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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures


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I had a chance to visit SeaWorld, but it only would have been for a few hours and I passed because I was thinking exactly what you wrote up. I want to go when I have a whole day so I'm able to do things like the Penguin Encounter. I want to pet a penguin!!! That is amazing, thanks for the report.

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Thanks! A lot of the mechanical engineers I went to school with had aspirations of fancy cars. I just wanted to travel.

 

Aw man I actually thought about engineering back in the day props to your toughing it out through school. I ultimately ended up somewhere without Engineering so it became not an option and now I'm a CPA instead.

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Michael, your trip reports are a constant highlight of the forum. Between the heavy praise from you and Bill, it's making me eager to get down to SWO sooner than later. I may have to ditch the family and catch one of those $20 Frontier flights out of Long Island one of these days, provided my wife doesn't stab me in the stomach when I get home.

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Awesome update! I love Seaworld and can't wait to get back! Mako is the real deal.

 

Thanks! I really hope Hershey's hyper in 2020 is like Mako or Shambhala.

 

I had a chance to visit SeaWorld, but it only would have been for a few hours and I passed because I was thinking exactly what you wrote up. I want to go when I have a whole day so I'm able to do things like the Penguin Encounter. I want to pet a penguin!!! That is amazing, thanks for the report.

 

Thanks! Some SeaWorld is better than no SeaWorld, but if possible the full day is definitely the way to go. The animal experiences and ride collection really make it special.

 

Thanks! A lot of the mechanical engineers I went to school with had aspirations of fancy cars. I just wanted to travel.

 

Aw man I actually thought about engineering back in the day props to your toughing it out through school. I ultimately ended up somewhere without Engineering so it became not an option and now I'm a CPA instead.

 

The consecutive all-nighters and multiple jobs were worth it in the end, though I had to keep reminding myself at the time.

 

Michael, your trip reports are a constant highlight of the forum. Between the heavy praise from you and Bill, it's making me eager to get down to SWO sooner than later. I may have to ditch the family and catch one of those $20 Frontier flights out of Long Island one of these days, provided my wife doesn't stab me in the stomach when I get home.

 

Thanks! The clear solution is to bring your wife with you.

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Great report! I've never been a fan of the food at SeaWorld, but they have been improving over the years. The pretzel turkey leg looks interesting. (Maybe I should skip the restaurants and stick to the food stands.)

 

Kraken can get a bit "rattly" unless the train is full, but I've never found it "rough." I think it's one of the best coasters in Florida and prefer it to Tampa's Kumba.

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Thanks! I haven't had a bad meal at SeaWorld. I know everyone picks Knoebels and Dollywood for their favorite theme park food, but I think SeaWorld may be my favorite outside of Epcot.

 

I enjoy Kraken, but I prefer Kumba or Dragon Khan since the inversions have more snap to them. But even rattly Kraken isn't rough. I just couldn't justify riding it again with the two smoother and superior B&Ms I could ride instead.

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International Drive

 

Orlando could be considered the theme park capital of the world. Their theme parks have some of the most innovative attractions and immersive theming on the planet. Most of my visits have been spent at Disney World on property with only a stray visit to Universal, but lately I’ve been dipping my toes in the tourist traps. It all started with Fun Spot and a few stays at an Econo Lodge, but this time, I jumped into the deep end and took a stroll down International Drive.

 

In many ways, I felt I was right back in Pigeon Forge driving down the parkway. Outside of the abundance of palm trees, International Drive is an assault of flashy signs each claiming a different superlative- tallest, cheapest, etc.

 

The journey began before SeaWorld at the world’s largest McDonald’s, or what Ronald McDonald calls the Epic McD (no really, that’s the name on the door). This is no ordinary McDonald’s. You still have the option to stay in your comfort zone and order all the Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets, and French fries that your body can take, but you also have some unique choices such as make-your-own omelets, pizza, and McChicken Parm. I gambled on the Belgian waffle and it was a decidedly mixed bag. The outside was hot, crispy, and delicious, but the center was ice cold like a freezer burned Eggo waffle.

 

I also explored the second floor. At what other McDonald’s can you say that! Along with the usual Playplace, there was also a sizable arcade. It was reminiscent of a miniaturized Dave & Buster’s with all of the modern games. I dropped $5 and proudly won a Hamburglar sticker after setting the day’s high score on the basketball game.

 

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Tell me the last time you saw a two story McDonald's not in Orlando.

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"Epic McD" sounds like Ronald McDonald's porn alter ego.

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For slightly older kids (and adults who still think they're kids), there's a decent arcade.

 

After a fun-filled day at SeaWorld, I returned to International Drive to ride the world’s tallest star flyer. I’ve previously ridden and enjoyed three of the other 400 footers at Grona Lund, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags New England. The latter is actually in denial as their maps and signage still boast the New England SkyScreamer as the world’s tallest as of October 2018.

 

The Orlando StarFlyer may have only been 25-50 feet taller, but it felt considerably taller for three reasons. One, Florida is flatter than an accountant’s keister. I could see for miles. I caught glimpses of Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. Two, you are literally looking down on one of the Orlando Eye, which is a freaking massive Ferris wheel. Three, this may be the fastest star flyer I’ve ridden. By the end of the ride, my legs were a bit numb and tingly. In some ways I actually wished it slowed down for a bit at the top so I could enjoy the view more, but as is, it’s definitely the most thrilling star flyer.

 

I do have one downside with the attraction and that’s the ride time. It’s a very short cycle. Almost immediately after you reach the top, you start your descent. It’d be one thing if there was a sizable queue, but there was hardly anyone waiting for the next cycle. That’s definitely disappointing considering a single ride cost about $12-15. So it’s not the best value, but it’s a really cool and thrilling way to get a bird’s eye view of Florida. 9 out of 10

 

While I didn’t venture beyond the star flyer, the whole Icon 360 complex looked very nice and definitely a cut above some of the tourist traps further down the road. For example, the Star Flyer has these adorable decorations on the light posts around the attraction.

 

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Not only is this thing massive, but it feels like the world's fastest star flyer too.

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The statues around the attraction are a very nice touch.

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I contemplated riding this for some aerial photos, but SeaWorld's Sky Tower already satisfied my needs.

 

My next stop on I Drive was a much less refined family entertainment center, the Magical Midway. The FEC is dominated by three tower attractions: the world’s tallest Slingshot, one of the first S&S space shots, and a Star Flyer that they claim is “America’s only carousel on steroids.” I’m no stranger to amusement parks making crazy claims, but I found it particularly laughable Magical Midway is still boasting their star flyer as unique considering there’s one twice as tall not even 5 minutes down the road.

 

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Grona Lund isn't the only park with an affinity for tower rides.

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Icon 360 absolutely hosed Magical Midway.

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Magical Midway seems to be taking it pretty well considering they still think they have "America's only carousel on steroids." I'm sure patrons won't notice the huge tower right down the street.

 

I found a Groupon for a half off Slingshot ride, so I decided to give the pricey upcharge a second chance. I previously rode Kings Island’s Slingshot when they offered a severely discounted rate early in the day; however, PeoplemoverMatt and I ended up waiting almost an hour due to the miniscule throughput. There was no one waiting, so I walked right on. Since they didn’t allow single riders, I was joined by an employee.

 

I have no clue if this is actually the world’s tallest slingshot. To be honest, the one at Old Town looks equally as tall. But this may have the most impressive launch. You recline back into a volcano complete with more fog than a Halloween Haunt. Anticipation mount and then without warning, you blast towards the sky. This should have been one of the most memorable launches out there, but something was missing: forces. I felt absolutely nothing during the launch. S&S double shots pack more of a punch.

 

The flip at the apex was easily the most thrilling part of the ride. That sinking feeling in your stomach whether or not the bungee will hold combined with a head-over-heels flip 300+ feet in the air is quite the feeling. But that’s it. It’s fun, but in terms of the upcharges, I think skyscrapers and sky coasters are far better thrills. I also think these slingshots have been completely outdone by Stan Checketts’s crazy saddle thing. 7 out of 10

 

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The pre-launch sequence was the coolest part of the Slingshot.

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Can anyone validate their claim if this is really the world's tallest?

 

I also considered a token ride on Spaceblast, the S&S space shot. At $3.50, it actually seemed like a good value. However, it was closed. And not just for the day. The employee informed me the ride is “no longer allowed to operate” and will be removed. Looking back at the tower, I honestly don’t know when it last operated judging by all the rust on the tower.

 

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That's quite a bit of rust.

 

It was almost time to head to the airport, but I had one last stop in mind. Fun Spot Orlando was only another 5 minutes down the road and it would have been completely negligent on my part not to use my season pass one last time. I pulled right into the 100% free parking lot and am still wondering why the one in Georgia, which is in a completely non-touristy area, is the only one to actually charge for parking.

 

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Fun Spot had reduced hours today. It was *only* open for 10 hours.

 

I had a one track mind and immediately went over to White Lightning. I was 99% sure there wouldn’t be any lines on a Monday night and I was absolutely correct. I got two quick rides, one in the front and one in the back. White Lightning is one of the best paced wooden coasters out there. I know the top speed is pretty modest, but this thing feels quite fast with all the quick transitions and little airtime hills.

 

I did find White Lightning considerably bumpier than my March rides. It’s still smoother than a majority of wooden coasters out there, but something I do want to note. I have no clue if and when Fun Spot pulls their woodies down for annual maintenance, but I imagine it has to go down for a stretch in the winter considering this wooden coaster may have the harshest operating schedule out there, 12 hours per day and 365 days per year. 8 out of 10

 

It was hard to pull myself from White Lightning, but I needed to get to the airport. Truth be told, I probably could have gotten to the airport an hour later without any issues, but I prefer not to be sprinting through the gate and anxiously checking my watch. Instead, I was able to sit back at TGI Friday’s and enjoy a bit of the Monday Night Football Game.

 

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I rode White Lightning into the sunset.

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Atlanta is so lucky to have that Paratrooper. I can't say I'll be riding this nauseating thing again.

 

I prefer the Kissimmee location primarily for Mine Blower, so it would have pained me to skip it. Fortunately I was able to cram a visit in the preceding day. I didn’t create a trip report since I’ve already created several, but there was one noteworthy thing about this visit. Being Orlando, there was a threat of a passing thunderstorm. Because of this, Fun Spot closed Mine Blower after a dozen or so rides.

 

That part isn’t bizarre. What is bizarre is the fact that Fun Spot was still running their 300 foot Skycoaster with flashes of lightning in the distance. Knowing the power of electricity, I decided against riding one of the state’s largest lightning rods. When the lightning transitioned from flashes to bolts, they shut down their attractions. Meanwhile the separately owned Slingshot and Vomitron were still running.

 

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Of course I snuck in some rides on Mine Blower. It honestly may be my favorite coaster in the state after Mako.

 

I can’t say I have any plans to return to Icon 360 or Magical Midway. The other offerings in Orlando are simply too awesome. However, those two woodies (as long as they continue to maintain them) will always make Fun Spot worth a visit.

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Big E

 

LeJebba, if you are reading this, grab a box of tissues and a barrel of Vaseline. You’re going to need it.

 

90% of the time I travel to Springfield, Massachusetts, it’s to visit Six Flags New England. What’s the other 10%? MGM Springfield? Nope, my type of casino looks more like Dave & Buster’s. The Basketball Hall of Fame? I want to go there, but no one ever wants to go with me. The Dr. Seuss Museum? Not until I have kids. That 10% is the fall festival known as the Eastern States Exposition, or the Big E.

 

This is New England’s largest carnival. I don’t know how many acres it covers, but it has almost a dozen different entrances and maps are an absolute necessity at this place. The Big E has everything a great carnival should have- crazy flat rides, artery clogging food, live music, random shops, and animals.

 

The midway wasn’t provided by Wade Shows, but it was provided by North American Amusements. I believe this is the only show they have in New England and they have arguably the best ride lineup I’ve seen at a US fair. Since I visited on a weekday, I was able to get a wristband for $20-25. On the weekend, the pay-one-price isn’t available and I believe they charge something like $5-10 for any major attraction.

 

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Every good fair needs a top notch midway and the Big E has one.

 

The craziest thing I saw wasn’t a flat. It wasn’t a toothless carny either. No, it was the Express Pass. Yes, even carnivals are jumping on the skip-the-line pass bandwagon now. At $15 a pop, you could queue at a separate gate and get priority boarding on every single attraction. One practical feature I saw was a sign stating how many priority pass riders board per cycle. I’ve never seen that before.

 

Now I didn’t see a single soul purchase an Express Pass. Weekdays are light enough crowd wise that almost everything was a walk-on. And weekends deflate ride lines by not offering the wristband. So for the most part, it was unnecessary. But there was one very good reason to get one- Speed. Unlike most carnivals, Speed is included on the wristband. Because of the putrid capacity and awesomeness of the attraction, Speed often has an hour wait. Unfortunately they don’t allow single riders on Speed and no one wanted to ride it with me. I guess they don’t think fried food and inversions mix.

 

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Yes even carnivals now offer skip-the-line passes.

 

Depending on your definition of a coaster, the fair had 5 credits. There was a Go Gator exclusively for kids, an Orient Experss I wasn’t shameless enough to ride in front of my girlfriend, a Wacky Worm I tricked my friends into riding a few years ago, a gravity powered dark ride, and an Interpark Super Cyclone. The latter is without a doubt the biggest coaster at the fair.

 

The Super Cyclone had (un)comfort(able) collars. While I often find comfort collars unnecessary, rarely do I find them uncomfortable. However, Super Cyclone’s were worn differently. Usually the straps are applied over the lap bar. On Super Cyclone, you buckle the straps first and then pull down the lap bar. This results in the lap bar pinching the straps, which causes them to dig into your shoulders.

 

As for the ride, it’s the perfect fit for a fair. It’s smooth and compact. And despite having a modest maximum height, the three drops are steeper than they appear and actually want to give some air. Without the collars, I think they would have given air. But instead they just gave a solid stomach dropping sensation since I was locked in place. 5 out of 10

 

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For a coaster this small, Super Cyclone had some solid drops.

 

Mouse Trap is the pseudo credit. If you count Camden’s Hawnted House or Conneaut’s Devil’s Den as a credit, you’d likely count this dilapidated haunted house as one. The ride starts with a lift hill, features a whopping 10 foot drop, and a gravity driven indoor section of hairpin turns.

 

As for the effects, they were bad. I have a reasonably low standard for carnival dark rides. I expect cruddy effects, but I at least expect them to be timed properly. On Mouse Trap, the effects were triggered after you had passed them. But there was one scare. The clearances entering and exiting the building are tighter than Space Mountain. I actually had to duck to avoid hitting my head leading up to the lift. 3 out of 10

 

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Credit or no credit? You can decide for yourself.

 

The highlight of the midway were the series of crazy flat rides. I’ll begin with Power Surge. The thought of a Power Surge in the hands of a carny had me salivating. But there was a red flag as I boarded. All the other major rides required 4-5 tickets. Yet Power Surge required just 3 tickets. I thought it was puzzling why a thrill ride would be that cheap, but I quickly found out why. This Power Surge has erectile dysfunction.

 

The carnies need to give this thing some Viagra since this Power Surge only rose to a 45 degree angle. At only half mast, it was impossible to flip the vehicles. I tried my hardest, but I got as many inversions as the Wacky Worm next door. Getting zero inversions on a ride like this is an absolute epic fail. 1 out of 10

 

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Give this ride some Viagra because this is as high as it raised.

 

However, the fair redeemed itself with the insanity known as Twin Flip. I have never seen an attraction quite like Twin Flip and I’d like to ask why. The only downside I noticed was the buckle length. I’m a pretty skinny guy and I didn’t have much slack in the buckle. Every cycle, I saw at least 2-3 people get walk of shamed.

 

As for the ride, holy guacamole. It takes a herculean effort to get my dizzy. Manually spinning a tea cup so fast that it starts bouncing has a fleeting effect, but this thing really messed up my equilibrium. Essentially it was an orbiter with rocking vehicles. If you’ve been on an orbiter, you know how fast those things rotate. Now add in flipping vehicles. Sometimes the ride offered multiple flips in rapid fire succession. At other points, it held you upside down like an inverted scrambler.

 

Halfway through the ride, the seats lock and the operator announces that the ride is over. This wasn’t Revenge of the Mummy, so I had every reason to believe the operator. But a valuable lesson was reaffirmed; never trust a carny. The ride sped back up and induced some of the most powerful laterals I’ve experienced on a ride. These were right up there with the finale on a Chance Wipeout. Twin Flip took my breath away. 10 out of 10

 

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Twin Flip did all sorts of weird things to my body. And I loved it.

 

Next door was Mega Drop. I love drop towers; they’re easily my favorite type of flat. So naturally I was ecstatic to see one at a fair. I chose a side facing the fairground (looking at the darkened carny trailer park wasn’t what I’d call appealing) and noticed how loose my restraint was. There was a good 2-3 inches between me and the restraint.

 

The ascent was slow. I hadn’t seen Mega Drop operate prior to my ride, so I had no clue if it’d drop without pause like a Larson tower or hold us at the top. As we reached the apex, I braced myself for the plunge but we stopped in place. The nighttime view of the fairground was spectacular. It was a visual overload of bright lights. And I had plenty of time to take it in. I’m not even exaggerating, but I think we were held at the top for at least a minute.

 

And then the drop happened. I didn’t think something at the fair would be more intense than Twin Flip, but Mega Drop may have topped it. That drop was pure bliss. I considered Larson towers to have the most intense drops. I have a new baseline. This (Fabbri?) creation left my stomach at the top of the tower and thanks to the loose restraint, I floated the whole way down. 10 out of 10

 

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Credit whores are probably salivating over the Wacky Worm, but it's the drop tower you should be excited about.

 

At most fairs, an inverting frisbee would be the star attraction. But at the Big E, it’s just another flat. I believe Hyper Loop was a KMG creation and it had one of the best cycles I’ve seen on a frisbee. My biggest gripe with this type of ride is the lack of max swings. That wasn’t an issue with Hyper Loop. There were plenty of pre-inverting swings with sustained floater air and that turned into prolonged hangtime on the 360 degree rotations. 9 out of 10

 

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Hyper Loop had an incredible lighting package.

 

After the rides, the highlight of the fair is probably the food. Local newspapers dedicate entire sections to the food offerings at the Big E. Because of my dislike of sweets, I didn’t even consider a majority of options. But I had my fair share of fried food. I had clam cakes (aka deep fried clam chowder), mini donuts, fried cheese on a stick, and a Finnish pancake.

 

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Unlike the abominations at the Washington County Fair, these clam cakes were delicious.

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Anytime I see freshly made donuts, they have my money.

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I'm pretty sure no animal is off limits at this place.

 

I didn’t spend time at the petting zoo, but they had a pretty extensive animal collection this year. Beyond the goats (some which were cleverly donning Tom Brady jerseys), there were camels and elephants. I did spend time at the State Houses. Each New England state gets an entire pavilion themed to itself. This is one of the most unique things at the fair and it reminds you that even though the New England states are close in proximity, there are quite a few differences between them. The most notable is that Connecticut supports the wrong baseball team and not the 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

 

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I can't imagine what it'd be like roadtripping with an elephant.

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Why do I feel like Porky is just a human in a costume?

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The most unique thing at the Big E are the individually themed State Houses.

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This Mardi Gras bead tossing parade was also a thing.

 

The Big E definitely isn’t worth a cross country trip. This isn’t Oktoberfest that we’re talking about. However, if you’re in New England and haven’t checked out the Big E, do yourself a favor and mark your calendar for the 2019 event.

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Thanks! I basically use the smell test for carnival rides. If something looks more suspicious than usual, I'll skip it. I think the most suspect thing I've come across was a miniature frisbee ride with actual plastic lawn chairs attached as seats. They brought it to my alma mater for an event. Not sure who owned the ride, but it was called the Aztec.

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Lagoon

 

Lagoon was never intended to be on the docket of parks in 2018. I’ve always heard very good things about this park, but it’s location makes it a rarely visited park for enthusiasts. However, a work trip routed me through Salt Lake City and it would have been an absolute shame to skip out on Lagoon.

 

Salt Lake City’s airport has an unbelievable setting. Your descent takes you over the vaunted Great Salt Lake and you are surrounding by mountains. I audibly gasped at the beauty. It looked like something straight out of a fantasy film. Except here, it was real. I knew it was going to be a good day.

 

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This is Utah. This is real.

 

I was visiting during Lagoon’s Frightmares event and the forecast called for rain leading up to my visit. I’m not going to lie, with the cooler temperatures, I was a bit worried. However, I found some old videos of Lagoon operating rides in absolute downpours, so that placated my concerns. Plus the weathermen turned out to be dead wrong. The skies were overcast, but I didn’t feel a drop of rain all day.

 

My original plan was to visit Lagoon for 3 hours, leave to hit the nearby mountain coasters, and return for the final 4 hours. However, that plan was as concrete as Prince Desmond’s plan to save the Big Dipper. Lagoon is unequivocally a full day park. I had 11 hours and that still wasn’t enough time to ride and experience everything. Considering its location and proximity to other amusement parks, Lagoon could easily mail it in. But they don’t. This is one of the best run parks I’ve encountered.

 

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I guess I'm visiting Frightmares today, not Lagoon.

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Lagoon went all in for the Halloween season.

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I mean just look at that theming and the scare actors getting into it.

 

Operations can be a mixed bag at independent parks. It’s not uncommon to find staggered openings and one train operations. Not at Lagoon. I arrived a half hour prior to their posted opening and they were already admitting people into the park and cycling every attraction.

 

Additionally, Lagoon has some of the fastest moving lines I have ever seen. They had multiple trains running on almost every coaster and I can’t recall a single instance of stacking. For this reason, do not be deterred by something that looks like a long queue. Plus the queue lines themselves are very short. They cannot hold many people. Multiple queue lines were spilling out into the midway; yet the wait wasn’t more than 10-20 minutes.

 

Without question, my first stop was going to be Cannibal, so I patiently waited in the staging area and struck up a conversation with the security guard who was a fellow coaster enthusiast herself. When the rope dropped, I moseyed my way over to Cannibal. It’s one of the most imposing coasters I’ve seen. That beyond vertical drop looks unreal. I’ve seen my fair share of Eurofighters, but they’re not even half as tall as Cannibal.

 

Returning to the efficiency of Lagoon, Cannibal was running 4-5 trains with a dual loading platform. For this reason, their star attraction never had a wait exceeding 15-20 minutes. Further, single riders such as myself can utilize the single rider queue and usually board in less than 5 minutes thanks to the 4 across seating. This made Cannibal a very easy coaster to marathon.

 

I’d also like to note two odd policies that Lagoon has on their coasters. One, Lagoon bans single riders in the front or back row on all their coasters. The only other time I’ve encountered something similar was at Six Flags Over Texas with the back row. Second, the park is very much against riders raising their hands. It’s not uncommon for rides to advise guests to hold onto the lap bar, but at Lagoon, I saw operators explicitly tell riders to put their hands down if they raised them.

 

Back to Cannibal. Fortunately the 4 across seating allowed me to get multiple front and back row rides. The coaster was exceptional in every seat, but I had a slight preference for the back to get the full effect of the drop. The lap bars were a bit tight, but I’ll take a tight lap bar over an OSTR any day of the week.

 

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I really wanted to buy a Cannibal shirt, but realized people back home wouldn't know it was a coaster.

 

I had no clue what would happen as we rolled into the tower. I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll say there was more theming than I expected. Jumping to the drop, Cannibal has one of the best drops out there. Without fail, beyond vertical drops always give powerful bursts of ejector air and Cannibal was no different. The difference here was the sheer length of the drop. The drop went on forever and after the initial pop, the ejector air morphed into sustained floater. Cannibal clearly was not messing around.

 

Cannibal then alternated between an Immelmann and dive loop. The Immelmann offered some decent hangtime while the dive loop began with a small pop of air before whipping riders back to the ground. But Cannibal doesn’t dive all the way to the ground in one fell swoop as it’s a surprise double down with another solid pop of air. The following overbank is the lone forgettable element on the ride.

 

The MCBR saps a majority of Cannibal’s speed, but it’s a rare situation where it works to the coaster’s advantage. The Lagoon roll consists of two very slow barrel rolls giving hangtime rivaling Hydra’s jojo roll. My phone was safely tucked away in a zippered pocket, but I still instinctively reached for my pocket because of how long you’re held upside down. That’s followed by a zippy downwards helix through some beautiful rockwork and one tiny pop of air into the brake run.

 

Cannibal is one of the most fun and reridable coasters I’ve been on. The coaster is glass smooth, which is especially impressive considering that Cannibal was designed in-house. As for where Cannibal ranks, it’s a borderline top 25 steel coaster for me. I’d go as far to rank it ahead of coasters such as New Texas Giant, Mexico’s Medusa, and Leviathan. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Cannibal's drop is orgasmic.

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The whole ride simply looks massive.

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If you don't have zippered pockets, I sure hope you stored your items in a locker. Cannibal shows no mercy during the Lagoon Roll.

 

I decided to give a token ride on Flying Aces, their set of flying scooters. As I approached the ride, the only thing that stood out was the fact that you boarded on the inside. I can’t think of another set of flying scooters that does that. Once I sat down, I realized the fins had far more movement than I expected. Maybe these could be snapped? Then the ride started and we reached Knoebels speeds. Oh yes, these babies can be snapped!

 

With the speed and fin movement, it was a piece of cake to chain together consecutive snaps. The result was a near death experience that caused audible gasps from folks watching the attraction. I was nervous the operate would chide me out or stop the attraction (like the Knoebels operators occasionally do), but neither happened. I got an uninterrupted 2 minutes of violent snapping. These were as good as Flyer albeit with a shorter cycle (the length was fine, it’s just Knoebels gives legendary 5 minute cycles).

 

A reride was necessary, but I figured I should wait a while. I didn’t want to get blacklisted. As I exited, I tried to avoid eye contact with the operator, but she smiled and remarked, “It looks like somebody had a good time.” Then I realized I was being silly. There was no need to worry since Lagoon is awesome. I got back in line and my tub moved as disjointedly as a poor quality Internet stream.

 

It was no surprise that Cannibal would be the top ride at Lagoon, but I was not expecting a set of flyers rivaling those of Knoebels. If these were at any other park, I guarantee you would hear Flying Aces mentioned in the same breath as Knoebels’s Flyer. They are that incredible. 10 out of 10

 

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I thought I was going to die at least 5-6 times on these flyers. That's the sign of quality.

 

Flying Aces is the reason I didn’t ride the mountain coasters. Flying Aces educated me that Lagoon’s flat rides should not be missed. Because of this, I now had a full day. I followed up with Samurai, a rare top scan. I love top scans, but they’ve relatively uncommon. I had visions of that insane top scan I rode last year at Oktoberfest, but it wasn’t to be.

 

Don’t get me wrong, even a poorly run top scan is a great flat. It was just a disappointment after Flying Aces got my hopes up. The cycle was ridiculously short and the arms barely rocked, but at least there were some sustained inversions. The one oddity about Samurai was how long it took to reset. It probably took a minute of the arm slowly rotating forwards and backwards until the arm would lower us. 7 out of 10

 

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I wish there were more top scans in the world.

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Don't lose your sushi; that's what the lockers are for.

 

Up next was the park’s drop tower, the Rocket. Without any hesitation, I selected the re-entry side. For one, it would give me more time to appreciate the gorgeous mountain view. Second, S&S space shots usually don’t do much for me. The drop on this one was decent. It gave a burst of air at the start, but the intensity just isn’t there compared to its Intamin and Larson brethren. 7 out of 10

 

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For some reason, the dude in the logo reminds me of the mascots from Backyard Baseball.

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Lagoon lets you blast off towards the stars or re-enter the atmosphere.

 

There was one credit I was skeptical I would get. And it wasn’t the kiddie coaster either. The coaster in question was Jet Star 2. For one, I read online the coaster doesn’t run in the rain. Thankfully that wasn’t an issue. What was an issue was the no single rider policy. Due to the restraints, Lagoon requires guests to ride in groups of two or three. I patiently waited on the ride platform for 10-15 minutes until I found a winner- a father whose teenage girls didn’t want to ride in his lap. While the girls took selfies, I got up close and personal with their father.

 

The coaster itself was decent. The drops had good zip to them, as did the first helix. However, saying the brakes were harsh would be an understatement. The stop was so abrupt that it felt like my riding buddy was trying to go in my back door. If Jet Star 2 allowed single riders, I definitely would have given it another whirl. But it was a one and done for me due to that policy. 5 out of 10

 

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I'll take awkward coasters to get a boner on for 00 please.

 

Sky Rides are a photographer’s dream. They’re especially nice when they can transport you from one end of a park to another. Lagoon’s Sky Ride satisfies both. As we were descending, in the corner of my eye, I spotted a kangaroo. For a second I thought I had ridden Puff the Magic Dragon, but my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Lagoon has a random kangaroo exhibit. I love this park. 9 out of 10

 

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That's a distinct lack of fencing for a ride in the US.

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40 degree temperatures and water parks don't mix.

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Of course Lagoon had a lagoon.

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They weren't a mirage. The park really did have kangaroos.

 

Up next was Colossus the Fire Dragon, a coaster with an almost identical layout to Dorney’s now removed Laser. I didn’t have fond memories of Laser. I remembered the coaster offering enough vibrations to appease a porn star. However, that was also at a time when I thought Steel Force was the best coaster in the world, Boulder Dash had no airtime, and the Internet was only for schoolwork. I was a confused child.

 

Colossus set me straight. The first drop had a powerful snap to it like Alpina Bahn and the following two loops were the usual Schwarzkopf perfection. But what came next was the coaster’s most intense moment. I have never been more thankful for lap bars. The transition into the helix folded me over onto the seat next to me. Colossus abused my body. Yet I liked it.

 

The final two helixes were decent, but nothing compared to the first half. Colossus was surprisingly the second best coaster in the park. 8 out of 10

 

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Anton Schwarzkopf was ahead of his time.

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This is the unassuming turn that catches you off-guard. Just look what it did to that front row rider!

 

In most areas, wicked means evil. For musical fans, Wicked is the spin off from the Wizard of Oz. To coaster enthusiasts, Wicked is simply, as we’d say in New England, a wicked cool coaster. Like Cannibal, Wicked had a single rider line. However, it wasn’t too much of a time saver. For that reason, I preferred to wait in the main queue to ensure myself a front row ride, where Wicked was noticeably smoother. The lap bar only trains prevented headbanging, but the rattle in the back row bashed my legs against the shin guard quite a few times.

 

After hearing a blaring siren, Wicked treated me to one of the most unique launches out there. In terms of raw speed, it’s pretty pedestrian. What’s special is the fact that it’s a two-part launch. It starts horizontally, has a brief reprieve transitioning up the tower, and then surprises riders with a vertical launch. That vertical launch had way more force than I expected and it was absolutely mind-bending to be accelerating as we climbed the tower.

 

Wicked then treated me to two strong and distinct pops of air, one as you crest the tower and another on the vertical descent. That’s followed by a decent airtime-filled speed hill, an ok overbank, and a dazzling zero-G roll loaded with hangtime. In some ways, I wish Wicked had stopped right there. It had already done more than most launch coasters.

 

Instead Wicked crept through a laughably bad second half devoid of any speed, forces, airtime, or excitement. It serves no purpose other than to add a block section and some additional length to the ride. It’s reasons like this that I don’t mind a ride like Twisted Cyclone forgoing an extra lap for a fast and memorable finish. Still Wicked’s first half is good enough to carry the coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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To the person you thought up a vertical launch, you are a mad genius.

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Inversions + Lap Bar Only Trains = Happiness

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Wicked's first half is (as we say in New England) wicked pissah.

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15 mph overbanks like this is all Wicked offers in the second half.

 

Up next were the two mice coasters. Both had full queues and took about 25-30 minutes to get through. I started with Spider. For the most part, this was your standard Maurer spinner except we started to rotate after cresting the lift. Usually you don’t start spinning until the second hill. While it was cool to start the spinning sooner, there was hardly any spinning the rest of the ride. It was especially odd since we had a very unbalanced vehicle with a couple on one side and me on the other. 6 out of 10

 

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I hope you don't have arachnophobia.

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Spider spins when it shouldn't...

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and not when it should.

 

Wild Mouse was a minimally braked version of the commonplace coaster. This resulted in some powerful laterals on the top section and a bit of air on the big drop. But the highlight was the brief, house-themed tunnel. The amount of detail in that single tunnel is impressive considering the coaster flies right through it. But it does make for a nice visual off-ride. 5 out of 10

 

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Lagoon knows how to run a mouse, unbraked.

 

Roller Coaster is the unoriginally named classic coaster that is the park’s senior citizen. The station definitely looks retro with the architecture and flashy neon lights. And it’s clear the park appreciates the coaster’s rich history as there’s a detailed montage in the station. I think the funniest bit is an old photo where everyone has their hands raised and Lagoon has a disclaimer stating it was a historical photo and that riders must now hold on.

 

The Millennium Flyers were new additions in 2018. For this reason, I was optimistic this oldie would be reasonably smooth. That wasn’t the case. Roller Coaster is a pretty bumpy ride. However, I am willing to look past that because of the airtime. If you ride towards the front, you get nice pops on any smaller hill and powerful bursts on the final two turnarounds. In the back row, you get nice floater air on any sizable drop. 7 out of 10

 

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True beauty is an illuminated station of a classic wooden coaster.

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I love the history montage, especially seeing the time when raising your hands was allowable at Lagoon.

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For a coaster almost 100 years old, Roller Coaster has some solid airtime.

 

I hadn’t heard much about Lagoon’s dark rides. Both Terroride and Dracula’s Castle had impressive facades, but I still expected something on the level of a carnival dark ride. So imagine my shock when I saw the detailed scenes and large props on both dark rides. Now they were both on the shorter side, but if that’s what they had to do to ensure enough budget for high quality rides, it was a worthwhile decision.

 

I had a slight preference for Terroride. It had two really well executed jump scares. And it cemented the fact that Lagoon clearly has a thing for human sacrifice. Their star attraction is called Cannibal after all. Meanwhile Dracula’s Castle was free of jump scares, instead relying on the detailed design of the cornucopia of horror monsters. 8 out of 10

 

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I absolutely love everything about Terroride's facade- the castle, the rocking sign, and the animatronic skeleton.

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I caught Dracula after a breakout so I avoided a queue.

 

Boomerang was more violent than usual. Vekoma Boomerangs usually concentrate their aggression towards rider’s skulls. Lagoon’s Boomerang focused on delivering body shots. Fortunately, Lagoon’s Boomerang isn’t a Vekoma Boomerang. Instead it’s their set of bumper cars. The cycle is definitely on the shorter side, but the arena is huge and the cars actually have some oomph to them. 7 out of 10

 

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Usually it's not a good thing to be rougher than a Vekoma Boomerang. But with bumper cars, that's actually a good thing.

 

I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ride their pseudo top spin due to the water effects, but the attendant assured me they were off. This was true, but I think they also turned off the inversions by mistake. Cliffhanger was an absolute tease. It came as close as possible to flipping without actually flipping. Maybe the ride just needed some WD-40 since it sounded like metal on metal screeching with each movement. 1 out of 10

 

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Grinding Metal the Ride

 

Thankfully the Rock-O-Plane delivered inversions in bunches. Now that I know what the magic lock and release lever does, I lock and unlock my vehicle to my heart’s content to maximize inversions. The only downside with Rock-O-Plane is the painstakingly slow loading procedure. Every other time I’ve ridden a Rock-O-Plane, I’ve been the only rider so I’ve never had to witness the load procedure that makes a Ferris Wheel look like the Phoenix’s dispatches. 7 out of 10

 

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One of the few rides where you don't get in trouble for rocking the vehicles. You can try on your own, but I bet you'll need the magic lever.

 

Centennial Screamer was the park’s enterprise. Going into my visit, this was one flat that I heard was run particularly well at Lagoon. It was fast, but I’ve been spoiled by the enterprise at Fun Spot. I love the friction pads on the seats that prevent riders from sliding and wish more had those. Nonetheless, enterprises are a dying breed so I make it a point to ride these intense flats whenever I see one. 6 out of 10

 

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Those grey skies sure looked ominous, but they never produced a single drop of rain.

 

Air Race was probably Lagoon’s least efficient ride. Beyond having a third of the ride’s vehicles closed due to maintenance, the loading wasn’t particularly fast. As of late, I’ve been running into the smaller air races so it was refreshing to see a larger model. However, this one had a much shorter cycle. Still it was enough time to get at least a half dozen inversions. 7 out of 10

 

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I forgot just how big of a footprint the larger air races occupy.

 

I still had 3 credits left, so I made my way to Bombora. Before they built Cannibal, Lagoon designed this roller skater on steroids. Bombora probably has the most gratuitously overdesigned trains that I have ever seen. Not only does this junior coaster have on-board audio (themed to surfing of course), but it also has LED seashells that illuminate at night. As for the coaster, it was glass smooth. There wasn’t a bit of force, but that’s pretty typical for a junior coaster. Really it’s those trains that make this coaster somewhat memorable. 5 out of 10

 

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Bombora was the gateway coaster for the park's designers. They weren't satisfied with the small stuff, so it led to Cannibal.

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Just look at those trains. Hot dang!

 

The sun was beginning to set and I was a bit nervous. I had yet to make my way to the back of the park where the two water rides are located. In some ways, I figured venturing to the back of the park would be a waste of time. The temperature had plunged into the 40s. Surely Lagoon wouldn’t be operating their flume and river rapids. Or would they?

 

It took me a while to find the water rides. These rides are separated from the front of the park. I thought I made a wrong turn as I passed through the picnic pavilions, but that’s how you reach them. The only other alternative is to pass through the water park (when it’s open of course). The Log Flume’s station was deserted outside of an operator. It appeared open, but I was worried I’d be turned away as a single rider considering that’s a policy I’ve encountered on several flumes.

 

Oddly enough, Lagoon had no problem with me riding as a single rider. The flume has one of the most tranquil experiences I’ve had on a ride. While the scare actors and crowds were roaming the midways at the front of the park, Lagoon’s Log Flume quietly meandered through the still woods in the back of the park. Then plunge at the end wasn’t anything to write home about and fortunately it wasn’t a soaker. The last thing I wanted was to get drenched on such a cool night. 6 out of 10

 

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It was so peaceful in the back area of the park. No crowds, no scare actors, and lots of trees.

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In case the logs in the flume weren't a queue, the park kindly reminds you it's called Log Flume.

 

Yet I was stupid enough to ride Rattlesnake Rapids. I talked myself into it saying my next visit wouldn’t be for quite some time and Lagoon would probably have the effects dialed back anyway. Unlike the Log Flume, Rattlesnake Rapids did ban single riders. Fortunately there were two teenagers as crazy as me and I rode with them.

 

Rattlesnake Rapids is one of the best landscaped river rapids rides I’ve ridden. If the mountain backdrop alone wasn’t enough, the ride’s layout is completely concealed by trees and is loaded with rockwork, including a lengthy, fog-filled cave. This is one of the longer river rapids rides I’ve ridden and there was easily more than a dozen rapids. If I had to guess, the ride was toned back due to the temperature. The rapids didn’t offer more than a sprinkle and there were a few points that looked like obvious candidates for a waterfall. 7 out of 10

 

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Rattlesnake Rapids is extremely well landscaped. And long too.

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But most people weren't as dumb as me and decided to actually try and keep their core temperature up on a cooler day.

 

The one coaster I was dreading to ride was the Bat. For one, it had one train and a full queue. I really did not want to burn a half hour waiting for a cruddy coaster that is the beginner’s guide to CTE. Fortunately the park’s speedy dispatches got me on the Bat in just 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the Bat still sucked. I leaned forwards for self-preservation, but still took a few headshots. 2 out of 10

 

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It's considered a rite of passage for a father to share a beer with their son. With the Bat, younger riders get a chance to pop an Advil with their parents to treat the headache this coaster could potentially cause.

 

The final coaster was Puff the Little Fire Dragon. By this point, I knew the drill. As a single rider, I had to sit somewhere in the middle of the train. However, the operator moved me to the back of the train. I stopped trying to understand Lagoon’s seating policies and instead happily got my kiddie credit. 2 out of 10

 

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When I told friends and family I rode Puff the Magic Dragon, they didn't think I meant a coaster.

 

I also rode one other dragon. This one was Jumping Dragon. The park has two Himalayas. I think I rode the one targeted more towards kids and families, but the ride was too beautiful to skip. Not only was the ride vehicle a bright and colorful dragon, but the ride was nestled in a pagoda. As for the ride, it was faster than expected and traveled in both directions. The latter is something that even most adult Himalayas fail to do. 6 out of 10

 

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The dragon alone would have been impressive. But the pagoda too? Lagoon spoils the locals.

 

Originally I wasn’t intending to experience any of Lagoon’s haunts. I figured they’d have lengthy queues and I’d rather spend my time racking up night rides on the coasters. But Lagoon offered an absolute lifesaver in the Time Warp pass. For just $15, I was granted 7 skip-the-line passes for the 5 different haunted houses. I cannot recommend this pass enough since the haunt queues easily looked to be over a half hour in length.

 

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This is the third park I've seen recently that offers a Halloween haunt skip-the-line pass despite not having one for the rides. Canobie and Lake Compounce do the same thing.

 

Malevolent Mansion was the best and scariest haunt. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a haunt has well-designed set pieces, but it’s too dark to enjoy them. It’s possible to be scary in a lighted environment and Lagoon proved that. The haunt actors were extremely aggressive and not afraid to get right up in my grill. This resulted in several excellent jump scares. The haunt was short, but it excelled in every other area. 8 out of 10

 

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It's queues like this that made Time Warp worth it.

 

Fun House of Fear was just a notch behind in quality. This haunt traded scares for interactivity. The scare actors were plentiful and holding creepy conversations throughout. Combined with the colorful set design, some neat animatronics, and the gimmicky 3D effect, Fun House of Fear was a really nice haunt. It reminded me of a toned down version of Canobie’s Carnivus haunt that I love so much. 8 out of 10

 

Nightmare Midway started off as a disappointment. It began with a pitch black corridor with nothing but jump scares. For many, this is all that’s needed for an effective haunt. But as I said earlier, I look forward to theming. Fortunately the second half had some interesting sets like a strobe maze, streamer maze, and an Area 51 section. 7 out of 10

 

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Fun House of Fear and Nightmare Midway shared the same building, but they couldn't have been more different.

 

Nightwalk was where the vampires and witches came alive. It had as many jump scares as Nightmare Midway except it had a decent set to compliment them. Nothing in particular stood out, but it was a solid all-around haunt. 7 out of 10

 

Lastly, there was the Frightening Frisco. Tucked away in the back of the park by the water rides, it wasn’t too surprising this was the only haunt without a queue. Or maybe it was because it was easily the worst haunt. However, it shouldn’t have been the worst. It may have had the best set design as they went all in with the western theme. The haunt was just missing scare actors. Not only were there less actors than the other haunts, the actors that were there just weren’t getting into it. I’m hoping I just caught it on a bad night. 6 out of 10

 

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If only the scare actors were as good as the sets.

 

Probably the best part of Frightmares was the Seance upcharge. It cost $10 and was well worth it. This is something that is way better if you do not know what is going to happen. For that reason, I really won’t go into detail. I will say that it had some really impressive effects and it was an intense show. One of the guests asked to participate looked like she pooped her pants worse than Nathan Peterman in the fourth quarter. 9 out of 10

 

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What happens in there is a mystery and well worth the admission.

 

The only area that left me disappointed was the food department. Yes this is a rare park that charges for water, but that wasn’t my issue. My issue was the food quality. After a mediocre soft pretzel and substandard fries, I decided to try one of the chains at the park. In retrospect, I should I gone to Subway, but I had never been to Arby’s. And let me say that I will never be going back to Arby’s. My “roast beef sandwich” tasted more like bologna. Please come to New England if you want a real roast beef sandwich.

 

My best meal of the day came at the surprising In-N-Out Burger location on the way to the highway. And I’m going to be honest, this is the most overrated fast food joint out there. It’s not bad by any means. In fact, I’d take it over most fast food restaurants. I’m just perturbed by In-N-Out Burger fanboys. If you thought Cedar Point or SFMM fanboys were bad, try telling an In-N-Out fan that their burgers are just ok.

 

You know you’ve visited a great park when you feel sad exiting through that turnstile. You think of all the pleasant experiences you had and then get distressed that it may be quite some time before your next visit. That’s how I felt leaving Lagoon. I don’t know when I’ll be back at Lagoon, but I will definitely be back there someday. It really is a fantastic park. It’s a shame more enthusiasts don’t make it to Lagoon because it has a very well-rounded ride collection combined with efficient operations.

 

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Even Lagoon's bathrooms are awesome. The bathroom itself was clean (sorry PKI Jizzman if this gives you Cedar Point PTSD), but I especially loved the signage on the building and the rotating toilet out front.

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Lake Compounce- Haunted Graveyard

 

I haven't been to many Halloween haunts, so my experience is limited. I think the only one I've been to outside of New England is Lagoon's Frightmares. But of the haunts I've been to, without question Lake Compounce's Haunted Graveyard is the best. I made three visits to the Haunted Graveyard this year and each visit couldn't have been more different.

 

Visit 1- The Walkthrough

 

After an afternoon at Six Flags, I made a side-trip to Lake Compounce for a night cap. The goal of visit one was to experience the walkthrough. As a season pass holder, the rides were free, but the haunt was a $25-30 upcharge. I had a 7 pm reservation, so I had two hours to burn. So I made a lap of the coasters not named Zoomerang.

 

Because of its putrid capacity, my first stop was Wildcat. Much is made of the fact that Boulder Dash only runs one train now. But swept under the rug is the fact that Wildcat does the same. I actually think it's worse on Wildcat since the trains hold a minuscule 14 passengers and take forever to return to the station. I only rode the retracked Wildcat once all summer because it usually had a line longer than Boulder Dash.

 

I finally got my elusive Haunted Graveyard Wildcat ride. Last year the coaster was closed due to the park's baffling decision to start painting the ride in September after the retracking fiasco and in the 5 years before that, I never saw it run once during the Halloween event. By going there at rope drop, I was in the front row on the second train of the day. Was it any better up front? Sadly no.

 

The retracking helped. In its prior state, Wildcat drew blood on a few of my friends and father. The retracking upgraded Wildcat from a dumpster fire to just mediocre. It's still far bumpier than a retracked coaster should ever be, but it's at least rideable. It just doesn't offer any airtime whatsoever. 3 out of 10

 

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I never thought I'd see the day when Wildcat was open at Haunted Graveyard.

 

After a quick ride on Phobia, I began the part of the night where I ride nothing but Boulder Dash. That's the effect of having one of the world's best roller coasters in a park like Lake Compounce. I got four front row rides and each subsequent ride was faster than the last.

 

Boulder Dash's outward leg begins with some powerful laterals before transitioning to strong and very quick pops of air. After the turnaround, Boulder Dash kicks it into overdrive and accelerates at a shocking rate on the return leg. Every single hill gives copious floater air without even a hint of roughness. These rides were just the appetizer. The main event would be the night rides. 10 out of 10

 

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Boulder Dash absolutely hauls and has been dubbed the supersonic wood coaster by one of my friends.

 

One new addition for the graveyard walkthrough was a VIP option that allowed you to skip the line entirely. The timed option does a good job minimizing your wait time, but you usually still have to wait 20-30 minutes to enter. I didn't see how much the VIP option cost, but I decided to just wait the line out.

 

This walkthrough is why Lake Compounce's Halloween event is the best in my opinion. Most haunts consist of several 5 minute haunts that you have to wait a half hour for. Because of this, I rarely do haunts if they have any sort of wait. Haunted Graveyard is a single hour long haunt, which is definitely worth it. The walkthrough has great set designs, preys on every phobia in existence, and is loaded with scare actors. 10 out of 10

 

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I didn't get any pictures of the Graveyard, but there's some theming set up elsewhere in the park.

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Bozo is one creepy clown.

 

The night ended with a front row ride on Boulder Dash. I rank coasters based on the optimal conditions I've experienced them in. I know that's different than how some rank coasters (for those who even rank them), but it's this reason that Boulder Dash is a top 5 coaster in the world for me. Boulder Dash is absolutely out-of-control at night. It's pitch black and I always get tears in my eyes from the relentless speed.

 

The line was all the way back to the midway and took about 45 minutes. If there was ever going to be a night to finally add the second train, this would have been it. Then my prayers were seemingly answered. I saw a parade of employees heading up the exit. Some looked like executives and others were maintenance workers.

 

"Attention those queuing for Boulder Dash, there will be a brief delay in operations but you're in for a treat. Boulder Dash is going into two train mode!"

 

The fact the park calls two train operations a treat is somewhat a slap in the face, but I was too excited. They dispatched an empty train and I anxiously waited to see if they'd stop it on the lift or brake run after last year's mishap. Sure enough they stopped it on the lift. An employee went over to the transfer track. After 5 minutes, the lift restarted. The same empty train returned. Another guest asked what was going on.

 

"Change of plans."

 

I say this half joking, but does the park seriously not know how to add a second train?

 

Visit 2- The Power Outage

 

One epic night ride wasn't enough on Boulder Dash, so I planned a return trip after work the following week. As I pulled into the lot, something was wrong. It was dark. Too dark. Cars were rolling past the parking booth too fast. I had a sneaking suspicion the park was without power and the employee manning the ticket booth confirmed my fears.

 

However, I heard a rumble in the distance. It sounded like the roar of Phobia. Intrigued, I walked towards the main gate and it was ominous. Usually the tunnel under the park is brightly lit and filled with fog. Tonight, it was still. It looked completely unnatural.

 

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This is what the Haunted Graveyard is supposed to look like.

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This is what the Haunted Graveyard looked like during a power outage.

 

As I reached the gate, it was pure chaos. The ticket booths and guest relations were darkened. Employees on megaphones were warning guests that they were no longer selling ride passes. Fortunately they were still honoring season passes and pre-purchased admission tickets. The only thing they were selling were Haunted Graveyard tickets. And they were being sold from the Potato Patch French Fry stand, which was one of the few stands with power.

 

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Here's the line of angry and confused guests trying to purchase Graveyard tickets at a French fry stand.

 

To the park's credit, most rides were actually operating. Everything to the right side of the park was running outside of Saw Mill Plunge and the kiddie rides, neither of which operate during Haunted Graveyard anyway. However, everything on the left side was closed. That included Wipeout, Bumper Cars, Down Time, Carousel, Wildcat, and...Boulder Dash.

 

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The line of demarcation cut me off from Boulder Dash.

 

Boulder Dash being down completely changed my plans for the night. Instead of getting a night marathon until closing, I grabbed quick rides on Phobia and American Flyers before departing for Six Flags New England. The drive was only supposed to take 40 minutes, but somehow it took almost 2 hours due to a horrific traffic jam at 9 pm in Hartford caused by a five lane highway being reduced to one lane.

 

On the bright side, Superman was absolutely flying and the Diamond Membership skip-the-line passes are absolutely clutch.

 

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Superman isn't a bad consolation prize. In fact, many would actually prefer it to Boulder Dash.

 

Visit 3- Boulder Dash Marathon and Red Sox win the World Series

 

After another afternoon at Six Flags New England, I returned to Lake Compounce for the final night of Haunted Graveyard. I had a one track mind to get as many front row Boulder Dash rides as possible. I also wanted to see the Red Sox win the World Series. Fortunately the marvels of technology allowed me to stream the game from my phone.

 

I got a total of nine rides with all but one in the front row. The lone exception was when I used my complimentary exit pass from the night of the power outage. While I could have asked for the front, I would have felt guilty doing so and simply asked to fill in an empty seat.

 

Ultimately I'd say it was a successful night. Lightning Rod was able to top Boulder Dash for the best night ride, but that's the only coaster that has.

 

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Boulder Dash is relentless by day and absolutely berzerk by night.

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Six Flags New England- Fright Fest

My roller coaster season usually ends with Six Flags New England. In the past, it was always a night ride on Superman towards the end of Fright Fest. Though thanks to the Six Flags gods, that is no longer the case. Superman is closed until 2019 barring a Christmas miracle, but Six Flags New England will reopen later this month for Holiday in the Park. I just pray temperatures are at least in the double digit range this year.

 

I made three visits during Fright Fest. Two were planned, but the third was a 45 minute visit after a power outage at Lake Compounce denied me my coveted Boulder Dash night rides. For better or worse, the theming around the park was comparable to past years. I thought the amount of scare actors patrolling the midway was definitely on the lighter side and this is one area where Canobie put Fright Fest to shame. I think my membership gives me a discount or free pass to the haunts, but I instead chose to maximize my Wicked Cyclone and Superman rides.

 

The lone Fright Fest activity I partook in was silently judging the six souls who donated 30 hours of their life to the coffin challenge. As miserable as that sounds, most seemed to be living the life of luxury streaming cat videos from their phone and indulging themselves in all their Six Flags culinary favorites. Though if you were just going to lie on a couch anyway, I guess you can at least get something for your laziness (with a healthy dose of public shaming).

 

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What would you do for a season pass and a chance at 0?

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I wonder how well they slept.

 

I also took great pleasure laughing at the signage on several of the park's attractions on the last day of Fright Fest. Gotham City Crime Wave was listed as temporarily closed despite being disassembled in pieces. I found that particularly interesting considering they completely dismantled the ride just this summer for a rehab. Kryptonite Kollider was also listed as temporarily closed despite missing all the seats. And Goliath was its usual fubar self with it's extended rehab sign out front. Though much to my amazement, Goliath actually opened despite the high hovering around just 50 degrees and it didn't break down for at least three hours. No clue if it lasted any longer since I departed for Lake Compounce, but I have to assume it gave patrons one final breakdown for the 2018 season.

 

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Either Six Flags can assemble rides faster than carnival workers or they have a different definition of "temporary" than me.

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Once Cyborg opens, Kryptonite Kollider can go all Goliath. It can be the ride that never operates, but has an almost identical attraction located less than 50 yards away.

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Extended rehab = not worth trying to open on the last day of the season, especially when it's 50 degrees out. Or so I thought...

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Somehow a ride with an extended rehab opened a few hours later while the temporarily closed rides were in pieces. Way to Six Flags.

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I didn't ride Flashback, but I did find it funny the park's thermos would pick that coaster and not Superman or Wicked Cyclone.

 

New England SkyScreamer was running in reverse for Fright Fest. Along with upping the thrill, I think it's a brilliant move from a comfort standpoint since it prevents the wind from blowing in your face on those bitter 40 degree nights. The park also still calls it the world's tallest. Maybe they'll take it down next year since I got a world's tallest chairswing shirt on clearance, but I could also see the park keeping it either out of laziness or grandfather status.

 

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Just ignore that huge tower in Orlando.

 

I saw a lot of posts this year that Wicked Cyclone and Superman were not running their best. However, I had no issue with them this year and both were running exceptionally well even though it was in the 40s. I forgot how fast Superman's line moved with the second train. I also forgot just how slow Wicked Cyclone's dispatches are at the beginning and end of the season.

 

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The blue train made a triumphant return.

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The front row is still the money seat on Superman.

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Wicked Cyclone breezed past that Fenway sign like the Sox breezed past the Dodgers.

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I can feel the airtime just looking at this photo.

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I don't think there's a single bit of straight track on Wicked Cyclone.

 

I only got single rides on Batman, Riddler, Joker, and Pandemonium since I will be walking onto all four at Holiday in the Park next month, but they are a nice supporting cast to the two main headliners.

 

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Batman may be the roughest coaster at the park now (and it's pretty smooth). When you can say that about a non-stand up B&M, that's a good sign for a park.

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I'm still in disbelief they added new trains on their 20 year old SLC, but I'm very grateful.

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Pandemonium donned its Zombie Coaster moniker yet again for Fright Fest.

 

Maybe I'll actually check out the haunts next year. Or then again, I may just ride Superman and Wicked Cyclone to death. I'm incredibly lucky to have those two coasters (plus Boulder Dash) just a few hours from my apartment.

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Great review of Lagoon. The park looks like it does a ton of things right and even checks all the boxes for Haunt stuff too. Love the little jabs like the Peterman comment

 

Thanks for the shout out Yeah you're not going to get better than a model toilet spinning. That's hilarious!

 

Edir: lmao that Cyclone dispatch line 10/10 A+

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Nice end of season report! I need to get back to Lake Compounce, the last time I went was like 4-5 years ago before Boulder Dash got a partial (or maybe even full) retracking and was running pretty rough. I've had smooth rides on it though, so I know it's potential!

 

Wicked Cyclone was running great when I went in June but I remember Superman seeming a little sluggish at the time. But sluggish Superman is still better than anything B&M has ever built, and honestly that park has one of the best two-best of their lineup than most parks do in the US.

 

Six Flags New England isn't immune to some of the "Six Flags"iness of the chain and there've been a number of times where I've had crappy service there at a ride or food location, but I don't think I've ever had a "bad" experience in terms of the ones I've had at other parks in the chain. I've always thought it was one of the better Six Flags parks as a whole.

 

But the "temporarily closed"/"extensive rehab" signs thing is hilarious. Like...how hard is it to just communicate with a simple sign what the ride's actual status is?

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Great review of Lagoon. The park looks like it does a ton of things right and even checks all the boxes for Haunt stuff too. Love the little jabs like the Peterman comment

 

Thanks for the shout out Yeah you're not going to get better than a model toilet spinning. That's hilarious!

 

Edir: lmao that Cyclone dispatch line 10/10 A+

 

Thanks! Lagoon really was an awesome park right down to the toilets. While SFNE has really improved their dispatch speeds over the past few years (most notably Superman), they still have some brutal ones like Wicked Cyclone. They rarely have the seatbelts checked before the other train hits the brake run and then they have to do a second pass for lap bars.

 

Nice end of season report! I need to get back to Lake Compounce, the last time I went was like 4-5 years ago before Boulder Dash got a partial (or maybe even full) retracking and was running pretty rough. I've had smooth rides on it though, so I know it's potential!

 

Wicked Cyclone was running great when I went in June but I remember Superman seeming a little sluggish at the time. But sluggish Superman is still better than anything B&M has ever built, and honestly that park has one of the best two-best of their lineup than most parks do in the US.

 

Six Flags New England isn't immune to some of the "Six Flags"iness of the chain and there've been a number of times where I've had crappy service there at a ride or food location, but I don't think I've ever had a "bad" experience in terms of the ones I've had at other parks in the chain. I've always thought it was one of the better Six Flags parks as a whole.

 

But the "temporarily closed"/"extensive rehab" signs thing is hilarious. Like...how hard is it to just communicate with a simple sign what the ride's actual status is?

 

Thanks! I'll also admit I'm a candidate for the president of the Boulder Dash fan club, so I'm much higher on Boulder Dash than most. It's definitely bumpy if you ride in a wheel seat, but it's easy to avoid and it's pure coaster nirvana in row 1.

 

Superman is a breath of fresh air since that layout does stand out compared to a lot of the B&M hypers. That being said, I'll take the best two hypers (Mako & Shambhala plus Fury if you want to count it) over it mainly because of the restraints.

 

SFNE's operations have gotten considerably better over the years. The only area with constant issues is food service (slow and employees who flat out said they didn't know how to make a burrito at Macho Nacho). The odd thing about Goliath is that they do have a temporarily closed sign specific to Goliath, but it may explicitly call out weather.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Knott’s Merry Christmas

 

When returning from Japan, I decided to visit Knott’s during a layover. HangTime and my Platinum Pass provided a compelling argument, but the competition was stiff. Therefore, with some extra reward miles and a free weekend, I booked a return trip to SoCal. The focus would be on Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and my first ever visit to Universal Hollwyood, but I had a Friday night to fill.

 

Much to my astonishment, a majority of the SoCal parks closed early on a Friday night. Disneyland was of course open until midnight, but the others closed early except for Knott’s and bizarrely Scandia (more on that later). My flight was scheduled to land just past 8 and Knott’s was scheduled to close at 10.

 

Even without any delays, I knew I’d be cutting it close. Even if LA traffic was completely non-existent, I’d also be cutting it close. I had no false delusions of touring the entire park. I am a man of simple needs. All I wanted was a single back row ride on GhostRider at night. That seemed reasonable enough.

 

But my wiener worked its magic on a female employee at American Airlines.

 

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Get your mind out of the gutter; this wasn’t an X-rated porno.

 

Anyone who read my Tokyo Disneyland report knows that I bought a Slinky Dog Hat. It is one of the best purchases I have ever made. Along with being the sexiest hat man has ever made, it had the magical ability of getting me on an earlier flight for free.

 

To pack as much as humanly possible into my carry-on, I made the bold fashion statement of wearing the goofy hat through the airport, presumably to the amusement of others. I had gotten to the airport well before my flight and an earlier one was boarding. Out of curiosity, I approached the gate and asked if there was availability. The first agent said yes, but it would be a $75 fee. Meanwhile, the second agent’s eyes were fixated on my hat.

 

Slinky gave her the puppy dog eyes. Slinky’s jedi mind trick worked. She waived the no change fee and wished me a good time at Disneyland. I wonder what told her I was going there

 

I was now slated to arrive at LAX two hours earlier. Granted it would be during prime time LA rush hour traffic, but I must have a horseshoe shoved deeper up my rear end than Nick Foles last year since the drive wasn’t bad at all. But soon enough I was rolling up to Knott’s and continued the tradition of not being able to find the parking lot. Am I an idiot or is the signage just not there?

 

Every time I have driven to Knott’s, I confusedly lap around the park 2-3 times before stumbling into the lot. This time, I failed even more spectacularly than normal. I went into the Marketplace and saw the sign for all-day parking on the left, but then kept ending up on the main road. Eventually I ended up in the Marketplace lot, which actually worked out really well. The park was only open for two more hours and I got my mother some gifts at the Snoopy store to validate the parking.

 

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Am I the only one who struggles to find the Knott's parking lot?

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Eventually I parked in the Marketplace lot and to avoid parking fees, did some Xmas shopping.

 

By this point, you probably want coasters instead of reading about wiener dogs and driving struggles. With two hours, I had enough time to lap the park. I figured I should still save GhostRider for the end, assuming it would have its usual 1.5-2 hour wait. But then I told myself maybe a Christmas miracle would happen and GhostRider would be a 20 minute wait. But I got something better. I got a Festivus miracle; GhostRider was a complete and total walk-on.

 

My original plan only had me riding GhostRider. My revised plan almost turned into me only riding GhostRider as well. Outside of West Coast Bash, how often is GhostRider ever a walk-on? I limited myself to four, but it was so hard to pry myself away. GhostRider was absolutely hauling. I swear Knott’s turns on the low friction slider at night.

 

GhostRider’s first half is all about size. You have a little air on the first drop, some floater on the two camelbacks, and some solid laterals. It’s a good start, but it’s the second half that makes GhostRider elite. The legendary fifth drop lives up to its reputation and delivers copious ejector air. That’s followed by a mix of airtime hills, lateral-heavy turns, and sometimes a combination of both.

 

GhostRider is one of the best paced coasters out there. Even some of the best coasters have dead spots. Take Phoenix’s first turnaround or the MCBR on Steel Vengeance. GhostRider simply doesn’t let up. In many ways, the ride gets wilder and wilder as it progresses. That’s another trait that I really appreciate in a roller coaster. Saving the best for last leaves a delicious taste in my mouth. 9.5 out of 10

 

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It's very disrespectful that abomination of a Nicholas Cage movie shares the same name as this beast.

 

I considered Pony Express out of spite. If you remember from my June visit, that dang ride broke down not once, not twice, but three times while I was in line. I figured the mere thought of riding Pony Express would cause the coaster to break down. Rather than test Murphy’s Law, I decided to queue up for Silver Bullet. And when I say queue up, I mean walk right onto the front row. No line at GhostRider told me I had free reign of the park.

 

Enthusiasts have a frosty view of Silver Bullet. The first drop rightfully deserves it, but the rest of the ride doesn’t. Silver Bullet is glass smooth and four of the six inversions are really good. I’ve yet to encounter a bad zero-G roll, the loop was hardly what I’d consider forceless, and the final two corkscrews are snappier than you’d think. Plus you have that leg-numbing helix at the end that will get your legs tingling like a Batman clone. 8 out of 10

 

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Silver Bullet is like puberty. By the end, it grows a pair.

 

I missed HangTime’s lighting package in my June visit. I corrected that this time. HangTime’s lighting package is an attraction in itself. Knott’s was all decked out in Christmas (sorry holiday) lights, but I think HangTime outshined even the tree. Seeing the lights dynamically change colors with the train is what a coaster enthusiast considers art.

 

As awesome as the lighting package is off-ride, it did have one major drawback on-ride. One of the most thrilling aspects about HangTime’s drop is not knowing when the plunge will occur. However, the lights change to a blood red moments before you drop. Maybe other riders aren’t as eagle eyed as me, but it sort of spoiled the anticipation much like a countdown on a drop tower.

 

For a coaster as compact as HangTime, it offers a little of everything. You have an incredible airtime laiden drop, some (you guessed it) hangtime, and a few smaller pops of air sprinkled about. In many ways, the coaster reminds me of Fahrenheit. Except HangTime has glorious lap bars. 8.5 out of 10

 

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HangTime really let me test out my new camera.

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No way my old camera could have captured this constantly changing lighting package.

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Seriously, HangTime's lighting package is better than most Christmas lights.

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Dang, my camera could even stop HangTime in its tracks.

 

Everything to this point had been a walk-on, but it was time to truly put my luck to the test with Xcelerator. Normally Xcelerator’s line isn’t bad for most rows. The exception is the front. Without question, the money seat on most launch coasters is row one. That’s particularly true on Intamin’s hydraulic launch coasters. Because of that, it’s perfectly understandable it would have a longer wait and often I am willing to wait it. Not only Xcelerator.

 

Xcelerator’s front row queue is the seventh circle of Hell. I have never seen a front row queue capable of holding that many people. From experience, the front row queue always fills up and it’s no exception with Xcelerator. I shudder to think how long a full front row queue would take, but I reckon it may be faster to drive to Magic Mountain and just ride Full Throttle.

 

But on this night, Xcelerator’s station looked something like this:

 

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No I didn't photoshop everyone out. There really was no one else in Xcelerator's front row queue.

 

The launch was strong, but it lacked the stomach dropping sensation it has given me on past visits. Maybe that only happens in the back? The rush of wind more than compensated, as did the wonderful airtime cresting the top hat. Xcelerator is over fast, much like Kareem Hunt’s Kansas City Chiefs career, but it’s a rush. 8 out of 10

 

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Not even Santa's sleigh can accelerate as fast as this hot rod.

 

What happens when it’s 55 degrees out in SoCal? In one corner, you have a New Englander wearing shorts and a rolled up sweatshirt. In the other corner, you have all the locals wearing winter coats and hats. Needless to say, the Timber Mountain Log Ride was a walk-on. In fact, the only other people riding it were a trio of employees decked out in a get-up more appropriate for skiing.

 

I sure as heck wasn’t going to skip one of the park’s best rides considering I’ll ride SFNE’s river rapids ride with temps in the 40s. And this ride is far better. The theming on this ride isn’t something you’d expect from a Cedar Fair park. It’s extremely well done. For that reason, it’s sort of a bummer the drops are nothing special. 9 out of 10

 

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Please, like 50 degree weather would stop me.

 

Sol Spin was very tempting, but I had a strong feeling it wouldn’t run a program anything like the top scan at Oktoberfest. Montezooma’s Revenge was also tempting. But time was of the essence and I needed to squeeze in one last coaster before a nightcap on GhostRider. What coaster would that be? Sierra Sidewinder.

 

I feel like it’s coaster blasphemy to pick a coaster targeted towards youngsters over a classic Schwarzkopf but that’s exactly what I did. Sierra Sidewinder is one of the best spinning coasters out there. For one, it’s extremely easy to get an out-of-control ride. Just spot car with a parent and small child and sit yourself on the same side as the parent. Then let gravity do the rest.

 

There is one part of the ride where the spinning ceases and it’s oddly the most intense part of the ride. That would be the low-to-the-ground turn. This turn may look innocent, but it has sustains Gs far longer than any family coaster has the right to do. I would love for something like this to make its way to Canobie. 8 out of 10

 

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The world needs more Mack spinners.

 

I made my way back to GhostRider and encountered my real wait of the night. I had to wait a whopping 15 minutes for the back row. I sort of wish I could have experienced the original GhostRider opening year to compare, but the coaster really is running like a dream and does everything a wooden coaster should. I just hope Knott’s doesn’t let the ride beat itself to death again.

 

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I love GhostRider so much.

 

My focus was on the rides, but it would have been impossible to miss the Christmas atmosphere fostered during Knott’s Merry Farm. It was exactly what you’d expect- lights, music, and Christmas Snoopies- but what else could you possibly want this time of year? Ok maybe fake snow since that was the focus of Universal’s marketing campaign, but I see plenty of the real stuff in New England.

 

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Did I mention it was Christmas?

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Knott's Merry Farm definitely got me in the Christmas spirit.

 

It was an abridged version of Knott’s. Really I would have been happy riding just GhostRider, but I wasn’t going to shoot a gift horse in the mouth and neglect the park’s steel coasters. Knott’s makes a strong case for Cedar Fair’s second best park. It has a really strong coaster lineup plus easily the best theming of the entire chain. There’s just something about the atmosphere at Knott’s.

 

My condensed schedule also had another casualty, the Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Restaurant. It felt criminal to omit the mouth-wateringly delicious fried chicken. Because of this, I had to explore food options outside the park. And I’ll begin the report exactly where it started…with wieners. I ended up eating at Portillo’s. That very well may have been the best hot dog I’ve ever had and one of the best logos too.

 

I have a problem.

 

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Do you think I picked this place for A) positive Yelp reviews, B) convenience, or C) the wiener dog logo?

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