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Photo TR: Andy's 2017 US TPR Trip


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Andy, as always, there are so many of your photos that I want to frame and hang on my wall (I may or may not have one or two currently .)

 

Looks like an amazing trip. Seeing the pictures you took of Nathan made me nostalgic for the Mini-East Coast trip and our epic day at Knoebels.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to do such a great trip report.

 

David

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Thanks Zach, Andrew, and David!

 

Well I guess I failed at this being near-real-time since the trip is over, but I'll try to keep on moving ahead as I can get the parts finished.

 

Next up was Holiday World. We went there on a Saturday evening and then for about two thirds of the day on Sunday. The Saturday evening was insanely busy -- apparently their busiest day of the year -- but most of us got on each of the wood coasters at least once.

* Voyage is still a ride I really like, but could only ride maybe a few times in a given trip due to its aggressiveness. That said, I had a little better tolerance of it than some of the other people on the trip.

* Legend was a lot of fun -- it's crazy laterals the whole way, but the track was smooth. I like this better than I'd remembered it.

* Raven in the back was a really insane experience. Honestly I also think I liked this better than I'd remembered as well, except for one problem -- it's horribly rough. Worse than Voyage was, and I rode Voyage very close to the back too. This ride could use some work.

 

The next day we did some morning rides on Thunderbird, which by a hair remains my favorite of the wing coasters. I'd probably put Wild Eagle just ahead of it if it weren't for Wild Eagle's "cut off the circulation at your shoulders" restraints, whereas Thunderbird is much more comfortable for me. It's a really fun ride and it's neat to launch on a wing coaster like that!

 

The rest of the time was spent in the water park. I thought it was awesome to have a water park day on the trip. We got some rides on Mammoth and Wildebeest, then kind of did our own thing. Rode some other slides. Raced on the mat racer (I took second-to-last). Floated around on the lazy river for several laps. Then headed out mid-afternoon to our next destination.

 

Oh, and here's a trick for the water coasters. Unlike regular coasters, in which you'd think you'd want the heaviest possible load to go faster, the opposite is true. So while my four-person ride on Wildebeest was fun, a two-person ride immediately thereafter (for good comparison) was absolutely insane! Airtime like that probably shouldn't exist on a ride with no restraints, but it does!

 

Pictures below!

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Goodbye, Cincinnati!

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Hello, Santa Claus!

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Night rides on the woodies. Good fun, but insanely crowded.

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I think I was on the second-to-last Voyage train of the night.

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Long exposure lift hill shot!

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There's actually a train going up the lift but it's so blurred from the long exposure you can only see the red markings here and there.

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The next morning, we had some time on Thunderbird! We might have faulted the ride after one run (heh) but it was going again in no time at all.

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While we had some time in the station, I got some pictures there normally isn't a chance to get, like this one down the launch track.

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Wheel shot!

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LED running light shot!

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Oh boy, more coaster nerd shots...

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Wheels and stuff.

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An empty row of seats on the brake run.

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And now, TPR launches away!

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Some excitement from the group (and a well-positioned ride logo).

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Blast off.

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Out of the first inversion.

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More Thunderbird.

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Inverted TPR.

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Flipping up.

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Flipping over.

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A fun ride.

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With comfortable restraints!

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Back on the brake run.

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It's a great ride for Holiday World.

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Two thumbs up!

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Wave hi!

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We got a bonus walk-back from Thunderbird to Mammoth. Extreme Danger? That's the best kind of danger.

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Behind the Thunderbird station.

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Through the shed. (note: there is nothing in this shed)

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Voyage makes an appearance.

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Last time I saw this view was in 2014, and the orange track was not there yet!

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Thunderbird elements.

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Voyage warming up for the day to begin.

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More Thunderbird curvyness.

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All these TPR people and only /one/ person is taking a picture of the train going by? What kind of coaster nerd group is this?

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Twisted track.

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A very very very wide view of Voyage.

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We got some ERT on Mammoth! Last picture before I put the camera away and got really, really, really cold.

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Free sunscreen!

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Yes, they have Dole Whip!

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Yes, the pineapple is great! The strawberry is good, but not as good. Sadly, my twist was about 80% strawberry.

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Did you know that Santa Claus has his own trading cards?

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Well, now you do, and I got one!

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Here's an old train.

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Here's some info about the old train.

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Here's the sign for the park's new ride.

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Firecracker looks like fun, but we spent all day in the water park (which was fine with me) so I didn't get on.

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Speaking of the water park, here's a super-distant view of Mammoth.

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Voyage climbs the lift.

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The iconic flags atop Voyage.

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Voyage's second hill, through the trees.

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Another view of Voyage's lift.

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Raven curls near the front entrance.

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Raven drops!

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Hey, that's us.

 

(no, not The Eye Group)

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The iconic yellow water tower.

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A parting shot of Voyage on the way out. Thanks so much for having us, Holiday World (and thanks Paula!)

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There may be more than corn in Indiana ... but there's a lot of corn in Indiana.

 

(no, we didn't go to Indiana Beach, I'm just stealing their old slogan)

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  • 1 month later...

OK, now that I've completely failed at this as a real-time report, whatever -- I'll finish this out anyway!

 

Our next park on the agenda was Six Flags St. Louis. You kind of know what you're getting here -- no real standout rides, but some fun coasters, and it's got some charm that other Six Flags parks lack. I'm actually not as big a fan of Mr. Freeze as the rest of the group, and gladly list Screamin' Eagle as my favorite coaster in the park. Had a really awesome ride in the front row!

 

I hear there was a cult meeting while we were in attendance, but for some reason it didn't work out.

 

On to some pictures!

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Welcome TPR!

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Not saying we e-stopped our morning ERT rides, not saying we didn't...

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Freeze in reverse.

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Halfway through!

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Weird things happen at the top of the spike!

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At the back of the train. The back row is the best row.

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We were all kind of amazed at how quickly the rapids ride filled up with water.

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Justice League was fun. A little confusing, and a few issues -- high scores weren't working, fire effect wasn't consistent, etc. I really liked the concept and would love to give it another ride some time!

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On the loading platform for Justice League.

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Here's my score -- I guess this is decent-ish?

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A classic wooden coaster that still rides great!

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Stats about Screamin' Eagle.

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A TPR train at the top of the lift.

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A TPR train dropping!

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Hands up on Screamin' Eagle.

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Back of the Screamin' Eagle train.

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More Screamin' Eagle.

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Pulling into the station.

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Random thumbs up coming out of nowhere!

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An enjoyable ride.

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Front seat is the best seat!

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A second lap? Why not?

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Well-timed airplane.

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Dropping in again.

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A bit of excitement!

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Bossed on the boss.

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Balls.

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For the brave few who rode.

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Climbing the lift!

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The Boss is showing its age.

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If you see this outside the ride entrance, you may want to think twice.

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I remained safely off-ride!

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Batman was good. Always is.

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More Batman.

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American Thunder. Still very smooth, just not GCI's most exciting layout.

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A somewhat-funny train schedule.

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Good timing.

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Two coasters! Two train shot!

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Letting off some steam.

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What passes for theming on the train.

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More theming!

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Even more theming!

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A ride queue themed to a power plant...

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...and a sewer!

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New for 2017!

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How's recruitment going?

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OK, who did something stupid and forced the park to turn this ferris wheel into a death cage jail machine? What's the point if you can't enjoy the view?

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I just like the way the wheel is framed.

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This may be of interest to some of our SFStL fans.

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A colorful shot of the fountain up front!

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Six flags for Six Flags. That's the end of our half-day in Eureka!

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Great photos...thanks as always for sharing, Andy!

 

Great update as usual Andy! Which reminds me that I need to work on my TR (it would be a good way to avoid studying for my exam).

 

Thanks guys! Oh yeah, multiple TRs make every post-trip reminiscing a little more fun! Now get to work.

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK, OK, as requested, I will continue this!

 

Yes, the infamous City Museum is up next. If you've never been there, well, I just don't know how to describe it. But unfortunately, since I was too busy having fun, I don't have a real good comprehensive photo set. If you want a better overview, check out the report that Robb just posted or my report from my first visit in 2013.

 

All these are lower-quality phone pictures, but it's my little contribution to the insanity!

 

But first, a little bit of culture from downtown St. Louis...

 

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Yep, we stopped for a photo op outside of the /very-under-construction/ Gateway Arch. This was about as close as we could get.

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Yeah, I've been up there. It's alright. Really, really cramped. Those windows are tiny.

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On the other side is what's known as the Old Courthouse.

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The dome of the Old St. Louis County Courthouse, a building over 150 years old.

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Dred and Harriet Scott. Some important civil rights history.

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Bad things led to positive change, but it took some time to get there.

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More history. It's good to learn.

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And now, the fun begins.

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The bus that drives us all crazy.

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A strange lizard thing.

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The rules of the City Museum. I really, really apologize for breaking one or two of them.

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Inside the crazy bus!

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A nice view over downtown St. Louis from the roof of the City Museum.

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A look over the roof, which is apparently inhabited by sharks.

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Everyone's favorite mantis (way better than that old piece of crap in Sandusky).

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A little bit of pain at the bottom of the mantis slide.

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We've all seen Robb's photos from outside of the thunderdome wall -- here's a view from the inside!

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The crazy spiral slides on the inside of the building. They are a challenge to properly slide down.

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Fun in tight spaces? You be the judge.

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Oh, and have a few fish.

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Grotesque, or art? Can't it be both?

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Open the pod bay doors.

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A look up at the giant spiral slides.

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Let's take a walk outside through the monstrosity of the broken-down airplanes and wire-frame tubes.

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Not sure I'll be flying this any time soon.

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This is the easy part.

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Well, we didn't enter /there/...

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Up and over the wire bridge!

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It's a little bit exposed up there...

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Promises that all these amusements are inspected for safety. We think.

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A look at the rope climb and slide on the roof. Few were capable of making it all the way up unassisted...

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Weird spinny chairs that were more dizzying than relaxing.

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Then, the assaults in the ball pit began...

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We'll just say that nobody went easy on anyone else, and thus the ball pit was a potential hazard to your tailbone, to your face, and to your electronics.

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This picture has an almost zen-like quality, which stands in contrast with the brutal attacks we'd just experienced.

 

And yes, as I think pretty much everyone is aware by now, I was viciously attacked while trying to film being attacked. Go figure. The clip in the second half of this video is straight from my phone, which was still recording when it got knocked out of my hand! Try to make sense of what's transpiring!

 

And then a mischievous 10-year-old stole my phone and was proud of herself for the rest of the trip. Probably longer.

 

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...but as we learned later, the real culprit just required a little bit of CSI-work (and reverse slow-mo) to detect...

 

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[/twitter]

 

Nonetheless, my phone made it through the ordeal mostly OK. My ego? Not so much.

 

What a fun place. Somehow even more fun than my first visit there. Can't wait to return!

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  • 7 months later...

No good trip report goes unfinished, and I've got about four weeks to get three more segments up to complete this one from 2017.

 

So, late as this may be, we're gonna do it.

 

And what a pleasure that Silver Dollar City is up next!

 

We spent an evening and a full day in the park. We saw the Time Traveler construction site. We had our own private cave tour. We met with the park's leadership over lunch. We got cinnamon bread. We rode some stuff, we filmed on some stuff, we took a backstage tour, we almost got robbed on the train, and altogether had a great time that reminded me why this is one of my favorite theme parks on the planet.

 

In keeping with the theme of this report, just gonna keep it quick -- no lengthy review, but a few more details in the photo captions. This is from August 1-2, 2017.

 

Note: we actually spent parts of three days in Branson, but this segment covers only Silver Dollar City. A catch-all post with the other stuff will be up next.

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A sign goes up: it's time for the big reveal! Well looking back, it's kind of obvious...

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But at the time of our visit this was still the new hotness!

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Finding himself on the lam in Missouri, Jackson "Blackjack" Chamberlain made his way north to Ohio shortly after this picture was taken...

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...'cause see, the problem here is that the good guys always win.

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Meanwhile, what do you think -- do we qualify as authorized personnel?

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I'd say we do, so let's head back behind the Outlaw Run station.

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Just a quick walk past the train tracks...

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...and into the maintenance building for the ride!

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We learned about Outlaw Run's history, maintenance, and its trains.

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One of the trains was in the shack for review.

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A rare angle of an Outlaw Run train. Hide your excitement.

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Let's dig a little deeper.

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That is one impressive wheel.

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This feels inappropriate.

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For safety!

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NERD.

 

And yes, I am both the pot and the kettle.

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Making sure the bolts are tightened.

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Another boring train nerd shot that I for some reason thought would be interesting to post.

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A topographic map of the Outlaw Run layout! This is more my style!

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Look at those contour lines. Hot dang.

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Notes for the maintenance crew on a white board!

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Spare wheels in storage.

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Back into the park ... what's happening by Echo Hollow?

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Well, something pretty big, apparently.

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So we headed to the back porch of the culinary school...

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...for a view over the Time Traveler construction site! Which we didn't know was Time Traveler at the time of our visit!

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So let's travel back in time...

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...and enjoy some totally irrelevant and anachronistic construction photos from Time Traveler!

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I probably should have posted these the day of the visit.

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But nonetheless we were a little busy.

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So, have some footers and coaster track through the trees.

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Yeah, some mad camera focusing skills going on here.

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Actually, we did get to see one pretty cool thing happen.

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Here's a crew getting ready to install one of the supports.

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The support is strapped to the crane.

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It's lifted vertically.

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It's guided to its spot by hand. Kind of neat. I didn't stick around to watch them actually wrench the thing in, though.

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Oh, did the skillets look good. Too bad the park fed us /too/ well (like that's actually a problem) and I never had room for one!

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This, however, well...

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You can stop in Sullivan's Mill for cookie cutters. Or you can get the cinnamon bread and then eat it so quickly that there's no time for a picture.

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After our group lunch, we did a tour of Marvel Cave!

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Marvel Cave is awesome.

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Like, really awesome. Don't skip it.

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If you look around Silver Dollar City, you'll see tons of in-jokes and references to actual SDC workers.

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You can also have some fun in Grandfather's Mansion.

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For those of you who like spiky-looking spiders...

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...or for more rustic theming, moss on the roof of the jerky hut!

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This right here is proof that I'm the sharpest of all sharpshooters on the Flooded Mine.

 

Or, that there's a way to run the score up without actually shooting anything...

 

...oh how I legitimately love this attraction, but man, it's the one thing in the park that could use some work.

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Didn't ride the water rides this time, but got some pictures, because it's fun.

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A big splash on the Lost River of the Ozarks.

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Another splash!

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This whole raft looks like it's going under.

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Meanwhile, on American Plunge...

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...some people are plunging.

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Fire in the Hole is awesome. And if you sit in the far back, you might get a little wetter than you were expecting! But isn't that part of the fun of it?

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I've barely mentioned Outlaw Run, but yeah, it's still fantastic.

 

I will say this -- since we'd been on Lightning Rod not long before, and were able to compare the two pretty directly, I do think most of the group preferred LR to OR. But it was /very/ close.

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A perfectly-placed cloud.

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Powder Keg is fun. I didn't get to ride it enough this time around.

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Also, we are a bunch of nerds.

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CAPTION THIS!!! What is going through Russ's head???

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Some cool art of Wildfire!

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More thematic elements in the wildfire shop. This whole park is full of attention to detail.

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A conversion for our Canadian friends...

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Wildfire is still pretty good! I love the first drop in the back row.

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Cobra rolling.

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A high-speed turn.

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Back into the station after a fun ride!

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Oh, and the view from Wildfire? Simply stunning.

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I think a lot of people have looked down at these condos or whatever, and figured they must have a nice view back to the park.

 

SO.

 

I'm going to go even further back in time and share some photos I took three years prior, which I'm pretty sure have never seen the light of day until now.

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After visiting Silver Dollar City in August 2014, I actually went down to the road you see in the picture above, and got the reverse angle looking back up at the park. (photo from August 23, 2014)

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There's Outlaw Run, just barely peeking above the trees. (photo from August 23, 2014)

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Powder Keg rises a little higher. (photo from August 23, 2014)

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Meanwhile, there's Wildfire, and you can see the deck where the "reverse angle" pictures are usually taken. (photo from August 23, 2014)

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A cool view of the lift, and it's obvious why that lift hill has the best views in the park. (photo from August 23, 2014)

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The cobra roll and Wildfire station. Was kind of cool to see that view from the other side. No trains in these shots because the park was closed -- as if I'd have left while the park was still open! (photo from August 23, 2014)

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So, back to 2017 -- and the end of our time at Silver Dollar City! Can't wait to get back to ride Time Traveler in the next couple years!

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Continuing this year-old trip report, the next segment cleans up the rest of the fun stuff we did in Branson, Missouri, on August 1-3 of 2017. I'd been in Branson in 2013 and 2014, and I couldn't believe how different everything looked just a few years later. It's rapidly changing from a country-bumpkin'-show based tourist area to something more well-rounded and akin to Pigeon Forge. We sampled just a few of the newer items to hit town, but I think we enjoyed them all, and there are more being built! At this point, I can say that if you're just stopping in Branson for a day to visit Silver Dollar City, you're missing out on some fun attractions.

 

So, let's start just up US-65 a bit in Ozark, Missouri, at...

 

Lambert's

 

I don't have any pictures from inside, so enjoy this video of the throwed rolls from the TPR Twitter account.

 

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This Lambert's shirt is not suggestive at all.

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Hey, it's a pin-your-location-on-the-map thing! But what's that in the bottom right corner?

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Oh, the roll thrower's had his eyes pinned out.

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THERE IS NO THROWED ROLL.

-----------------------------------

 

First Night in Branson

 

We checked into the hotel, and experienced a little bit of the gospel.

 

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Every hotel's got a bible in the room, but in Branson you'll get one opened up to a specific verse!

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Meanwhile, in the gift shop...

After we got settled in, we went and played mini golf at Professor Hacker's. No pictures. We had fun, but I can't recmomend the course. It was well-themed but the holes were pretty boring. Oh, and they've got the most pointless train ride in the history of train rides.

 

Also, here's the old Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, which I wanted to ride but couldn't find anyone to go with. The lighting package on this wheel was seriously one of the most impressive I've seen anywhere. They did a great job sprucing it up!

 

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A beautiful sunset scene.

-----------------------------------

 

Second Night in Branson

 

After a day at Silver Dollar City, headed out to two attractions about a mile from the hotel. First up was the Xtreme Racing Center, a super-fast Go-Kart course with karts that go up to 40 MPH. That might not sound like much compared to your average road, but it's a lot on a Go-Kart track! I thought the fast karts were a lot of fun, but were somewhat uncomfortable as they ran a bit rough.

 

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The Xtreme Racing Center, complete with xtreme spelling!

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Yep, you have to wear a helmet to ride these karts. It's serious business.

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The course is a lot of fun, and at full speed the corners are pretty difficult!

After some karting, dropped in next door to Bigfoot on the Strip for a much better round of mini golf than the night before! Not as heavily-themed, but the holes were more fun and better designed. There will be more from Bigfoot coming later in this post.

 

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I think we've found Bigfoot.

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Who said mini golf holes had to be green?

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Inukshuk!

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I won't even say this was the /best/ designed mini golf course I'd played, but it was definitely better than Professor Hacker's.

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A blue blur.

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Oh, and we'll come back to this tower...

-----------------------------------

 

Third Day in Branson

 

We made three stops in Branson on our last day in town, starting at a new alpine coaster -- simply named The Branson Coaster. What makes this coaster different than most is that it goes down the hill twice, with sort of a "dueling" layout. It's not the most intense alpine coaster I've been on, but the fun is in blazing past your friends on the other track down. We had a good visit and did some filming.

 

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Arrival at the Branson Coaster!

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It had pretty much just opened!

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Some stats on the Branson Coaster.

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This car does not have enough cameras attached to it!

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Here's the run out of the station, which is at the /top/ of the hill. The downhill ride starts immediately.

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Heading down.

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Speeding up.

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There are some fast parts...

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...and there are some helices. Helixes? Helices?

 

I rode twice, and then did some photography while most people took a third ride.

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Starting off!

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There's a nice little viewing area right at the start of the course, out of the station.

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The downhill segment begins.

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Coming back uphill after the first half.

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Reaching the top for a second go!

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We can't see you.

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Picking up speed...

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...down around the corner.

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At the other end, this lift hill takes the cars back to the top.

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So relax and enjoy the ride at the end of the ride.

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Heading back to the station...

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...after another enjoyable run on the Branson Coaster.

Our second stop on the third day was a full-group visit to Bigfoot on the Strip, checking out several of their attractions. I don't have pictures from the 8D shooting theater game thing, nor do I know what all of the eight Ds represent. I also don't have any pictures from the free jump, which was kind of scary but fun.

 

I do have pictures from the Super Sling tower, one of those insane Stan Checketts creations. If you were watching TPR's socials last August, you're probably familiar with the ride. Well, I've got some pictures! But first, how was the ride experience? I didn't think it was as intense as I'd feared, but then again, I only flipped three times -- others were breaking double digits. You definitely do feel pretty exposed, basically sitting in a chair that's attached to the tower by only a couple wires. We had a pretty thrill-hardy group in attendance, but only about half of the trip participants rode this one!

 

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Back over to Bigfoot again, and your picture or video may be taken...

 

...by me.

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Strapping in on the Super Sling.

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The lift begins!

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And yeah, it goes way, way, way up there.

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And then you drop back down at a pretty good clip.

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While flipping over and over again -- if you're good at it! This ride requires participation.

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Another group heads up!

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It gets kind of crazy at the top.

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No, those seatbelts aren't flying off the ride. I hope.

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I'm not even gonna hazard a guess as to how high these guys are right now, but it's a lot.

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Flipping.

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Flipping some more.

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Flipping again.

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And as I mentioned, with a pretty meager restraint system.

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This ride isn't for the faint of heart, but it was quite a thrill!

We also rode the Gravity Bomb drop tower. In my opinion, the thing that makes this one scary is the lack of major restraints -- you're strapped in with just a seatbelt! Like any good drop tower, it offers some air, and quick braking at the bottom. Also, they play that gutteral "ooh ah ah ah ah" thing from Disturbed's "Down With the Sickness" just before the drop, so if you're into David Draiman sounding like he's about to hock up a hairball, this ride is for you!

 

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Looking up at the drop ride on the other side of the Bigfoot tower.

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Going up...

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...going up...

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...and coming down!

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Another group heads up.

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They might be a little bit scared, since there's not much holding them back.

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At the top of the tower -- cue the Disturbed.

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Falling back to earth.

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Reactions, part 1.

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Reactions, part 2.

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Reactions, part 3.

Our third and final stop in Branson was Fritz's Adventure. I have just one picture from this place, as I was too busy having fun to take any more! This place is like some sort of bizarre mashup of a climbing gym, a ropes course, and City Museum -- and I loved it. So I'm just gonna link to their website here and say you should go there!

 

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Fritz's is so awesome that one picture just doesn't do it justice. But yes, you can see slides, nets, climbing things, ropes-course stuff, and there's also tunnels, sloped jumping walls, a crazy outdoor climbing wall that I scaled in no time flat, and all kinds of other physical activities.

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This was a really fun stop in Branson. Hope to be back soon!

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The scariest part of that stupid drop tower wasn't just the lack of restraints, but the lack of anything to hold on to! Super creepy.

 

Also, Fritz's is super high on my must return to list. Such a great combination of fun!

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The scariest part of that stupid drop tower wasn't just the lack of restraints, but the lack of anything to hold on to! Super creepy.

 

That's a really good point! I guess you can always grab the person next to you, but only if you like them.

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