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Photo TR: The Kiwis Take on Mid-America


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Andrew and I had the time of our lives on TPR's Mid-America trip 2010. Thanks to Robb and Elissa and all the trip participants - we miss you guys! The trip was of particular significance to Andrew who was very much the 'theme park virgin' - having only ridden three coasters before we left. With our add-ons to Cedar Point, Kings Island and Six Flags Magic Mountain we've both now been on over 100 coasters each. Every shred of virginity we ever had is gone!!


I'll divide up our TR mainly by parks, but we'll try to cover all the other fun stuff we got up to with TPR:


Part 1: Nickelodeon Universe (scroll down)

Part 2: Adventureland

Part 3: Worlds of Fun

Part 4: Silver Dollar City

Part 5: St. Louis Arch/City Museum

Part 6: Six Flags St. Louis

Part 7: Holiday World

Part 8: Indiana Beach

Part 9: Six Flags Great America

Part 10: Mt. Olympus/Timber Falls

Part 11: Valleyfair

Part 12: Cedar Point (1 of 2)

Part 12: Cedar Point (2 of 2)

Part 13: Kings Island

Part 14: Six Flags Magic Mountain


Our journey began with a 38 hour-long trek to Minneapolis via Sydney, LA and Atlanta. Waiting for the shuttle bus to the Ramada we recognised a TPR shirt - belonging to Stefan! We ended up hanging out a lot with Stefan on the trip and he even gave us a local's tour of Cedar Point. Thanks Stefan!


On early arrival day Andrew and I could smell the coasters over at the Mall of America and rode the one ride that *could* have broken down - Avatar Airbender. It was great fun, as was the rest of Nickelodeon Universe...


Yay - we made it! We've had almost no sleep for 38 hours, but the Mall of America waits.


The mall had a very nice Lego center.


But we were here for the rides! Early arrival day we had to get our Intamin half pipe credit.


Is Avatar Airbender even a roller coaster? Whatever, it was great fun.


The official Mid-America trip began in outstanding style with ERT on Spongebob Squarepants (and Avatar Airbender - which was working just fine you paranoid git!).


Spongebob was our first Euro-Fighter and we loved it.


It had some interesting, compact elements that made us gasp. Vertical lift, beyond vertical drop, cut back, zero-G roll, etc. Nice job Gerstlauer/Nick Universe!


What to do next? Nick Universe sure manages to pack a lot of rides in here...


There was the Fairly Odd spinning coaster.


Andrew and I quickly figured out that we like these rides - and like them to spin a lot!


Nick Universe also has some wacky flat rides, like Tak Attack, which left its riders speechless. Perhaps not the best sign.


The latest wacky contraption at Nick Universe was Brain Surge, which we felt was a fun update on the old Rok-N-Roll/squirrel cage ride.


The shooting dark ride was one of many on the trip, and a good one.


The log flume was up there for me with Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Splash Mountain. True story.


Quite a few TPR people tried out the ropes course which I believe goes by the name of the Flying Dutchman Ghostly Gangplank. It takes you up pretty high.


After our first bus journey (it was nice not being on a damn plane!) and awesome meal at Buca di Beppo (for which I failed to get any decent photos) it was time for some international snack trading!


Nick tries some Eskimos - weird, politically incorrect spongy things from New Zealand.


Divv is a Dorito-loving Scotsman. We brought him some but they burst in our luggage. We gave him the empty bags. One man's trash, etc...


The glamorous Leslie Hall enjoyed some international snacks too!


I have to say, meeting Leslie was easily the highlight of my day (thanks Elissa!). I loved her body rolls and sexy lady musk.


Andrew and I would like Leslie to marry us Iowa-style some day. She even offers an illegal fireworks display - how can you top that?!


Leslie got the music pumping and hocked some quality goods out the back of her car. I got a CD, signed photo and pen that when upturned reveals Leslie's sexy white bra. We love you Leslie!!

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Day two saw TPR visit Adventureland, a cute and charming amusement park hidden amidst the corn fields of Iowa. We also got our first taste of the heatwave that would soon consume Mid-America. But I agreed with Robb's opinion on this: better a heatwave than rain when you're visiting parks...


Adventureland greets you with a very nice Disney-style entrance.


Along with a Disney-style Main Street


Part of Main Street burnt down earlier this year, but Adventureland certainly seem to be on top of things.


'Cute' and 'charming' really are the best words I can use to describe this place.


Tornado was a really decent and fun-filled wooden coaster. A perfect 'first woodie' for Andrew!


The turnaround. Lots of airtime all over this ride.


The older ride ops were great here. But the park had some 'interesting' policies. This ride op is in the process of saying, "You MUST take your loose articles on the ride with you!"


Not a fluffy, fluffy bunny to be seen anywhere!


This is Dragon. I didn't bother to wait for a train, but the loops were probably the smoothest part of the ride...


During this part I really had to hang on to my loose articles.


The park had a spinning raft ride. Andrew and I went down backwards the whole way!


Outlaw was our favourite coaster at the park - another really decent and underrated ride.


Lots of airtime here too. The front of the train really surprised us.


The frisbee ran a decent programme. The ride op basically forbade us to hold on.


I love S&S Space Shots.


Kidtums-sized tower ride!


We queued for a long time for the river rapids. The water was rather blue.


After a fun day at Adventureland it was time to head south to Missouri, where Worlds of Fun awaited us!

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^ Thanks Robb!


I'm on a bit of a roll, so here's our photos and thoughts on Worlds of Fun...


Worlds of Fun was the first 'corporate' park of the trip and while it may not have the greatest set of coasters in the world really does deliver a fun all-round experience. The park was beautifully landscaped, filled with trees, spotlessly clean, and very well managed and run. I was particularly impressed with the ride operations here. Mamba and Prowler were our favourite rides, and Patriot was a pretty decent B&M invert (another good 'first' for Andrew!). Add all the random old school flat rides like Bamboozler, Cyclone Sam's, Finnish Fling, etc, and you have, well, many Worlds of Fun to enjoy!


Park entrance. And very apt name for the park, too.


I determined to take lots of photos of people today.


Hey guys!


During the first afternoon and evening we managed to get all the credits in. This is Patriot's giant loop.


This was my favourite element on Patriot. It gave you a little bit of 'invert air'. Not quite Fire Dragon but still fun.


Though it took Patriot a while to open up for ERT the next morning, the park still held off the crowds so we could get the first rides in. Thanks Worlds of Fun!


What a pretty park.


Mamba was the first hyper coaster of the trip and had more airtime than it's given credit for. OK, so the area around Mamba is a little 'Cedar Fair'-ish but I'm not complaining.


I had never tried Dippin' Dots before. Kind of made me feel like having 'normal' ice cream straight afterwards...


We got on Spinning Dragons which had a long line in the blazing sun...


But the queue moved fast thanks to awesome ride operations.


It was so hot we rode the old school log flume. It kind of trundled through the course but hey, it's a log flume credit!


Andrew had never been on an Enterprise before, so we had to get that credit too.


I believe Detonator was the first Space Shot ride in the US. It didn't make it too high up the towers...


During lunch the park gave us free stuff!


Mike Austin won some shot glasses! (He doesn't drink, haha!)


For some reason we freakin' loved Timber Wolf. It had a great layout and made us laugh uncontrollably.


Enjoy your intense 'ride jostling' folks!


What can I say, Andrew and I like it rough.


Speaking of rough, Worlds of Fun has a boomerang called Boomerang!


Actually, this one wasn't too bad at all.


The park gave us a backstage walk-back tour of the almighty Prowler. And a long, hot walk-back it was too!


Some of the other assorted 'prowlers' in the area.


We got to take lots of awesome shots of the ride.


A shot never seen before!


Some of the riders were 'prowlers' too.


Andrew got down and dirty with the coaster.


Dear God, he's not the only one...


Night ERT was fantastic. Leslie Hall enjoyed her ride too!


After our second day at the park TPR headed out to Lambert's insanely awesome restaurant - home of the 'throwed rolls'. Put your hand anywhere above the table and a roll will come hurling your way!


The drinks were HUGE.


As were the meals.


But none were bigger than newly-vegetarian Bryan's gargantuan salad!


That night we travelled to Branson, home of godly entertainment and holy hotels. We're not in New Zealand anymore folks!

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GO BRIAN!!! Thanks everyone - it was great meeting you all too. We will definitely sign up for some future trips. Now that we're more 'seasoned' I'm sure we'll focus on hanging out and having fun with people as much as we focused on getting maximum rides in!

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I had heard very good things about Silver Dollar City and the park absolutely delivered on all counts: it was beautiful, friendly, filled with charm and had a whole line-up of highly underrated rides. Everything people had told us about the park was true, right down to the cinnamon bread, which was honestly the nicest food I have EVER eaten in my entire life! This was very possibly our favourite park of the trip.


The park very kindly gave us front of the line passes for a number of rides in the morning, which was awesome. They also hosted a fun Q&A during lunch and gave us prizes. Andrew and I won the award for having travelled the furthest. The Aussies all grumbled of course, but since we came to the US via Australia I stand by our claim!


On a side note: I don't have a photo of it, but Thunderation turned out to be one of the best mine trains I've been on. Wow! How can an Arrow mine train be so good?


I really couldn't recommend this park highly enough.


On the way to the park we passed by Celebration City. "Nothing to see here, move along," etc. Actually it was a little sad seeing Ozark Wildcat sitting there SBNO.


TPR is at Silver Dollar City! It's going to be an awesome day!


There are specialty shops and working craftsmen around every turn.


Spoons anyone?


The trip participants were split into two groups for the front of the line passes, and ours got to head over to Powder Keg first.


Yep. The themeing is great.


The ride turned out to be one of my favourites of the trip.


The launch was fun and the ride had airtime all over the place! We re-rode quite a few times during the day and also managed to get in a night ride, which was very cool!


Wildfire had a nice station. That mist was very welcome today.


The first drop in the back row was insane. Butts way, way out of seats!


The cobra roll.


Coming back down to earth.


In all, a fun, compact B&M in a beautiful setting.


Fire in the Hole, the coaster/dark ride hybrid was another fun surprise. Dan rode in the front of our car. I think he got a little wet :-)


Speaking of water, the park had this huge water play area called Geyser Gulch.


Kids were having a blast here.


New for 2010 was RiverBlast, a splash battle very well themed to Tom and Huck's various adventures.


Unfortunately it broke down as we were about to ride and we didn't manage to get back there.


It looked very nice. Good fit for the park.


Today was a good day for water rides.


As a 'log flume enthusiast' I felt this one was pretty good, if a little short.


Andrew enjoying the cinnamon bread. "Oh God yes! YES!!" I'll have what she's having ;-)


The park had an old school shooting dark/boat ride by the name of the Flooded Mine.


We also got front of the line passes for the Giant Swing, which was most helpful - it had long lines all day. A first screamin' swing for Andrew and I. We loved it though it had a very short programme.


Many TPR people did the Marvel Cave.


It was well worth it. A 'nature credit', if you will.


Some parts got a little bit claustrophobic.


Nearly 500 feet below the surface and I can't even tell which way is up! Thanks Silver Dollar City for building an awesome park around your giant hole in the ground!

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TPR took a day off from the parks for some culture and craziness in St. Louis, where temperatures sky rocketed well above 100 degrees. I'm sure most of the trip participants would agree that the highlight of the day was the completely and utterly insane City Museum. Fun times!


Photos in this segment suck a little. It was so damn hot - what can I say!


Hey it's the St. Louis Arch! TPR has come a long way.


While others went up the arch, Andrew and I stayed on the ground so as not to make a nuisance of ourselves. It's the Kiwi way :-)




It was so hot we were soon crashed out under a few trees watching them dredge the river.


We also received a little light entertainment from this homeless guy!




It soon occurred to us that the museum under the arch would be air conditioned.


Approaching the City Museum and not all seems right.


This bus hangs over the side of the building. It's the City Museum so of course you can climb in there!


The museum has giant slides, caves and craziness everywhere. (This photo blows - apologies.)


Oh, and butts!


One of the many tunnels to who-knows-where.


Some of us ventured into the pitch black tunnels. They got smaller and smaller and it took us quite a while to find our way out.


Actually some may still be stuck in there.


Upstairs there was a giant random ballroom.


Man boobs?


We spent a lot of time walking around wondering if we'd entered the twilight zone...


The museum actually did have a few exhibits. Like these knobs.


This would be the sponge room.


Up on the roof there were great views of St. Louis.


And a rickety ferris wheel that made strange noises.


Down below TPR members were having fun.


By torturing one another mercilessly!


Hey Texas!


We all had great fun at the City Museum!


I left the place with a bruised ass! I think I got off lightly all things considered. ;-)

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Nice shots of Silver Dollar City. Actually made me get on mapquest and see how long it would take to get there. Really looked great.


Now for a Bevis and Butthead moment... They had a collection of knobs at City Museum and you got off with a bruised a$$. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Heh, heh, ya.


Great TR so far, thanks for sharing.

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^ Thanks! I'd drive back to Silver Dollar City right now if I could.


Just a couple more miscellaneous pics from the City Museum...


The City Museum has a great policy for lawyers.


That's my head but those are NOT my legs!


Remember that bus atop the museum...


It has a great view!


Fish and such.


"When I was born I remember looking over my shoulder and saying - that's the last time I'm going up one of those!"


Mike Austin not only sings Queen tunes on buses, he plays piano too.


Like many who tried out this contraption, I'm pretty sure this ended badly :-)

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^ Oh yes, absolutely! We loved it. And the trip was a great way to see the country too. I can't imagine adding places like Des Moines or Branson to our itinerary on a 'normal' vacation. We really enjoyed seeing the weird corners of America.

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We all knew we were in for a fun day at Six Flags St. Louis. Not just because of the awesome walk-back tour and ERT planned for us, but because the heat index was predicted to rise as high as 114 degrees...making today THE HOTTEST DAY IN TPR HISTORY!!!


Andrew and I managed to cover the whole park, get all the credits in, and re-ride some of our favourites, having a very full day. In similar heat anywhere else we would probably have melted on the spot and formed immediate headaches. Theme parks seem to hold a strange power over us...


TPR's day began at Six Flags St. Louis with a walk-back tour of Mr. Freeze before the park opened. I LOVE passing through parks before opening!


Mr. Freeze has a sexy entrance.


In fact it's generally a damn sexy ride. Great launch and fun elements. I'm glad this thing doesn't still have over-the-shoulder restraints mind you - you do get whipped around a bit.


Close-up nerd photo.


We got to walk down the launch track.


Beauty of a TPR backstage tour: you cannot normally get photos like this!


Round back we got to see some extra transformers installed by the park to power the ride.


Off-limits area to some, perhaps!


I love TPR.


Six Flags St. Louis also gave us early morning ERT on Evel Knievel.


The man knew how to dress.


We rode quite a few GCI coasters on this trip.


I've heard it said that GCI's all ride pretty much "the same".


I generally concur with that opinion.


I found Evel Knievel the most fun of the GCI's we rode on the trip for some reason. I thought it had a great lay out.


This is Stefan. Today was a special day for Stefan because he was due to hit his #200 coaster.


So why not make it a shitty coaster like Ninja?


Andrew and I are pretty tolerant theme park virgins, but this pile of trash really sucked!


The mirror-image Batman clone was very intense as you would expect from it's ride type.


I was looking forward to Screamin' Eagle as Tornado made me realise I love classic out-and-back woodies.


It was fun if a little uneventful.


Time to ride Tony Hawk. The general public seemed to like this ride a lot.


Must be all the spinny bits.


So far all the Mid-Western parks have been very pretty.


Every park also seems to have one of these giant sky coaster things.


There's a fun Scooby shooting boat ride at Six Flags St. Louis.


It's the Mystery Machine!


Excalibur was a weird flat ride. We'd never been on one before so we had to give it a spin.


It was interesting. Kind of fun...


Every park with an Intamin drop tower is approved by me.


The Boss had a great entrance.


The ride itself had Timber Wolf syndrome, i.e. good lay out but way too rough. (Though we actually found Timber Wolf lots of fun!)


The water rides were thankfully included on our Q-bots today. Yay for Q-bots!


The rapids ride went around Mr. Freeze.


Didn't get too wet on this one. For once, we wanted to.


Oh well, Andrew found a better way to cool off! Thanks Six Flags St. Louis!

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God it was hot that day. One wierd thing though, being with my coaster dork friends makes me kind of overlook the heat and keep on truckin'. Luckily we had Q-bots, so we could ride and then cool off and then ride again. The park was awesome and we had ALOT of nice perks there (I love TPR Trips as well.)


I think Mr. Freeze was my favorite at that park. I rode Evel Kenievel a few times, then spent the rest of morning ERT on Mr. Freeze, until we broke it . Then, we got an extended viewing opportunity of the launch track until they could push the train back to it's starting position.


Also - those garden hose sprayers around the midways were a blessing. It felt like I was showering for a crowd and my inner exhibitionist loved that.



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^ Haha! Showering for the crowd was fun wasn't it!


I do agree about Mr. Freeze. What a blast that ride was. We went on Flight of Fear at Kings Island too and have formed a very high opinion of Premier Rides.

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Andrew and I were really looking forward to Holiday World as were many on the trip and we had another very hot, awesome day. Thanks to an online auction to help flood victims in Nashville TPR managed to get private tours from the park for all the trip participants. Thanks Robb and Elissa for being so sneaky in arranging this for us! The private tours were fun and also included front of the line rides which was much appreciated.


Holiday World is famed for its three highly acclaimed wooden coasters - Raven, Legend and Voyage - and everyone seemed to have different opinions about them. Raven was a favourite for me - fantastic lay out and great air time. Legend was a very solid ride with great air time and laterals but a bit on the rough side. Voyage was breathtaking - but exceptionally rough! I look forward to seeing how the park gets on with the new trains.


That's Holiday World for you - it's a smart, thoughtful park that obviously cares about its guests (free soda, anyone?). Andrew and I also enjoyed Splashin' Safari and went on quite a few different slides. Wildebeest, the new water coaster, was outstanding! But alas I have no photos of it. Oh well, on with the others.


We're at Holiday World! First up was a walk-back tour of Raven and Legend, along with first rides for the day. TPR trips are great :-)


There's nothing like the sound of coasters in the morning...


The turnaround on Raven was cool. This ride doesn't let up for a minute. Lots of fun!


The station was pretty cool too.


Legend going up its lift. I loved the 'howl' as the train goes down the drop. Nice touch!


Lots of turns and laterals with a few rough spots here and there. I found it very re-rideable though.


Hey it's yet another log flume! (Water not included.)


Entrance to one of the very well-themed areas of the park.


And passing through another. (Holiday not included in New Zealand.)


We get this one.


But not this! Man, New Zealand needs more holidays.


Here in the Thanksgiving section our group set off with Matt for a personalised tour of the park. Thanks Matt!


We got to see behind the scenes of Voyage and hang out with the new Timberliner trains.


We beat the crowds again to be the first riders on Voyage. This thing is huge, breathtaking...and rather violent, especially round back in the woods! It has A LOT of potential though.


Voyage from the new water ride. Really, it IS an amazing coaster. I just wish it was more re-rideable.


Pilgrim's Plunge was a nice surprise. Great fun and a good way to cool off.


Intamin - always the mark of quality!


We also rode this thing! On Gobbler Getaway you do not shoot turkeys, you gather them up for Thanksgiving lunch (or something akin to killing them).


Granny Getaway.


By this point of the trip I was starting to get good at shooting things. I love America.


We wandered past the rapids ride. I really love these. Didn't get on this one though, alas.


Matt took us behind the scenes to see the park's office area - and this storage facility.


We also got to see the maintenance area.


A vintage car getting refurbished.


We bumped into Santa! He was a damn good one too!


Matt finished off our tour by buying us all chocolate from Mrs. Claus' Kitchen. Thanks Matt!


After the tour, lunch with Pat Koch, the lovely Paula and co, and some fun in the water park, Andrew and I took a little tour of our own. Here's one of the park's original rides - the miniature train.


The kid's area was very nice. (There is a kiddie coaster in there somewhere too.)


We went on the double shot ride - another 'first' for us. Very surprising ride and a good fit for the park.


Every park in America seems to have a monster ride.


Pat Koch told us at lunch she always wanted the park to have a carousel, saying, "Every park should have one!" I do agree.


Another awesome part of the park was coming across these soda stations! And I like Pepsi products because of Sierra Mist. FREE soda - what a great idea. (Smart too - it keeps your guests happy and refreshed!)


Andrew and I tried out the park's pizza. It was rather good. New Zealand really doesn't have a damn clue how to make decent pizza!


Back at Voyage it was time for a photo walk-back to finish the day.


It really is a sexy ride.


Coming over that second hill was probably my favourite part.


Blink and you'll miss them.


After the walk-back we decided to re-ride Voyage and got a great ride in. It was still rough...


...but I think I appreciated the lay out a bit more!


Thanks Holiday World for all the awesome perks today! I hope to come back again someday soon.

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TPR spent another hot Mid-Western summer's day at Indiana Beach, which had a very different vibe from all the parks we'd visited thus far. Crowds were light and the park had a carnival atmosphere with a great setting on the lakeside. (Matt and I would love to come back and experience the park at night.)


I wish I could say we loved the place but on this visit there were some things we found a little annoying. The only thing we'll point out - because it particularly annoyed us - was the policy on Cornball Express that meant you couldn't choose your seat. We quickly found out during early morning ERT (which was great of the park to give us - since Steel Hawg's opening was delayed) that the front of the train gave the best ride. Riding later in the day when the park was completely dead we found we couldn't wait for the next train to get the front seat even though there was no one else in line! Of course the park can set any policy they want to, but that struck us as kinda pointless.


Oh, well! Cornball Express really was an awesome coaster - again, all the rumours we'd heard were true. Hoosier Hurricane was fun - not quite as good as it looks perhaps. Steel Hawg was odd and in all the right ways. Insane first drop, outward banking turns, crazy twisty bits and bizarre hang time - all making for a surprisingly enjoyable ride experience. Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain was even odder and I really liked it! It must be experienced backwards! Other highlights for us were the random flat rides, the shows on the lake and Frankenstein's Castle, a really cool walk-through attraction. The rock-out room was our favourite part.


We were excited to experience a traditional-style American amusement park.


We had absolutely perfect weather today.


Matt almost wanted to go for a swim, weren't it for the man-eating fish.


Morning ERT on Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain was appreciated as the ride was down for most of the day.


We found it fun, with some great, unexpected drops and not rough at all. Ride backwards and brace yourself!


We rode the Galaxi, one of the park's carnival-style coasters. This ride type was our first-ever coaster and this one was very good. Air time on a Galaxi? Believe it or not, yes!


Matt had always wanted to ride a Jet Star so was looking forward to Tig'rr Coaster.


Tiny trains! Schwarzkopf obviously improved on this ride design but I guess it led to rides like Whizzer. For which we should all be thankful!


Steel Hawg doing it's thing.


Fun ride.


A whole group of us did Frankenstein's Castle. It was awesome. And very funny at some parts too!


A very good falling star.


A very good chair swings. This one unnerved us a little - swinging out over the lake and rocking forwards and backwards. We hadn't been on one quite like this before.


Every park in the US MUST have one of these!


The park doesn't have a lot of room for expansion, but they managed to squish in a splash battle.


To round out this short TR, here's some pics of the park's awesome entertainment on the lake!


These guys were pretty daring.


Fire = excitement! Not too many photos from Indiana Beach from us, but we hope you enjoyed them!

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