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PTR larrygator's 2017 Coaster Affirmation Tour


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I've been debating whether or not to do a PTR this year. I'm glad to see so many others writing them but that also made me feel it was not as vital for me to write one. I went on four small trips with few new parks, to re-evaluate a lot of coasters that I have not ridden in a few years, get closer to my goal of riding all the wooden coasters in North America and also hit up some of the major installations from the past few years.

 

The four trips were as follows:

April: Kings Dominion, Carowinds and Dollywood

July 17-22: Cedar Point, Kings Island, Holiday World, Kentucky Kingdom, Beech Bend, Dollywood, Camden Park

July 24-30: Bay Beach, Mt. Olympus, Six Flags Great America, Adventureland, Indiana Beach, Donley's Wild West Town, AZoosment Park at Santa's Village

August 16-18: Knoebels, Kennywood, Hersheypark

 

This trip report will be light on photos and heavier on commentary, since so many people have posted photos from these parks of late. Actually on the first trip I didn't even take any photos at Kings Dominion. It has been one of my favorite coaster parks since I305 and will only be better in 2018 the new RMC. Intimidator 305, Volcano and Dominator were all running great. Boo Blasters seemed spruced up with everything working. I had not been to KD since 2015 and was still satisfied with the park.

 

Next up was Carowinds.

I arrived at opening and headed to Fury 325 immediately. I had not been to Carowinds in 5 years so these were my first rides on Fury 325. I rode about 6 times with minimal waits before exploring the rest of the park. I really liked the ride and it is probably my favorite B&M non-looper but it just didn't match the major Intamin coasters if you favorite the ejector air. With that said I could certainly ride Fury 325 all day without stressing out my body.

 

Afterburn still kicks major butt and everyone that knows me knows I love Woodstock Gliders. I'm glad it is moving next year, because I always felt it was out of place in the kiddie area, especially when major snapping occurs and parents get concerned. The restraints on Flying Cobras make a difference. I didn't even try to ride Intimidator as the line was always longer than Fury 325 or Afterburn. I loved Plants vs Zombies, because I realized which gun was mine by looking at the number of my chair before sitting down (many people didn't do this and had no clue if they were hitting targets or not. The ride did not open until late afternoon and I re-rode a few times in a row and there were quite a few kids doing the same thing so I wasn't the only one who liked it.

 

The big improvements to the park were in the County Fair area which looked great and has wonderful flat rides. The Cedar Fair pickers did a great good.

 

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Rock n Roller run a good program and music that tied together County Fair theme

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I had no complaints about their Troika

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I had not ridden one of these in a few years, but Electro Spin also gets a thumbs up.

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and who doesn't love a Wave Swinger like Zephyr

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They had little touches like this to add to the atmosphere

 

The area could have used a lot more shade, but isn't that true of any County Fair

 

Also, the park stepped up its game in the food area. Chickie and Pete's is a worthy replacement for Chick-Fil-A and Harmony Hall Marketplace offers a lot of variety.

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Here's the Harmony Hall menu board

 

Now for the ride that I was most enamored with. Was it great, no? However, I love interactive attractions and with so many people competing you have to think a little and be adaptive to do well. Rides like this just bring wake-up my Type A personality.

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Last time I was in this building it was Days of Thunder

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But not anymore

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Look for your player number before you sit down!

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The green side had an advantage, as 3 purple seats were always empty.

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Purple lost 4 times in a row even though we had some very high individual scores.

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However, in the end, this is my favorite ride in the park. Hopefully, moving it out of the kiddie area makes the line shorter on my future visits

Edited by larrygator
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Great report! I'm on the boat that Fury is an amazing ride, but it seems that you feel the same on Intimidator considering you passed on it. Intimidator is at the bottom of my B&M hyper list with Diamondback. Way too many trims.

 

I enjoyed the Plants vs. Zombies ride too. On a lot of those 3D shooters, I have had a tough time telling which gun is mine but I didn't have a problem with the one at Carowinds.

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I'm glad to hear your opinion on Fury. Robb and I also felt it was a great B&M and certainly one of (if not the best) B&M Hypers...but it doesn't compare to some of the other Intamin Hypers and even Megalites out there.

 

I was the only one in my group that liked the Plants vs. Zombies game! We never had enough people though and the op didn't even really try to spread people out so it was like 3 plants vs 10 zombies so we had no chance!

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While Fury 325 brought a ton of positive attention to the park, I've remained highly skeptical of Carowinds since it was easily my least favorite in the chain (except maybe Dorney). It looks like the rides added since my visit make for a real improvement. I missed the Flying Cobras name and theme change; I like it!

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Larry, it's really nice to see you do a trip report. Been awhile, hmm?

 

Great TR so far! Great reading, on what your thoughts and comments are, on the parks.

 

Looking forward to more.

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My apologies. The plan was to post my views on one park per day, but a side trip got in the way yesterday.

 

Dollywood - I love Dollywood, but not everything about Dollywood. My first trip was the year Thunderhead was built but during Smoky Mountain Christmas. I've returned three or four different years before this year. I think the last trip was in 2012. I'll put my pictures (and thoughts) from April and June into one post.

 

On both trips I stayed on the eastern side of Smoky Mountain National Park at Harrah's Cherokee Resort. The rooms are awesome and they were complimentary. Cherokee is about a one hour drive but the traffic is very light and you can easily stop at Waffle House in the AM. As usual I parked at Patriot Park and used the Trolley System for 50 cents. Fact: I have never parked in the Dollywood parking lots.

 

In April, Lightning Rod was running on both days in June the Lightning Rod did not open. I think it is a wonderful coaster, but very hard to repeatedly ride because it is very aggressive (not painful). The coaster tries to violently eject you from the coaster on multiple occasions and I would have no fun trying to ride this coaster with my hands in the air as it tosses your upper body around. HINT: That means if you are riding with your hands up you are probably annoying the person next to you. I would have a lot of trouble riding this coaster if I wasn't properly hydrated.

 

Thunderhead is running noticeable rougher than my last visit and I had no desire to ride it more than twice each day.

 

Wild Eagle is really growing on me, I seem to enjoy it more every time. Not an intense ride, but fun.

 

Tennessee Tornado is such an overlooked coaster. As many have mentioned, it is a shame to Arrow was finally getting it right when they stopped.

 

I enjoyed Mystery Mine more than any of my previous visits. I guess I have wised up and now pay more attention to the quick directional changes than I had done in the past.

 

Firechaser Express is such a fun and well done coaster, thoroughly enjoyed it for what it is.

 

Blazing Fury - So great watching the faces of kids and remembering how much my niece enjoyed the ride as a child.

 

Drop Line - needless to say, a huge improvement over the Topple Tower.

 

I also caught a few shows/movies.

Heartsong was a nice story and break from the heat, I stayed awake through most of it.

 

In April, I watched a show in the Show Street Theater. I can't remember the name of the show (I think it was 4 letters and began with an E). I think someone said the performers were on America's Got Talent. I liked the first 2-3 minutes of the show and then became bored very quickly and fell asleep for the rest of the show.

 

In June, the Show Street Theater had been changed to a bubble show, but I kept missing the show times.

 

However, I do look forward to "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" when I return in December.

 

I love the cinnamon bread, but to tell you the truth I didn't eat any meals in the park during my visits. Someone recently explained the lack of sweet tea situation to me, I think it needs to be sold everywhere not just at the sit-down restaurants. As far as why didn't eat in the park. I am not a fan of the skillets. I'm a very picky eater and their put too much on the sandwich that I don't eat and it makes it very difficult/messy to eat for a finger food. Also, I really like a few of the food places near the park such as Smoky's Cuban Cuisine, Bennett's BBQ and Corky's BBQ. Most of the best food at Dollywood is sit-down and I don't like waiting for a table (and wasting a table) eating my myself.

 

One of the things I love doing a Dollywood is picking a prop (usually a farming tool) seen a queue and see how many times I can find a similar objects elsewhere in the park. Seriously, next time count how many places you see a two-man logging saw.

 

Again, for spending parts of four days at the park I didn't take many pictures and the ones I took were not always typical.

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The ride didn't open with the park my first day in April, but riding out the wait allowed me to get 3 quick rides once it opened, 45 minutes into the day.

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Not ready for my arrival in April.

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Nor was Whistlepunk Chaser

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Unfortunately, I saw this sign in July. But I still thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

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It looks a lot better when finished

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When I took this picture with the water effect in front of Drop Line I had a witty caption. I no longer remember that caption.

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Anyone who has been to the park knows it is difficult to get pictures of Tennessee Tornado, so I really didn't even try too hard.

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I like the way Dollywood uses "authentic" names for their rides.

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Dollywood's next ride will be called Butt Cut. You heard it here first.

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There are also considering Nosebag for the next eatery.

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Speaking of eateries, Smoky's Cuban Cuisine actually makes me leave the park for lunch. The ham croquettas are insanely good.

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This was my lunch.

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Back at the park you have Wild Eagle, through the trees.

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I took this picture when I was walking around the park looking for plows. Read the paragraphs before the pictures if you have no idea what I mean.

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Lightning Rod is closed.

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The vulture out front should have told you. (It's called poetic license, don't question the captions.)

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I also spend some time noticing some of the finer themeing, like this cracked support.

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I don't know why I found this Barnstormer sign so funny.

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Lot's of kids were playing in this area in April, but it was closed in July.

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One of thousands of axes throughout the park. Did you know every Dollywood ride has an axe as a prop?

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The turtle is not themeing, it is nature.

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This was breaking news when I took this picture.

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I haven't seen any speculation on these survey markets.

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I did not know this.

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I hope this isn't the same pie made in 2010.

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During one morning while sitting at the Waffle House counter I figured out one of their corporate secrets.

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Did you ever notice the waitress reads the order but never gives the ticket to the cook? The cook just starts lining up plates.

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Well the placement of condiments and garnishes on the plate remind the cook of each order. Whether knowing this makes you smarter or dumber is up to you?

Edited by larrygator
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Great report on Dollywood.

 

I agree that Thunderhead beats you up a bit. A rode it twice, once in the back and then again in the front with no desire to ride it again after that.

 

Wild Eagle is fantastic. It was my first Wing-Rider and I have to say I'm a fan especially in the front row. The visuals are incredible.

 

Mystery Mine is another gem. A little rough but its fun factor surpasses the roughness. Awesome theming to boot.

 

Lightening Rod, what else is there to say beside it is an absolute beast and I agree that it does flail your upperbody around a bit so you better have control or else you'll be slapping the people next to you with your arms.

 

It is a shame Tennessee Tornado was Arrow finally doing things correctly, wish we got a few more coasters from them.

 

Lasty, I love the practical effects of Blazing Fury.

 

Can't wait to see more!

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Cedar Point - July 17th, 2017

 

My first week long trip of the summer started at Cedar Point. I have been visiting Cedar Point every 3-4 years since Magnum XL-200 was built. I think this was my 8th trip to Cedar Point and I was last there in 2015. I left my home at 3AM to get to CP at opening and upon arrival at the park I headed straight to Maverick for a few rides. I also started to take pictures of the Mean Streak/Steel Vengeance construction. Then I checked the internet and realized the hard hat was the next day, so I no longer needed my "exclusive" photos.

 

Cedar Point has always been one on my favorite destinations. I always get excited planning my trips to Cedar Point and enjoy the variety of rides and coasters at Cedar Point. My only issues with Cedar Point in previous visits are with the food and if I plan poorly and end up visiting on a crowded day. However, Fast Lane solves one problem and in recent years franchised food vendors have helped solve the other.

 

Even though I did not ride every coaster at CP this day, I don't have a problem riding any of them except Corkscrew.

Maverick - a great intense ride, but sometimes my neck gets banged into the restraint, but I still keep coming back

Millennium Force - I love the speed, even though I still don't get why some people think they feel air on this ride

Magnum - It is getting tougher to ride each year, as it feels rougher each year that my body ages

Valrvan - Really enjoyed it, nice fit in a tight area

Gatekeeper - Beautiful fun coaster that I could run all day

Wicked Twisted - sooner or later I'm going to need a step stool to safely get into the seat

Raptor - still delivers a great ride with it's snappy transitions

Iron Dragon - I saved Iron Dragon for a night ride with VR and got in line right before the park closed. This is the first coaster I have ridden with VR, I didn't get out of the park until 50 minutes after closing as the process is so slow. However, the ride is immensely better with the VR. I seriously would have ridden it again if I could.

 

I usually ride a few flats at CP, but did not ride any on this day. Although I love Tiki Twirl, Witches Wheel, Skyhawk, MaxAir. It was pretty hot and I was tired from the drive, so I did head over to Hotel Breakers for a 45 minute rest on the couches in their air conditioned lobby.

 

As far as food on this day, the major meals I had were at Panda Express and Chickie and Pete's. Chickie and Pete's is becoming my go to place at Cedar Fair parks, Good consistent chicken cheese steaks with reasonable markups. Having these options along with Pink's, Famous Dave's and a new place Melt (Grilled Cheese) gave me five solid food choices.

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I have arrived, good job keeping the gate

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This was an exclusive shot when I took it.

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Construction has progressed since this picture was taken.

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In the future, some people will take this picture and proclaim it the best 1-2 punch at any amusement park. I'll wait and ride before making that proclamation.

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Did anyone care about this?

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Who remembers when this was considered a steep lift hill? Still the greatest lift hill support structure, especially at night.

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Even though it is not a franchised vendor, it is tempting.

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But I will try these guys next time I'm at the park.

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Skyhawk!

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Skyrat!

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I miss you, but at least other good food vendors were brought in.

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Time for my afternoon nap

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Snoopy came by to personally wake me and send me back to the park.

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I used to love you, but now you give love a bad name.

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So much better than Kingda Ka, not just because of the lap bar only approach.

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The museum is always worth a stop.

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Crowds were moderate on this day.

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This tranquil area just looks so out of place

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The sky ride looks much more impressive than it really is from this angle

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Lots of people congregating and slowing me down

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The majestic facade of the arcade/ballroom

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Another good place to relax when you enjoy the park at a leisurely pace

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I thought it was odd that the park sells retro t-shirts for non-iconic removed rides

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Do people buy these?

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It think a retro t-shirt for a major existing coaster would be more enticing.

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Great photos! I never rode any of those three coasters with the retro T-shirts, but I understand there's a good reason why they're not around anymore while CP kept older ones like Blue Streak and Gemini that were worth keeping. I definitely need to try out Melt next time I'm there too.

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I realize this PTR is going to get lost during the Six Flags announcements but I have a schedule to hold to get all parts posted by the end of next week. Right now, I need to get to sleep because I have a flight to Dallas at 6AM tomorrow.

 

Kings Island on July 18th, 2017 was the next park on the itinerary. I had been to King's Island 2 years ago and this was my 7th visit to Kings Island. Kings Island was one of my favorite parks when I first visited in 1990. However, over the year's I grew to like it less and less, but since it became part of the Cedar Fair family I visited in the same years I had a season pass and was hitting up Cedar Point. My feelings for Kings Island changed again after Diamondback was built. I love Diamondback, I get the Fast Lane just so I can power ride Diamondback. Then the park put in Banshee, another winner in my book. And Mystic Timbers is now another solid addition. I like The Beast, I love night rides on The Beast but don't need to ride it more than once during the day. I'm still a sucker for Flight of Fear and Invertigo. Lastly the park has solid and a decent supporting cast of coasters.

 

It is interesting that before Cedar Point bought the Paramount Parks they had Cedar Point as the main park and Knotts as their number 2 park. So much focus has been put into 4 of those 5 Paramount Parks that I now view Knotts as the 6th best CF park and they are not even close to the Top 4. And their is still a gap between Knotts and the others. Overpaying for those Paramount Parks almost killed Cedar Fair but you have to credit CF management for seeing the potential of those parks and markets.

 

After leaving Cedar Point that night prior, I stayed in Columbus and the strain of getting up 1AM the day before took its toll. My body just wanted to stay in bed and my mind listened so I got a late start.

 

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After eating brunch at Waffle House I did not get into the park until close to noon, but luckily I had a FastLane budgeted for the day. This is where I parked. Front Row!

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It's Mystic Timbers

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and the shed. #whatsintheshed

 

I have to admit I had no idea what was in the shed. I refused to watch videos or read about it. Still to this day I don't know how many versions of the shed their are. People posted so much crap in the Kings Island Discussion thread that I had no desire to go back and search for an answer. On my first ride, I don't recognize the song and I think we were attacked by gargoyle bats. OK song, dumb visuals. The second time I rode the song was Maneater and we were attacked by Snakes. Dumb song, good visuals.

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With long lines and no guarantee that I would see a different show in the shed I passed on a third ride, but David S Pumpkins is about the only thing that would have pleased me in the shed. I loved the ride, but not the shed.

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Elissa would be happy that one of her Shark Tank favorites is in the park.

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But if I'm going my manage my dairy intake, I'll go for a Graeters sundae over cheese.

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Like I said I'm a sucker for Flight of Fear, I miss the old pre-show.

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I used my FastLane to cut a both of families multiple times and the guns were working great, I never scored this high before. However, the FastLane entrance was very dark and it took my eyes too long to adjust and I nearly face planted. But no one saw this.

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The first time I did a Top 10 list of coasters, this was in my Top 10. I won't even ride it anymore.

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I caught the trained dog show since it was right next to Chick-Fil-A and I needed someplace to sit down and eat.

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I sat in the last row to chow down with the thought that I could leave before every else. I feel asleep so I wasn't the first to leave.

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I have always liked the wide open nature of the Coney Mall.

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Obligatory shot from the Eiffel Tower

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and another one

20170718_192051.thumb.jpg.71d4e4115a809ac57f4a360d2be2faf1.jpg

Even though Diamondback is a people eater, having that FastLane saves 5 minute walking through the queue and about 15 minutes waiting each ride.

20170718_140639.thumb.jpg.2b3821127f8fc32ee4cb5f204b7e22e3.jpg

I assume the park kept the Reds Hall of Fame Grill instead of adding a Chickie and Pete's

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Good night everyone!

Edited by larrygator
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