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Minneapolis has always been near the top of my list of potential US travel destinations.

 

Yes... you read that correctly. you're not drunk.

 

As I was saying, Minneapolis has always been near the top of my list of potential US travel destinations. It's in that super annoying spot where it's possible to drive it but really stupid to drive it (we're actually 30 minutes closer to Orlando by car than we are to Minneapolis) and it was always really expensive to fly there for seemingly no reason (because I mean...like... it's f*cking Minnesota).

 

That said, one day I was browsing Frontier's website and all of a sudden a direct flight from Long Island to Minneapolis popped up for a stupid low price. As I generally do, I snatched it up immediately and didn't even tell Brit until after the fact.

 

There are a few reasons I've been wanting to go there. First and foremost, we haven't been there and the list of places in the US where we want to go but haven't been is quickly shrinking. Second of all, there are a lot of things there that seem appealing. We knew they had two zoos, we knew the Mall of America looked awesome, we knew that Target Field looked like the best modern style MLB stadium in existence and we knew that Valleyfair existed and we could get in for free. We pretty much just expected Dorney with more cheese curds and potentially a stray moose walking around the midway but we could roll with that.

 

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F*ck your bag fees Frontier. Behold... a "personal item".

We woke up Saturday morning on Long Island at 4am with a pretty long day planned (mainly because it started at 4am). We were only an hour and a half from home but we opted to stay at the airport to buy ourselves some extra time to sleep since there was a Rodeway Inn there that we could stay at with points anyway. Staying at a Rodeway inn is generally a terrifying game of Hotel Russian Roulette but this place was actually kind of fantastic for what it was (meaning it was marginally acceptable for human occupation).

 

Our flight was at 5:45 but we showered the night before, we were parking at the airport and we had pre check so we had no issues getting up at 4am and getting over there as late as possible. Every second of sleep counts. Thanks to a few beers from the nearby gas station we were fortunate enough to crash around 10:00 while watching some weird Battlebots marathon with some dude who (I think) was a D-list wrestler like 20 years ago (we're the klassy types) so it was about the best nights sleep you could ask for with a 4am wake up call.

 

Everything went according to plan in the morning and we made it to our gate with ease. This was the first time Frontier ever flew this route, and when we got to the gate we were thrilled to see that this plane would be far from full.

 

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F*ck your bag fees Frontier. Behold... a "personal item".

Our plan for day one was to visit Valleyfair and then head to the Twins game that night. The flight seemed uneventful and we drifted in and out of sleep a lot (though afterwards the pilot did apologize for the turbulent flight but we didn't really notice or care). We landed at 8am, picked up our rental car and made our way over towards the park planning to grab some breakfast nearby as we knew we would be super early.

 

Well... joke's on us. This park is in the middle of god damn nowhere.

 

We actually ended up backtracking a bit but eventually found a Panera where I ordered up one of those delicious cinnamon crisp things with cream cheese. Those things are my sh*t, and while it's far from an acceptable breakfast we were on vacation so f*ck it.

 

We hung around there for a bit before eventually making our way over to the park at 10:00 where we came across a totally manageable crowd of people at the front gate. A few minutes later the park opened up and we were on our way in.

 

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Good morning from Valleyfair!

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Our first stop!

We didn't really have a strategy for this park and we never got the idea that we needed one, but you can never really go wrong with rope dropping a low capacity Wild Mouse so it seemed sensible. This was our second Arrow mouse of the spring so we sort of knew what to expect and it was exactly what we got. It was a fun little ride.

 

Up next was the coaster that most enthusiasts would likely consider the park's "star" attraction, Renegade. Renegade is a cool looking GCI that seems to play GCI's greatest hits with a curved wonky drop, station fly through and tons of floater airtime pops. The ride started out great and I loved the first drop and first few turns, but halfway through the ride something went seriously wrong.

 

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Every once in awhile I'm reminded that I'm 30. Yeah, I know... it's not "old" but you're also not 21 where you could do literally anything and never suffer the consequences. I decided to go "hands up" on a GCI that I'd never ridden and around the jackhammering far turn I tweaked my back so hard that I totally had the wind knocked out of me (which I had never done before).

 

I walked off the ride and realized I was screwed. Walking was a chore and I was still winded. Are you f*cking kidding me???? Not even one hour into our trip I was seriously questioning whether or not I'd be able to ride anything else all weekend. I grabbed some water and walked it off a bit but it was a process. F*ck you, Renegade. F*ck you.

 

After a bit I started to feel slightly better but I still wasn't sure if riding anything else was a good idea. That said, I was totally doing it anyway and after thinking through their ride lineup in my head I realized that the coaster that was least likely to be rough in any way, shape or form was totally the Morgan so I figured that would be the perfect way to ease back into things.

 

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Moment of truth...

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Most people would laugh at the idea that my idea of "easing into something" would be riding the tallest and fastest coaster in the park but I mean... it's a Morgan

We opted to wait for the front since it would give me a little more time to get my bearings and because if it was anything like Steel Force I assumed that the ride would absolutely blow everywhere else anyway. It bought me about 15 minutes, but in what felt like no time we were locked in ascending the lift and I was nervous as to how this would go over. After what felt like forever we crested the hill, hung over the top and finally began our descent.

 

The ride started with trepidation but halfway through the lateral section of the ride I was finally hit with the reality that I was good to go and I was ecstatic. Knowing that I was now on a Morgan and not a sh*tty GCI, I finally hrew my hands up and enjoyed the ride which actually consisted of some fun laterals and great pops of air. What a relief!

 

We immediately got back in line and queued up for the front again, knowing that this time I would be able to fully enjoy it.

 

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Wild Thing performs many of it's acrobatics over the front half of the park which provides some great visuals.

I'll be honest, this ride doesn't get enough praise. Normally when a park with an average lineup has a coaster that's as good as Wild Thing, people OVER-hype it but I feel like that's actually the opposite of what's going on here. You never heard about Wild Thing. People just group it in with Steel Force and Mamba and overlook it but I have to step in here. This ride is way better than Steel Force. It honestly blows it to hell.

 

I get it, it's not going to make anyone's top 10 list but it's a great coaster. The thing that really sets it apart is the middle of the course when it breaks from it's "out and back" start and just starts diving and turning around the park. It provides great visuals and it's a ton of fun. Following that, it hits the midcourse and resumes the traditional Morgan hyper portion of the program but I'll say that the airtime did feel a bit more powerful than it does on Steel Force. Maybe it's because Valleyfair actually runs full trains.

 

After our second ride on Wild Thing we decided to head over to Steel Venom as it seemed marginally less likely to kill me than a wood coaster, an Arrow that turns alot at high speeds (shudders) or an Arrow Corkscrew. These rides are always a blast, and this one was no different. It was also awesome to see one with a functional holding brake.

 

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I'm torn on holding brakes. On one hand, they're awesome. On the other hand, they're less awesome for dudes.

After Steel Venom we walked around a bit checking out some more of the park. Valleyfair is the textbook definition of a generic Cedar Fair copy and paste park. We had a great time there and we knew this going in so it's not really a complaint, but it's a lot like Dorney in that regard. There's not a single part of the park that has a shred of charm or originality. On the plus side though, it's squeaky clean and everything is beautifully maintained. It's the most generic Cedar Fair park ever, but I mean... even a generic AF Cedar Fair park is a great place to spend a day.

 

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See what I mean?

Next on the agenda was the park's other wood coaster which is awkwardly located in the park's kids area. This was the closest thing to a line we encountered all day but we were still on in about 20 minutes. While there, we laughed at how the park painted the part of the track next to the queue while leaving every other section (that was further from guest areas) in much "less pristine" shape. The ride itself was fun though and it delivered a smooth ride. I'm shocked that it doesn't valley on that first hill though. It always seems like it's not going to make it.

 

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I never got a Dragster rollback, so High Roller was trying to hook me up on this hill.

We were right near Corkscrew, but I figured if I was going to die that day it should be on something way more wonky and f*cked up so we decided to make our way back to Excalibur instead.

 

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Maintenance was trying to pull the Excalibur sword from the stone. Joke's on them... only the rightful king of Minnesota can pull the sword from the stone. Speaking of which: is anyone actually even in charge of Minnesota or is it just whatever moose has the biggest antlers?

In a weird way I was probably more excited for Excalibur than anything else in the park. I knew it had high suck potential (An Arrow that focuses on high speed laterals is generally never a good thing) but it was also super f*cking weird and I couldn't help but be intrigued by it. Awful or not, it was something wildly different.

 

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This ride is basically an oversized Arrow mine train which should be a terrifying enough description for anyone...

The ride was running one train but it was a complete walk-on (probably since it's buried in the back of the park) and we were on the front row on the next train. We ascended the lift preparing to embrace the suck, but honestly it never came.

 

I don't really understand why this ride is actually good. The transitions are f*cking horrifying and absolutely the type of nightmarish Arrow bullsh*t you would expect from a mine train but at much higher speeds. There are countless occasions where you're riding along, you stare at some hellish mess of a transition up ahead and you yell a collective "Oh, fu*ck that" but then you go through it and you somehow don't die.

 

I can't believe it, but Excalibur gets a thumbs up. We walked away amazed, satisfied but ridiculously confused about the abomination of a coaster that we just rode (and for some reason enjoyed).

 

Prior to our trip I had been messaging RCjunkie who was local to the park and now that I knew my weird back thing was good to go I figured I'd shoot him a message and see if he was around and wanted to meet up for some rides. He was all for it, so we decided to go get the Corkscrew out of the way while he made his way over.

 

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It's hard not to love Corkscrew's placement...

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It's hard for anything to look all that nice with a sky like that but trust me... this ride looked awesome.

To the ride's credit it was actually a lot better than expected. There was some headbanging but it was nothing awful and it was fun flying around over the water. Honestly, since I don't exactly blame Renegade for my experience on it I was surprised to see that Valleyfair really doesn't have a bad coaster in the bunch.

 

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The ride has a super fun and forceful vertical loop immediately following the drop which was easily the highlight for me...

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The ride definitely gives a good screwing...

I had been eyeing the Screaming Swing since we pulled up so we decided to make our way over there next (hitting Power Tower on the way). Both Power Tower and the swing were a blast (as always), and we definitely got off wondering why there aren't more of these crazy swing rides in the world. To be fair... I don't know the last time I rode a Screaming Swing and DIDN'T get off pondering that question.

 

By that point RCjunkie had arrived so we met up with him for a few more rides. Meeting enthusiasts is always an iffy proposition, but he's a super cool dude and we had a blast. We ended up riding Steel Venom again as well as Wild Thing, both of which delivered great rides once again. Along the way he pointed out a few cool details we had missed about the park, though we mostly talked about baseball, the mall of America and Margaritaville... all of which is right up my alley.

 

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While the park doesn't have an official "Front gate coaster", the Sky Screamer and Wild Thing certainly fill in nicely.

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Wild Thing just teabags the entire front half of the park

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This ride looks like it should be at a theme park in Syria. I wanted to ride it but Brit totally balked at this janky thing.

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Yo Dawg I heard you liked Ferris wheels so I put a little Ferris wheel in front of your Ferris wheel so you could look at a Ferris wheel while you ride a Ferris wheel

I probably missed something to be honest, but we were having such a nice time that I didn't bother to take pictures for awhile and just focused on riding and having fun (going through pictures helps jog my memory since it takes me for-f*cking-ever to write these things). After awhile though, RCjunkie had to head back and we had to leave soon to get to the Twins game but we opted to ride the train (since it had a cool looking tunnel that you could see from the midway) before we left.

 

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Choo choo!

Okay, I won't lie... the train sort of sucks. We had planned to ride the full loop but it turns out it basically just doubles back on the same part of track which runs along the highway. The tunnel is cool, but the fact that it's all you really see of the ride from the midway implies that it's a better ride than it is. It does serve a useful purpose transporation-wise, but when we saw how lame it was we decided to just get off at the back station (rather than riding the full loop) so we could end the day right on Wild Thing.

 

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You can always count on Cedar Fair to try to appeal to locals with lazy stereotypes...

 

Every new addition to Canada's Wonderland: "I don't know, theme it to pine trees and logs and sh*t. Canadians love pine trees and logs and sh*t. Then put something about the Yukon or Timber in the name." Valleyfair: "IDFK... doesn't half the population of Minnesota ride a moose to work? Cool, so for this park just have a bunch of stuffed moose prizes and sell sh*tty cheese curds. It'll be great".

 

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I can't believe how much we liked this ride...

A front row Wild Thing ride was the perfect way to end our day at the park. It may not be the biggest or the best but it's a super fun ride where you can throw your hands to the sky and race around at crazy speeds and that's good enough for us. Though I have come to appreciate it for what it is, this ride does blow Steel Force away and it makes me a little jealous. If Dorney had Wild Thing and not Steel Force I feel like we'd go there a bit more often.

 

We could have stayed longer but at that point it was about 5:00 and we decided to make our way out and over to Target Field for the 7:00 Twins game.

 

Target field was actually one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Minneapolis as ever since it opened it's been universally praised as one of the best modern ballparks in baseball. I'm probably a bad coaster enthusiast because when these awesome fares popped up there were two possible weekends to choose from... on one of them, the Twins were home but Pepsi Orange Streak at Mall of America was closed for refurbishment, on another one of them all of the coasters at the mall were open but the Twins were out of town. It was tough, but we picked the former. I know, I know.

 

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Cheers from Target Field!

I know a lot of people here aren't baseball fans but we love visiting different major league ballparks because not only do we like the sport but baseball stadiums vary a lot more in their designs than other sporting venues and the changes in venues drastically impact the game. For example... if you hit a ball 412 feet to center field at Target Field it's a home run, if you do the same thing in Boston it's probably a fly out. Hit a low screaming line drive deep to left field at Target Field it's a home run, in Boston it's possibly a single. Quirks like that make it fun. On top of that a lot of stadiums offer brilliant views of the city and surrounding area (which you rarely get with football stadiums as they generally like to fully enclose them to fit as many seats as possible).

 

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See what I mean?

Baseball stadium design goes through phases every 10 years or so, and part of the reason why people like this one so much is that it ushered in a (much needed) new era. Some quick background for the six people that care... in the 70's and 80's, new baseball stadiums were generally build outside of "downtown" and were fully enclosed circles that didn't offer much in the way of downtown views and (while functional) they were generally disliked. In many cases they also housed the city's NFL team, but building a stadium for both sports meant it wasn't ideal for either. Fans were far from the field and sight-lines were akward.

 

Then in 1992, the Baltimore Orioles opened "Camden Yards", which to this day is universally loved for good reason. It's a baseball only stadium where fans get close to the field and it's located right in downtown Baltimore. It helped revitalize the innner harbor area and the stadium is absolutely gorgeous. It was designed to feel like a classic old school brick ballpark but it was also able to include all of the modern amenities you could ever want.

 

The problem? Camden Yards was so great that suddenly EVERY CITY wanted their own Camden Yards. In the year's that followed, Arlington, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York and Atlanta have all opened their own "Camden Yards" style ballparks (along with countless minor league teams like the Memphis Redbirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Columbus Cippers, Hartford Yard Goats and New York Mets). Now every stadium was brick and "retro" and in many cases loaded with hunter green seats and things designed to make it as much like Camden Yards as possible.

 

Okay... I have no idea if the Hartford Yard Goats play in a reto ballpark, I just wanted an excuse to let everyone know that there's now an honest-to-god professional baseball team called the Hartford Yard Goats.

 

Anyway, while most stadiums tried as hard as possible to be Camden Yards version 837; Target Field didn't do that...

 

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What a ballpark...

Target Field is modern and they're not ashamed of that fact. While it's not the only recent stadium to go against the Camdan-Yards-wannabe trend it does it better than the rest. It's a tough balancing act to build a stadium that has modern style but also uniqueness and personality. Minneapolis pulled it off.

 

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Ah, summer in Minnesota

(Okay, it was ONE week before Memorial Day weekend so I guess it had one week to warm up like 30 degrees before the "unofficial start of summer").

 

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I opted to stay warm by indulging in Target Field's awesome selection of local brews.

The stadium lived up to the hype and it was an enjoyable game too. It was a really close pitchers duel, though the Twins eventually fell a little short. It was awesome to finally get out to Target Field and it absolutely lived up to the hype. The place is absolutely gorgeous, it has a great vibe, the fanbase is fun and they have a great food and beer selection. Between the ballgame and Valleyfair it was a great day.

 

Next up: Mall of America!

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It's "almost"like having a private jet.

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Edit: Sorry about the images. They've been fixed.

 

What happens when you hit "preview" is never what happens when you hit "submit" so I always have to screw with attachment numbers until it looks right.

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Great report!

 

That's a shame Renegade wasn't the smoothest. I had heard that was one of the better GCIs. I've found GCIs can get pretty rough after a few years and that's one of the reasons I made it a priority to get out to ride Mystic Timbers a few weeks ago.

 

Target Field looks awesome too. I'm also glad to hear the fans were cool too. A great stadium can be ruined by lackadaisical and uncaring fans (see the Angels ballpark which is a beauty, but that crowd...).

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Sorry you had a bad experience with Renegade. Glad it didn't put an end to your running when you're so far from your home.

 

I agree with you on Wild Thing, only I had a mirror image of your experience. I had already ridden Mamba and Wild Thing when I went to Dorney. I don't know how a ride that's so similar to these two sucks so hard, but it does. I feel like a lot of coastal enthusiasts have been on Steel Force and let that colour their experience of Wild Thing and Mamba.

 

Good for going to Target Field. It really is beautiful. Perfectly said about ballparks being destinations. I would have loved to have been in Connecticut when that meeting was going down. "All right guys, you know what would make our team AWESOME? We need to have a kickass team name. And you know what loves to kick ass? Yard goats."

 

At the risk of playing into a stereotype, here in the Ozarks we have a bunch of goat farms (What? Goats love hills. We got hills here), and outside the city you can have a yard goat. They're sentient lawn mowers.

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F*ck yeah, I love Valleyfair and all it's mid-90s Cedar Fair asphalt and carbon-copy building glory! I strangely found Renegade to be the smoothest in the back row, and it's one of my favorite GCIs. It kicked my a$$ in the middle rows, but in the back you get insane airtime and you're just thrown around like a rag doll.

 

Wild Thing is also a seriously underrated Morgan. That small hill it has after the first or second drop (I forgot which), delivers serious sustained airtime, and while it's not an Intamin or RMC, it's a really fun ride.

 

Awesome report! I love parks like this or Dorney because you can go the first Saturday in July and the whole park is still essentially your own ERT session all day.

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Nice TR. I always enjoy reading what others think of my home park VF and I think your impression is right on. Of course you probably would have liked the the park better in the 70's, 80's and 90's because it had a flume ride.

 

Well... joke's on us. This park is in the middle of god damn nowhere.

Yes. Let this be of note to others that visit. But at least you can actually Uber there to and from the airport.

 

Speaking of which: is anyone actually even in charge of Minnesota or is it just whatever moose has the biggest antlers?

Nope. It’s actually the moose with the biggest testicles.

 

The transitions are f*cking horrifying and absolutely the type of nightmarish Arrow bullsh*t you would expect from a mine train but at much higher speeds. There are countless occasions where you're riding along, you stare at some hellish mess of a transition up ahead and you yell a collective "Oh, fu*ck that" but then you go through it and you somehow don't die.

 

Spot on description. Surpised you liked it.

 

The ride was running one train but it was a complete walk-on (probably since it's buried in the back of the park) and we were on the front row on the next train.

 

It can only run one train, that is all it has now. Three years ago they started using the other one for parts to support the running one. This has only added fuel to the rumors of it’s demise.

 

Wild Thing just teabags the entire front half of the park.

I will never look at that part of the park the same way ever again. This is exactly why I follow this thread. But it's true with Wild Thing's turn around there.

 

 

Both Power Tower and the swing were a blast (as always), and we definitely got off wondering why there aren't more of these crazy swing rides in the world. To be fair... I don't know the last time I rode a Screaming Swing and DIDN'T get off pondering that question.

Same here. EVERY park should have one. Small foot print and tons of fun.

 

Meeting enthusiasts is always an iffy proposition…….(Okay, it was ONE week before Memorial Day weekend so I guess it had one week to warm up like 30 degrees before the "unofficial start of summer"

 

Unfortunately true! Glad you were adventurous enough to gamble and do that though. Had a great time meeting and riding with you and Brit. Just wish you had better weather that weekend. Of course it was 80 degrees two days after you left. Typical Minnesota spring day, a total flip of the coin. It could be a high of 50 degrees and cold or 80 and sunny on any given day in May. Hope you found the suspension heaters that night at Target Field. And I agree, Target Field is a gem. If there is a next time hopefully you get to experience it on a nice summer day like it should be. Looking forward to the rest of this TR.

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Eating pierogies right next to an operating power surge at the Big E in Springfield MA right now. Feel like that fits in a coasterbill TR thread. Beer selection is excellent too.

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Eating pierogies right next to an operating power surge at the Big E in Springfield MA right now. Feel like that fits in a coasterbill TR thread. Beer selection is excellent too.

 

For sure!

 

Great report!

 

That's a shame Renegade wasn't the smoothest. I had heard that was one of the better GCIs. I've found GCIs can get pretty rough after a few years and that's one of the reasons I made it a priority to get out to ride Mystic Timbers a few weeks ago.

 

Target Field looks awesome too. I'm also glad to hear the fans were cool too. A great stadium can be ruined by lackadaisical and uncaring fans (see the Angels ballpark which is a beauty, but that crowd...).

 

Thanks. I'd like to give Renegade another shot, while it was far from smooth, I think I may have enjoyed it if not for my back deciding to be a d*ck.

 

I just wanted an excuse to let everyone know that there's now an honest-to-god professional baseball team called the Hartford Yard Goats.

 

Did ya see the name of the new team in Alabama.......

 

Rocket City Trash Pandas

 

I love this.

 

Sorry you had a bad experience with Renegade. Glad it didn't put an end to your running when you're so far from your home.

 

You know I actually saw Styx at Great Adventure back when they were semi interested in getting C list names and not Youtube personalities? They played with REO Speedwagon too.

 

Anyway, I hope you're proud of yourself. lol

 

Good for going to Target Field. It really is beautiful. Perfectly said about ballparks being destinations.

 

Yeah, that place is stunning. I think it's my favorite *modern* ballpark that doesn't have the advantage of some amazing, ridiculous view over the outfield wall (see San Francisco or Pittsburgh which aren't even fair). Well... aside from Camden Yards.

 

I love parks like this or Dorney because you can go the first Saturday in July and the whole park is still essentially your own ERT session all day.

 

Yeah, that's pretty much how it was. The only rides that ever got lines were High Roller (since it was running one train) and the mouse.

 

I will never look at that part of the park the same way ever again. This is exactly why I follow this thread. But it's true with Wild Thing's turn around there.

 

So happy I could ruin that for you.

 

Glad you were adventurous enough to gamble and do that though. Had a great time meeting and riding with you and Brit. Just wish you had better weather that weekend. Of course it was 80 degrees two days after you left. Typical Minnesota spring day, a total flip of the coin. It could be a high of 50 degrees and cold or 80 and sunny on any given day in May. Hope you found the suspension heaters that night at Target Field. And I agree, Target Field is a gem. If there is a next time hopefully you get to experience it on a nice summer day like it should be. Looking forward to the rest of this TR.

 

Nah it was fine. We don't mind the cold, as long as it doesn't rain we're good. And yeah, it was awesome hanging out. I'm sure we'll be back whenever the mall or Valleyfair adds a coaster, it could be awhile though since Valleyfair just got one this year.

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Sorry you had a bad experience with Renegade. Glad it didn't put an end to your running when you're so far from your home.

 

You know I actually saw Styx at Great Adventure back when they were semi interested in getting C list names and not Youtube personalities? They played with REO Speedwagon too.

 

Anyway, I hope you're proud of yourself. lol

Completely deserved. You should know by now that I cannot resist a really lame joke, especially a music-related one.

 

Good for going to Target Field. It really is beautiful. Perfectly said about ballparks being destinations.

 

Yeah' date=' that place is stunning. I think it's my favorite *modern* ballpark that doesn't have the advantage of some amazing, ridiculous view over the outfield wall (see San Francisco or Pittsburgh which aren't even fair). Well... aside from Camden Yards.[/quote']

Oh yeah, PNC is amazing, and Pittsburgh itself is really beautiful now that you can actually see it.

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Camden Yards was so great that suddenly EVERY CITY wanted their own Camden Yards. In the year's that followed, Arlington, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York and Atlanta have all opened their own "Camden Yards" style ballparks (along with countless minor league teams like the Memphis Redbirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Columbus Cippers, Hartford Yard Goats and New York Mets).

Okay, this is why I've gotta stop reading your trip reports during my lunch break at my desk. Now I have to explain to the office manager why I'm wiping chicken remnants and caesar dressing off of my iMac's screen. Unexpected Mets dig resulted in a much larger belly laugh than expected.

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Camden Yards was so great that suddenly EVERY CITY wanted their own Camden Yards. In the year's that followed, Arlington, Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, New York and Atlanta have all opened their own "Camden Yards" style ballparks (along with countless minor league teams like the Memphis Redbirds, Aberdeen Ironbirds, Columbus Cippers, Hartford Yard Goats and New York Mets).

Okay, this is why I've gotta stop reading your trip reports during my lunch break at my desk. Now I have to explain to the office manager why I'm wiping chicken remnants and caesar dressing off of my iMac's screen. Unexpected Mets dig resulted in a much larger belly laugh than expected.

 

Glad I could be of service.

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Yay you finally got to Minnea!

 

Sorry to hear about Renegade. I haven't been this year but I've been hyping it up as a supremely underrated GCI since visited. Maybe this year's extended winter made it rougher usual. Who am I kidding it's a GCI.

 

Target field is a nice little modern ballpark, yep! I was surprised with how close the light rail stop is to it. It's more convenient than Wrigley and the L!

 

I love Minnea.

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I really feel like on a different day I could ride Renegade and enjoy it more. I don't totally blame the ride.

 

As for the light rail, I'm a rental car guy but the public transportation system in Minneapolis is so good that we almost didn't bother. Eventually we came around only because hotels right along the light rail are more expensive than comparable hotels that aren't and since it made more sense to hotel hop anyway it's nice to just throw some stuff in the trunk. When we realized that the hotel prices made the costs pretty comperable we just got the car because of the convenience factor.

 

That was the only time I ever rented a car for 3 days and only used 1/2 a tank of gas. Generally when people rent me a car it comes back a few days later with like 1,500 more miles on it than it had a few days prior long overdue for an oil change.

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Didn't see any mention of Valleyfair's new coaster Delirious. Did you skip it? Did I miss it? Was the line too long without a fastlane?

 

And visiting ballparks is something I want to start doing. Next season we are actually going to try to plan some trips around the Indians road schedule. I'm kicking myself for not noticing the Indians were playing the Twins on my one and only trip to Valleyfair in 2016.

 

Nice report!

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Didn't see any mention of Valleyfair's new coaster Delirious. Did you skip it? Did I miss it? Was the line too long without a fastlane?

 

I had never seen such an utterly unique style of coaster and we were intimidated by it's brilliance so we took a hard pass. Maybe next time I'll work up the courage.

 

=======================================

 

The second day of the trip was our Mall of America day, which might have been the day that I was most excited about. As it was a Sunday the mall was operating on limited hours from 11-7 but that was fine with us as it gave us an excuse to sleep in a bit after our long day the day before (with a 4am wake up call to catch the flight).

 

We arrived a little before opening and entered up on the top floor. We weren't exactly sure of the setup but basically the mall is a giant rectangle with 4 levels and the entire center of that rectangle is reserved for Nick Universe. Right as we entered we were greeted with an "aerial view" of the park and I immediately had a tiny bit of regret.

 

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Holy sh*t... it's a theme park... in a shopping mall.

The most striking thing in the park is absolutely Orange Streak. The ride has an insanely long and spread out layout and it basically covers the entire park. Unfortunately for us it was right smack in the middle of a 2 week long refurb and while I initially wrote it off as a skippable family coaster I was sort of kicking myself for it now (though the alternative was visiting on a weekend when the Twins weren't home so I guess it was still the right call).

 

That aside, the place was still insane and we were pretty excited. One thing I didn't expect was that it was actually a really nice theme park. I sort of assumed that it would be a bunch of rides plopped down on concrete with no real atmosphere aside from the "cool factor" of being in a mall but that's not the case. Everything in Nick Universe is well themed and the park is FULL of trees and vegetation. Evidently the park has over 400 trees that are able to grow because of the glass roof that lets in tons of natural light. You actually get sort of hot in the sun (to the point where some of the ride ops have shade umbrellas) and the park really makes you forget that you're in a mall. The place oozes with atmosphere and I really didn't expect that at all.

 

After looking over the railing for a bit we finally made our way down and joined the growing ticket line. I don't know much about the park but we sort of figured the best course of action was to start out with the Intamin Halfpipe since by process of elimination an Intamin with multiple launches had to be the most unreliable coaster in the park. That said, after we got our tickets we noticed something a little odd.

 

We happened to glance up at the Orange Streak platform and we saw a few people walking around up there. Obviously there's nothing surprising about that since they were doing maintenance on it but everyone on the platform was wearing a bright ride op uniform and none of them appeared to be maintenance. We decided to walk over there and noticed a small line forming behind a small chain hanging across the doorway of the entrance building.

 

Despite the initial excitement we never saw the ride cycle and after 10 minutes or so one of the ops slowly made his way down the stairs. I assumed he was about to explain to everyone who was lining up outside the entrance that the ride was closed for refurbishment but much to our surprise he grabbed the chain, pulled it aside and we all followed him up the stairs. Holy sh*t!

 

We were a decent way back in the line but the train is enormous so we easily got on the first train of the day. It was a tight squeeze for me but I barely cared, I was thrilled to actually be riding it.

 

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We have no idea why this ride is open but we're so happy it is.

We really enjoyed Orange streak. There's nothing thrilling about it and if anyone shows up in this thread and complains that the ride isn't thrilling enough for them then I hope they step on a Lego because I mean... duh you miserable, awful hypothetical person. That said, it's sort of like the park's unofficial train ride. It goes all over the park and gives you great views of everything, it's a super long ride and there's this cool tunnel thing through the flume that I never knew existed. Orange Streak gets a thumbs up. I don't know why it was open but it ended up operating all day which was a great surprise!

 

Since we had already shot our plan to hell, we figured the next stop might as well be Rock Bottom Plunge as it was right across from Orange Streak and had absolutely no line. This seemed to be the park's star coaster as it featured multiple inversions and a beyond vertical drop so we were pretty excited at the prospect of riding a respectable looping coaster in the middle of a shopping mall.

 

The first thing we noticed was that the ride had an adorable entrance sign featuring Spongebob and Patrick barreling towards earth at suicidal speeds. It's kind of weird that the park has so many thrill rides that don't fit the Nickelodeon demographic at all but I mean... we're not complaining.

 

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This park has way more charm than Valleyfair can ever dream of having and it's located in a Mall between a Nordstroms and a Forever 21.

The highlight of this ride is certainly the lift and drop as it takes you within a few feet of smashing through the glass ceiling but at the last second you abruptly change course, plummet back towards earth and you're whole world is turned upsideown. They should call this the "Hillary Clinton Experience".

 

Please don't talk about politics now. It was a layup of a joke. I voted for her even though she sucks. Chill. lol

 

While it's easily the roughest Eurofighter I've ever ridden, it was still enjoyable. The drop is great (especially the temperature change up top) and the layout is super fun. We weren't up for an immediate re-ride but we figured we'd come back later on.

 

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Wheeeeeee. The site flipped this 90 degrees for some reason but I sort of dig it.

We had totally thrown this plan out the window earlier but at that point we realized that we had better get over to that launched Intamin just to be safe. As was the case with a lot of things at Nick Universe, the first thing we noticed was the really cool signage and entry area. We hadn't actually seen a train launch all day, but the gate was open so we made our way down into the queue.

 

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This place really blew our expectations away. I can't believe how nice the theming was.

Surprisingly as we approached the ride platform it was actually loading, so I guess it was just a coincidence that we never caught a train earlier. We didn't really expect much from this ride but we absolutely loved it. The cars spin a ton and the launches and pullouts of each hill are really abrupt and forceful. The cliff notes version is that Intamin made it so what should be a glorified swinging ship is somehow awesome even though it has no right to be. I guess we should have expected this.

 

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This was the sleeper hit of the weekend.

The final coaster of the day was Fairly Odd Coaster which I believe is a Pandemonium clone (though I think it was the original). Generally these rides have super stupid layouts, but it actually makes sense at Mall of America since it's built for the spot that it's in and it's sort of cool to see one of these that's not an aesthetic abomination.

 

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See, look! The layout is the way it is NOT because the ride got run over by a dump truck in transport but because they had to miss a beam. Now I get it!

We ride Pandmonium at Six Flags New England a ton, but you almost never get the chance to ride alone. It had only happened to us once before (during some passholder ERT thing), and when we realized that we were the only two people boarding odd coaster we knew the ride was about to go bullshit.

 

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Wheeee!

Generally I find that these types of spinners provide a pretty reasonable amount of spinning, but if you put two people on one side and nobody on the other side that goes entirely out the window. We spun like a motherf*cker throughout the entire course and we were pretty much seeing stars when we finally hit the brakes. For a lot of people that would have been a bad thing, but we thought it was absolutely fantastic.

 

Alright, alright alright... enough bullshit. We got the stupid credits, now it's time to ride (by all accounts) the best ride in Minneapolis.

 

If I came up to you and told you that the best ride in Minneapolis was a log flume in a shopping mall you could easily explain that away as "Well, he would say that... it's a log flume and he's an idiot". The reason I was so excited for this ride was that other people were saying it... lots of other people. Aside from a few GCI fanboys it's almost unanimously considered the best ride in the state. I knew we were in for a treat.

 

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A log flume in a shopping mall. What a wonderful world.

I really appreciate the fact that the park made the decision to leave this ride alone when turning the park into Nick Universe. It's pretty much the only ride in the park that didn't get a Nickelodeon overlay but it's so great in it's current state that shoehorning some Nickelodeon crap into it would have been a really unfortunate decision.

 

As you enter the themed queue you feel like you've stepped into a totally different park. It almost has a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train vibe with the dark cave and interactive games that you can play while you wait. Before you burst out laughing they're not totally comparable but it's the same general idea on a "Shopping mall in Minnesota" budget.

 

As for the ride, holy sh*t. It's absolutely loaded with cheesy animatronics, tunnels and well themed passageways and features two large drops. I'm a big fan of the first drop as it's hidden from the loading area by a wall but every few seconds you get to hear the sound of screaming riders and a large splash just a few feet away as you prepare to board.

 

After awhile the ride goes up a lift and ends up level with the second or third level of the mall. It's designed so that you basically float within a few feet of the people sitting at the food court tables and it really interacts well with the rest of the mall (which is obviously by design). It's really weird how one minute you're lost in the theming and another minute you're floating by a Dick's Last Resort and a Hooters.

 

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It's awesome to see things like this

The flume is absolutely great and due to it's location in the middle of a mall it gives you a nice little splash without soaking you. I am kind of entertained by the thought of a ride that soaks you to the bone in the middle of a mall in a place that routinely dips below zero degrees in the winter but obviously that's not how Log Chute rolls and I guess we can all be thankful for that.

 

While the park is absolutely loaded with awesome rides and there were plenty more that we wanted to check out we had ridden all of the "must-rides" at that point and decided to check out the rest of the mall. Hot take: This place is huge. There are four main levels. The first two are basically your standard American mall (only huge) aside from the amusement park, Soarin knockoff, American Girl money printing factory and Lego store. The top two mix in different types of things like tourist traps and destination dining, mini golf courses, laser mazes, escape rooms, go kart tracks, comedy clubs, movie theaters and a Crayola Experience. The basement also houses a giant aquarium which offers combo tickets with the amusement park but we'll get to that later...

 

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Yes, he is made out of Legos.

We took a walk through the food court and grabbed lunch at some awesome noodle place and then took a few laps around the mall so we could grab some souvenirs and walk off that lunch. In addition to the usual stores, they know their audience and have a few stores appealing to tourists looking to buy some Minnesota and Mall of America trinkets.

 

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The more you know...

After hitting up the Great American Cookie Company (I can't pass one of these without stopping) and ruining all of that great mall walking we decided it was time to head down to the basement and check out Sea Life aquarium. Unless you're just rushing through I highly recommend doing this as a combo ticket with the mall as it's actually really nice aquarium. Obviously we've heard of Sea Life and I've heard mediocre reviews at best but I was pleasantly surprised. They had a lot to offer for the price.

 

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This is now Brit's favorite mall by default

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Doo doo doo doo doo doo (haha your day is ruined now)

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Journey on little guy. Yeah... it's no use. Even the Turtle Trek song can't get the baby shark song out of your head. Sorry I did this to you (doo doo doo doo doo doo)

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Let's follow up that atrocious display of Photography with this good one (well... by my standards)

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The theming and exhibit design was actually really impressive

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I would have never expected this aquarium to be so good. They even have an awesome shark tunnel!

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Everybody was having a great time at the aquarium

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Obligatory shark tunnel photo even though they never come out the way you think they will

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Alright Sea Life, it's time to go back to the rides. Later gator.

One cool thing about Mall of America is that (again, despite being in a shopping mall) they've amassed one of the more unique flat ride collections in America and we were just as excited to hit those rides as we were to hit the coasters. The first ride we came across was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock ride which is honestly one of the strangest contraptions I've ever laid eyes on.

 

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What the hell is that?

This was our first experience with these types of rides but basically you sit in a seat with two wings on the side that you can control and use to flip yourself as much (or as little) as you'd like. Unlike a Rock O Plane or something, there's actually a level of skill involved but luckily the mall has a video playing in the queue giving you tips on how to flip it and when to lean certain ways. We were really grateful to have that since otherwise we'd have probably been flailing around aimlessly. It's pretty involved but watching the video for a bit gives you all the information that you really need.

 

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Best ride op panel ever?

We're in no way experts but we managed to flip the hell out of the ride and we had an absolute blast on the thing. I know capacity isn't the best but this ride is a visual spectacle and it's a ton of fun. I don't know why more parks haven't bought these things.

 

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Brit approves (which is no sure thing with a flipping flat ride)

Up next was Ghost Blasters, a ride that seemed to have no connection to Nickelodeon whatsoever and that I didn't even know existed before we walked up on the queue line. The ride is sort of tucked up next to Rock Bottom Plunge and we couldn't help but assume it would suck simply because there doesn't really seem to be enough room for them to fit much track inside. It may be a case of low expectations but this was a solid little shooter. I have no clue how they managed to get that much track into such a tiny space.

 

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What a nice little surprise

Next up was "Brain Surge" which was also a new type of attraction for us. I know that these things have been popping up more and more lately but this was our first encounter with one. It's basically the same concept as the old Knoebels "Looper" ride, but much more modern and comfortable. Rather than being held in by Jesus and a burlap strap, there's an actual respectable restraint which is nice because as much as I love Looper I refuse to ride it now unless it's freezing out and I'm layered AF because hanging upsideown by your upper legs by a repurposed potato sack sucks ass without a bit of padding.

 

That said, it also maintains the best part of Looper which is the awesomely fun concept and the incredibly precise controls. You can put yourself in any position you want, creating a ride experience that ranges from "Lamer than Dumbo the Elephant" to a nauseating sh*tshow with 50 consecutive inversions. We went for the latter (with a few quick breaks to just hang ourselves totally upsideown for 10-15 seconds at a time).

 

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This ride is terrific

I won't lie, for the second half of this report I've been winging it a tad. We dipped in and out quite a bit checking out some of the other things the mall offered but the park is easily accessible from everywhere so we often popped in for a ride or two before heading back out. Brit loves her a good mall so I was definitely dragged into more than a few stores along the way but I guess that's more than fair after dragging her on all of this coaster sh*t.

 

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The Lego store is insane

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I'm so happy this thing was open. We came back around for a re-ride later in the day.

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I guess you could say we went streaking right in the middle of the mall

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The mall is lined with bars which earned a seal of approval from me. PS: This is my spirit animal. I assume he can open beer bottles with his beak.

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We took another plunge later in the day

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It's not the smoothest, but it's still a blast

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It's crazy how much they managed to cram into this place

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I wonder if they grew to regret how obnoxiously huge this ride is. It sort of ensures that they would have to spend the remainder of the park's existence trying to figure out how to build things around it but it does make for a really enjoyable ride.

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So much awesomeness crammed into this little park

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We ended up back here quite a bit throughout the course of the day.

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Since we had a wristband we decided to hit the Ferris wheel and while I totally understand it's existence because of it's nonexistent footprint, this is the only ride in the park that I really consider to be a useless piece of garbage and I offer my deepest sympathies to anyone who actually spends money to ride it.

 

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Sorry Dora, I meant "Esta maldita rueda de la fortuna chupa el culo"

So here's the problem...

 

Since you're in a four level shopping mall you pretty much get an "aerial view" of the park just by walking around. The ferris wheel is right on the edge of the park and basically brings you eye to eye with people standing on the railing by the miniature golf course. The entire point of the ride is the view, and you could get the view by taking the escalator up to Dick's Last Resort. I mean... why? With a wristband I mean... whatever, but who would pay actual money for this?

 

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The load platform gives you a cool view of Rock Bottom Plunge though

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After the wheel of suck we decided to hit the fireball which was running one of the best programs I've ever seen on this type of ride.

After that ride we were down to our last 30 minutes or so before the mall closed so (after raiding the gift shop and buying Brit a stuffed Appa since she's the only one on the planet that liked that live action Avatar Airbender movie) we decided to hit the Avatar ride again and then finish the day with back to back rides on Log Chute.

 

I know I said this earlier, but these Intamin Half Pipe rides are great. Every park needs one of these.

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I love the little details in this place

We had about 15 minutes left at that point and we used it wisely with a few more Log Chute rides. I love flumes but it's rarely where I choose to end my night. Log Chute is spectacularly good though and while the park is full of great attractions it's really the only one that qualifies as a big-time "standout" ride. It's easily the best ride in the park (and the state) and while I'm not sure why they didn't opt to re-brand it with Nickelodeon bullsh*t, I applaud their decision.

 

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Taken from the second level

We knew we would love the mall but Nick Universe blew my expectations away. The rides were great but the level of theming and landscaping was a big surprise. It makes you forget that you're indoors, and if it were an outdoor park I still think it would be my favorite park in the state. I highly recommend it to anyone.

 

After our second flume ride the park had closed up as did the vast majority of the mall. Thankfully the fourth floor and some of the third floor restaurants remained open for hours after the rest of the place shut down so we could grab something to eat before heading out. With so many things to choose from it was a super tough call...

 

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Kidding, obviously

This Margaritaville is nothing to write home about but we opted to eat there anyway to fulfill my life's mission of giving all of my money to Knoebels and Jimmy Buffet. The mall had tons of great options but I'm not too particular, not too precise.

 

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Sadly I do differ from Jimmy a bit. For one, he's rich. Also, I don't like mine with lettuce or tomato. I can roll with Heinz 57 and french fried potato. I'm iffy on the kosher pickle but not the cold draft beer... that part sounds good and good gold almighty you don't really have to steer, you just take the elevator to the third floor.

PS: Boldikus refers to this as "The stupid cheeseburger song". I don't know why I continue to hang out with that guy.

 

Up next: More Minneapolis fun!

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Awesome report!

 

That Mall is on my bucket list of places to visit. Theoretically that new mall in New Jersey should have some similarities, but I strongly doubt it will have the same woodsy atmosphere. I'm stunned and glad they kept it looking as nice as it did during the Camp Snoopy days.

 

Lastly, how did they miss the opportunity to theme Ghost Blasters to Danny Phantom? I loved that show growing up and that ride layed it up for them.

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Fantastic report!

 

Glad you got on Orange Streak! My oldest doesn't usually ride roller coasters, but she loved that one. Something for everyone.

 

Maybe it's that a giant orange turd was dumped on my city today, but I laughed way too hard at the glass ceiling joke. Spectacularly done.

 

We also got the combo tickets with Sea Life, and why not? IIRC, they were ony a few dollars more than the NU wristband anyway, plus huge awesome aquarium. It's way bigger than the Sea Life in the Crown Center mall in Kansas City.

 

That log flume is the best in the Midwest. It's been there since before the Nickelodeon stuff and I'm glad they haven't messed with it.

 

And of course...Margaritaville. Perfect.

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Nice trip report. Good to see you like my 'winter' park. Glad you got to ride Orange Streak, it is the 'train' of the park and lets you see it from all angles. Log Chute is the only original ride from Camp Snoopy and it was themed to Paul Bunyan (as you can see his ax in one of your pictures). Why they did not re-theme it I don't know but I am also not complaining. I had a strange feeling you might like this ride. Having it at NU makes up for VF removing their Flume ride. Airbender is not down a lot but I would say it lives up to it's Intamin reputation and is down more than any other ride there though.

 

...because of the glass roof that lets in tons of natural light. You actually get sort of hot in the sun (to the point where some of the ride ops have shade umbrellas) and the park really makes you forget that you're in a mall. The place oozes with atmosphere and I really didn't expect that at all.

And believe it or not because of all that glass that is tilted at the right angles also allows MOA to be heated that way. There is not one heater in the place as crazy as that sounds. It is warm even when it is 20 F degrees below zero. "The more you know."

 

And for the six people that care..... I want to give a little background to the picture of that red chair on the wall of NU that you said you 'like to see things like this". MOA sits on the former site where Metropolitan stadium (The Met) was for the Twins and Vikings to play in. To commemorate that they marked the longest home run hit at the park and 'left' the chair in the stands where it was hit too. They also marked the home plate which is over by Sponge Bob so you can see how far it was hit.

home-plate.jpg.fd8a76402adc5e7451e6c981c6d3777a.jpg

A shot of home plate near Sponge Bob.

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Super awesome update. I might have been a little embarrassed to say this park is near the top of my list. It looks so fun and this fab report just made me want to go there even more. And the missus lives to shop so she'll enjoy the mall its attached to.

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Don't be embarrased by that! My wife and I went here before we had kids and a couple of years ago based an entire trip around it just so we could bring the kids. It's a fantastic place. And I absolutely hate malls and do everything I can to avoid them. This one's great. If the New Jersey mall ends up like this one, you'll love it.

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That log flume is a national treasure. I knew you'd love it.

 

Lastly, how did they miss the opportunity to theme Ghost Blasters to Danny Phantom? I loved that show growing up and that ride layed it up for them.

 

Because for whatever reason, the Falling Star got themed to Danny Phantom. The Fireball replaced it.

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