whores ride.

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Ride, whores, ride!

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There was a bit of delay with Powder Keg, thanks to a "protein spill."

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I like how the train moves into the launch section.

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This is called "theming."

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"Folks, there will be a temporary delay. The 'car has exploded and derailed' indicator light has come on. It's probably just a bad sensor or something."

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Fire not in "the hole," but this hole.

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"Anticipation! Anticipation . . .

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. . . is making me . . .

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. . . wa-a-a-a-it! Yee haw!"

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This is a great ride.

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And it doesn't hurt a bit!

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Noted!

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Seriously, S&S should use this as a model.

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More parks need rides like Powder Keg.

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Up the chainlift.

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Down the old Premier hill.

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Splash--not.

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Thanks for the backstage look at Powder Keg, SDC! More to come.

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I'm just sitting here drinking a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and writing about Silver Dollar City. Earlier, I spent about two hours pruning some holly bushes. What have you done today?

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After a grueling backstage tour, there's nothing like a bit of "Footsy Wootsy" to reenergize you. (By the way, Lou looks great as a redhead.)

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Hmm--I'm too terrified for words now.

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And now, the real Fire in the Hole!

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Here's all you need to know about the ride.

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Dadburn them Baldknobbers!

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How can you take a bunch of guys who have socks for ears seriously? They look like a bunch of bunnies who've joined the Klu Klux Klan.

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This dog is dead.

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This dog wishes that it were dead.

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OK, how about a little love for Wildfire?

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Granted, it's no Powder Keg.

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But it's a pretty dang good ride, nonetheless.

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Like Daemonen at Tivoli Gardens, . . .

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. . . it's small but cute.

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Plus, it provides a great view of the Ozarks.

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OK, there's a screamin "Barn Swing" in there somewhere. Trust me. It's a great S&S ride, too, and I'm glad Dollywood is getting one.

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I didn't ride Tom and Huck's River Blast, but I did "exchange fire" with one of the rafts and got pretty soaked, anyway.

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Here's something you can't do at any other theme park in the U.S., as far as I know--tour an actual cavern! (It's not an upcharge, either.)

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TPR braves Missouri's version of the "Mines of Moria."

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But blind-salamander-and-gray-bat stew is so tasty.

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I expect Gimli, son of Gloin, to show up any minute now.

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"Watch your step and look out for orcs and cave trolls--they can be kind of pesky."

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Hmm--no balrogs yet.

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Suddenly, I have this craving for Dairy Queen.

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"OK, to keep this cave open, we have to periodically sacrifice someone to the Mighty Sarnac. Who doesn't mind being digested for 1,000 years or so?"

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Deeper! Deeper you must go! One more set of photos to go, too.

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When last we left our intrepid wanderers, they were hopelessly lost in Marvel Cave! (OK, that's an exaggeration.) How will they find their way out?

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Flash + waterfall = this picture.

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Yes, it's a might damp in there.

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This is probably the most cramped part of the cave, but it isn't hard to get through it.

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Not part of the tour--sorry.

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Shore is purdy--and, unlike Knott's and Disney's caverns, real.

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Guys, you're supposed to look up. Sheesh.

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Here's what they missed.

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They bring you out of the cave in this little funicular. (I had TPDave sitting on my lap on the way up--not as exciting as you might think for either of us.)

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The Flooded Mine is an old shooting dark ride--it's pretty easy to run up a big score.

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Fire in the . . . no, it's not!

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"No firearms"--except the ones in your boat, I guess.

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You can start running up your score in the station by blasting the practice targets.

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Never get between a man and his"glory hole." A word to the wise.

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Here is the obligatory train ride . . .

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. . . complete with the obligatory train-robbing bumpkins. Their chief weapons are surprise and really bad jokes.

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Why, that's scandalous!

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Who would commit such a heinous act?

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Yes! I do admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Stop the beating of his hideous heart . . . wait, you're looking for a purse snatcher, not a psychotic killer? Whew! That was close!

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Aw-w-w-w-w.

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O-W-W-W-W-W!

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The park has a fun house--yay!

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It's all tilty! Oh my god!

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Room for one more.

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OK, we can take a hint.

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This chapter ends with my untimely death, but not to worry--I was revived in time for the Gateway Arch and the City Museum in St. Louis.

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Chuck this is great! I'm not sure I'll be able to order up another chicken fried dish for some time.

 

It's amazing how great both Dollywood and Silver Dollar City are. Very hard to choose between the two. Powder Keg I think was the biggest surprise of the trip. One of, it not the favourite.

 

Looking forward to arch antics!

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^^ maybe not best steel of the trip in my opinion, but certainly the one that surprised me the most ! I hadn't expected anything of this ride, and loved every single detainl of it. I't's definitely a thrill ride, and I'm still shocked of this high banked (but willingly not enough) turn that thraws you out of the train (you fly to the right. That's the hill / turn that follows the lift hill and big drop) Really, this park was awsome, as are your pics, Chuck. Thanks !

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I'm glad everyone loved Powder Keg so much. It's truly a great ride and I know Robb and I have talked to S&S and random parks a lot over the years trying to convince them to build more of them! An amazing fun smooth family ride!!! This is what S&S should be focusing on. Not giant air compressed blow up 4d rides!!!

 

For those wondering, I even believe that Powder Keg has gotten BETTER over the years.

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^Since riding it in it's opening season, I've often wondered why more parks didn't rush out to get S&S rides like Powder Keg. Not only is it thrilling, it's also very family friendly, comfortable, and fun! Though I haven't ridden it lately, just seeing these pictures and everyone's enjoyment of it really makes me want to get back there to ride it again soon. Plus SDC is a really fantastic park!

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I didn't care for Powder Keg at first, and I quickly labeled it overrated. However, I rode it later in the day and loved it! I believe it has earned a spot in my top 10, and it's certainly within my top 2-3 steelies of the trip.

Great station, interesting beginning, profuse airtime...and that ejector-y turn that Oli mentioned is quite the rush.

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Chapter 5: An Interlude--The Gateway Arch and City Museum in St. Louis

 

Silver Dollar City was great, but it was quite a haul from Branson to St. Louis. Even so, there was ample time to check out the Gateway Arch and City Museum. The former I'd always wanted to see; the latter I knew very little about.

 

While the view from atop the 630-foot tribute to St. Louis's role in "manifest destiny" was impressive, the highlight was the museum. But, remember, this is a TPR trip--so this wasn't some warehouse full of dinosaur bones, old paintings, and sculptures from past decades (although there was a bit of that). No, the City Museum is more like a very industrial version of Pee-Wee's Playhouse--a demented indoor/outdoor playground where adults and kids alike can hurtle down ten-story slides, crawl through stone passageways and caves, and, in general, risk great bodily injury!

 

And we had the whole place to ourselves that night, from the first floor to the top of the old Ferris Wheel on the roof. Never, on any TPR trip, have I witnessed such amazing mayhem--and I'm a veteran of the memorable Toverland ERT-and-open-bar session of 2008.

 

Perhaps it's best to show you the City Museum, rather than try to describe it. But let's have a look at St. Louis from 360 feet up, first.

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You ride in little pods up to the top of the Arch. They seem a bit smaller than the escape pods from "Star Wars: A New Hope."

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This is what 630 feet up looks like from down below.

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The visitors center.

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Complete with visitors.

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Yeah, that inspires confidence.

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Our tram awaits.

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Back in the 19th century, people were all black and white and two dimensional. True story. (This will be the only time I use this line in this TR.)

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Looks like Jackie and Lou are about the same weight.

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But I imagine Kyle has Lou beat by a few pounds.

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Despite my presence in a coffin at the end of the last chapter, the rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated.

 

"Quit stealing my material, sir!"

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Team 8 is ready to rock and roll!

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Thank you!

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Yep--a mite cramped up there.

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Behold! St. Louis!

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I guess this is city hall, but I'm not sure. Sorry about that.

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Looking across the mighty Mississippi.

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Tug boats! Barges! They keep America moving!

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Safe and sound back at the visitors center . . . crap! A bear!

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Almost time to go.

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Must be a local team of superheroes.

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The bus is here--time to go.

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But not without one last, artsy look at the Arch--a very impressive structure.

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Our next stop. Join us, won't you?

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