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Photo TR: A Wicked Fahkin Weekend


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Friday, 5pm.

 

After a breakneck and busy workweek, it was finally the moment of truth. Shut down my computer, backpack on, locked up the office and swiftly headed out the back door to hustle the block and a half over to the Broad Street Subway. Swiped my transpass and excitedly danced down the steps toward the sound of the incoming northbound, visions of coaster trains racing in my head. I hopped on, and quickly shot off a text message "running errands. then headed your way", before hopping off at the next stop. Pop in Rite Aid for some travel-size toiletries, make a hurried bank deposit, and a quick reload of my transpass, before heading back underground to catch a second northbound train that would take me to another train that would get me over to 30th Street Station. I had plenty of time before my 6:50pm departure, an Amtrak that would take me to NYC's Penn Station for a brief layover before continuing on to Poughkeepsie, NY for a 10:20pm arrival.

 

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Looking east toward Center City Philly. Let's get the f*ck outta here!

I was to spend the weekend with Coasterbill and his main squeeze CoasterBritt, while they showed off the finest the New England area has to offer: Lake Compounce, America's older continuously operating amusement park and the home of what many consider to be the finest wooden coaster on earth: Boulder Dash, as well as Six Flags' #thrillitup #boowoop coaster capitol of New England containing the legendary Intamin masterpiece Superman: The Ride and the wickedly insane RMC monster, Wicked Cyclone.

 

This trip has been more than a few years in the making. As some of you know from my posting here, I've been a coaster fan my entire life, but only delved deep into this community four years ago, when I began regularly visiting my local parks, and occasionally traveling to check out what else this great green Earth has to offer. My uncle & his girlfriend were ACErs in the late 90s/early 2000s and traveled extensively at the time, often gushing to me about incredible rides they got to experience at faraway places. I admired their explorations and enjoyed their stories. They talked about parks like Cedar Point and Magic Mountain and Busch Gardens and how I need to come with them to check out some of these magical places for myself. One of the rides they raved about was a gargantuan steel coaster up in Massachusetts themed to Superman.

 

Over a decade later I discovered TPR, Youtube coaster POVs, RCDB, etc etc when that ride returned to my consciousness. I watched a POV at some point around then and the ride shot to the top of my bucketlist. A year later, the park announced plans to have Rocky Mountain Construction rework their classic Riverside Cyclone wooden coaster, transforming it into a wood/steel hybrid with inversions and other extreme elements. I didn't know much about the original Cyclone, and RMC had modified and revamped other coasters prior to this, but this was the first RMC conversion I actively followed and paid close attention to. We got plenty of updates that winter since the ride sits right next to a public street, allowing for plenty of photos to surface during the transformation process. I now had a second reason to visit this park, all in spite of overwhelmingly negative opinions enthusiasts had about the park. I vowed I would visit the park in the rides opening season... which came... and went. As did another season.

 

Last month Bill and I started exchanging on ideas about a weekend hanging out. We went back and forth for weeks occasionally texting some sort of plan and eventually picked a date. Finally last Thursday night I pulled the trigger and booked a train ticket for Friday.

 

If you've never been to Philadelphia, 30th Street Station is our main transportation hub where our local public transit (Septa) links to Amtrak and NJTransit. Its the closest thing we have to a Grand Central. When I arrived here I still had a bunch of time to kill so I first checked out this new interactive/public use art exhibit The Porch, located right outside the station.

 

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Yes those are swings.

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On the street. That you can relax on.

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More colorful sitting areas.

The exterior of the station is currently getting a facelift, and I'm sure you don't want to look at photos of scaffolding, but the inside looks, albeit dated, as grand and stately as it always has.

 

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Once inside, I stopped in the food court and decided on Wendys for a sad and overpriced excuse for dinner, and by the time I was finished scarfing down my meal they had announced my track number, so I hurried into the line which briskly moved right down to the platform to board. Now, I'm pretty thrifty and normally would have taken the much cheaper and slower way up via Septa to NJ Transit, etc etc. This Amtrak ticket was definitely splurging. But with only a little over two hours of actual travel time (compared to almost six if I had gone cheap) and a nice comfortable train car, it was worth it. It felt more like flying to this cheapskate! My first leg to NYC was completely uneventful. I shut off my phone, plugged my good headphones into my iPod to blast a bunch of new music I recently downloaded for the trip, and gazed out at the blurred landscape toasted orange by the setting sun on the horizon. It felt like we got to NYC in no time.

 

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This is a fun gif but not what my view looked like at all (LOL)

Upon disembarking the train I headed upstairs and accidentally found myself on the street instead of still inside the station, but it was nice to pop my head out of the ground in the middle of Manhattan, just to cross the street and head back down underground and out of the city.

 

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In the big apple.

In true New York City fashion, I immediately encountered one of Penn Stations resident crazydudes, who was hulking around shouting about everything and nothing amidst the crowds eagerly watching the train-board. Then suddenly, a perfectly well-dressed businessman complete with suit jacket, tie and briefcase excused himself before asking if I had any money he could have. The NYC vibes are thick tonight. It has been a while since I've been here, but I was kinda feelin’ it. Such an appropriate reaction from the city to my very brief stopover.

 

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Back down underground.

Before I knew it I was on the 2nd leg of my journey, in an equally cozy second Amtrak, but while I was now lucky enough to have two seats to myself, I was sandwiched between an elderly man in front of me who immediately reclined his seat completely into my lap and began loudly snoring and occasionally moaning (more awkward than entertaining), and a gaggle of loud Midwestern middle-aged women behind me who'd befriended a drunk, flamboyant, southern-accented man across the aisle, and they proceeded to have a contest to see who could talk the loudest for entirety of the trip, at one point delving into a deep yet hilarious discussion about the sounds and snoring patterns of the man in front of me, and how serious a condition sleep apnea is. Needless to say, the ride was fast and funny, and before I knew it I was hopping in the back of Bill and Britt's shiny red Prius and darting around the dark, hilly streets of Poughkeepsie, recalling the highlights of my journey.

 

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They had just come from a baseball game so we stopped for some late night munchies before heading back to their place where we sat up and had a few beers and some laughs. Such gracious hosts they had set me up in their cozy guest room where I eventually retired to in order to rest up for a big day at the Coaster Capitol of New England. So of course I pulled out my phone to browse TPR before I drifted off to sleep…

 

Stay tuned for part two...

Edited by boldikus
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I spent a couple of nights in Philly a few years ago at the start of my PA/NJ/NYC coaster trip and randomly discovered a pop up park along the river as I was exploring the city. They had several hammocks under trees with changing colored lights in the evening, and it was nice to sit down and chill for a bit. Looking forward to seeing more of your trip.

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Great start. I actually like Wendy's so unless that was a rouge location, let's agree to disagree.

 

I've only been to Philadelphia once and that was during the pope visit. I believe we arrived at the 30th Street Station since I remember walking by the Porch. That's the station by Drexel, right?

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And We're Off And Running

 

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The iconic SFNE M&M steps in the flesh.

All week I had been looking at the weather and it had been setting up perfectly for us - muggy and rainy in the morning, turning later to warm/hot but clear, and the forecast held up as promised. We all woke up at the same agreed time (I'm actually not sure if Britt agreed on this but let's just roll with it) and we were on the road with exactly enough time to get to the park by opening, only stopping quickly in the neighborhood Dunkin drive-thru for some coffee and breakfast we consumed while flying up out of the Hudson Valley and into Connecticut, hitting zero traffic. It was a very beautiful ride through gorgeous landscapes, but unfortunately I have no photos thanks to the fact that we managed to spend the two hours yapping and moaning about our jobs. lol

 

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Muggy

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We pulled into the lot right at opening and Bill commented on how dead the parking lot seemed compared to usual. Just as we pulled into our spot - rain. Not a downpour, but its wasn't exactly spitting. We debated whether or not to wait for a tram with the hundred or so suckers standing out in a now-steady drizzle, but decided to walk up the road to the entrance steps. When we entered the park we didn't have a specific plan, but once Bill said the magic words "I feel like we should maybe just go right to Superman", I couldn't help but agree. This was a long time coming.

 

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I love S&S towers so I was stoked to get to this later.

The rain only lasted a few minutes, but then it just got majorly muggy. Slimy air. A quick bathroom break and we made our way into the DC Superheroes area and down the steps to the ride plaza where we joined just a few other early morning revelers entering the queue. We walked up to a station wait, and of course waited a few trains for row 1, since I had a feeling that might be my only chance and I'd spend any remaining rides in the back.

 

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Finally

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Superman selfie!

I'm an unabashed Intamin fanboy, they just make what I like, plain and simple. I'd heard many opinions of this ride over the years, but it always looked like it checked all my boxes. I loved the version at Six Flags America and couldn't help be convinced this 'alternative remix' is far superior. To top it off, I've heard nothing but how well the ride has been running this season. I was so hype! Sitting down I suddenly understood why everyone has been complaining about the restraints. They were definitely a little bit much, the boxy, bulky, awkward lapbars against my thighs, as opposed to the small T-bars I was accustomed to from Millennium Force and Superman @ SFA. Since I have long legs this was a very tight squeeze and I was stapled in.

 

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I don't how his head got cut off. I blame my shitty photography skills.

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Look at this we don't even have to point at things because other people are doing it for us

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Airtime!

I sat front left with Bill to my right and Brit behind me. Heading up the lift my hairs stood on end as I peered over the side at the Connecticut River disappearing below, the Superman theme song piped in over the lift speakers - something I'd normally find terribly cheesy - only adding to the elation of the moment. While we had of course hoped the muggy morning rain would keep the crowds away, I hadn't considered that the warm air and muggy morning rain would also help Superman to run like an absolute bat out of hell for our first rides. I feared going into this day that, just like Millennium Force, I'd be let down. That the hype was just too damn high. That it couldn't possibly meet my expectations after all these years. Fortunately, it absolutely exceeded every one of them.

 

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Up up and away

The first drop felt shallow, and slow... but then we picked up speed and just plummeted into that first mist-filled tunnel, the cool air a shock. And the train plowed us up that first airtime hill, our bodies lightly ejecting from our seats. The train barreled down and around that first turn, zipping through the course, dodging cutouts with breathtaking ferocity.

 

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And up over that second big airtime hill and WHOA. Pushed out of my seat and stayed out. And then the hill before the spaghetti bowl. Good god. Even though I was stapled I felt like I was being ripped forward and up out of my seat. I suddenly felt like I was on Skyrush. Tearing around the final helices, and up over the twisted airtime hills, ripped out of my seat each time. Hauling down into the final tunnel. And then the bunnyhops! What I imagine riding a real bull is like, out of the corner of my eye noticing Bill is instinctively grabbing on over each hill. I also want to, almost unable to help feeling like I am going to fall out, but I hold my arms out until the moment we are yanked around the final turn into the brake run.

 

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This hill!

This might be the best finish on any roller coaster ever. Sitting in the front its impossible to feel like you aren't going to barrel into the train still loading in the station. Incredible. Of course I couldn't help but beg my companions to walk around and ride in the very rear of the train, which they seemed to have no issue with. Still a station wait. And while its a very different ride back there, its equally as absurd. The yank down the drop and through the course is relentless, we were truly flying, Bill and Britt both commenting on how fast and well the ride was running. I'd trade Nitro for this thing in a heartbeat.

 

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Intamin track is so sexy.

Exiting the ride still catching our breath, we checked out the hilarious on-ride photos and moved on, noticing the clouds were moving out, Bill made another excellent suggestion: "Should we just head over to Wicked Cyclone since its probably equally deserted?" Sounds like a plan! Walking over to the ride I noticed how nice this park actually is. Maybe its just the unfamiliar glow, but I found the place to be clean, lots of greenery, the rides looked great, what themeing there is is done well.

 

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This place is nice!

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Goliath looking... goliath. We'll get to you later

Now as I explained earlier, I closely followed the conversion of Wicked Cyclone and after hearing the many rave reviews since its opening has only elevated my desire to ride to an absolute fever pitch. In addition, I haven't been lucky enough to ride any of the RMC's since this is the only one on the east coast and the only other semi-close installations are further than day trips - Storm Chaser, Goliath (SFGAm) and Lightning Rod. From afar they all seemed like such incredible rides.

 

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Sweaty Palms: The Ride. (Photo by Bill)

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Cool entrance portal

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Walking into the queue (past New England Sky Screamer which was already giving me sweaty palms) I was again impressed with the themeing for Wicked Cyclone, though Six Flags always seems to do disaster themeing really well (see: Apocalypse @ Six Flags America). I found it hard to really get good photos of the ride since there aren't any midways directly around it and when you're walking underneath/through the structure while boarding, you can't see much of the train tearing around above you. What I could see as we entered told me like Superman, this thing was positively flying.

 

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Looks like a cartoon

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Disaster themeing

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We didn't wait at all, in fact we walked up and hopped right in the rear of the next train. I found the RMC trains and restraints perfectly comfortable and had no issues with the shin restraints, as I've heard others complain about. I thought it strange that such an extreme ride had no "oh sh*t!" bars to grab onto but I didn't plan to hold on anyway.

 

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Before I knew it we were dispatched and heading up the relatively short lift... and in no time yanked down that first drop with incredible viciousness. The rest of the ride went something like this:

 

"Wow its so smooth!

Holy sh*t that overbank!

OMG what the hell!?!

The stall!! WTF!?!?!

ARE THEY SERIOUS!?!!?

HAHA THIS DOUBLEDOWN!!!

OMG!!!!!

HAHA WHAT!?

BAAAAARREL ROOOOOLL!!!!!!!!!

WTFF IS THIS!?!?

HAHAHAHH!

JESUS CHRIIIIIIIIIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOLY SH******TTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHOA!

HAHAHHAHA!!!!!

WHAT THE FAHKKK!?!?!

OH SH*T!!!

*hit the brake run, look up at Bill/Britt*

OK what in gods name was THAT?!!"

 

In an instant I am an RMC fanboy. The elements on this ride are truly ridiculous. Just perfectly relentless from the drop to the brakes. It's so completely odd to be riding on and through a wooden structure performing such deranged maneuvers on a smooth steel track. It's like, unnatural or something. I was speechless after that first ride, only able to spout off random exclamations like "What a time to be alive!" I had a similar reaction after I305 last year - one of utter disbelief at what I had just experienced. "I can't believe these things exist!" As a huge fan of El Toro I felt like this was taking those types of forces, upping the intensity a good bit, yet somehow smoothing things out. Even after watching the POV countless times, I was most impressed by the relentlessness of the elements. There isn't a second to catch your breath from the drop to the brakes.

 

The three of us automatically wandered back around through the queue for a front seat ride. The station was empty and we waited one train for the front. On that second lap I just had my hands out as far as I could stretch them, laughing like a kid the entire way through. Again, speechless. Upon exiting I could only sheepishly ask if Bill and Britt minded if we walk around one more time. I liked my back seat ride a bit better and needed one more fix. On one hand it felt like we blew our load a little early but I was just happy I got on the two coasters I came for. I was beaming. Having an absolute blast, five laps already on two of the best coasters I have ever ridden, and it's not even noon yet! What a way to start the day!

 

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We're just getting started!

As we exited that third lap Bill and Britt started asking what I, the newcomer to the park, wanted to do next and all I could say was Superman or Wicked Cyclone. However, we had a whole huge park to explore!

 

And you're gonna have to wait for Part 3 to found out how it went!

Edited by boldikus
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Glad you loved SFNE's big 2! I go back and forth which ride is better this year. Wicked Cyclone always runs like a bat out of hell but Superman is running better than I can remember this year. I agree SFNE specializes in disaster theming. The less they maintain it the better it looks.

 

I'm guessing Part 3 may include some Vekomas.

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"Wow its so smooth!

Holy sh*t that overbank!

OMG what the hell!?!

The stall!! WTF!?!?!

ARE THEY SERIOUS!?!!?

HAHA THIS DOUBLEDOWN!!!

OMG!!!!!

HAHA WHAT!?

BAAAAARREL ROOOOOLL!!!!!!!!!

WTFF IS THIS!?!?

HAHAHAHH!

JESUS CHRIIIIIIIIIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HOLY SH******TTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WHOA!

HAHAHHAHA!!!!!

WHAT THE FAHKKK!?!?!

OH SH*T!!!

*hit the brake run, look up at Bill/Britt*

OK what in gods name was THAT?!!"

 

Yep, this was pretty much my reaction as well, haha. Glad you loved it! I agree with you about the layout of Superman, but the restraints kill it for me, and this is from someone who loves Skyrush. Each ride on it absolutely crushed the lower part of my thighs. If they ever get the T-bar back (doubt it), then I'll reconsider my opinion of it.

 

Look forward to the rest!

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I agree with you about the layout of Superman, but the restraints kill it for me, and this is from someone who loves Skyrush.

 

I'll echo this. Superman is in my top 10 as it is now, but with t-bars it might have been top 3.

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I agree the restraints are horrible. Why they couldn't get something like El Toro's restraints as a substitute for T-Bars is beyond me. But even with the awful restraints it's still far and away the best steel coaster I've ridden.

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Awesome report! You need to bring back the blue filter, though -- your reaction to Wicked Cyclone was exactly like mine (my first RMC as well) and I am looking forward to Supes now that it's not running sluggish like it has been the last few years. Keep it up! Just made plans to visit next month and this makes me more excited. 8)

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