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Photo TR: Six Flags America Shenanigans


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Laura's Ongoing Photo Thread

 

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down: Farewell to the Jantzen Beach Carousel (this post)

Laura Braves Elitch Gardens...on a Saturday! (page 2)

Mile High Fleas 'n' Fun: Mile High Flea Market (Henderson, Colorado) and Heritage Square Amusement Park (Golden, Colorado) (page 4)

"Good" Old-Fashioned Lakeside Amusement Park (page 5)

A Carousel Caper (Yes, Another One!) (page 7)

SOLVED! A Carousel Caper (page 8)

Laura's Island Getaway: NYC Really Has it All! (page 8)

Six Flags America Shenanigans (page 9)

_______________

 

Remember Jantzen Beach Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon? If so, you're old. Sorry to be blunt.

 

That said, I am not without my own memories of Jantzen Beach. Shut down in 1970 and transformed into a shopping mall by 1972, Jantzen Beach SuperCenter kept only one relic of its former days: its 1921 C.W. Parker carousel.

 

This historic ride provided a beloved link to the past for Jantzen Beach visitors young and old. That is, until recent demolition and redevelopment plans threw a wrench into the mall's merry ways. The center's owners have spoken in carefully worded terms of plans to save and restore the carousel. However, sharp-eyed community members pored over site plans and noticed a glaring omission: lack of a dedicated merry-go-round space.

 

Through blogs and social media, worried citizens banded together to spread the word and voice their concerns through online posts, informal gatherings at the mall, and various other forms of community involvement.

 

Researching the ride's fate, I learned a local carousel group had organized a wake for the classic machine, to commemorate its last ride on April 22, 2012. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with a merry-go-round I hadn't seen since the 90s.

 

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Meet the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter, slated for a million makeover, possibly sans carousel.

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One of my photos got posted out of order, sorry. Oh, wait, I lied. This is what the mall looks like DURING normal operating hours.

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The mall is swimming with references to its past as an amusement park with rides, pools and picnic groves.

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The closure of a classic merry-go-round is cause for celebration in these parts. There was cake.

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Today was a BIG DAY for me, my very first carousel ride!

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The merry-go-round is nestled in a custom glass-walled space near the food court. I mean, it WAS.

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Please note that shoes are required on the carousel at all times. Don't be like this young miscreant, who had to have his shoes nailed on because he kept breaking the rule.

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What would be the lead horse on many machines, but didn't make the cut on this one. Such a shame; that armor cost a fortune!

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As you can see, the carousel was made in Kansas. (Although the ride was carved by prisoners, there was nary a ball and chain or black-and-white striped saddle blanket to be found.)

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The largest surviving Parker machine and one of only five of its scale produced, the carousel features 72 steeds. At 10 mph, it is rumored to be the world's fastest merry-go-round.

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This is the larger of two chariots. Fortunately, the carousel was closed shortly before Oregon's ban on Native American mascots and thus avoided hefty fines. ;)

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Put your hands over your eyes, 'cause peek-a-boo manes are a Parker hallmark.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the REAL lead horse. (Someone hand me a bucket of water, because this horse's hair has been whipped up into a "flame mane.")

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Patriotism is another Parker trademark. His company produced mostly modest portable machines, but this park model is an impressive four-abreast.

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Walking through the mall, we come to a history display about the carousel and amusement park, featuring three sorry (but proud!) fellows who always got picked last in gym class.

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Before a 1995 restoration project, visiting enthusiasts noticed a horse (left photo here) who looked, well, a little different from the rest. They decided to call him "Hector." After removing years of paint, restorers revealed several prominent swastika carvings. The horse was then re-nicknamed "Herr Hector" and banished to a display case in the mall.

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Since this is a family-friendly exhibit, community outrage sent Hector all the way back to the Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary of his birth. (Actually, it is said he may someday become a Smithsonian exhibit. Take that, haters!) Anyway, the display was then made safe for the curious eyes of children. Here, we learn all about stripping.

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After a horse is restored, it is ready to return to its crowd-pleasing career around a pole.

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Like many classic parks, Jantzen Beach was once home to a fun house. Just what kinds of fun, I'll leave up to your imagination.

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At Jantzen Beach and a few other parks (Oaks Amusement Park being the sole survivor), Oregon boasted its fair share of old-fashioned flat rides.

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Eyerly, of O-Plane fame, was an aircraft company based in Oregon. Here also was a popular predecessor to Wave Swingers and Yo-Yos, the Merry Mix Up. AND WHAT ELSE DO WE SEE?

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OHEMGEEZ IT'S TEH BIG DIPPER!!!!!!1

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At the time of my visit, these BIG DIPPAR LIFT HILL CABLES were in the display case. However, they are now thought to be in the possession of a certain high-profile dignitary.

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The park also had a choo-choo ride to appease the local railfans. AND A BYGGE DIPPRE OF MOIST HI IMPROTANCE!!!!!1!!!

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Let us calm our fluttering hearts for a moment with a view of the old picnic grounds. No word on whether the park routinely sold out of gravy during events.

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Jantzen Beach Amusement Park was once home to a 1921 C.W. Parker carousel, which survived the park's demolition to become part of a mall at the site. I know, it's easy to forget about when you have TEH BIG ZIPPER to concern yourself with.

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Here we have a standard ride ticket, as well as an early Fast Lane system for those who could afford to throw money away. ;)

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Kiddie choo-choo, flat rides and the edge of the original carousel pavilion.

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The park also had a Tumble Bug. Aww, how adorable, a Tumble Bug. Don't you just love saying Tumble Bug?

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This sign was removed after yellow and brown paint was banned in Oregon.

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Jantzen Knitting Mills was a swimwear company, so of course the park had pools and a bath house. I myself own a Jantzen skort. Yes, a SKORT.

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A cheery old advertisement for the park, which was one of several to call itself "Coney Island of the West."

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And now, a selection from my personal archives: a postcard showing the park's location by the Interstate Bridge connecting Oregon with Washington.

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Complete with a HUGE GIANT LADLE for your viewing pleasure.

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Returning to the carousel, we find Proof of Parker (or a skilled plagiarist): one of two Parker plaques, this being the inner one.

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In the past, names and photos of local children were added to some of the horses. Amy was a young girl who frequently visited the carousel on the way to cancer treatments, falling in love with this "baby horse." After her tragic death, the horse was named in her memory. During the last restoration of the carousel, nearly all names and photos were removed, but the tribute to Amy was kept.

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Amy's row of "baby horses" is a highly unusual SIX abreast. (No operating carousels are fully six-abreast, as the few built were too heavy to run effectively.)

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The other remaining named figure, Terri, honors a former long-time employee. This was her son's favorite horse.

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The smaller chariot promises a roaring good time for one lucky couple per ride!

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Black and brown don't go together, but I couldn't resist taking this beauty for a ride.

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The bell rang to signify the start of the final ride. The beginning of the end.

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There is something wrong with this picture. Do you know what it is? The lights are out. It's the end.

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Some of the horses cried out in fear and anguish.

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Others hung their heads in sorrow.

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The little ones took it especially hard.

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Even Taco Time knew it could not live on without the merry-go-round.

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We now pause to reflect upon the latest of several merry-go-rounds to depart the once vibrant Portland carousel scene.

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Don't let this beautiful floor mat become meaningless to future generations. Think of the children!

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This is the last photo in my report. Goodbye!

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BAZINGA.

Edited by cal1br3tto
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It's always a shame to see any good attraction close down - this carousel looks like it was certainly taken care of.

 

Seems weird that they would make such a huge effort to restore the thing and yet not allocate space for it in future plans. Here's hoping it will end up someplace that takes just as good care of it.

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Thanks for the comments!

 

I'm a bit confused, the sign saids that it will close for restoration, so will it ever re-open?

It's like we're supposed to be confused. The company realizes it's good PR to insinuate that the carousel will return to the mall. However, we're suspicious due to a lack of concrete evidence this will be the case. Furthermore, the carousel has been de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places, which isn't exactly a good sign.

 

Chuck - I'll definitely be listening to that song again. Good stuff!

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Great report! Carousels have fascinated me ever since I learned a little about them playing a Nancy Drew computer game that had to do with a carousel. Hope this one finds a good home, it's really a stunning piece of artwork.

 

How do you tell which horse is the lead horse?

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Finally got around to reading this report. Great report on the Carousel Laura Fingers crossed that it does get a new home. I'm not a huge huge carousel fan, unless they are unique or have lots of history to them.

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On Saturday, May 19, I ended up at Elitch Gardens in the early afternoon. Throngs of adolescents surrounded me as I made my way through the security line, only to hold it up [clueless tourist/obnoxious coaster enthusiast] style (take your pick) with that must-have fashion accessory, the fanny pack. Apparently gravy isn't a "necessary medical item" (I beg to differ).

 

While expecting to enjoy myself, I had heard mostly bad-to-neutral reviews of the park, which supposedly lost all its charm (and all but one of its existing coasters) after its 1995 move to downtown Denver, Colorado from a location further out in the city. It's also easy to see that the coaster collection is fairly generic, and very modest for what could be called a "major" park. How did my day turn out?

 

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This is what you see before entering the park proper. Exciting, right? Hey, at least there isn't a giant cobra roll looming over the building and ruining the atmosphere.

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You enter through this building, where fresh hot popcorn may or may not await you. But this is Elitch Gardens we're talking about, so it probably doesn't. ;)

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The waterpark was still closed. Denver is known for finicky and obnoxious weather, so that made good sense.

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Wow, that's really big! I wasn't expecting it to be so massive.

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You quickly find yourself facing the park's carousel, PTC #51. The original Elitch Gardens owned PTC #6 from 1905-1928. It now resides in Burlington, Colorado as the last American carousel still in original paint.

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It was so quaint! The horses didn't even have noodles (but don't worry, they got plenty of hay and sugar cubes). Like most normal people, I spent my ride arguing with the ride op over whether band organ music is enjoyable. Granted, a quiet 3-track loop of recorded music is far from ideal.

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Main Street is reasonably charming, though probably no more so than at any comparable park. Hey, I'll take it.

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Obligatory Ferris wheel/cliched sign shot. Hey, at least the drop tower is running.

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In case you wanted to know what time it was when I took this picture. (I sure as hell couldn't tell you...)

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First credit of the day, Cactus Coaster...for all you coaster enthusiasts under 48", and the less daring among those under 54", as well. Kiddieland looked cute from a distance. Not sure I saw a single child in the entire park all day, though (and definitely no married ones, either, for that matter).

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Hollywood and Vine delivered ironic "not actually legal in California" forces toward the end of the cycle. Bravo!

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Sidewinder, the launched Arrow shuttle, was a major draw for me. The park is compact and very easy to navigate, so I was able to quickly make my way over there.

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It took me a VERY long time to climb the lengthy (or heighthy?) staircase. Thankfully, I was rewarded with an overview of Twister II.

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Snakes on a Train! Sidewinder met my expectations: a deceptively simple yet exciting ride with decent pops of airtime and some strong positive forces.

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Also, Sidewinder goes UPSIDE DOWN. Impressive!

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Near Sidewinder you can enjoy the TroikaTroikaTroika, which sadly is only named "Troika." (Oh well. I already knew I wasn't at Cedar Point.)

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Let's scope out some wait times before attempting to ride the other coasters. Mind Eraser has an agreeable wait of 120 seconds, or 2 minutes, so we're good to go here! Wait, did I read that wrong? Damnit. That's over 25% of the time I have left here!

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Look! Up in the sky! It's a wristband! It's a pager! No! It's Rapid Ride!

A little-publicized (even on TPR!) benefit available at Elitch Gardens is Rapid Ride, a skip-the-line system that is probably closest in practice to Cedar Fair's Fast Lane, The Great Escape's Go Fast Pass, and SeaWorld's Quick Queue. The unlimited version, VIP Rapid Ride, costs a reasonable $29.99 plus a few sneaky dollars' tax, and the basic (one lap per ride) version boasts a base price of only $14.99. All coasters except Sidewinder are available, plus Ghost Blasters, Tower of Doom, Shake Rattle and Roll, and a couple water rides. Unfortunately, I discovered that Half Pipe and Tower of Doom also offer a single rider queue, which of course decreases the value per ride of the paid system.

 

Overall, I was impressed with the VIP Rapid Ride experience. Guest service was average to very good, rider response was not harsh or intimidating, and I consistently rode within one to three trains of arriving. Seating choice varied, and I'm not sure if the differences were due to crowd levels, individual ride policies, or operator discretion. On Boomerang, a third row seat was always assigned (after a short wait); on Twister II I always had free choice; and on Mind Eraser I was assigned toward the front once and once specifically told I could ride any seat, including front or back. Time saved varied, but overall worked out to make this a cost-effective and convenient choice.

 

A major problem with Rapid Ride is signage. I only noticed a few signs with specific, accurate instructions. Generally, you board through the exit, but in many cases there were Rapid Ride signs or painted instructions that lead "nowhere," but no signage on or pointing towards the actual exit path. At Ghost Blasters, the Rapid Ride queue was chained off even when open for business (and clearly warranted based on the main queue).

 

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Now that the 120 minute wait is something I can (and did) point and laugh at, let's return to Mind Eraser. Wait time notwithstanding, I'm shocked there is a full train. ;)

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MIND ERASER IS THE GREATEST COASTER EVER! I LOVED IT SO SO MUCH!!!!!!1 I can't even tell you how many times I rode it.

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Actually, only the "SO SO" part of my last caption was accurate. And I can't tell you how many times I rode it because I'm ashamed to admit I rode it twice (and because my mind is now the size of a pencil eraser, so I barely even remember). Seriously, this beautiful headbanger is marginally rideable at best. Do yourself a favor and take the front for the views.

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Yes, you saw that right in my last photo. We are indeed near Ghost Blasters. (I know everybody notices these things.)

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Ghost Blasters outdoor queue. It's really long! That's what she...I mean, that's all she wrote.

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This creepy fellow moves and says stuff. (He's an audioanimatronic, so he's paid to do just that.) One time, I shot well past the highest scoring category, but I don't know if I should count that as a dark ride high score credit or not since I was riding alone. New thread idea?

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Let's check out Half Pipe why don't we? As a single rider or Rapid Ride user, you are gently merged directly into the queue by an employee, a couple trains away from boarding. I found the ride experience to vary a bit, but there was a decent amount of airtime and a good overall fun factor.

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Halfpipe is picturesque in all its simplicity.

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Nearby is everyone's favorite coaster style, the Boomerang. Kind of like how the coaster here that HAS a sidewinder isn't called Sidewinder, the coaster that is sometimes called Sidewinder at other parks is here called...Boomerang. (The coaster actually called Sidewinder got here FIRST and messed things up for the others. Meanie!)

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"Please valley so I don't have to ride. Please valley so I don't have to ride. Please valley so I don't...damnit!" Actually, I enjoyed this Boomerang, despite a slight, fairly innocuous neck chop on the return trip through the cobra roll. And the fact that it's a Boomerang.

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There are TWO TRAINS in this picture of Boomerang! How can that be? Photochop? MIRACLEZ? No, one of the trains is simply on another coaster.

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Tower of Doom was average. Especially because there isn't fire on it anymore. I mean, what a buzzkill, right?

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In case you were wondering what Dragonwing looks like. I have never once found one of these operating. Granted, it was a lot shorter than I was expecting, so I wasn't as disappointed as I might've been otherwise.

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Surprisingly enough, there IS actual theming to be found within the park. (Perhaps equally surprising, it isn't in the form of "gardens.")

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However, it did seem haphazardly placed and didn't appear to be carried through many, if any, of the surrounding rides. But it was a cute attempt.

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After seeing the pouring rain in the previous picture, did you REALLY think this ride would be open?

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Indeed, masochists get a mixed reception here. You can't ride water rides on a rainy day (unacceptable amounts of wetness are bad for business, apparently). But on the bright side, you CAN ride an SLC, a Boomerang, AND a rough woodie!

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Doesn't the park know that zombies are the cool thing now? Pirates are, like, so passe.

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But there's one thing that will never go out of style, and that is a good old-fashioned Tilt-a-Whirl. (And I mean it about the "old-fashioned" part. The new models suck. Unless they're in the form of giant turkeys, but I digress.)

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Hey, speaking of rough woodies, it's time for me to get on one. Elitch Gardens LOVES to joke around. They actually say Twister II was "Built Wilder The Second Time Around." Ha! What comedians!

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Much of the queue is located within the sizable structure, like at the SFNE Cyclone. Also, the ride is named Twister II. Now you know! (The park realizes that those who previously rode Mind Eraser will forget the name of Twister II in the 5 seconds it takes to walk through the entry plaza to the official beginning of the queue.)

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I know every TPR member's favorite subject is history, so I searched for some juicy tidbits. In order to do so, I had to slum in the queue for the people who serve me French fries. ;)

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Sign: "'You dont need a degree in engineering to build roller coasters, you need a degree in psychology--plus courage. A roller coaster is as theatrically designed as a Broadway play.' John Allen, President of the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. 'Mister Twister' Designer" ...Well, Arrow and Vekoma have definitely proven that first point.

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Sign: "In 1964 the original Mister Twister, located in Elitch Gardens at 4620 W. 38th Ave., opened to the public. It was designed to weave in and out of its fellow coaster the 'Wildcat'. They and the park's management immediately declared it 'Boring!'. The original design barely had enough speed to return its trains to the station." Sadly ironic.

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Sign: "Mister Twister re-opened in 1965 after John Allen changed the angle from 42.5 degrees to 45 on the first hill and increased its height from 72 ft. to 96.4 ft. It featured a double helix, fantastic curves, and a hidden tunnel. It gained 'cult' status amongst North American coaster enthusiasts. 'At The Park' magazine declared it 'A Masterpiece!'" As Cee Lo Green might say, "Oh, 'forget' you!" Seriously, what a slap in the face to read this.

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In case it wasn't obvious, I forgot which setting on my camera cuts through the glare. Oh, who am I kidding, it could not have been more obvious. I was just feeling envious because I KNOW SOMEONE WHO RODE THE ELITCH GARDENS WILDCAT. But at least they didn't get to ride Mister Twister.

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Sheldon Cooper would LOVE Elitch Gardens. By the way, it's unfortunate that I took the second row once to avoid sitting in someone's spot...then no one wanted it on that lap, but I didn't have a chance to move up! Last time I am ever polite about the front or other valued "spots" (unless I find myself in Sheldon's apartment).

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Now that history class is over, let's get our last credit. It helps if someone doesn't bring a camera onto the ride, shutting it down for 15+ minutes and requiring multiple employees to climb the lift. BUT. Someone did. I quietly laid low at the exit and pretended not to know the...I mean, pretended not to be really annoyed.

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TWISTER II UPSKIRT PRAWNS. Also...the tunnel!

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I had fun on Twister II. It was shaky, but not really rough, though the back seat definitely proved it wasn't the place to be. However, there was NO airtime unless you count a slight hint of maybe-quasi-airtime on the second drop. But the tunnel was fun, the layout was semi-interesting, and despite being newer it still managed a bit of character.

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Thunderbolt was right by the entrance to Twister II. I always try to check these rides out, as there is the rare amazing one. This one was surprisingly good, running a fairly fast forwards-and-backwards cycle.

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And with that, it is time to bolt from Elitch Gardens. I had a great time! The park seemed decently kept, employees were friendly and helpful, and fellow guests were polite. Also, Rapid Ride is a good idea and you should buy it. The end.

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Looks like you had a fun time. I'm not sure if I'd actually want to take time to visit here. The coasters all look mediocre, but I'm sure it's what you make of it. And skip-the-line passes surely make your day tons better! If I ever went, I'd have to buy one of those. Nice pictures by the way!

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Very interesting to see your take on Elitch Gardens, a park I've always been intrigued by - mainly because there haven't been too many TRs on here. The Arrow shuttle loop is definitely on my coaster bucket list.

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