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That pic of you double fisting beer on the plane is classic! I've never been to Chicago so it's great to get a glimpse of it. I love aquariums as well and those white sided MJ dolphins they had look super cool. We stopped at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ on the way home from Philly earlier this year and it was surprisingly outstanding. Lots of cool demos, keepers roaming around with animals, great displays, interesting animals, extremely clean inside and a great food court with a real deal Icee machine. The only thing that was a letdown was their 3D theatre - skip that. Looking forward to CP!

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Awesome man! Shedd is the best aquarium anywhere, knew you couldn't pass that up. I've been to Wrigley and Fenway, and both are absolutely amazing experiences.

 

Chicago deep dish is an abomination. I know that may be anathema for a Midwesterner, but I really do like New York style better. You gotta try St. Louis style though when you do eventually come to Missouri. It's thin crust, topping heavy, and awesome. Imo's is the quintessential St. Louis chain. You may or may not like it, but it's everything Chicago style isn't.

 

Hancock tower is okay if you've never been in a tall building, but I thought the water tower was a better experience. Then again, I'm way more into history than you are. Good move on not spending half a day there.

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As always, thanks for reading and commenting guys! You're awesome!

 

I was there on a cold winter day for software training and took the opportunity to go atop the Willis Tower. The queue for the building was massive, but I think the weather kept everyone away as it was a walk-on and I had the entire top deck to myself. Those glass Skywalk booths were really terrifying and awesome. The views even on a slightly overcast day were breathtaking.

 

It's funny you say that. Since I live in New York I avoid a lot of the New York tourist traps like the plague. I'd rather die than walk through Times Square and I generally avoid the Empire State Building but if I'm ever there on a cold winter night we usually end up going up there. Yes, it's cold but cold air means amazing visibility and night time + cold air means no lines. It's great. We took the in-laws up there once on a cold winter night and Brit and I were loving it but they're from the south and I think they almost froze to death, at one point we turned around and saw them huddled together reenacting the floating door scene from Titanic . Then again, aren't the Chicago observation decks enclosed? Why would cold scare people away?

 

Woof, a Giordanos at Wrigley? You're brave, haha. I can't imagine how they re-heat/make them to serve at the park. No way in hell that could have been good. Sox stadium is known for food but outside of dogs and popcorn Wrigley isn't trusted.

 

Honestly it tasted really fresh (I know the cheese was) and they had ovens right there. I'm sure it would have been marginally better elsewhere but it was convenient and we were short on time. I get the idea that I probably wouldn't have been a fan no matter what. Ten years ago I probably would have been, but I no longer have any tolerance for greasy food and that was some greasy a** pizza. It's sad really... f*ck I'm old.

 

Just go to the Signature Room next time where the admission price is buying a drink at the bar vs paying whatever they charge tourists to stand and dodge selfies literally one floor up.

 

Sh*t! I wish I knew about this. Oh well, next time I guess. Thanks for the tip!

 

Deep Dish seems to be a love it or hate it thing. There really doesn't seem to be an in-between (except with the chain Unos, which isn't like the real thing).

 

Oh my god I could not agree more about the deep dish pizza.

 

Chicago deep dish is an abomination.

 

Glad it's not just me. lol

 

cooked in a bowl with the bread on top, then they flip it over to make a bread bowl kinda deal when they serve it to you.

 

Sounds interesting. Maybe I'll give it a shot. though...

 

If you're ever back in Chicago, make sure to hit up the South Side joint Vito and Nicks. It's essentially the antithesis to typical Chicago-style pizza. It may be more up your alley.

THIS sounds more my speed.

I don't want to be the guy that goes to Chicago to eat New York style pizza, but I might have to be. lol

 

We stopped at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ on the way home from Philly earlier this year and it was surprisingly outstanding. Lots of cool demos, keepers roaming around with animals, great displays, interesting animals, extremely clean inside and a great food court with a real deal Icee machine.

 

lol Boldikus was just telling me about this place yesterday. It's on our radar for sure!

 

Awesome update! Can't wait for the next one!
I'm glad you guys had a fun time. I look forward to your CP TR.

Thanks as always guys!

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I have zero interest in baseball, but I have a thing for classic old stadiums, regardless of what sports they are being used for. So I love the pictures from Wrigley Field, particularly the one with the catwalks leading to the upper tier. Yes, it may not have the comfort factor of a new build, but it just oozes character and charm and I'd take that any day over a soulless new concrete bowl!

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It's a shame you didn't like Giordano's. I've had it a few times in Chicago and loved it every time! I don't remember it being particularly greasy, and I hate greasy food too. If you had meat on yours, I wonder if that could be part of the greasiness?

I'm from California, though, so I love pizza but I'm not a huge pizza snob like you New Yorkers are.

 

LOVED the dolphin pictures! They're so cute! Was that a calf I saw?

 

Probably didn't miss much skipping the Hancock tower, I feel like you guys would have been disappointed and unimpressed if you waited that long for it.

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I have zero interest in baseball, but I have a thing for classic old stadiums, regardless of what sports they are being used for. So I love the pictures from Wrigley Field, particularly the one with the catwalks leading to the upper tier. Yes, it may not have the comfort factor of a new build, but it just oozes character and charm and I'd take that any day over a soulless new concrete bowl!

 

Absolutely! Personally I love baseball but the cool thing about baseball is that even if you don't like the game that much the slow paced nature of it means it's a great excuse to sit outside in the summer, drink a few beers, shoot the breeze with the people you're sitting with and (in this case) check out an awesome piece of history. Everyone who visits Chicago should go to Wrigley. Even though I'm a big baseball fan, I didn't have a dog in the fight so I remember very little about the game itself.

 

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Anyway, time for the final installment of our Labor Day weekend road trip!

 

Since we didn't do the tower and left Chicago earlier than anticipated we found ourselves (for once) shaking hands with the clock. While we had initially planned on starting our drive late Sunday night and getting a hotel somewhere in Indiana, we were way ahead of schedule and by 11:30 we found ourselves making the familiar drive down Milan Rd in Sandusky on the way to our hotel.

 

We had stopped at a rest area in Indiana (not to get graphic but we had just eaten personal pies from Giordano's and my Empire State digestive system was pissed off) and while there I did something that proved I never learn and booked another Sandusky Econo Lodge from the Choice app. Sandusky has two Econo Lodges very close to each other but this time we were staying at the one on Route 6 across from the Thirsty Pony and I actually highly recommend it. I don't recommend it in the sense that it's an overly amazing room (it's dated for sure), but it's clean, very cheap and the location is second to none as it's right at the entrance to the park. Choice Privileges has made me a little spoiled as I'm slowly getting accustomed to their nicer brands like Sleep Inn and Comfort Suites but sometimes I end up compromising quality for location and this location was perfect.

 

As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out, and in what seemed like a split second I woke up 8 hours later to the sound of my alarm going off. Initially I was pissed (as I generally am when I hear my alarm going off), but a split second later I remembered my alarm wasn't going off to remind me that it was time to go to work but instead it was going off to remind me that it was time to go to Cedar Point. I suddenly felt much more awake and excited at the prospect of my alarm going off. Funny how that works...

 

We packed up the car (poor little Honda... don't you wish a normal person would have bought you instead of someone that drives all over the country and beats the living sh*t out of you on a daily basis so they can go ride roller coasters like a 12 year old?) and a few minutes later we were on our way down the Causeway with about 15 minutes to spare before opening.

 

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Good Morning!!!

Knowing we had to leave at 4:00 I had already worked out a pretty solid strategy in my head for how we wanted to hit the park, so we parked the car as far left as possible with the intention of walking to the Marina gate to beat the crowds to Valravn before heading back to Maverick for the rest of Early Entry. The last few days had been a little cool for Labor Day weekend, but as I stepped out of the car I couldn't help but take a moment to appreciate the summer like weather, abundant sunshine and nice mild summer breeze...

 

 

 

 

... wait

 

 

 

 

... mild summer breeze?

 

 

 

 

Sh*t!!!! Anything but that. MILD BREEZE? F*CK!

 

Knowing what park we were at, I quickly pulled out my phone and realized we might have a problem. The forecast was calling for 20 MPH sustained winds with some stronger gusts. At most parks nobody would give a sh*t but at Cedar Point that's enough to make the entire peninsula come to a screeching halt and make park executives crawl into the fetal position under their desks and cry. At the moment, winds were at about 18 mph but they were set to get a little higher as the day went on so I quickly adjusted our plans. Maverick would have to wait.

 

Back when we thought we'd only have time for a few rides (before we left Chicago so early) we really only had 3 must-rides. Gatekeeper (Brit's favorite), Maverick (because we both love it) and Millennium Force (my favorite). If there happened to be a convenient transportation system between Millennium Force and Gatekeeper we would have slipped that in too, but you already knew that.

 

Now though, we were there for Early Entry and I was feeling greedy. We decided to stick to the plan of going to the Marina gate and riding Valravn first to beat the rush, but instead of heading to Maverick next we decided to go up to Gatekeeper which was guaranteed to go down for wind and ride that until a few minutes before the park opened. Then, we'd walk back through the holding gates and get in line for Raptor for it's 10:00 opening because we both knew that despite it's catchy tag line about "ruling the sky", Raptor only rules the sky until there's a light breeze. Once that happens Raptor surrenders the sky and takes cover in the transfer shed line a scared little b*tch.

 

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. With our new strategy planned out, we made our way down the walkway along perimeter road (crossing the same street twice since whoever designed that walkway was clearly high) and found ourselves in a short line for the Marina gate right as the national anthem started playing. We made it through security in a breeze (why is Cedar Fair so much better at this than Six Flags?) and a few minutes later found ourselves walking on to the front row of the world's tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster.

 

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I love this ride.

I know this ride isn't a favorite of enthusiasts, but Valravn kicks a**. It's one of the smoothest coasters ever built, the view from the top is stunning, the dives are awesome and I actually really, really love that weird little barrel roll. It's not going to make many top 10 lists, but Varlavn is a home run and our train returned to the station to an eruption of cheers. What an awesome way to start the day!

 

On our way out we said hi to Josh (who was crushing it per usual) and made our way over to Brit's favorite bird.

 

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X Flight was nice and all, but her heart belongs to Gatekeeper. lol honestly I should probably be jealous.

Gatekeeper is actually one of my favorite early entry rides because while riding it first is strategically asinine (unless it's windy and you're worried about it closing like in this case), you can get a ton of rides in. We managed 3 front row rides in about 25 minutes and as usual, every single one of them was absolute perfection. The ride's not forceful at all, but honestly that's really not the point of Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper is all about the insane keyholes, one of the best first drops on any steel coaster anywhere and the awesome (and super smooth) sensation of flight the ride provides. Plus, Brit must have been feeling generous and on one ride she even let me have the wing seat (I normally give it to her every time since she's so in love with this thing, in return she gives me the Kumba magic seat so it's a fair trade deal).

 

After our third ride we saw that we had about 5 minutes until opening so we quickly made our way back towards the main gate and (due to poor planning) almost got trampled by a few hundred people as they opened the gates as soon as we got in front of them. Luckily we weren't crushed by crazed coaster enthusiasts (that would have been sweet revenge for them I'm sure), and we were rewarded for our bravery by getting to Raptor when it was only posting a 15 minute wait time. No guts no glory in the theme park world I guess.

 

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I f*cking love Raptor.

Part of me wanted to go to the first available row since I knew this ride wouldn't be open long, but I like to live dangerously so we opted for the front. The line didn't look too bad and lucky for us our gamble paid off and 10 minutes later we found ourselves all clear and out of here... or "out of there" if I want to be grammatically correct but that doesn't rhyme so f*ck grammar. This here's Murrica'

 

With our initial plan I never expected to get a ride on Raptor so I was pretty proud of myself as we ascended the lift on the best inverted coaster this side of Tampa. I f*cking love Raptor. Raptor and I are besties. Is it more aggressive than the other inverts? Yup. Does it throw your head around a little on the cobra roll and last turn? Yeah. But it KICKS SO MUCH A**. This thing is easily my favorite ride in the park after Millennium Force and Maverick and I can't get enough of it's relentless intensity. As always, the ride was flying and as we aggressively slammed into the brake run I had a giant sh*t eating grin on my face.

 

Normally I hate when enthusiasts personify coasters because it's idiotic but I find myself doing it with Raptor all the time. Given the ride's preposterously aggressive layout and recent history of incidents I've decided that Raptor is the bad a** motherf*cker on the block. "Get too close to my queue gate? I'll f*ck you up. "Want your cell phone back from a restricted area? LOL let me know how that works out. Want a nice smooth ride into the brake run like every other B&M on earth? No. Because f*ck you, that's why. Go ride Valravn like a b*tch".

 

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God I love this thing.

Anyway, after our amazing Raptor ride we decided to grab something to drink and make a quick pit stop at the nearby restroom. While waiting for Brit to come out I was killing time and taking a few pictures of the ride, but that picture I just posted would be the last one of the day as 5 minutes after we got off (and about 30 minutes into the day with a 45 minute line and trains flying through the course without issue) the ride went down due to high winds. Given the forecast they immediately cleared the entire queue and as expected, the ride was down for the remainder of the day. So far, our plan was clearly working. Hooray for us

 

At this point we were really proud of ourselves and apparently feeling overconfident, so as we walked down the midway and saw something we never expected to see (a Dragster train blasting over the top hat through the wind) we decided we'd head over and check out the situation. As you may remember, we had tried on 2 separate occasions to ride it in the spring and so far were 0 for 2 on the season. Maybe the third time was a charm?

 

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Let's all bow our heads in a moment of silence.

I knew I was being stupid but we were playing with house money at that point so we made our way over. Lucky for us, the ride decided to take mercy on us and save me from my own stupidity. As we walked by the bleachers they backed a loaded train into the station and announced that Top Thrill Dragster was closed due to high winds and dumped the queue knowing it would be closed for the day. No big loss... at least we didn't waste much time on it this time. We ended our season with three attempts to ride Dragster and nothing to show for it. Sounds about right.

 

While in the area we decided to grab a pretzel from our favorite pretzel place by Magnum. I briefly thought of riding Magnum, but it was posting a 60 minute wait since Dragster just dumped it's entire queue next door so (much to the relief of Brit), we decided to move on.

 

We still had a few hours before we had to leave, and two more rides we really wanted to ride with Millennium Force and Maverick. We were tempted to hit Maverick before the lines got too bad later in the day, but just to be on the safe side we opted to hit Millennium Force first. It's rare that Millennium Force closes for wind but stranger things have happened, Maverick gives zero f*cks about wind so the only risk in saving that for last was it's usual mechanical temper tantrums.

 

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I see you!

As we made our way up the greatest steel coaster in the history of the world (lol get mad), we had a bit of a scare. The queue was closed off and no trains were cycling. I was immediately regretting my decision to ride Gatekeeper and Raptor first, knowing that if Millennium Force was down for wind it would be down all day. I walked up to the greeter and said something to the extent of "Please say you're not down for wind" to which he laughed and said they were just down for a minor tecnhical issue and they didn't know how long the delay would last... you know the drill.

 

I walked over near Panda Express (which by the way... how do they get something that mediocre to smell so damn good to the point where your mouth starts watering if you're anywhere within a 500 foot radius?) to check on the situation in the station. Millennium Force's entire ramp had cleared, so we opted to take a seat on a nearby bench and wait for it to open knowing that if we did we'd be rewarded with a complete walk-on. We also didn't want to take any risks with the wind since we had just seen on the app that Gatekeeper, Slingshot, Ripcord (because that's it's f*cking name, let's be real) and (hilariously) Lake Erie Eagles had all joined Dragster and Raptor in being closed for the day due to high winds. Rides were falling fast and we wanted to get on Millennium Force as soon as possible.

 

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Ready to ride my favorite coaster!!!

As we sat around waiting for the ride to open, I began to feel an incredible amount of sympathy for the greeter. I don't mind people coming up and POLITELY asking a question about a ride being closed if they didn't overhear a prior announcement, heck... I even did it since I wanted to know if it was a wind closure. That being said, Millennium Force has a loudspeaker at the front entrance that they started using about 10 minutes after we showed up. On many occasions when the greeter saw a large group coming they would explain over the loudspeaker that Millennium Force was down due to mechanical reasons andthey didn't know when it would reopen. You would be amazed at the amount of times the people that were 10 feet away when they made an announcement over the loudspeaker STILL formed a line to ask him when the ride would reopen.

 

In most instances, it would be a guy and a girl who (I guess) he was trying to impress who would hear the message on the loudspeaker and would get disappointed. The guy would give her the douchebag "don't worry babe, I'LL go talk to him" look (or in some cases would audibly say that verbatim). On at least 5 separate occasions we saw this scenario play out where the douchebag (always wearing one of those Ohio style T shirts with the sides cut out by hand... ALWAYS), after just hearing that they didn't know how long the delay would last and would go talk to the guy, walk back to his girlfriend and announce that he went up and asked him, and the greeter told him it was broken and they don't know how long the delay would last.

 

Thanks douche. You're her night in shining armor. You really took charge and showed that greeter who's boss. Between that and the brilliant scissor job you did on your shirt you're definitely going to get laid now.

 

Anyway after about 30 minutes that really made us question the fate of humanity, it seemed like our patience was about to be handsomely rewarded. We saw a train make it's way up the lift and decided to walk over and start forming a line. A few trains cycled, and then... nothing.

 

By that time a long line had built up and after about 10 minutes of nothing happening we were starting to get nervous. The empty train really crawled over the hill out to the island. Was it down for wind? Luckily we wouldn't have to wonder too long as someone came out to relieve the poor greeter of his misery and we overheard him telling him that they found something with a wheel so they were taking a train off and were planning to go up with one train.

 

Millennium Force running one train on Labor Day weekend with 3 major coasters closed for wind and huge crowds? Yikes. Good thing we waited. Thankfully after waiting for about an hour, a loaded train finally made it's way up the lift to an eruption of cheers from the (now sizeable) line that had formed behind us.

 

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Woohoo!!!!

Once the train hit the brake run they opened the gate and we excitedly made our way through the empty queue and up to the station. It wasn't looking good there for a minute, but now we were just 5 minutes away from a Millennium Force ride. We were hyped!

 

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This is the kind of wait time I like to see (let's ignore the fact that we just sat on a bench for an hour which is the only reason this happened... that's a minor technicality).

I wanted the front, but between the wind and the fact that Millennium Force was throwing a mechanical sh*t fit I opted for the second to last row which had no wait at all. This ride is awesome everywhere, and while you don't get the same blast of speed in the back you do get ripped through the overbanks in a really cool way so I didn't mind too much. The gates swung open, we got in the train, fastened our black lap bar first and yellow seatbelt second per usual and got ready to ride (I was just checking to see if you were paying attention Josh, sorry if I gave you an aneurysm with that one).

 

"Everyone please take one big step back, everyone in the train please exit to your right behind gates. At this time Millennium Force is down due to mechanical reasons, we don't know how long this delay will last, you're welcome to wait with us if you want but blah blah blah. Holy sh*t this ride's being a d*ck today.

 

The ride ops joked with the crowd that the ride was taking Labor Day off and didn't want to work, making the best of a bad situation. Luckily maintenance hadn't even bothered to leave yet so 5 minutes later without even having to run a test train the op at the panel said "open gates, load train" to an eruption of cheers. Let's try this again.

 

Once again we found ourselves fastening our BLACK seat belt first and YELLOW lap bar second (see, I was just kidding earlier... black and yellow, black and yellow... we know what it is) and a few seconds later we exited the station to more cheers and finally found ourselves making our way up the 300+ foot lift hill.

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This ride is my absolute favorite coaster anywhere ever. I ALWAYS second guess myself before riding it since it gets so much hate from enthusiasts, but every single time the ride delivers an insane experience with amazing overbanks, fantastic speeds and (yes) some great airtime too. By the time we hit the brakes we were both grinning from ear to ear and joining the rest of the train in an explosion of cheers. This ride has everything you could ever want in a coaster and I can't wait for Steel Vengeance to make it's lines shorter next season.

 

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Amazing!

After Millennium Force we were in an awesome mood, having an awesome day and I was feeling pretty accomplished since we'd managed to knock out every ride we wanted to ride that was prone to wind closures. The fact that Gatekeeper, Raptor, Dragster and others were already closed with more closures likely to follow definitely solidified the fact that we made the right call.

 

With a Millennium Force ride finally under our belts we decided it was time to head back to Maverick. Along the way we stopped in a few of the shops on Frontier trail and browsed a little which I always enjoy. I was tempted by the moonshine place but I knew that with an 8 hour drive ahead of me (meaning we'd get home at midnight at the earliest) after walking around a huge park in the sun all day I'd probably be tired later and regretting that decision so I passed on it (which wasn't easy). One thing I couldn't pass on though was the petting zoo since as soon as we got near it Brit veered off in her endless quest to pet every animal that's ever walked the earth and I had no choice but to follow along.

 

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This little goat was awesome

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Let's pet the...

 

... um, actually we'll come back later.

We actually spent a decent amount of time in the petting zoo, checking out the cool animals. They had a pretty impressive selection including some things you rarely see in a petting zoo like a camel and this huge rodent.

 

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I forget what it's called. I think they said it was the second or third largest rodent after the Capybara. One would think this would be an easy thing to Google, but I'm getting nowhere.

After hanging out at the petting zoo, we decided it was finally time to get back on track (see what I did there) and move on. We checked out the glassblowing place real quick as well as a few more shops (did I mention that I REALLY love Frontier trail?) before we finally found ourselves in Frontier Town.

 

I had a passing thought about riding Skyhawk, but somehow it was posting a 45 minute wait (probably since everything was down for wind) so we passed on that knowing it probably wasn't a good sign of things to come over at Maverick.

 

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Between the petting zoo and this place I'm starting to worry about this park. I definitely don't want to stick around for the "big show" at 6:00.

 

Yes I know this is a little forced...

 

Yes I know I'm a 2 year old...

When we got up to Maverick we were greeted with a posted wait time of 90 minutes. That was a bummer, but not counting the Millennium Force breakdown we hadn't waited more than 20 minutes for anything all day so we couldn't complain. We felt it was a small price to pay for skipping it during Early Entry since it meant we got to ride 2 awesome coasters (one of them 3 times) that were now closed due to wind. There was no way we were letting a long line keep us from riding one of the best coasters in America before heading out, and honestly we sort of expected it going in so we happily hopped in line. The best things in life are worth waiting for.

 

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Maverick was a LITTLE busy that day

Honestly, the line wasn't that terrible. It was absolutely a 90 minute wait but the crews did a great job and kept it moving the entire time. From the queue, we admired the new hotness in the back of Frontier Town and snapped a few pictures that I won't even bother posting since they're completely outdated at this point. I knew that would happen but I was bored so I took them anyway. I guess my inner optimist thought I'd actually get off my a** and write trip reports in a reasonable amount of time. I should have known better.

 

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Up, up and away

When we finally got to the stairs I quietly took note of the trains that were waiting in the brake run. I'm normally not very good at math but we were only getting one ride in on this trip and I wouldn't want to let Brit down so I (quietly) located our fearless hero, Beau (still pronounced byew) and found a row where I thought it would work out.

 

Once we got in the station Brit started looking at the trains and commented that she didn't see Beau yet and that it probably wasn't running. Of course I was thinking that I didn't want to see Beau yet since if I did it meant I f*cked it up but a few minutes later when we were next to ride (when Brit had given up all hope ), the trains rolled out, Brent (f*ck Brent) pulled in to the front station and a few seconds later Brit's noble steed appeared. Something she got way too excited about

 

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F*ck off Brent. This is the only train we'll accept.

I don't even think I need to say this, but the ride was (of course) amazing. Maverick is always complete and total awesomeness, but as far as Brit's concerned it becomes complete perfection when we get to ride Beau. When we hit the brakes she said something I never thought she'd say, that Beau (that's the ride's name now... I don't try to fight these things) is her new favorite coaster instead of Gatekeeper.

 

See that... Brit has a more socially acceptable favorite coaster than I do now. Ain't that some sh*t?

 

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Maverick (um... I mean Beau) is awesome!!!

After Beau we were running a little short on time and realized we had to be on the road in about an hour. Normally we like to end our park visits on a big ride and go out with a bang, but Millennium Force and Beau were sporting enormous lines, Raptor, Gatekeeper and Dragster were closed and Brit doesn't appreciate the coathanger twisting, brain beating brilliance of Magnum so we decided on Valravn (which was only sporting a 40 minute line).

 

On the way we thought of cramming in one of our go-to walk-on rides like Gemini or Power Tower but Gemini wasn't racing and Power Tower was closed for wind so we pressed on. It didn't impact our visit one bit since we planned for it, but it was a real shame to see so many closed rides on such a beautiful and busy summer day.

 

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This thing blows but it sure is pretty. We thought of riding it but it had a 45 minute wait since everything else was closed and it was running one train since the white train had to go rogue and "boulder dash" itself.

As we approached Valravn, we saw it cycling an empty train. We thought nothing of it at first but when we got to the entrance we saw them clearing the entire queue, a sign out front saying the ride was closed for wind and overheard the greeter telling people they expected it to be closed for the rest of the day. Another one bites the dust...

 

At that point we had two ideas. One of them was to ride Maxair and head out (because who doesn't love Maxair?) but Brit also noted that on our previous trip to the park this year we never got to ride Iron Dragon which was really the only Cedar Point coaster (aside from Dragster) we had yet to get on this year that we cared AT ALL about missing. Obviously as Arrow suspended coasters go, this one's a turd but like Brit I sort of have a soft spot for Iron Dragon, Dragin' Iron, Puff the Tragic Dragon, whatever you want to call it so we hopped into the absurdly long 45 minute queue (that's what happens when 4 of your biggest coasters are closed I guess).

 

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Since we couldn't ride Cedar Point's Sky Ride we figured we should at least ride Cedar Point's Monorail.

While it does seem sort of ridiculous, I didn't really mind ending our weekend on Iron Dragon. It's nothing amazing, but it's a super fun ride and that pretzel at the end is an absolute blast. As an added bonus the front row line wasn't that bad so we got to end our weekend in style with an Iron Dragon front seat ride. Go us! You know you're jealous of our f*cking loser a** Dragon.

 

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and after experiencing the "greatness" of Iron Dragon we decided we should probably head out. It was time to go anyway since we had an 8 hour drive looming and we were both hungry and had a date with Jimmy John's on Milan Rd. (a sandwich chain I had just discovered a few days prior in Hammond but am now a huge fan of for some reason that even I can't completely explain).

 

On our way out we took note of the humongous line at Guest Relations of people who were presumably b*tching about the fact that Valravn, Raptor, Dragster, Gatekeeper, Power Tower and others were closed for the day but luckily it didn't impact us at all and we had an absolute blast!

 

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Bye Cedar Point! Thanks for a great day!

 

Up Next: Another Florida Trip!

Edited by coasterbill
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Great report! I'm glad you got on everything you planned with the combination of the wind and some 1 train ops Cedar Fair usually owns this area).

 

I agree just because a ride isn't ridiculously forceful doesn't mean it isn't a great ride. I too am a big fan of Millennium Force, GateKeeper, and Valravn. If I want intensity, there's Raptor, Rougarou, or Maverick.

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^I don't get the hate for the "forceless" rides either. I like all of the big coasters at CP quite a bit, Millennium Force being one of my absolute favorites. Just can't beat that speed.

 

I've thoroughly enjoyed all of the reports on this thread. Great job!

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They had a pretty impressive selection including some things you rarely see in a petting zoo like a camel and this huge rodent.

 

I forget what it's called. I think they said it was the second or third largest rodent after the Capybara. One would think this would be an easy thing to Google, but I'm getting nowhere.

 

Ok, so it's really funny that you mention this thing. When we were there last spring, there was a baby one of these things that they had in a separate pin that they were attempting to socialize. I also can't remember its name. We asked the handler what it was and she gave some answer that we had no clue what she said. We asked if it was related to a rabbit (because that was kinda what it looked like) and she responded with a simple "no." My wife and I felt extremely dumb at this point and asked what exactly it was and what it was related to. She again stated the animals name and said it was similar to a guinea pig (in a tone that implied that we just asked a stupid question.) After we saw the fully grown version of the animal we concluded (because clearly we are certified animal experts) that it was related to a rabbit. I had forgotten all about that until you mentioned it here.

 

Also, we got to see a teenage girl screaming in terror and running away when a turkey gobbled.

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LOL first time I've heard the "Puff The Tragic Dragon" nickname... my new go-to!

I just invented it. I was proud of that one. I can't take credit for Draggin' Iron though.

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Another great trip report! Cedar point's weather policy is a real head ache. Although they did become more flexible with rain... I think. Wondering why raptor's actually so vulnerable to high winds, it ain't that tall after all.

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LOL first time I've heard the "Puff The Tragic Dragon" nickname... my new go-to!

I just invented it. I was proud of that one.

I liked that nickname too! I definitely wouldn't wait 40 minutes for that thing.

 

We packed up the car (poor little Honda... don't you wish a normal person would have bought you instead of someone that drives all over the country and beats the living sh*t out of you on a daily basis so they can go ride roller coasters like a 12 year old?) and a few minutes later we were on our way down the Causeway with about 15 minutes to spare before opening.

I'm sure my little Honda is right there with you! Hondas are good for that kind of thing.

 

 

Your trip reports are definitely some of the most entertaining on TPR. Don't worry that you are late to post them... I still haven't posted my early July/July 4th Disney TRs that I still intend to do at some point... Maybe when I'm bored during off-season.

 

 

Your Labor Day weekend CP day didn't sound much better than ours. At least you only had to wait "5 minutes" (but actually 1 hour+) for Millennium. We waited 2 hours, and it's not my favorite ride at the park.

 

 

Why does Britt like the Beau train so much?

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You had me at Econo Lodge Awesome report!

 

The wind can really make or break a day there! I'm honestly kind of surprised that they made the decision to close everything for the entire day early on, but it must have been all bad news in the forecast. When I was there in May, coasters like Raptor would go down for a few hours for wind, open for 2 hours, go down again, etc.

 

I'm glad someone said it. Millennium Force, while not as intense as i305, Fury, etc, is just so awesome. I could literally ride it all day long without taking a break.

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Great report as always, Bill...I need to check out downtown Chicago and SFGAm one day.

 

Feel the same about MF - real close toss-up between that coaster and Maverick as my favorite. Next year is going to be crazy with the addition of you know who...damn that park just keeps getting more and more kick a$$ every year!

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They had a pretty impressive selection including some things you rarely see in a petting zoo like a camel and this huge rodent. I forget what it's called. I think they said it was the second or third largest rodent after the Capybara. One would think this would be an easy thing to Google, but I'm getting nowhere.

 

We asked the handler what it was and she gave some answer that we had no clue what she said. We asked if it was related to a rabbit (because that was kinda what it looked like) and she responded with a simple "no." My wife and I felt extremely dumb at this point and asked what exactly it was and what it was related to. She again stated the animals name and said it was similar to a guinea pig (in a tone that implied that we just asked a stupid question.) After we saw the fully grown version of the animal we concluded (because clearly we are certified animal experts) that it was related to a rabbit.

 

Haha!!!! The mystery animal is called a Cavy or Patagonian Mara. I got to pet one last year that they had out and about by the petting zoo there with a keeper. Sorry to disappoint/further confuse but it is indeed in the rodent family - which means not related to rabbits, who are classified as lagomorphs (for reasons I can go into but not sure would be exactly riveting reading material on a theme park website LOL.)

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Thanks for the comments guys!

 

Another great trip report! Cedar point's weather policy is a real head ache. Although they did become more flexible with rain... I think. Wondering why raptor's actually so vulnerable to high winds, it ain't that tall after all.

 

Raptor is prone to rolling back from the midcourse because it often travels through it pretty slowly. It was hauling ass on this particular day though once it got warmed up and once they started sending loaded trains.

 

Why does Britt like the Beau train so much?

 

LOL because I pronounced it "Byew" once like an idiot because I'm from New York and had no clue that it's pronounced "Bo" and she laughed her a** off. Since then it just became a thing.

 

I agree just because a ride isn't ridiculously forceful doesn't mean it isn't a great ride. I too am a big fan of Millennium Force, GateKeeper, and Valravn.
like all of the big coasters at CP quite a bit, Millennium Force being one of my absolute favorites. Just can't beat that speed.
I'm glad someone said it. Millennium Force, while not as intense as i305, Fury, etc, is just so awesome. I could literally ride it all day long without taking a break.

 

Exactly. I know people like ranking coasters but in reality it's not a competition. To me just because Maverick is awesome doesn't mean Millennium Force isn't. They're both awesome, they're just totally different. I have preferences but I appreciate both of them.

 

Feel the same about MF - real close toss-up between that coaster and Maverick as my favorite. Next year is going to be crazy with the addition of you know who...damn that park just keeps getting more and more kick a$$ every year!

 

Absolutely. The thought of adding Steel Vengeance to that lineup is honestly kind of ridiculous (in a good way obviously).

 

Ok, so it's really funny that you mention this thing. When we were there last spring, there was a baby one of these things that they had in a separate pin that they were attempting to socialize. I also can't remember its name. We asked the handler what it was and she gave some answer that we had no clue what she said. We asked if it was related to a rabbit (because that was kinda what it looked like) and she responded with a simple "no." My wife and I felt extremely dumb at this point and asked what exactly it was and what it was related to. She again stated the animals name and said it was similar to a guinea pig (in a tone that implied that we just asked a stupid question.) After we saw the fully grown version of the animal we concluded (because clearly we are certified animal experts) that it was related to a rabbit. I had forgotten all about that until you mentioned it here.

 

Also, we got to see a teenage girl screaming in terror and running away when a turkey gobbled.

Haha!!!! The mystery animal is called a Cavy or Patagonian Mara. I got to pet one last year that they had out and about by the petting zoo there with a keeper. Sorry to disappoint/further confuse but it is indeed in the rodent family - which means not related to rabbits, who are classified as lagomorphs (for reasons I can go into but not sure would be exactly riveting reading material on a theme park website LOL.)

 

Awesome! Mystery solved. It was definitely pretty cool (much cooler than I'd expect at the Cedar Point petting zoo).

 

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* Inspired by Coasterbill

* Original sign photo by Geauga Dog (TPR)

 

Holy sh*t that's great!

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Raptor really is the best, I'm planning my first trip back to Cedar Point in a while next year and other than Steel Vengance and Maverick I'm probably more excited to get back on Raptor than anything else in the park. Always loved that ride (me likes it better than Montu ).

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Alright! It's Columbus Day which means there's absolutely f*cking nothing going on at the office so let's move on to the next installment of the trip.

 

Generally I shy away from writing trip reports for parks we visit all the time (unless it's a pit stop as part of another trip). For example, a week or two after our Cedar Point trip we made a quick trip to Great Adventure with Boldikus and I probably won't write a report for that (though he did, and you should read it here... that was a great day for sure). Thankfully because of my new found appreciation for discount airlines we're starting to visit the Florida parks a lot more frequently and now have Busch / SeaWorld season passes. Because of that I debated skipping over this trip but there was a lot of new stuff going on so I opted to write it anyway as it turned out to be a pretty fantastic trip. Additionally there were plenty of great new (for us) things to highlight like the Killer Whale Up Close Tour at SeaWorld, some great Howl o Scream stuff, Kraken VR and our first ever ride on Mine Blower. Our last trip to Florida was only 3 months prior but there's always so much going on at the Florida parks that there were a ton of great new things to experience.

 

Speaking of our last Florida trip (which you can read about here), this particular trip was actually booked the day we got back from that trip. We enjoyed ourselves so much so as soon as I got back to work I had the itch to go back and (almost like a sign from the sh*tty airline gods) Allegiant came out with more $35 fares to Florida the day after we landed so I jumped on them immediately.

 

This trip would actually be a bit shorter than the last one with our flight departing from Trenton bound for Orlando Sanford airport (because apparently we're not quite klassy enough for Orlando International anymore ) and returning Sunday evening. We were on a budget (obviously... we're flying f*cking Allegiant) so with only 2 full days we figured we'd stick to the parks we had passes to. Our plan was to visit SeaWorld on Friday (with a 6:00 close), drive to Tampa and meet up with some of our friends for a few drinks that night, spend all day at Busch Gardens and Howl O Scream on Saturday and then hit Mine Blower before flying out Sunday afternoon. The plan evolved a little on Sunday (to get slightly more awesome) but generally we stuck to the plan (which is an impressive feat for us).

 

After looking forward to the trip for weeks, when Thursday finally rolled around I left the office a little early, picked Brit up at her office and made the (now familiar) drive to the state-of-the-art, amazing, world-class Trenton Mercer airport. The drive itself was uneventful and in no time we were parking in the cheap a** long-term lot, going through the standard 2 minute long TSA line and grabbing a seat at the bar to get a nice pre-flight flight.

 

...okay fine they don't have flights, they have like 4 taps and only 2 of them work but it sounded good didn't it? It's Trenton airport, what do you want from them? Five minutes ago you didn't even know Trenton had an airport. Don't lie. We just recently found that out too.

 

Our flight was delayed 30 minutes, but aside from that and the kid behind me who wouldn't shut the f*ck up it was a pretty uneventful flight. Personally it's my firm belief that if you fly for $35 and complain about a 30 minute delay you're a complete ass clown so that didn't bother me. The kid was annoying but (as posted in an earlier report that I actually wrote on this flight since there's no Wifi and nothing better to do) I tried my best to drown him out.

 

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Please make this kid shut up... please make this kid shut up.

As funny as I find that picture I should probably tear down the fourth wall a little here as not to create a bad visual with the next part of the report. Unfortunately for me, we actually had an hour drive when we landed so in reality I only had those 2 beers for the entire flight and nothing for about 3 hours before picking up the rental car so as the flight went on I did grow to hate that kid more and more.

 

Again though, I refuse to bitch too much about pretty much anything on ANY $35 flight and any time you fly to Orlando you should expect terribly behaved kids so really, it wasn't the end of the world. I couldn't stand the kid, but I had nobody to blame but myself. It was my decision to fly the Wal Mart of the sky and basically any cons are outweighed by the amazing airfare.

 

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Brit going over the standard Allegiant crash and post-crash checklist.

Anyway, we landed at Sanford airport to an eruption of cheers from those weird people that clap when their plane lands. Normally I think this is ridiculous but I guess on Allegiant it may be an appropriate response.

 

We passed by the baggage claim because anyone who checks bags on Allegiant is stupid and made our way to the rental car place to pick up our car. That seemed innocent enough, but as it turned out this vacation was about to start out with a bang and the rental car place may have been one of the best parts of the entire trip. Yes, you read that correctly and no, that's not a knock on the rest of the trip which was also awesome.

 

It's always been my firm belief that unless you're rich or have a huge family, anyone who rents anything other than an economy car is insane. First of all, the rental car company just gives you whatever they feel like giving you anyway (our economy car was "upgraded" to a gas guzzling, 30 year old powder blue minivan once in Orlando) and second of all it's much cheaper and generally better on gas. I'm not picky about rental cars at all, all I care about is the hours of the rental car place and if they're located on or off the airport so we ended up renting from Alamo at the airport and selecting "Nissan Versa or similar" because we didn't give a sh*t and they were the cheapest option. After we landed we proceeded to the rental car place, matter-of-factly filled out the agreement, declined absolutely everything and walked out to the guy just hoping our car would have f*cking cruise control this time for a change.

 

As we walked out with the printed rental agreement in hand, we found 2 employees openly b*tching about an older couple standing right in front of them. The first guy (right in front of this poor, though clearly insane, old couple) yelled that he tried to give them 3 cars already and they didn't want any of them. Then he added that he even tried to give them a "brand new f*cking Camaro" and they didn't want it. He told his coworker that he had to deal with them instead and he'd deal with us because was (and I quote) "sick of their sh*t".

 

Obviously this dude is the worst employee ever, but that's not my problem and I don't go to Alamo Rent a Car for their amazing customer service so as we walked over to our car that was sure to be a complete piece of sh*t I decided to make small talk with the guy. He continued to vent his frustrations about the couple before us and told us he was still in disbelief that they turned down a brand new Camaro because it was too low and hard for them to get in and out of. Jokingly I stated that if they were looking for someone to take the Camaro off their hands for the weekend I'd be more than happy to help out and after laughing he looked at me with a look of utter disdain for his job and the company in general and said something along the lines of "you know what, I really don't care any more, I'll hook you up" and handed me the keys.

 

Wait, what?

 

I drive a Honda Fit. Brit drives a Toyota Prius and before that she drove a Suzuki Forenza (which made my car at the time... a crappy Dodge Neon, look like a Ferrari until the Forenza predictably died on the side of the road in Smyrna, Delaware with less than a f*cking hundred thousand miles on it because it was a piece of sh*t on an almost incomprehensible level ).

 

I love my Fit. I worked hard for it and it's the first new car I've ever been able to afford. Prior to that I had two used Dodge Neons because I'm a sucker for punishment. I've rented a ton of cars in my life between all the traveling we've done and how often my piece of sh*t Neons broke down leaving me without a way to get to work but it's rare that I ever get to drive anything above a 4 cylinder. Now, thanks to an apparently joint gift between my guardian angel and the worst employee in the history of Alamo rent a car I was holding the keys to a f*cking Camaro while paying for a $30 a day economy car. Holy sh*t, this weekend was going to be awesome.

 

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I should go buy a Powerball ticket.

After thanking the guy BIG TIME, we got in the car and got the hell out of the rental car place ASAP before someone over there came to their senses or changed their minds. Still amazed by our good fortune we pulled over at a nearby gas station to book a hotel with the Choice app (I didn't book in advance because I don't trust Allegiant to be on time ever) and take a picture of our awesome new ride. Still amazed at what just happened, we booked the room, took some photos so we could brag about our insane luck and then began our drive to the hotel which was located less than a mile from the park right off of I Drive.

 

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The car has a f*cking G FORCE gauge. It's a shame this state is so flat or I could track my airtime.

We made our way to the hotel, stopping for 4 tolls along the way. Normally I'd be annoyed by this (and we finally caved and picked up a SunPass before heading back), but I was in heaven that night since stopping to pay cash at 4 tolls that night gave me 4 excuses to come to a complete stop, roll forward 10 or 20 feet (as not to be a complete f*cking dickhead to the guys working in the toll booth) and then floor the thing, scaring the sh*t out of Brit and unleashing the fury of god until we reached highway speed (which took about 0.000001 seconds, lol). While I did generally drive with the flow of traffic since the car is a complete cop magnet and since I'm not an a**hole, I did take every opportunity to accelerate as quickly as possible all weekend long when there was nobody in front of me, it never got old. Damn SeaWorld, I know you've got a nice B&M collection but you'll have a hard time living up to the thrill of our Friday night ride to the hotel.

 

... anyway, since this is TPR I know I've now lost 95% of you so I guess we should move on to SeaWorld and stop talking about the car. Alright, alright... fine.

 

Obviously I haven't been shy about how much we love SeaWorld (especially Brit) and every time we visit we end up loving it more and more. We were especially excited about this visit though because we were getting the opportunity to start our day with the Killer Whale Up Close tour!

 

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Can't wait!

SeaWorld offers a ton of excellent tours and upgrades and I highly recommend you look into them before visiting. Many of them are far less expensive than you'd think. They have everything from a $15 shark up close tour, a $15 dolphin encounter and a $35 sea lion up close tour (this is on our radar) to a tour where you can touch a penguin and finally the Killer Whale up close tour. That once is pricey at $79, but I got it as a Birthday gift for Brit a few months prior knowing she'd absolutely love it and (of course) that turned out to be the case.

 

The tour begins at the Dolphin Nursery where a guide takes you over to Shamu stadium, telling you about the whales and the park along the way. Once inside, you're split into 3 groups (each group is generally about 4-6 people) and a trainer takes you over to meet one of the whales. We were assigned to Katina, a 39 year old female orca who seemed to be especially playful and generally awesome.

 

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There she is!

The trainers spent about 45 minutes with us, having us pose for pictures, telling us about the whales and having us throw them some food. Some people weren't big on that since it meant touching fish that had been cut open so they could insert vitamins into them but we didn't care at all and were happy to keep providing Katina with fish since she was a good little whale and deserved to be rewarded with fish.

 

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See? Who's a good whale? That's right. You are.

Next up, the trainers had us take group photos... altering the photos based on how wet people wanted to get. If you were a complete loser who hated fun you could kneel on either side of the glass with the whale in between. They had the group in front of us lay on their backs on the (wet) ground and have Katina flip upsidedown and pose which was a cool idea and for us (since we said we didn't mind getting soaked because it's a f*cking killer whale tour, what the hell is wrong with some people? Like what do you expect?) Katina breached right behind us and then proceeded to absolutely soak us a few seconds after the picture was taken. It was a million degrees, we didn't mind one bit.

 

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What an awesome tour! We were already a little wet but we were about to drown.

After that last photo session they had us all target some behaviors, explaining their positive reinforcement techniques and having Katina swim to the center of the pool and come back breaching and splashing the sh*t out of us one last time. That was super cool and (again) welcome on such a hot day.

 

To conclude the tour, we moved up higher in the stadium and spoke with the head trainer who had the whales come up and pose and then showed us how they teach them behaviors that are beneficial when collecting medical data. They even had them pee into a cup which we did get to witness, and it was sort of amazing how little of a f*ck the trainer gave about having his arm covered in whale piss but I didn't take a photo because.... why the hell would I want a photo of that? It was certaintly interesting nonetheless.

 

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These guys were awesome!

After our Q&A session the tour came to a close, and (after thanking the trainers again for such an awesome morning) we were free to enjoy the day in the park. If you love whales I highly recommend this tour. It's very informative, highly entertaining and pretty amazing getting that close to an orca. If you don't love whales, then WTF are you doing here?

 

At the conclusion of the tour we had about an hour before the One Ocean show and because we planned to leave an hour before close to visit our friends in Tampa, that was definitely the show that worked out best with our schedule. That didn't give us a ton of time and we didn't want to go too far but we had plenty of time to head over to the shark area which (as everyone knows) just so happens to be the home of Orlando's tallest, fastest and longest coaster.

 

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Hey look! After all that talk about cars and whales we have our first coaster photo! Happy now???

Since it was a weekday during one of Orlando's slowest times of the year the ride was a station wait so we decided to "brave" the one train wait for the front. Previously I had only ridden in the back so I figured it would be worth trying something new. That idea definitely paid off as we were treated to an awesome ride that I might have actually enjoyed even more than our back seat rides. This coaster doesn't get a lot of attention but it's actually really, really good and for a B&M hyper it's actually got some pretty forceful moments of airtime. The first drop is awesome, everything up to the trim is amazing and honestly even after the trim it's really solid. The swoopy finale is way cooler than it looks and a nice change of pace from it's B&M counterparts and the ride as a whole it incredible solid. Every time I ride this thing I like it more and more.

 

Since there was no line we got off, walked around and hopped on again in the back. The back definitely offers more powerful airtime on the first drop but the front comes out ahead on most of the other hills. It's still tough to pick a favorite seat to be honest, this ride is great absolutely everywhere. SeaWorld has a real winner with Mako and I can't help but feel like this ride gets overlooked quite a bit.

 

After our second ride we decided to duck into the nearby Shark exhibit. I've always enjoyed this exhibit. It's a minimal time investment which makes it a great option between shows, it's air conditioned, it's a great option in the rain or the patented Florida afternoon storm and most importantly, it's awesome! They have a great selection of sharks and the shark tube (while not quite as unique as it once was) is still amazing.

 

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And here we have a shark in the middle of some important shark related business.

We still had about 30 minutes to kill after the shark encounter which left Brit looking for something to do to fill that time. I, on the other hand, knew exactly where I was headed, Pacific Point Preserve!

 

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Hey there buddy!

As everyone who's been paying attention knows, I love Sea Lions. It's rare that we ever have time to see Clyde & Seamore even though I'm of the unpopular opinion that it's the best theme park show in Orlando (yeah... I'm the guy ) but I love Sea Lions and get a ton of enjoyment feeding them or just watching them be genuinely adorable 24/7. Whenever we need to kill time before a show at SeaWorld we generally end up at Pacific Point. I could watch these guys all day.

 

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This lazy ass is my spirit animal. lol

After getting our Sea Lion fix we decided to make our way back to Shamu Stadium for one ocean. On the way we dipped into the pretzel place to snag a beer and a pretzel dog (so good) and then made our way into the stadium to see the show.

 

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According to Brit this is the happiest place on earth and Mickey Mouse can go screw. They have a much better alcohol policy than Magic Kingdom and they save animals so I'm inclined to agree. lol

As always the show was great. Brit cried, I laughed at her for crying. Good times, good times.

 

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Great show!

Once Brit managed to collect herself (lol), we left the stadium and decided to head up towards the front. Manta (PROBABLY the best coaster in Orlando as far as I'm concerned unless you want to be annoyingly technical and count Gringotts or something) was closed all day and cycling which was a bummer and a complete tease but the silver lining in that was that we got to do something we may not have had time for otherwise and check out Kraken Unleashed.

 

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Unleash the Kraken!!!!! No like seriously... unleash it.... send the f*cking train. Before we die... holy sh*t...

Brit's a bigger fan of VR than I am and she was pretty excited to try it. I hadn't ridden Kraken in years so I was hesitant, but not wanting to be a party pooper I did cave at the end and opt for the headset. We ended up waiting about 30 minutes despite the nonexistant queue since thanks to VR they were probably dispatching one train every 5 minutes or so. I didn't try requesting a seat since we didn't care but I think I did see more than 4 people in the front row queue at one point so I believe they were honoring requests. Don't quote me on that though.

 

Personally I wish they would leave the front row queue open and not offer VR in that row but maybe that's just me... why sit in the front if you're going to strap a phone to your face?

 

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The Kraken has finally been unleashed! Photographing a moving train on this thing is like photographing an endangered species.

I'll admit that as VR goes this one was pretty cool. The audio element was nice and (while I probably wouldn't do it again) it was a cool and unique idea. I did find the headset more uncomfortable on this ride than on most VR rides as it really wants to dig into your nose and you really need to hold it the entire time but on the plus side the fact that you can't brace for the elements with the headset is negated by the fact that the headset provides excellent padding in the event of quick side to side movement. It was cool, and as VR goes it was well done but I still hope one of those headsets flies off and lands in the lagoon and (since it's a Samsung) explodes on impact so they discontinue this sh*t.

 

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As VR coasters go, I give this a thumbs up. In the end though, I agree with the people in row one.

Following the theme of riding things we hadn't ridden lately, our next stop was Antarctica, the ride that tests to see how long people are willing to stand in line in the Florida heat for the chance to experience air conditioning because (let's be honest) until the exhibit at the end that's really the ride's only selling point.

 

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Air conditioning, the ride! (Wait time: 20 Minutes)

Generally when we do Antarctica we just end up waiting in the non riders line to get to the exhibit faster but we opted to go a different route and ride the ride. Luckily, the ride decided to save us from ourselves and do what it always does and break down when we were in line. We took this as a sign from above and bailed into the non-riders line. In the end this probably turned out to be a good thing.

 

While I don't really get the ride and I find it incredibly disappointing given the awesome looking building and area they built for it, I LOVE the exhibit. While it is mind-numbingly cold it's welcome after standing in the Florida sun all day and it's amazing being able get so close to these incredible birds.

 

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You could easily reach out and pet them if you wanted too. You're not allowed to, so we didn't and you shouldn't but it's awesome that they let you get that close. The exhibit absolutely makes up for the ride's shortcomings.

We walked around the exhibit for about 10 minutes, listening to the trainers and watching the penguins be awesome. They had a few cool things going on in there that we hadn't seen before like some nesting penguins and a still-fuzzy "baby" Emperor Penguin that was larger than his parents.

 

I highly recommend this attraction to everyone but I also highly recommend skipping the sh*tty ride. The exhibit is great, and I think it might be so good that it's stark contrast to the ride (which is not good... at all) might make the (already sh*tty) ride seem even sh*ttier than it already is.

 

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Penguins!

Since we saved so much time by not riding the ride (because on the "reliability" scale it seems to fall somewhere between "Top Thrill Dragster" and "Lightning Rod", but unlike those rides it doesn't reward you with a good ride once it finally decides to work) when we got out of Antarctica we were surprised to realize that we still had 45 minutes before the start of Dolphin Days (the next show that we wanted to see). It had started to rain a little and I knew I had little chance of convincing Brit to ride Atlantis so we decided to make Turtle Trek our next stop since it was right next to the theater.

 

I don't know if this is a popular opinion but I LOVE Turtle Trek. I sort of wish it followed Antarctica's lead and had the movie before the viewing area but that's really my only complaint about an otherwise brilliant attraction. Turtle Trek may be the most "preachy" attraction on earth but it's a message that needs to be heard and it's accompanied by a soundtrack that I'm not ashamed to admit gets me right in the feels. Of all the attractions in Florida this is probably my "guilty pleasure" ride for sure. We go to the beach all the time and we always bring a bag to pick up trash that other people leave behind because they're complete sh*t. Every time I pick something up, I think of the dumb Turtle Trek movie. Every. Single. Time.

 

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Sea Turtles are the best.

On the subject of SeaWorld's greatness, once we exited Turtle Trek and were dumped into the upper manatee and Sea Turtle viewing area we noticed that an often closed path to the manatee rehabilitation area was open behind the manatee tanks and we decided to walk over and take a look.

 

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How have we never noticed this before?

When we got back there, we walked up a set of stairs and came across 2 tanks and a SeaWorld vet. The right pool had 2 manatees in it that were having issues swimming and were involved in boat collisions. It wasn't an easy thing to see, and the manatees were clearly fighting for their lives but we were told that they were both showing signs of improvement and one had undergone successful surgery. The vet was very informative and she told us that they were hoping they would both be deemed releasable by the state of Florida but in the event that they weren't they would be given forever homes at SeaWorld or another facility that they work with (which apparently includes Disney's Animal Kingdom who recently received a non releasable, rehabilitated manatee from SeaWorld. That's pretty cool.

 

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This manatee was unable to swim, but she was slowly building her strength back up and (despite her appearance) they were optimistic.

On a happier note, in the other pool they had 3 more manatees. We were told that all of them had been in equally bad (if not worse) shape and they were all ready to be released back into the ocean once they got the green light from the state of Florida. Way to go SeaWorld! It's great to see an organization this dedicated to conservation and saving animals since many animal rights organizations like... you know... Peta are too busy to help because they're whining about SeaWorld on Facebook and protesting an art museum showing a video of a dog running on a treadmill. No... for real.

 

After the manatee rehabilitation area it was time to check out Dolphin Days. It's always pretty tough to fit the three major animal shows in to one day at SeaWorld but for once it looked like it might actually happen. Somehow, this was actually our first time seeing this show but we enjoyed it quite a bit. We had seen Blue Horizons and probably found this one more enjoyable since it had more of a focus on the dolphins and less of a focus on acrobatics. It played to a full stadium and seemed to be a big hit with everyone else too.

 

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This show was actually really good.

After Dolphin Days we had a little bit of time to kill but we figured out that we could fit in Clyde and Seamore if we left right after the show so we took this opportunity to buy some souvenirs, go to the photo key place and get the photos from our Shamu tour and check out the new dolphin nursery which was behind construction walls last time we were at the park. A few years ago I would have said that Wild Arctic, the dolphin nursery and the shark area were the three ugliest and most dated things in the park but I can now happily say that 2 of those things have received major upgrades and now look amazing. Hopefully Wild Arctic follows suit.

 

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This really is a major upgrade!

Per usual, the SeaWorld store didn't know what hit them when Brit walked in. She left with an impressive haul, and we couldn't help but laugh at the fact that (while this is also a product of how awesome Allegiant is) she spent more in the SeaWorld store than she did on round trip airfare.

 

After clearing out the Shamu shop, we made our way over to Clyde and Seamore to end the day on a high note. As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoy this show and on our last few visits we had either run out of time or caught it on a day when it wasn't running so I was excited to see it again.

 

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This ride was SUCH a f*cking tease all day. lol

As a disclaimer, Clyde and Seamore is a really corny show featuring absolutely cringeworthy jokes. If I were ever subjected to a show with writing like that and live actors without the animal aspect of the show I'd absolutely sit there questioning the life choices that led me to that point but when you throw Sea Lions into the mix it really all comes together in a great way.

 

I love Sea Lions and it's really hard to screw up a Sea Lion show but this one features a ton of great antics and a really well trained otter and walrus to really take it to the next level. Per usual, the sea lions didn't always do what they were supposed to do but the guys in the show handled it brilliantly and I'd be lying if I didn't say that every animal show becomes at least 200% better when the animals give zero f*cks about what they're supposed to be doing.

 

Clyde and Seamore gets a big thumbs up from me!

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I'm so glad we caught this show!

After the show it was finally time to head out but as always we had a great day at SeaWorld. We got to try Kraken VR, the Killer Whale tour was amazing and the park in general is always awesome. We did end up leaving an hour early but we were at peace with that because

 

a) We had an AWESOME day at the park

 

b) We were really excited to see our friends from Tampa who we hadn't seen in over a year (and we ended up having a great time)

 

and c) I got to drive that f*cking Camaro all the way to Tampa. It had New York plates so my ONLY regret is that I had told them we were flying ahead of time. Otherwise I would have rolled up with that thing matter-of-factly and said absolutely nothing.

 

Up next: Busch Gardens and Howl O Scream!

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That orca encounter looks AMAZING! I would love that! I'll definitely have to look into it next time I go to Seaworld. And I definitely don't mind getting soaked. See: me willingly getting soaked in 40 degree weather at SFDK so I can be in the dolphin show.

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Turtle Trek may be the most "preachy" attraction on earth but it's a message that needs to be heard and it's accompanied by a soundtrack that I'm not ashamed to admit gets me right in the feels.

That song is the utter worst when you're stuck in the exit listening to it for over an hour because it's pouring rain and the lightning is too close to go anywhere else. Bonus: you're in charge of 15 middle-schoolers.

However, I have since limited my consumption of straws since I learned that plastic straws get into the ocean and hurt sea turtles.

 

Britt and I would get along very well at Seaworld! I can never leave without getting a stuffed whale, plastic whale, or at least something with whales on it (but I prefer plastic or stuffed whales. Guess childhood habits never die). However, I got to the point where I could not go to a gift shop ANYWHERE that had a plastic or stuffed orca I didn't already have (unless said orca was so lame and cheap that I passed it up on previous trips). I am also a whale snob because I cannot stand anatomically incorrect orca replicas.

 

Great TR! And your story about the car is awesome!

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Very immersive trip report, Bill. How you and Bert remember so much detailed sh%t from your trips amazes me. I would need to bring a journal with me if I wanted to remember that much from a trip.

 

In fact, I have a hard time remembering a lot of details anymore. That'll come later when your brain is a haze maze from all the excessive partying over the years...it's all good though.

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I highly recommend this attraction to everyone but I also highly recommend skipping the sh*tty ride. The exhibit is great, and I think it might be so good that it's stark contrast to the ride (which is not good... at all) might make the (already sh*tty) ride seem even sh*ttier than it already is.

 

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Since we saved so much time by not riding the ride (because on the "reliability" scale it seems to fall somewhere between "Top Thrill Dragster" and "Lightning Rod", but unlike those rides it doesn't reward you with a good ride once it finally decides to work) when we got out of Antarctica we were surprised to realize that we still had 45 minutes before the start of Dolphin Days (the next show that we wanted to see)!

 

Unless things have changed... which they very well might have...

 

Top 3 Reasons the Antarctica Ride goes down so much:

- #3: it decides to stop for no reason whatsoever. A spec of dust hits a sensor. A piece of hair flys off a balding man. A penguin takes a shit too powerfully.

- #2: Employee doesn't know how to shut the ride vehicle door properly, door clicks open ever so slightly and e-stops the ride

- #1 and usually the case: little kid starts crying so the parent pulls kid out of their seat and puts on lap. Operator who sees this must stop the ride. Single ride vehicle needs to be evacuated with the fun stairs.

 

Also, once the ride stops the vehicles glide to a stop and are no longer in proper position to start again. Every individual ride vehicle on the floor needs to be reset, one by one, to a "sync point" from an exact position in which the ride can restart and match with theatrical and the ride path. This takes forever.

 

That's the short answer.

 

It actually rides much more reliably than opening year and it was reprogrammed a few times by oceaneering. Opening day was a fun day... guess who was supervising the outside crowd with a 6 hour wait around the sea lion area with a break down every 20 minutes... oh by the way if you wanted to see the sea lions you can't unless you want to enter the queue and wait about 2 hours to get to that portion... oh by the way the ride only soft opened 1 night before Grand opening memorial day weekend and we only got hands on training 2 days before... oh by the way the ride is terrible.

 

Anyway, glad you had a great visit! I haven't seen the new Clyde / Seymore since the pirate themed show, or the new dolphin show, but I haven't heard terrible things (other than the fact the hilarious opening mimes disappeared -- though I read they made a brief return for the holiday shows?)

 

Thanks for being an EVERRYYYDAAYY HEERROOO!

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