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Photo TR: St. Louis, Wisconsin Dells, and Great America


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Each year I take each of my three boys on a one on one trip.


I had originally had the simple plan of a two day trip out to the Wisconsin Dells for my oldest boy, but with Club TPR events in St. Louis and a TPR event at Great America both announced for the same week I had our trip planned I decided to kill two birds with one stone and combine everything in one week of awesomeness!


So here was the plan.


Monday - Leave early morning. About 3 am. Arrive in St. Louis about noon. Visit the Arch, visit the zoo, and meet up with TPR at City Museum.

Tuesday - Club TPR day at St. Louis. Spend about half a day at the park and then make the long trek up to the Dells in the second half of the day.

Wednesday - Mt. Olympus

Thursday - Noah's Ark Water Park and Timberfalls

Friday - Six Flags Great America


While at City Museum I left my camera in the trunk of my car and opted to carry my little water proof point and shoot around for maximum mobility. Seemed like a good plan till I lost that camera later in the week. So I lost every single picture I took at City Museum and missed lots of photo opportunities through out the rest of the week. So I have no pictures of City Museum, the water park at Mt. Olympus, or of Noah's Ark.


I don't think Matthew knew what he was getting himself into when we planned this trip.


We kicked off the trip with a visit to the arch. We didn't know it at the time but we just missed the TPR tour by about an hour.


"It's hot out here. Can we go back into the arch?"


The arch is actually pretty cool if you ever get the chance to visit it.


After that we headed over to the zoo for a little bit. St. Louis Zoo has an excellent penguin exhibit that brings you within inches of the penguins. It's easily the best penguin exhibit I've ever seen.


The highlight of our two hour visit was getting to pet and feed live stingrays.


Matthew really loved the hippos.


On day two we met up with the TPR middle America tour for the single hottest (and sweatiest) day I have ever spent at a park.


We kicked off the day with a pretty cool back stage tour of Mr. Freeze.


We got a real nice up close view of the launch tunnel.


"Dad this is boring. When are we gonna get to ride some rides?"


In his defense it was nearly 100 degrees already and the park wasn't even open yet!


I know it's hot Robb, but it's not nap time yet.


We got some kick ass ERT on Evel Knievel.


You know it's hot when you find yourself rushing to the dark ride as soon as the park opens. This was Matthew's best scared face... I've gotta work with him on this.


You don't get points for shooting me guys.


The dark ride might of been a mistake, as soon as we were out the temperature seemed to go from unbelievable to near unbearable.


We had a nice lunch back in their catering area, which was conveniently located right next to Evel Knievel.


Evel Knievel was the coaster to finally make a coaster fan out of my son. Until this point he was hit and miss with them, but he declared EK "AWESOME!"


Throughout the course of the day we rode all the woodies several times, and everything else with the exception of Mr. Freeze at least once.


A combination of the l.ocker policy and the heat though caused me to end up not taking the time to photograph anything but this series of shots shot from a nice shaded area.


Evel Knieval is easily my number one in the park.


Okay last Evel Knievel shot and then on to Wisconsin Dells.


Over the winter Matthew fell in love with the Percy Jackson series, and has ever since been dreaming of coming to Mt. Olympus.


This was actually the picture I had envisioned in the one I use for my avatar, but since I had to rely on a non-photographer buddy the one that I have is the one that I got instead.


Cyclops has one of the greatest drops to be found anywhere. Pure awesomeness!


We didn't get to ride the back car because of the "18 year age restriction."


Cyclops runs pretty good and is the hidden gem of this little park.


Matthew says it needs to be bigger and faster. Big words for a kid that was afraid of roller coasters 24 hours before.


One of my favorite things about Mt. Olympus is the accessibility of the coasters for photographing. I could shoot this place all day and bombard you guys with hundreds more shots.


On my previous visit I though Zeus ran a little rough, maybe I caught it on a good day, maybe it has really went down hill, maybe it was just the heat, but this coaster ran horrible. I mean just plain awful.


Now on to the star of the day. While scoping out Mt. Olympus Matthew was super excited about the coaster that goes under the parking lot.


I had been denied my credit on a previous trip so it was gonna be a new one to me.


I had heard that it was a little rough though so I was a little apprehensive about how much he was gonna like it.


It was taller, faster, rougher, and more intense than any coaster he had liked yet up to this point. In the end we both thought it was incredible.


"Don't tell mom I'm gonna ignore this sign."


I'm pretty sure this is new since the last time I was here.


I'm also pretty sure I haven't seen any pictures of it, so I'll include it here even though we didn't ride it.


On day three we kicked off the day with about 8 hours in Noah's Ark. If I hadn't lost my little water proof point and shoot the day before I would include some pictures of our day here. Sorry.


I knew Matthew had a Ripley's book that he really liked so we made an unscheduled bonus stop to the Ripley's museum.


Which included garments made out of real human bone and other extremely odd (and slightly unimpressive) oddities.


"What's this for dad?" Umm.... Hey kid look there's a two headed cow over there.


They even had ET!!


We rounded the day out with an awesome evening at Timberfalls.


Also closed on my last pass through the Dells I was really looking forward to this compact little beauty.


We got to put a couple of laps in before I even saw anybody else ride it. So this is one of the only pictures I got to take of it in action.


I would love to catch it sometime during the day though, as I fell in love with this coaster and would love to photograph it in action.


Hellcat... Avalanche.... Whatever this coaster is called, this is the only evidence of the Hellcat name to be found.


While all the signs still call it Avalanche.


Our $15 wristband gave us 5 rides on Hellcat, unlimited putt putt, and unlimited rides on the flume.


Need theming? Just insert a crashed plane.


This is really a great little place to visit and should never be skipped when passing through the area.


Matthew scored the single most ridiculous hole in one I've ever seen on this hole. Off the ramp, off a rock, it flew completely over the course, off another rock, back onto the course, off the rock next to the hole, and then dropped in. Amazing.


Hellcat's soft side.


The last day of our week long trip was gonna be spent back with the TPR tour group again as we met back up for TPR day at Six Flags Great America.


We got to ride for a couple of hours before meeting back up with the group for lunch, and an interesting Q&A session.


After lunch we got to go on a pretty sweet back stage tour of the park.


*Insert typical making fun of coaster nerds caption here*


Superman Ultimate Flight was just one of the coasters we were brought up and close to on the tour.


Keep moving people, this tour is probably gonna be bigger than you realize.


"Dad, why is he so excited about a sign that says 69?" Umm... I don't know. Maybe it's his lucky number.


We got to see many awesome things like.... deflated tubes. Yay for deflated tubes!


Retired ride pieces.


Train wheels.


We got to get up and close with the head ache inducing but very classic Iron Wolf.


The star of the walk back for me though was getting an opportunity to take some pictures of American Eagle.


The final helix is sluggish and a little rough, but the rest of the ride is very good.


We got to walk right through that area between American Eagle and Raging Bull.


One last AE shot before moving on to some Raging Bull pictures.


Raging Bull is probably my least favorite B&M Hyper, but that still means it is pretty good.


I could of sat back here and taken pictures all day if they had let me.


Raging Bull has a really nice first drop and some really nice air time through out the ride.


It makes good use of the space it is in as it has a really nice twister style lay out.


Okay last Raging Bull picture.


Viper is my number one at the park, but I didn't really take any pictures of it.


Sorry everybody, Matthew does not approve of TPR back stage tours. I love them though and guess who is paying for the trip? Sorry kid. Tours over lets go ride some more rides.


Whizzer traded in the Grown Ups wrap for some Other Guys advertisements.


After waiting all day for our ERT a storm starts rolling in right before our ERT was scheduled to start.


We all took shelter in the covered bridge near Little Dipper waiting for the storm to pass in hope of still getting to salvage our ERT on Raging Bull and Viper.


While we were denied our Little Dipper ERT we did end up with some absolutely epic ERT on Raging Bull and Viper.

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Brandon - it was great meeting both you and Matthew this summer. Had a blast and hope to see you again soon.


These pictures, while beautiful, are making me a sad panda as I sit at my desk wishing I were somewhere on a lift hill or something....



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He was such a baby about the back stage tour that it was nearly comical. On a side note he loved the ERT at both parks so much that he wants to do a TPR trip with me.... he just doesn't want to do the back stage tours.


While he hasn't embraced his "inner-nerd" as far as back stage tours he is already showing early warning signs of being an enthusiast. He has an official coaster count, he has a top ten, he has already uttered the words "woodies are better", and he has already made himself a list of the top five coasters he hasn't ridden yet that he can't wait to ride.


On a similar note my nine year old called me up the other day just to let me know that Valleyfair announced they were gonna build a new Planet Snoopy. I guess he now spends all his time on the computer looking at amusement park websites.


David it was awesome meeting up with you too. I'm pretty sure our paths are destined to cross many times in the future.

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As always, nice pics Brandon. Good to see you again at the two TPR events and to meet Matthew. It's awesome that you do the one on one trips with your kids. I bet in a few years he will tell people about the awesome backstage access he had at Six Flags.




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What a great tradition to have with your sons. This looks like it was a really fun trip...lucky kid!


I'm relieved to hear that you both still loved Hades. It was aggressive to begin with and truly hasn't been treated the best by the park's maintenance team, but it's always been one of my favorites. I haven't been able to get out there this year and ride it for myself, but I was saddened to hear that people on the Mid-America Trip were hating on it.


Anyway, these are some awesome photos! I heart PTRs that mix great coaster nerd shots with fun people shots. Way to go!

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What a great tradition to have with your sons. This looks like it was a really fun trip...lucky kid!


I'm relieved to hear that you both still loved Hades. It was aggressive to begin with and truly hasn't been treated the best by the park's maintenance team, but it's always been one of my favorites. I haven't been able to get out there this year and ride it for myself, but I was saddened to hear that people on the Mid-America Trip were hating on it.


Anyway, these are some awesome photos! I heart PTRs that mix great coaster nerd shots with fun people shots. Way to go!


We didn't all hate on it . The tunnel is still AMAZING and SCARY and APOCALYPTIC at the same time. Yeah - it's gotten a bit rougher over the last couple of years, but it's still a great ride to me. I didn't ride it more due to one train and a long line.


Although doubtful, we can hope that the Timberliners make their way to hell as well as to Thanksgiving Land at Holiday World (if they are as successful as they are supposed to be )


P.S. - I am still of the belief that all girls have cooties as well

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My ex-wife kept me from riding a single roller coaster for nearly 7 years. My last girlfriend limited me to a small hand full of one day trips a year, and two full two day trips over a 3 year period. I just started dating again after a full year off and almost instantly I've been reminded why I don't like dating.


Now that you guys mention it maybe there is something to the girls having cooties theory my son has...


And just for the record I didn't just like Hades. I LOVED Hades. It possibly even unseated my beloved Shivering Timbers from my number two spot.

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We didn't all hate on it .

Fair enough...I guess I not only have cooties but am overly sensitive when harsh words are spoken about one of my favorite coasters .


My ex-wife kept me from riding a single roller coaster for nearly 7 years. My last girlfriend limited me to a small hand full of one day trips a year.

Jaw meet floor. I don't care how shallow it makes me sound...there's no way I could be in a relatonship like that. Whether I like it or not, my inner coaster nerd is a part of who I am, and repressing who you are for someone else isn't cool!


Yeah, yeah, it's easier for coaster chicks to find coaster dudes than vice-versa blah, blah, blah.

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^ Kara, that doesn't make you sound "shallow" at all!! In fact, what you said is 100% true. I felt the same way about how my love for coasters is a part of my makeup as a person, and anyone that "poo-pooed" on that was just not a right choice for me.


I actually got incredibly lucky with regards to my darling wife. She's not as hard-core of a coaster nut like I am, but she would never discourage me from taking part in something I love.....and that's one of a million reasons why I love that woman to death. Case in point, she really wanted to visit her cousin in North Carolina this summer. So, along with that, we made a longer trip of it and she suggested we also go to Williamsburg on the way down, because she knew that there was a Busch Gardens there. She also made sure that one of the things we did while in North Carolina was spend a day at Carowinds. It was an amazing vacation! Fast forward to next year, another of her cousins is getting married on the beach in Key West. We thought it'd be a blast to take some time off and drive there. After the great time she had at BGE, she actually suggested to me that on the way home we stop off in Tampa and spend a couple days to hit the other BG!! That's how a relationship should work.


But anyway, sorry if I took this thread off-track with that. This trip report was great, and I think it's an awesome tradition that you've setup with your boys. Those are memories they will always have as they grow older.

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Fair enough...I guess I not only have cooties but am overly sensitive when harsh words are spoken about one of my favorite coasters .


I never went to medical school or anything but I think listing Hades as one of your favorite coasters excludes you from having cooties.

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