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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

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Belmont Park looks great. It's on the (now delayed) San Diego list.


The park's strength is the atmosphere and one other nice surprise is that it had free parking despite being right by the beach!


I love what they are doing with tilt-a-whirls, now! This one looked especially.....tasty.


I still prefer the shark themed one myself.

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"Does anyone know who manufacturers this ride?"


I had the pleasure of riding one of those self-controlled top spins at IAAPA, back in 2012. It was bonkers! If I'm remembering correctly, it was made by Moser. I'd love to see one of those at every FEC in the country.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom


Six Flags Discovery Kingdom should be one of the best parks in the Six Flags chain. This park is one half zoo and one half thrill park. As a thrill park, it has a solid steel coaster lineup. As a zoo, it has a wonderful mix of sea creatures, land critters, and shows.


But this park has a major Achilles heel. And that's the operations. This is easily the worst run park in the Six Flags chain.


I'll let the photos below do the talking.



Your eyes do not deceive you. Flash Vertical Velocity, one of the most notoriously unreliable coasters out there, was one of only two rides to open with the park.


Medusa joined Kong in the one train club.


One train on Kong is one too many.


Joker was already donning a facemask before it was cool.


Thankfully every major ride did open by mid-afternoon except the water rides (closed due to the season) and Harley Quinn (closed because it's a piece of junk).



I wasn't mad. The park was much quieter with this thing sitting idle.


And the highlight for me was undoubtedly getting some more rides on Joker. Yes it was running one train, but dispatches were much faster than my last visit even with them periodically wiping down the train. On average, I think I waited 20 or so minutes per ride. And the park was happy to honor my request for the back row since that's the money seat on Joker.


I know Joker isn't the most beloved RMC, but I really like it. I'd consider it a mid-tier RMC. I think it has one of the best first drops of any coaster. The ejector airtime and laterals combo reminds me of Expedition GeForce. The inversions have an incredible amount of hangtime, particularly the zero-G stall. And the airtime hills all seem to give stronger than average airtime for a RMC. Really the only issue with this coaster are the overbanks being throwaway elements, but it's otherwise perfect. 9 out of 10



One of the most underrated coaster drops out there in my opinion.


Look at Joker roar through Roar's old course.


This is a contender for my favorite inversion on any coaster.


Hands up!


One of the surprises for me was being able to ride Flash Vertical Velocity. This unique Intamin impulse coaster rarely runs, which is a shame because it's quite fun. I know the 45 degree stall/barrel roll spike was not the original intention, but I love the sensations this element provides.


On the partial ascents, you get incredible hangtime. On the full ascents, you get some solid whip through the element. This unique element is why this is my favorite impulse coaster except the rare few with a holding brake. 6.5 out of 10



The fastest man alive is fittingly the fastest ride in the park (with Medusa).


If that net weren't there, I'm sure there'd be a shower of coins.


But I personally prefer the other compact launch coaster nearby in Superman Ultimate Flight. I hadn't ridden the coaster since 2014, but I believe the seatbelts were a new addition. So is Lake Compounce's Phobia the last remaining one without either seatbelts or comfort collars?


Ultimately, I find the Sky Rocket II's all ride identically (for me at least) regardless of the restraints or number of cars. And that's fine by me since they're action-packed rides with decent launches, 2 powerful spots of ejector airtime, and great hangtime on the inversion. 7.5 out of 10



The obligatory Superman ride. The ride takes many names and forms, but usually has the same logo.



The park's newest coaster, Batman the Ride, was crammed into the same section of the park as the previous two rides. This one was of course a S&S free spin. While I'd prefer the awesome B&M invert with the same name, I do enjoy the free spins and the ride is a great use of the tiny plot of land where it was placed.


This one has an indoor section of the queue similar to the original one at Fiesta Texas, but unfortunately the flipping is more on par with the others in the Six Flags chain rather than wilder original or Arashi. 6.5 out of 10



Six Flags does not make it easy to keep track of all the Superman, Batman, and Joker rides.


This crammed section of the park also got rethemed to DC Universe when Batman was added.


I also made sure to ride Medusa several times, as it's one of my favorite floorless coasters. I think the only floorless coaster I prefer is Superman Krypton Coaster, and that's because of the quarry wall. In terms of forces and smoothness, the coasters are comparable.


I especially love the straight drop since it gives some rare airtime for a B&M looper. The vertical loop, dive loop, and zero-G roll are nice and floaty, but the final two corkscrews are quite snappy since the mid-course barely trims the train at all. 8 out of 10



Everyone craps on SFMM for Scream being a parking lot coaster, but Medusa is quietly one as well.


Every floorless coaster should have a zero-G roll. It should be a mandate.


As for the other rides I experienced, I rode a few flats such as Hammerhead Shark and Thrilla Gorilla. Hammerhead Shark has no force on the downswings, but it does give good hangtime (6 out of 10). Meanwhile Thrilla Gorilla may look like a kid's ride, but it has some deceptively strong laterals since it's one of those non-swinging himalayas and it reaches an impressive top speed (8 out of 10).



I like the subtle animal touches on some of the standard flats.


Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has as many King Kong rides as Universal.


And I also made sure to check out all of the park's animal exhibits. This is one of the things that makes Six Flags Discovery Kingdom unique compared to the rest of the chain. Those familiar with the park's history know this started as a zoo and when it became a ride park, the former parking lot became home to all the coasters. That's why all the coasters are crammed at the front of the park and the current parking lot is such an obnoxious walk to the main entrance.



The Tiger King.



Last but not least, I also caught a glimpse of the site for Sidewinder Safari being prepped. I didn't see any ride pieces nor vertical construction, and it is rumored that the ride has been potentially postponed since the link to the ride was mysteriously removed when the park closures started, but I imagine it will eventually be built. And it would be a much needed family coaster for this park that has no adult coasters without inversions.



These compact spinners go up fast, so I imagine it will be built fast when parts arrive.


So despite a slow start due to staggered openings, I ended up having a pleasant day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The park has a solid collection of coasters and some wonderful animal exhibits. And if this park ever gets solid operations, it would be one of the best parks in the entire chain.


Since I had some time to kill on the way back to the airport, I decided to stop at Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I'm a bit ashamed of myself that I spent a whole summer in the Bay Area and never visited this picturesque vantage point since the views were incredible.






But you guys probably enjoy skyline views like this more.



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"Since I had some time to kill on the way back to the airport, I decided to stop at Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I'm a bit ashamed of myself that I spent a whole summer in the Bay Area and never visited this picturesque vantage point since the views were incredible."


This comment had me cracking up, until I saw the actual pictures below it. Here's where my brain went:


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I thought the video looked like the trade show in Orlando but I am not sure. The photo gallery on their site shows more locations. The only place I have ridden one was the Santa Monica Pier. I wish there was a site like RCDB where people kept track of operating carnival style rides, but not that I can find.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Nickelodeon Universe / Mall of America


The final stop of my pre-coronavirus tour was Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. I visited both Nickelodeon Universe parks for the first time last year and I much preferred Minnesota's for a few reasons.



I love how none of the photos for the Mall of America are actually about shopping.


One of the biggest reasons is the atmosphere. Minnesota's has far more natural lighting and more trees making it feel like an outdoor park as opposed to a warehouse. And Minnesota's is located in the center of the mall with free admission, so the kinetic energy of the mall is infectious. Compare that to the one in New Jersey that's pay-one-price and tucked in the corner.


And the ride that best defines that is the Pepsi Orange Streak, the Zierer coaster that winds its way through the entire park. This coaster is far from thrilling. In fact, it feels more like a high speed monorail. But the visuals completely make the ride and it's honestly my favorite coaster in the park. 7 out of 10





The other reason why I prefer the Minnesota park is the Log Chute. I'm a big fan of log flumes and this one is my personal favorite outside of Splash Mountain (yes I prefer this to Chiapas and Ripsaw Falls ).


In my visit last year, the Log Chute had an hour wait so I was only able to get two rides on it. This year, I got a half dozen rides in the park's first hour of operation and a few additional rides throughout the day as the line maxed out at 20-30 minutes.


This flume has everything I could want- some great theming, beautiful landscaping, great drops, and the perfect amount of wetness. Plus, the views of the mall and park during the elevated section are fantastic. New Jersey may have the stronger coaster lineup, but I'd trade anything at that park for the Log Chute. 10 out of 10



Yes, this really is an indoor park.


That moose isn't just a static figure. It's an animatronic!


Tell me another log flume next to a Hooters.


Speaking of the coasters, the park's biggest thrill coaster is SpongeBob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge. While the coaster isn't in the same league as Shellraiser, it does have some good airtime on the first drop and speed hill plus a few good inversions in the slow barrel roll and sneakily forceful vertical loop. The one issue with Rock Bottom Plunge is something shared by many of the EuroFighters- the roughness. This coaster shuffles pretty badly along the course. 6 out of 10



The road to Rock Bottom had a 90 degree drop on SpongeBob. Nick Universe took the creative freedom to add a few degrees to that.


You make a loop de loop and pull, and your shoes are looking cool.


Avatar Airbender isn't far behind in the thrills department. This Intamin halfpipe still has the original over-the-shoulder restraints as opposed to the lap bars on New Jersey's version, but it's not an issue for me since this ride is smooth. However, this is a ride with diminishing returns for me.


I enjoyed it my first time, liked it less my second time, and found it just ok the third time. I just found the ride to be a bit repetitive like a swinging ship since the cars barely spun. But at least Avatar has far better airtime that almost every swinging ship. 5 out of 10



The U stands for universe.


The final adult coaster is Fairly Odd Coaster, the original Gerstlauer spinner. And I think this coaster has a big advantage over the versions at the Six Flags and Cedar Fair parks. Whereas the larger parks try to pair single riders with groups of three to maximize capacity, Nickelodeon Universe didn't care one bit so it was extremely easy to get an unbalanced ride. That resulted in some great spinning.


As for the course, it's quite familiar for me considering I've ridden my home park's Pandemonium more times than I can count. But this one does have a better setting wrapping its way around rides and over pathways. 6.5 out of 10



The Mall of America opened hours before the official opening time for walkers, so I was able to catch Fairly Odd Coaster testing before breakfast.


The park is also home to 1.5 dark rides. Ghost Blasters is definitively part of the park. It's included on the wristband and it's a pretty good version of the familiar ride. All of the targets work and it's longer than you'd expect. 7 out of 10


The half is for Fly Over America, the flying theater. The ride is located in Nickelodeon Universe, but it appears to be unaffiliated so it requires an extra ticket. The tickets were pricey (almost $20 if I remember), but was the ride worth it? Sort of.


I got a ticket for a double feature, so I could experience the original Fly Over America film plus Fly Over Hawaii back-to-back. And each film was probably the longest I've seen in a flying theater. I didn't time it, but they felt just south of 10 minutes in length.


Fly Over America (7 out of 10 had some great city/landmark shots, but there were a few duller shots mixed in. Thankfully, the latter was often paired with a smell to make it interesting. Fly Over Hawaii (5 out of 10) was stronger visually, but I thought the landscapes all blended together after a while, so I preferred the variety on America.


The one issue I had with both versions was the use of sprayers. There are several sprayers mounted on the ride vehicle itself and they kept fogging up my glasses throughout the ride. I'm used to sprayers (I go to Universal after all), but this flying theater seemed to use them far more often. So just keep that in mind if you're visually impaired like me.



Still bitter this isn't themed to Danny Phantom.


Here's my boarding pass. I got one better than TSA Pre-Check, no TSA!


Nickelodeon Universe also has a very strong flat ride collection.



Brain Surge lets you flip like a lunatic.


Shell Shock lets you also flip like a lunatic, but you have to work for this one.


This frisbee had good airtime on the two max swings it provided, but it was way too short.


Splat-O-Sphere is more of a family drop tower, but it has a nice long cycle.


As I mentioned earlier, the Mall opened well before its posted opening time since it's connected to a train station and hotel. This meant I could casually walk around the Mall before it got busy. Nickelodeon Universe is the undeniable star as a theme park fan, but the rest of the mall is quite interesting as well.



I skipped SeaLife since the version in Canada was tiny, but you could see the mantas from the top level balcony.


So many butterflies.


2020- The year when an ice cream cone learns to take a selfie.

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In my visit last year, the Log Chute had an hour wait so I was only able to get two rides on it. This year, I got a half dozen rides in the park's first hour of operation and a few additional rides throughout the day as the line maxed out at 20-30 minutes.


Pro Tip: It definitely makes a difference to visit when school is still in session like you did this second visit, even if it is a weekend.


Great report, thanks for sharing. Congratulations on your visit because 8 days later is was closed. And yes, the Log Chute is probably the best ride in the state. If you are a fan of flume rides you need to get to NU someday.

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The Log Chute has always been the best ride at Nick Universe/Camp Snoopy.


And I can't see them adding anything that tops it (though if they do, that means it's an incredible ride).


In my visit last year, the Log Chute had an hour wait so I was only able to get two rides on it. This year, I got a half dozen rides in the park's first hour of operation and a few additional rides throughout the day as the line maxed out at 20-30 minutes.


Pro Tip: It definitely makes a difference to visit when school is still in session like you did this second visit, even if it is a weekend.


Great report, thanks for sharing. Congratulations on your visit because 8 days later is was closed. And yes, the Log Chute is probably the best ride in the state. If you are a fan of flume rides you need to get to NU someday.


I didn't think the dropoff in crowds would be that drastic considering it's indoors, but I'm glad they were.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My corona coaster fast came to an end last week as I was able to visit the most successful amusement park in Myrtle Beach.



There she is, Freestyle Music Park.


Social distancing was super easy at Freestyle Music Park.


So you can probably guess I didn't actually go to Freestyle Music Park, but I did pass by it on the way back to the airport curious to see if anything still remained. Sure enough, the sign is still there at the corner of Fantasy Harbour Boulevard and George Bishop Parkway. And you can catch a glimpse of the abandoned entrance plaza from the adjacent Crossfit complex.


Family Kingdom

I did however visit Family Kingdom, which by default is the most successful park in Myrtle Beach considering it still stands to this day unlike Freestyle Music Park and Myrtle Beach Pavilion.


My primary reason for visiting this park was to ride Swamp Fox, the park's classic John Allen wooden coaster. I don't usually hear much about this ride, so I was expecting it to either be a super rough wooden coaster or a really slow and dull woodie.


Much to my shock, it was a borderline top 10 wooden coaster for me!



Unlike Freestyle Music Park, Family Kingdom is actually by the beach.


The Legendary (per the park) Swamp Fox in all her glory.


Swamp Fox has buzz bars and since the park instructs riders to fasten the seatbelt over the divider, you have a lot of room to experience airtime. And this coaster delivers it in droves.


The first, second, and fourth drop deliver serious ejector airtime in the back. It was as powerful as the fifth drop on the Raven except with much more minimalistic restraints. Meanwhile up front, the powerful ejector airtime occurred on the 2nd hill and two turnarounds.


The rest of the ride has a series of smaller bunny hills and speed hills. The first bunny hill rode normally, giving an abrupt pop of airtime. But the other bunny hills rode a bit differently. You know how RMC has those speed hills after the first drop on rides like Steel Vengeance, Untamed, and Twisted Colossus? And how those speed hills sort of throw you forwards rather than upwards? Swamp Fox's other bunny hills do the same.


Except on Swamp Fox, you don't have the tight restraint. So the airtime moments throw you diagonally forwards. It was really odd to experience both horizontal and vertical airtime simultaneously. The only other coaster time I've experienced that uninhibited is on Phoenix's double down.


Not only does Swamp Fox deliver some of the best airtime I've experienced with a buzz bar, but it also rides pretty darn smoothly. Sure it has some bumps here and there, but it's much smoother than you'd expect for a 50+ year old woodie. 9.5 out of 10



The second Swamp Fox crested this drop, I knew I was in for a treat.


Every single hill delivers some intense airtime.


I love buzz bars.


And I also love chaser lights. There's a lot to love about Swamp Fox.


My other interest in visiting Family Kingdom was to experience the Great Pistolero Round-Up, a shooting dark ride that is noteworthy for three reasons. One, it was Sally's first interactive shooter. Two, it was built in an old Mexican restaurant. Three, it is arguably the most politically incorrect ride you'll find in the United States.


The story is simple. Some Mexicans robbed a bank and you need to help the Federales track them down in a Mexican restauarant where (and this is literally said by the animatronic in the queue line) they won't be moving too fast since they've had too much tequila. So you're given a gun and told to blast anything you see.


Every single target works and reacts in some way. Sometimes you'd hit a barrel and it would spin. Other times you'd hit a mirror and another high-value target would reveal itself. Or if you shoot the woman towards the end, her skirt falls down.


The only issue with the Pistolero Round-Up was its woefully short length. It was barely over a minute in length. 8.5 out of 10



Shoot the bandits who have had too much to drink (his words, not mine).


Use the guns to shoot people (no really you do that).


Paco's Cantina, a former Mexican restaurant that is now the dark ride's show-building.


Call of Duty trained me well for this moment.


And if you shoot this woman, she'll show her appreciation and drop her skirt.


The other adult coaster at this park was Twist 'n' Shout, the cursed Zamperla wild mouse that killed two riders at Gillian's Wonderland Pier and ejected another rider at Magic Springs. But at Family Kingdom, it has a perfect safety record.


The Zamperla mice tend to have stronger laterals than the Mack and Maurer mouse due to the lack of braking and Twist 'n' Should was no different. 6 out of 10



Few mice have better laterals than this one.


The park also has a kiddie coaster, but it's off-limits to adults. But if you are really desperate for a third credit, I'm sure a few credit hunters out there would count their Log Flume since it has an uphill section (I for one don't).


That being said, it's a decent log flume. For a park pressed for space, I'm impressed Family Kingdom went with a custom layout. There isn't much to see along the course (unless you like looking at a Friendly's), but the drops are solid. 7 out of 10



Like Zoom Phloom, this flume goes below ground level.


Except this one immediately comes back up.


The only other noteworthy attraction is the park's Carousel that is nearly 100 years old. It was relocated to Family Kingdom sometime in the 1990s.




In general, the park is divided into two sections by a stream. One side has Swamp Fox and most of the adult flats. The other side has the kiddie rides and the newer attractions.


I also found that the staff tended to be on the older side and they were among the friendliest I've encountered at any park.




The stream in the center really gives this park a different feel than most seaside parks.


And since I visited after the covid-19 lockdown, I want to also talk about the precautions Family Kingdom has implemented and if the crowd respects them.


- Social Distancing- The park has markers in the queue lines, but most people were not following them. However, when people saw me in a mask, they tended to give me the 6 feet. For Swamp Fox, they were seating guests in every other row. And on other rides, you were given your own vehicle.


- Masks- Most guests were not wearing masks, although this was the location in Myrtle Beach where I saw the most masks being worn. Roughly half the employees were wearing masks, but a few were pulling them down to speak to guests which defeated the purpose.


- Cleaning- The park was wiping down vehicles in between cycles. And they did so quite quickly, so it didn't cause much of a delay. On Swamp Fox, they actually had a power washer to quickly disinfect the train. All rides had hand sanitizer available at the ride entrances and exits. Oddly, there was no soap available in the lone bathroom either day I visited.



The Ferris Wheel was in pieces for my visit. I am unsure if that was due to coronavirus slowing their offseason work or if it's being removed.


I had always considered adding Family Kingdom and Myrtle Beach onto a Carowinds trip, but I ironically made the trip down when Carowinds was closed. Family Kingdom was a much nicer seaside park than expected and Swamp Fox alone made the trip worthwhile.



It took me 27 years to finally visit Myrtle Beach, but this ride will cause me to return sooner than that.

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It looks a like a good park. That darkride would definitely make it worth it for me. It looks really well maintained, especially compared to Frontier City's semi-clone. I watched a video of it and saw very little movement. And this one came first!

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