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Photo TR: My adventures in the mid-north (SFGam, MiA, CP...


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EDIT: Whole Trip Posted!

 

Part 1 - Alpine Slide!!!!!!

Part 2 - SF Great America

Part 3 - Harley Davidson Museum

Part 4 - Ferry & Michigan's Adventure

Part 5 - Cedar Point

Part 6 - Kings Island

Part 7 - Kennywood & Knoebels

Part 8 - Wildwood

 

Enjoy!

Edited by Mike240SX
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You're driving from Knoebels to Wildwood on July 3rd and 4th and then driving home the day after the 4th of July fireworks? I hope to god you're taking the ferry home but you're still in a world of sh*t.

 

Well technically I'm driving from State College, PA, through Knoebels, then home to northern DE on Sunday July 2nd. Then to Wildwood on Monday the 3rd and back on Wednesday the 5th. Yeah, I know I'm in for some major traffic on the way back (not planning on the ferry), kinda just hoping that the 4th being mid-week cuts down on the traffic load.

 

Mid-Trip Update

So far the trip has been great...got my first rides on a RMC and B&M Wing Coaster, blasted through 9 major coasters at CP in 4 hours on my first day there (without a FastLane), got blitzed and made some new friends on day 2 at CP, and managed to knock out everything I wanted to do at KI (again without a FastLane) including night rides on both Mystic Timbers and The Beast on day 1 so I'm able to make day 2 into a recovery day. Might try to go back to KI to get on some flats and a few more rides on Diamondback, Mystic Timbers, and the Beast later on depending on if these storms hold out.

 

As for photos, Ride Sign fanboys will be overjoyed once I post them all (mostly was just keeping track of what order I did things), but here's one of the few others.

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Diamondback doing its thing.

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Just a quick update from Knoebles...holy fuck how do they get away with running Phoenix with buzz bars and no seat belts? Awesome.

 

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Okay, so here we go with the TR.

 

First, some backstory, my job was sending me to Milwaukee for a conference that lasted from Friday the 23rd through Monday the 26th. Yeah, a conference on a weekend, but whatever. Seeing the opportunity available to me, I opted to drive instead of fly from Northern Delaware, and hit a whole bunch of amusement parks on the ways to and fro the conference. My grand scheme was originally as follows:

 

Tuesday, 6/20 - Drive from Northern DE to Newton Falls OH (pure travel day), leaving in the afternoon and arriving in the evening.

Wednesday, 6/21 - Drive from Newton Falls to Gurnee IL, check-in and go to sleep.

Thursday, 6/22 - Do Six Flags Great America, drive the remaining hour to Milwaukee.

Friday 6/22 - Monday 6/26 - Work conference BS

Tuesday 6/27 - Drive to Sandusky OH, try to get in some rides at Cedar Point

Wednesday 6/28 - All day dedicated to Cedar Point

Thursday 6/29 - Finish up at CP in the morning, drive to Mason OH, try to get in some rides at Kings Island

Friday 6/30 - All day dedicated to KI

Saturday 7/1 - Drive from Mason OH to Kennywood, do Kennywood, drive to State College PA and go to sleep.

Sunday 7/2 - Drive from State College to Knoebels, do Knoebels, drive home to Northern DE, arriving late in the evening.

Monday 7/3 - Do laundry, pick up mail, and drive to Wildwood for the 4th

Tuesday 7/4 - Enjoy Wildwood

Wednesday 7/5 - Drive home.

 

As you'll see, the trip didn't really follow that agenda, for the better!

 

Day 0: 6/20

This day was supposed to a purely travel day, leaving when I normally get done work at around 5 PM. Well, I was able to hit the road much earlier (10AM), and got a huge jump on the day. While travelling through the nothingness mountain-ness of western Pennsylvania, I see a billboard for what looks like an alpine slide. An honest to goodness, Action-Park-NJ-style, alpine slide! To the google machine I go on my phone, and find the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, merely an hour off couse, with a real alpine slide still operating. I had to go.

 

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It was just as fun as I remember from my days at Action Park, being all of 10-12 years old at the time...just as heart-racing and exhilarating even though this course was nowhere near as intense as Action Park's "expert" run. That said, it was ten dollars a run, so I only did it once, and was on my way back on the road. I arrived at my stopover hotel in Newton Falls around 4 PM, so I just gassed up the car and grabbed a bite to eat, and passed out, intent on getting an early start the next day.

 

More to come...

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Day 1: 6/21

 

I was up at by 5 AM (a little early for me compared to usual, but not by much) and on the road by 6. While driving through Ohio, I had this weird driving into a cloud moment that I felt the need to capture in image...

 

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Into oblivion I guess?

 

Anyway, 7+ hours later, having traversed the entirety of "5 miles clear, 5 miles under construction, 5 miles clear, 5 miles under construction, etc etc." of the Indiana Toll Road and horrible Chicago traffic, I wound up in Gurnee, IL, home of Six Flags Great America. Now some of you may remember me not being a huge fan of Six Flags in general, having worked at Great Adventure in NJ for the better part of my youth and getting annoyed with their constant cloning and ridiculous policies, but I figured it's on the way and it's got an RMC and a classic Schwarzkopf, so why not.

 

So I arrived, checked in to my hotel right across the street, and headed right over to the park at around 1 PM. Get in, make a bee-line straight for Goliath (RMC topper track), jump in the Single-Rider Line, and get on the front row after only a 4-5 train wait. Holy. Mother. of. God. This thing just rips. Airtime, laterals, positive Gs, that hang-time moment...just, wow. This was my first RMC of any type and it absolutely blew me away. Bravo. 10/10. Tied with Maverick for my favorite steel coaster or The Beast for favorite wooden, depending on how you want to count it.

 

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Goliath doin' its hangtime.

 

On to Whizzer, which was my longest wait of the day at about 30 minutes. A great, classic custom Jet Star III, with that weird self-powered-car spiral lift. 8/10.

 

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Whizzer being weirdly awesome.

 

By this time, I decided to check out the waterpark for a bit. Meh overall I guess. Made my way back to the amusement side, and found everything much more packed than it was earlier (lines of 30-60 minutes for most of the coasters), so I splurged on the Flash Pass line-skip system. Now this was my first time utilizing the Six Flags Q-Bot system and found it to be a major pain in the ass compared to Cedar Fair's wristbands, mainly because you can only reserve one ride at a time. Anyway, using the Flash Pass, I queued up for X-Flight, which would be my first B&M Wing Coaster.

 

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Threading the needle.

 

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with this. Yeah, it was kinda forcless like most modern B&Ms, but the sensation of riding on the egde of the track, entirely non-heartlined, was kinda cool, and the visual effect of the threading-the-needle moments was breathtaking. 7/10.

 

From here I'm having trouble remembering the order, but I know that I did Demon (very much ouch on the corkscrew entrance), American Eagle (not too bad for an old woodie - non-wheel seat of course), and Raging Bull (nice variant of the usual out-and-back B&M hyper design), and I finally made my way to Viper, their 22-year old Cyclone mirror. Surprisingly enjoyable in a non-wheel seat.

 

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Viper Vipering

 

At this point, I had done all of the major coasters that weren't sub-par clones of rides at parks closer to me, and each of those (Batman, Dark Knight, Joker, Superman, Vertical Velocity) all had 30+ minutes waits even using the Q-Bot, so I decided to just wander around and found a Condor! I loved this ride when Morey's still had one (even moreso when they ran it on a fast cycle), and through this one ran the slower "scenic overlook" type of program, it was still cool to get one one of these classic rides. Fun fact, this one used to operated at my old employer, SF Great Adventure, but I guess I was too young to remember it.

 

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CONDOR!!!!

 

After Condor, I continued wandering, and found Little Dipper. Now, I knew about this coaster, and know about its history, and it was one of my major reasons for deciding to go to this park, but somehow in the midst of the day it had just completely slipped my mind. Got on, loved it, loved how they kept it almost true to how it was (no more levers for brakes, but still skid brakes none the less), and chatted a bit with a ride op about it. Great classic ride, and I'm really surprised that Six Flags of all companies would keep it as intact as they have.

 

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Holy crap how did I almost miss you?

 

I also happened across this weird thing...they call it Buccaneer Battle...eight people ride around a slow moving course in a boat armed with water guns, and people on the sides of the ride can shoot back with water guns of their own. Definitely a unique ride and one I was surprised to find at a Six Flags park.

 

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At this point it was getting late, and I was happy to have gotten everything accomplished a day ahead of schedule, so I made my way out of the park.

 

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Entrance Midway

 

I would head back the next morning, for a quick extra ride on Goliath (back row this time, just as awesome as the front) and to buy some shot glasses for Goliath and X-Flight (only to be disappointed at the lack of the latter), and then it was off to Milwaukee...

 

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Outside Plaza the next morning.

 

Stay tuned...

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Bonus: I won't bore you with details of the work conference, but part of the fee bought us a catered dinner and free tour of the Harley Davidson Museum. I'm not a huge Harley fan, much preferring Japanese standards and cruisers when it comes to motorcyles, but it was a good bit of history. Amusingly, they had a special exhibit set up for The Race of Gentlemen, an annual classic automotive culture and racing event held on the beach in Wildwood every year, which I just so happened to be at a few weeks prior. Here are the photos (part 1)

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Day 2: 6/27 (Part 1)

 

So during the days of the conference, I was considering how I wanted to get back to Sandusky for the remainder of the trip. Option A was to drive back through Chicago and the Indiana Toll Road, two things I definitely did NOT want to do. Option B was to take a ferry from Milwaukee across the Great Lake to Muskegon, Michigan...which happens to be home to Michigan's Adventure. And hey, it's on my Cedar Fair Platinum Pass, so let's do that. Unfortunately, the ferry times were either 6AM or Noon, and noon would put me way too far behind schedule, so the 6 AM it was. Up at 3, in line at 5:15, boarding at 5:45 and then underway at 6. Here's some photos from the ferry.

 

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After a brief drive through suburban Michigan, I arrived at...

 

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...45 minutes before gate opening. Ugh. Sat around in the parking lot and waited for them to open the gates, then waited again inside for the "rope-drop", and headed straight to Shivering Timers. No middle row available here, but still not a bad ride. Nice to see a (somewhat) modern take on the classic out-and-back woodie.

 

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Next it was off to Wolverine Wildcat, which was also decent, but again no non-wheel seats.

 

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On my way over to Zach's Zoomer, I kinda had to take into account how photogenic this place was despite its mediocre lineup of rides.

 

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Zach's Zoomer closed out my day here, and it too was a nice pleasant surprise.

 

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All in all, I finished this park (skipping the SLC and basic Arrow) in just over an hour and was back on the (much shorter) road to Sandusky....

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Day 2: 6/27 (Part 2)

 

5 hours of driving and a hotel check-in later, I had arrived...

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Yep, this looks different from what I remember...(my last visit was in 2008).

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So I get in the park, and head to Dragster first thing. I know how tempermental it can be so I wanted to be sure to get a ride in as soon as I could. Turns out it was down, and had been down for the past 4 days apparently, and wouldn't re-open during my trip. Bummer. So, I see Gemini has no line and I hop on. Got on the red side, non-wheel seat, and won. This first ride was at approximately 6:45 PM (important later).

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I head over to the RMC Streak construction, and not really seeing anything new, snap a single pic and move on...

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Obligatory RMC Streak shot.

To Cedar Creek Mine Ride, which is also a station wait. Not much to say here either.

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Next to Mantis (I refuse to use its new name). First time riding it since the conversion, and though I may be in the minority, I love stand-up coasters and am sad to see this one go from likely the best stand-up coaster in the world to a mediocre floorless.

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So I hit up a smoking spot and check the Cedar Point app for wait times (this is insanely useful), and see that Gatekeeper is showing only 10 minutes.

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For my 2nd B&M Wing Coaster ever, I guess the novelty wore off. Yeah, it was fun, and the threading-the-needle moments were cool, but meh I guess. It was smoother than X-Flight but seemed a bit less forceful. 7/10. Off then to Blue Streak and Raptor, which were also barely over 10 minute waits for each. Raptor continues to impress me with how smooth it is for its age, and how forceful B&Ms used to be.

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It's now around 8:45. I'm kinda just wandering around at this point, not really wanting to spend too much time on any lines (I had fully planned on buying a Fast Lane for the next day), when some random kid comes up and hands me two vouchers for Fast Lane!

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Score and a half right there. So I hit up the app, see Valravn has the longest line in the park at 60 minutes, and head right there. 10-minues later, having used one of the passes, I'm on. I've only been on one other dive coaster (Griffon at BGW), and this beats it by far. Great ride, sat in front row in a end seat. 8/10.

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What did the other Fast Lane pass go towards? Why, none other than my all-time favorite coaster, Maverick. Got a ride in the front row and it blew my mind as it always does. 10/10.

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I get off Maverick, and it's after 10 at this point, so I figure my night is over. As I'm walking by the entrance to Magnum, I see the line-entry-greeter kid still sitting out front with the height stick. I walk over and ask "Still open"? and he simply replies "yep" and off I go. Three-train wait for somewhere in the middle (a non-wheel-seat of course), and it was great.

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By this point all other rides had definitely closed off their lines, so I make my way out of the park and head back to the hotel for some much needed rest. I had hit 9 of Cedar Points coasters in just over 3 and a half hours without a Fast Lane, and had been up since 3 AM, so I was dead tired.

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Got back to the hotel to find the pool still open, so I took a quick dip to relax my muscles then it was off to bed.

 

Day 3: 6/28

 

Woke up around 8 and made it to the park in time for Platinum Pass early access.

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That meant a bee-line to Millennium Force, but not before a quick stop on Cedar Downs.

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I was one of 4 people on it, and the only grown ass adult. Whatever. Anyway, off to Millie, and got a great ride as always (front row of course).

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Next was Corkscrew, which was insanely smooth for such an old Arrow. Good job to whatever the maintenance crews have done to keep this running so smoothly.

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Next up was Iron Dragon (sans VR). My original plan was to try to hit it later with the VR, for my first-ever VR-coaster experience, but that didn't happen. Anyway, the ride was good and I'm glad to see these types of coasters sticking around. I hope they never remove it.

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Last on the coaster list was Wicked Twister, which I rode in row 2 for a decent ride.

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Windseeker was down due to high winds (irony), so I went to Power Tower and got a no-line ride on the shoot-up side. Amusingly the line for the drop-down side was substantially longer...not sure if people didn't realize there were two or just so greatly preferred the drop side?

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It was now just before noon, and I had done pretty much everything I had wanted to at Cedar Point, without having to buy a fast pass. I hadn't planned on doing the water park initially, but figured what the hell, and went back out to my car to get my swim gear and in I went. Did a lap on the lazy-lazy river (as opposed to the not-so-lazy lazy river), and then when looking for a smoking zone found their swim-up bar. I'm a little fuzzy on details, but I remember that Jack-n-Cokes were decently priced ($7) and I had like 10 of them before it got dark and the water park closed. I had made some friends while there, and with my newfound group we went back into the rides side to sober up and rode Gemini and Magnum. I think we were talking about waiting for Maverick but decided against it. Anyway, they drop me off at my car (parked in the first row of non-preferred parking outside the main entrance) and I make it back to the hotel and call it a night. I would be on the road quite early tomorrow...

 

Well, that's all for tonight. I'll post the rest tomorrow evening when I get home from work.

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Great report on Cedar Point! And the PLINKO vouchers were a great score. We saw the game throughout the park,

but since we had FastLane+ passes, we didn't bother. Nice of that kid to give you his.

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Cool report. Little Dipper is honestly one of the best coasters at Great America. Very cool of this park to keep a bit of Chicago history alive. An hour at Michigan's Adventure sounds appropriate, though Thunderhawk and Corkscrew both are a better specimen of their ride type. Free Plinko passes--how cool is that? Looks like you've enjoyed the trip so far, even as busy of a schedule as it's been!

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Sorry guys for not getting the rest of the TR up all weekend. Life happens, y'know? I hope to get it posted tonight.

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Okay, on with the remainder of the trip.

 

Day 4 - 06/29

 

So, we had left off with a drunken day 2 at Cedar Point, that had led into an some what early night to bed after a quick dip in the pool at the hotel and packing everything up. I was once again on the road at or around 6 AM, for the 3 and a half hour drive down to Mason, OH, for King's Island. I hadn't been here since 2008 either, so there were plenty of new coasters for me to hit up. An uneventful trip, and I get there are 9:30 and get in via the Platinum Pass early-entry...

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...and go straight for Mystic Timbers.

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Decide to wait for the front, and it did not disappoint. Fast, twisty, fun fun ride, a great addition to KI's stellar lineup. 9/10 That said, the shed was so meh. Between this ride and the one I got later in the night, I got the same music, and I imagine the visuals are the same across all the variants. I think I'd rather prefer a simple covered brake run. Anyway, on to the next new-to-me-coaster, Diamondback.

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A good solid ride, it definitely gives some great views of the park and had some actual decent forceful moments. That said, it did have some of that B&M bump in the first/second (what do you call the two front wing seats on one of these?) row and the seats and restraints were a LOT dirtier than I'd expect for an 8 year old ride. 8/10. Check the KI app for wait times (again, these things are awesome combined with the free-if-spotty WiFi the CF parks provide), and decide to get Woodstock Express out of the way.

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"Kiddie coaster" or not, I love these old simple woodies. Anyway, on to Banshee, the last new-to-me coaster here...

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Great ride. Very forceful, and the inversions just kept coming and coming. I have to say, this beats Raptor for my favorite B&M invert if only for those awesome vest restraints. 10/10. Next to Top Gun/Flight Deck/The Bat whatever they want to call it these days...

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So intense for a suspended coaster, despite on the short side. Just like Iron Dragon, I love these old Arrows and hope they stay around forever. Next up was Invertigo, which was sadly (not really) closed. Oh well, at least saved me the headache I remember from the last time I was on one of these.

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On to Adventure Express with all its wackiness. Was sitting behind some little girl who was absolutely frightened to tears by the last lift hill...I don't get it, but whatever.

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Next up was the Racer. Only running the blue side, hopped on a non-wheel seat and had a tolerable and somewhat enjoyable ride.

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Next up: Vortex. Classic arrow, not too rough, not to bad of a corkscrew entry, good enough of a ride that I again hope never gets removed.

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Then it was time for the number one reason for ever going to Kings Island: The Beast.

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Spectacular as always. Rode in 2nd car, middle row, and had a great great ride. Still my favorite wooden coaster.

 

At this point, it's 1 PM...do the math, I didn't have very long waits for anything yet and was making great progress...wouldn't need a FastLane here either, even though I had budgeted for it. I checked the lines for Firehawk, Flight of Fear, and Backlot and found them all to be in excess of 45 minutes, so I decided to leave the park and go check in to my hotel. Checked in, came back, did the waterpark. This was my first time as an adult in this waterpark and found it pretty good, if not enough tube slides (I greatly prefer these to body slides). Still haven't gotten on a capsule-drop slide...something about that just freaks me out. Of note, their lazy river was not so lazy at all, and offered a lot of opportunities for non-riders to spray and dump water on lazy river riders. The water was kinda freezing, so I made every attempt to dodge those sprays-n-dumps, much to the chagrin of one particular guy over my 3 laps. Also of note, found that Jack-n-Cokes here were $10, compared to the $7 at Cedar Point's waterpark...don't quite understand the difference.

 

Got back in the park around 7 PM, and saw lines were down on the remaining coasters (thank you people who eat dinner at the typical time), and headed to Firehawk.

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Solid ride, a little rough, but a lot of fun. I may be in the minority but I greatly prefer these Vekomas to the B&M flyers. On to Flight of Fear...

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...which, for some reason, insanely disoriented me. I normally don't get disoriented on coasters, and never have on one of these spaghetti bowls before, but for a moment during the ride and then for about 30 seconds while pulling into the unloading area I felt like sideways was up. Weird. Anyway, on to Backlot, which proved to be my longest wait of the day at around 25 minutes.

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At this point, the sun was starting to go down, and I was determined to get night rides on both Mystic Timbers to see what all the fuss was about, and The Beast, naturally. Took a couple of pics of Diamondback doing it's water-brake gimmick in the sunset which I thought looked cool with the misting and such. ::shrug::

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I got in line for MT at around 9:15, made it through the line way too fast, and ended up just waiting before the boarding-associate to ensure that I got the front row. At around 9:45, I move up and get in line for the front, and three trains later I'm off. I have to say I was not too impressed with the "night factor" of this ride...there were far too many lights in the surroundings. Turn those off, different story, but with all the lighting on it kinda killed it. Still, a great, but no reason to go out of your way for a night ride in my opinion.

Got off MT at around 9:50, and I shuffled my way over to The Beast and got in line. As time passed, more and more people left the shut-down line (for those who aren't aware, they close the ride at around 9:45 and don't open back up until 10:15 for the nightly fireworks show), to where I was eventually on the ramp just before the front/back split. Enjoyed the fireworks but there was a bit too much ambient light to get any kind of good pictures of them.

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So, the ride reopens and onward I go. Get up to the platform, get in line for the front row. 9 Trains in front of me. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. And then, it happens. "We're sorry folks, but there are only going to be two more trains running this evening, if you are in a line that has more than 4 people we'll need you to move to an empty row." GOD. FUCKING. DAMMNIT. I'm person number 5. I stand around like nothing happened for a while, hoping that someone in front of me might've been confused and moved, but alas they did not. So, dejected, I moved to row 5 (middle, non-wheel seat of car 2) and got my night ride on The Beast. Which was still absolutely awesome. Couldn't even see the headrest in front of me.

Satisfied with my day (able to hit all the coasters I wanted to at this park in my first day, without a Fast Lane), I meandered my way out to the front of the park and snapped the iconic picture that everyone takes.

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Out to the car, and one last pic of the skyline...

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...and it was back to my hotel. To find the pool still open (apparently it's open until Midnight). Coming from Wildwood, AC, and even Vegas, where hotel pools close at ungodly early hours, to find both of these Ohio hotels with late-open pools was a pleasant surprise. Took a quick dip and then off to bed, with no alarms set, to wake up whenever I woke up.

 

Day 5 - 6/30

 

Woke up at like 10 AM and it felt great. I had accomplished pretty much everything I had wanted to a Kings Island the day before, and decided to make today a recovery day. The 15th and last days of the month are paydays for me, so I popped out my laptop and took care of paying bills and other such adult nonsense, took a trip down I-71 to a Mejier for some supplies, stopped at Target and bought a festive swimsuit for the beach at Wildwood to come, and came back to the hotel. At around 1:30, decided to hop over to the park to see if I could get on Invertigo or Windseeker, and maybe get some more rides on Banshee, Diamondback, Mystic Timbers, or the Beast.

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Wellllp, Invertigo was still closed, so I went and got in line for Windseeker...

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...which closed for "weather issues" as I was in the next group to board. Ugh. So, I checked the app and found 45+ minute waits for all of the other coasters I wanted to do, so I just wandered around, bought some souvenirs, and then it started to rain. Headed back to the hotel, caught a quick nap, hung out by the pool once the rain had cleared, and got a truly early night to bed for I think the first time on this whole trip. That would enable me to be on the road super-early the next day, and...well, that'll be in the next post.

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So, as the TR winds down to a close, I have to warn all the Kennywood and Knoebels fanboys out there...I will not be very kind to these parks. Anyway, with that warning out of the way, on with the TR...

 

Day 6 - 7/1

 

I was on the road at 5 AM for the 4 hour drive from Mason, OH, to Kennywood. Some major rain slowed me down a bit (the past 2,500 miles of the roadtrip had taken their toll on my winter tires on my rear-wheel-drive car, so I was fishtailing all over the place over 45 mph). Anyway, I survived and got to the park just before opening, and the weather was holding out for the time being.

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I park in the free lot (number one, wow for parking being free), and make my way inside the park to find nothing running yet. So I find a smoking zone and check out the park map, for a few minutes, and then it's off to...

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The Racer. First thing that jumps out at me, no rails or anything in the station. And skid brakes. And then I get on it, and it's super smooth. Very impressed. 8/10. Off next to...

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Jack Rabbit. Very very nice, classic ride. 8/10. Next up was...what the hell...

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...is this? So I had no idea what this was, all I saw was boats. I imagined its some kind of dark ride, and it was, except it was super super bright. Strange, strange ride indeed. You'd go through a tunnel, see an actual Garfield comic painted on the walls, and then open into a larger room with a "nightmare" version of the comic and a voiceover by someone who didn't quite sound like Garfield from the cartoons. I guess it would be good for kids or potheads? Anyway, moving on...

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SkyRocket was next. This was my first modern Premier coaster, and it was pretty impressive. I don't quite get why they do the massive braking at the top of the spike, but still a great ride. 8/10. Next was...

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...or maybe not. Seems one car is stuck in the down position, and it's been closed for quite some time apparently. Here's hoping that the park is fabricating whatever it needs and this classic gets to survive. Took a picture of a cool fountain...

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..and moved on to...

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...Phantom's Revenge. I'm sorry to disappoint, but this ride was not that great. Especially that part near the end where it just jolts you, no idea what that was about. The trains were weird and the restraints uncomfortable. I had never ridden it when it was an Arrow multi-looper, but I can't imagine that it was worse in that state. 3/10. Let's see if we can't improve on this...

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Holy crap. This was incredible. Fast, twisty, unique layout...just spectacular. Kinda don't get their "forced two people to a row" deal, but it worked out so it was alright. 9/10 and made the trip to this park worth it. Having hit all the coasters here (I had no interest in Exterminator as a loathe spinning coasters), I decided to wander around a bit and took another picture of a cool fountain...

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...and then took a nice ride on the classic Auto Race.

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It was right around noon at this place, and I figured I had hit everything I really wanted to. I had no interest in Noah's Ark, though it sounds like I may have appreciated the artistry, and the shooty-dark ride Ghostwood Estate didn't interest me. Admittedly, I didn't realize they had a Whip until after I had left, but I was just underwhelmed by this park for all the praise it receives. I guess this is how non-locals feel about Dorney?

 

Anyway, after killing the park in 2 hours, I hopped back in the car and made my way to State College PA, which was originally intended as an overnight stop after spending a whole day at Kennywood. As it turns out I got there a little before 3 and realized I had some options in front of me:

A - Continue with the original plan and just chill at this hotel for the remainder of the night, then do Knoebels and head home the next day.

B - Add 147 miles to the trip, do Knoebels that night, then head back to the hotel and make an early drive back home the next day.

C - Check right back out of the hotel, throwing that money out the window, do Knoebels and drive home that night.

 

I ended up going for option B, and made the hour and a half drive through the Pennsylvanian mountains to Knoebels.

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Now, I knew this park was somewhat of a throwback to yesteryear, with their ticketing system, ride prices, and non-conventional path structure. Free parking and no admission was nice. So I grab a $20 book of tickets (guessing sales tax was built in), and make my way over to Phoenix.

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What this...? Buzz bars? No seat belts? Awesome! And awesome ride, new top 5 woodie. 9/10. Best part of my trip here. On to...

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Black Diamond. Now, I had ridden this ages ages ago as a small child when it was Golden Nugget at Hunt's Pier in Wildwood, so this was basically all new to me. I was suitably impressed with the theatricalness of it all, and the water effect at the end was great. 8/10. Off to...

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...Twister, which was kinda meh. The double-lift hill thing was kinda cool, but other than that I found it a very mediocre ride. 6/10. Moving on to...

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Flying Turns. Now, I had been intrigued by this ride over the 7 years it took them to open it, and had such high hopes, being generally a fan of the Intamin and especially Mack bobsleds that I've been on over the years. But this one just didn't do it for me. It didn't have much speed to it, the course was too interrupted by lifts, and there wasn't really any forcefulness to it. Sorry guys, I appreciate all the effort that went into it, but 4/10.

 

This is where I'm also going to talk about my biggest gripe about Knoebels as a park: the ride ops. Every single one I encountered seemed like they absolutely hated their life. Now, the retail, food, security employees that I interacted with were fine if not chipper, but every single ride op just seemed to hate being there. They would drone in their spiels, most were sitting down whenever possible, and at Flying Turns it was the worst.

 

So for those who don't know, FT does a pre-pre-grouping of riders to balance the weight in the trains. As you walk up to the platform, they'll assign you to one of the three cars based on the operators perceived weight of you (and your riding partner if you have one). Apparently, for the ride to function, the heaviest group/single has to go in the front, and the lightest in the back. Had this been explained via signage or even by the operator initially there would've been no problem.

 

I step up to the grouping, and line up for the front car. Some kids proceed up behind me for the 2nd and 3rd cars. No problem, right? Well, some other shuffling happens at the pre-grouping area, and the kids are now on the train before me, and two adult couples step up to the other rows, so the operator (teenage girl) tries to move me to the back. I just kinda give her a look like "Really?" and I try to ask why. She says "we just have to do it that way, and besides it's faster in the back." Whoa. Faster in the back, of a train that is linked by fixed connections and all cars travel at the same speed at the same time? Come on. I did not appreciate being flat out lied to, and I told her so. She then explained that it was for weight reasons, that the lightest rider needed to be in the back car, and I moved.

 

So, here's where it gets good. I'm standing there, move in to the pre-grouping area, and a surly looking maintenance (so says his shirt) employee walks up to me and says "Is there some sort of problem here?" I reply with "No, no problem. I had been lined up for the front, but then moved to the back when the girl explained the weight issue." He replies, "So you understand its a weight issue?" I reply, "Yes, I just didn't appreciate being lied to about 'the back being faster' or whatever." He just nods, and walks away.

 

As I move up the to the pre-boarding area (I swear this ride has 5 stages of grouping/boarding areas before you get on), I pass the original girl I talked to and am like "Look, I wasn't trying to cause an issues, and I'm sorry if I did." I do not appear threatening by any stretch of the imagination, and never raised my voice, and here I am thinking I'm about to get kicked out of the park over a simple misunderstanding. WTF?

 

So, that kinda soured me on the place. I generally don't enjoy Eurofighters so I figured I wouldn't enjoy this Zierer clone (Impulse) that they had, so skipped it, and spent the bulk of my remaining tickets on the Skyride, which was cool to get some night views of the park coming back down. I grabbed some food, and wow were these prices cheap!

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So I continued to wander around, taking it the awesome ambiance of the park, and gave my remaining $1.50 in tickets to a guy with a kid, getting quite lost in the process. The ability to walk around all four sides of most rides seems great, but combined with the wooded area, just leads to people like me who are used to amusement parks having a few set loops just getting lost.

 

Maybe I just don't get it, but I was underwhelmed by Knoebels as well. Yes, it's awesome that everything is so cheap, its awesome that they run classic rides the way they were meant to be, and the overall ambiance is awesome. But the ride lineup is meh, and the operators attitude was just the worst. I can't see how anyone without a family of small kids could spend a whole day, especially multiple days, here.

 

Anyway, back to the hotel, and off to bed.

 

Day 7 - 7/2

 

Coasterbill had warned me of traffic for this part, but I encountered none on my backroad-laden ride from State College back home to Northern Delaware. I ended up getting home before noon, instead of late in the evening as had originally planned, and had plenty of time to do laundry, catch up with my cat, and get to bed at a decent hour.

 

Final part of the trip, Wildwood, coming next.

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Sorry to say, but this part will be pretty short.

 

Days 8, 9, and 10 - 7/3 - 7/5

 

Monday, July 3rd. I'm up early, I go to the post office to pick up my mail which had been stopped, stop by Shoprite for some supplies, and I'm on my way to Wildwood. Only hit a little bit of traffic where 47 and 347 meet back up, and I'm in town and checked in by 2 PM. Relax at the hotel for a bit, get changed, go lay out on the beach for a few hours, then go out to the Flow House as the real me for the first time ever, which was thankfully accepted and a good time. Got way too drunk on super-cheap Cherry Vodka-n-Redbulls, stumbled my way back to the hotel, and passed out.

 

Tuesday, July 4th. Sleep until around noon, went out to get breakfast at Marvis diner (so meh), then relax at the hotel until 5 and hit the piers. First up is Great White.

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Great ride since the retracking a few years ago. Next up was the GoKarts on Adventure Pier.

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I still liked the old course on this pier better, but this run was good enough.

On to Morey's Pier, Flitzer was down, wasn't feeling Sea Serpent this trip, Ghost Ship wasn't open yet, so I stopped in Flow House and asked if their kitchen was open. My man behind the bar let me know that food was taking up to two hours, so off I went to Mariner's Pier and got a cheesesteak from Jakes. Wasn't trying to get soaked so I skipped the flume this time around, and wasn't really feeling any more rides (I'm in Wildwood like every other weekend this summer so nothing lost), so I head back to Morey's Pier and snap another shot of Great White...

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...and then head back to Flow House...

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...to watch the super-long 4th of July Fireworks show.

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Sadly, once again too much ambient light to really take any good pictures.

 

Called it a night after the fireworks, headed back to the hotel, packed up and hit the hay.

 

Wednesday, July 5th. Woke up early, hit the road by 8, and was home in Delaware by 10...no traffic on the way back, despite the doom and gloom from Coasterbill.

 

And well, that was the trip. Sorry if the TR kinda fell apart as it went on but typing about this stuff is a lot less entertaining than actually doing it LOL.

 

Next up is Hersheypark on a work function and then Rye Playland, Lake Compounce, Quassy, and Six Flags New England the next weekend.

 

Thanks for reading and the comments.

Edited by Mike240SX
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I've done a few of these long-haul trips myself as well and really enjoyed them. Last year, I went to Indiana Beach, rode everything I could, left at 2pm and drove all the way over to Cedar Point for some night rides (the park was open until 12pm that night). The drive itself was super easy and relaxing.

 

Knoebels, I found, wasn't quite for me, but I'm still glad I got to check it out as I love old-school rides. I loved Phoenix (who wouldn't?) as well as the classic dark rides, but I didn't really connect with the place beyond that. Anyhow, great reports so far, and really great to hear that the trip to Flow House went well!

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As for Twister, its just that I don't really remember a lot about it positive or negative, so thus the "meh" rating.

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