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PTR: larrygator coasts across the Continental Divide


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On June 12th, I boarded a plane from Newark to Salt Lake City to visit the last of the major amusement parks in the United States. Lagoon, Lakeside and Elitch Gardens were the only US parks with at least 4 coasters that I had yet to visit. When I first starting traveling to amusement parks over ten years ago the two things I wanted to accomplish in the area of amusements park was to visit all the parks in the US and ride all the major coasters, especially the US woodies. I finally lowered the number of remaining wooden coasters in the US less than 10.

 

I decided to fly into Salt Lake City for one day and take Amtrak to Denver, in order to lessen the driving time and to take in the views across the Rockies without accidentally driving off the road.

 

On that first day seasoned coaster traveler Jere drove down from Wyoming and met me at the airport and we arrived at Lagoon shortly after opening. He was wise enough to pick up some discounted tickets from Costco to save us some coin.

 

I was extremely impressed with Lagoon, definetely a Top 10 park in the US, and I can now say that confidently after visiting them all. Lagoon has a great one-two punch with Cannibal and Wicked. I'm not a huge fan of Schwarzkopf but really noticed and enjoyed the intensity of Colossus. The park has two old dark rides and an above average collection of flats. The park has nicely landscaped pathways and lots of trees. I thought the food variety/quality was better than adequate (even though they have Arby's in the park). Operations were good and the staff was friendly. The location is wonderful. I have heard some people call Lagoon the Knoebels of the West, but I wouldn't go that far.

 

Part 1 - Lagoon (below)

Part 2 - Glenwood Adventure Park

Part 3 - Elitch Gardens

Part 4 - Lakeside Amusement Park

Part 5 - Amusement Park at Hertitage Square, Breckenridge, City Park in Pueblo

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I'll start with Cannibal, with I thought was a excellent coaster and possibly the best themed outdoor US coaster not found in Disney/Busch. I really enjoyed it and loved the restraints riding it 5-6 times

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Wicked was my next favorite coaster. Wonderful restraints, nice compact and full of action. I completely forgot it was a launched coaster which was an unexpected thrill to start the ride.

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Spider looked to have a lot of spinning potential, but the spinning didn't fully materialize.

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but it has an awesome entrance

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Colossus impressed me.

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Bombora is a fun family coaster

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The wooden coaster had one great pop of air, I probably would have ridden it more if I had been feeling better.

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The view of the surrounding area is beautiful

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Lots of coasters clustered together in that area of the park

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Jere told me you could snap the flyers and the ride operators would not say anything. He was right on one count.

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Jere said I had to ride the Wild Kingdom Train, it was the longest wait of the day and we got to see many animals in smallish looking enclosures. I'm pretty sure their living quarters are much bigger than the viewing area.

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I was expecting barnyard animals but they had big cats

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Nice rack!

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And one animal escaped from the train ride

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The entrance to Spider looks nice, but still not sure what the tie-in is between and Spider and the castle

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Second dark ride

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Had some pretty good BBQ in Pioneer Village, or at least the BBQ sauce was great. I wish I had taken more photos of Pioneer Village.

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This is the first US park were I have seen Beaver Tails, a Canadian fried dough chain. Although I loved these things, I could not eat one on this day.

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The park has a huge selection of pins. Yes I'm talking to you Chuck.

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Rock-o-Plane through the trees

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Wide walkways

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Nice landscaping

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This picture captures the charm of the park

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Dracula's Castle - old school dark ride

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I hope you enjoyed riding along during the first day of my trip.

Edited by larrygator
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Yay for kitchen magnets! Gotta head out to Lagoon one of these days--for Cannibal, dark rides, BBQ, and magnets.

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Awesome report so far, Lagoon looks like a neat park. High on my list.

 

They have Beaver Tails at both Cedar Point (or at least they did in 2015) and in Wildwood (was on Adventure Pier but this year moved to a storefront across from the pier). They're awesome.

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Thanks for the comments. As I mentioned in the first post I decided to take Amtrak between Salt Lake City and Denver. I had been thinking about this trip for a long time and although I love driving, I was not looking forward to the drive back and forth from Salt Lake City to Denver. I had considered a one-way rental and paying the extra drop off charge. But I had also read that the train ride provided great views of the scenery. Once Jere confirmed that he could pick me up at the Salt Lake City airport for the drive the Lagoon I committed to Amtrak.

 

Amtrak also stops in Glenwood Springs, home of Glenwood Adventure Park conveniently breaking the train ride into almost equal segments. Amtrak's California Zephyr line "conveniently" leaves Salt Lake City at 3AM and pulls into Glenwood Springs at noon. There is a very small Amtrak station (a 40ft by 40ft building) that you would even know is there at night if you weren't looking for it, the entrance face the train tracks so you don't even see the building is lit from the street. The line is not that crowded between these two stops so it is easy to recline your seat practically flat and get a good sleep.

 

Upon arriving in Glenwood Springs, I walked to my hotel and then to Glenwood Springs Adventure Park. The gondola to get to the park is about 1/2 mile from the train station. You can also buy an all day bus pass for $1, which allows you to ride all over the town (which is quite hilly).

 

I really, really liked this park. The setting and the frequency you are suspended over the mountains make all the rides very thrilling. It was $50 for an all day pass that includes the gondola ($15 just to ride the gondola), two cave tours and unlimited rides. Not a bad deal if you love caves, which I do. However, it is best to get there early to do both cave tours without waiting in line, the cave tour line get longer as it gets hotter outside.

 

Just walking around the park is a workout and pairing the hilly terrain with 7,800 feet above sea level, your lungs will burn if you try to walk at a really fast pace. I got quite a workout during my 24 hours in Glenwood Springs with all the walking I did.

 

Before leaving town the following day I had some time to kill and walked around town and found the trail to Doc Holliday's grave. It was a 1/2 hike up an unpaved trail. I had to stop 3 times from being winded. On a treadmill, I can normally walk a 15 degree incline for 1/2 mile in about 7 minutes, but it took 25 minutes to walk up this trail. I don't blame it totally on the altitude, machines in the gym are nothing like real life.

 

Enough babbling and on to the pictures.

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The park is up there

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Here's my car gondola the Iron Mountain Tramway

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Map of the park

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List of attractions

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They rotate a new 5 minute 4D movie every 15 minutes. Personally, I would love to see more park do this. I watched Monkey Madness and Winter Wipeout, good way to kill time in the heat.

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At 7,800 feet above sea level this is Wild West Express.

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I appreciate the enthusiasm of the ride operator, but I really didn't need 10 laps.

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Their mountain coaster was the first model built in the US and the first one I've been on the drops out of the station with a lift hill on the return. the most scenic version I've been on.

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Cliffhanger is a very good coaster, I thought it was a SDC Windstorm but it is a S&MC Hurricane, S&MC was a short lived offshoot of SDC. It is also billed as the highest full size coaster in North America

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From the back car you get crazy ejector airtime on the big twisted drop. Yes, better than Skull Mountain because you think you are going to be tossed over the side of the mountain as a sacrifice. This coaster used to be at Celebration City

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The Soaring Eagle Zip Line looked liked fun, but wasn't.

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If you don't like heights don't do the Glenwood Canyon Flyer.

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I was to lazy to wait for a pictures with the swings swinging out over the edge.

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But the Giant Canyon Swing is probably the scariest ride.

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It doesn't look say bad from away.

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But is quite impressive up close

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4 or 5 good swings over the canyon and you have had enough

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Here is your view looking down from the ride platform

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Seeing this sign in town and having time to kill I decided to visit the grave.

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On the way to the cemetery head, I saw people growing corn in their front yard.

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I knew I would be walking uphill to the cemetery, but didn't realize it would be through a trail.

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The sign says a 1/2 moderately strenuous hike, I would take out the word moderately.

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A view down to town as I hike the trail

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OK, I made it. YAY!

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And then I read this and realize his body can be anywhere in the cemetery, they have no records where he is actually buried. Don't worry, unlike Glenwood Springs I will not mislead you in my Photo Trip Report. My next posting will only show the beauty of the train ride, no amusement parks.

Edited by larrygator
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I was extremely impressed with Lagoon, definetely a Top 10 park in the US, and I can now say that confidently after visiting them all.

 

Wow, I never head anything bad about Lagoon but certainly have never heard anyone speak this highly of it. It is kind of an out of the way park that doesn't get as much exposure but that's great to hear.

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What day did you go to the Caverns? I was there this morning and yesterday morning. (I work at the base.) ((And it is the Cliffhanger as North America's highest full sized coaster.))

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What day did you go to the Caverns? I was there this morning and yesterday morning. (I work at the base.) ((And it is the Cliffhanger as North America's highest full sized coaster.))

 

I was there on July 13th. Don't know why I quoted the wrong coaster as being the highest.

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What day did you go to the Caverns? I was there this morning and yesterday morning. (I work at the base.) ((And it is the Cliffhanger as North America's highest full sized coaster.))

 

I was there on July 13th. Don't know why I quoted the wrong coaster as being the highest.

 

Ah, I was there from 2:30 till closing that day. Well nice meeting you, kind of.

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Life goals = ride that screaming swing

 

Trust me its as terrifying as he said it is. I've been on it, I got off soaked looking like I ran 5 miles from sweating, that scary.

 

Cliffhanger is an awesome little coaster in a tremendous setting.

 

The whole park is just a bizarre experience. It's like a F*cked up Rollercoaster Tycoon Scenario where you have to take the chairlift up to even reach the park.

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Interesting idea to take Amtrak between Denver and Salt Lake City. I travel between those places quite a bit so I'll have to check it out. I've always just flown and seen the view from far, far above.

 

Great PTR, Lagoon is looking lovely as always. Did you check out the hot springs at Glenwood too?

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Interesting idea to take Amtrak between Denver and Salt Lake City. I travel between those places quite a bit so I'll have to check it out. I've always just flown and seen the view from far, far above.

 

Great Photo TR, Lagoon is looking lovely as always. Did you check out the hot springs at Glenwood too?

 

I didn't check out the hot springs, I was only in town for 24 hours. If I had been in town longer I'd probably go rafting.

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Interesting idea to take Amtrak between Denver and Salt Lake City. I travel between those places quite a bit so I'll have to check it out. I've always just flown and seen the view from far, far above.

 

Great Photo TR, Lagoon is looking lovely as always. Did you check out the hot springs at Glenwood too?

 

I didn't check out the hot springs, I was only in town for 24 hours. If I had been in town longer I'd probably go rafting.

 

Too bad, white water rafting on the Colorado river is a crazy experience. The tour guides are crazy, these are some of the gnarliest people you'll ever meet.

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Now for some pictures from the train.

 

The segment between Salt Lake City and Glenwood Springs occurs from 3AM - noon. Perfect timing as you can sleep at ease during the first 5 hours until the train nears the Rocky Mountains. The segment between between Glenwood Springs and Denver is the most scenic but also the most crowded (lots of people take two-three days trips from Denver to Glenwood Springs) so I was unable to sit in the scenic car with the glass roof.

 

I'm not even going to put captions on the photos, some of the most beautiful shots never materialized because I would have a clear shot and suddenly trees would pop up in the view.

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The train runs along the Colorado River for a couple of hours. Many the the whitewater rafters moon or sun the train as it passes.

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a dam in the distance

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Boulder/Denver in the distance

Edited by larrygator
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I'm always heartened to hear such positive reviews of Lagoon. I don't think I initially had the impression that it was so highly regarded, but I've been hearing that from often well-traveled people for a while now. At minimum, the ride collection seems above average, but a lot of other things sound like icing on that.

 

Glenwood Caverns sounds like a place where the all-day pass would be well-warranted and the coasters are not the highlight. I don't know if I'll have a reason to do so myself now, but it was interesting to hear about the Amtrak ride. Always good to know where non-car options are feasible when it comes to theme parks.

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Also I'm interested in knowing which US wooden coaster are left for you to ride.

Zippin Pippin (Bay Beach)

Gold Striker (CGA)

Lightning Rod (DW)

White Lightning (Fun Spot)

Goliath (SFGAm)

Roar-o-saurus (Story Land)

Switchback (ZDT)

Kiddie Coaster (Rye Playland)

Classic Coaster (Washington State Fair)

 

I don't really count the last two

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