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


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More awesome reporting Chuck!


I have to say though, I felt MAJORLY disappointed by Indiana Beach. The park was probably the biggest disappointment of the entire trip to be honest (and there really weren't that many this trip!).


I think my problem with the place is that I was just expecting far too much. From all the past trip reports, especially reading how much fun the Mid-West trippers had at the park, I was expecting it to be one of the best, most atmospheric parks in the world, which the place really isn't.


Maybe it was the combination of heat, humidity and rust-strewn water getting to me (I still can't believe people drank that water we got at lunch. Drinking water is not supposed to be brown!!!), but I found the charm of Indiana Beach hard to come by. Everything about the place just seemed dirty, most of the employees looked like they didn't want to be there (or weren't there, as in the case of ERT, at which I felt hugely sorry for Robb and Elissa with all the planning that goes into these trips!) , frankly, I really couldn't wait to leave the place once I got all the credits in.


I remember Robb/Elissa saying on the bus how there's been a change of management and the park's suffered as a consequence, and I also heard a lot of people mention how the park comes much more alive in the evening. But for myself, in the time we were there, I just felt hugely let down by it all.


Ahh well, thank god the rest of the trip was so awesome it made me quickly forget about this place!

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Chuck, you reports are always so awesome and the witty comments make me laugh every time I read them. Great pictures as well Chuck. It may just be me but it looks as if your picture taking is getting a lot better.


Keep it up Chuck!


Jimmy "Chuck is one of the funniest guys on TPR" Bo

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I appreciated the funky, old-school vibe it gave off, along with some of its more offbeat attractions, such as the Frankenstein's Castle walkthrough...

This sums up how I feel about the park.

I didn't really 'get' the coasters as much as I had been hoping to, but I loved the park as a whole.

I'm enjoying the TR, Chuck!

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I was disappointed at the fact that I enjoyed things less than on my previous visit, the attitude of some of the park staff was appalling in many places on this visit (exception being the guy at LoCoSuMo and the guy at the rope at Steel Hawg... Were they one and the same?? They were great, regardless), though on my only previous visit there were like half a dozen people total in the park so I guess my perspective then was skewed. Despite that though, I had a great day and still like the park, it was just a shame to me that some things seemed to have deterioriated.


Chuck, this captured the day really well in my opinion, I felt like this day was chilled-out fun, there was no real urgency or rushing to do anything, just good company and a nice amount of wandering around and chatting. And getting covered from head to toe in the messiest ice-cream in history. LOL.

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I was just at the park last weekend (Photo TR to come soon) and I really enjoyed it. I think the new ownership has HELPED the place, although it's a long way from perfect. Most things seem better than when they weren't Morgan. Some things annoy me, however. The Short trip on Shafer Queen now costs $2 instead of being included with POP. Lost Coaster was open for us in the morning, and after we endured a roll back on it, it was closed for the remainder of the day. Also, we rode Double Shot 3 times in the morning, it was running better than ever. Then in, too, closed for the remainder of the day. It seems like the Air Crow and Splash Battle are NEVER operating anymore. More details to come in my TR, hopefully later today.

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I think the Indiana Beach vs. Blackpool comparison is even more valid now that ever with both parks in a state of decline due to new ownership/management.


Hopefully they'll both get back to their glory days soon.


Thanks again for the report Chuck!

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Chuck, your reports make me laugh every time, they are some of the funniest on this site, as some other people have stated. Indiana Beach looks like a charming park, and those chairswings over the water look awesome. Regardless of what people say about the new management this place is on my must-visit lists.


Are you going to do a report of the IntimidaTOUR too?

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Thanks for the comments everyone--always nice to know that somebody actually plows through my nonsense.


Chapter 9: I Have Been Here, Yet I Have Not--Six Flags Great America

We survived the wrenching drama that was Dinocroc vs. Supergator, not to mention the most aggressive mosquitoes anywhere, before spending a great day at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. This park brought on a serious case of deja vu (and I don't mean the Vekoma ride) for me. I felt like I'd been here before . . .


And, in a way, I had. I grew up in central California, and when I was 16 years old, Marriott opened their two, mirror-image Great America parks: one in Santa Clara, about two hours from my house, and the other in Gurnee, which was a considerably longer drive. The parks have gone in two different directions, with a slew of different owners, since then. The last time I visited California's Great America was during the Paramount regime, and much had changed by then (for example, we didn't have Klingons wandering around the park when I was a teenager). I haven't been there since Cedar Fair took over.


I was quite happy that Six Flags Great America retained a lot of what I liked about the old park in Santa Clara. Although some of the theming seems a bit "random" now, such as the addition of Superman to what was the park's "New Orleans" section, much of the old Marriott park was still there, including the train and what used to be called Willard's Whizzer (I guess Willard was laid off or retired).


This park was great, second only to Silver Dollar City. They treated us very well (the backstage tour was particularly cool) and our ERT session, despite being interrupted by a thunderstorm, was excellent. The park's coaster line up was one of the strongest of the whole Mid-America Trip:


Viper--When I first rode the Georgia Cyclone earlier this year, I thought, "If only they could solve that serious shuffling problem, this could be a great ride." Well, it appears that Six Flags did. This "CyClone" was excellent! It runs quite smoothly, and there's plenty of airtime throughout. This could hit my top ten the year.


Batman--This is the one that started it all for Six Flags. And, like its cousins elsewhere, it's a great, intense ride.


Raging Bull--I must admit that I wasn't too impressed with this ride when I rode it that afternoon. The backseat airtime during the first drop was great, but then you hit the first set of trims. However, it grew on me during nighttime ERT and I ended up liking it--just not as much as other big B&M rides (still better than Silver Star, though).


Whizzer--I'm very glad that Six Flags kept this old Schwarzkopf, with its unusual spiral lift and rocket-shaped trains (the California version was removed following a fatal accident). This fine family ride has aged beautifully. It was good to hear during our Q&A session that Whizzer runs very well and is relatively easy to maintain; therefore, it's not going anywhere, rumors to the contrary.


Superman: Ultimate Flight--This is another one of Six Flags' "franchise" rides, and it's pretty good (although not up to the level of Manta or Tatsu among flyers).


Dark Knight--OK, I know many have found this "mouse in a box" underwhelming, but I really enjoyed it. The queue is well themed, and the effects on the ride itself seemed to be working very well that day. Granted, it's hardly a "Disney-level" dark ride, but it's pretty good for Six Flags.


Vertical Velocity--This was my first, twisty Intamin impulse coaster. It's pretty scary when you reach the top of those spikes.


America Eagle--This wooden coaster is a bit of a "Jeckyl and Hyde." The hills are fun, but the helices are hell.


Demon--Well, I can now say that I've ridden both versions of the Demon, if not both versions of the Turn of the Century. It's a rough old Arrow, but at least the lights in the tunnels work.


Little Dipper--This is the park's "new" coaster. I was glad that Six Flags bought this little wooden coaster from the now defunct Kiddieland. It's a nice ride and deserves a better fate than the wrecking ball.


Ragin' Cajun--OK, here's a spinning mouse that actually spins (I had avoided this earlier in the trip). Let's say that I felt like I'd been on a Mardi Gras bender when it was over.


Spacely's Sprocket Rockets--Vekoma makes good kiddie coasters, and this one is no exception. Well themed, especially of you're a fan of The Jetsons, and a much more enjoyable ride than . . .


Iron Wolf--Well, not everyone gets it right when they start out, and B&M is no exception. This stand-up coaster is the first B&M ride anywhere, and, god, is it bad--rough and painful. They had nowhere to go but up after this--and they did.


This was a great day at a great park--possibly my favorite in the Six Flags chain.


Many of us required transfusions after having our blood sucked by hungry mosquitoes the night before. But we all made it to Great America.


First up, an early-morning walkback to Superman.


I think everyone enjoyed riding the Man of Steel . . . er . . . enjoyed their ride on Superman . . . er . . . enjoyed this ride.


Olivier, Jason, and Jon are ready to twirl and hurl on Ragin' Cajun.


Yes, all of TPR was looking forward to reliving their breakfast, then picking up thir QBots from Elissa at the exit.


"Duh . . . I'm king of the gators . . . duh . . . yes I am . . ."


What? This is an outrage! I'm going to guest relations right now . . . wait--this is for us? Never mind.


It was orignally built for $20,000. Six Flags bought it at auction for $30,000--beats spending $1,000,000.


I'm glad my QBot buddies (Martin, Cheryl, and Lauren) and I rode this one early, as a thunderstorm had a say in our ERT that night.


"Jetson-n-n-n-n-n! . . .


. . . You're fired!"


The ride of the future--today!


Looks like Hanna-Barbera puked all over this part of the park.


Yoinks! That's the scariest case of ear wax I've ever seen, Scoob!


Hmm--suddenly, I feel 16 years old again. Passed quickly, though.


"Hello. I'm still an endangered species. If I had a broken wing, I'd be at Busch Gardens."


This is one of American Eagle's "whee" bits.


I think this is just before one of the not-so-much-fun bits.


Well, time to get this over with, I guess.


Just keep saying this to yourself: . . .


. . . "It's just another credit. It's just another credit."


Then think about happy bunnies hopping across a green meadow. You'll be OK.


This was much better than my first Intamin impulse coaster--Linear Gale in Japan.


This part reminds me of a dirty poem I heard in jr. high--something about a man with a corkscrew-shaped member. He was looking for a particular type of woman, as I recall.


This is Batman. You've seen this before. Please move along.


As usual, the loops are the smoothest part of your average Arrow "loopscrew."


That isn't saying much for this part of the Demon, though.


Hmm--I think lunch is around here somwehere.


Sheesh! Why do they make this so difficult?


Hey--any of you guys know where lunch is?


"OK, listen up, TPR! I have some very important announcements . . . wait, is that new porn?" Much more to come (not porn--pics from Great America).

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Time for a walk around Six Flags Great America--literally.


Kristen is thinking, "Where are these wackos taking me this time?"


Through the uber secret door, kid!


You can get some good views of Superman backstage.


Another forbidden look at the Man of Steel!


Kristen wonders, "What the hell am I doing here?"


A ramdom vent that blows cold air--every park needs these!


Earlier, I stated that there would be no "porn"; therefore, I deeply apologize for this picture.


There are either deflated rapids-ride tubes or King Kong's spent condoms.


"We're on the Highway to Hell!"


Looks like Gossamer is waiting for the next bus to Hell.


"Great horny toads! That varmint done gone too far this time! I hate that rabbit!"


Some spooky, Fright Fest-related stuff.


Somehow, this is even more disturbing.


Ask not at whom the Fickle Finger of Fate points! It points at thee!


Great America has a fairly extensive nursery.


If I move, this entire structure could collapse! Which would mean absolutely nothing.


Remembrance of kiddie rides past . . .


Suddenly, I feel a mysterious tremor in the Force!


I fear something terrible has happened--and it has! They're riding Iron Wolf!


What're you lookin' at, Jo?


A rare look down the train tracks.


"Sticky Fingers"? Well, to that I say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, woooo!"


"And that means you, varmints!"


Off to the next uber secret area.


Just in case you forgot where we are.


This backstage area provided great views of American Eagle (shown here), Raging Bull, and Viper.


Another of Eagle's "good" parts.


Why so blue, Josh?


You should try to be insanely happy, like Jeff here.


SF Great America speaks fluent "Dude."


I'm happy to say that no TPR members were arrested during this tour. This doesn't mean that they weren't thinking "naughty" thoughts, though.


Two of the people in this photo are newlyweds--do you know which two? One more set of pics to come.

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Time for one last look at Six Flags Great America.


Shall we start this segment with a backstage look at Raging Bull? Do you have a choice?


As I said earlier, I was not impressed with this ride initially.


But it did grow on me during nighttime ERT.


Two trains at once! King of the World, Ma!


Again, these are views that you can't get in guest areas.


I admit that I'm a sucker for high overbanked turns.


Swoopy, near-ground-level overbanked turns are fun, too. They're just so, well, curvy and stuff. (Yeah, got nothin' here--sorry.)


"Come on--dispatch another train, dammit!"


Yes, Raging Bull is quite photogenic.


Once again, two trains at once! On your knees, knaves!


Viper is just damn good.


All the "CyClones" should be this good.


Nighttime ERT after the rain was amazing!


And who doesn't love to "double down"?


One last look at the Great America's best ride.


A welcome relief--water!


"OK, no need to be blue, but it's time to go."


OK, I lied--here's one last look at Viper.


I found this ride to be a bit underrated, but even with a QBot, the wait was a good 25 minutes.


I'd been looking forward to riding this all day.


And I wasn't disappointed.


It's as good at the one in California used to be.


Hmm--not sure I'd want to work at the "Crazy Devil" mine.


This is supposed to be an "ore excavator." Not sure that form is following function here, though.


Time for a bit more deja vu.


Yep--looks familiar. I miss the old Tidal Wave shuttle loop that used to be at California's Great America.


Hmm--not looking good for our Little Dipper ERT.


"Eternal skies, send me beer!"


Yep--a bit stormy . . .


. . . but Robb is passing around Dan's new porn during the covered-bridge party, so all is well.


My god! The rain has driven Dan mad!


"You could lose your mind! When coaster enthusiasts are two of a kind!"


OK, storm's over--and Viper is nice 'n' slick for ya, now!


As is Raging Bull.


Raging Bull's station--in the dark! You're petrifed with fear! Admit it!


Time for some sleep after a great ERT session--and an excellent day! Thank you, Great America!

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Looks like you had an awesome day at SFGAm. I went there earlier this year and agree with you about Ragin' Cajun and the Dark Knight. Usually I look at spinning mice as just another mediocre credit, but I was amazed by how much this one spun, not to mention it even offered a few pops of air. The Dark Knight was a pleasant surprise, as well--not only was the theming well done, but the ride was solid, too.


Wish I'd seen the Marriott's diorama when I was there--where is it located in the park?


Your reports are always entertaining and I'm looking forward to the rest!

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I went to Kiddieland on Labor Day last year. I arrived an hour past opening and the line to buy tickets was about 2 miles long and the parking lot was pretty full. I had time restraints and I never made it in. I thought I missed the Little Dipper, but it looks like I will have a chance to ride it when I visit Great America again.

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^^It's in a gift shop, but I can't remember the name of the place. As you enter the park, walk to your right past the carousel and under the railroad tracks. The gift shop will be on the right, across from a gazebo.


And thank you.


^Go and snag that credit, Barry!

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Well, there's a pro football game on the in the background, and I'm down to my last bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale--may as well write another chapter.


Chapter 10: The Stately Vacation Home of the Gods?--The Wisconsin Dells


If you were Zeus, the all-powerful father of all the Greek gods, and had your choice of the entire universe to visit during your vacation, would you choose:


1. The beaches of Hawaii

2. The majestic Alps

3. Vegas

4. Wisconsin


Evidently, you would choose option 4. Yes, the father of who-knows-how-many gods and demigods must be a wooden coaster enthusiast--and he likes 'em rough (just ask some of the mortal beauties he's shacked up with over the eons).


This was the second-to-last day of TPR's Mid-America Trip, and I was looking forward to it--a bit. After all, outside of reading about the Dells on TPR, and hearing jokes about the place on Mystery Science Theater 3000, I'd never given Wisconsin much thought. And after I write this part of my trip report, I doubt I'll give it much more thought, at least until it's time to fill out my 2010 Hawker poll ballot. Actually, the Dells, and the area's main park, Mt. Olympus, were pretty much what I'd expected--pretty, but touristy, with minimal theming. (Zeus must be more of a "traditional" park kind of god.)


The coasters, with one notable exception, range from rough to kind of dull. The exception isn't even at Mt. Olympus:


Hell Cat--Or is that "Avalanche"? Whatever. The best coaster in Wisconsin actually makes two laps around a mini-golf course (Timberfalls Adventure Park). This S&S woodie is a little rough, but this is overruled by the insane airtime it delivers. Seriously, this ride is great, and another top-ten contender for me. (I think this is the actual "NASCAR" coaster as it makes only left turns.)


Hades--It's gets tougher and rougher now. This is the coaster that tunnels under Mt. Olympus's parking lot, and those tunnels are the best part. But the rest of this ride is like going a few rounds with George Foreman in his prime, then getting pile-drived by the Undertaker--prepare for a pummelling. That being said, some of our group absolutely loved Hades. There is some pretty crazy airtime on it, but I'm just not sure that it's worth getting beaten to death for it.


Cyclops--This is the coaster with one of the most insane moments of ejector air anywhere in the backseat during one drop; unfortunately, that's about all it has. The rest of the ride is "meh" at best, and simply a build up to that one moment of glory.


Zeus--I remember almost nothing about this ride. It made very little impression on me.


Pegasus--An OK family woodie with a very jarring turn into its station at the end (the most memorable moment on it).


Opa--This is a "gradually revolving" mouse located indoors. Air conditioning is its best feature.


You've probably gathered that I wasn't too impressed with the Dells. This doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy myself. When it comes the TPR, the people make all the difference, and I kind of liked the cheese curds. Besides, it was "It's All About Bryan Day"! Yes, this was Bryan's opportunity to relive the most memorable day in his young life thus far (it first happened at the Dells in 2007).


So, here's another look at "It's All About Bryan Day"--and the Wisconsin Dells.


All hail Mt. Olympus, the stately home of Zeus, where the godlike Ambrosia comes in the form of deep-fried cheese balls!


This is also the home of "Power Packers."


Yes, Bryan, the whole world now knows that it's all about you.


TPR waits for the gates of Hell (or Hades) to open.


"That's it, Adam! Look sexy for the camera! Work with me, baby!"


While we were waiting, this accident occured. Both cars burst into flames before paramedics could get there! It was the most horrible thing I've ever witnessed! (OK, I'm lying--no flames were involved, much less paramedics.)


This sign is not an exaggeration.


"Behold the rules, o unfortunate ones!"


Jake ended up really liking Hades. TPDave doesn't look too sure.


"Yay! We're gonna ride to Hell!"


The real "Highway to Hell" begins.


Did you remember to bring a coin for Charon, the Ferryman?


No, without at least a quarter, you can't cross the River Styx, I'm afraid.


Now come back when you have some change.


I think this sums up the reactions of the group to Hades pretty well.


OK, what did this ride do, again?


I vaguely remember it rolling around here.


Then it went up there and did . . . something.


Oh, that's right! Then it came back.


Either that's one hell of a unibrow, or this is an eye with bat wings.


"Duh . . . me Cyclops! Me got rules an' stuff like my dad, Zeus. I also got a gold toof."


Understood. I didn't see them card anybody, though.


OK, they appear to be old enough.


They seem mature enough, too.


Hmm--I'm afraid that I'll have to see your ID, please.


Behold, the Airgates of the Gods! Only the Gods may see and ride the true last train of Cyclops!


This ride is nothing but a prelude . . .


. . . an "introduction," if you will . . .


. . . to one . . .


. . . supreme moment of . . .


. . . of glory! One more set of Dells pics to come.

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"On Wisconsin!"--then on to one other place.


Mt. Olympus's water park is actually the most heavily themed area of the place.


This is the only clear picture I got of Opa. For god's sake, do not step here!


Oooo. . . it's an Opa rave!


I think Mt. Olympus is the only park anywhere that sells socks in a vending machine.


I asked Zoltar to tell me my fortune. He said I should buy socks. Now that's synergy!


Poseidon's Rage is the most insane wave pool I've ever seen.


Why so much rage, Poseidon? Could it be because Cyclops got a roller coaster, while all you got was a go-kart track?


Pegasus is a nice-enough family coaster. That's all I have to say.


This gentleman may have had a "vision," which led to an "empire" . . .


. . . but it's really all about you, Bryan! ISN'T IT? ISN'T IT?


Actually, I think the Dells is all about this ride.


Yes, it's all about Avalanche . . .


. . . er, Hellcat . . .


. . . or maybe just "roller coaster." Whatever the name, it's a great ride.


Grease 'er up good, gents! Thanks!




"It's still all about me! Me, I tell you!"


S&S came up with a winner here.


I think they look much happier than they did on Hades.


Any mini-golf course would be proud to have this ride.


Time for a surprise bonus credit. I'm sure it'll be something spectacular.


And it is! Miner Mike at Knuckleheads!


Must . . . hold . . . on . . . the . . . forces . . . devastating . . .


"Whee! Can we ride this all day?" That's all for now. The last day is to come.

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Great update, Chuck...now go get yourself some more Sierra Nevada!


I really would love to get to SFGA and the Dells, but I think the big draw for us traveling to the Dells would be the water parks over the wooden coasters - that wave pool looks insane!


I remember Hades looked so cool when it was first built, but now it sounds like it hasn't aged well. Not sure why none of the Dells parks have added a steel coaster of any significant proportions? Is there a specific height limit, or some non-written code of "no steel coasters" at any of the parks?

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Mt. Olympus has sooo much potential, but it's all ruined by ridiculous operations and management (money-management?) decisions.


If people didn't know, Mt Olympus only bought 1 train for each woodie, meaning queue times, especially for the very long Hades, can get to ridiculous lengths. Even worse, their coasters haven't even got transfer tracks, meaning an extra train can't be added anyway! What the hell's the point?


How can you get a park with 4 potentially world class woodies and muck it all up so badly?

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