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Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour


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Don't forget about that one Texas SkyScreamer cycle where it took them over eight minutes load and dispatch because two of the attendants were scared of a giant-a$$ cockroach crawling around on the platform! There were so many cockroaches out as we were leaving the park. You pretty much had to watch where you walked...

 

I remember that now that you mention it! That was actually really funny -- the cockroaches, not the eight-minute dispatch .

 

This hits the nail on the head. Every other park we visited made a better effort to be good hosts, and I would have loved to say the same for SFOT but I just can't. Iron Rattler was closed too, but that didn't stop SFFT from being awesome. They did everything they could to give us the best day possible. That all being said, based on what I've heard about the park in the past, and that I still need those missed credits, I definitely plan on returning there at some point in the future and hopefully things will have improved.

 

Agreed, +1, like, et cetera. Most of the parks were smart about it. They did whatever they could to show some effort (even in such a rotten situation as SFFT was in), and gained themselves almost 100 rabid coaster enthusiasts, who are going to spread the word that their park is a great place to visit.

 

That gate ended up locked for the rest of the day' date=' despite the fact that it essentially sealed access between two completely open sections of the park. Can anyone else figure that one out?[/quote']

 

This is done to make everyone walk through the games section of Gotham area.

But of course. That makes a boatload of sense. Guess I can't get on them too harshly, though, when even my favorite parks sacrifice traffic flow for merchandising via the famous exit through the gift shop.

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TPR is not a charity, and I know that our group doesn't simply expect to gain favors for a song. TPR is a business, and putting it in those terms, I find it hard to fathom why a park would allow such a remarkable marketing opportunity to slip through their fingers. In the wake of the New Texas Giant accident, especially, this is a park that could have used any positive press it could find.

 

This hits the nail on the head. Every other park we visited made a better effort to be good hosts, and I would have loved to say the same for SFOT but I just can't. Iron Rattler was closed too, but that didn't stop SFFT from being awesome. They did everything they could to give us the best day possible. That all being said, based on what I've heard about the park in the past, and that I still need those missed credits, I definitely plan on returning there at some point in the future and hopefully things will have improved.

Exactly. I won't go into just how terrible I felt the management at Six Flags Over Texas was towards our group, but for whatever reason they decided to take that route, they just made themselves look worse than I'm sure they could imagine, especially with how great every other park treated us. And the fact that, in the same day, we went from SFOT who made us feel like a nuisance, to the Summer Adventures at the State Fair Park, who made us feel like family, it doesn't surprise me that so many people came away feeling the same way about Six Flags Over Texas.

 

The park has potential to be GREAT. They most certainly didn't even come close to showing that during our visit.

 

--Robb "I look forward to better visits to SFOT in the future." Alvey

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TPR is not a charity, and I know that our group doesn't simply expect to gain favors for a song. TPR is a business, and putting it in those terms, I find it hard to fathom why a park would allow such a remarkable marketing opportunity to slip through their fingers. In the wake of the New Texas Giant accident, especially, this is a park that could have used any positive press it could find.

 

This hits the nail on the head. Every other park we visited made a better effort to be good hosts, and I would have loved to say the same for SFOT but I just can't. Iron Rattler was closed too, but that didn't stop SFFT from being awesome. They did everything they could to give us the best day possible. That all being said, based on what I've heard about the park in the past, and that I still need those missed credits, I definitely plan on returning there at some point in the future and hopefully things will have improved.

Exactly. I won't go into just how terrible I felt the management at Six Flags Over Texas was towards our group, but for whatever reason they decided to take that route, they just made themselves look worse than I'm sure they could imagine, especially with how great every other park treated us. And the fact that, in the same day, we went from SFOT who made us feel like a nuisance, to the Summer Adventures at the State Fair Park, who made us feel like family, it doesn't surprise me that so many people came away feeling the same way about Six Flags Over Texas.

 

The park has potential to be GREAT. They most certainly didn't even come close to showing that during our visit.

 

--Robb "I look forward to better visits to SFOT in the future." Alvey

 

 

Just out of curiosity, have you ever had a "good" experience at SFOT, Robb? Or do feel all of your visits there have been mediocre? Just curious...

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The photos looking great. If operations will be good again looks like one could have a blast there.

 

For me a major bummer would have been that Shockwave was down. Hope to someday do SFOT and SFOG in one trip to catch both classy Schwarzkopf coasters. Hopefully Six Flags will add some new trains to preserve this coasters for another 20 years.

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Just out of curiosity, have you ever had a "good" experience at SFOT, Robb? Or do feel all of your visits there have been mediocre? Just curious...

We had a great time at Texas Giant Bash the year before!

 

Yep--that was a great day.

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*sigh*

Six Flags Over Texas. So much potential that just wasn't realized. For what it's worth though, I still enjoyed Mr. Freeze and the Bugs Bunny water ride.

 

That day, I thought the heat was causing me to not really enjoy my time. But...it was just as hot when we went to the State Fair and I LOVED that place. I dunno. Maybe we caught it on an off day.

 

Also, that "MERICA" picture is one of my favourite pictures I've ever taken.

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And the fact that, in the same day, we went from SFOT who made us feel like a nuisance, to the Summer Adventures at the State Fair Park, who made us feel like family...

 

...and I can't wait to get the next part of the trip report up, because the proof is in the pictures (and the people in them). That was a classic TPR afternoon -- epitomizing what I'd expected when I signed up for the trip.

 

Also, that "MERICA" picture is one of my favourite pictures I've ever taken.

 

It's a classic! It's not easy to see in the sized-down version, but in my first picture of this set, you can see the other side of the sign does actually say "AMERICA" in full. So, maybe someone stole the letter, or maybe they just ran out of As -- either way, it's a bona fide I AM TEXAS moment!

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That day, I thought the heat was causing me to not really enjoy my time.

 

I remember us walking out of the air conditioned restaurant and it was like being punched in the face. The heat definitely didn't help the cause.

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Oh Six Flags Over Texas. How much I want to enjoy you, but I just can't… both my visits have left something to be desired. The general vibe there reminded me of SFMM, just a general we don't really care and just kind of here vibe, mixed with a park in need of some help… I did love all the time I spent at Humperdinks across the street though.

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This picture, alongside the accompanying caption you posted for it, just makes me cringe for SFOT's ride operations.

Horrendous customer service and incredibly slow dispatch times, tacked onto how tacky everything appears, from the bin "covers" to the obnoxious green crew shirts... it makes me embarrassed for the park, and the remainder of your trip report definitely doesn't help its case.

 

Sorry for the less-than-great time due to a less-than-great management. I hope future visits to the park are more enjoyable, and hopefully those in charge will learn something from the group of dissatisfied customers.

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Lol the posts about the heat are giving me a bit of a chuckle. I'm the type of person who LOVES it hot! I mean, insanely hot! The kind of heat everyone hates! lol! So for me, those temperatures would have been perfect, especially compared to the Arctic blast I've been dealing with for the last three months and two more months to go! I loathe winter!

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Great trip report and photos Andy.

 

It was the combination of the heat, no NTAG or Shockwave and terrible park service that day. Having a Flash Pass is great, but when we entered Batman, it took them 5-7 minutes before they even looked at us. After that it was what seemed like 5 minute dispatches. Now that I think about it, the guy in the booth was singing complete songs between dispatches.

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My sincere thanks to those who have been reading this thread. Here's the next installment!

 

Day 3 (Part 2) -- Summer Adventures in Fair Park

Thursday, August 1, 2013

 

Lesson of the Day: Take more pictures of your friends. At first, this one was difficult for me. I've been a hobbyist photographer for years, and I'll take pictures of just about anything, but I've always shied away from direct shots of other people. On a TPR trip, there's no need for that sort of timidness, and the numerous photo opportunities at Fair Park helped me make that realization. Several of my favorite pictures from the trip involve other TPR members, including shots from SeaWorld San Antonio, the Wisconsin parks, and many I'll be posting here from Summer Adventures.

 

Artifacts:

 

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Here's the map for Summer Adventures in Fair Park, and the lei I received on the way in.

 

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On the left is the front of the Summer Adventures map and guide. On the right is a rare keepsake -- the original ticket to enter the park, which I somehow missed trading out for the ride ticket!

Scorecard:

 

Windstorm

Wacky Mouse

Jungle Twist

Log Flume

Top o' Texas Tower

---

Flow Rider [ERT]

 

Day 3 (Part 2)

 

A major factor that drew me to the concept of a TPR tour was the way that unanticipated amusement and pleasant surprises seemed to find a way to work themselves into the itinerary. Our short time at Fair Park easily qualified as the pleasant surprise of the trip's first week.

 

With Shockwave and New Texas Giant unavailable at Six Flags Over Texas, an alternative set of plans was devised for our afternoon in the Dallas area. Situated on the sprawling grounds of Fair Park -- the September/October home of the Texas State Fair -- Summer Adventures in Fair Park was a new venture for the summer of 2013. Drawing from some of the State Fair's major attractions, Summer Adventures aimed to bring a classic amusement park atmosphere to the under-utilized summer schedule at the fairgrounds -- just two miles east of downtown Dallas.

 

What started off as a backup plan quickly became an anticipated excursion for TPR, especially after experiencing the questionable affairs at SFOT. According to Robb, 82 of the 97 trip participants made the trip to Fair Park, and I can guarantee that 82 people left the place having enjoyed themselves immensely. This was TPR at its finest -- a group of adults running around a fair like a bunch of kids in a very large playground.

 

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the very enthusiastic staff at the front gate, acquiring leis and tokens for free bottled water. Entering the park, TPR focused initially on the three portable coasters -- the tame Wacky Mouse, the strangely aquatic Windstorm, and the absolutely insane Jungle Twist.

 

After picking up the three credits, there was time to explore the rest of the park. Summer Adventures is anchored by several permanent installations, including the brand new Top o' Texas Tower -- a 500-foot Intamin gyro observation tower. Even more iconic is the Texas Star -- a 212-foot Ferris wheel that was once the tallest in North America. I didn't get a chance to ride the Texas Star, and I also missed out on the Texas Skyway sky ride -- described by other TPR members as a "sauna" or "sweat lodge" due to the fully-enclosed cabins.

 

Other portable attractions made up the rest of the park's lineup. I did pick up the log flume credit, though I missed out on the well-lauded dark ride (ghost train), as well as the "bubble house" fun house. There were also several flat rides, which helped to complement the thrill selection with the three roller coasters. The park's lineup was rounded out by live entertainment, including stunt bike riders and a show with dogs and cats.

 

The best hour at the park was the last hour -- a combination of Flow Rider ERT, a pizza party, and a massive "Giant Sing Along" karaoke takeover. I guess there's a book's worth of history regarding TPR trips and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and I got to witness another chapter being written! Our dinner was actually quite nice -- several varieties of good pizza, with salad and desserts. Some TPR members dined inside, away from the heat. Others basked in the high-brow entertainment of the Flow Rider ERT session, cheering the spectacular wipeouts as much as the skillful tricks.

 

Our tight schedule allowed only about three hours at Summer Adventures. Combined with some of the other activities on the grounds of the park -- the Children's Aquarium, several museums, the Texas Discovery Gardens, and several historical sites -- it would have been easy to spend a much longer amount of time at Fair Park. We lined up for a hugely appreciative group shot, before forcibly extracting ourselves from the parking lot and heading back to Arlington.

 

I've spent some time wondering why Summer Adventures didn't seem to attract a huge turnout in 2013. Though I think the historic and well-adorned Fair Park is a big part of what made Summer Adventures unique, it might not the best location with respect to easily drawing in families from the Dallas / Fort-Worth metropolitan area. That's probably an unavoidable problem, as I couldn't see Summer Adventures without the Texas Star wheel in the background! Furthermore, Six Flags Over Texas is well-known as the region's premier amusement park, and that's an uphill battle that Summer Adventures is going to have to fight (even if their target demographics are somewhat different). This is where the power of word-of-mouth is going to be their strongest asset. SFOT is coming off a major tragedy and a season of terrible operational reviews. Fair Park is a cheaper alternative that has all the potential to be just as fun, with a positive and inviting atmosphere that the big guys in Arlington just weren't delivering.

 

There's room in the Metroplex for two parks to exist, especially if they're being run by caring and hard-working individuals. Summer Adventures in Fair Park fulfilled their end of the bargain, providing our group with an enthralling afternoon, and one that can only be described as classic TPR.

 

Reviews of the attractions at Summer Adventures:

 

Windstorm: The layout of this ride was quite similar to Runaway Mountain at SFOT, so I should have known what to expect. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to brace myself for the ridiculously sharp dive off the first brake run, and I don't think my neck forgave me until the next day. Windstorm was a fun and compact coaster, intense for its size. This one had an added bonus -- an "underwater tunnel" controlled by the ride operator. I didn't see it coming, and noticed on the ride's final helix that I had somehow gotten wet. It wasn't until watching the next train cycle that I realized the source of the water -- the enthusiastic ride operator with a garden hose!

 

Wacky Mouse: This tame ride was worth a quick spin, but it was obviously the true kiddie credit of the bunch. It wasn't nearly as memorable as the park's third coaster.

 

Jungle Twist: There were 85 coaster credits on the trip, and this was easily one of the most memorable (and most talked-about). Words can barely do justice to the insanity that Jungle Twist tossed us all into. With a simple oval track and a few tiny hills, trains on Jungle Twist were sent through the circuit three times. The catch was that each car was set up to spin freely, and none of us had any idea what we were in for. The cars revolved slightly after the first run through the course, but picked up the pace significantly on the second pass. By the third time through, the spinning had increased to a feverous centrifugation, a condition leading to side effects of slight nausea and uncontrollable laughter.

 

Log Flume: My quest for the trip's log-flume credits was successfully continued at Fair Park! This flume had a bit of an environmentalist theme, with anthropomorphic trees along the winding course, and a neat LED tunnel thrown in for no apparent reason. The drop was pretty short, but overall, it was a fun ride.

 

Top o' Texas Tower: What's it going to take to get Cedar Point to install one of these? For those of you who were on Space Spiral before it met its demise, the Top o' Texas Tower is everything that Space Spiral wasn't -- comfortable, air-conditioned, and clean. At a height of 500 feet, this tower provided incredible views of Fair Park and downtown Dallas. If I had more time, I would have loved to equip the zoom lens on my camera and go up the tower again.

 

Flow Rider: The key entry on TPR's Summer Adventures agenda was a full hour of ERT on Fair Park's Flow Rider. The Flow Rider was divided into two halves, doubling the capacity and ensuring all interested TPR members would get their fair share of attempts. I was able to ride just short of ten times, even with a 20 minute break for dinner. My only previous Flow Rider experience was one attempt each at Kings Island in 2009 (an immediate wipeout) and at Hersheypark in 2010 (about 30 seconds of balancing, at best). Here, I was able to talk to, watch, and learn from some of TPR's finest -- and then put those lessons to use with trial-and-error and repetition. By late in the ERT session, I had finally found my center of gravity, and was able to balance enough to switch from laying to kneeling, in addition to controlling some light movements in all four directions. I had my share of wipeouts along the way, but so did everyone else! I had more fun on the Flow Rider than I could have possibly imagined, and I guess it counts as learning a new skill too -- one I'd put to use on another Flow Rider ERT session later in the trip.

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Pictures from Day 3 (Part 2)

 

Additional pictures and bigger versions of these images can be found here.

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Remember the bit of foreshadowing from the Lone Star Nights show at Six Flags Fiesta Texas?

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It's been brought full-circle! Here's our arrival at Fair Park, with the famous Texas Star wheel in the background.

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Top o' Texas, the park's new Intamin gyro tower.

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The first coaster I rode at the park was Windstorm, a compact ride that packed a punch.

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Windstorm is just a bit shorter than the Intamin tower.

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A wider view of Windstorm. This model had a special feature.

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The "underwater tunnel" on the ride's big helix. Look closely, and you can see the hose-wielding hand of the ride op!

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This looks intense.

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The second credit was the mighty Wacky Mouse -- referred to as Western Mouse on the Summer Adventures website.

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Marcel gets excited for just about any roller coaster.

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Too excited. We get it, Marcel. You've got the Wacky Mouse all to yourself!

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What's this over here? It looks like the park's third credit.

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The unimpressive-looking Jungle Twist was nothing but a curved-up oval dropped on a bed of concrete. How bad could it be?

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Lap one remained somewhat calm.

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By lap two, however, the spinning had begun!

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Hold on for your life!

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Suddenly, this coaster -- a ride with a height difference of no more than five or six feet -- had turned into one of the most intense rides on the trip!

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Spinning so fast your leis turn into chokers!

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I love the array of differing facial reactions. I also love the fact that /everybody/ is holding the hand bar!

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Everyone except Ryan.

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Spinning means you never know which way you'll head through the track -- perhaps backwards, at least briefly, as this batch of TPR members was experiencing.

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A common scene in the Jungle Twist station.

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This was almost as exhausted as I'd see a group of TPR members all trip!

 

Until the Dells, at least.

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Here's the nerd shot -- if you can somehow figure it out, this is the contraption that nearly killed us all!

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Stepping away from Jungle Twist to something a little less nauseating...

 

...here's the park's Log Flume, sponsored by Deja Blue.

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A random group of park guests splashes down.

 

See, we weren't the only ones at the park!

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Cresting the hill on the log flume...

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...an overloaded boat of TPR members!

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That might be one of the bigger splashes I saw out of this small flume.

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Hands up, Neil!

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Four TPR members in a log is impressive. No way anyone would ever try six at another park, right?

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Time for some more aerial photography -- riding up the Top o' Texas tower.

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Here's our home base for the end of the afternoon at Summer Adventures -- the flow rider.

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A look at the Gexa Energy Pavilion, a major concert venue on the grounds of Fair Park.

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The Texas Star looms over almost everything else at Fair Park. The Top o' Texas tower looms over the Texas Star.

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A view to downtown Dallas -- only about two miles away.

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Looking closer at downtown. With the sun getting low in the sky in that general direction, I couldn't get a better picture of the city.

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The world-famous Cotton Bowl, which is no longer actually home to its namesake NCAA game.

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The south entrance of the Cotton Bowl.

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Looking off to the north, I spotted what appeared to be a strange graveyard of old amusement park items. This was about the best picture I could get. I presume it's some sort of staging area for the State Fair.

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A look down at the blue awnings over Fair Park, and the lift hill on the log flume.

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The south station for the Texas Sauna Box Skyway.

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A yellow skycoaster, which doesn't look that impressive from up here.

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Flipper and Jungle Twist. Look at how small and pathetic Jungle Twist looks from high above. Appearances can be so deceiving.

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Wacky Mouse, located near the center of the park. Marcel might have still been riding!

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A look down at Windstorm, running a train full of TPR members.

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Another look at Windstorm from lower on the tower.

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Heading back down toward the main entrance of Summer Adventures.

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One last look at downtown Dallas from a little lower.

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After my ride up the tower, it was just about time for Flow Rider ERT!

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Doug gets it started and shows us all how it's done.

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Balance is the biggest part of staying afloat.

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Werner goes flying.

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Sliding off to the side is a more graceful exit than flopping sideways over the back lip of the wave. Take a guess how I ended most of my graceless Flow Rider attempts!

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Adrian's just getting warmed up.

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Robb goes "twisty..."

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...before flying off the back of the ride.

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Elissa's a pro at this, with a very controlled style.

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Brent's style was a little more haphazard...

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...or maybe a little more "hanging on for dear life..."

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Werner stays focused...

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...does a barrel roll...

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...and successfully executes the yo-yo!

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Adrian made us all look like amateurs, kicking up waves and performing tricks.

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Adrian's in there somewhere.

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So, the whole Giant Sing Along "Bohemian Rhapsody" thing started innocently enough...

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...with just a few TPR members testing out the vocal cords.

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Slowly, the crowd begins to gather...

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...and the singers become more animated.

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Before too much longer, nearly a dozen TPR members have grabbed a microphone...

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...plus one other random person I don't recognize.

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As the crowd of singers grows larger and more enthusiastic, the crowd of spectators also begins to blossom.

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By the time the song's frantic middle section had kicked in...

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...there was not a straight face to be found.

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For me? For me!

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It's the train wreck no one can look away from!

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Applause and celebration for a job ... well ... done?

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What a fun few hours we had at Summer Adventures!

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An artistic photograph of the TPR tour bus -- or, our last view of the park

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I wasn't joking when I said we had to extract ourselves from the parking lot!

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We had experienced yet another day of hot and dry Texas weather, but this distant thunderstorm must have been raining on somebody.

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Cajun Fried Turkeys? Cajun Fried Turkeys.

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Crepuscular rays over downtown Dallas.

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It's very yellow.

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A parting shot of downtown Dallas, as we headed west to Arlington.

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The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, built over the Trinity River just west of downtown.

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Great update Andy. Amazing shots, especially of the Flowrider.

 

I have never laughed so hard as on Jungle Twist. What the hell was that?!

 

Also much respect to Roxanne multi-tasking with beer, a hot dog and karoke!

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