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Skycoastin' Steve's 2011 Season Extravaganza!!

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The Storm Runner picture in the puddle is amazing. Great TR, got me excited for my first ever trip to Hershey next year (and Skyrush!!!). And from the night pictures, I think I'll have to agree with you about HP being the best-looking night park.

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Alright everyone, it's time to step away from theme parks for a moment and share another culture credit that Jen and I were able to get while in New York City the weekend of September 17-18. For a little back story, we were going to a Dave Matthews Band concert on the 18th that had originally been scheduled the weekend of Hurricane Irene. The concert was postponed a few weeks, so we were able to take the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial, an opportunity we wouldn't have had if the concert had gone on as originally scheduled (it opened on the 10th anniversary, for those of you who don't know).


Visiting this particular memorial is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Usually, when you visit a memorial in Washington or anywhere else, it's a building or monument built in a separate location (i.e., the Vietnam Wall, Arlington Cemetery, etc.). In this case, the memorial is built on the very ground where the tragedy happened 10 years ago, which makes it infinitely more somber and humbling. I've also been to the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial, and the feeling is the same. It's so difficult to comprehend the suffering and death that happened on the very ground where you're standing. When you go to either of the memorials, it's so peaceful and serene, which is obviously such a stark contrast to 9/11 itself. All I can really say to anyone going to New York City in the future is visit the memorial, it's something you absolutely have to experience in person. I know I'll make it a point to get back to the site when most (or all) of it is finished, because it's going to be breathtaking.


We also went up to the top of the Empire State Building the day we arrived in the city (Saturday), and did a return trip to Lombardi's Pizza on Sunday after leaving the 9/11 Memorial, all will be covered in the pictures. Please comment, and thank you for reading!


Quick, who can guess which building is at this street corner?


If you guessed the Empire State Building, you would be correct!


I've driven by this building before, and for some reason, never realized just how massive it is.


I mean really, how did King Kong climb up this damn thing?


In case you already forgot which building it was..


Famous lobby mural. I had to cut out the bottom because there were so many tourists posing in front of it.


After waiting in some crazy lines full of annoying tourists, we have reached the roof!


Lower Manhattan with some wicked clouds.


The Chrysler Building, which held the record for tallest building in the world for a brief time before the Empire State Building was finished. For an analogy everyone will understand, the Chrysler Building was Millennium Force, Empire State was Steel Dragon 2000.


Central Park and the Rockefeller Building, which is the building Jen and I went up in last time we were in the city with TPR!


For what it's worth, I think the Chrysler Building is prettier than the Empire State Building, even if it's shorter.


The very, very tip top of the building. You can pay extra to go up there, but we passed on that one. This is where King Kong died. :(


First person to tell me how many buildings are in this panorama gets a million bucks!


Sunday now, and much better weather for the 9/11 Memorial. This is the Freedom Tower, which is the new World Trade Center 1. It will be 1,776 feet tall when it is completed in 2013.


Flag of Honor.


Inside the Memorial now. They have dozens of trees, some of which were taken from the three crash sites.


The South Tower site. It's tough to comprehend how enormous the buildings were until you're standing there looking at the holes where they used to stand.


The names of all 3,000 people that were killed on 9/11 grace the walls around the two waterfalls, including the names of the 6 who were killed in the 1993 bombing of the WTC.


The shorter building on the right is the future 9/11 Museum, which will open in 2012.


I thought the design for this memorial was brilliant.


It really was incredible to see these in person.


I got a little artsy for a moment.


These are two support columns, or "tridents," that were still intact after the buildings collapsed. They are the focal points of the Museum.


A reflection of Freedom Tower in the museum glass.


I was able to catch a faint rainbow in the waterfall.


This is the North Tower site. You can see the bottom of Freedom Tower in the background, so that gives some perspective on where it is in relation to the original towers.


I will say that Freedom Tower is going to be spectacular when it is completed.


Looking back to the south from the North Tower.


A reflection of the American flag hanging on the Freedom Tower in the water at the North Tower waterfall.


This is the Survivor Tree, a pear tree that was crushed by the buildings after they collapsed. It somehow managed to survive, and they kept it alive and brought it back to its original home in the WTC plaza.


Survivor Tree and Freedom Tower.


I'm assuming the tree is not strong enough anymore to hold itself up, so they have cables doing the job for it. Either way, it's still living!


They also have this cage around the tree to protect it from any tourists who think it's a great idea to climb it.


Through the trees!


Panorama of the South Tower. I absolutely love this, and may get it framed one day.


So in summation, if you are going to NYC at any point in the future, go here!


We also strolled by the historic Trinity Church, which is right down the street from the WTC.


And I like this photo a lot, so I figured I would share it!


And now for something a little happier.........




And we ran into Scott's Pizza Tour! For those of you who followed along with the Northeast Trip, one of the early add-on days included this tour. Awesome!




America's first pizzeria, and I would imagine still one of the best!


I'm already smiling!



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This report had two of my favorite things in it - Pizza and skyscrapers!! If you had thrown in some photos of beer you would of gotten one of these: .


Good to see the World Trade Center site looking the way it is now. Thanks for the report, Steve!

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I agree that they did a great job with the 9/11 Memorial. It is a very elegant design that effectively gets the point across. We're probably going to check it out next year.


As for Lombardi's, I somehow managed to scorch my mouth on that despite Scott telling our group that you couldn't do that.

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I very much loved this TR of NYC. I've been there twice so far and I plan to go back someday. I feel like I have some bearing of the city now. I've actually driven through the city which was pretty cool except that parking around Broadway can be quite expensive. Next time I think I'll plan some use of public transport. I'll probably still stay in New Jersey since it's cheaper. For the record I love the 9/11 memorial and the new tower that's being built.

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I'll repeat what Steve said....if anyone is planning on going to NYC in the future, do yourself a favor and schedule at least an hour of your time to visit the memorial. It was beyond worth it. I visited Ground Zero in November 2001, when there were still shells of buildings and the smell was something that is forever ingrained in my mind. Walking around the area this summer before the NE trip and then visiting the memorial in September was something I was anxious about but now so happy to have done. It's extremely emotional, extremely powerful and extremely humbling. I would say this is the #1 must see in NYC now.

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  • 1 month later...

Ok time for my first trip report in a while!


Last night I went to the opening night of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and it did not disappoint! I also had a chance to check out the progress that's been made on Verbolten, and they've definitely made a lot of it since closing weekend. I was also able to get a few laps on Alpengeist before the line got long, which was a nice bonus. As for Christmas Town, the park put up over 5 million lights all around the park to transform it into an absolutely breathtaking display. I've honestly never seen anything like it, I was VERY impressed. Basically take the lights show at your local zoo and give it a few shots of steroids. I'm not sure if there was anything of importance inside the park that DIDN'T have lights on it.


As far as the food and entertainment were concerned, I had the Christmas dinner at the Festhaus, which was delicious, as well as a "Christmas S'more" with some peppermint hot chocolate in England on my way out of the park, which were also very tasty! I caught the Deck the Halls show in the Festhaus, which consisted of traditional, upbeat carols. It was a bit corny (of course), but an enjoyable show, especially for kids. I also happened to catch a little bit of the Miracles show in Festa Italia as I was walking by, and it seemed like a beautiful show. I was able to see the new show, Gloria, before I left, and it was also very, very well done. They had a live symphony accompanying the singers, and they performed the more mellow, religious carols that told the story of Christmas. I would definitely recommend anyone to check this show out, just make sure you get there 20 minutes beforehand to get a good seat! I also waited 45 minutes to do the Sky Ride lap around the park and took video of that, so that will be posted here, as well.


The only drawback for me on the evening was the outrageous number of people that were in the park, but that just goes to show how popular this event has become. And it really didn't detract away from the experience too much (except for the crazy parents using their children in strollers as battering rams to get through the crowd).


I do have a facebook album with almost 100 pictures in it, and it's public, so you can check that out here. I'll just be showing off about half of those in this report, so if you want to see the rest, check them out on facebook!



Christmas tree in the front entrance. The appearance of Christmas trees is going to be a recurring theme. ;)


Apparently they relocated the North Pole to BGW for this event, these guys go all out!


As you can see here, the launch track is in place!


Let's just launch one through now, see what happens.


The framework of the event building is now up!


And this building is HUGE!


They've also constructed the track almost all the way back to the station.


As you can see in this picture, they've connected the track all the way to the launch and into the building.


Looks like it will be a relatively tame portion of track before hitting the launch, but it's not bad for a pre-launch section.


They were also reinforcing the old Big Bad Wolf footers. I had been wondering if they were going to do something like this, and as it turns out, they are.


And they've done more work on the footers for the bridge.


I loved this, they even re-themed the teaser signs to Christmas!


Ok super dorks, someone tell me what's wrong with this picture.


The giant tree in front of the Festhaus, this will look much different later!


The Festhaus was decked out and looking......festive.




Little drummer boys.


The Festhaus band made a return for this show.


And I had Christmas dinner the day after Thanksgiving!


Peace on Earth, there's a concept.


Festa Italia was looking beautiful.


Especially this tree!


Polar Pathway at Escape From Pompeii was the highlight of the entire night!


I mean come on, they even put blue lights down where the water usually is!


It looked really great at dusk, wait till you see it at night!


And I'm not joking, I heard someone ask if the ride was open.


Attraction sign.


At this point, I went and stood in line for the Sky Ride tour of the park, and like I said before, waited 45 minutes. When I got off the ride, the line was probably up to at least 90 minutes. I did take video of the experience, though, and here it is in spectacular HD!




Back to the Polar Pathway and its purple trees.


I'm not entirely sure, but I think this might have been bright enough to see from space.


Anyone who cares to count how many lights there are, you'll get a Skycoastin Steve Bag-O-Crap!


(no, literally, a bag of my crap)


Bye bye, Santa, just be careful of that volcano.


The white tree in Festa Italia was gorgeous!


As was the Christmas tree in the gardens!


As were these two orange trees!


That streak of light over the Peace on Earth sign is the train going by.


I like trying to find where the ground ends and the water begins.


The signature Skycoastin Steve reflection photo!


One of the several mini Christmas trees on the bridge.


The Festhaus and ginormous Christmas tree looking spectacular!


This whole plaza was amazing, BGW definitely didn't spare any expense.


Meanwhile, back at the North Pole, it has begun to snow (although you can't really see it in the picture).


The only picture I took in "New France." I just don't like Canada.


Over to regular France, this little display was very pretty.


As was this little tree. I think someone should walk through the park and count how many Christmas trees there are. Anyone who does gets a SSBOC! But in order to get my crap in a bag, you have to prove that the number of trees you counted is correct. I don't hand my crap out to just anyone!


Joyeaux Noel!


Over to Ireland, where the trees are lit up green (imagine that).


I did laugh at the number of people who were taking photos like this with their flash on. I bet those turned out REALLY well.


This show did not disappoint!


And of course, they had shamrocks lit up at the entrance to Ireland.


Back to Scotland and its absolutely stunning display of blue trees with TONS of white Stars of Bethlehem over the midway.


My video of the Sky Ride gives you a great view of this whole area, it was amazing!


Definitely breathtaking, they did a wonderful job on everything in the park.


I had this "Christmas S'more" before I left. It was tasty, but I may have temporarily blacked out from the sugar high.


Carolers singing in England, the one chick is staring a hole through me.


Save the clock tower!


The front entrance was also very pretty.


They had all these snowflakes over the walkway leading up to the entrance. The end! Thank you for reading!

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