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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Kemah Boardwalk- Boardwalk Bullet is running like a dream

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Eiffel Tower

 

Do you think I’d visit France and not go to one of the world’s most iconic structures? My family sure did. Well I proved them wrong and went to the Eiffel Tower.

 

Even though I had a car, there was no way in hell I was going to drive into Paris. Fortunately Disneyland Paris has a train station right there and it was an easy hour ride with just one transfer. I think it would have taken the same amount of time to drive, but the train was cheaper and far less stressful.

 

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It's the supersized version of Kings Island's tower!

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She is a beauty.

 

If you read reviews online, many will note queue times longer than Flight of Passage. If you plan ahead, you can pre-book a time online. Instead of waiting in a cattle pen to purchase tickets, you walk right through security.

 

I had a bit of a brain fart when I purchased my ticket. I wanted to ascend the tower at sunset, so I eagerly booked a 22:30 time slot. Shortly after buying my non-refundable ticket, I realized I made a mistake converting from military time. Whoops.

 

While I missed out on sunset views, the twilight views were spectacular. Paris is called the city of lights and I can certainly see why. It was quite magical to be on the open-air skydeck that late at night. Some thought it was magical enough for a $25 shot of wine, but I wouldn’t go that far.

 

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Greetings from 900 feet in the air.

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Arch de Triumph

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Some government buildings.

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Trocadero

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I love how the spotlight scans the city.

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I spy with my little eye an amusement park or carnival in the top right. Any idea which park that is?

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The top also has a replica of Gustave Eiffel's old office.

 

At the top of every hour, the Eiffel Tower has a bedazzling light show. Unfortunately I was not able to see it from ground level, but it was quite interesting to see from atop the tower.

 

If you are claustrophobic, I would advise against going to the summit. The elevators are a mosh pit. You better hope your neighbor put on deodorant because you will be intimately packaged together like a Chipotle burrito.

 

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Yes that's a statue on the side of the elevator.

 

If that sounds so unpleasant that you don’t want to take in the gorgeous views, there is one alternative. They do offer stairs to the first level, which is still almost as tall as Magnum XL-200. This climb will make you yearn for your typical 50 foot tall water slide tower.

 

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It looks like a kaleidoscope.

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Maybe the stairs weren't such a good idea...

 

I was originally going to visit Notre Dame, but that plan went up in flames. So the Eiffel Tower ended up being the lone touristy thing I did in Paris. And it was well worth it. The views were breathtaking.

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Nigloland

 

Nigloland was the surprise hit of my France trip. I was questioning its inclusion since it was a a 5.5 hour roundtrip drive from Disneyland Paris, but I was intrigued by Mack’s take on a mega-lite. Alpina Blitz was great, but I discovered the park was much more than just that one ride.

 

One, it was gorgeous. European parks seem to place a greater emphasis on landscaping and Nigloland is no exception. Everywhere I looked, I saw trees, gardens, and fountains. I’m pretty sure you could visit this park just to enjoy the atmosphere.

 

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Holy moly, this park is a beauty.

 

Two, it had an undeniable charm. Rides were whimsical. Stations were themed. And employee uniforms were themed individually to the ride; the latter was the most surprising since that’s usually only a touch seen at major theme parks like Disney.

 

Take Alpina Blitz for example. The station is themed to a ski lodge and the employee donned traditional Bavarian attire.

 

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What a beautiful station.

 

I also need to give Nigloland credit for one of the most efficient loading systems I have ever seen. The turnstile is automated to only allow for enough guests to fill the train. And it can be adjusted dynamically to accommodate for exit passes. A few other rides like their drop tower also used this system.

 

Their storage bins are way more advanced than I’d expect from a small park. If you’ve been on Flying Dinosaur, little ole Nigloland has the same system. Loose articles go in the front door and you retrieve them from the back door. This means there’s no cluster of exiting and boarding guests.

 

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In one side, out the other. Maximum efficiency.

 

My first ride was in the front row and it was enjoyable. Like most Macks, it was glossy smooth. And almost every hill gave some nice floater air. But at no point did I feel like the ride was completely out-of-control. But then I rode in the back row and refused to ride anywhere else.

 

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Note that sign above the back row. That's a sign for enthusiasts saying "ride here".

 

To put in perspective how much wilder the back row is, it has an additional height requirement of 1.5 m (or ~ 60 inches). The added intensity was apparent from the start as the first drop tried to launch me back to Paris. That was followed by a low-to-the-ground turn that had me seeing grey on each ride.

 

The next hill was the slowest, but it still provided a mix of floater air and laterals. That’s followed by a sizable camelback with strong floater. But that’s it for the floater air. The rest of the ride is ejector.

 

Like the Intamin versions, the s-hills were the most intense part of the ride. It was a cocktail of ejector pops and wicked laterals. The finale then reverted back to straight airtime hills. These final three hills delivered something in between floater and ejector in copious amounts.

 

I’m sure many of you are wondering if Alpina Blitz is better than an Intamin Mega Lite. But I’m not the right person to answer it. I’ve only ridden Kawasemi, but I know it wasn’t running to its fullest potential. Tobu Zoo was so empty that it basically only ran when myself and one other TPR member rode it.

 

So from my experience, I do prefer Alpina Blitz. That may change the next time I ride a Mega Lite, but one thing cannot be debated; Alpina Blitz is a super reridable airtime machine. 9 out of 10

 

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Nigloland's signature attraction delivers.

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What a great first drop!

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The second hill was reminiscent of that top hat thing on Blue Fire.

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Airtime.

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And more airtime.

 

The park’s other notable coaster is Spatiale Experience. Essentially, it’s a space-themed version of Europa Park’s Eurosat, right down to the long spiral lift. Like Alpina Blitz, this one had a clear best seat. Except this time, it was the front row.

 

The laterals on this thing are borderline violent. The turns themselves are super tight, but it’s made even more intense by the fact they’re taken in the dark (outside of some blacklit cutouts). Picture that final turn on Disneyland’s Space Mountain repeated a few times.

 

If you’re looking for drops, Spatiale Experience isn’t for you. But if you’re a fan of laterals, this coaster is for you. 7 out of 10

 

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1, spiral lift hill!

 

Speaking of whimsical rides, look no further than Apple Flight. The park took what would otherwise be a non-descript wave swinger and replaced the wicker basket seats with apples. Yes it’s slow, but it’s zany. 5 out of 10

 

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I never knew apples could fly.

 

By this point, I realized Nigloland was more than just a credit stop. I made it a mission to try smaller rides too. One of which was Ferme D’Antonin. Google thinks that translates to Ant Farm, but I’ll just call it the tractor ride.

 

Nigloland has 3-4 different track-guided car rides, but this was the best. First, you ride in tractors. They have the big wheels and everything. Plus the course takes you through a well-themed farm with all sorts of props. Honestly this felt more like a dark ride than a car ride. 8 out of 10

 

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This isn't your average antique car ride. It has a farm...

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and tractors!

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There are goats too.

 

It was then back to the coasters. Schlitt’ Express is the park’s wild mouse. The big drop gave a pop of air, but the rest of the ride was tame and overbraked. 4 out of 10

 

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What's in the shed?

 

Usually wacky worms are nothing more than credits and a source of shame for coaster enthusiasts. Since it was pouring, I was the only one dumb enough to ride Chenille. As the operator decided to wait for more riders, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity and sadness of the situation.

 

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Now this is why I came to France.

 

In the blink of an eye, the rain stopped and moments later we had a full train. As the operator checked restraints, mine didn’t lock. Was I too big or was it broken? The operator just told me to hold the lap bar down and dispatched the train. It felt like Camden Park all over again.

 

The first lap was uneventful. The only oddity was that the trimless “big” drop. No airtime, but we were now cruising at a respectable speed. The train then roared through the station unbraked. Something was missing- the brakes. Then the magic happened.

 

Airtime. Honest-to-god airtime on a wacky worm.

 

The unexpectedness of the air caused me to let go my lap bar and it rocketed back to its upmost position. I instinctively pulled it back down and was plastered to the side of the train for the pre-lift turn. WTF was that?

 

The second lap acted like nothing had ever happened and then the ride came to a full stop. But I was still in shock. Maybe it was the rain. Maybe it was a one-time occurance that my lap bar wouldn’t lock. But I will always remember the time a wacky worm genuinely terrified me. 6 out of 10

 

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That's *the* drop.

 

Straddled with wacky worm PTSD, I boarded the Herissons de la Foret Magique. It was an adorable track-guided ride with a few show scenes. There were some bunny hills (don’t get excited, it’s powered) too for good measure. 7 out of 10

 

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It's Elissa's favorite ride.

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Not only is the ride cute, but it has dark ride scenes too.

 

As often as I’ve visited Cedar Fair parks, I’ve never done Dinosaurs Alive. Even if it were free, I’d skip it in favor of the coasters. But at a small park like Nigloland, I decided to try Dinosaures Aventure. The Jurassic Park theme music and entrance was too much to pass up.

 

As someone who doesn’t speak French, the preshow and information plaques were lost on me. The walkthrough reminded me of an old exhibit at my local zoo. It consisted of 5 or so minimally animated dinosaurs. 4 out of 10

 

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Jurassic Park?

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John Hammond?

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I feel like this has to be from some dino movie.

 

I took a lap on Air Meeting, the Gerstlauer sky roller. I used to own these things. In 2017, I was regularly getting 30-50 flips on these things. But this one kicked my keister. I really had to work for my flips.

 

Eventually I got the all-important first flip. Usually this leads to a rapid-fire barrage of inversions. On this one, my momentum only gave me 2-3 flips before I’d have to work for more. After the third time this happened, I slowed down before giving myself a hernia.

 

Either I’ve lost something or the two I’ve ridden lately in Dubai and Nigloland have more resistance to them. 7 out of 10

 

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Ready to take flight?

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This ride is a serious workout.

 

Manoir Hante was one of the most bizarre haunted houses I’ve ever experienced. From a theming standpoint, it’s well done. The park rips off Disney’s Haunted Mansion, hitchhiking ghost and all. But it has one weird inclusion- spinning.

 

Now I’m a fan of spinning rides. I’m that blur you see on the tea cups. However, I was perplexed why it was added to this haunted house. The second half has a non-stop, controlled spin, but it didn’t really add anything. It just made it harder to appreciate the ride’s scenes. 6 out of 10

 

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Oh my god, I found it. The one, the only...

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Bench the Ride!

 

Speaking of Disney ripoffs, the best is the Africa Cruise. Nigoland basically took the Jungle Cruise and cutout the tour guide. As a fan of dry humor, that part stung, but I was impressed by the scenes. How could I not love a hippo pissing towards the boat? 8 out of 10

 

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I feel like I've seen this before.

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This too.

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What a beautiful picture...wait is that?

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Yes a pissing hippo.

 

Donjon de L’Extreme is undoubtedly the park’s most intense ride. It’s surprising to see a drop tower this colossal (300+ feet!) at such a small park, but I certainly appreciated it. It’s another Funtime tower, so it’s a jumbo Drop Line.

 

The long pause at the top allowed me to appreciate the vast nothingness around Nigloland. That made the wooded setting of Nigloland even more impressive. But as expected, the drop stole the show. No air, but my stomach dropped on the initial descent and it was a long drop. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Now this is one dungeon I can get behind.

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Some may consider being lifted 300 feet up as torture. Not me.

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Here's the ride sign for good measure.

 

The last credit was Train de la Mine, a Mack powered coaster. The ride doesn’t have any drops, but it holds its speed, has numerous near-misses with the flume, and even has a few tunnels. 5 out of 10

 

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Identity crisis the ride. The station says Gold Mine Train, but the website says Train de la Mine.

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Speaking of that log flume, Riviere Canadienne was short but sweet. The wooded setting is peaceful, only to be interrupted by the screams of the powered coaster overhead. The final drop wasn’t anything to write home about, but it did offer the perfect wetness. 6 out of 10

 

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Canada, eh?

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I thought the rivers in Canada froze?

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For Larry.

 

Nigoland also has a disko coaster, so I made sure to take a lap on Grizzli. This was your average disko coaster and that’s fine by me. The hump in the middle makes all the difference compared to the standard model, as the whip is quite pronounced. 7 out of 10

 

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I don't need a translation for this one.

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Clearly Grizzli means "horrible wooden roller coaster"

 

Before concluding the night with an Alpina Blitz marathon, I grabbed a batch of fries. And let me tell you, they were delicious. Piping hot, perfectly salty, and a massive portion. It checked all the boxes for me.

 

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I had to be careful not to spill any fries; they filled it up that much.

 

I spent the last 45 minutes reriding Alpina Blitz. In total, I think I got 10-11 rides on the coaster. It was never more than a one train wait and I never deviated from the back car. This is the type of coaster I’d love to see more US parks add.

 

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It’s not a record-breaker, but it’s just pure fun.

 

Nigoland closes the rides a half hour before the park itself, so I had some extra time to appreciate the park’s beauty. And eventually that led me to the park’s carousel museum. Apparently, it’s a new addition for 2019. While I wouldn’t quite call it a full museum, it’s certainly something.

 

They decorated the perimeter of their carousel pavilion with all sorts of props (old horses, band organ) and displays of old rides. If you like the miniatures in the Cedar Point Museum, you’ll love this little exhibit at Nigloland.

 

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Beautiful pavilion.

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Beautiful ride.

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And beautiful models.

 

Ultimately, I loved almost everything about Nigloland. Despite the intermittent cruddy weather, the park’s beauty was always apparent. And the ride had a great mix of rides. You had the major thrills in Alpina Blitz and Donjon plus some odd family rides ranging from charming to goofy.

 

The lone downside with Nigloland was the layout. The park consists of two dead-ends. That alone doesn’t bother me. Some parks simply are too spread out to be connected. I get that. What I find odd with Nigloland is that the two dead-ends are mere feet apart yet they aren’t connected.

 

Again it's a minor thing and I hope one day they can complete the loop.

 

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Spatiale Experience and Grizzli are a 15-20 minute walk apart. (Map from Nigloland site)

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In reality, the two rides are mere feet apart.

 

And I’ve since read online the park is adding some sort of launched kiddie coaster from ABC rides next year. I guess the park wants to one-up their wacky worm. If I only have two days in Paris, I’m spending it at Disneyland and Asterix. But if I have a third day, I’m going to Nigloland.

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Great reports and pictures of Paris. Both of those parks always seem to slip my mind, especially all of the newer coasters at Parc Asterix like OzIris! Glad you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for sharing!

 

Thanks! I feel like Asterix is going to get a lot more attention from enthusiasts once that crazy Intamin opens. But that park is already great so it's just gravy.

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"Canadien" and "Canadienne"......? So the entry sign is male, and the river ride is female.

 

And Nigloland looks great! Thanks for sharing your visit there.

 

And you can never have too many fries.

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Great report on the Paris region parks including the lesser known ones. Parc Asterix has been on my radar and once that new Intamin opens I'll have to visit it on my next Paris trip. Niglioland looks like an unexpected surprise (in a good way) so I may have to consider that one too. Your hotel room in Hotel Cheyenne looks nicer than the room I stayed at the Sequoia Lodge which is supposed to be a moderate resort. Honestly, I was not impressed with Disney's Sequoia Lodge and I thought the rooms and the interiors of the buildings (besides the main lodge) were very basic. The grounds were nice (like a college campus) and the indoor pool was very nice but that was it. Having been to Disneyland Paris for two days in 2017, I would probably just stay in the city next time I'm in Paris and do a day trip to DLP and hop both parks in one day. I need to eventually get on their Indiana Jones since it was closed when I went there.

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^ Thanks! I'm not sure if Cheyenne had a pool, so maybe that's one advantage of the Sequoia Lodge? If I go back to Disneyland Paris, I'd definitely stay at Cheyenne again. You aren't missing much with their Indiana Jones if you've been on Raging Spirits. Picture Raging Spirits but rougher.

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Parc Saint Paul

 

Parc Saint Paul was one of those parks where I was genuinely terrified my GPS led me the wrong way. Even when I was 1 minute from my destination, I saw no signs of a park. No rides visible, no signage, nothing, nada, zip. But in Google Maps I trust and it found this park beyond the endless farmland.

 

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I made it.

 

I could have easily spent a half day at Parc Saint Paul, but I only had 2 hours. With an afternoon flight, it was the only way to squeeze the park in without sacrificing time at the other parks. Ultimately I was ok with that since my priorities were Wood Express and the two Pax coasters. Anything else would be gravy.

 

Thankfully lines were on my side. I only waited in two all day- Wood Express and security. The latter was actually the fault of guests. To be a guard at this park, I think you must be a minimum of 90 inches. No that's not a typo. The guards are taller than NBA players! So not surprisingly, guests posed for pictures.

 

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The security guards are basically the Kingda Ka equivalent for human beings.

 

I started with gravy. En route to the main course, the wacky worm was loading. I couldn't say no to those big googly eyes. I was optimistic this one would be as surprising as the one at Nigloland, but Pomme wasn't close. This one actually had working lap bars and brakes. 2 out of 10

 

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This wasn't even the saddest credit at the park. More on that in a bit.

 

I popped my Pax virginity with Wild Train. Before RMC took the coaster community by storm with transitions so effed up that they're awesome, there was Pax. When I originally booked this trip, I wasn't expecting Wild Train to be anything more than a lawn ornament since it was SBNO all last year. But it reopened this year much to my delight.

 

The first drop was certainly wild. It was steeper than you'd think and very reminiscent of Skull Mountain's. While the rest of the ride never came close to replicating that level of airtime, the subsequent turnarounds had solid laterals and the final two hills had some decent floater air. It may look like a family coaster, but it sure doesn't ride like one (as long as you ride in the back). 7 out of 10

 

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Wild Train is appropriately named.

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Are we sure Alan Schilke didn't originally work for Pax?

 

The other Pax coaster is best described as the child of a wild mouse that gets drunk with a RMC. Formule 1 is the living embodiment ot Pax and I'd really like to know what they were thinking when they designed this contraption. It just doesn't look right.

 

It begins with what may be the steepest non-vertical lift in existence. The first drop didn't do much, but the second drop had a good pop of air. But it's easy to forget about this part because of the third drop. Holy Schilke is that drop crazy. It was El Toro Rolling Thunder hill levels of airtime.

 

But it's far from a one-trick pony as that's followed by a screwed up double up. Most double-ups aren't overly steep. This one has like a 60 degree angle of ascent. This creates some wild airtime on the first part and a gentle pop at the top. The fun then continues with the outward banked turns. These are taken so slowly that you are pinned to the side of the car.

 

Then it's back to the airtime. You have a strong pop off the hairpin turns and then a little hill with sustained ejector air. It's the perfect finale to one heck of a bizarre coaster. This is undoubtedly the best wild mouse because of its raw, untamed nature. 8 out of 10

 

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Note the outward banking on the hairpin turns.

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This drop is absolutely bonkers.

 

There aren't many reports from Parc Saint Paul, but the few out there all mentioned Wood Express opening late. With limited time, this was a big concern of mine. Prior to my visit, I messaged the park and they assured me the coaster would open with the park. This was a half-truth.

 

The coaster was running; however, not to regular guests. A lucky group seemed to be having ERT on it. Everyone else was held back at the entrance while the same group kept reriding it over and over. Having an ERT session during normal park hours was odd, but something I understand. I just find it hard to believe that the park didn't know about it the day before when I contacted them.

 

This was certainly a complication.

 

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I did not plan for an ERT session.

 

I doubled back to ride the spinning mouse, Souris Verte. This one was heavily braked, but I got some great spinning thanks to a solo ride. I even got a good pop of air on the final bunny hill. 5 out of 10

 

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This was slow as molasses, but it sure did spin.

 

After the Dinosaurs Alive ripoff at Nigloland, I found a Jurassic Park River Adventure ripoff at Parc Saint Paul. Dino Splash was a fairly compact log flume decked out with a dozen dino statues and extensive rock work. It was far more than I expected from a small park.

 

The first drop was a double down with a surpirse pop of air. That seems to be the theme with Parc Saint Paul. The final drop wasn't anything special, but it did do something. It sent a Jurassic sized wall of water into the boat and got me soaked. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Dinos + log flume? Yes please!

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Oddly enough, this is more soaking than the Jurassic Park River Adventure.

 

It also looks like the park is extending the dino theme as well to the nearby Disko coaster currently under construction.

 

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Ah the track jump, a Roller Coaster Tycoon staple.

 

At this point I saw Wood Express had new riders, so I made my way over there. I think a quarter of the park did the same as it boasted an astronomical (by this park's standards) 15-20 minute wait. I was only able to ride it twice for this reason- once in the front and once in the back.

 

Wood Express is a mix of taller camelbacks (taller being 25-30 feet tall) with floater air and little speed hills with ejector pops. Every single hill on the ride delivered some sort of airtime. The frenetic nature of the ride makes it feel way faster than it actually is.

 

These Gravity Group compact woodies are airtime machines. This one doesn't have the brute intensity of Mine Blower, but it compares favorably to Roar-o-Saurus. 8.5 out of 10

 

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These mini woodies are Gravity Group's niche.

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I don't think there's a single hill without airtime.

 

Wood Express's line grew further, so I decided to finish my visit by completing the loop around the park. This led me to the Chateau Hante walkthrough. I was expecting some type of ride, but instead I found a walkthrough.

 

There were no scare actors, but there were a dozen scenes. About a quarter of them had terrifyingly loud jump scares. I'm not sure if they were all supposed to activate, but not knowing whether or not they would made it scarier. 6 out of 10

 

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Europe sure does love their haunted walkthroughs.

 

I've seen the next ride listed as a coaster on some sites, but I think that's a stretch. Telepheriques looks like an elongated version of a swing you'd find at the local playground. It was a 100% unmanned, do-it-yourself attraction you'd never find back in the US and it was deceptively dizzying.

 

The ride never travels faster than 5 mph. If you lean forwards, you can pull yourself forwards a bit faster. Because you're literally on a circular disk attached to a rope, this will cause you to spin like a top. I bet you can guess what I did. 6 out of 10

 

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WTF is this dizzying contraption?

 

I also tried this weird looking volcano slide (Escala'Gliss) I often see in Toverland TRs. Those with big feet may have an advantage elsewhere, but they're SOL trying to climb this thing. The footholds and handholds are fit for an elf. I went with the ninja warrior approach and tried to run up but failed miserably. Still it was fun to try since this is another never in America attraction.

 

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I failed spectacularly trying to climb this and went booty over tea kettle.

 

I also made sure to ride this sad, sad kiddie coaster. I figured I'd be the only adult without a kid shamefully riding this coaster. However, due to a full train, I had to share my seat with another adult who interestingly also did not have a child. I suspect he may have been with the group riding Wood Express in the morning. Just a hunch. 1 out of 10

 

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I see what they did there with the name.

 

On the way out, I grabbed a quick lap on Aerotrain, the park's roller skater. This one has a custom layout since it was relocated from an indoor park, but ultimately I think I prefer the more compact original. This one had a little yank on the first drop, but did nothing else of interest. 3 out of 10

 

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Look at that terrifying first drop.

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Fun fact, this coaster used to exist in a mall.

 

It was definitely tempting to squeeze in an extra reride or two on Wood Express or Formule 1, but I would have missed my flight. I arrived at the airport 3 hours in advance, but that still almost wasn't enough time. It was one wait after another (returning the car, check-in, passport control, security). I had longer lines there than at Disneyland.

 

Parc Saint Paul is an interesting park. For a smaller park, it has a boatload of coasters. But beyond that, it has a nice wooded setting and an undeniable charm. Next time in Paris, I'll try to give this park the half day it deserves.

 

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Parc Saint Paul was really nice!

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I mean, they have a dude in an outhouse that spits at you. What's not to love?

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We really enjoyed our visit to Parc Saint Paul many years ago! Glad to see it's just as screwed up as always and even expanding!

 

You can see some POV's of the crazy PAX rides here:

 

Wild Train

 

 

 

Formule 1

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Lake Compounce

 

Lake Compounce is a park for which I feel obliged to buy a season pass. There are four reasons for this.

 

1) Boulder Dash

2) Proximity

3) Season passes are a decent value

4) Single day tickets are so laughably overpriced.

 

As we approached the main entrance, I laid eyes on the new-for-2019 addition, metal detectors. Honestly, I’m not surprised by this since they were the largest park in the region without them.

 

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I'm really interested to see what happens at the Haunted Graveyard since they usually fill this tunnel with fog. I doubt they'd do that now with metal detectors there.

 

We only gave ourselves a half day at the park, which we figured was plenty of time to hit the water rides, Phobia, and Boulder Dash. Lake Compounce helped us out since the water rides and Phobia were closed for the day.

 

Usually the water rides are open in May, but it wasn’t too surprising considering the chilly weather. Phobia’s closure was a shock. The train wasn’t even on the track, so I’m not sure if it has even operated yet this year.

 

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Silver lining, at least it wasn't Boulder Dash.

 

Well onto Boulder Dash then. In total, we got 9 rides, 7 of which were in the front row. This is the de facto seat to experience Boulder Dash. Not only is it by far the smoothest row, but the airtime is the strongest and the rush of wind is pure bliss.

 

Going into my visit, I knew Boulder Dash wouldn’t be at full force. It never is this early in the season. The ride hits its stride in summer and kicks it into overdrive for the Haunted Graveyard. But I have to say- this is the fastest I’ve seen it run this early in the year.

 

My gauge is the boulder hill and that hill was delivering sustained floater air. The rest of the outward leg is a blitzkrieg of powerful laterals, pops of ejector air, and mild floater air. And this is all while carving through a wooded mountainside.

 

But the highlight is the return leg. It’s 8-9 consecutive hills taken at a furious clip; each delivering great floater air. With how well it was running in May, I can’t wait to see how fast it’s running later this year. 10 out of 10

 

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Boulder Dash was running way better than usual this early in the season.

 

I remember thinking it was weird that Galaxyland’s Space Shot had seatbelts. I came to find out SFNE added seatbelts to their S&S drop tower and low and behold, Down Time had seatbelts too. Is this a new thing from S&S?

 

The seatbelts were exceptionally awkward to buckle due to the minimal clearance with the armrests, but they do not impact the ride experience one bit. Down Time is one of the strongest S&S towers- it has great views, a strong drop, and some sound effects. 8 out of 10

 

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SFNE's Goliath should take this name.

 

It still feels weird to me that a park as small as Lake Compounce has a full-size screamin’ swing, but I don’t question it. I got a rare ride with a looser-than-usual lap bar, so the airtime was great. The cycle was not, but that’s the norm for all screamin’ swings. 7 out of 10

 

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I love the fake operator/weatherman.

 

Lake Compounce isn’t a park known for capacity. The coasters all run one train. I think Boulder Dash is the only one that *can* run two trains, but seeing it run two trains is rarer than it is for a park to have a transfer track collision.

 

Even the non-coaster rides have pitiful capacities. Take the flume, dark ride, and car ride for example. I think they usually run just 3-4 cars each. But we decided to ride the Giant wheel. Lake Compounce couldn’t possibly neuter the capacity of a Ferris wheel, could they?

 

 

We ended up waiting a half hour. There were just 8 groups ahead of us, but they decided to only use 4 of the possible 20 gondolas. At least the ride offered some nice aerial views of Boulder Dash. 6 out of 10

 

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It also would have given some neat action shots of Phobia, but you know...

 

My season pass included a one-time $20 meal voucher, so we ordered a feast from Pink’s. While I wouldn’t prioritize the famous hot dog stand on a trip to LA, it’s great for theme park food. I strongly recommend the steak and cheese hot dog.

 

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We concluded the day with additional rerides on Boulder Dash. After our front row ride on what we thought was the second-to-last train of the day, the park allowed us to reride in an empty row 5. The airtime was still strong, but it was a bit bumpier than the front.

 

When we returned to the station, there were three stragglers. Sweet were we going to get an extra ride? Yes! There was just one oddity. You think it someone had an entire station to themselves, they’d probably pick the front. Nope, they wanted rows 5 and 6.

 

Fortunately there was one row remaining, row 10. For those keeping score at home, yes that was a wheel seat. I guess we’ll see how it’s running. The laterals were even stronger towards the back of the train, particularly on the first drop.

 

There was some bad jackhammering on the first and far turns. It felt like my Volkswagen when it blew out a tire on the highway. Otherwise, I thought it tracked just fine. Admittedly, I have a higher tolerance for rough rides than most. My girlfriend did not share the same sentiments if you want a second opinion.

 

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This is one of the best coaster settings anywhere.

 

If you’re visiting from a distance, prioritize a visit when the park has a late close. Boulder Dash at night is a life-changing experience. Your best bet for this is the Haunted Graveyard (especially since their haunt is exceptional), but they also have some late closes on summer Saturdays.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Cedar Point

 

Once Yukon Striker was announced, I long targeted Memorial Day weekend for a trip to Niagara Falls. My girlfriend and I planned a weekend of Canada’s Wonderland, waterfalls, gloriously tacky tourist traps, Tim Horton’s, and (at my request) the last of its kind Bailey Auto Sled.

 

I was intrigued by Pipeline Express at Wild Water and Wheels. It looked like a death trap bred from the illegitimate relationship between a mountain coaster and an alpine slide. It looked too screwed up to skip. I figured time was running out for the coaster, so it was time to make it a priority…until the park announced its closure one week before our trip.

 

But don’t worry, we made a last second fallback plan. The smart decision would have been to just spend an extra day at Niagara Falls. The stupid and fun decision was to drive an extra four hours to America’s Roller Coast. Care to guess what we picked?

 

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Of course I had a bug in my beard.

 

With each visit to Cedar Point, I've downgraded my hotel. First it was Castaway. Next it was Breakers Express. Last year, I had a luxurious four night stay at the most Econo Lodge of Econo Lodges. But this time, I used rewards points on Hotels.com for Hotel Breakers.

 

I figured the convenience would be unmatched. And I was correct. What I wasn't expecting was for my “basic room” to be a four room suite with a beach view and a jacuzzi.

 

However, I realized I made a mistake. The room was so nice my girlfriend wanted to stay there for the day. But eventually we made it to the park for the second half of early entry.

 

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Does a view at Hotel Breakers mean you get a park view?

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Or a beach view?

 

Steel Vengeance decided to sleep in, so we went to Maverick for early entry. I commonly refer to Mack launch coasters as jacks-of-all trades. Maverick was the original jack-of-all trades. It's a relentless smorgasbord of forces- crazy ejector air, wild laterals, graceful inversions, and one heck of a launch.

 

I was shocked and slightly disappointed my girlfriend didn't get the full Cedar Point experience where your face turns into a human fly swatter, but that happened later. Maverick does a little of everything and it does everything well. 9.5 out of 10[/]

 

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The inversions are the most unremarkable part of the ride. And they're still quite good.

 

We made it to Millennium just before park opening and cruised through the queue to find only a 4 train wait for the front. That’s the only place to ride this if you ask me. The sense of speed whooshing through Millennium Island is incredible.

 

I know this ride is often called overrated, but it’s perfect to me. You have an epic drop, a very forceful overbank, and 3-4 good moments of very un-Intamin like floater air. And this is without losing an ounce of speed. I always hit the brake run with a big bug-eaging grin over my face. 10 out of 10

 

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Millennium Force > I305. Come at me.

 

I gave my token ride to Rougarou on the way by. At any other park, this would be a standout ride. At Cedar Point, it's just another coaster I hit about once a trip.

 

Rougarou is a decently forceful floorless with an odd layout, particularly the inclined loop and the second half. However, my girlfriend hated everything about it. I found the ride smooth outside of 1-2 transitions, but she was on the shorter side and lost a battle with the OSTR. 7 out of 10

 

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Easily my favorite part of the ride.

 

My girlfriend was both excited and terrified to try Top Thrill Dragster. She likes coasters, but her greatest fear is being evacuated from one. So like any good boyfriend I assured her that wouldn't happen here. I mean the worst that could happen was a rollback or that we get stuck atop the tower and some maintenance guy will push us over.

 

I don't usually buy on-ride photos, but this one was too good to pass up. We took our first ride in row one and the launch is lunacy. It styled my hair like Elvis and as for my girlfriend's reaction, I'll let the photo speak for itself.

 

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I swear she liked it.

 

Much to my surprise, she loved it! In fact, it was her favorite ride of the trip. Top Thrill Dragster may be short, but it's a true adrenaline rush. You have that incredible launch, a breathtaking view plus airtime at the top, and crazy laterals on the drop. 8.5 out of 10

 

Usually Dragster is a one and done for me. I love the ride. I really do. But I stop trying after my first ride considering all the reasons it can go down- rain, wind, mechanical, curse of the Intamin cable, etc. This time that wasn't an option since it was her favorite ride. However, we hit the coaster jackpot. Dragster refused to go down all day.

 

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Turns out my girlfriend is a speed demon.

 

I had a suspicion Emily wouldn't appreciate the triangular airtime hills of Magnum and I was correct. I heard Magnum added some padding to the lap bars, but it had barely any effect. The airtime on the return leg is simply too strong and cannot be contained. I personally love the insanity of this airtime.

 

Magnum is a stark contrast to the other hypers out there. The transitions are rough around the edges, but the brute force of the airtime keeps me coming back for more. Just make sure you keep that seatbelt tight! 8.5 out of 10

 

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Shot courtesy of my hotel. Breakers is seriously awesome!

 

By this point, we saw Steel Vengeance cycling. And I'm guessing the rest of the park did too since the FastLane queue was about 40 minutes. The smart thing would have been to come back later, but I couldn't hold off riding my favorite steel coaster any longer.

 

I was intrigued to see how the metal detectors would impact dispatches. The good news is that they do not! They set the metal detectors up at the base of the stairs in both the regular and FastLane queues. Guests with no metal are given a green stamp. Guests with metal (phone, keys, etc) get a red stamp and need to place those items in a zippered pouch by their feet during the ride. I commend Cedar Point for testing an alternative where I can keep my phone in line.

 

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I couldn't get this shot last year.

 

The bad news is that dispatches are still glacial. Yes they have the third train now, they were double stacking most of the day. The hang-up wasn’t the pouches. It just seems the process to lift the heavy RMC restraints and check the belts/restraints is quite tedious. The employees got into a rythym at night and got the regular queue under 30 minutes, so I hope that's a sign of good things to come.

 

In terms of the coaster, it was running even better than my rides in 2018. The first half was the same, a blitzkrieg of ejector pops, sustained ejector airtime, and hangtime. It's everything RMC does well on a much larger and grander scale. Those two camelbacks in particular are the standouts to me. The power and duration of the airtime is only matched by coasters like El Toro and Expedition GeForce.

 

Since it was a cooler day, the MCBR was off. This meant the train absolutely hauled through the second half. Not that Steel Vengeance doesn't already haul, but some elements felt distinctly different. The drop off the MCBR now offered powerful ejector air. And the barrell rolls transformed into whippy, lateral-heavy elements. The rest of the airtime felt no different- aka it felt like I was riding a bull hell bent on launching me into orbit. 10 out of 10

 

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Also new for 2019 at Steel Vengeance is this Golden Ticket sign.

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This drop is seriously underrated. I think the rest of the ride overshadows it, but it's one of the best parts for me.

 

By this point, we realized we hadn't set foot in the front of the park. You know a park is stacked when you could ignore half the park and still have enough for an entire day. I wasn't sure which B&M we'd start with, so my girlfriend made it easy and picked the Monster Jam Thunder Alley attraction.

 

The capacity of this temporary attraction was dreadful. The main queue hovered around 60-90 minutes all day. It did have a single rider line and we were seated together after the grouper couldn’t find a party of two in the regular line.

 

Now I’m going to be frank, we hated this ride. Car geeks will have an orgy riding a monster truck and the kids were cheering the entire ride. But both my girlfriend and I found it to be a the perfect recipe for car sickness- a slow, bumpy ride in a piping hot vehicle. 2 out of 10

 

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I guess we can say we've now ridden a monster truck at least.

 

We then rewarded ourselves with a graceful and glass smooth flight on Valravn. I noticed on this visit that Cedar Point was assigning rows on most of their major coasters. And most rides honored seating requests. The lone exception was Valravn, as we were directed to the back row.

 

The popular opinion seems to be to bash the B&M vest restraints on dive coasters. While I do prefer the old restraints on this type of coaster, the difference isn't so severe that it completely ruins a coaster. You still get plenty of airtime on both major drops. And until Yukon Striker opened, I think Valravn had the best layout of the dive coasters. The hangtime in that zero-G roll is pure bliss. 8 out of 10

 

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Check out the (less photographed) 90 degree drop.

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Airtime? Maybe?

 

Up next was Blue Streak, one of my guilty pleasures at Cedar Point. Why is it that no one talks about this coaster? Yes it's dwarfed by everything else in this park, but it has great pops of air on every single hill. I feel like if Blue Streak were at a smaller park, it would receive a lot more attention. 8 out of 10

 

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Blue Streak is an airtime buffet.

 

Emily decided to sit Raptor out (Afterburn made her queasy and she was still recovering from Monster Jam), so I took a quick lap on the green bird. Last year, Raptor ran amazingly well. I had never gotten rides as forceful as I did last year. Maybe it was the cooler day, but Raptor's first half seemed to lagging a bit.

 

The second half was snappy though. I love the final sequence with the leg-numbing with the corkscrews, helix, and snap into the brake run. I enjoyed Raptor and it's about an average invert with how it was running, but it has the potential to be in the upper echelon. 8 out of 10

 

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I just love the paint scheme on Raptor.

 

Our last major coaster was GateKeeper. I know people bash this ride for being too slow and graceful, but I love the camelback, ginormous corkscrew, and inline twists. But it does show some balls at the beginning with that wingover drop. The Gs on the pullout are no joke. 8 out of 10

 

I was bummed to discover the GateKeeper booty shorts were no longer offered in the ride's gift shop. But crisis averted! I found them in the main gift shop later in the day. I really want to know who buys these things. Someone must if they keep stocking them.

 

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I can't imagine Cedar Point's entrance without GateKeeper.

 

Since it was dinner time, we opted for a sit-down meal at the Melt. I have heard nothing but good things about this place and it exceeded my lofty expectations. If you can finish an entire sandwich from this place, you deserve to call yourself an American.

 

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These sandwiches were both massive and delicious.

 

We ended the night with rerides on Maverick, Dragster, and Steel Vengeance. We did want to get a night ride on Millennium Force, but the walk-on FastLane queue at Steel Vengeance was too rare an opportunity to pass up. Steel Vengeance's superstructure combined with the speed and lighting is a serious mindbender. I don't even think a compass could tell you which way is which.

 

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Still the best steel coaster I've ever ridden.

 

Oh and we also took our time strolling down the Frontier Trail earlier in the day. We both loved seeing the goats, but the highlight was undoubtedly watching the tortoises stuffing their face with strawberries. I never knew I needed to see that until now.

 

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Aw!

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My life is now complete.

 

To fully experience Cedar Point, you really need two days. With just one day, we had to cutout the great flats and old Arrows (my girlfriend breathed a sigh of relief here after Magnum). But we had enough time to get multiple rides on all the standouts.

 

Cedar Point is just far enough from me that it makes more sense to fly...assuming you book your trip in advance. However, when life gave me lemons (a closed, janky credit at an obscure park in Canada) I made lemonade (visiting arguably the world’s best park). I’d say we did ok.

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Great report as always and thank you for sharing.

 

Ah Rougarou... I must say, this has got to be the coaster where my opinion of it differs the most from that of many people. Personally, I love it. But hear so many negative things of it (rough, headbanger, and/or "meh".

 

Mantis was up there for one of the least favorite coasters I've ever ridden, but Rougarou honestly might be top 20-15! If I was completely oblivious to the history of this park, I probably would not be able to tell that its over 20 years old or that it used to be a standup (well, besides the inclined loop being a giveaway )

 

I remember riding it in its "debut" year (2015), and being pleasantly surprised at how a simple retrofitting took what was my least favorite coaster at CP into one of my favs. But then in the years following, I was legitimately shocked at the reviews it was getting (and still get). I honestly though "did I just ride it on a good day or something, or a good seat?" But sure enough, after a four year hiatus from CP, I finally rerode it last Wednesday, multiple times in several different rows, and once again found it as nothing but delightful. Glass smooth with some decent forces, and interesting layout...

 

However, the caveat to all this I suppose would be that I'm tall enough to where headbanging is practically nonexistent on all rides and restraint systems. But that having said, Rougarou's transition seems like they are smooth enough (per a typical B&M) so that most headbanging wouldn't happen anyway (in contrast to Arrow transitions), which is why I'm still a little surprised, but I digress...

 

Once again, great report and glad you had fun!

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Thanks!

 

Having learned how to ride B&M stand-ups without discomfort over the past year, I sort of wish I could have experienced Mantis. That being said, Rougarou is going to be more comfortable and more enjoyable for most.

 

I do enjoy Rougarou, but I know plenty who don't care for it. I know I have to brace myself a bit for those transitions at the end and I think that may be a reason why my girlfriend wasn't a fan.

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Conneaut Lake Park

 

I felt like I was walking into a warzone with Conneaut Lake Park. I decided not to warn my girlfriend so she could form her own opinion, but apparently I used my Hotel Breakers “get out of jail free” card by visiting this park.

 

By all accounts, the park is on the upswing. Granted that’s not hard when you’re on the precipice of closure, but you can tell on social media the park is trying its best. I just think they’re in a difficult position. The locals are accustomed to the dirt cheap $5-10 admission, but can they really turn a profit essentially giving the gate away for free?

 

In its current state, I could see many deeming this place a ghetto death trap. I put on my Camden Park “so bad it’s funny” glasses (and lent a pair to my girlfriend), so we spent a majority of our visit laughing at the oddities you’d never see at a corporate park.

 

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Here we go.

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We visited on the most expensive weekend of the year. Just look at those prices.

 

Take the Blue Streak for instance. To dispatch the train, the operators needed to manually push the train out of the station. That alone is rare. But I’ve never seen an operator do this while carrying a drink. I guess they have some good water in Conneaut.

 

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And he didn't even spill a drop.

 

In all seriousness though, the two operators at the Blue Streak were some of the nicest I’ve encountered at any park. They were constantly joking and interacting with the guests. About a third of the jokes were at the expense of themselves and the other two thirds were at the expense of the ride they were working.

 

So how did it ride? I’ll start by saying that it didn’t track very well. Every valley was littered with jackhammering and any change of direction was downright violent. This didn’t bother me since the seats were ultra-cushiony, but it was a one and done for my girlfriend. Just keep that in mind.

 

But if you ride in the back, this thing has some legitimately terrifying airtime, particularly on the first three drops. Here’s a slow-mo play by play of these airtime moments.

 

- Train violenty crests drop.

- Body starts to ride upwards into seatbelt.

- Seatbelt is so loose that it might as well not be there.

- The effing seat itself starts to get airtime.

- Rider’s thighs smash into buzz bar.

- The rider shouts a profanity.

- The seat spanks the rider in the bum.

- The rider and seat return back to the train together.

- Vibrations in the valleys.

- Rinse and repeat.

 

I heard good things about the first three drops of Blue Streak and they delivered borderline standing airtime. The return leg’s airtime wasn’t as intense, but almost every drop delivered at least some sort of pop.

 

I grabbed a repeat ride in the front and realized I made a grave mistake. It was almost as bumpy as the back with almost none of the airtime. There was a great burst of air entering the turnaround and maybe one or two feeble pops on the outward leg, but that was it.

 

If you have a high tolerance for rough and tumble wooden coasters, you’ll love Blue Streak in the back row for its airtime. They don’t make them like this anymore! I definitely enjoyed it, but I had to tap out after a few rides. 8 out of 10

 

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This ACE coaster classic is the reason to come to the park.

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Don't be fooled. This drop is one of the most terrifying out there.

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It'll rough you up, but it's worth it for the air.

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Blue Streak is pretty difficult to photograph because it's tucked back in the woods.

 

The park has another undisputable coaster in Little Dipper, but adults aren’t allowed on it. Adults can ride a disputable coaster in Devil’s Den. It’s one of those gravity powered haunted houses with a chain lift, short little drop, and a series of hairpin turns.

 

But the most well-known and infamous feature of the Devil’s Den is the freaking gum wall. Most parks would have a zero tolerance policy having their classic dark ride lined with bubble gum, but of course Conneaut Lake Park proudly advertises the dang thing.

 

And that leads me to the most hypocritical of ride signs ever. In tiny font, you can see the obligatory “keep arms and legs inside the car at all times”. However, another sign 10 times larger tells riders to “Stick it to the Devil” in reference to the infamous gum wall.

 

We chose to keep our hands to ourselves to avoid contact with germs. And this was successful until we literally came face to face with the ride’s scariest effect. I do have to commend the park on the other effects though. They were well timed and well lit so they could be appreciated in all their tacky glory.

 

If you count this as a coaster, it’s unremarkable. But as far as dark rides go, it’s about average. And it’s in surprisingly good shape considering some of the other buildings at this park. 6 out of 10

 

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I can't believe they're proud of the gum wall.

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They even made a slogan around the dang gum wall.

 

Beyond that, the park has a collection of older flat rides. The most notable is a rare Tumble Bug. You also have a classic carousel, flyers that regrettably could not be snapped, bumper cars, and a few spinning rides.

 

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The 1910 carousel is a beauty.

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I guess shirts are optional at Conneaut.

 

It seems a majority of the park’s funds have been dedicated to restoring the rides because not a single one was down. Alternatively, there was one midway between the beach and main midway that simply looked bad. I hope this is the next area that receives attention because it really needs it.

 

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This midway could use some TLC.

 

Arguably the oddest thing we saw all day was a patron who patrolled the midway in slippers collecting chunks of asphalt into a Dollar General bag. At first we thought it must have been an employee trying to beautify the park, but it was just some random dude unaffiliated with the park. Oh Conneaut.

 

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WTF is he doing?

 

The one gift shop that was open had some unique merchandise though. Beyond the usual assortment of shirts, cups, and magnets, I found some old time portraits and a hand-carved, hand-painted figure of the Blue Streak. The latter currently resides in my living room.

 

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This is now one of my favorite pieces of coaster merchandise.

 

Since we visited on a 90 degree day, the water park and beach were considerably busier than the rides. Almost all the locals were burnt to a crisp playing beach volleyball, but they looked to be having a blast.

 

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The Ferris Wheel was the lone ride by the lake and I love the placement.

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Those sunburns...

 

For maximum convenience to the Conneaut Lake Park resort, you have Hotel Conneaut adjacent to the park. The place had a distinct horror movie vibe to it, but apparently it has a 7.6 star rating on Hotels.com. Someone braver than me can try staying there, but we went with the tried and true Days Inn.

 

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All I can think of when I see this is the Canobie Lake Hotel haunt.

 

Conneaut Lake Park feels frozen in time. It has a great history and the turnaround according to locals has been immense. I wish them the best since Conneaut has an excellent setting (the lake/woods combo is really relaxing) and a great collection of retro rides.

 

Last but not least, from my girlfriend, avoid the bathrooms. Apparently they were comparable to a porta-potty. Neither had running water, the stench was pungent, and the floor was damp. I decided to hold my bladder until we reached Waldameer from her review.

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Enthusiasts love to look at Conneaut through rose colored glasses so it’s nice to see an honest report of the place. I’m glad they’re on the upswing but it’ll be a long time before we ever bother to go back there.

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