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Day 6 -- City Museum

Sunday, August 4, 2013

 

Lesson of the Day: If you're asked to form a group of six, don't form a group of five. Just don't do it. Seriously.

 

Artifacts:

 

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Want funny? We got funny. This is the one time on the trip that I made the mistake of forgetting to turn in my hotel room key, but I have to admit, I'm kind of glad I did. This key card just screams "Branson" as loud as it possibly could.

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I picked up a menu and a brochure from Lambert's Cafe -- "The Only Home of Throwed Rolls." Ka-Bonk!

No artifacts from City Museum -- no injuries either, thankfully, but I'll get back to that later.

 

Day 6 (Part 1) -- Escape From Branson / Lambert's Cafe

 

After a wet morning on Saturday, the rest of our day at Silver Dollar City ended up working out advantageously in terms of the weather. However, the atmosphere was intent on taking one last run at us on Sunday morning, and our well-timed escape from Branson couldn't have worked out any better. Our departure at around 1045 AM occurred just as another line of heavy thunderstorms was bearing down on the region, as all trip participants could likely figure out from the scary-looking clouds to our west as we headed to Lambert's. I'm very glad it wasn't our park day at Silver Dollar City. It rained in Branson from around the time we left until after 4 PM, and heavy enough to prompt a Flash Flood Warning. On the other side of the state, it was a comfortable 80 degrees and dry in St. Louis when we arrived!

 

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Our road (US-65) led us north to Lambert's Cafe, as we stayed just ahead of of the eastward-moving storms.

When we arrived just after 1130 AM, the rain was coming down, and we were pretty thankful for the gigantic porch roof on the front of the building. My expectations for Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, Missouri (one of three locations) were not especially high, but I knew the TPR group would make just about anything fun. To my pleasant surprise, even beyond the gimmicks, the restaurant was actually rather good. It may be kitschy Americana, but they do know how to cook. An interesting note: after our day at Silver Dollar City, this was the second day in a row with fried okra on the menu, and the only two days in my life I've ever had it served.

 

Due to the rain and the tight schedule, I left my camera on the bus, though I do have a few pictures on the way out of Branson that I'll share below. Since it took a while to get everybody seated at Lambert's, we didn't leave until about 2 PM. Our trip northeast to St. Louis required another three and a half hours on I-44, and we arrived in the City Museum just after 530 PM.

 

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The Best Western Center Pointe Inn was, as far as I can recall, the only hotel on the trip to put our name on the marquee!

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Welcome to Branson, where King Kong, Belgian Waffles, and Hollywood exist on the same street.

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Looks like we picked a good time to leave, though!

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Passing a branded water tower on our way out of the city.

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Yakov may be one of Branson's most famous performers. What a country!

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Pretty scary clouds off to the west as we blazed north on US-65.

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This is a classic example of a shelf cloud -- a sloped lowering of clouds that indicates the front edge of a line of storms. We outran it to the north, clearing out of the way before it moved further to the east.

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The good news? All those clouds hanging underneath the cloud base are harmless. Though these storms produced a ton of rain, they weren't particularly damaging.

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Day 6 (Part 2) -- City Museum

 

I have little in the way of ability to describe the City Museum using words in the only language (English) in which I am fluent. By no means will the pictures I post even begin to scratch the surface of the insanity that exists in a place that looks like it shouldn't. City Museum is an invitation to injury, an altar for abstract art, and a monument to madness. It's a playground for adults, designed by Chuck E. Cheese after several nights on mushrooms, with access to a vault of industrial waste and dilapidated machinery. It's a gallery of the strange, with repurposed broken contraptions vastly outnumbering the objects used in ways they were originally designed for. It's a skate park for shoes, a hamster wheel for humans, a Ferris wheel for the fearless, and a cavern for the confused. It's a place that comes alive with a group like TPR, and there's no better way to experience the City Museum than with an assortment of people who don't mind if you heave 12-inch diameter grenades from a giant ball pit directly at their faces. Especially Neil.

 

There's no point in writing up a scorecard for a venue like this, with only one "ride" to speak of (the rickety Ferris wheel on the roof). It's hard to remember everything I did in our three and a half hours, but I know I left a great deal unexplored, and that one visit simply doesn't provide the opportunity to see everything the City Museum has to offer.

 

After arriving and doing a group shot outside the main entrance, we were turned loose for an evening of exploration. I started things off with a cursory look at some of the caves and passageways near the main entrance, as did many other TPR members, before I made my way to the elevators. I planned to spend quite a bit of time on the roof -- not only for the slides and various attractions, but also for the phenomenal photo opportunities. If you've been reading through this report from the start, you've probably figured out that I'll never turn down a chance for aerial photography. How could I turn down the views from a rooftop in a major downtown like St. Louis? The highest accessible elevation on the roof is at the peak of the Ferris wheel's trajectory, but the large circular ramp (adorned by a giant figure of a praying mantis) provided the most stable opportunity for pictures. I snapped a few while picking up the "Big Eli" Ferris wheel "credit," and took several others from stationary vantage points around the rooftop.

 

The roof's two slides were also fun, though I preferred the wider "Run Ramp Slide" (which is actually pretty steep) over the shallower (though longer) slide at the foot of the mantis (the "Praying Mantis Slide"). It was a nice challenge to try to run up the big slide, and a rope was there to help those who couldn't quite make it to the top (which, I believe, was everyone). On the other side of the rooftop is another one of City Museum's quintessential features -- a school bus hanging off the corner of the building. Inhabited by people from our group, the bus going off the roof made a heck of a metaphor about where this TPR trip had been driven!

 

I left the roof in time to return to the lobby for dinner, as City Museum provided us a pizza buffet in the dining area on the second floor. Once that was complete, I charged ahead through MonstroCity -- the gauntlet of wire bridges and broken airplanes outside the west face of the building. While these structures are some of City Museum's most iconic, and are easy to photograph from the outside, I couldn't pass up a few shots from the guts of these vertigo-inducing death traps (which few TPR members braved all the way through). Carrying a DSLR through the wire tubes can be a little bit tricky, but it was worth it.

 

One of my favorite sights from up above was the view straight down into the giant ball pit, where TPR members were beginning to gather. I eventually figured out how to return to the surface (which wasn't easy), and put my camera away for a while. What followed was a mass regression to roughly the age of ten for about 20 to 25 of TPR's finest, as we engaged in a two-level caged-enclosed war of ball-slinging (and we weren't exactly being gentle). A few pairs of glasses took direct hits. A few people may have been unfairly targeted. A few others probably scraped knees on the concrete floor underneath the sea of oversized balls. That 10-15 minutes may have been the best exercise on the trip!

 

Although I knew I wouldn't have time to make too much progress into exploring the City Museum's caves, I did have two things I wanted to check out. Placed randomly within the caverns is a 1924 Wurlitzer pipe organ. As a pianist, getting to make music on those keys would have been pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, the organ was locked up, inaccessible to the public. I presume that it's only made available to certain people -- I'm not sure they'd want the average City Museum visitor being given access to such a wonderful piece of equipment. Instead, City Museum did have the world's worst piano on the second or third floor, so miserably broken and out-of-tune that I couldn't even run through a simple song without losing my place. Of course, that's the City Museum way -- you can play a piano anywhere, so why not try your hand at a piano that looks and sounds like it's been through a trash compactor?

 

My trip through the caverns culminated with a ride down the "shoe slide," which was about as difficult as I was expecting! The slide, which spirals down a ten-story drop, was tough to comfortably sustain any speed on. Completely lifting shoes off the surface resulted in some uncomfortable laterals against the side wall, but it was a challenge to find a balance between braking and freely descending around the tight radius of the slide. It certainly wouldn't be advisable to run into anybody on the way down -- thankfully City Museum has a camera set up at the bottom, with a display at the top to indicate when the coast is clear.

 

At about 8 PM, most of the TPR group met up in the third floor "skateless park," which presented several additional creative means by which moderate to severe injuries seemed almost certain to occur. It was fun to try to run around the near-vertical edges of an 8-foot tall bowl structure without falling, and the rope swings (tough on the hands as they were) ended up being far more exhilarating than they should have been. The greatest entertainment came as KidTums picked TPR members four-by-four to try their luck on the double-down quarter-pipe, which invariably seemed to end with painful tailbones and a few nasty wipeouts at the bottom.

 

I split from the group at around 830 PM so I could head back to the roof for some night photography of the city. The sky was red to the west and dark blue to the east, which made for a spectacular backdrop to the lights of St. Louis. Heading down from the roof one last time, the entire TPR group gathered on the main stairwell for a parting group shot, before heading out just after 9 PM.

 

Thoroughly exhausted, I returned to the bus quite thankful that I remained in good health, escaping the risk of injury that seemed all so inevitable when I first walked through the door. At least five or six people did get hurt, including a busted knee, a mangled ankle, a bloody eye, a possible concussion, and various scratches and bruises. Amazingly, City Museum was only the second most hazardous stop on our trip, but you'll have to wait another two report segments before I get to Mount Olympus for the worst of it.

 

City Museum is just too big to figure out in one visit. I never found the doorknob museum, I never found the hamster wheel, and I never found the slide with an airtime hill at the bottom of it. Beyond the many parts of the City Museum I didn't get to explore, it seems like they're always working on new additions, including a fourth floor that appeared to be significantly under construction during our visit. I don't know if City Museum would be as much fun without the entirety of such an enthused and inhibition-free TPR group, but I also couldn't imagine skipping this place if I were a first-time visitor to St. Louis. It's something that has to be experienced to be believed -- a peerless work of deranged art that should be on everyone's list of places to see.

 

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Day 6 (Part 3) -- The International White Castle Exchange

 

After arriving at our Drury Inn in Fenton, Missouri, a small group (10-12 people) fulfilled another TPR legacy: an international meet-up at White Castle. I'm not sure why this fine American dining establishment -- made famous in part by Harold & Kumar and the Beastie Boys -- became a part of TPR lore. However, our late-night visit (roughly 10PM to 11PM) came at an advantageous time, as we had no lengthy bus ride immediately following the meal. We had at least five countries represented, and I am pretty sure we all enjoyed the experience. I am much less certain that anyone actually enjoyed what they were eating.

 

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Proof that we visited White Castle. Proof that I was smart enough to only order two sandwiches. Proof that I, apparently, also purchased myself.

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Pictures from Day 6

 

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

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Finally, we'd arrived at the famous City Museum, where this scene from the west face of the building awaited us. What a place to park a bus.

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What a place to park an airplane!

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TPR gathers under the MonstroCity (that's their name for it) on the outside of the City Museum building.

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Guess I should head in for this group photo.

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Here's the way in -- do we dare enter?

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It's the City Museum, of course we enter!

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Our first view of the lobby area and front desk. The area at the top-right of the picture is the dining area where we all had dinner.

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My brain was already struggling to process what I was looking at, and I hadn't been in the building for three minutes.

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Some of the exotic scenery on the City Museum's ground floor.

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TPR members begin to explore the City Museum, and promptly get stuck in the coil tubes.

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Even the floor is a work of art -- a tile mosaic of fish.

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City Museum may look completely random in construction, but much of what they do is focused on the preservation and repurposing of historic items and structures-- even things the average person might find insignificant.

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Time to head to the roof! If you've ever wanted to feel like you're driving a bus off a cliff, here's your chance.

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This is the view inside the old school bus. The bus came from the Roxana School District in Illinois, located across the Mississippi River about 17 miles NNE of downtown St. Louis.

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83 thousand miles, and all out of fuel. I sometimes wonder, on vehicles like this, if there's really a reason for running the speedometer all the way to 100!

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A view through the bus windshield, which could be your last view if that plating under the front wheels gives way.

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Stepping stones on the roof, for those braver (or carrying less camera equipment) than me.

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A view of the rest of the roof, including a wire cage, some huge slides, and an elephant. Why an elephant? I don't know, ask the ostrich.

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Let's climb to the top to take in a better view.

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The Big Eli Ferris Wheel looks like fun -- time to hop on board!

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I had no intention of rocking the seat. At a place like this, you do what you can to keep yourself from inviting injury.

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A wide view to the west, with that wire cage thing sticking into the shot.

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How many people can you fit up there? I counted at least six.

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A view of the roof's apex -- a big spiraling ramp that leads to the property's highest (though not longest) slide, and a big figure of a praying mantis.

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The view to the east-southeast takes in the rest of downtown St. Louis. What else can be seen from up here?

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Part of the downtown core of the city, with the famous Gateway Arch sneaking in behind two other buildings.

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One Metropolitan Square, the tallest full building in St. Louis.

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The top of the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse, my personal favorite in the city.

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Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams of the NFL.

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Christ Church Cathedral sticks out above the buildings.

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A rooftop pool? Hey, why didn't we just stay here for the night?

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Home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the city's main newspaper.

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The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge (aka "Stan Span") was still under construction when we visited St. Louis. The bridge opened in February 2014, and carries Interstate 70 across the Mississippi River.

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Who is Stan Musial? A former St. Louis Cardinal, and of the best baseball players in history -- though, as a Cincinnati Reds fan, I think I'm required to speak poorly about anything involving the Cardinals organization (if only they'd quit beating the Reds, which would make things a lot easier).

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Broadcasting live from St. Louis, it's Theme Park Review!

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I broke out the zoom lens for a few distant shots of the suburban scenery. In St. Louis, any picture is going to contain one of two things -- churches...

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...and breweries.

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The clock tower on St. Louis Union Station, which is a really neat building I was glad to visit in 2011.

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You sure you want to know what this place is? That's the former St. Louis County Insane Asylum. That's where we sent all the TPR members who enjoyed their rides on Hades 360.

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The Compton Hill Water Tower is the tall building in this shot, and I was lucky to come through in 2011 on a day when it was open. Pretty nice views from up there too.

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Just happened to catch this helicopter buzzing quickly through the city. N6SG is registered to a company in Springfield, Illinois.

 

If you're crazy like me and enjoy this sort of photography, the full galleries I linked at the top of this post have a whole lot more. If you're here for pictures of TPR members acting stupid, keep reading!

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Let's head back down to earth -- here's another visitor under the mantis on the top of the City Museum roof.

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Wave to the camera!

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The Roxana school bus is just so unsettling.

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Another view of the bus and the scene to the west.

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There sure are a lot of trees growing on the roof if the City Museum.

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The blinky light on top of the wire cage is meant to keep airplanes from running into it and immediately becoming the next City Museum attraction.

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How do you get down from here?

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The mantis slide is long, shallow, and pretty well enclosed. Not much room to maneuver.

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Looking down from the big slide just before a jump.

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Elissa and KidTums try out the slide.

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More tight spaces, part 1: the wire cage on the roof.

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More tight spaces, part 2: the tube above the mantis slide.

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More tight spaces, part 3: the passageway under the mantis to the huge rotunda underneath. Navigating through there was a huge challenge!

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A look up at the top of the City Museum roof structure.

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This was my favorite mantis on the trip. You do the math.

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How about a few views of the Ferris wheel to close out the roof segment? Looks like Yin's enjoying his ride!

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They're waving and smiling because they're still in one piece!

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Adrian is stoic...

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...while Robb is pretty well excited.

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Time for a quick pizza stop at Samwiches in the City.

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The ball pit wars had just begun.

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This part of the trip report is just so hard to write without regressing into juvenile humor.

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No place is safe in the ball pit -- you may be feet away from getting clobbered at any second!

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Now for a view from above, climbing into MonstroCity.

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Inside the body of a gutted aircraft.

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I'm not sure this thing is safe to fly. I'm not convinced it's safe to stand in!

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Most of the instrument panels have been ripped out. How the heck am I supposed to pilot this thing? The Force?

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This is one of the sturdier passageways.

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I'm going to go out on a wing...

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...and say that this wire bridge is probably one of the best parts of MonstroCity. At least a couple people told me they wouldn't have been comfortable crossing it.

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The views from up there were pretty awesome, though -- here's one looking straight down into the ball pit from above.

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It's a pretty open feeling, but though I joke of safety and fear, I could tell that everything was very well constructed.

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A view north over the parking lot and MonstroCity.

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I'm not sure how it'd even be possible to explore every single one of these wire passageways.

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No diving? Noted!

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Another big slide on the side of the building.

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If only the manufacturers of this plane could see it now. They wouldn't know what to think.

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Time to head back to the elevators and make my way to the roof for some night shots.

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Shark? Whale? I can't remember.

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The Ferris wheel was well lit at night.

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They really, really don't want airplanes crashing into this place!

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One last view of the big wheel.

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A darkening view over the City Museum roof.

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City lights to the west.

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Fading sunlight to the northwest.

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Just had really fortunate timing with the colors of the sky.

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A view northeast, including the I-70 bridge under construction.

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Downtown St. Louis, well lit at night.

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A closer view of the city's tallest buildings.

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More tall buildings at the southwest end of downtown.

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A look at the top of the rotunda. Yes, it's possible (but difficult) to climb all the way up there!

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Sadly, the rope swing I had seen from the last TPR visit to City Museum had been removed.

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Goodnight mantis, goodnight slide.

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Goodnight rope, and goodnight all the other things that unsuccessfully tried to kill us all.

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The inverse view of a TPR group shot!

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A closing view of City Museum on the way out. What an exhausting three and a half hours that was. I'm going to have to come back here again some time.

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Final shot of the set from the Drury Inn in Fenton, Missouri.

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You describe the City Museum perfectly Andy!

 

Great photos as always too, especially of St. Louis. One day I'd love to come back and explore the city a bit more.

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I still can't believe this place exists in the United States, but I'm glad it does!

 

They've got 9-1-1 on speed dial!

 

Pretty sure I was rocking the Ferris wheel car on that photo

 

You rebel. You're more trusting of that thing than I was!

 

You describe the City Museum perfectly Andy!

 

Thanks, and to everyone else for your comments also .

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Day 7 -- Six Flags St. Louis

Monday, August 5, 2013

 

Lesson of the Day: Always know where all of your belongings are located. If you're at a park and you're shifting things around or using certain items, be totally sure that everything is restored to normal before you pack back up. I made a critical mistake on the roof of the CIty Museum on Sunday evening, after using my zoom lens to take pictures of distant landmarks in St. Louis. I switched back to my regular lens and left the zoom lens (in its soft case) under the mantis sculpture. When I went back to the roof after sunset, I decided against trying to use the zoom lens for night shots -- had I opted to try, I would have discovered that I was missing something important!

 

When did I realize that I was missing the lens? It wasn't until the next morning, while packing up to head to Six Flags St. Louis. Thankfully, the staff at the City Museum found the lens, and I re-acquired it through the mail after the trip had ended. The bad news was that I had to finish off the trip without the lens, which I knew would limit some of the photographic goals I wanted to accomplish. It was actually the second object I lost on the trip, after a pair of cheap sunglasses at SeaWorld in Texas. I'm going to try to get out of my 2014 trips with everything I started with.

 

Artifacts:

 

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The Six Flags St. Louis park map highlighted the park's new ride, which at least gets my vote for the best-looking Boomerang I've seen. Also pictured is our TPR-branded park ticket.

Scorecard:

 

American Thunder (x3)

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast Tour

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast (x2)

Boomerang

Screamin' Eagle

The Boss

Pandemonium

Xcalibur

Ninja

Batman: The Ride

Scooby-Doo: Mystery of the Scary Swamp

Log Flume (Right Side)

Log Flume (Left Side)

River King Mine Train

Rush Street Flyer

 

Day 7 -- Six Flags St. Louis

 

On August 10, 2010, people in St. Louis got a little hot under the collar, as the Cardinals and Reds faced off in a huge brawl in Cincinnati. One of baseball's biggest fights in years, it's a moment that folks in eastern Missouri (and southwest Ohio) won't soon forget.

 

On the same day, a group of visitors to St. Louis also found themselves a bit overheated. That was the day of TPR's infamous stop at Six Flags St. Louis, set in the middle of a heat wave, with a temperature of 100 degrees and a heat index of 111 degrees (as recorded at the nearby Spirit of St. Louis airport in Chesterfield).

 

TPR's 2013 return to Six Flags St. Louis was not a repeat of the same conditions, with a high temperature of only 75 degrees and one or two brief rain showers during the late morning and early afternoon. It made for pleasant conditions during our half-day at the park. With a long drive ahead of us that evening, our time at the former Six Flags Over Mid-America was limited. We arrived at about 8:30 AM, and split into two groups for our morning activities.

 

My group went first to American Thunder, where I took the front seat for my first ride of the morning. We then headed over to the plaza in front of Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast, where we waited for a backstage look at the Premier Rides coaster. Our tour of Mr. Freeze was led by Jim Harig, the park's director of maintenance. Jim told us stories about the origin of the ride, its huge requirements for electricity, and several other aspects of its operation. We walked through the ride's launch tunnel, getting so close to the LIMs we could almost touch them! Our tour ended outside, before we re-entered the queue as park guests, receiving several cycles worth of ERT before the park had even opened for the day.

 

Once our ERT on Mr. Freeze was over, we were walked up the hill to Boomerang, allowing TPR to get rides out of the way on this low-capacity coaster. We watched Boomerang go through its test runs as we anxiously awaited our rides, and it's a good thing that we got there when we did -- the park's regular guests also headed straight for the park's newest attraction, leading to a pretty lengthy line once the ride was finally open. While we waited outside of the Boomerang station, we were given our park tickets for the day. I remember remarking that this was a bit strange, but in a very good way -- rather than deal with ticketing and other logistics upon our arrival, the park staff got us in quickly, and got us going on our ERT and tours at the beginning of the morning. It's the first time I've ever received my park entry ticket after I'd already been in the park!

 

We acquired our Q-Bots and split into groups, making our way fairly quickly through the rest of the park's key attractions. After our rides on Boomerang, we only had about another three and a half hours in the park, but three of the nine credits were already knocked off the checklist. This gave my group time to ride each of the remaining coasters once, in addition to getting on a few unique flat rides, and even hitting both sides of the park's log flume! We did run into one major hurdle on our touring schedule -- the River King Mine Train did not open until around 1:30 PM, leaving a window of only about an hour for all of TPR to get the credit. I wonder if anyone missed the chance to get on the ride before we left? I do recall seeing some workers on the track during the late morning or early afternoon, so I suppose it may have been a mechanical issue. I hope that's the case, because opening a coaster that late in the day isn't a good thing otherwise.

 

With our time short, I had to skip a few rides I wanted to go on. I love heights, so SkyScreamer and Colossus (Ferris wheel) would have been great to try. A ride around on the train is usually good for photography, but I had to skip that as well. Superman Tower of Power (Intamin 2nd generation drop tower) was closed for the day.

 

Six Flags St. Louis had a little bit of a "smaller" feel to it than the other Six Flags parks we visited, and I mean that in a good way. There are places where it's as cookie-cutter as any of the other Six Flags parks, but not throughout the entire place. The people who helped our group were among the best that we dealt with on the entire tour -- Dave Roemer, the park's president, even stopped by to meet a group of TPR members. Aside from one employee working (fittingly) near The Boss, I heard no complaints about the staff at Six Flags St. Louis. The park also has an interesting setting -- nestled between several hills in a somewhat-rugged part of the southwestern St. Louis metro area. In fact, the highest point in all of St. Louis County is located just barely over a mile to the north-northwest of the park. The terrain on the pathways through the park isn't especially steep, but the green hills provide a nice backdrop to the skyline of the park's rides.

 

Ultimately, I see this as a Grade-B amusement park, and I don't mean that as an insult -- they aren't trying to compete with Cedar Point or the bigger parks in the Six Flags chain. The coaster collection is probably the biggest thing holding the place back, as the park is missing the one signature ride that would put it on the map as a major destination. Although Six Flags St. Louis has more coasters than any other park in Missouri, it's my least favorite collection of the three. I love Prowler and Mamba at Worlds of Fun, and Outlaw Run (even by itself) is almost impossible to beat. I'd love to see this place get something big and modern. I was also a little disenchanted with the loose article policy, which seemed to be in effect for a rather random assortment of rides. One marginally interesting thing that resulted from the policy is that while I had most of my possessions locked away, I took my handheld GPS device on a few coasters, including The Boss.

 

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It's not perfect, but there's a track on The Boss with data points roughly every seven seconds.

Overall, as a park guest, I thought the experience was at least on-par with what we'd find at Six Flags Great America, and far beyond what we got at Six Flags Over Texas. Six Flags St. Louis is not a bad park by any means, and it has several things worth riding. I hope that they're able to add something breathtaking and distinctive to give me the impetus to plan another trip.

 

The quick pace of the day at Six Flags St. Louis (combined with having my camera locked up for a while) didn't allow for an extensive batch of photography, so this set will be a little shorter than normal.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

Reviews of the attractions at Six Flags St. Louis:

 

American Thunder: This ride has almost everything that can be asked out of a mid-size wooden coaster. It's a lot of fun, with small pops of air and quick lateral transitions. It doesn't quite excel in any one area, and I see it more as a good complementary ride, rather than a star attraction. In comparison with its GCI sibling at Worlds of Fun, I think I prefer Prowler, whose more expanisve layout I prefer to the twisted-up American Thunder (formerly Evel Knievel).

 

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast: Our second of the two Freeze clones. One thing that made this experience a little better is that they actually used both loading stations, which I never saw in Texas (and heard only occurred for part of the day). This definitely helped keep things moving faster. Otherwise, it's the same ride experience -- forceful and powerful, with some interesting sensations in the inverted top hat. I noticed that the Texas version uses red rails on blue supports, while the St. Louis version is painted all blue. Also, the two Mr. Freeze rides have their layouts mirrored.

 

Boomerang: On the plus side, its bright new paint job makes it the best-looking Boomerang I've seen. On the negative side, it was rough. In fact, the violent catch on the second hill became the stuff of legends -- one of the loudest and most uncomfortable "ker-chunk" moments of any coaster I can think of.

 

Screamin' Eagle: I had my one ride on Screamin' Eagle during a brief rain shower, which made for an uncomfortable experience -- not quite as bad as Outlaw Run two mornings before, but still a little bit painful. Ignoring that, I actually liked this ride quite a bit. It has all the hallmarks of a typical out-and-back, but with an L-shaped layout to change things up a little bit. I don't recall it being particularly rough, and its position near the highest terrain in the park provides some good views from the lift.

 

The Boss: I'll count this as an experience I wished I could have enjoyed, but didn't. The Boss has a really unique layout -- there's a lot of potential there, especially with the slight double-down at the bottom of the first drop, and the crossing to the northeast side of the ride structure for the final helix. Unfortunately, it was the roughest coaster outside of Mt. Olympus on the entire trip. It had a few parts that approached the levels of jackhammering we'd find on Hades 360 the next day, but thankfully, those parts weren't quite as sustained. I legitimately think this ride would have a ton of potential as a RMC re-creation -- not just because it's a rough wooden coaster, which seems to be the only criteria for some armchair coaster engineers, but because it has the layout and structure to make something incredible out of. I don't see the same for Mean Streak (a blob of a ride that would stretch even RMC's creativity), just to draw on a comparison point I'd heard a few times. The Boss has potential, but right now I can't see riding it more than once in a visit.

 

Pandemonium: Yet-another-Gerstlauer-spinner, but thankfully, the last on the trip! These rides are fun, but having been on two others, I was ready to get the credit and move on.

 

Ninja: The 2013 Mitch Hawker poll placed Ninja as the fifth-worst individually-ranked steel coaster on the entire planet. Am I crazy for not thinking that it was all that bad? Let me be clear -- this is not a good coaster, with painful head-banging and coat-hanger transitions that flow as smoothly as a bike ride down a staircase. With that said, I remember getting off the ride thinking that I had been expecting worse. I guess if I were grading it, I'd give it a "D" rather than an "F."

 

Batman: The Ride: This was the fourth out of five Batman clones on the trip. It delivered much of the same as the others -- a very good coaster.

 

River King Mine Train: This was one of the more forgettable mine trains from our journey -- a trip with a couple of really good ones. The layout just isn't that interesting. It wasn't really worth the wait, though we're all glad we snuck in the credit before we had to leave.

 

Log Flume (Right Side / Left Side): With no line in sight after our right side flume ride, we hopped directly into a left-side boat to get both credits. The flumes weren't some of the best on the trip, but I liked the partially-elevated portions through the trees. The final drop at the end isn't very big. Finally, this is a log flume called "Log Flume." I certainly think a little naming creativity wouldn't hurt!

 

Xcalibur: I don't usually care for spinning flat rides, but with these Evolution rides being pretty rare, I decided to give it a ride with my Q-Bot group. I thought it was fairly intense near the ground (to the point of being slightly uncomfortable for me), but more fun as the rotating wheel tilted up and over the top.

 

Rush Street Flyer: I can see how a ride like this could provide an interesting combination of lateral motion and airtime, but overall the experience was fairly tame. At least on the ride program they were using, it's probably more of a high-end family ride than a thrill ride.

 

Scooby-Doo: Mystery of the Scary Swamp: Although the Flooded Mine at Silver Dollar City was easily the best-themed of the shooting dark rides on the trip, I think this one might have been my favorite. It's a boat ride, which automatically makes it a little bit more fun. Furthermore, the shooting and scoring system was a little bit different here. Each target started off lit in green, and deactivated after being hit. When it came back, it was yellow, and was worth more points. When it came back a third time, it was marked in red, and worth an even bigger bonus score. Once I figured this out, I cruised to victory, which probably matters more to me than it should. Between the lit targets and the guns, I thought the interactive experience worked more smoothly than on most shooting dark rides.

 

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Day 7 Epilogue: We left Six Flags St. Louis at 3 PM, and headed onward to the longest drive of the trip -- almost 450 miles, covered in seven hours in the bus. Our dinner stop was in Oglesby, Illinois, for a small but typical assortment of dining options -- I think a couple people even braved Delaney's Family Restaurant! After an hour for dinner, we finished our trip to Wisconsin Dells, arriving at Mt. Olympus just after 11 PM. At one point, it seemed uncertain that our buses would be able to successfully navigate out of the horrifyingly-designed parking lot after check-in, but we learned that our drivers might have second careers ahead of them as surgeons. Clear of the hazards without incurring any vehicular or structural damage, we turned in for a foggy night in the Greek islands (which isn't intended to be a euphemism, but it kind of sounds like it). I'm not sure any of our dreams or nightmares could have prepared us for the next morning!

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Pictures from Day 7

 

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

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After ERT on American Thunder, my group headed over to Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast for a backstage tour.

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Mr. Freeze is located in the DC Comics Plaza area of the park, with a huge emblem cemented into the ground.

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...and justice for all? Only during park hours!

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The Scooby-Doo boat ride is also located in this section of the park.

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Colossus, the park's huge Ferris wheel -- one of Six Flags St. Louis' most prominent features.

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Here's some info on Mr. Freeze, which was converted into Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast in 2012.

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I'm not sure I'd ever seen the trench of a rapids ride completely dry before. The logs set up through the course help change the action in the water.

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A view of the first drop on American Thunder from near the Mr. Freeze station.

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We went inside the Mr. Freeze station to hear from Jim Harig, the park's director of maintenance.

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Jim makes a point.

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I have no idea what the X and Y coordinates correspond to. My first thought was simple lat/lon, but 38.039/60.294 doesn't match up to anything notable in any of the planet's four quadrants. Any ideas?

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A full view of the Mr. Freeze trains, which were generally comfortable, but did have the shin guards found commonly on inverting coasters without over-the-shoulder restraints.

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Mr. Freeze is sort of an obscure Batman villain at this point, isn't he?

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A shot for the control panel enthusiasts.

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Looking down the launch path from near the front-of-house control panel, with the main control room up above.

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Head toward the light!

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A wider view of the station, with some of the flimsiest and smallest baskets on the planet. Frankly, it would have just been easier to put things on the concrete next to the fence, though probably not as safe.

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TPR heads down the launch track for a lesson on Linear Induction Motor technology.

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A view toward the station from the first segment of the launch tunnel.

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This is where the magic happens!

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Intrasys GmbH's ProLim technology, with magnets (magnetleiste) to launch the Mr. Freeze trains.

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They're pretty trusting to keep us on this narrow platform!

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Jim imparts a few physics lessons on our coaster-riddled minds.

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We headed outside for the last portion of the tour, which provided this view of the station for The Boss.

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The field just north of the Mr. Freeze station contains some of the important electrical components that keep the ride running.

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If they launch Mr. Freeze too fast, this thing explodes and the whole St. Louis metro area goes dark!

 

That may be a loose translation of what we were actually taught. Or a complete fabrication.

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Coaster trains would soon be climbing the spike!

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Jim's makes another point.

 

Jim's tour was really well done, and I know we all appreciated getting to learn about one of the park's best coasters!

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The rest of my photography was done after finishing rides for the day, and was a little rushed. Here's a view up toward Boomerang, with a Screamin' Eagle train in the background.

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Rush Street Flyer meets its apex.

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They obviously went for the Chicago theme with this ride.

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The train prepares to depart the station. I was sad that I didn't have time to give it a ride.

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I also missed out on SkyScreamer. Although I'd just been on two others at the Six Flags parks in Texas, these are worth riding at every park for the view.

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SkyScreamer takes full flight over Six Flags St. Louis.

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Superman Tower of Power was not operating, and all the cars were parked at the top.

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This is what happens when the mine train opens late -- it gets people lining up outside of the entrance!

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Pandemonium also had a pretty decent wait. Thank goodness for Q-Bots.

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Xcalibur reaches its highest dizzying point.

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I found the ride to be more intense near the bottom of its trajectory.

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Colossus is so big, I can't fit it in the frame of the picture!

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I really liked the landscaping near the railroad bridge, but the Coke ad kind of ruins it.

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Ice cream and a classic B&M.

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This Batman clone dives to the right, and the track is painted black.

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The "coaster graveyard" underneath the Batman station was strange and interesting.

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Here's the main entrance area, with the front gate off to the left of the picture.

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Historical theming! The Six Flags chain may have been named for the entities that controlled what is now the state of Texas, but they found a way to tie it into the midwestern United States as well. More on this in a few pictures.

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The small fountain in the park's entry plaza.

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Batman takes a dive into the fountain.

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With a long drive ahead of us, it was time to go.

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Here's a view of a much larger fountain in front of the park's entrance.

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Here's the park's main entrance, and yes, Colossus is visible even from here.

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More historical theming! From left to right, here are the "Six Flags" flying over the park:

1) United States of America

2) State of Missouri

3) State of Illinois

4) United Kingdom

5) Spain (Flag of Castile and Leon)

6) France (white background with gold fleur-de-lis)

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Batman rises over the trees.

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Hurricane Harbor is home to two drop capsule slides. I had never been on one of those, but I'd get my chance two days later.

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A guest rounds the sharp curve on one of the drop capsule water slides.

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Time to head back to the Anderson buses. Are we sure we wanted to head to Wisconsin?

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I do really like the terrain around the park, with the lush hills providing a nice backdrop for the rides.

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These hills separate the small community of Allenton (near side) from the Meramec River valley (far side).

 

So there it all is -- history, geography, and roller coasters!

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Day 8 (Part 1) -- Mt. Olympus

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

 

Lesson of the Day: Think of a few questions -- in advance -- for park staff during Q&A and TPR events. We had several opportunities throughout the trip to meet high-level staff members from the parks we visited -- public relations managers, heads of maintenance, and even a couple of park presidents (and one CEO). However, when the floor was opened up for questions to these knowledgeable people, most of our group was surprisingly silent. We probably all thought of the perfect questions about a half hour later, but there's something about being put on the spot that makes it tough to come up with a good idea. Trying to brainstorm some questions ahead of time might be the way to go!

 

Artifacts:

 

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Here's the front of our room key booklet, which wisely advertises only the best part of Hades 360. To its right is the official TPR Wisconsin Dells Survival Kit, which serves to provide a bit of gallows humor, while also equipping us with a few simple first-aid items any park attendee should carry.

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This is the inside of the room key booklet, complete with a customer satisfaction survey. Oh, how much fun it could have been to go through this! On the right side is the park admission wristband, which must be worn on either the right or left wrist, but not the middle wrist. At the bottom is the location of my room, which required a building number, specific entrance, floor, and room number. Here's a thought: if you need four specific pieces of information and a preposterous five-digit hotel room number, you run too many hotels.

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The Mt. Olympus park map promises something entitled "Stay and Play Free." How well is this business plan going to work? Even "free" isn't enough to put me back on Hades again.

Scorecard:

 

Hades 360 (x2)

Little Titans

Hades 360

Zeus

Cyclops [back]

Pegasus [back]

-- Lunch --

Opa

Helios Go-Kart Track

Trojan Horse Go-Kart Track

Poseidon Go-Kart Track

 

Day 8 (Part 1) -- Mt. Olympus

 

In late 2012, when I was considering signing up for the Texas/Midwest trip, the itinerary was one day shorter than that of the final tour. Once I was serious about joining, I noticed that something had been added to the trip flyer -- a stop in Wisconsin to ride another new wooden creation, Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus. Though I was indifferent about the coaster, the additional day on the trip helped push me to register. Once I had access to the private trip forum in early 2013, I discovered that the TPR members already confirmed to attend had actually voted on the trip's extension. What's the moral of the story? The vote happened before I signed up for the tour, so I not-so-humbly proclaim my innocence regarding any of what you're about to read!

 

First, here's a little bit about Wisconsin Dells. It's a small city in south-central Wisconsin, which takes its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic gorge just north of the commercial area. As is the case with several other touristy areas of natural beauty, along a stretch of US Route 12 is an assortment of all the worst of the dreck you'd find at a place like Niagara Falls, Branson, or Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. What's the key difference between the Dells and those three places? They all have a Herschend park nearby, and the Dells has Mt. Olympus.

 

Like the City Museum in St. Louis, Mt. Olympus is a place that feels like it shouldn't exist in the United States in the 21st century. I promise -- outside of the inherent risk of injury, that's the last time I'll compare the two places. Mt. Olympus is a perversion of the qualities that make for a good theme park. Mt. Olympus is Disney World designed for meth-addicted upper-Midwesterners, run by surly eastern Europeans and high school dropouts. Mt. Olympus is an embarrassing bastardization of my Greek heritage -- o thee mou! -- though I guess a park themed to mythology is better than a park themed to the Greco-Persian Wars or the eurozone government-debt crisis. In short, Mt. Olympus ranks as the worst of the parks we visited on the 2013 Texas/Midwest trip. If this was the only place a person knew, might it not seem so bad? Am I overstating things? Perhaps, but it's hard to fathom sandwiching this place between Silver Dollar City and Cedar Point and not feeling like something's gone critically awry.

 

Now, here's the part where I take back some of what I said in the last paragraph: TPR was treated pretty well. The hotels rooms, over-priced as they are, were not the disaster we were fearing. They were perfectly sufficient for the extremely short time we spent in them, and compared favorably to Hotel Breakers (which will be getting a much-needed upgrade for the 2015 season). I'll save my jokes about the coaster for later, but we were afforded plenty of ERT on Hades 360, with filming and photography opportunities for Robb and others. They also provided one of the biggest surprises of the entire trip, opening the elusive Little Titans credit to our entire group of child-like adults. We were given use of a picnic pavilion, and while lunch was fairly typical for that of a theme park, we were welcome to come back for drinks and ice cream at any point for the rest of the day.

 

We woke up on a foggy morning, arriving at the park shortly before 9 AM. We started the day on Hades 360, and I won't forget the enthusiasm of the first train -- did we really not know any better? After our first rides, we were given the outstanding news that Little Titans was open, and most of us made our way down there in short order. Robb kindly (but strongly) suggested that we return to Hades 360 and fill the ride for filming purposes, which most of us did. We considered it our payment for picking up such a rare and strict kiddie credit. After Hades 360 ERT was done, we split up and tackled the rest of the park's coasters, including the renowned and infamous Cyclops (which opened late). I had all of the park's wooden coasters out of the way before our lunch break, which I followed up with a trip to the indoor park to ride Opa and complete the cycle.

 

After picking up all of the coaster credits, and feeling absolutely no desire to re-ride anything else, I had a few hours to kill. Some TPR members braved the heavily-crowded water park, and while the huge waves in the Poseidon's Rage pool looked interesting, the mass of Wisconsinite humanity kept me clear of the waterline. Some TPR members opted to hydrate themselves at the bar across from Cyclops, and even as a non-drinker, I can't say I questioned their motivations. As for me, I had my camera, and a park that was simply begging to be photographed. I didn't expect that it would be Mt. Olympus where I ended up wishing I had my zoom lens the most -- the long-range photo opportunities were numerous. Unfortunately, the lens would be stuck in St. Louis at the City Museum for the next couple weeks.

 

I started my photo set in the water park, which is awkwardly split into two sections, divided by an empty field, the indoor park and the main resort parking lot. I first went to the back of the park, at its furthest westward extent, and gently worked my way through a mass of half-naked thrill-seekers to the top of the park's tallest slides. The entirety of Mt. Olympus was visible from up there, providing a great overview of a strange, strange place. Aside from the speed slides on the tall tower, the western section of the water park was generally calmer and quieter in nature. The eastern section of the water park was anything but quiet. The star attraction (Poseidon's Rage) is located here, and with a live DJ and several thousand people in the area, it was sometimes hard just to walk around -- let alone try to swim!

 

Feeling competitive, I also decided to try my luck on a few of the park's go-kart tracks. The most famous is probably the one that travels up the giant Trojan Horse visible from the road, but for some disappointing reason, that part of the track had been closed. My final experience at the park came from the Poseidon go-kart track. Everybody who survives Mt. Olympus has a story of a near-death experience, and the Poseidon track provided for mine. I was fifth out of the station, and got T-boned at the end of the first curve -- no more than 15 seconds after starting. I ended up facing the wall near a split in the track, completely unable to move. I looked around and wondered -- are the park employees coming to help? Nope. After getting blitzed a second time by another kart, two helpful people used their go-karts to push my kart off the wall. Was I on my way? Nope -- I ended up going the wrong way on the split! At that point, I was by myself, pointing the wrong way up the track, and with probably 60 seconds to right myself before facing a head-on collision. I looked around for the park employees -- still, there was nobody there to help. So, I did the only thing I could. I threw my backpack into the grass off to the side of the track, jumped out of the kart, and began pushing it away from the wall and straightening it out. After three attempts, I got it turned in the right direction, only to watch the kart go rolling downhill without me in it! I grabbed my backpack and started running after the kart -- first approaching on the left dropping my backpack in, and steering a little -- and then on the right, grabbing the steering wheel at a full sprint, and leaping into the kart (full-on bobsled style) in what would have been a very dramatic scene if anybody associated with the park had actually been watching!

 

We left Mt. Olympus a little before 5:00 PM, believing we had one more park to visit before our Tuesday would come to an end. We were wrong -- as it turns out, we had two parks (and five credits) to go! A pleasant surprise to end a day that started at Mt. Olympus was, to be honest, exactly the kind of thing we needed. Our visits to Timber Falls and Little Amerricka will be covered in the next post.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

Reviews of the attractions at Mt. Olympus:

 

Hades 360: Awful. Horrendous. Dreadful. Hades 360 is an affront to the very concept of proper coaster maintenance. Its shredded near-mile of track is perhaps only marginally acceptable to those from the upper-Midwest, who are used to driving on pothole-riddled roadways every spring after the winter freeze/thaw cycle. Hades 360 is the roughest roller coaster I have ever been on, and while my coaster count (just over 150) may not do that statement justice, other TPR members with much greater levels of coaster experience felt the same way.

 

Is Hades 360 my least favorite coaster ever? I have to draw a comparison to Son of Beast, which I rode a few times (on two different trips) in the post-loop phase. Son of Beast was also unbearably rough, with jackhammering that left me with a headache for hours. Here's where I have to give Hades 360 a little bit of credit: the layout is interesting. A smooth and intense ride using that layout would be a decent coaster, as people who rode in the mid-00s have often said. Son of Beast's layout was incredibly boring, and wouldn't have been fun even if it were smooth. I may keep Son of Beast as my all-time least favorite, but Hades 360 is very close behind, and it was just as painful.

 

Slapping new trains on an old coaster -- especially sensitive, articulating trains like Timberliners -- is not a recipe for success. All the Timberliner trains served to do was transfer the jolt from every pothole and bump on the track directly into a rider's body. Although the tunnel sections were brutal, there were several painful moments even in the ride's slow sections -- including one very early in the pre-lift segment of the track. I was impressed by the array of methods used by Hades 360 to punish its riders. It wasn't just spinal jackhammering (like Son of Beast). Sometimes it felt like a kick to the gut, a punch to the side, or a lap bar to the ribs. I never rode Hades 360 in the very first row, but my first ride was in row 3 or 4, and even that was intolerable. My "Little Titans payment rides" were sadly further back (row 9 or 10) and those were organ-busting, spine-shattering atrocities. I will say that the entire turnaround was acceptable -- light shuffling like a GCI that's been around for a few years. I wouldn't call it smooth, but it was tolerable.

 

Finally, I want to report that several TPR members were legitimately concerned by the train maintenance that appeared to be ongoing during our ERT session. Several people had issues with their restraints failing to lock in the station, requiring operator assistance to actually get the lap bars to stay put. This happened to me before my first ride of the day. We were all fine, and the Hades 360 station had a decent assortment of people there who worked on the problem, scary as it may have been. Would anyone trust the operations later in the day, when the coasters were being run by a minimal crew of staff members who barely said a word?

 

Little Titans: As a ride, it's a pretty typical kiddie coaster. As a credit, it was easily the most joyous part of TPR's first half of the day.

 

Zeus: Zeus is another ride that picked up some very negative reviews from TPR members during the trip, though opinions were a little bit more mixed. I rode near the front, and to be honest, I thought it was marginally rough -- slightly worse than a typical wooden coaster. A few TPR members in the front row actually enjoyed the ride. People who sat closer to the back described Zeus in similar terms as Hades 360. The layout is a slightly-modified out-and-back, with the station and lift perpendicular to the main body of the track. It's not interesting enough to be worth riding anywhere outside of the front car.

 

Cyclops: Cyclops is known for its big right-turn drop near the station, and the air that the drop provides in the back of the train. I rode Cyclops once, and had to give it a shot in the far back, to see what all the buzz was about. It was extreme, for sure, but in the way that only Mt. Olympus could provide. Rather than a prolonged bit of negative forces the whole way down the hill, to me it felt more like an intense jolt of ejector air, followed uncomfortably by repeated high-frequency bouncing between the seat and buzz-bar. It's a coaster moment I'll certainly remember, but I didn't feel any desire to ride again. Several TPR members did ride Cyclops numerous times throughout the afternoon. If this ride were at a better park, I'd say that it's something every enthusiast should experience, but I'm just not sure I can make that recommendation at Mt. Olympus.

 

Pegasus: This ride is a small and oddly-paced wooden coaster, probably intended as more of a family ride than a thrill ride. I don't remember anything terribly distinctive about it, but at least it wasn't painful.

 

Opa: For some reason, yelling "opa" became a catch-phrase for the rest of our trip. In light of recent news, that seems a little bit morbid. The ride wasn't anything special -- an indoor spinning wild mouse -- but it was certainly fortunate that we were able to get the credit when we did. What happened in March was unlikely to have been a surprise to anyone who's been to the park, or read the accounts of TPR members who visited.

 

Poseidon's Rage: I didn't brave the park's signature wave pool, but I watched and photographed several cycles, getting as close to the action as I safely intended to. It's hard to believe that we don't hear of more injuries occurring here, as it sure looked to me like it would be hard to keep from colliding with other people once the force of the wave has taken over. To be honest, this would probably be really fun to experience in a less-crowded scenario.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Pictures from Day 8 (Part 1)

 

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

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We've arrived at the front gate to Mt. Olympus, which felt more like the front gate to Hades.

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Hades 360 rises above us, as we contemplate our lives, our fears, and our regrets.

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Oh, here's the gate to Hades!

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TPR gets latched into the Timberliner train, and then re-latched in some cases when the restraints failed to secure.

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Whoever that is in the back row is not going to be that excited when they return to the station.

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What a strange mix of happiness, anticipation, and dismay.

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Hades 360 winds through the terrain section near the station, which has segments at the very beginning and end of the circuit.

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Coming around a corner near the station. The face on the front car of the train looks similar to that of many of the riders.

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The front gate is right there! You can still make a break for it!

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An empty parking lot means that we all woke up way too early for the right to get beaten up at the flagpole in front of the elementary school.

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Hades is very aggressive today! That sign is a permanent installation, so the whole "today" thing became another punchline for our group. Sadly, keeping your hands down won't do a darn bit of good to ensure your safety.

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The left side of car #8. Maybe the flaming digit on the decal should have been a hint?

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Timberliner: a nice train that, sadly, can't magically fix the track it rides on.

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Slack on the Hades 360 lift hill chain. Maybe this is normal, but it just looked strange to me.

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TPR congregates outside of the Hades 360 entrance. Better than congregating inside.

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Here's the best news of the day! Little Titans was open!

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TPR heads for the kiddie credit -- one of the toughest in the country.

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In contrast to the "hands up" pictures of Hades 360, this one is nothing but pure enthusiast joy!

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That hill is physically short, but figuratively huge. We're all happy we climbed it, but since we're coaster fans, the descent is the best part!

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This is legitimate excitement.

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Pretend your scared. Or, just do what you did 15 minutes ago on Hades 360.

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Congrats on the rare credit, Werner!

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Little Titans is open! Little Titans is open!

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Welcome to Jim's dream.

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Want a goat? Have a goat. The tiny goat pen in front of Cyclops was one of the strangest parts of the park.

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Time for a ride on Zeus! You folks in the front might make it through OK.

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Down and around to the lift hill on Zeus.

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OK, so maybe it wasn't all that comfortable.

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Hey, random guy on Hades 360 -- put your stinkin' phone away!

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Next up is Cyclops, the supposed king of insane airtime.

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OK, seriously, is this even enforceable? Does it make any legal difference? Or is it just there to become part of Cyclops' legendary legacy?

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Hand-slapping on the lift hill. Good luck.

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Here's a wide view of the drop. It doesn't look like much, but with a decent amount of speed and an abrupt change in angle, the back car gets whipped with significant force.

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Down you go!

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Welcome back, and how was your ride?

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I caught one that was /this/ big!

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Disbelief, hilarity, and a little bit of "sure glad I survived that."

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The slight bend to the right adds some laterals, and makes the drop even more violent. I'm not sure I'd say it was really painful, though.

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A train of Cyclops survivors makes its way back to the station.

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Victor and Stacy also survived the back seat of Cyclops. Hey, they survived Hades 360 and have an entire TPR video to prove it!

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A view from the Cyclops station.

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This is Pegasus, which runs near the northern edge of the water park. It has a few hills and segments of about this size.

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Mt. Olympus also has a slingshot ride. It it normal for the cables to appear slightly frayed? OK, to be honest, I just thought it looked neat next to the clouds.

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My Big Fat Greek Pizza Joint? Really?

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OPA!

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Banners hang from the roof of the indoor park. This is kind of an aside, but I would /not/ shelter here during a strong storm. It looks like a stiff breeze could blow the roof in.

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I'm including this picture of the Opa cars and lap bars for reference.

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Good luck, TPR.

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Here's the parking lot where we almost got our buses stuck the night before! The building on the left is the indoor water park (which I didn't go in), and the building on the right is the main hotel check-in location.

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The park's smaller and calmer wave pool is in the western water park section.

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Heading to the park's highest point (the speed slide tower) for some aerial photography.

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This hillside picture gives a good idea of how steep the park's tallest slide is.

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Time to climb the crowded tower and take in the view.

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A wide view over the park. The property still seems to have quite a bit of wooded land, in addition to a few partially-empty grassy fields. The slides near where I took the picture from use the natural topography to their advantage.

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Here's a view toward the main resort buildings -- the nicer hotels owned by Mt. Olympus.

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The back end of the parking lot is also visible from the slide tower.

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Here's where I wish I had the zoom lens. This would have been an even better picture of Hades 360 cresting the hill. Parts of Zeus and Cyclops are also visible.

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The Hades turn-around is at the far end of the parking lot, closer to the road. Also visible from here is the Trojan Horse track (including the closed spiral ramps) and Pegasus.

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These calmer slides have their platforms just north of the speed slide tower.

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The bottom of the curved slides.

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Some guy braves the triple-down speed slide.

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The single-drop slide is quite a bit steeper.

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If you fall out on the way down, you land on a bed of jagged rocks.

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Splash, part one.

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Splash, part two.

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The decorative columns outside the indoor park, with a big empty field in the foreground.

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Here's the main slide tower for the biggest attractions at the Mt. Olympus water park.

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Warning: high surf! Drown in a pool with a thousand of your best friends! Also -- Hotel Rome? At a park themed to /Greek/ mythology? I guess they also have the "Trojan Horse" go-kart track...

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The play structure at the water park.

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The bucket drops. People get soaked.

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A quadruple-down mat racer!

Edited by The Great Zo
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Pictures from Day 8 (Part 1, continued)

 

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This is what you all came to see -- Poseidon's Rage, the most dangerous wave pool on the planet!

I have video of the whole wave cycle here.

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Here's where the people start to go flying.

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I'm impressed not just by the wave, but by the spray that comes off the top of it.

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The wave decreases in amplitude as it spreads through the rest of the pool.

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Here it comes, and...

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...skloosh!

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Here's what it looks like from the back of the wave pool, before the wave is released.

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Then, suddenly, a wall of water appears!

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Just a few too many people in the wave pool for my liking.

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Catch a wave, you'll be sittin' on top of the world. Unless you're at Mt. Olympus. Then you're sittin' in Wisconsin. Not quite the same.

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A view from the other side as the water attacks.

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Does this look like fun? I think it does, but if there were about 75% less people in there.

 

Note the "Castle of Terror" in the background. Yup, that's the Dells.

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Not sure I'd want to draw this job for lifeguard duty. Maybe if they included hazard pay.

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Finally, a view from behind the water, with the wave so tall it blocks the view of the people at the front of the pool.

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Alligator Alley? In Wisconsin?

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Pegasus and one of many go-kart tracks.

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Drivers coming out of the tunnel on the Poseidon go-kart track.

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Here's our lunch pavilion. Ornate.

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What better way to wrap up the trip to Mt. Olympus than with some more shots of Cyclops? The best part of the ride comes very close to the pathway here, providing some excellent photo opportunities.

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The famous drop starts on top of a small cliff ledge, diving into a low area near the walkway.

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Half of this train is TPR members, apparently enjoying the punishment!

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TPR laughs, 'cause that's what we do best.

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Random hairtime.

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Front car: intensity.

Second car: fear.

Third car: filming on an iPhone.

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I'm not sure what's more amusing: the expressions of the riders, or the fact that Roxanne actually purchased an Opa shirt.

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They're not standing up -- at least not intentionally -- but it sure looks like it.

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Once the drop starts to pull up, the laterals really take over.

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Brent looks like he's practically about to give new meaning to the term "ejector air."

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Here's the turn's pull-out after the big drop.

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This is how the go-kart tracks line up. While one set of cars goes through the course, a second set loads in behind the cones. Once the cones are lifted, you're pretty much on your own.

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Hey, this guy got help when he crashed his car. Why didn't I?

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I guess it's just whatever the sparse park employees happen to see.

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Heading out of the park, I snapped a few final pictures of the park's biggest coasters. Here's the main drop on Zeus.

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This is one of the smaller hills on Cyclops, which also provides some air time. The guy in the front row has become one with the coaster.

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The big first drop on Hades 360, you poor saps.

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Firewood.

 

Yes, I know, much of it is actually metal.

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Gravity Group's first inversion. I hope it isn't their last, but they're going to need to build something from scratch to make it worth riding.

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The final hop into the second run through the tunnel, also known as "the end of our brief respite from the torture."

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A final view of twisted wood at a twisted park, as we rode onward to safer venues.

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What a disappointing park. The last time I'd been there was when it was still Big Chief's Go Kart world. The 3 coasters were still in good shape and fun. When TPR was there last summer, I rode Hades 360 twice (forced the second time), Cyclops once, and we did a couple of go kart tracks. After lunch we just started drinking, as Andy mentioned, and that was by far the best choice we could have made that day.

 

I grew up about 2 hours from the Dells, so I've spent a lot of time there. Definitely a tourist trap, but it holds a lot of nostalgia for me. I'd rather spend time there than Branson or Pigeon Forge, minus the much better parks near those other towns.

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I'm just glad we all made it out of the Dells with our lives. I think the most fun I had that day was playing the redemption games at the indoor park.

 

I'm reasonably sure we spent most of the day at the indoor arcade. That Deal or No Deal machine was better than any of their coasters.

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I'm just glad we all made it out of the Dells with our lives. I think the most fun I had that day was playing the redemption games at the indoor park.

I missed that stuff, but I didn't spend much time inside there. That place is going to look pretty darn empty with Opa missing.

 

What a disappointing park. The last time I'd been there was when it was still Big Chief's Go Kart world. The 3 coasters were still in good shape and fun.

Hades has been on my radar since it opened. It's a shame I got there to ride it several years too late.

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^ Hades has always been pretty "agressive" to me. My first rides were in 2007 and it wasn''t as rough back then, but still pretty brutal. When we went back in 2011 it was just aweful. One ride and i was done.

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What a disappointing park. The last time I'd been there was when it was still Big Chief's Go Kart world. The 3 coasters were still in good shape and fun.

Hades has been on my radar since it opened. It's a shame I got there to ride it several years too late.

 

Same here. Hades was built after my visit in 2001, and I always wanted to ride it. Never again.

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