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Photo TR: Andy's 2014 New Hotness / East Coast TPR Tour


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Hands down the best day I've ever had Knoebels. And generally any time at Knoebels is a great time.

 

The friends, the food, the Glow ERT, just everything. This was a perfect day, at an amazing park.

 

Thank you for sharing your report, and making me miss all of you guys.

 

April 30th can't get here soon enough (opening day!)

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I've never been to Knoebels, but it seems like Impulse is away from the main areas of the park. Is it placed in a odd location?

 

It's right by the main entrance, actually.

http://www.knoebels.com/map

 

 

Oh ok, thank you! I just realized a big reason I was confused is because it wasn't included in the TR, but I remembered Impulse didn't come until the year after that.

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That glow in the dark ERT was the best ERT I've ever done.
The friends, the food, the Glow ERT, just everything. This was a perfect day, at an amazing park.

Totally in agreement with the both of you.

 

Next up -- well, some park has to be next on the agenda, and that park is Dorney.

 

Day 9 -- Dorney Park

Saturday, August 2, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Talon (x3) (ERT)

Wild Mouse

Screamin' Swing

Hydra the Revenge (x2)

Possessed (x2)

Steel Force (x2)

Thunderhawk

Dominator [Green]

Demon Drop

Thunder Creek Mountain

Woodstock's Express

-- Lunch --

Screamin' Swing

Ferris Wheel

Apollo

Zephyr

Revolution

Cedar Creek Cannonball

 

The Report:

 

Admittedly, it's not easy for any park to follow up a full-on awesome vintage TPR day at Knoebels. For the 2014 Mini East Coast tour, Dorney Park had that unenviable slot on the schedule. On my first visit to the Cedar Fair park in Allentown, my biggest question was this -- on a Saturday, would a half-day really be enough to get through a full-size amusement park? The answer -- a resounding yes -- probably won't be a surprise to people who have visited before.

 

We left our hotel at 8 AM, and arrived at Dorney just an hour later, in plenty of time for our 930 AM ERT on Talon. We shared the ERT session with passholders, but the TPR group outnumbered the locals by a healthy margin. After finishing a few rides on Talon, the credit run began -- starting, as is always wise to do, with the low-capacity Wild Mouse. Hydra was next, followed by the slew of coasters at the west end of the park. We rode Possessed, Steel Force, and Thunderhawk. Stinger, however, was unavailable -- it remained inoperable for most of the 2014 season.

 

We spent the late morning riding some non-coaster attractions, but none were more important to me than Demon Drop. In all my early years visiting Cedar Point, I was never brave enough for a go on the park's Intamin first generation freefall ride. I sure spent a lot of time watching it, though, thanks to its prominent location near the front of the park! Finally, I was able to experience the famous "kerchunk" -- and all the discomfort that comes along with it. After that, we completed the run of coasters on Woodstock's Express, and headed to lunch at 1215 PM with all available credits attained.

 

Many TPR members headed to Wildwater Kingdom, the attached water park, after lunch. My group decided to stay dry, completing another circuit through the park, and riding several flats along the way. The Ferris Wheel offered some nice views, and the park's two trains were also worth the ride. At 4 PM, TPR departed Dorney Park, heading to a nearby Carrabba's for dinner. We left there at 6 PM, doing our best George Washington impression as we crossed the Delaware into New Jersey. We arrived at our hotel at 715 PM, with a nearby truck stop / convenience store providing some entertainment to close out the night.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

My review of Dorney Park needs to start with one huge caveat -- I did not go to Wildwater Kingdom. I do enjoy water parks, but after visiting two great ones just the week before (Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World), I wasn't in the mood for another. TPR members who went to Wildwater Kingdom generally had very positive reviews of the place, and seemed to have a great time while they were there.

 

My review will only cover the dry side of the park, which -- even on a Saturday -- was a very sparsely populated place. Our Fast Lane wristbands were largely unnecessary, with only station waits for the coasters. We did use the wristbands to take a couple rides on the normally-upcharge Screamin' Swing. Other trip reports indicated that Fast Lane was very helpful in the water park, skipping past 30-60 minute waits on some of the better slides. Nonetheless, I can't say that I've ever seen a park this empty on a Saturday. Foot traffic picked up a bit during the afternoon, but queue sizes did not.

 

Dorney Park has a lot of history, with roots that trace back to the late 1800s. A detailed page on the park's website helps explain the timeline of Dorney's development over the years, and there are numerous historical signs throughout the park -- a few of which will be shared in the pictures. It wasn't until 1980 that the park became a closed-gate admission-required park, after a road running through the park's center was finally closed off. Thunderhawk -- built in 1923 -- is among the world's oldest operating roller coasters. The Whip -- built in 1920 -- will be the park's first ride to reach a centennial anniversary.

 

So, what happened?

 

Somewhere along the way, perhaps after Cedar Fair took over in 1992, Dorney Park became very generic. It's obviously a far cry from Knoebels, but it's also a marked departure from the atmosphere at Hersheypark, which seems to have done a better job retaining its independent charm. Dorney's historic acumen takes a back seat to modern convenience, construction, and concrete. Of all the parks I've visited, the one Dorney reminds me of the most is Worlds of Fun in Kansas City -- another mid-tier corporate Cedar Fair park with few distinguishing features. Everything at Dorney feels familiar -- you've seen that style of ride sign before, you've seen that in-park restaurant before, and you've seen the paved paths that lead from one place to the next.

 

This would not be an unbeatable flaw in a park with a high-end, can't-miss attraction. Unfortunately, Dorney's coaster collection is decidedly average. Several rides are clones, and the three with longer layouts -- Steel Force, Talon, and Hydra -- are not among the better examples of their type. How much more interesting would this lineup be with Laser still in place? I won't go as far as to say that the park needs a large new coaster to survive -- that would be coaster nerd hogwash. It's obvious that Dorney's main draw is the water park, so I would not be surprised at all if major investments continue to focus on the east side of the front gate.

 

I found it strange that Dorney Park uses magnetic gates on all the main rides -- gates that do not open automatically, but must be pushed open by guests waiting to board. I also want to note that Dorney Park was the only park on the trip in which I witnessed some significant problems with guest dress code violations, and no obvious attempt by park staff to handle the situation.

 

I would like to voice my appreciation for the dubstep/rap/techno song in the Wild Mouse queue. It was a legitimate highlight of the day, and by far the most creative (and bizarre) means by which I've ever heard safety instructions delivered to guests. Demon Drop had a similar song, but I have read that it has since been removed. Supposedly, Stinger also has a dub-rap-chno spiel of some sort.

 

I'm glad we visited Dorney, and it was a well-timed visit for our group on a Saturday. I hope I didn't give the impression that Dorney is a bad park. That's a description I'd only use for somewhere like Mount Olympus or Six Flags Great America. My pictures will hopefully be a positive indication that our stop in Allentown was fun and worthwhile. I just wish Dorney had a little more to make it a unique, must-visit destination. I hope they continue to focus on exploiting their great history, bringing back some non-corporate charm, and -- coaster nerd hogwash or not -- I sure wouldn't complain if they put in something big in the next few years.

 

The Attractions:

 

Talon: Talon had quite a bit of hype leading up to our visit. Is it because it's the best coaster at park without a lot of great rides? Talon will end up in my lowest tier of B&M inverts, and perhaps right at the bottom. Like the park it resides in, it doesn't have any unique or distinguishing features -- sans for the awesome paint job, which looks fantastic even against a washed-out, blue-grey sky. I definitely preferred Great Bear to Talon, and Great Bear isn't at the top of anyone's list either.

 

Hydra: This is the ride that finally put me on the "questioning the quality of modern B&M coasters" bandwagon. It's short in stature and short on forces -- it just wasn't that fun of an experience. Hydra's distinguishing feature is the jojo roll -- a heartline twist right out of the station, taken at excruciatingly slow speed. If you like hangtime, you'll love it. If you hate hangtime, you'll hate it. I hate hangtime. Guess which side that puts me on?

 

Steel Force: It's a near-clone of Mamba at Worlds of Fun, but on a hot summer night in 2011, I had several fantastic rides on Mamba -- complete with loads of airtime, and strong positive forces on the helix. Steel Force did not duplicate that experience, and simply left me wanting a little more. It wasn't as fun as Mamba, and wasn't nearly as fun as Magnum (though perhaps not as uncomfortable either) -- and doesn't have the setting to compete with either of those. Compared to modern B&M hypercoasters (even mid-tier examples) it's easy to look at Steel Force as an early generation of a coaster type that has been improved upon since.

 

Thunderhawk: I'm hoping the 2016 refurbishment gets Thunderhawk in good riding shape. Its history is well known -- coming up on 100 years next decade -- and it has a quirky old-school layout that could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, my ride in 2014 was pretty rough, which definitely had a negative impact on the experience. None of the ride's positives were strong enough to make me want to take a second spin.

 

Possessed: Far from my first Intamin impulse coaster, it was my first to feature the holding brake on the back spike. I was not a fan. I'll stick with Wicked Twister as my favorite of the type.

 

Wild Mouse: Theme song aside, this was not a favorite either. It's a standard non-spinning Maurer design, with a few too many switchbacks for my liking, and some uncomfortable airtime in the second half of the ride.

 

Woodstock's Express: The "awful Zamperla kiddie coaster" tour continued at Dorney, with another example of a type of ride I'll gladly give up if I ever decide to stop counting! This was our third such credit out of five on the trip, which sadly meant that there were still two more to go.

 

Demon Drop: Kerchunk. Well, I'm glad I finally rode this, after all those years I spent disinterested at Cedar Point. The freefall part is fun. The rest of the process isn't quite as enjoyable.

 

Zephyr: This is one of the park's two train rides, and it's a bit of a tight fit. It provides some nice views of Possessed, Stinger, and some backstage and wooded areas at the west end of the park.

 

Cedar Creek Cannonball: The park's other train is a full-size ride, but it runs a fairly short circuit around the rapids ride. I had a negative experience here, as a ride operator rudely informed me I was not allowed to take pictures. I didn't fight it (as I'd already taken some pictures of the rapids ride from elsewhere), but I thought that was remarkably strange. Chuck did get some pictures from this train, so perhaps I just went at the wrong time of day.

 

Thunder Creek Mountain: Thunder Creek Mountain made for three days in a row at parks with classic log flumes! This was one of my favorite rides at Dorney, in part because of its quirkiness. It uses the natural terrain for its lift and drop hills, the latter of which is very gentle in slope compared to a normal flume. The segment at the top of the hill moves pretty quickly, and passes close to Steel Force's turnaround and Hydra's station. Be prepared if you ride -- this is among the wetter log flumes I've ever been on.

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Day 9 -- The Pictures (Part 1)

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Hey, uh, are we in the right place?

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Ah, yes, I suppose we are. We picked up our admission tickets and Fast Lane wristbands (not pictured) on the way in. Would we need them?

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Yeah, not so much.

 

This is not a backstage tour. This is not part of early entry. This is just what the park looked like at 1030 AM on a Saturday.

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Let's check in on Stinger -- how's the scorpion-themed inverted boomerang doing?

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That well, eh?

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History Lesson #1 (part of what will be a running theme for this photo set) -- gender-segregated swimming pools!

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The pools have all been moved over to Wildwater Kingdom, but there's still water flowing through the low area at the center of Dorney Park. This is Cedar Creek -- a fitting name for a stream in a park owned by Dorney's parent company. Cedar Creek flows east through the park, forming a pond near Steel Force, then passing by the historic Haines Brothers Flour Mill. It eventually joins up with Little Lehigh Creek and the Lehigh River near downtown Allentown, flowing into the Delaware River on the New Jersey border further east from there.

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Speaking of Steel Force, it's next on the list! Trivia question -- does anybody know what ride this logo was originally designed for? Of course you do. Everyone knows that. No bonus points for you.

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A few Steel Force statistics. It's still among the longer roller coasters on the planet.

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Scott and Charles opt for the back of the train.

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As they climb the lift hill, I'll note that I thought Steel Force was better in the front than in the back, but it wasn't particularly inspiring in either location.

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Steel Force is made by Morgan, not Arrow, but the Magnum comparisons are valid in several ways.

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Unfortunately for Steel Force, Magnum's a better coaster (with a much better setting). Fortunately for Steel Force, the return leg doesn't attempt to rip your thighs off.

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Maybe I've been too harsh -- Steel Force is still a good ride, and I actually rank it pretty closely with Talon for my favorite in the park.

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The half-empty trains are another indication of the crowds on this particular Saturday in early August.

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The other side of the ride offers some nice views of the first drop.

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How about a few Steel Force facts? It was built in 1997, one year after Wild Thing at Valleyfair, and one year before Mamba at Worlds of Fun.

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Steel Force is over a mile long, but the world record holder -- Steel Dragon 2000 -- is also a Morgan coaster.

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This shallow hill into a straightaway is not among the better parts of the ride.

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That's enough Steel Force for one trip report.

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Thunderhawk is next, and Troy's thrilled to ride.

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History Lesson #2 -- Thunderhawk's former name was simply "Roller Coaster," before its identity was expertly Cedar Fair'd into Thunderhawk.

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Thunderhawk clearly needed some care on our visit, and I'm glad that the park is doing just that for the 2016 season.

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What's this odd rock-shaped fountain?

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History Lesson #3 -- Dorney's Trout Pond! Not quite Indiana Beach's "carp area," but it'll do.

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No pictures from Thunder Creek Mountain, the park's log flume, so this shot of the station will have to do. Good ride.

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Demon Drop is up next -- a transplant from my home park of Cedar Point!

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Demon Drop was always an incredibly imposing figure near Cedar Point's front entrance. By the time I learned to love drop rides, it was too late -- Demon Drop was removed from the shores of Lake Erie at the end of the 2009 season.

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Though initially expected to go to Knott's Berry Farm, Demon Drop instead moved east, landing at Dorney Park in 2010.

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Demon Drop did get one new feature after moving to Pennsylvania -- an electro-dub-hop ride spiel theme song. Unfortunately, I think it's since been removed.

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Nathan, David, and Chuck are about to get kerchunked.

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Going down?

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The drop is fun, but the experience from here on out is a bit awkward.

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Sliding on the track while laying flat? Definitely strange.

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Do not touch!

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You've all been there. The ride op shouts "how was your ride" and everyone on board kind of half-smiles, half-groans.

 

This is the Demon Drop version of that.

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History Lesson #4 -- A historic dance pavilion was destroyed by a fire in 1985. Sad news.

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Because I torture myself with awful kiddie credits, here it is. Zamperla: the mark of quality. Right?

 

Right?

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Lunch was next on the agenda. This is, shall we say, a diverse group of attendees.

 

Google provides no search results for "Infamous Instoppables." However, "Infamous Unstoppables" is a drum corps and dance team from nearby Lancaster, PA.

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That's beside the point, though. We were all here at the Carousel Grove for the Carter Family Reunion.

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Not quite enough time to check out the indoor All Wheels show, but that would certainly be something to try on a full day at the park.

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Dorney's carousel has a prominent position near the front entrance.

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Sadly, the Peanuts Party in the Plaza show was not scheduled for August 2, 2014.

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History Lesson #5 -- this carousel used to be at Cedar Point!

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Hey, guess where we're headed next?

 

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this is a Chance Ferris Wheel, and at least a similar model to the one at Indiana Beach.

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Yes, you've reached the requisite aerial photography section of the trip report.

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Three tall coasters punctuate the west end of the park.

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Stinger, of course, was not operating.

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Possessed, on the other hand, was running -- and with the holding brake engaged.

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This angle really makes Thunderhawk look small.

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Steel Force begins its descent, on what I have to admit is an oddly-contoured drop hill.

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I'm also kind of amused by the terraced employee parking lot behind Steel Force.

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Here's a wide view over the middle of the park.

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Speaking of making things look small -- Demon Drop is no bigger than the second hill on Steel Force.

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A view southwest into the parking lot. I know, exciting stuff.

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The lot was actually pretty full, but the majority of the crowds seemed to be at the water park.

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Anybody want a bus. Ours might have been in there somewhere.

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Dorney Park is pretty much right in the city, so you've got your freeway signs and strip malls...

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...and there's I-78, if you want to head to New York or Harrisburg.

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Here's a sneak peek at the Carter Family Reunion, in our picnic shelter directly below the Ferris Wheel.

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A wider view over the entrance area reveals the best-looking coaster in the park: Talon.

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The entrance to Wildwater Kingdom is over here as well -- most of the water park is directly east of Talon.

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It's got a classic swooping B&M Invert drop...

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...and it passes very close to the walkway to Wildwater Kingdom.

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The vertical loop and the zero-G roll are common features, but they're probably the best parts of the ride. Talon loses its grip in the second half.

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This should be ample evidence of the crowds in the water park -- full lines on both of these slide towers.

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Those communications towers in the distance are on top of South Mountain, a prominent ridge just southeast of Allentown.

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Here's a wide view of the northern section of the dry park. Two rides stick out above the horizon.

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The first is Hydra, one of the most underwhelming coasters I've been on.

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The second is White Water Landing, a splash boat I did not ride, but might just have to share some pictures of later on.

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"Well we're living here in Allentown..."

 

Sorry, wasn't getting out of this trip report without that. Forgive me.

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Alright guys, time to head down. Pictures continued on solid ground below...

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 9 -- The Pictures (Part 2)

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With all the coasters out of the way, it was time to ride some flats. Apollo was up next.

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Two downdrafts in two days? I'll take it!

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History Lesson #6 -- A tribute to the traffic cop who had to guard the public road running straight through the park.

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Duck.

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If Demon Drop's ker-chunky-ness isn't your thing, perhaps Dominator is more to your liking.

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It's a three-pronged S&S tower, but only two of the legs are set up for the ride.

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There will be airtime.

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Time to squeeze into the Zephyr Railroad.

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History Lesson #7 -- This is not the Journey to the Center of the Earth you're looking for.

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History Lesson #8 -- The Zephyr was designed for the small humans of the 1930s, and not whatever we've got going today.

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The train has pulled into the station...

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...let's head on down the tracks.

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You'll get some up-close views of Possessed.

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You'll also get some nice shots of Stinger.

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Or, well, Stinger's rotting carcass.

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If you squint, it almost looks like Wicked Twister from here.

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I'm presuming this is for the Halloween Haunt event.

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Yup, guess that confirms it.

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This is the scariest thing I saw all day.

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No. /This/ is the scariest thing I saw all day. Look closely. It's behind the tarp.

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Now, a peaceful, clown-less ride alongside Cedar Creek.

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Caught a peek at Steel Force on the lift hill.

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I think Wildwater Kingdom's a little closer than that.

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One more glance at Possessed on the way back into the Zephyr station.

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I quipped about the familiar Cedar Fair style of ride signs at Dorney Park, but there are two exceptions to that observation. The first is Possessed. This is actually kind of creepy, almost occultish, but awesome.

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Shoes optional.

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History Lesson #11 -- A racetrack used to exist at Dorney Park!

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Now, instead, you get the Road Rally car ride. The Pocono Raceway this ain't.

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Rising into the clouds.

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The park logo at the center of the wheel!

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Woah oh oh, woah oh oh. #CBJ

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History Lesson #9 -- The Whip is Dorney Park's oldest operating ride!

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History Lesson #10 -- We missed out on the Flying Dutchman by only 26 years.

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Are you ready to ride ride ri-ri-ri-ride the wild mouse?

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Awesome theme song, not-so-awesome coaster.

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Riding an upcharge Screamin' Swing with essentially no wait and no cost? Good deal.

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Not a bad view of Talon from here, either.

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Time for some Talon stats! It was built in 2001, one year after Katun at Mirabilandia, and one year before Le Vampire at La Ronde.

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Talon is 135 feet tall, and features four inversions. This vertical loop is the first of the four.

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My favorite part about Talon is the paint job -- bright colors that really pop in pictures.

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Let's head closer to Talon for a few more shots.

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Climbing the lift...

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...and summiting the crest.

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Spiral into that first drop.

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Shoes, again, are optional.

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Raptor: Kick the sky!

 

Talon: Kick the fence!

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Into the Immelmann to start the return segment.

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Switching gears and heading to Thunder Canyon, the park's rapids ride.

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That kid is terrified. It's only water.

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Were you expecting to stay dry?

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I don't think this particular rapids ride really provides "dry" as an option.

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That's one well-placed waterfall.

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The Cedar Creek Cannonball is the park's full-size train, which makes a short loop around the rapids ride.

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Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have from the Cannonball, as I was strictly informed that photography was not allowed. Dorney, you're getting docked a few points for that one.

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Let's bring this photo set into the home stretch with some splash boat pictures! Here's White Water Landing -- and RIP, identically-named Cedar Point ride.

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White Water Landing is a pretty tall splash boat -- not quite as big as Tidal Force at Hersheypark, but certainly larger than Skloosh at Knoebels. It's also a clone of Snake River Falls at Cedar Point.

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Yes, it makes a pretty big splash.

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White Water Landing and Snake River Falls are made by Arrow. Here's a view over the ride station and exit ramp bridge.

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The next few shots will follow a splash from start to finish. First, the drop.

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Then, the moment of impact.

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A wall of water erupts...

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...and everyone on the bridge gets soaked.

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The mist falls away and the boat slows down...

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...with water still pouring over the front.

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Everyone laughs and has a good time.

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Now for some zoom shots of the same. First, climb the lift, then circle the enclosed area at the top.

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Wave to the next boat as the plunge begins.

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An interesting mix of fear and excitement.

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Here it is -- that very moment when the water starts to kick up.

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A fraction of a second later, it's nothing short of an explosion.

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Another boat of happy customers.

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Another view of the splashdown from an oblique angle.

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Not sure I'd keep my mouth open with all that water-of-questionable-quality flying around, but have at it!

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Meanwhile, up on the bridge...

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...it's another downpour.

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Back on dry land, here's exception #2 to my "familiar ride sign" rule. I have no idea what this is supposed to be, and the less I think about it, the less likely I'll see it in my nightmares.

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Hydra will get the honor of the last few shots from my day at Dorney Park.

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Here's a close-up of the ride sign. I do love the concept and the theme that Dorney was going for. Hercules, a doomed wooden coaster, stood in this spot from 1989 to 2003. Greek Mythology was invoked, as Hydra -- a nemesis of the hero Hercules -- was chosen as the name of the replacement B&M.

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I don't think you're supposed to climb on that.

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Sadly, my enjoyment of the theme can't save the ride. Hydra is one of my least favorite B&M coasters.

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I've been on more exciting first drops on family coasters and log flumes.

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It's kind of an interesting footnote that Hydra shares a color scheme with its far superior inverted older sibling -- Raptor at Cedar Point.

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Hydra is sort of a random assortment of standard B&M inversions, but taken too slowly to produce any excitement.

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Also, it has a cobra roll. I don't like cobra rolls.

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They don't make for bad pictures, though.

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Oh, hey Steel Force, I see you sneaking in on my Hydra photo set.

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That's all from Dorney Park!

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Dorney was an interesting day. It was really hard to follow up to the fantastic day at Knoebels. My favorite thing had to be those ride safety songs on the wild mouse and Demon Drop. They were just so absurd that I couldn't help but laughing

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Dorney, like Worlds of Fun and ValleyFair, is a generic Cedar Fair park. I do like Talon and Steel Force (just a sucker for the old Morgan coasters, I guess), and their log ride is very good.

 

But those safety spiels for the Wild Mouse and Demon Drop were hilariously cheesy.

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Dorney Park was an interesting park. I don't think I've ever seen a park so dead on a Saturday (the water park had a decent amount of people though), but the dark clouds in the sky in the morning may have helped scare some people away. Steel Force was my #100 (I will most likely hit my #200 at Kentucky Kingdom this Summer), I actually liked Hydra and its jojo roll right out of the gate, the classic log flume was fun, I enjoyed the forceful drop of Demon Drop, and I really enjoyed the last couple of hours at the Wildwater Kingdom water park so it was a good day (or ⅔ of a day) for me. Thunderhawk was really rough for me and was my least favorite classic coaster (pre 1960s) I've ridden, and Dominator was probably the most boring drop ride I've ever ridden (I didn't even realize it had two types of drops on the tower). I missed out on a few of the things you did, such as the two scenic trains (I don't think I even noticed them), the Whip (I just rode the one at Knoebels and didn't realize this one had historical significance), and Screamin' Swing (it wasn't open when I went by it in the morning and I didn't think it was going to open due to the lack of crowds). I kind of rushed the park after 11 AM trying to get all the credits and some of the flats done before lunch so I could enjoy Wildwater Kingdom after lunch.

 

Wildwater Kingdom was a lot of fun (espcially the new capsule drop Python Plummet slides) and that's where Fast Lane really came in handy, skipping all the lines for the slides that had a Fast Lane option. There were so many water slides at Dorney Park that I couldn't try them all in the short time we had, so I just tried the ones that had Fast Lane (which helped a lot) and the ones w/o Fast Lane that had a short standby wait. I had to miss out on some cool looking slides that didn't have Fast Lane such as Patriot's Plunge due to the standby lines being too long. Wildwater Kingdom is good enough to be its own separate gate water park. I feel the reason its included with Dorney Park is to get more into the Dorney side of the park, not the other way around. People who go to Dorney (especially coaster enthusiasts) and don't go to the water park are probably going to think Dorney is bland and boring (which the ride side kind of is) and be done with it quickly. People who go to the Wildwater Kingdom side and enjoy water park attractions will most likely have a good time at Dorney though. I can't imagine how dead Dorney Park is when Wildwater Kingdom is closed (outside of Haunt).

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I don't think I've ever seen a park so dead on a Saturday (the water park had a decent amount of people though), but the dark clouds in the sky in the morning may have helped scare some people away.

 

No, the fact that it was Dorney helped scare people away. Wildwater Kingdom is the main draw for them.

 

We've tried to follow Knoebels with Dorney before and it's really underwhelming because the only 2 standouts are Demon Drop and Thunder Creek Mountain just because they're unique. After Phoenix and Twister all of their coasters are a bit "meh". Also after a day at Knoebels any of the flats (especially cedar Creek flyers) would just make you mad.

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We've tried to follow Knoebels with Dorney before and it's really underwhelming because the only 2 standouts are Demon Drop and Thunder Creek Mountain just because they're unique. After Phoenix and Twister all of their coasters are a bit "meh". Also after a day at Knoebels any of the flats (especially cedar Creek flyers) would just make you mad.

 

Knoebels then Dorney is definitely the wrong way around.

 

Whenever I'm taking someone who's not as...devoted an enthusiast as some of us are...to Knoebels for the first time, I try to plan the trip to do a day at Dorney first, just for perspective. Here's a perfectly decent, average, "ordinary" park with some reasonably good rides. Okay, now you've got a basis to compare to other parks. Good. Now...here's Knoebels. Tends to make something of an impression that way.

 

Need to make it almost another three months before I can get back to Knoebels myself...too long by far!

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My favorite thing had to be those ride safety songs on the wild mouse and Demon Drop. They were just so absurd that I couldn't help but laughing

 

But those safety spiels for the Wild Mouse and Demon Drop were hilariously cheesy.

 

It's hilarious how those were the defining memories of the day!

 

Props to you for the Blue Jackets reference.

 

It sometimes isn't easy being a hockey fan in Ohio.

 

...I really enjoyed the last couple of hours at the Wildwater Kingdom water park so it was a good day (or ⅔ of a day) for me...

(snip)

People who go to Dorney (especially coaster enthusiasts) and don't go to the water park are probably going to think Dorney is bland and boring (which the ride side kind of is) and be done with it quickly. People who go to the Wildwater Kingdom side and enjoy water park attractions will most likely have a good time at Dorney though.

 

Thanks for sharing that! It gets at what I had figured based on the reactions of the people on the trip. I certainly didn't have a bad day at Dorney, and really did enjoy myself. However, the people who went to Wildwater Kingdom had a better day.

Edited by The Great Zo
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I'll also say this for Dorney: Their classic Whip ride is fun.

Agreed! I forgot they had a whip when I visited and it was one of the highlights of the day. It has much more snap to it than most the others. Both Kennywood and Knoebels disappointed in comparison.

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I agree that Dorney is a very middle-of-the-pack kind of park. It's not bad by any definition, but nothing makes it stand out. It's clean and generic mediocrity. I was also shocked at the crowds (or lack thereof) during the first Saturday in August. I've heard so much about how quiet the park always is, and didn't really understand until that day. I mean, the park was just so dead! After a little marathon of Talon during morning ERT, then picking up the other credits (with repeat rides where desired) after the park opened, I found that I was done. I had ridden my fill and could have gone home (if I was a local, that is). I then checked my watch to see that it was 11:51am. Not even 2.5 hours, and I was done. Like I said before, not a bad park. Just generic, and no rides worth getting excited over. Still a fun day. I rather enjoyed Talon and Steel Force. It was also nice to stroll down memory lane via the old school Intamin drop tower. Good times.

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Thanks for sharing that! It gets at what I had figured based on the reactions of the people on the trip. I certainly didn't have a bad day at Dorney, and really did enjoy myself. However, the people who went to Wildwater Kingdom had a better day.

 

I figured you enjoyed yourself with all those great pictures you took and a story to tell.

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I have been to Dorney just once and it was in 2003, on the Sunday during Labor Day week end, and GLAD I did because the following week they were announcing that Hercules was not going to return after that week end. Its last operating day was that Labor Monday! I had several rides on it. Although it was somewhat rough I really enjoyed it. It was a very interesting and intimidating wooden coaster, and also beautiful. Too bad it is no more. I also liked Steel Force. I like Morgan coasters. For sure those were kind of the first generation (with Arrow) of hypercoasters and engineering speaking they can't compare to other hypercoasters from Intamin or B&M that were built after, but still are enjoyable. I had been on Wild Thing the previous year and it is pretty much the same ride.

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Thanks for the great update of Dorney Park from two years ago! I had visited Dorney Park for the first time last June and had greatly enjoyed myself! They have an excellent collection of coasters and rides. I hope to visit again sometime within the next few years.

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Great TR Andy, and detailed as always! I think Dorney is a world-class park, but perhaps they are overshadowed by a number of truly awesome Pennsylvania parks nearby. Demon Drop truly terrified me!

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Great TR Andy, and detailed as always! I think Dorney is a world-class park, but perhaps they are overshadowed by a number of truly awesome Pennsylvania parks nearby.

Thanks Matt! That's totally an important point -- something that hurts Dorney through absolutely no fault of their own. Dorney's a good park, but there are three truly outstanding parks within a couple hours of Dorney: Hersheypark, Knoebels, and the next one on the trip.

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Day 10 -- Six Flags Great Adventure

Sunday, August 3, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Kingda Ka (x2)

Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom

Safari Off Road Adventure

Runaway Mine Train

Saw Mill Log Flume

-- Lunch --

Skyway (to Skull Mountain)

Skull Mountain

Road Runner Railway

Nitro

Batman: The Ride

The Dark Knight

Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train

Bizarro

Houdini's Great Escape

El Toro [back]

Kingda Ka [Front]

Green Lantern

Superman: Ultimate Flight

Parachute Training Center

-- Dinner --

Nitro [Front]

El Toro (x13) (ERT)

 

The Report:

 

Negative press from TPR's day at Six Flags Great America had already spread far and wide as the 2014 US tour continued further east. Those reports were likely read by thousands of people across the internet -- TPR members, coaster fans, and staff members from other parks. One of those parks was the last Six Flags park on the agenda -- Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Perhaps that helped ensure that the last day of the main part of the 2014 Mini East Coast trip would be an awesome one. Perhaps SFGAdv was already planning on being awesome anyway. Perhaps it was a little of both. The reason doesn't matter as much as the end result -- and it ended up as my favorite day at any Six Flags park ever.

 

We departed our hotel at 9 AM, heading off to a forested corner of Jackson Township, the home of Six Flags Great Adventure. We arrived at the front gate at 945 AM, and were greeted by some enthusiastic Six Flags staff members, who were anxious to get our morning started. We took a shortcut through a backstage passage between the front gate and parachute tower, then headed back toward Kingda Ka and Zumanjaro for our first rides of the day. Though Zumanjaro was on the agenda, it was having a slight delay in opening. Instead, we were ushered to Kingda Ka, for an unexpected double ride on the world's tallest coaster. After that, Zumanjaro was ready to go, so we made the long walk back to the world's tallest top tower. I do mean a long walk -- from Kingda Ka's station to Zumanjaro's station, it's over a quarter of a mile!

 

With rides on Zumanjaro complete at 1130 AM, we did a group photo, and thought our planned activities might be done. That was not the case! We were led by Six Flags staff through the infamous closed-off secret passage near El Toro, arriving in Frontier Adventures for our next stop -- the Safari Off Road Adventure. Many TPR members had considered skipping the wildly-popular safari attraction, owing to its length, and the expectation for very long waits. The latter proved not to be an issue, as we were led up the exit ramp, filling two ride vehicles for our own special tour of the safari! This was an awesome surprise, and really cemented the commitment the staff had made to ensuring we had a great day.

 

By the time the safari had ended, it was already 115 PM. That's the only problem with all this awesome extra stuff -- we still had an entire park to get through! I had a fantastic Q-Bot group for the day -- Zach, Nathan, and Troy -- and after a ride on the log flume and a stop for lunch, we got to work on the rest of the park's attractions. We took the Skyway to the west end of the park, working our way back east from there. Though we hit all the major coasters, we also made time for two very unique attractions -- Houdini's Great Escape and the Parachute Training Center tower. We also queued for a front row ride on Kingda Ka, a very worthwhile decision that greatly improved the quality of the experience.

 

This is the part of the report where I have to clear up a minor misconception with my friends from my Q-Bot group. I came into the day with 190 coasters on my count, knowing that I was entering a park with 12 coasters to ride. A significant milestone was going to occur, and a significant milestone is certainly worthy of a significant coaster. However, it was not I who decided that such a milestone should occur on the highly-rated and truly epic El Toro. In fact, this wonderful suggestion came from another source within the group! While I may have been eminently agreeable to the idea, at no time did I ever hold our Q-Bot hostage or otherwise behave in ill manner, in any attempt to force a particular order of operations during our very busy day at Six Flags Great Adventure. Rather, I was humbled by the support and congeniality I received from my partners, even as nearly every other TPR person we ran across wondered why the heck we didn't ride El Toro until almost 630 PM.

 

OK -- all sarcasm aside, you guys were awesome, and thanks for being witness to a big round number on a stinkin' incredible coaster.

 

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#200 on El Toro! (Photo credit: Nathan L) (Thumbs-up credit: Zach Z) (Also Standing-In-Line credit: Troy D)

There was one other very good reason for only getting a single ride on El Toro during the park's operating hours -- ERT. We closed our night with a full hour of exclusive ride time on one of the world's best coasters! I teamed up with Troy and took 13 rides during the spirited ERT session, which ended with a good prank from the ride's maintenance staff. The video of our Glowphest ERT at Knoebels had already been released on social media, complete with the "one more time" chant that led to our double rides that night. After we pulled into the El Toro station after what we'd thought would be the last ride of the evening, one of the park employees started up the chant, and we cheered as we were sent through for an extra cycle. The prank came moments later, as our trip up the lift hill in the complete darkness came to an unexpected and hilarious stop. After a short and obviously-intentional delay, we finished the final ride of the night, bruised thighs and all. What a great way to end it!

 

I apologize for not remembering the names of all the park employees who worked with us throughout the day, but everybody did a fantastic job for our group, and I want to give my appreciation for their efforts. Two I do recall, and want to commend, were safari host Kiki and supervisor Robbie Towns. Thank you!

 

We left Six Flags Great Adventure at 1145 PM, and made the trek toward New York City to wrap up the main segment of the Mini East Coast trip. After dropping off a group of people at the Newark airport, we finally arrived to our hotel in Manhattan at 130 AM. This is not where the story ends, as there are still a couple trip report segments left to go from our two days in NYC.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

High-end roller coasters are the big draw at Six Flags Great Adventure. I often look at a park's top 3 coasters as a point of comparison, and SFGAdv matches up very well with some of my favorite parks, including Cedar Point and Hersheypark. El Toro, Kingda Ka, and Nitro are world-class rides. There's a bit of a drop-off from there, with a glut of good-but-not-great B&M coasters, and not much in the mid-size coaster tier. SFGAdv is a thrill park, and its coaster collection is oriented in that direction.

 

Another word that can be used to describe SFGAdv is huge. The park covers a ton of ground, and can be daunting for a first-time visitor, as it was for me. With the safari included, one full day might not be enough to get on all of the park's rides -- I had to skip both the Ferris wheel and SkyScreamer, along with one or two other flats I would have liked to try, and several coasters I could have taken a couple extra cycles on. It's a very long walk from one end of the park to the other -- say, from Nitro to Kingda Ka. The non-coaster ride collection does seem to be pretty well-rounded, with an assortment of classics for all age groups, and a few rides that exist almost nowhere else in the world.

 

I mentioned earlier that this was my favorite visit to any Six Flags park. The coasters are a big part of that, but the way our group was treated by Six Flags staff was even more important. Let's not mince words: they were obviously compensating for the disaster of a day we had in Gurnee, but why wouldn't they? They saw a sister park failing spectacularly at both park operations and customer service, and decided they could do better. They succeeded.

 

Because this is still a Six Flags park, there are still certain things that should be expected -- rampant advertising, occasionally inefficient operations, and a few employees who don't quite have the "friendly" setting turned all the way to the on position. It was nothing that had a major negative impact on the day, but it's a reminder not to expect Herschend/Disney levels of cordial service, or even the aesthetic pleasures of some of the best Cedar Fair properties. Still, amidst the typical Six Flags stylings, there are some truly well-themed and beautiful parts of the park -- and operations were generally good. So, I don't want this paragraph to read as exceptionally negative -- it's not perfect, but SFGAdv is certainly one of the best in the Six Flags chain at these things.

 

The Attractions:

 

Safari Off Road Adventure: This is truly an attraction that can't be missed -- a highlight of the entire Six Flags chain. It seems almost unfathomable that we'd considered skipping it in the interest of time, but I think we're all happy to get on our own safari vehicles without waiting, so thanks again to the Great Adventure staff for accommodating our group! I think the safari is at least on par with its most obvious major park sibling -- Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom -- and in fact, it's quite a bit longer. For us, the first leg took 25 minutes, we stopped for 30 minutes at Camp Aventura, and the second leg took 25 minutes. That's an investment of 80 minutes -- not a negligible amount, especially if there would have been a wait in line to board. Either way, it would have been well worth it. I enjoyed the variety of animals along the main safari path, with many of them able to get very close to the ride vehicles (especially the giraffes). I wasn't as impressed with the small, rudimentary enclosures at Camp Aventura -- hopefully some of those can be improved, for the sake of both the animals and the guests trying to view them. The staff throughout the safari were some of the best I've encountered at any Six Flags park -- to the point where only the gigantic green roller coaster hovering over the treeline reminded me I was at a Six Flags property. The El Toro ERT was the only part of the day I enjoyed more than the safari.

 

Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom: It might not be the most forceful drop ride in the history of amusements, but it's still the record holder as the tallest, and it's noticeable. It takes a while to get to the bottom of the Kingda Ka tower! It's a ride that combines outstanding views with an lengthy feeling of weightlessness, marking off two boxes that are always high on my checklist. This ride's biggest issue is capacity, as it's unable to run simultaneously with Kingda Ka, though that's not the fault of the park. It's also a very long walk to the ride station. With that said, Zumanjaro was very high on our group's list of rides we wanted to hit again (especially at night), but we simply ran out of time to do it.

 

El Toro: El Toro is a ride that will rip scabs off and make you bleed. Yes, that gory detail is thanks to an injury I sustained on the surfing attraction at Kings Island over a week prior, but I think it's a fair illustration of what El Toro can do. It's as intense and fun a coaster as I've been on -- the way the airtime hills are engineered is an act of twisted genius. Yes, the infamous "Rolling Thunder" hill is the sharpest of them all. I actually thought the airtime was more intense than on Skyrush, but thankfully, I greatly preferred the restraints on El Toro. One complaint? Not a fan of the train-wrapper advertisements that made their way into my milestone picture, but that's Six Flags. El Toro is an easy pick among my top wooden coasters -- probably #2 behind Outlaw Run.

 

Kingda Ka: The mixed opinions that this ride generates -- and rightfully generates -- are epic. I won't spend time worrying about the restraints (which aren't that bad) or the pointless hill before the brakes. Rather, rides on Kingda Ka are famously vastly different based on seating location. Our group waited for the front row during the afternoon, and we all loved the experience. It was one of my single favorite coaster rides of the entire trip -- ridiculously intense and fast, but smooth and comfortable. While Zach and I had two decent mid-row rides on Kingda Ka in the morning, Troy and Nathan were in the back row of a car further behind us, and their rides were excruciating. I won't hesitate to put Kingda Ka in my top 20 steel coasters, because my afternoon ride was that good. However, this is a coaster that simply must be experienced in the front row. Thankfully, it only added about 15-20 minutes to our wait -- far less than the 45-90 minute waits that can be common for the front row on Top Thrill Dragster.

 

Nitro: I'll never understand how similar coasters can differ on whether or not they're better to ride in the front or back of the train. I've been on several B&M hypercoasters that begged for the back row -- Wildfire, Diamondback, Apollo's Chariot -- but Nitro was the opposite. We were all underwhelmed with a back row ride during the day, but our front row ride at night significantly changed our opinion on the coaster. Nitro's very good -- one of the better B&M hypers, with a fun journey of a layout.

 

Bizarro: Bizarro is alright, I guess. It made very little of an impression on me, which simply kills its importance at a park with the three coasters listed above. It's about as cookie-cutter as a large B&M looping coaster can get -- a cut-and-paste assortment of elements. It's a big step up from Hydra at Dorney Park, but I thought Dominator and Superman: Krypton Coaster were quite a bit better.

 

Superman: Ultimate Flight: The pretzel loop is awesome. The rest of the ride is decent, at best. I can't wait to get on a better B&M flyer than this one, but that's looking unlikely to occur in 2016.

 

Green Lantern: This ride is a near-clone of Mantis, and my opinion was similar to that of Cedar Point's former stand-up coaster -- one ride is enough. With Mantis having converted into Rougarou, it's the clear winner now. Green Lantern's layout is pretty good, but the stand-up trains just don't do it for me.

 

Batman: The Ride: On the 2013 TPR tour, we rode five Batman clones. The 2014 tour only had two. I'm actually alright with that -- I do like these rides, and they are quite intense, but I prefer a more expansive layout.

 

Runaway Mine Train: This isn't a bad mine train -- far better than Trailblazer at Hersheypark, which I'd just been on a few days earlier. The layout has some hills and helixes, with the final turn over the water being one of the most photogenic sections. It won't challenge the best (Thunderation and Road Runner Express) but it's not an automatic skip like a few others.

 

Skull Mountain: Skull Mountain is a decent little Windstorm-esque ride in the dark. It's not a favorite, but if you like tight twists and dips without being able to see where you're going, this one's for you.

 

The Dark Knight: I'd been on the version at Six Flags Great America twice, but this was my first time actually being forced to watch the pre-show! I probably jumped at the loud noises. Anyway, that was more memorable than the coaster, so I guess that says it all about this one.

 

Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train: These giant-trained Tivoli coasters are hilarious to watch, but not particularly exciting to ride. My most vivid memories of this one are the wait -- about 20 minutes -- and the unnecessarily loud horn that goes off when a train dispatches. This ride has since been re-themed into the Harley Quinn Crazy Train. Cue the Ozzy.

 

Road Runner Railway: Awful Zamperla Kiddie Coaster #4 of 5 on the trip was yet another unpleasant experience. We were joined on the train by a mom and her young son, who asked our group after the ride: "that wasn't good, was it?" Her kid was not pleased. See? It's not just us degenerate coaster enthusiasts who don't enjoy these awful contraptions. The target audience doesn't like them either.

 

Saw Mill Log Flume: This was the fourth consecutive day on the trip at a park with a classic log flume! What I liked most about this one is that the majority of the ride is spent on an elevated trough, with two small drops on the raised section. The final hill isn't anything special, but this is certainly a good flume that I'm glad the park has kept around.

 

Skyway: This is a classic Von Roll skyway, originally built for the 1964 World's Fair in New York, and relocated to Six Flags Great Adventure in 1974. The views are great, but the operations were not -- this double-skyway was running slowly at half capacity, leading to one of the longer waits of the day.

 

Houdini's Great Escape: This was my first ride on a Vekoma Madhouse, and I found the effect fairly convincing. It's a fun, disorienting spin cycle in the home of Harry Houdini, with most of the thrills coming from the suggestion of motion rather than the actual motion of the ride vehicle. I was also extremely impressed with the theming and pre-show -- this was close to Disney quality, which is a huge compliment for a Six Flags park. The audio (Houdini's voice) was not as clear as I'd have liked, but I've made similar complaints about several Disney attractions as well.

 

Parachute Training Center: An extremely rare Intamin parachute tower, it's somewhere between an observation ride and a drop ride -- a gentle rise, a gentle fall, and some nice views along the way. This isn't meant to be a thrilling attraction, but it's a classic, and definitely something I enjoyed.

Edited by The Great Zo
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