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


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Great update!

 

I've always wanted to take the Roosevelt Island tramway but haven't because I was under the impression that there was nothing to do on Roosevelt Island. Maybe I'll reconsider.

 

Also, the new Yankee Stadium is an abomination. It shouldn't be allowed to have the name "Yankee Stadium", it's the most soul-less, corporate shopping mall with a baseball field in the middle of it I've ever seen. I loved the old stadium and the cramped concourses almost added to the charm. This thing is terrible, and as an added bonus the atmosphere it's created makes Yankee Stadium one of the quietest stadiums in all of sports.

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Thanks Nathan, Bill, and Zach!

 

Now moving on to the start of the end -- the final segments of the 2014 trip report.

 

Day 12 Part 1 -- Coney Island / Luna Park

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Cyclone (x3)

Cyclone [back] (x2)

Thunderbolt (x2)

Sea Serpent

Circus Coaster

Wild River

The Tickler

-- Lunch --

Coney Island Raceway

Soarin' Eagle

Steeplechase

Spook-A-Rama

Wonder Wheel [swinging]

Ghost Hole

Steeplechase Pier

 

The Report:

 

After meeting in the lobby of the Affinia Dumont, TPR headed to the subway, taking the orange line to Coney Island. We arrived there at 930 AM, meeting up with a few locals, and preparing for ERT on Cyclone and Thunderbolt. This was a slightly-smaller TPR group -- probably about 25-30 people -- and we split up between the two coasters.

 

I started on Cyclone, and found the enthusiastic ride crews quite willing to send the train around for multiple laps -- with apologies to anyone in the back row, which may have included me. Thunderbolt was next on the agenda, with our ride time finishing up at about 1045 AM. We got thundersticks. We tried to behave like adults with them. That doesn't always work.

 

Once ERT was done, we had a few hours free to explore the rest of Coney Island. Most of the amusements at Coney Island are contained within Luna Park, which is owned by ride manufacturer Zamperla. A small pocket of land is owned by the separate Deno's Wonder Wheel park, with some smaller operators controlling a few other attractions in the area. Zach and I opted to get our riding done quickly, focusing first on the other coasters, but also getting one spin on the log flume. We headed to Nathan's for lunch at about 1215 PM, and got back to riding -- finishing the rest of the coasters, and meeting up with Martin for our few swings on the famous Wonder Wheel. We finished up at about 2 PM, and with an hour to spare before our 3 PM meeting time, I headed to the boardwalk and pier for some additional photography.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

It seems like I'd be able to do a better job reviewing this place if I'd seen it in its original, pre-Zamperla condition. I've heard it wasn't exactly a great place to hang out. My impressions, then, are shaped by these notions I never saw with my own eyes. What I experienced was a place that's a lot of fun to spend a few hours at, without feeling like there was anything seedy or unsavory lurking around the corner. Did it lose some of the hokey, carnival atmosphere? I don't mind if it did -- I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing. Hopefully, as the re-development continues, the last remaining "rough around the edges" spots will improve as well.

 

So, I like the place in general, but what about the rides? This is where the review has to take a nosedive -- for a seasoned park enthusiast, it's just not a good collection. One has to understand that Luna Park is owned by Zamperla, and they run it like a showroom for their own attractions. If they were going for the Europa Park (Mack) model, they're dealing with a deck that's several cards short. I'm not huge on flat rides, but I guess I can give them credit for making a few that are interesting -- such as the Air Race and Disk'o. Let's be honest -- two of the most important rides at Coney Island are at Deno's instead of Luna Park -- the Wonder Wheel, and Spook-a-Rama.

 

I had no problems with operations or crowds -- the park wasn't overly busy, and the employees (especially at the Luna Park properties) were all fantastic. The two Luna Park managers we worked with were great, and I appreciate that they came out to meet with us and answer questions.

 

It's not strictly part of the amusements, but it's a waste to come to Coney Island and not spend a little time on the beach or the pier. I can't go that close to the water and not take in some of the seaside atmosphere.

 

The Attractions:

 

Cyclone: Are there really people who were upset that this ride has been extensively re-tracked? I understand the historical implications, but isn't it more important to make the coaster comfortable? Our 2014 trip occurred when the work was almost complete -- there was still one unfinished section near the end. That section was bad -- I mean, Hades bad. The rest of the ride? Comfortable, smooth, and a whole lot of fun. Yes, I got roped into riding in the back, and sent around twice. The first drop from the rear of the train is, well, interesting. Honestly, I really enjoyed this coaster, and I'm going to proactively give it some points for the renovation work that was completed after our visit two years ago. It's not a top 10 wooden coaster, but it might be in my top 20.

 

Thunderbolt: I'm going to sincerely hope that whatever was wrong with this ride in early August 2014 has been fixed, because it was simply not good. I love the layout -- it looks like a Eurofighter on angel dust, with sharp and snappy elements designed with an enthusiast's desires in mind. The problem is that these elements might actually be too snappy -- at least for the poorly-thought-out trains, which provided a remarkably uncomfortable ride experience. It wasn't just the seats -- though with unpadded shoulder straps, and hard plastic with no cushion, that was surely a part of the problem. Rather, it felt like the ride was having trouble tracking correctly -- like the wheels weren't solid on the rails. That's really problematic for any coaster, let alone one that had just opened that year. Slamming back down after the ejector airtime on the return run was just not a fun experience. We all wanted to love this coaster, but it was just too uncomfortable for me to ride more than twice.

 

Circus Coaster: The "awful Zamperla kiddie coaster" tour comes to an end -- this is the last of the five! Let's review.

-- Holiday World / Howler: Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster 80STD. Not good.

-- Hersheypark / Cocoa Cruiser: Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster 80STD. Still not good.

-- Dorney Park / Woodstock's Express: Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster 80STD. Yup, still bad.

-- Six Flags Great Adventure / Road Runner Railway: Zamperla Family Gravity Coaster 80STD. Aggressively terrible.

-- Luna Park / Circus Coaster: Zamperla Speedy Coaster. Better? Better!

Yes, the Circus Coaster was the only one of the five that wasn't the standard off-the-shelf kiddie coaster model. It's a little taller, and a little longer, and somehow a little less uncomfortable. Thank you, Zamperla, for mixing it up a bit.

 

Sea Serpent: A little E&F Miler kiddie coaster -- it's the only coaster credit that's part of the Deno's park, instead of Luna Park. Check the box.

 

The Tickler: It's a pretty good spinning mouse, but it's still a spinning mouse, so you know what you're getting just by looking at it. Far from my least favorite coaster at Coney Island.

 

Soarin' Eagle: One and done. I give Zamperla credit for the spiral lift hill -- it's some pretty interesting engineering. I give them no credit for creating a ride that feels like you're the meat in a sandwich that's stapled in a panini press and then thrown through the spin cycle of an industrial-strength clothes dryer. Just not a pleasant experience.

 

Steeplechase: Can I finally give Zamperla some credit for real? This was my second favorite coaster at Coney Island. The rather confined layout is nothing special, but it's got a fun launch, and the motocoaster seating arrangement is something you won't find at every park. This is actually a good family ride -- a step up from the two kiddie coasters just up the boardwalk.

 

Wonder Wheel: Of course we rode on one of the swinging cars! I have to say -- the combination of the thick metal cage and the swinging motion made photography very difficult, and that's my favorite thing to do on a big wheel. I thought the motion was fun, though, so it was definitely worth it for the experience.

 

Spook-A-Rama: On a trip with several classic haunted house rides, this was my second favorite! Apparently this ride has been significantly refurbished since being impacted by Sandy in 2012. The props and scares were in good shape, and none of it felt cheap or carnival-quality in execution. I can't rank it above Knoebels' Haunted House, because that one's in a class to itself. Still, this one was great, and it's definitely worth a ride.

 

Ghost Hole: Ghost Hole was, uh, not good.

 

Nathan's: It's the hot dog restaurant that's practically synonymous with Coney Island, so as a first time visitor, I had to give it a try. How was it? It was awesome -- for a hot dog. Hot dogs have a ceiling. Even the best hot dogs can only be so good, compared to things like pizza, which can legitimately range from garbage to euphoria. Hmm, is that a bit of foreshadowing? Anyway, if you're a first-timer to Coney Island, you can do much worse than a really good hot dog -- like the friggin' White Castle across from the Cyclone that wouldn't even give me a cup of water. I might still be mad about that.

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Here's our stop -- the last station on the line, actually.

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TPR heads for the exit.

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The subway station had some park-related murals on the glass wall.

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I must admit that I don't recognize this coaster, though.

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We passed the main gate for Luna Park -- still closed this early in the morning.

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Our first stop for the day? The famous Coney Island Cyclone.

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Here's a bit about the history of the ride -- click to load if it's too small to read.

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Waiting for a train to come into the station.

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Notice the brakes -- this thing is still operated by hand!

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With the exception of the final segment of the ride, the Cyclone was running quite well.

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The trains, however, are remarkably strange. They're the most heavily-padded coaster trains I've ever seen.

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They're padded so heavily that it's a little bit of a challenge to fit two fully-grown adults into one row.

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The high turnaround in the distance was freshly-tracked, but the hill coming into the left side of the shot was not -- and it shows.

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After riding the Cyclone, we made our first visit to the boardwalk.

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It was still pretty empty, but that would change in a hurry over the next couple hours.

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We headed west on the boardwalk, with the beach to our left and Luna Park to our right.

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I will never understand the reasoning for plastering this incredibly-creepy face all over the place. "Scream Zone" isn't an inaccurate description.

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The gates were still closed...

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...but Thunderbolt was warming up for us.

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We had plenty of ERT on Thunderbolt!

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Here's a full train of happy TPR riders.

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Up the vertical lift they go.

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Oops, looks like only Andrew made it back, and he's thrilled.

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Oh, those two were hiding. Three survivors.

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Back-of-the-train coaster nerd shot.

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Up the lift for another ride.

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Aside from the fact that the ride vehicles are uncomfortable, they're also bizarre for their 3x3 seating layout.

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The first drop sure gets things started in a hurry.

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This might be the most comfortable part of the ride.

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Plenty of hangtime in the big vertical loop.

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I'm pretty sure it's riding on the upstop wheels here, which may not be a good thing.

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Thunderbolt has an incredibly narrow footprint for a coaster of its magnitude -- the whole thing is roughly 850 feet long by 50 feet wide.

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TPR riders react to the sharp airtime hills on the return run. That back wheel may be off the track.

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We were appreciative of the two Luna Park employees who met with us for questions on the boardwalk.

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They also gave us thundersticks!

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With ERT complete, we set off to ride the rest of what Coney Island had to offer. Here's a lousy picture of Sea Serpent, the kiddie coaster at the Deno's Wonder Wheel park.

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Circus Coaster is the "not quite awful" Zamperla kiddie credit at Luna Park.

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From here, it's obvious that Circus Coaster has a slightly taller and longer layout than the average Zamperla kiddie coaster.

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If you're looking for spinning flat rides -- from gentle to extreme -- Luna Park probably has you covered.

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The park's spinning mouse -- The Tickler -- was next on the list.

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I am struggling with the association of the concept of tickling and that horrifying face on the ride sign.

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Luna Park also has a Disk'o...

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...an air race, and Zamperla's version of a star flyer. Had to skip all three of these due to time restraints, but I probably would have only wanted to ride the swings.

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Across the street from Luna Park, this building houses the historic Shore Theater. In 2014, the theater was essentially abandoned, but as of 2016 there are plans for a restoration.

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Here's the one aspect of the old hokey, carnival atmosphere I've never been a fan of -- the freaks and creep shows. Have to admit that it's a part of the area's history and "charm," in a sense.

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Oh, and I guess I'm not a fan of this stuff either, but gluttony has always been a great American pastime.

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Yes, we're at Nathan's, and we're not here to order tiramisu.

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Nathan's is popularly associated with their "famous frankfurters." The whole "world's best Philly cheesesteak" thing? That's probably a tougher sell.

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Business was steady, but not overly crowded.

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Satisfied that I'd never challenge Joey Chestnut, it was time to head to the next coaster.

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Yup, it's a Volare. I'd almost rather eat a hundred hot dogs than ride one of these again.

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The spinning tower on the spiral lift hill is kind of neat...

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...but once you hit the top, all bets are off.

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The Luna Park employees gave us a card for one spin on the Coney Island Raceway, and I'm never one to turn down a race on the Go Karts.

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It's a pretty simple track on a flat plot of land, but it was fun.

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Along the way, you'll get some views of Thunderbolt...

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...and Nathan's, which they must remind you, is "the original."

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Steeplechase was up next.

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The loading procedure is a little bit awkward, but it's fun to race around like you're on horseback.

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Noted: instructions for properly straddling your horse.

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It's one quick turn out of the station...

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...on to the launch track...

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...and the green light signals the start of the race.

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After the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel is probably the second-most well known attraction at Coney Island.

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Here's Denos Vourderis, the patriarch of the family that owns the Wonder Wheel and its small adjacent theme park.

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A sign with some stats and historical information regarding the Wonder Wheel. Though it was the first of its type, this park sometimes seems to conveniently forget about Disney's California Adventure.

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Though the Wonder Wheel has several stationary cars (white) around the outer edges...

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...the real fun comes from riding in the swinging cars (red and blue), which slide on rails between the wheel's outermost rims.

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Let's take a ride!

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Here's a view from the inside, which makes it easy to see the rails that the red car in front of us is sliding around on.

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The rest of the Deno's property is mainly comprised of kiddie rides, which run right up to a fence at the edge of the boardwalk.

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The view of the beach from the top of the Wonder Wheel is pretty awesome.

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The long pier that extends south from the beach is called Steeplechase Pier.

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I'll have some pictures from the pier a little later on.

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Here's a view of the full Thunderbolt circuit -- one of three coasters in this picture.

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Zooming in a bit on the lift hill and loop.

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If nothing else, it's a fun coaster to take pictures of.

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The bright orange track stands out against any background -- blue sky or distant buildings.

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Couldn't time out a train on Steeplechase, but here's the ride sign from up above.

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Towering over Nathan's is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island.

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The skyline of lower Manhattan is visible from up top as well.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 12 Part 1 (continued)

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Next on the agenda was one of the independent ride operators at Coney Island, selling single-ride tickets to a few attractions.

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We decided to ride Ghost Hole, which is attractively decorated with a giant satan demon thing on the second level, and a vomiting mannequin on the sidewalk.

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Martin was super excited that the ride was over.

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The far better haunted attraction at Coney Island is Deno's Spook-a-Rama.

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It's just a better production overall -- between the two, it's no contest.

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I headed back over to Luna Park for a few shots of the log flume.

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It's just a standard carnival-style flume, but I'll ride just about any flume, anywhere, any time.

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The splashes weren't overly large, and the water was shielded from getting out into the midway.

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A head-on collision with a wave.

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Wild River has two drops, and both provided an acceptable amount of wetness.

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Everybody came off this ride laughing and smiling, so I guess it's a winner!

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Four flags fly atop Cyclone. Clockwise from the top left -- United States, New York City Parks and Recreation, New York City, and Italy. The NYC flag has since been removed in favor of a POW-MIA flag.

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Cyclone isn't an overly large coaster, but it still packs a punch, especially in the back row.

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A train passes through the final turnaround. I think this spot was the beginning of the awful, non-refurbished section of the ride.

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A view of the Cyclone sign from the east.

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Though the beach off to the east wasn't completely crowded quite yet...

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...it sure was getting hot.

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Views like this can make a person forget they're in NYC.

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Looking up at the Wonder Wheel.

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Thunderbolt heads off on another 90-degree drop.

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Honestly, some of the elements are just designed in a very strange manner -- shaped like a bunch of math equations gone wrong.

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Just west of Thunderbolt is the B&B Carousell, a classic ride with a history that dates to 1906.

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The carousell (spelled with two Ls) was restored in 2013...

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...and housed in a new pavilion on the boardwalk.

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Here's another landmark that's shown up in a few pictures -- the old Coney Island Parachute Jump. Long past its life as an amusement park attraction, it's basically a 250-foot tall empty shell of a tower on the boardwalk.

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With that said, it's considered to be one of the area's main landmarks, and it's certainly visible from just about anywhere.

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Adjacent to the parachute tower is the Steeplechase Pier, which extends out about two-tenths of a mile into Lower Bay.

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The pier had been recently rebuilt, after suffering damage from Sandy in 2012.

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A look back to where the pier connects to the boardwalk, under the shadow of the parachute tower.

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By this point of the day, the beach was becoming much more crowded.

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My main reason for visiting the pier was to get some distant shots of the rides at Coney Island, including Thunderbolt.

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The tall residential buildings provided some very interesting backgrounds for the roller coasters.

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Some people on the pier were goin' fishin'.

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Noted: don't be an idiot.

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The west end of the Coney Island beach was also quite busy, with big crowds extending all the way to the end.

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This might be the best place for an unobstructed view of the entire parachute tower.

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Out over the water for another view of the tower and the beach.

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Pretty much every Coney Island amusement fits in this single picture.

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For a different perspective, let's get a view over the pier from the other side.

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Thunderbolt rides the upstop wheels through the vertical loop.

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Cyclone chugs along, the Wonder Wheel swings forward, and Soarin' Eagle does whatever it does.

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Also at the end of the pier -- MCU Park, home to the Brooklyn Cyclones (a Class-A Short Season minor league affiliate of the New York Mets).

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The Brooklyn Cyclones even have a roller coaster themed scoreboard!

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Time to zoom in a little closer on Thunderbolt.

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Down the first drop...

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...through the loop...

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...and into the corkscrew.

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Panning right toward Soarin' Eagle and the Wonder Wheel.

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It's sure an interesting mess of twisted track.

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Heck, it's dangerous just climbing into the ride vehicle.

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The Wonder Wheel deserves its famous status...

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...as does the Cyclone.

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That is, if you can find the coaster behind the glut of umbrellas, pizza shops, ice cream parlors, and flags.

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This is totally off-topic, but I'm going to share the story anyway. When I visited NYC in 2007, I hadn't yet figured out how to vacation properly, and in particular was at a loss for finding a good place to eat. I asked a cabbie where to get the best pizza in Manhattan, and was happily directed to the Famiglia in Times Square. Ouch. I hope that cabbie's at least getting a good payout for giving that answer to the question he's probably been asked more times than any other. It was a mistake I did not make again.

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Back to the Cyclone, I can only imagine what those folks in the back row are thinking right about now.

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Heading through the big turn-around after the first drop.

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Small boat...

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...big boat.

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Another bridge in the distance -- this one is the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, which connects the Rockaway Peninsula to Brooklyn.

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Oh, and if the beach looked crowded before, this drives the point home for sure.

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A distant view of One World Trade Center from about 10 miles away.

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Juxtaposed with the parachute tower is this statue at the front of MCU Park. Who are these two men?

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Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese, sharing a pivotal moment on the field in 1947.

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With that, I headed east along Surf Avenue, passed Thunderbolt one last time, and met up with the TPR group with just a few minutes to spare. I was glad to finally get to visit Coney Island, and particularly enjoyed the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, and the atmosphere in general.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 12 Part 2 -- Scott's Pizza Tour

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 

After a morning and early afternoon at Coney Island, TPR headed back to Manhattan for a culinary journey through New York's most famous edible item -- pizza. How could anyone visit NYC without going out for pizza? Thankfully, we had just the guy to lead us to the right spots -- Scott, of Scott's Pizza Tour fame. TPR was quite appreciative, or perhaps just quite hungry.

 

Our trip took us to three pizzerias:

1) Lombardi's (Nolita). A famed coal-fired pizza restaurant that is recognized as the first pizzeria in the USA.

2) Forcella (East Village). A modern Neapolitan pizza restaurant. This spot has since closed down, though there are other locations.

3) Joe's Pizza (West Village). The quintessential New York pizza-by-the-slice.

 

Which was my favorite? You'll have to read on to find out!

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One last look at the Coney Island station, just before we headed back to Manhattan.

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Can't help but take some pictures of some buildings on the way.

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This is the Puck Building. That's a "P" -- you awful, awful people.

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Pickled everything.

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Hey, remember when we took a genre of music, added "nu" to the front of it, and made it terrible? Yeah, neither do I.

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Several TPR members considered a stop at the rather interesting rice pudding shop across the street...

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...but they thought better of it, 'cause we've got pizza to eat!

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While taking a picture of the Lombardi's signage at the corner of Mott and Spring, I unknowingly captured the moment when Scott first found our group!

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Attached to the basket of a delivery bicycle.

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This place is certified and inducted and everything else. It's one of those "been on every TV show and website" restaurants you find yourself a little bit leery of. Would Lombardi's hold up to the hype?

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Oh, well if the Mona Lisa's a fan, then sure.

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The pizza tour began with some gifts -- a journal for taking notes, along with some lemon candies and chocolate mints.

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Oh, and the gummi pizza.

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To start things off, we all met upstairs at Lombardi's to learn about the history of pizza in New York.

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Then, we were led down this dark corridor to the dungeons below.

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Ryan demonstrates maintaining a safe distance from the incredibly hot walls adjacent to the oven.

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We got to see the kitchen, and watch a few pizzas get thrown in the coal-fired oven.

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Scott hides behind a stack of pizza boxes, 'cause that oven is really stinkin' hot.

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See? Coal.

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Here's the Lombardi's pizza -- or, what's left of one! How was it? My favorite of the three, for sure. It's a different style than I've had before -- not exactly a traditional Neapolitan, but more refined than the standard New York slice. Lombardi's earned my seal of approval, and I even sent some family members there on a trip in 2015.

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From Lombardi's, we walked north on Bowery, passing some interesting architecture -- like this oddly-shaped building (the New Museum of Contemporary Art) with a random boat hanging off the side...

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...and this strange mismatch I can't even begin to describe...

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...and then there's this guy. This is not a joke. Serious Enquiries Only.

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Our second stop on the pizza tour? Forcella, in a now-closed location near Bowery and Bond.

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A little shot of the ambiance inside Forcella.

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Forcella is more of a typical Neapolitan style place, using a round wood-fired oven.

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In addition to a standard Neapolitan crust, Forcella also offered a fried pizza crust, which is something I'd never tried before -- almost like eating a pizza off an elephant ear.

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Scott played doctor and took the temperature of the oven -- it was a very large number that I suppose I should have written down in my pizza journal.

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Here's our pizza from Forcella. How was it? It was good, but not among my favorite Neapolitan pizzas, and couldn't hold up after having just eaten at Lombardi's. What was most amusing is the way the TPR group was split on their opinions of the fried pizza. I was not a fan, but several people thought it was fantastic!

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After leaving Forcella, we headed west, making our way toward the final stop on the tour.

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We arrived at Father Demo Square, at the corner of Bleecker and Carmine...

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...where some sort of cookout was going on at the same time as our visit.

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Either that, or everyone was just here for Joe's Pizza. So, how was Joe's? It's a classic slice of New York pizza -- it came in second for the day on my rankings. I was too busy eating for photography, so I'll have to direct you to this hilarious picture from Chuck's report instead: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/files/110_66.jpg

 

This tour was proof that TPR can have fun doing stuff that doesn't involve roller coasters. My thanks to Scott for showing us around!

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 12 Part 3 -- Top of the Rock

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

 

When the pizza tour ended at 730 PM, the official TPR activities for the trip were complete, and smaller groups split off to visit other locations on our final night in Manhattan. I joined with a few others who wanted a bird's eye view of the city at the Top of the Rock observation deck -- as if I would say no to visiting any observation deck. I'd been to the Empire State Building before, and wanted to try out the view from elsewhere, and correctly surmised that it'd be fantastic at night.

 

As expected, there was a lengthy wait to get to the top. By the time we arrived at Rockefeller Center until we finally emerged on the roof, it had been about two solid hours. Finally, at 10 PM, the view over NYC was ours -- and what a view it was!

 

I have to give huge credit to the Top of the Rock for one big reason -- they allow mini-tripods. The Empire State Building very strictly does not, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to set one up on their railings anyway. It's a fantastic setup for photographers at the Top of the Rock, so I'd absolutely encourage anyone to pick this place for night shots. I stayed up there until they started kicking everyone out, not getting back to ground level until almost midnight.

 

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Rockefeller Center and the Top of the Rock -- the end of the last official day of the trip.

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One more subway ride to go.

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Probably won't be challenging Holiday World for "cleanest park" any time soon.

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Returning to midtown Manhattan -- this famous venue was along the way.

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Atlas is a busy guy.

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Observation deck? Sign me up.

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But first, let's check out the rest of Rockefeller Center.

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History!

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No word on whether or not the historic landmark status includes the lopsided floral cow head.

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A look down into the Lower Plaza.

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In the winter, this is the location of Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink.

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Who says I can't pretend to appreciate art? Here's Paul Manship's sculpture of Prometheus.

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Just trying out some different exposure settings -- I think I like the blurred water in this one better.

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The Lower Plaza is lined with flags.

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Prometheus POV shot.

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During the summer, the Lower Plaza hosts a restaurant and bar.

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Despite being late in the evening on a weeknight, it's NYC, so this place was still crowded.

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A pleasant breeze.

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More Prometheus.

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OK, last one.

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TPR's Rockefeller Center crew -- Zach, Chris, Sean, and Ryan, plus the guy behind the camera.

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Oh, and there's the Lego version of where we're headed!

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Up there -- the top of what is formally known as the Comcast Building (then the GE Building), but better known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

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After two hours of waiting, the view immediately proved to be worth it!

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The lowest level of the observation deck is lined in plate glass, with slots that aren't quite big enough for a full-size camera lens. Thankfully, the upper level is very friendly for photographers, with no direct obstructions.

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The lights pointing at the top of the building can be distracting, but can also make for an interesting picture.

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So, here's the view northwest -- Central Park to the right, and the Hudson River off in the distance.

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Because I like tall buildings, here's a closer shot of two -- CitySpire Center on the left, and One57 on the right.

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Looking out over the expanse of Manhattan's upper west side.

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I bet many of us have crossed I-95 on the George Washington Bridge. Or, more likely, sat in traffic for an hour trying.

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Central Park stands out from the rest of the city. What's the bright spot well behind it?

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Yankee Stadium, viewed from almost six miles away.

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Another view over the observation deck area at the Top of the Rock. It was crowded in spots, but never impossible to get around.

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For when a wide-angle shot of New Jersey just isn't good enough.

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The west edge of the Top of the Rock is the only side that isn't as advantageous for pictures, because only one level of the observation deck (enclosed in glass) wraps around that side of the building.

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Looking northeast at a few more tall buildings. The extremely tall one is 432 Park Avenue, the second tallest building in the city.

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Citigroup Center is one of the most distinctive buildings in the NYC skyline, but I am not a fan.

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A view straight east toward the East River and Queens.

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Half-lit antennae on the top of the Top of the Rock.

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This shot provides an idea of what the view is like from the top level, with concrete pillars that make it easy to set up a camera with a mini-tripod.

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The incredibly bright building in the foreground is 383 Madison Avenue.

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Just behind it is the MetLife Building, and just behind that is one of my favorites -- the Chrysler Building. Unfortunately, it's partially obscured from this viewpoint.

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A look down to the southeast -- from roughly 850 feet above street level.

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Zoom in a little bit, and it's just a sea of buildings and lights.

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So, this is nice, but there's one view you've all been waiting for.

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Here it is -- the view south, with some moonlight assistance.

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The old cliche about "you can't see the Empire State Building from the Empire State Building" isn't just an empty saying. It's one of the best parts about the view from the Top of the Rock.

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As best I can tell, that's the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge way off in the distance.

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A few more buildings add color to the Manhattan skyline.

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The Statue of Liberty looks like a toy from up here.

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The Empire State Building does block the view of part of lower Manhattan, but One World Trade Center stands out.

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Zooming in on the most famous building in NYC.

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One World Trade Center was largely complete in mid-2014, but the observation deck had yet to open. That just might be an option for my next trip to New York.

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Panning to the right, and heading toward the brightest spot in Manhattan.

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Times Square is pretty hard to miss.

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The Bank of America Tower has a distinctive shape.

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Steam rises from the top of the tower.

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The colored spire on the Condé Nast Building matches the sky behind it.

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That spire changes colors, though.

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Happy New Year?

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1501 Broadway, also known as the Paramount Building. Wrap your head around this -- it's 391 feet tall, and that makes it the 360th tallest building in NYC.

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Hey hey hey, welcome to New York City!

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I think this picture was taken right about when they started booting everyone off the observation deck -- and I somehow looped my way back around to the top of the deck again, while the rest of the crowds were mostly gone!

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An interesting crystal structure near the elevator waiting area.

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One last shot on a moonlit night. What a view!

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 13 and beyond...

 

After a final night at the Affinia Dumont, TPR's two days in NYC -- and the entire 2014 US summer tour -- had come to an end.

 

Did I enjoy my time in New York City? I did. It was my 4th or 5th trip to NYC, and probably my favorite, as it was the first time I ventured outside of the main touristy parts of Manhattan. NYC is not my favorite city in the world -- honestly, I'm good with visiting once every five years or so. However, now I know a few sections of the city I'd like to spend more time in -- in particular, Central Park and the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan. There are probably hundreds of awesome pictures to take in the former, and dozens of interesting restaurants to try in the latter. I do have to admit the following: two days in NYC sure made me appreciate the demeanor of people back home in the midwest.

 

With the trip complete, I headed out to Long Island to spend a few days with my brother. What follows is a short epilogue of some interesting spots we visited on the largest island in the continental US.

 

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A parting view of New York City on the ride out of town. Oh, and exiting the city at about 10 AM is a great way to avoid traffic!

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First stop? Jaynes Hill -- the highest point on Long Island.

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It's located near the birthplace of poet Walt Whitman, who is said to have visited the summit while writing!

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Some stats about Jaynes Hill, which is a tourist attraction only for truly strange people.

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Meet the Big Duck. It's a big duck. I guess that's about all there is to it.

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Oh, now this is better!

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The Montauk Point Lighthouse, located at the easternmost tip of Long Island.

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The actual easternmost point is somewhere down there, with the waves crashing against slippery, jagged rocks. Not in the mood to crack my skull at the edge of the Atlantic, I figured this was close enough to almost count it.

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Pretty nice view from the top.

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Adjacent to Montauk Point is Camp Hero State Park, home to dramatic bluffs over the ocean...

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...and a giant Cold War era decommissioned military radar.

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Checked out the view over Long Island Sound from the Montauk jetty...

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...and the view over the beaches on the Atlantic from Old Montauk Road.

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Some interesting ecology at the Walking Dunes of Hither Hills State Park...

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...with tall hills of dark tan sand.

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Got to take in the view of a rainbow and a departing hail storm from Smith Point Beach...

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...as huge waves crashed ashore.

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Smith Point is also home to the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial. It's one of the closest points of land to the site of the crash.

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The memorial includes flags for all of the nationalities of the victims, and a large granite carving inspired by the famous piece of Japanese art, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa."

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The Fire Island Lighthouse was the last stop on the tour of Long Island.

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It's probably one of the best lighthouses I've ever climbed -- tall, photogenic, and not busy at all, even on a summer day...

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...and home to spectacular views over Fire Island.

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Oh, and if you like birds, you're in luck.

 

After three days on Long Island, I traveled back to Cincinnati on Saturday, August 9. It was, shall we say, a bit of a circuitous journey -- the classic four-airport three-hop 12-hour trip. Yes, that works out to longer than it would take to drive.

 

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The journey started at Islip's Long Island MacArthur Airport.

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It's one of those super-tiny, super easy-to-get-around airports, and a lot nicer to fly out of than any of the big facilities closer to the city.

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Philadelphia was up next...

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...followed by Washington DC...

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...and finally, a return home to Cincinnati.

 

2014 Conclusion

 

My second summer trip with TPR was a great two weeks on the road and on the rails. From a coaster standpoint, I gained several new entries into my top 10 wood and steel lists -- including rides like Phoenix, El Toro, Kentucky Rumbler, Skyrush, and The Great Pumpkin Coaster. In all, I took 195 coaster rides, earning 54 new credits, and flipping upside down 224 times. I hit #200 on El Toro, and set a new record for most consecutive rides on a single coaster with 19 spins on Kentucky Rumbler. Yes, these are all calculations I keep track of, because I like math and statistics.

 

The quality of the ERT on this trip was maybe its biggest highlight. Banshee, Beast, Lightning Run, Kentucky Rumbler, Mammoth/Wildebeest/Voyage, Storm Runner/Fahrenheit, Phoenix, and El Toro -- all on the same trip! That's a remarkable collection of rides -- just about every night of the trip ended with something truly spectacular, and basically impossible to duplicate without a tour like this one.

 

Of course, I can't ignore the people on the trip as well -- the chance to see some awesome folks from the 2013 tour again, and to make some new friends as well. That's to say nothing of the people planning the whole thing -- and I give my thanks to Robb and Elissa for their meticulous planning, through very long days and occasional frustration, to provide a world class experience for everyone on the trip.

 

The best news of all? I'm done with my 2014 trip report, which means I'm back to being officially only one year behind! I'm not sure what I'll start writing next, but there are always ideas and plans in the works, as long as I can find the time.

 

Or, sometimes, when that time finds me, and it's time to pack up again...

 

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...wherever I may be headed next.

 

See ya!

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I agree with your assessment of both the Cyclone and Thunderbolt completely. Thunderbolt's layout is great, but it needs a good train.

 

Spook-a-Rama was better than I'd hoped (ended up riding it three times). Nice work on this TR, Andy--very entertaining and informative.

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Great reports Andy!

 

Fun fact...if you look at the picture below, to the left of those three tall brown buildings you'll see a short but wide tan building about 5 stories tall. That was my elementary school! UNIS!

 

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Nice work on this TR, Andy--very entertaining and informative.

Thanks Chuck, it is much appreciated.

 

Fun fact...if you look at the picture below, to the left of those three tall brown buildings you'll see a short but wide tan building about 5 stories tall. That was my elementary school! UNIS!]

 

Wow, that's awesome! I looked back through my pictures and it turns out I had one with a zoomed-in view, while I was trying to get a shot of the boat going down the East River.

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I've said this many times before, but great report Andy! Reading through this whole thing has brought back some great memories from the trip. I had such an amazing time thanks to Robb, Elissa, and everyone on both tours. It was awesome getting to meet you (and everyone else) and riding some really great roller coasters!

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Great reports Andy!

 

Fun fact...if you look at the picture below, to the left of those three tall brown buildings you'll see a short but wide tan building about 5 stories tall. That was my elementary school! UNIS!

 

 

Hi Elissa! UNIS is a great school! As a native NY-er (UWS), I've heard terrific things about it. How funny that you noticed the school amongst all these photos - GREAT photos I must add! Coney Island is my "home park," although I haven't been there in many years. I rode the Cyclone on its 75th anniversary. Rough but oh-so-memorable. And I was one of the last people to catch a ride on the Parachute Jump just before it sadly closed, many moons ago! What fun to see Andy's treasure of photos of the "new" Coney Island. I still long for "Steeplechase" - The Funny Place." It was AMAZING! (And to those who've mentioned that "creepy face" plastered over Coney Island, that face was the entrance to Steeplechase Park. My dream place to go as a kid. Sheer magic!)

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I've said this many times before, but great report Andy! Reading through this whole thing has brought back some great memories from the trip. I had such an amazing time thanks to Robb, Elissa, and everyone on both tours. It was awesome getting to meet you (and everyone else) and riding some really great roller coasters!

 

Thanks Nathan, this was a really fun trip and it was great to ride some coasters together at a few parks.

 

Great report Andy! Brings back memories of Banshee Bash, and meeting up with TPR at Knoebels.

 

Yup, the day at Knoebels was one of the best. Very nice to meet you there!

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  • 8 months later...
Reading through some of your trip reports. Excellent work! Thinking of doing a little tour myself.

Thank you for bumping this up! Spent a solid two hours going through this report. I would love to visit all of the parks mentioned in here (I've only been to SFGAm, and that was in 2005).

 

P.S.: Didn't realize how late it was until I looked at the clock on my computer after finishing reading this report.

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  • 1 month later...
Reading through some of your trip reports. Excellent work! Thinking of doing a little tour myself.

Thank you for bumping this up! Spent a solid two hours going through this report. I would love to visit all of the parks mentioned in here (I've only been to SFGAm, and that was in 2005).

 

P.S.: Didn't realize how late it was until I looked at the clock on my computer after finishing reading this report.

 

I'm from the East Coast so I've been to Hersheypark, Dorney Park, Great Adventure, Busch Gardens, and Kings Dominion. All the parks are great. Planning on doing Cedar Point in 2018 with RMC Mean Streak.

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