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Photo TR: NC to NYC Park Extravaganza


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At the end of July/early August, I was fortunate to be part of Robb & Elissa's USA 2016 trip. The trip was absolutely amazing and I'll have photos to share from the parks on that trip.

 

Carowinds- Page 1

Six Flags Over Georgia- Page 1

Pigeon Forge- Page 2

Dollywood- Page 2

Gatlinburg- Page 2

Kentucky Kingdom- Page 3

Kings Island- Page 3

Cedar Point- Page 3

Kennywood- Page 3

Knoebels- Page 4

Dorney Park- Page 4

Six Flags Great Adventure- Page 4

Coney Island- Page 5

 

 

Carowinds

Before the trip began, I went on a mini trip myself to two of the big thrill parks in the South in Carowinds and Six Flags Over Georgia. Carowinds was my seventh Cedar Fair park. Like the other Cedar Fair parks I've been to, Carowinds was a very clean and had extremely efficient operations. The two big B&Ms (Fury & Intimidator) each ran 3 trains and all of the other coasters except for the junior coasters ran two trains. I thought the parks top coasters were amazing, but the quality level dropped off fairly quickly after Nighthawk. I ended up grabbing a FastLane Plus since I don't foresee another visit to the park anytime in the future and it got me on everything extremely quickly, especially Fury. Some reviews of the rides:

 

Fury 325- This is my new favorite coaster. Fury had the relentless speed of Millennium Force, but the coaster included more moments of air-time, especially on the return leg. The first drop was incredible and sustained the air time the entire way down. The air-time over the second half was much stronger than your usual B&M floater air as I really felt like Fury was trying to tear me from the ride. I rode this 10 times in basically every seat, but my favorite was the back for that first drop. 10 out of 10

 

Intimidator- This was the worst B&M hyper that I had been on to this point, but I still found the ride really fun. Intimidator had plenty of tall drops, but the ride crawled over the crests of the hills more than Apollo, Nitro, or Behemoth. The back had plenty of floater air time and the front had good air time as well. This is a nice compliment to Fury, which is non-stop intensity. 9 out of 10

 

Afterburn- I was expecting big things from this B&M invert and it delivered. The ride had great pacing, as the only slow point was the camelback hill right before the corkscrew. The first half has some forceful inversions with my favorites being the fast zero-G roll and the batwing. The final corkscrew is incredibly snappy, so brace yourself. Other than that, the ride runs very smooth. 9 out of 10

 

Nighthawk- The first Vekoma flyer is bumpier than the other one I had been on (Batwing), but seemed a little faster. The vertical loop and barrel rolls were very intense, but the transitions from lying to flying were pretty bumpy. I prefer the layouts of the Vekoma flyers to the B&M counterparts, but the B&M flyers are better rides because of the restraints and smoothness. 8 out of 10

 

Hurler- I had ridden Kings Dominion's Hurler, so I had an idea what to expect. My ride in the front was pretty solid, but the back seat ride was considerably bumpier and not something I'd want to experience again. The ride was smooth other than the low-to-the-ground turns. There were pops of air scattered across the bunny hills too. 6 out of 10

 

Carolina Cyclone- One of the old Arrow loopers, Carolina Cyclone's first drop had a good burst of ejector air in the back and the following two vertical loops were intense. The second half consisted of jerky transitions into the corkscrews and helix. 5 out of 10

 

Carolina Goldrusher- I liked the landscaping around this mine train, but the transitions seemed jerkier than your average mine train. 5 out of 10

 

Ricochet- Good wild mouse. Not too much braking on the top turns and the speed carried over to the final drops. The Mack wild mice are my favorites. 6 out of 10

 

Carolina Cobra- The new trains were definitely an improvement for this boomerang. I could see spots during the cobra roll where my head would have bashed the normal restraints. Without having to worry about my head being battered, I was able to enjoy the two drops more. 6 out of 10

 

Woodstock Express- This is considerably better than your average junior coaster. The ride has a pop of air or two and is still a pretty smooth ride despite its age. 5 out of 10

 

Vortex- Ouch. The stand-up restraints were really tricky to adjust and right before my rides the restraints shifted upwards on me. This made the forces on my feet quite uncomfortable combined with a few moments of headbanging. I really hope this ride gets a floorless conversion down the road like Rougarou and Patriot. 2 out of 10

 

Flying Ace Aerial Chase- This is the perfect ride to prepare young kids for the torture of an adult SLC. The restraints are unforgiving going around the turns and manage to produce headbanging on a kids coaster. 2 out of 10

 

Outside of the coasters, I really enjoyed the drop tower (like all Intamin towers), Windseeker (love the views, better than the star flyers in my opinion), the Plants vs. Zombies shooting simulator ride, and the Woodstock Gliders flying scooters. On the latter one, the operator was encouraging snapping and held a competition who could get their vehicle the highest!

 

One note to anyone who stays at a hotel near the park without a car, the park is located on a highway and there's no crosswalk for pedestrians. Unless you stay at the Comfort Inn on the side of the park, you'll either need an Uber/taxi or play real life Crossy Road.

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Hello B&M invert. Once I get through this gate I'm riding you first.

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Afterburn had a great layout and good forces. One of the better inverts.

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Little do those riders know that they are about to be rammed by a plane.

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These riders very well know they are about to be rammed by the coaster.

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Let's get some aerial views of the park. I love observation towers.

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Carowinds could escape the Flight Deck name, but not Drop Tower. Good ride regardless of the name.

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Look at that first drop. There's no sexier sight in the park.

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The ride's layout interacts well with the front entrance.

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Fury 325 is my new favorite coaster! A rush from start to finish with plenty of airtime.

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This is what you see entering or exiting the park. My camera can't handle Fury.

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I'm not used to elements like this on a B&M coaster.

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Goodbye Fury. I will definitely be back to ride you again someday.

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These riders too.

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My view walking into the parking lot! Yes I played real life Crossy Road.

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Intimidator isn't quite as intimidating as it's big brother across the park. Still a fun ride though.

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Intimidator from the ground.

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Too bad I won this dog. I really wanted the long black weenie...dog.

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Nighthawk may have been relocated, but it fits in very well at the park and the layout looks designed for it.

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Nighthawk was very intense, but was quite bumpy in spots.

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If only the Vekoma and B&M flyers could crossbreed.

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This was the sleeper hit of the park for me. The ride, like the game, sounds ridiculous, but it's so much fun!

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For some reason this photo looks boring without Elissa.

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Please have a floorless conversion sometime in the future.

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Bright lights.

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I can't believe the park encouraged snapping. They held a contest to get higher and I won. I also scared parents out of line with my snapping.

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We had the best flyer operator ever at Carowinds as well! There was some crazy snapping going on and it was a super fun time! Can you tell me why you liked Plants vs. Zombies? We got off it and looked at each other thinking was an enormous waste of our time. I don't know what we were expecting but it was just weird, there were no real rules other than shoot at the screens but it was so fast paced with no lasers so we were like, da fuq? I wanted to like it. Sell it to me!

 

We often ride Boo Blasters several times at Kings Dominion but our ride on it at Carowinds was disappointing as more than 50% of the targets weren't lit up or working. Small complaints really when you have that awesome air conditioned food hall with excellent food, and oh yeah, FURY!!!

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Awesome report! Carowinds is one of the most awesomely landscaped parks I've ever been to, and it's got two of the best B&M's I've ever been on (Fury and Afterburn). Plus, a contest for cable snapping? You're on!

 

I was shocked the operator was encouraging me to go higher after I snapped, but it was a welcome change.

 

We had the best flyer operator ever at Carowinds as well! There was some crazy snapping going on and it was a super fun time! Can you tell me why you liked Plants vs. Zombies? We got off it and looked at each other thinking was an enormous waste of our time. I don't know what we were expecting but it was just weird, there were no real rules other than shoot at the screens but it was so fast paced with no lasers so we were like, da fuq? I wanted to like it. Sell it to me!

 

We often ride Boo Blasters several times at Kings Dominion but our ride on it at Carowinds was disappointing as more than 50% of the targets weren't lit up or working. Small complaints really when you have that awesome air conditioned food hall with excellent food, and oh yeah, FURY!!!

 

I've done a few of the shooters where you are on a motion base while shooting at a screen with 3D glasses, and I personally enjoy them. I prefer a ride with well done physical targets, but I find these rides don't always have good shot feedback so I can't figure out where I was aiming. Plants vs. Zombies had good shot feedback with the on-screen marker and there was plenty to shoot at. I also liked the competitive aspect. I also did ride Boo Blasters at Carowinds, but I ran into the lack of feedback. I do like the one at Kings Dominion though.

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Six Flags Over Georgia

 

The second stop of my trip before meeting up with Robb & Elissa was Six Flags Over Georgia. This was my seventh Six Flags park and it was one of the better ones I've been to. Despite the familiar feel of Six Flags (usual food stands, corporate partnerships, faded paint, etc), Six Flags Over Georgia also felt different since it was very well shaded. The park had an extremely odd layout that included a random hill in the middle of the park, a steep hill to the Gotham City area, and tunnels between areas.

 

The dispatch times were actually pretty quick at this one with the exception of the VR disaster known as Dare Devil Dive (more on that later). My biggest problem during the visit was the frequent breakdowns and the park's rain policy. I was at the park for two days. On the first day, Goliath got stuck on the lift hill and then closed for the remainder of the day. On the second day, Superman stopped on the lift with me on it due to one rider's ankle restraints not being closed, and this was after a 20 minute breakdown right before that. Each train had random seats locked closed, including 2 in the front seat of one train, which was making life difficult for the grouper.

 

As for the park's rain policy, I was a bit confused by it. On the first day, all of the roller coasters closed due to inclement weather. I was shocked since there were clear skies. I checked my phone's weather app and couldn't see any severe weather warnings for the area either. The one benefit of this is that Dare Devil Dive's line cleared out so I was able to ride it without buying a Flash Pass and paying for the upcharge fee to ride. On the second day, I had Mind Bender close twice while I was waiting in line when it started to sprinkle. Later that night, a tremendous downpour erupted which shut the park's rides down for the rest of the night (this was justified).

 

I really liked the park's coaster collection since Goliath is a great anchor and they had a diverse mix of coasters supporting it. The park also had the best non-Tower of Terror drop tower I've been on in Acrophobia. I didn't think the tilting seats would add too much, but they really elevated this tower. Stopping mere moments before the ground is quite the rush and the ride also comes to a smooth stop. I also liked Monster Mansion a lot and that's another example of something that felt out of place at a Six Flags park, but wa a welcome change. Onto the coaster reviews!

 

Goliath- Thankfully this reopened on the second day I was at the park. Goliath is my favorite B&M hyper by a long shot now. While most of the B&M hypers that I've been on slowly crest the hills, Goliath really flew over the hills. This made the usually abundant airtime even more intense. I particularly loved how the first two drops are similarly sized and gigantic. The helix at the far end of the ride was also very intense and caused me to grey out a bit on each of my rides. 10 out of 10

 

Superman Ultimate Flight- The original Superman was much better than the clone I've ridden in New Jersey. I didn't realize this Superman was a terrain coaster and my first ride at night was a very pleasant surprise. The pretzel loop had its trademark intensity as expected and the following turns were quite thrilling since they hugged the terrain. 9 out of 10

 

Batman the Ride- Intense as always. I really liked the oversized Batman logo in the load station and the ride was running fast and smooth. There was no headbanging in the course and the rapid-fire succession of inversions/turns still provides one of the most intense coaster rides anywhere. 9 out of 10

 

Mind Bender- This is the perfect Schwarzkopf coaster. The drops each give pops of air towards the back of the train and the two vertical loops are very forceful. The ride uses the park's setting very well and is incredibly rerideable. 9 out of 10

 

Georgia Cyclone- My front seat ride was enjoyable- bumpy with some pops of air. My back seat rides were great. Because of how steep the drops were, the drops provided major ejector air. There were some rough patches on the turns, especially during the ride's second half, but it's definitely tolerable. 8 out of 10

 

Georgia Scorcher- This was B&M's last stand-up and I think they were onto something. The ride is compact like their early stand-ups, but instead of a rough ride, Georgia Scorcher was perfectly smooth. I really liked the pacing on the ride and the use of the banked turns between elements. While it lacks the height of Riddler's or Green Lantern, this is my new favorite stand-up. 8 out of 10

 

Dare Devil Dive- VR is a disaster on this ride. I've seen how much VR can ruin the dispatches for a coaster with SFNE's Superman, but Dare Devil Dive hit a new low as I estimated dispatches at 5 minutes, which gives the ride a disturbingly low hourly capacity of 72 riders. As for the ride, it was fun. I loved the lack of OSTRs since they can be painful on the transitions on the other EuroFighters. This one didn't have the bite of the other EuroFighters. The trim on the first drop made the usual ejector air mild floater and the inversions were taken more slowly than I expected. Fun, smooth ride, but the VR situation made this a one and done. 7 out of 10

 

Blue Hawk- I always heard terrible things about Ninja. The new trains on Blue Hawk made a world of a difference since they eliminated the headbanging. I could see how this was a nightmare before the new trains since my head shook through several of the turns and inversions. With the new trains, I found the coaster enjoyable. The ride had a unique layout for a looper and the inversions had strong forces. 7 out of 10

 

Great American Scream Machine- This is a very photogenic coaster with its classic paint job. The ride has some good speed and airtime, but it's pretty bumpy. 6 out of 10

 

Dahlonega Mine Train- I enjoyed this mine train more than I expected. The layout is pretty open and the first two hills aren't particularly tall, but the ride is comfortable. The final drop is pretty tall for this style of ride and builds up some good speed going into the tunnel. 6 out of 10

 

Joker Funhouse Coaster- I didn't realize this one had a custom layout, but I found it to be one of the better junior coasters. The drops had some good zip on them and I liked that they even included a tunnel on this one. It would have been nice to get multiple laps per ride on this one, but the line was pretty long for a junior coaster (15-20 minutes).

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Hmmm I wonder what's behind the wall.

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Never mind, I see the logo. I must be at a Six Flags.

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Thank you for not having the old OSTRs. This was actually fun.

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This coaster should not have VR. It's a smooth, fun coaster, but it would be great if more than 72 riders per hour could experience it.

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The back seat riders are about to go sky high. Georgia Cyclone is one intense woody in the back.

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This is the best stand-up I've been on. I could have reridden it, which I can't say about other stand-ups.

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The airtime is so intense, all of the riders were ejected...or the ride broke down and was cycling. I'll go with the second.

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Goliath was an outstanding B&M hyper, my new favorite. The ride absolutely flew over the hills and delivered strong airtime.

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The park's other woody looks nicer, but was really bumpy. The ride maintained its speed the whole way and had airtime, so I guess that makes up for it.

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Whoops I "forgot" my review of this coaster. It's almost as if it isn't one. I like the ride's look though and it seemed popular.

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The whole Gotham City area of the park looked really nice.

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Mind Bender is a great ride and has an equally great setting.

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Schwarzkopf goodness.

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A dark ride? I must be dreaming. This doesn't feel right at Six Flags, but it's surprisingly well done.

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Fingers crossed I'll have a Six Flags day.

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Shade too? I must not be at a Six Flags park.

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Usually parks like to place taller rides on hills- drop towers, ferris wheels, etc. Because Six Flags is different, they put the carousel atop the hill.

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See how close Superman comes to the terrain? This is something you don't get on clones.

Edited by Canobie Coaster
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Great trip report! Actually I think the riders on Goliath were all ejected from the seat .

 

I'm surprised to hear Georgia Scorcher was actually re-rideable as none of the B&M standups I have ridden (Iron Wolf and Mantis) were more or less a one and done thing. I also hope that Dare Devil Dive gets rid of VR. A ride with capacity of 72 riders per hour should not even exist.

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Yay more love for my Six Flags! I haven't been back in a couple of years, and I miss Goliath! I agree it's also my favorite B&M hyper as well as my all time favorite hyper coaster. Also Mind Bender is my favorite in the park. I could seriously stay on it all day. I've always appreciated how much of the original park features (the vine covered walkways, buildings, attractions etc.) remain in the park to this day. It's such a beautiful park being one of the original Six Flags parks.

 

That being said, boy do they need help with ride maintenance LOL. Funny story about Superman since you brought it up. There was one time I was in line for the ride a few years ago. They closed the ride for a few minutes to put a second train on, so the train rolls out of storage, stops at the block before the station, and one of the cars DISLODGES FROM ITS FLYING POSITION. I'm pretty sure I was the only one in line who noticed. That is until they tried to roll it into the station and the dislodged car tried to line up with its guide rail, making a loud BANG in the process. It wasn't until then that the crew saw what was going on, and they put the train back in storage and continued one train ops. A complete waste of time for guests in line and a horrible reminder of how bad Six Flags maintenance can be.

 

Anyways, glad you enjoyed yourself!

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Great reports! Fury really is awesome. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, Carowinds doesn't have that many re rideable attractions, but strangely that's what I really like about the park. At Cedar Point I found it distracting from my overall enjoyable experience, because I felt like I had too many things to break up my time. At Carowinds, I love how you there really are only a few things you want to do, which makes it a perfect one day park. This would probably suck at a lot of other parks, but there are so many nice looking areas tailor made for drinking beer and relaxing that I can go from Fury to Afterburn to Intimidator in a totally relaxed and 'chill' state of mind. I don't have to worry about fitting in all of their top shelf attractions, because they just aren't there. And what IS there is completely worth endless rerides. Stops at various other attractions like Boo Blasters, the Mine Train, etc. are only done when it is completely convenient. It's a park that somehow pulls off a small park feel with several massive coaster gems. I love this park.

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Great trip report! Actually I think the riders on Goliath were all ejected from the seat .

 

I'm surprised to hear Georgia Scorcher was actually re-rideable as none of the B&M standups I have ridden (Iron Wolf and Mantis) were more or less a one and done thing. I also hope that Dare Devil Dive gets rid of VR. A ride with capacity of 72 riders per hour should not even exist.

 

Georgia Scorcher didn't have a single rough moment. Riddler's and Green Lantern are relatively smooth (a rough transition here and there), but their intensity is such that my legs couldn't take consecutive rides. Both Vortex stand-ups and Apocalypse are pretty rough.

 

Yay more love for my Six Flags! I haven't been back in a couple of years, and I miss Goliath! I agree it's also my favorite B&M hyper as well as my all time favorite hyper coaster. Also Mind Bender is my favorite in the park. I could seriously stay on it all day. I've always appreciated how much of the original park features (the vine covered walkways, buildings, attractions etc.) remain in the park to this day. It's such a beautiful park being one of the original Six Flags parks.

 

That being said, boy do they need help with ride maintenance LOL. Funny story about Superman since you brought it up. There was one time I was in line for the ride a few years ago. They closed the ride for a few minutes to put a second train on, so the train rolls out of storage, stops at the block before the station, and one of the cars DISLODGES FROM ITS FLYING POSITION. I'm pretty sure I was the only one in line who noticed. That is until they tried to roll it into the station and the dislodged car tried to line up with its guide rail, making a loud BANG in the process. It wasn't until then that the crew saw what was going on, and they put the train back in storage and continued one train ops. A complete waste of time for guests in line and a horrible reminder of how bad Six Flags maintenance can be.

 

Anyways, glad you enjoyed yourself!

 

The vine covered walkways were a really nice touch. The only other park I've seen one at was Great America out in California. The park only really felt like a Six Flags park in the back area near Superman, the DC kids area, and near Goliath/Dare Devil Dive.

 

The maintenance was to be expected since I've been to enough Six Flags parks. It's like when you go to Six Flags New England and Goliath's cable snaps or the big three Intamin rides at Great Adventure are all closed when you arrive.

 

Great reports! Fury really is awesome. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yeah, Carowinds doesn't have that many re rideable attractions, but strangely that's what I really like about the park. At Cedar Point I found it distracting from my overall enjoyable experience, because I felt like I had too many things to break up my time. At Carowinds, I love how you there really are only a few things you want to do, which makes it a perfect one day park. This would probably suck at a lot of other parks, but there are so many nice looking areas tailor made for drinking beer and relaxing that I can go from Fury to Afterburn to Intimidator in a totally relaxed and 'chill' state of mind. I don't have to worry about fitting in all of their top shelf attractions, because they just aren't there. And what IS there is completely worth endless rerides. Stops at various other attractions like Boo Blasters, the Mine Train, etc. are only done when it is completely convenient. It's a park that somehow pulls off a small park feel with several massive coaster gems. I love this park.

 

I wish I had two days at Carowinds, but unfortunately due to my travel arrangements it worked out I had two days at Six Flags instead. I personally would rather have a park filled with things I want to constantly reride since it adds more variety to the day and encourages me to return sooner. I really liked how Carowinds spread their anchor attractions out and filled in the areas between them. I had plenty to do walking between them.

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Glad you enjoyed Six Flags Over Georgia. Other than the operations (rides, events, food service, etc.) I am so glad it is my home park as I find the coaster line up to be overall of higher quality and intensity than most parks I travel to visit.

 

I've been on every B&M in the US, and I completely agree, Goliath is by far the best B&M hyper. The airtime is strong and it even ejects you on the last set of bunny hills. Plus, the helix is very intense and gains intensity instead of fading in intensity as you reach the end of it. I mostly agreed 100% with your reviews except that I love GASM and don't find it rough in non-wheel seats. I do agree it has some jackhammering in the valleys at times. That can be fixed and hopefully will be because when it is smooth the airtime is even more noticeable and it is a great classic.

 

Did you ride Thunder River? I find it to be one of the best rapids rides and definitely the most realistic. In some areas you can't even tell it's a rapids ride, it just looks like a natural river. The rapids at the end are the best I've ever seen on a rapids ride and the approach is great.

 

Anyways, glad you enjoyed the park and I agree Superman is a complete mess at the moment (It was built with a dual station and three train ops so it is very frustrating) and Dare Devil Dive is a lot of fun but VR has ruined it. Anyone who complains about VR at other Six Flags parks have no idea how bad it really could be. Your capacity calculation is absolutely correct, and usually half those people are flash pass. If the line is at the bottom of the ramp into the station, expect a two hour wait.

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Glad you enjoyed Six Flags Over Georgia. Other than the operations (rides, events, food service, etc.) I am so glad it is my home park as I find the coaster line up to be overall of higher quality and intensity than most parks I travel to visit.

 

I've been on every B&M in the US, and I completely agree, Goliath is by far the best B&M hyper. The airtime is strong and it even ejects you on the last set of bunny hills. Plus, the helix is very intense and gains intensity instead of fading in intensity as you reach the end of it. I mostly agreed 100% with your reviews except that I love GASM and don't find it rough in non-wheel seats. I do agree it has some jackhammering in the valleys at times. That can be fixed and hopefully will be because when it is smooth the airtime is even more noticeable and it is a great classic.

 

Did you ride Thunder River? I find it to be one of the best rapids rides and definitely the most realistic. In some areas you can't even tell it's a rapids ride, it just looks like a natural river. The rapids at the end are the best I've ever seen on a rapids ride and the approach is great.

 

Anyways, glad you enjoyed the park and I agree Superman is a complete mess at the moment (It was built with a dual station and three train ops so it is very frustrating) and Dare Devil Dive is a lot of fun but VR has ruined it. Anyone who complains about VR at other Six Flags parks have no idea how bad it really could be. Your capacity calculation is absolutely correct, and usually half those people are flash pass. If the line is at the bottom of the ramp into the station, expect a two hour wait.

 

I rode GASM in the second row and second from the back. Both seats were bumpy for me.

 

I wanted to ride Thunder River, but the line was incredibly long since it was 95 degrees out. I had to wait 2 minutes just to get one raft to come by to take the photo in my TR, so I didn't want to try waiting. I used Splashwater Falls to cool off instead.

 

Dare Devil Dive has the worst capacity, but at least the park didn't neuter the capacity of a coaster that once was considered the top steel coaster on the planet (cough: SFNE cough).

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^I do completely agree with that. I can get over VR on DDD because while I enjoy the ride, I can deal with not riding it as much. If VR was on Goliath, Mind Bender, or really any other coaster in the park I would be disappointed. They just need to make VR a reservation only system that only runs part of the day.

 

It's too bad you didn't get to do Thunder River as it is a stand out in the park in my opinion (very immersive) but I understand your decision. The line does reach two hours if it is backed up to the entrance. It is a long walk through the bamboo forest to get to the station lol.

 

Those are the best seats on GASM so I guess it was just running even worse than usual. It really is a great woodie so hopefully they will just catch up on maintaining it. When it is running smooth the entire experience is beautiful.

 

I'm glad operations were overall good for you because that is the weakest part of the SFOG experience. Their weather policy is all over the place. I've had an unpleasant chat with the director of ride operations about that one. Basically he couldn't give a clear policy and nothing he said made any sense.

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I personally would rather have a park filled with things I want to constantly reride since it adds more variety to the day and encourages me to return sooner.

 

Yeah, no doubt that's how normal people think. I'm just kind of an odd duck. My perfect park would be Fury 325 wrapped around Le Scoot, with a beer man and a sh*tter. That's pretty much it. Toss in Banshee to break up the monotony and I'd have to carry around a massive notebook to cover up my excitement.

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Pigeon Forge

 

A short update for tonight. After meeting up with Robb & Elissa, we had the first bus ride of the tour to Pigeon Forge. Having never been to Pigeon Forge, I was amazed how many tourist trap attractions and shops there were. It was like Lake George, Fisherman's Wharf, and Clifton Hill (Niagara) had a love child. It was amazing! I saw the Jurassic Jungle Cruise in all of its glory, dozens of go kart tracks, arcades, and much more. Once we dropped our bags off at the hotel, we went out to ride Pigeon Forge's two mountain coasters.

 

The first one we hit was at Goats on the Roof. I have no clue how someone thought of the concept for Goats on the Roof, but it was so weird that it was awesome. As the name suggests, the attraction consists of a building with goats on the roof. Then they have this awkward inclined bicycle that you can peddle to send a tin can with food up onto the roof to feed the goats. Oh yeah, they also have a mountain coaster. The Goat Coaster was my second mountain coaster; my first was the one at Jiminy Peak a few years back. I liked how open several of the turns were since you really got a sense of how high up you were. The speed was pretty good, but the ride didn't have any of the little dips that Jiminy's coaster had. The ride made up for it with an adorable goat cutout though!

 

The second one was the Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster. In my opinion, this one was a far superior ride. The ride begins with 5 minutes of lift hill porn through a dense forest. One the descent began, I found SMAC hit its top speed almost right away and really hauled down the mountain. There were several small dips along the way and two tight, downward helices.

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I'm speechless.

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South = Jesus land so this store makes sense.

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The coaster travels quite a bit up the mountain and has a nice layout.

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Yes this is really a thing, Goats on the Roof. And it's awesome.

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I want a live shark!

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The other alpine coaster down the road (Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster) was the better of the two. This one had a better setting, was a longer ride, and maintained its speed better through the course.

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Oooh nuts.

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It's the 8th wonder of the world...a truck!

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Nighthawk- The first Vekoma flyer is bumpier than the other one I had been on (Batwing), but seemed a little faster. The vertical loop and barrel rolls were very intense, but the transitions from lying to flying were pretty bumpy. I prefer the layouts of the Vekoma flyers to the B&M counterparts, but the B&M flyers are better rides because of the restraints and smoothness. 8 out of 10

This.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who thought the same thing. That and while you wait to come back into the station is much more comfortable on lying on your back than on your stomach!

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Dollywood

 

Dollywood was the most anticipated park on the trip for me. Enthusiasts raved about the park's food, theming, and ride selection for years. The park was always on my bucket list, but the addition of Lightning Rod pushed it over the edge and forced me to finally visit. My visit was in late July and unfortunately as many of you know, Lightning Rod was listed in "technical rehearsal" but it was really down. That was a major bummer since the ride looked amazing and has received rave reviews, but I didn't let that ruin my day. Dollywood is one of the nicest parks in the country!

 

The theming and food were as good as advertised. Due to my dislike of sweets, I was able to resist the cinnamon bread. I did indulge in the meats though. I really liked the cheesesteak that I ordered and liked the all-you-can-eat buffet even more. Walking around the park was a real treat since every area, except possibly the County Fair area, was incredibly well themed.

 

Coasters are the highlight of any park, but Dollywood had some standout non-coasters too. Smoky Mountain River Rampage was one of the best river rapids rides I've been on. The rapids absolutely soaked everyone in the boat and ruined my shoes for the rest of the day. The Mountainside Slidewinder was a very weird water slide that really drifted up the turns. The screamin' swing (Barnstormer) was also better than average thanks to the nice theming around the ride. As for the coasters:

 

Tennessee Tornado- This was my favorite ride at Dollywood. You'd think a mega Arrow looper would be rough, but this one was glass smooth. The ride's setting is amazing and keeps the layout fairly well hidden before riding. The first drop is one of the best on any coaster and it's followed by 3 large and forceful loops. The only drawback is the ride's short length. 9 out of 10

 

Mystery Mine- The theming was on par with a Disney coaster and really immersive. Thanks to having Untamed at my home park, I was able to avoid headbanging during the transitions by leaning forwards. The first half was pretty slow, but the quirky layout was pretty enjoyable. No doubt the second half is the ride's highlight. The climactic plunge is well-timed and intense. It's followed by a dive loop with plenty of hang time. 9 out of 10

 

Wild Eagle- Like all of Dollywood's coasters, Wild Eagle had a great setting. This one towers over the park thanks to its location atop a hill. The first drop is outstanding and the ride's inversions were graceful and well paced. Unfortunately this wing coaster had some bumpiness during the ride and the restraints got quite tight while waiting on the brake run. Wild Eagle was still a very good ride, but these two things dragged it down a bit. 8 out of 10

 

Firechaser Express- This is the perfect family coaster. The ride's layout is very unique. Both launches aren't overly intense, but they are fast enough to generate the speed needed to give some pops of air. The whole ride is perfectly smooth and it's a pretty long ride. 8 out of 10

 

Thunderhead- I really wanted to like this wooden coaster more, but I couldn't look past the bumpiness. The layout was fantastic and my ride in the front had several good moments of air, but again it wasn't the most comfortable coaster around. I really hope Dollywood can retrack this ride and restore it to its former glory. 7 out of 10

 

Blazing Fury- More dark ride than coaster, Blazing Fury does have a coaster section as the finale. The ride's scenes have plenty going on, but a few are pretty dark to see. The coaster section at the end was better than expected. The drops had some punch and when I rode in the front, I even got a pop of air. There was no splashdown though. Did this ride used to have a splashdown effect? 7 out of 10

 

Slideshow Spin- Yes I rode it. As far as kiddie coasters go, this one was pretty uncomfortable. One ride was enough. 2 out of 10

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I love screamin' swings.

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Mmmm cheesesteak.

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I resisted joining the cult and didn't even have a bite. Blasphemy I know, but I hate sweets.

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I would have thought fireworks being sold at gas station was a contrived plot device. Nope. That's actually a thing in Tennessee. Firechaser Express is the perfect family coaster.

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Dollywood has a cult of cinnamon bread worshipers.

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Someday I will be back to ride this.

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Yes it was closed. I missed it by a week. The ride sure looks pretty.

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At least I could play Lightning Rod plinko...

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They have coasters too.

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The Slidewinder was so weird, but awesome. We really flew up some of those turns.

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A very well themed euro fighter. The drop on this one is breathtaking.

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What's in the mine?

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Dollywood broke the mold of the cheap-feeling tourist traps in Pigeon Forge. It's one of the best looking parks anywhere!

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Dollywood also has water rides. This one destroyed my sneakers.

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Some operating coasters.

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Tennessee Tornado was fantastic. Very forceful and smoother than some B&Ms!

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Only photo I got of Thunderhead. The ride has a great setting and a cool layout, but it was pretty bumpy.

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Wild Eagle's location is even better than Thunderhead's.

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Wild Eagle was really fun. I liked the first drop and the elements, but I wish the restraints weren't quite as tight (especially on the brake run) and the ride wasn't quite as bumpy.

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The logo is pretty sweet though, especially at night.

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Gatlinburg

 

A short update today and this one will be very much like the Pigeon Forge one. Gatlinburg is another tourist area about 15 minutes from Pigeon Forge. There are many parallels between the two places and some big differences. Like Pigeon Forge, there were plenty of stores, eateries, and attractions. The biggest difference for me (a positive) was that Gatlinburg was very walkable. Most of the attractions were on a 1-2 mile stretch on the main street. Pigeon Forge meanwhile was more of a highway with longer distances between attractions. Some of the things we did:

 

Moonshine- Yes moonshine is available down in Tennessee. I'm not a drinker, but I enjoyed hearing the moonshine stories at the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. I highly recommend Aaron! He was incredibly into it and had plenty of moonshine to offer.

 

Earthquake the Ride- I missed out on the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, but this more than made up for it. If you are unfamiliar with Earthquake, read the reviews on Yelp. They describe the attraction perfectly. The whole ride is nonsensical and includes bears, snakes, rats, and apathetic employees texting. This is truly a can't miss attraction.

 

Smoky Mountain Brewery- This was a really good bar. I had a burger and it was very satisfying. Not quite as satisfying as the AC though, but close.

 

We wanted to hit the two mountain coasters, but we simply ran out of time since Gatlinburg had so much to offer.

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The holy grail of rides that are so bad they are good.

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Jesus is always watching in the south.

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Ran out of time to hit Ober Gatlinburg and their Mountain Coaster. Got distracted by moonshine.

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Plenty of tourist traps.

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Like Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg has a great setting next to the Smoky Mountains.

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The non-Seattle Sky Needle.

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Dollywood

Blazing Fury- More dark ride than coaster, Blazing Fury does have a coaster section as the finale. The ride's scenes have plenty going on, but a few are pretty dark to see. The coaster section at the end was better than expected. The drops had some punch and when I rode in the front, I even got a pop of air. There was no splashdown though. Did this ride used to have a splashdown effect? 7 out of 10

 

Yep, when Dollywood replaced the braking system with magnetic brakes they took the splashdown out. For a few years the ending was dark but recently they have added a few smoke and lighting effects to the ending. Also fun fact, RMC actually retracked the drop a couple years ago.

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Dollywood

Blazing Fury- More dark ride than coaster, Blazing Fury does have a coaster section as the finale. The ride's scenes have plenty going on, but a few are pretty dark to see. The coaster section at the end was better than expected. The drops had some punch and when I rode in the front, I even got a pop of air. There was no splashdown though. Did this ride used to have a splashdown effect? 7 out of 10

 

Yep, when Dollywood replaced the braking system with magnetic brakes they took the splashdown out. For a few years the ending was dark but recently they have added a few smoke and lighting effects to the ending. Also fun fact, RMC actually retracked the drop a couple years ago.

 

That's a shame the splashdown went out since it would have really made sense at the end of the ride. I didn't realize RMC retracked the drop. Maybe that's why there was air since RMC couldn't resist.

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Kentucky Kingdom

 

This was my park that was formerly owned by Six Flags with Darien being the first. While Darien still felt like a Six Flags park, Kentucky Kingdom felt like a family park. The park seems to keep on expanding with new attractions every year and I'm excited to see where this park goes since I really enjoyed what the park had already. Some thoughts on the rides:

 

Storm Chaser- I had heard that this was considered the worst RMC. While it was the worst of the 3 I've been on (Wicked Cyclone & Twisted Colossus being the other 2), Storm Chaser was still an incredible ride. The barrel roll first drop is very weird as it starts with hang-time and finishes with a disorienting whip. The air-time hills all provided crazy ejector air. The barrel roll midway through the ride was different than the other RMC ones I've experienced. While the others give abundant hang-time, Storm Chaser's whips right through it and surges into its fun and demented finale where I truly felt like a rag doll. If this indeed is the worst RMC, I really need to ride all their other rides. 10 out of 10

 

Lightning Run- Wow what a 1-2 punch this park has. Lightning Run's first drop isn't overly tall, but it provides crazy ejector air in the back because of how steep it is. The twister section in the middle combined violent (in a good way) pops of air with directional changes. Then there are the return bunny hills. Just when you think the air-time can't get any more intense it does. And the whole ride is glass-smooth. I prefer Storm Chaser, but it's close. 10 out of 10

 

T3- The new trains actually made a SLC an enjoyable experience. The ride wasn't glass-smooth, but since my head wasn't getting bashed but the restraint I was able to appreciate the layout and all of the direction changes. I also enjoyed seeing the subtle differences from the standard SLC such as the non-banked finale. More SLCs need these trains added. 7 out of 10

 

Thunder Run- This felt like Hurler to me. The far-end turns were really uncomfortable, but the straight sections were enjoyable and had a few pops of air. 5 out of 10

 

Roller Skater- As opposed how enthusiasts often need the child to go on the kiddie coaster, I actually needed to help a child ride since she was too small to ride alone and her mother was riding with her sibling. This was a roller skater, so the ride was pretty typical but it had a nice setting above the water. 5 out of 10

 

The Larson/ARM drop tower was bonkers as usual and again shows that these rides provided more punch than the larger towers. I also spent time in the water park and wish I had some more time. Deluge was one of the best master blasters I've been on and had some strong airtime. Then Deep Water Dive is a scary and awesome 120 foot tall drop pod slide. I still prefer Summit Plummet, but after that Deep Water Dive is my favorite speed slide.

 

Onto the pictures!

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The highlight of the water park is Deluge. Great air on the drops.

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I guess all former Six Flags parks need to have massive Ferris Wheels.

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The water park seemed like the main draw for the park. And it was a really good water park!

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Next stop, Kentucky Kingdom!

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Kentucky Kingdom gives hope to everyone out there who isn't well endowed.

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Small but packs a mean punch.

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No seriously. I know there's no one on this train, but I'm sure there would have if we could have ridden on it.

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Not banking the return leg really helped smooth the ending.

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The new trains really do make a difference.

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Thunder Run is basically Hurler.

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Kings Island

 

Kings Island was the last park on the trip that was brand new for me. I found it to be pretty standard for what I expect from a Cedar Fair park (clean, well-run, similar feel to the others in the chain), which isn't a bad thing. The park's coaster collection is pretty good too.

 

Banshee- This is my new favorite invert. The new trains eliminate any headbanging (what little was present) in the typical B&M invert and this one has a really cool and unique layout. The ride maintains its speed well and is pretty forceful for a new B&M. And I love the two rolls on the ride. 10 out of 10

 

Beast- As everyone says, make sure you ride this at night. The day rides are fun, but at night is when the Beast comes alive. You absolutely fly through the woods in total darkness. While there are trim brakes that slow you at points, I can't imagine how uncomfortable some of those turns would be. The highlight is that insane double helix at the end that seems so wrong looking at it. 9 out of 10

 

Diamondback- This is the worst of the B&M hypers I've been on due to the trim brake at the start of the second half. The first half has some great airtime, but the trim brake on this one saps the ride of its speed and airtime in the second half. The ride is still glass-smooth and has a nice setting. 8 out of 10

 

Flight of Fear- This is just like the Kings Dominion one which is fine by me. The launch was pretty strong and I love winding through the spaghetti bowl with the multicolored flood lights illuminating the layout eerily. The brake before the second half is a bit of a bummer, but the final corkscrew still provides a ton of whip for everyone in the train. 8 out of 10

 

Firehawk- This was similar to Nighthawk at Carowinds. The layout was nearly identical, but Firewhawk felt a little slower. Firehawk made up for it by being a slightly smoother and more comfortable ride. 8 out of 10

 

Bat- This is a clone of the Vortex at Canada's Wonderland, which I love. The ride has a great setting through the woods and maintains its speed the whole way through the course thanks to the large first drop. This layout is my favorite for the suspended coasters since the speed carries from the start instead of picking up at the end just before the brakes. 8 out of 10

 

Backlot Stunt Coaster- This is a great family coaster. The launch is good and the upwards spiral actually pulls some good Gs. The rest of the layout isn't particularly fast, but it's smooth and well themed. 7 out of 10

 

Invertigo- I'm still in awe how the love child of a boomerang (terrible) and SLC (even more terrible) is smoother than either of those 2 rides. Invertigo is forceful without headbanging. 7 out of 10

 

Racer- This is a really photogenic coaster. I like the classic layout and the park does a good job racing them. The ride is pretty bumpy though, but it does provide some decent air at points. 6 out of 10

 

Vortex- I was really nervous for this coaster, but actually found it fun. The large drops provided bursts of air in the back and the vertical loops were forceful. Because my head was above the restraint, I didn't run into too much headbanging on the transitions. 6 out of 10

 

Adventure Express- All I have to say is that the lift hill lived up to everything that I heard. It was a glorious experience. The ride seemed to be pretty long for a mine train and as a whole was quite smooth. 7 out of 10

 

Woodstock Express- Fun for what it is and way better than most junior coasters. 5 out of 10

 

Flying Ace Aerial Chase- Because the restraints have plenty of clearance with your head, this junior Vekoma is an enjoyable ride unlike its counterpart at Carowinds. 5 out of 10

 

I also liked the park's collection of flats- Delirium and Drop Tower in particular- and also spent some time at the water park. I was really impressed with the water park. The body slides were really intense while staying smooth. Oh and if we are talking about wetness, the park has an evil and unassuming looking flume in Planet Snoopy.

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Why do I feel like I've seen this in a movie before?

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It looks even better at night!

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More comfortable restraints, great speed, and some unique elements make this one a winner.

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It's so photogenic.

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I see what all of the hype was about for this ride.

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This is the typical zero-G roll. The slow roll at the end of the ride is a messed up version of this.

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Hello Banshee.

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I love Arrow suspended coasters. I still am shocked the park got another suspended coaster after all the problems the Bat prototype had.

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The Beast is hard to photograph, even atop the Eiffel Tower. All I have to say is ride this at night.

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Diamondback is the other big B&M.

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The trim brake on this one really hit the ride hard and sapped the second half of airtime. The first half was great though.

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I recommend riding to the top for the fireworks.

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It was Christmas in July when we visited.

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Am I at Kings Island or Kings Dominion? I think the former!

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I actually enjoy the Vekoma flyers. This one was a little slower than Nighthawk, but smoother.

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You get views like this.

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I love the Premier launched coasters. Flight of Fear is no exception.

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Don't be fooled. This ride will get you drenched. Just look at the look of horror in that kid's face up front.

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Blue!

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Red!

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While Banshee is by all accounts a better ride, I still wish I got a chance to ride this in all of its glory.

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I actually found Vortex enjoyable since my head was above the restraint.

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I was really nervous for this one.

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Nice TR so far Mike. Kings Island was a fun and varied park that was huge with a water park that's good enough to be a separate gate. The park really looked cool at night and those night rides on Banshee, Diamondback, and the Beast were amazing. Oh, and that Race For Life Charlie Brown log flume is the devil. Good times.

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^ Thanks again for taking the brunt of it in the front.

 

Cedar Point

 

The day before we were to go to Cedar Point, we heard about the water mane burst so we weren't sure what to expect. Much to our pleasure, there really wasn't an impact on our visit to the park. Having been to Cedar Point, I knew what to expect. Outstanding coasters everywhere I looked and fast operations. Some thoughts on the rides:

 

Millennium Force- What a rush. While the ride isn't overly forceful, it's pure fun from start to finish. I love how well the ride maintains its speed and flies through Millennium Island. The scattered hills all provide good air and the first drop is still one of the best anywhere. 10 out of 10

 

Maverick- This is probably the park's most intense coaster. I love how varied the coaster's layout is- beyond vertical drop, launch, zero-G rolls, bunny hills, etc. Everything on this coaster is forceful and it never lets up. 10 out of 10

 

Top Thrill Dragster- It's short, but ever so satisfying. That launch is amazing, as is the view from atop the top hat. The front is even better as the force from the launch has to be experienced to be believed. 10 out of 10

 

Magnum XL-200- The first hyper coaster is still a really good coaster. The all-metal lap bars can be painful, so I recommend tightening your seat belt as much as possible. This should prevent you from smashing into the lap bar. This is important because Magnum has some of the most powerful and violent air-time around, especially on the return leg. 9 out of 10

 

Valravn- The new coaster for me was definitely a lot of fun. The ride has a great location near the Marina entrance and looks quite intimidating. While Valravn had more elements in its layout, I prefer Griffon because of the restraints. I found the vest restraints didn't let you float as much on the drops, while the old OSTRs did. The drops are still quite good and I love the zero-G roll. 9 out of 10

 

GateKeeper- I really like GateKeeper a lot. The ride's elements aren't forceful, but they are all smooth and graceful. I love how well the ride interacts with the new entrance and the inversion off the lift is one of my favorite starts to a ride anywhere. 9 out of 10

 

Raptor- A very fun invert. I love how it towers over the midway. The inversions are large and forceful with the cobra roll being particularly noteworthy. 9 out of 10

 

Blue Streak- If you ride this in the front seat, you get a very smooth ride. The other seats are noticeably more bumpy. But one thing is common across all seats, this classic gives great air-time the whole way through. 8 out of 10

 

Rougarou- I never rode this at Mantis, but Rougarou is a good floorless. The inversions are quite a bit different than the other floorless coasters I've been on and can see similarities in its layout compared to the other two big stand-ups I've been on in Riddler's Revenge and Green Lantern. Rougarou was forceful without much headbanging. 8 out of 10

 

Gemini- This is one of those rides that's just pure fun. Not only does the ride still race, but it also provides plenty of good air time while being smooth. 8 out of 10

 

Wicked Twister- I love how this one is right on the beach. The launches are great and the spirals really make it feel like you will fly off, especially going up the back spike in reverse. 8 out of 10

 

Iron Dragon- It's not the fastest, but the ride has a fun layout and is a relaxing coaster to go on. The final helix above the water is pretty cool. I should note that I didn't do the VR though. 6 out of 10

 

Cedar Creek Mine Ride- I like this mine train quite a bit. I particularly liked the big curving drop over the water and the helices are nice and smooth on this one. 6 out of 10

 

Mean Streak- In the front, Mean Streak was tolerable. The ride had a wide, sprawling layout but the trim brake sapped the ride of a lot of speed. After my ride in the back, Mean Streak made me join the group wanting to burn it down. 5 out of 10

 

Corkscrew- I love the ride's placement, but unfortunately it's not as fun to ride as it is to look at. The corkscrews and turns are pretty brutal on this one. The first drop and the bunny hill provide solid air though. 5 out of 10

 

Woodstock Express- I al1321234110_BlueStreakFirstDrop.thumb.JPG.e336a37ce531d0e49172991646b538b2.JPG

Blue Streak is an airtime machine.

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America's Roller Coast!

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Where you are in for a wild ride. Seriously who would buy these shorts?

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Ouch.

449608518_ValravnFirstDrop(Side).thumb.JPG.84a57b186c800895b50929781474103a.JPG

This view is new.

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I have to brag.

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I liked Valravn's layout better than Griffon, but the tighter restraints took away from the air-time on the drops.

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During my last visit to Cedar Point, this was the new hotness.

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I know GateKeeper is deemed forceless, but I really enjoy the ride's elements.

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The hyper coaster that started it all.

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Raptor is one of the older inverts, but still one of the better ones.

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This is one of my favorite coaster photos I've ever taken.

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Kick the sky!

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It has a little bit of everything- a launch, a beyond 90 degree drop, air-time hills, crazy twists, and inversions.

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Maverick is arguably the park's most intense coaster.

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Tired of the B&Ms yet? I hope not. Rougarou is a nice floorless.

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The park is absolutely beautiful when the sun sets.

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I accidentally walked into the park's museum and am glad I did.

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Ultra ouch. Nice model though!

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Power Tower gives some outstanding views.

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Screamin' Swings are one of my favorites and I got to ride quite a few on this trip.

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It's wicked good (I'm from New England, I had to say it).

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The ride absolutely hauls through the course and has a nice mix of airtime and overbanks.

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This is my favorite coaster at the park and my second favorite steel behind Fury.

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Cedar Point fanboys can get wet now. I'll show the Intamins

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Cedar Point is so beautiful at night (or anytime for that matter).

ready had the credit, but someone else didn't. It's better than your average roller skater, but that's about it. 5 out of 10

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Baby I'm ready to go!

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As is Magnum. Just make sure to keep that seat belt pulled tight. Very tight.

1392188054_TopThrillDragsterChristmasTree.thumb.JPG.1a4c3b8bf5ede769ce550cab2630f81e.JPG

I never noticed until this visit that Dragster has the Christmas tree on the tower.

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