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Skycoastin' Steve's 2012 Season Extravaganza!!

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Well the Extravaganza has enjoyed a fantastic two year run of terror on the amusement industry, traveling all over the country and leaving a wake of nuclear destruction in its path. Now it's time to take on the end of the world in 2012! Will December 21 loom large as the end of not only planet Earth, but the Extravaganza? Only time will tell if the end of days is powerful enough to stop the never-ending freight train that is Skycoastin' Steve's Extravaganza.


But seriously, I can't believe we're already two months into 2012 and I haven't done a trip report. These damn things consume my life sometimes, but it's time to jump back on that horse and giddy up with photos, captions, and all other types of shenanigans. For those of you who don't know, I moved to Orlando at the end of 2011, so you'll probably be seeing quite a few reports from the Florida parks this year. I also have a few other trips planned throughout the year, including Dollywood for opening weekend, a trip back to Virginia for BGW and Hershey's new coasters, and my first foray to the parks of Western NY and surrounding areas for Leviathan Bash! I'm 110% sure there will be some type of credit whoring sprinkled in there for good measure, so stay tuned for all the whoreish madness!


I have a couple reports upcoming this week: a quick look at Universal, as well as my first trip to Legoland Florida. Here we go!


Quick Links!


Legoland Florida Part 1 - Page 2


Legoland Florida Part 2, Miniland USA! - Page 3


Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf - Page 4


Dollywood Opening Weekend - Page 5


BGT, Including Baby Cheetahs, Ducklings, and a Joey Wallaby! - Page 12


Deadwood! - Page 13


Ocean City, preview at Hersheypark - Page 14


Skyrush opening day! - Page 15


Verbolten! Jen hits 300 credits!! - Page 20

Edited by Skycoastin Steve
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Alrighty, so one of my main priorities after moving to Florida was to get a season pass for Universal, and after a couple months of being here, I finally got recently, so I've been going there quite a bit (seeing how I live five minutes away). These are two parks that I had only been to once in about the last 10 years, so I had a lot of catching up to do. I really do like the Universal properties. While they aren't the greatest parks in the world and there isn't a TON to do at either of them, I still usually enjoy the time I spend there. They also happen to have two of the best B&Ms on the planet at IOA (Hulk and Fire, not Ice) and the best indoor coaster that I've ever been on at the Studios, so it's a nice place to go for some high quality coaster riding. As the season goes on, I'll do more riding of the non-coasters, but for now I haven't been in the mood to. I definitely have to catch up on attractions like Twister and Disaster (even though I've only heard bad things), Shrek 4D, and all the other non-coaster things those parks have to offer. But for now, it's all about teh roller coasterzzzz!


Yeah, yeah, everyone has this picture.


As well as this picture. Somehow or another I got it with no tourists in the shot. Score!


Still don't think this ride is that great, and it's ugly. But I still like taking pictures of it.


Lots of "OH SH*T" faces in this one.


I do think the non-inverting loop is a pretty neat element, and it's got some nice airtime in the back row.


I tried like four times to get the train directly over the sun, this was the closest I got.


Anyone else think the non-inverting loop looks like a lopsided balloon?


While this ride has some decent moments with forces, the endless amounts of brake runs just kill any momentum the ride ever gets.


Nets ruin perfectly good pictures sometimes.


Crowd surfing. This element is far too slow, you just get halfway dumped off the side of the train and it's really uncomfortable.


The ending element is pretty nice, though. Overall, still not that great of a ride, but at least you have music to distract you from its mediocrity.


This ride is just a wee bit better.




Love everything about the first half of this ride. If they could have conjured up a 2nd half that was just as good, this ride would be in my top 5. I also agree with reports that it's getting a little rough.


But the launch into this zero-g roll is nothing short of phenomenal.


And the super-sized cobra roll is also fantastic.


Beware of the after effects of this splash if you're in the front row, I got pelted with the leftover water one time, didn't feel good.


The drop after this corkscrew in the back row is one of my favorite B&M moments, right up there with the drop out of Kumba's zero-g roll in the back right seat.


Hulk looks angry, he needs a hug!


I hadn't ridden this since the park's opening season, but holy crap the pop of airtime at the top is insane!


Really like this picture, it's very "Florida."


Non-Dueling Dragons = Pacifist Dragons?


The cobra roll is the highlight of the Ice side, which is fairly mediocre otherwise, especially with no dueling.


This was one of my favorite dueling moments while on the Fire side, seeing the Ice train fly beneath your feet!




So mist-erious!


I would like this picture a lot more if the net wasn't there. See my caption back near the beginning about nets ruining shots.


Good ride, but not worth more than about a 15-20 minute wait.


Can you spot the train?


I love the view from this bridge, especially at night.


Hulk's cobra roll looks fantastic at night.


I spy a train!


This is what the "auto fix" feature on my photo editing software came up with for the last picture. Not sure why it's purple, but it looks trippy, and you can see stars!


Another slow shutter look at the cobra roll. I really wish the train had green LED lights down the side, that would look spectacular!


Another wacky "auto fix" edit.


Yep, looks like a penis.


Panorama of that half of City Walk. Thanks for reading!

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I can't agree more about the camelback/inline element on Dueling Dragons, luckily I have experienced it the right way over 400 times. Left side last row on Fire side was really killer visuals. I loved pointing it out to first time riders, the highlight of the ride IMO.


Cool pictures of Hulk and a good report, thanks.

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Hooray! I love reading your TRs. While Universal has dropped down on my list of favorite parks I still think it's one of the most photogenic parks out there (as evidenced by your pictures). Personally, I like HRRR for how unique it is and the sound quality of the onboard audio, and the MCBRs only make the cycles fly. But I have to agree with you that it's nowhere near a great coaster. BTW, I know what you mean about having to wait several ride cycles just to snap the perfect shot of the train lol. Great report, can't wait to see more

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Alright so the day after our Universal adventure, Jen and I ventured down to her hometown (Winter Haven) to check out Legoland and all their new offerings since being transformed from Cypress Gardens. I will admit that I was almost 100% in the dark about everything at Legoland. I didn't really know anything about the other parks, and I purposely avoided early trip reports from this one so I could have a genuine new experience at a park for the first time in a pretty long time. The result was pretty good! All I have to say after visiting this park is Lego sure knows how to appeal to kids!


The rides themselves all had some sort of Lego theming included, from Lego statues around the ride to the actual ride vehicles themselves. The attention to detail giving to practically everything in the park was absolutely stunning! During the day, I kept saying that if I was a kid when this park was around, I literally would have been there every day. I would even go so far as to say that park would have appealed to me more than Disney ever did when I was younger (I was a HUGE Lego fan as a kid). I also loved how they included the old gardens in the park experience, as it's pretty neat to see (not to mention a nice way to get away from the crowds and be in the shade for a while). Miniland was also maybe the coolest thing I've ever seen, but I'll have a separate trip report for that. The staff was also some of the friendliest I've seen at any park.


That being said, they definitely have room to improve. For starters, the food offerings weren't anything spectacular, although the pizza/pasta buffet was a nice option to have when we were starving in the middle of the day, and it was very popular with families, too. And they had the apple fries, which were delicious! But other than that, it was standard park food that was a little pricey. Ride wise, they had a pretty good amount, but they still could stand to add a few more (and they have more than enough room to do it). Opening the water park is going to be a great addition for them heading into the hotter months.


All in all, I was very impressed with Legoland as an overall experience, and I'm insanely jealous that kids get to experience it and I didn't! I took 200+ pictures during the day, but I'm only going to share about half of them on here. I have the full album on facebook (which is public), so if you want to see them all, go here. I will say again though, I'm going to have a separate report for Miniland photos, so if you don't want those spoiled, don't go to the facebook album until after the second report!


Time to check this place out!




The horses on the carousel were Lego horses, love it!


They had tons of Lego characters around the park, many of which came with sound effects. This one was snoring.


The Vekoma indoor/outdoor roller coaster/dark ride. The dark ride section was terrific, the outdoor was a Vekoma roller skater. Ho hum.


This ride was called the Joust (I think), and the Lego horses "galloped" around the track. Unfortunately I was too big for this one, otherwise I probably would have ridden it.


Revenge of the Lego Mummy!


They had an indoor shooting ride that was probably the easiest I've ever been on. Still fun though.


Legoland kept the old Triple Hurricane coaster from Cypress Gardens and re-themed it.


While in line, you hear a REALLY loud roaring coming from the back of a truck. Once you round the corner and see into the back of the truck, it's really a tiny dinosaur with a megaphone. The creativity of these people is off the charts!


Is this a "Coastersaurus"?


For a kiddie woodie, this actually wasn't that bad. They had retracked basically the entire ride with the exception of the station and lift, so it was running pretty smoothly.


Over in Imagination, you could build all types of Lego things. I loved the half giraffe and Einstein creations.


They also had the Rescue Academy (from what I understand, a staple of Legolands everywhere), probably the best family attraction anywhere!


You have to "race" to the "burning" building in a hand pump-operated truck, put the "fire" out with hand pump-operated fire hoses, and then race back to the finish line.


Not only is it an attraction that the whole family can do, it also promotes exercise. A win win for everyone!


They also have several "schools." This is the Driving School, where kids can drive Lego cars around a road system complete with lanes and traffic signs. They even get their own "driver's license" at the end!


Flying School is a Vekoma Junior Hang and Bang. It wasn't too rough, although once or twice it punched me in the jaw.


And the third school, the Boating School, let kids drive mini Lego boats around with their parents.


This ride was almost like a "whip on water," and while it looked like a lot of fun, Jen and I didn't feel like getting wet. Although I'm 100% sure kids love it.


The "biggest" coaster in the park is the wild mouse.


It's one of those wild mouse coasters with a big drop at the beginning. The only other one I've been on is at KD, although I do know there are others elsewhere.


Love the theming on these cars. This was also the smoothest wild mouse I've ever been on, as the cars were probably just fully rehabbed when this coaster was brought over from Legoland Windsor.


Legoland also took advantage of the ski show setup from the old Cypress Gardens and made their own ski show out of it.


Complete with skiing Lego men!


And Lego men doing jumps!


These Lego men were supposed to protect the ship from the pirates, but they just danced instead. So......


Pirates invaded and did backflips. Then they came in the stadium and started splashing the front rows with water.


And then, the most dreaded Lego pirate of all stopped by......




Thankfully this shark chased him away.


Funny back story, they had mentioned that Brickbeard was afraid of this shark for the whole show, but we kept wondering how they would introduce the shark. Turns out, they had this inflatable shark attached to Brickbeard's jetski so it "chased" him away as he ran off. I almost hyperventilated I was laughing so hard.


Back into the park, they kept this old waterfall that was here with Cypress Gardens, but they added their own "Lego touch."


They had Lego wildlife all over the waterfall area like rabbits.....




Otters, how cute!


And foxes! As previously stated, the attention to detail and the little charming bits sprinkled in throughout the park were fantastic.


This guy was outside the pizza buffet, and he talked to you as you walked into the restaurant. "Hey....I make ah-pizza!"


Jen was once a southern belle at Cypress Gardens, so she had to pose with the Lego belle.


The gardens were still intact and beautiful!


The Legoland catawampus?


As you can see, it was a beautiful day in Winter Haven.


And the vegetation provided some nice shade, which will be beneficial during the ridiculously hot summers.


Very scenic.


I called this the lone palm. Maybe we can give it a proper name. I would name it Dequevarious Shawnterious Smith.


I would have loved an orange, but these were too high up, even for me. :(


This is a banyan tree. For those of you not familiar with banyan trees, "roots" grow from the branches to the ground in order to prop them up when the branches grow too far from the center of the tree. This tree is most likely well over 100 years old.


Yes, this is all one tree!


Apparently Legoland is not just for kids.


And now for more Lego characters, here's an old lady watering her Lego garden with her hair rollers in. Can you spot the Lego mouse?


This guy is trying to bird watch, unsuccessfully it seems.


This guy told corny jokes like "Man, this job really stinks!"


May the Lego be with you!


R2D2 made all his usual sound effects.


We also went up in another holdover from Cypress Gardens, the Island in the Sky!


It's an observation tower that looks like a giant sombrero on a stick.


While waiting, we spotted another kitty doing his business. At least he covered it up when he was done.......


Up high now, we get a nice aerial view of a couple of the coasters.




And a full view of the Dragon coaster. The building and dark ride portion was added on by Legoland to the existing coaster on the right.


The last thing we did was try the famous apple fries.


And they did not disappoint, they were like mini apple pies! Delicious!


Thanks for reading the first half, stay tuned in a day or so for the Miniland report. You won't want to miss it!

Edited by Skycoastin Steve
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Awesome pics, Steve! Looks like a beautiful park, and I love what they've done with the old Cypress Gardens stuff. Lego's were my favorite thing ever when I was little, and I've always wanted to get to a Legoland. Next time I'm in Florida, I will be sure to get my butt to this park. Thanks for sharing!

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Seems we had very similar opinions on the park. What they have there is fantastic, but a few more rides definitely wouldn't hurt. I'm sure the waterpark will help immensely.


Shame you didn't do the WaveRacer, this was a favorite at the park. Most of the people shooting the canons were only aiming for people they knew which left my group, who all chose to ride, pretty dry. A very unique attraction that I recommend checking out.


And BTW, they're fighting Brickbeard! C'mon buddy, give the man the respect he's earned, haha.


Thanks for the report!

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I need to go back to Legoland, I missed a lot of those Lego details during my visit. Due to time constraints, I had to miss the Brickbeard show, but it certainly looks and sounds fun. I have to agree with you that this was a really great place. I read so many reviews that it would only appeal to kids under the age of 12, so thank you for helping me prove that an older crowd can enjoy it just as much.


(on a side note, thanks for updating the info for Test Track and The Dragon on CoasterCounter )

Edited by VinTheAttendant
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All the little details are what make the Lego parks so much fun to explore--there's no way to take them all in during a single visit. You posted some pics of stuff I missed when I was there back in in October.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok it's about time I did my Miniland USA report. I've been rather busy with a variety of things lately, but it's time to get another report up!


Most of what I have to say about Miniland USA will be in the captions, but I will say beforehand that it's one of the most impressive things I've seen in person. The attention to detail with everything in the exhibit was phenomenal! I took as many pictures as I could, and I can't share them all here, but check them all out on facebook in this album.


Think of everything you did for the two years before this place opened. During all that, they were building this.


The first section is an overview of the state of Florida, starting with Daytona International Speedway!


Complete with the stock cars, Porta Potties, campers in the infield, leader board, and even vendors in the stands!


Next is John F. Kennedy Space Center.


All the major sites of the Space Center are included.


I call this the rocket garden.


Every 10 minutes (complete with a clock for a count down), this shuttle would "take off," including sound effects and smoke coming out of the engines. Very cool!


Now we move on to South Beach in Miami. There are sun bathers, people water skiing, weightlifters, people throwing frisbees, but no topless women. :(


Downtown Tampa, where they have cleverly changed building names as to not upset their sponsors.


The famous Bok Tower in Lake Wales.


Spanish shipwreck off the coast.


Treasure divers and hammerhead sharks included!


Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, I was just here a few days ago!


The state capitol in Tallahassee.


Lego press conference in front of the state capitol.


Lego wedding party!


Lego mini golf! I wish I could play this course, but I'm afraid I'm a tad too large.


There were even vending machines at the mini golf course!


Next we move on to the pirate cove.


A close up on the activities going on on the boat.


Gah! Lego shark!


Here's Key West and Sloppy Moe's Bar. The real Sloppy Joe's Bar must not have cooperated.


90 miles to Cuba!


And finally, we have the 7-Mile Bridge.


Moving into the desert, it looks like a man has died and a vulture is about to have himself a feast.


Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas!


The Luxor.


The NY, NY Hotel and Casino, unfortunately they didn't include the roller coaster.


Front of the MGM Grand.


The rest of the MGM Grand.


Go Gators!


There was a button you could push to get the volcano in front of the Mirage to erupt. The entire area had interactive buttons like that!


Anyone up for eloping?


They didn't have the amusement rides on here, either. I want my money back!


Next is Washington, DC, and we start at the Iwo Jima Memorial.


The Tidal Basin, complete with paddle boaters.


Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, Reflecting Pool, WWII Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, White House in the background, and a hot dog vendor!


A closer look at the World War II Memorial, which is one of my favorites in the city.


The Smithsonian Castle, another of my favorite buildings in DC.


Capitol Building, obviously.


The Obamas are on the porch, although it's hard to see them.


Guess which city is next?


Pier 39 and the sea lions! Although I'm told the sea lions are no longer there. Sad day.


Downtown San Francisco.


Victorian Homes.


The Vaillancourt Fountain.


Firemen rescuing a crazy old cat lady on a building. If you look closely, you can see all her cats.






Grouman's Chinese Theater. I didn't notice any hand prints, but that would have been awesome if they were able to incorporate it.


The Hollywood Bowl. Or I guess, the Legowood Bowl?


The big, stiff green lady in the water.


Times Square. If you look in the background between the two buildings, there are two people making out.


Seeing how it's a kids' park, it's Forever 12 instead of Forever 21. Love it.


Empire State Building, I stood on top of the real version of this last summer. This is the tallest building in Miniland, measuring at 22 feet.


Rockefeller Building, I also stood on top of the real version of this last summer.


There were even window washers!


Grand Central Station. It was tough to get a picture of the inside because of the glare, but there was a TON of stuff going on inside of here. I guess you just have to buy a ticket and go to the park to see for yourself. :)


One of the prettiest buildings anywhere, the Chrysler Building.


Here's the carousel in Central Park.


And a mime show in front of it!


The Guggenheim Museum.


A bunch of hippies sitting in a circle around the Imagine Memorial and singing.


And finally, the Belvedere Castle.


After experiencing all this, Miniland USA gets the Skycoastin Steve Stamp of Approval! Thanks for reading, check out the rest of the album on facebook, and comment!

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Great Update Steve, I'm dying to get out to Legoland at some point this summer that place looks great! It's amazing how much detail they put into each one of the mini land scenes, you could probably make multiple trips to the place and still find little hidden Easter eggs in the displays.


It would be really cool if they would update that Daytona Speedway scene every year to have a Lego model of the reigning champions car at the front of the pack.

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It's amazing how much detail they put into each one of the mini land scenes, you could probably make multiple trips to the place and still find little hidden Easter eggs in the displays.



I said pretty much the same thing to Steve earlier today. There is so much I missed that day in Miniland. I would love to go back and spend much more time examining all of the scenes in Miniland. It's pretty incredible what they have done!

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