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I thought Swamp Fox was a decent coaster, but Pistolero Roundup was the real star at Family Kingdom.

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Pistolero Roundup was a ton of fun, but I still have to give the edge to Swamp Fox because of how well it was running.

 

I haven't been to Family Kingdom since that one season Hard Rock Park was open, so I can't speak to what Swamp Fox is like today; to me back then, it wasn't a bad ride, but just nothing special.

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I feel like Swamp Fox would have gotten a lot more attention over the years if it always ran like this, so I'm not sure if they retracked it around the time they repainted it.

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I feel like Swamp Fox would have gotten a lot more attention over the years if it always ran like this, so I'm not sure if they retracked it around the time they repainted it.

 

It wasn't for lack of trying on the park's part.

 

 

Not sure when I'll get back to Myrtle Beach, but you have convinced me to give Swamp fox another try if I do.

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Interesting fun fact... the 2nd Sally Pistolero was installed in Knoxville Tennessee at The Regal Cinema Funscape around 1998. Here is a article about the center and the ride. I rode it once at Media Preview before the place opened to the public. I think it closed in 2000. I wonder if the ride went back to sally or it is in storage.

 

https://monkeyfire.com/mpol/dir_zine/dir_1998/845/t_gamut.html

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pavilion Park

 

For those of you who have visited the Island in Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach has a very similar shopping/dining/entertainment complex called Broadway at the Beach. And the offerings are quite diverse.

 

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You have restaurants.

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The Stupid Factory (where no guests were oddly wearing masks).

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A 4D cinema. I'm interested to know if this is the same film as the Simpsons Ride or different.

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One of those high speed boats.

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Whatever the heck this is.

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And rides. But most importantly, rides.

 

The amusement rides are part of Pavilion Park, an odd amusement park divided into "three" sections.

 

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That Rocket ride looks cool. I sure hope it's open...

 

However, the park map, website, and staff failed to mention that the entire East pavilion was demolished. That included the rare Rocket flat ride I was really interested in trying.

 

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RIP East Pavilion.

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Needless to say the website is a bit outdated.

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And they don't really pay close attention to it either based on this public page.

 

I actually found the Rocket lying in pieces in a lot across from the complex later that day when I went to get gas. And further down the road, I found a parking lot with several rides from the original Pavilion. I have no clue what the park intends to do with these attractions and if anyone knows, I'd love to hear.

 

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Maybe one day I'll ride one of these Funtime Rockets.

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There are enough rides here to double the park's offerings if they so choose.

 

Speaking to what Pavilion Park actually has, you have a coaster credit! And it's none other than a SBF spinner called the Myrtle Turtle. This one had a fairly long cycle, but it was otherwise the usual SBF spinner. 4 out of 10

 

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The centerpiece of the park is the massive Broadway 360 Observation Wheel. This wheel gives a fantastic overview of the entire Broadway at the Beach complex, the shoreline, and the nearby Myrtle Beach Skywheel. 8 out of 10

 

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The Myrtle Beach Skywheel has a better location closer to the water, but this is a much better value.

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Here's a look at the Central Pavilion and Myrtle Beach shoreline.

 

For me, the highlight was the Central Pavilion since it was home to some notable flat rides. The best one was the Beast, a KMG XXL supersized frisbee. This is identical to the one that operates at PNE Playland with the hybrid inward/outward facing seats. And this ride is one of the best frisbee rides out there.

 

If you ride in the outward seats, you get some powerful and freaky laterals throughout the entire ride. These laterals are pushing you outwards against the restraint. And at the same time, you also get some good airtime on the max swings. By the end of the ride, my legs were completely numb from being pinned against the restraint.

 

The inward facing seats are a bit more comfortable since you aren't pushed outward against the restraint and the airtime feels a bit stronger since you aren't fighting against the outward forces, but I definitely preferred the outward facing seats for the uniqueness. 9 out of 10

 

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This is the best ride out there called the Beast. Kings Island fans can hate me all they want.

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The lateral and airtime combo on the outward facing seats is sublime.

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The hybrid seating is a really cool feature since you can get two radically different ride experiences.

 

The park also has a KMG Speed, that is surprisingly less expensive than the Beast and included on the unlimited wristband. Needless to say, I took advantage of that because this is usually a pricey upcharge. I had a very unbalanced car as I rode alone, so I thought I'd get more flips, but the lack of weight seemed to make it harder to flip. That being said, the ride was still quite intense with the extreme rocking. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I still can't believe this was included on the unlimited wristband.

 

The Central Pavilion also had a flat I've never seen before from SBF Visa called the Moonraker 20. This ride seemed like a hybrid of a Round-Up and Wipeout. The ride had some strong Gs at the end, but it took quite some time to reach its maximum speed. 6 out of 10

 

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Never seen one of these before.

 

Last but not least, I want to mention the park's slide. This is not your ordinary carnival slide. This one stands a good 80-90 feet tall. So if you propel yourself off the top, you build up some serious speed and will be bouncing over the final few humps on the slide. 8 out of 10

 

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This is not an optical illusion. That slide really is almost as tall as the XXL.

 

So do I recommend visiting Pavilion Park? I'd say it's worth a stop if you're already in Myrtle Beach since you can get a coaster credit, try some crazy flats, and walk around a cool entertainment complex. I just wouldn't put any stock into the park's website what rides may or may not be present going into your visit.

 

In terms of covid-19 measures, this park was really lax. There was hardly anyone in the amusement park section, so it was very easy to social distance. But very few employees were wearing masks and the only ride that was cleaned in between cycles was the giant wheel.

 

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I actually found the Rocket lying in pieces in a lot across from the complex later that day when I went to get gas. And further down the road, I found a parking lot with several rides from the original Pavilion. I have no clue what the park intends to do with these attractions and if anyone knows, I'd love to hear.

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I hope they bring the Rocket back. It's one of those concepts that always looked intriguing.

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Is this where Hard Rock Park was located, I was there in May and we drove by this area but didn't stop.

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No, Hard Rock Park/Freestyle Music Park is ~5 miles away. The site is mostly clear outside of a few abandoned buildings, but you can see the sign still there at the intersection of Fantasy Harbour Boulevard and George Bishop Parkway. I included the photos at the start of my Family Kingdom report.

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I will never forget my rides on Hurricane: Category 5 from the original Pavilion. Oh lordy. They even shipped the trains to KI after it was demolished so they could continue bringing "joy" to people via Son of Beast...

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Myrtle Beach Tourism Day

 

Outside of the two amusement parks I've already posted about, Myrtle Beach has miles of tourist traps. And I did my part to support local businesses.

 

Free Fall Thrill Park

 

Free Fall Thrill Park is one of the smallest parks you'll find. It was one block in size and consisted of 4 rides- a Screamin' Swing that was in pieces, an inverting frisbee that appeared closed, a Slingshot, and a Soaring Eagle drop tower.

 

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Looks like no one will be screaming on this swing today.

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I was unsure if this was closed or so unpopular/overpriced that it never ran.

 

I was interested in the latter. You could say I'm a bit of a drop tower connoisseur and how could I not ride a seatbelt only version with a breathtaking view of Myrtle Beach? I believe it cost me $7-8 to ride Skyfall, but it was definitely one of the best drop towers I've ridden. The view alone was worth it.

 

But the drop was as exhilarating as expected. If you've never been on one of these Soaring Eagle drop towers, the drop is just a hair weaker than those Larson towers. And there is zero warning when you drop on this one. The only negative I have about the ride is that the seatbelts were extremely tight and had no give like the ones on Tower of Terror, so you weren't able to actually get any airtime on the descent. Because of this, I'm torn if I prefer the freedom of the seatbelt or over-the-shoulder restraints that give you room for airtime. 9 out of 10

 

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Being 200 feet in the air with just a seatbelt is pretty freaky.

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I wasn't kidding when I said this park is tiny.

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Let the Skyfall, when it crumbles, we will stand tall, face it all together...

 

That was the only ride I tried because I really didn't want to stick around the park for long. The park took zero covid precautions. I was the only one in the park with a mask and because the pathways were so cramped, it was impossible to social distance. That was also true on the rides since the drop tower was fully loaded. And there was zero hand sanitizer available or cleaning that I observed.

 

SkyWheel Myrtle Beach

 

Compare those covid measures to the attraction right across the street in the Myrtle Beach Skywheel. This attraction also did not require masks for guests, but employees were wearing them and they were enforcing social distancing in the queue line. Every gondola was cleaned in between guests and it was just one party per gondola.

 

This wheel stands 187 feet tall and it offers spectacular views of the coastline and nearby attractions, most notably the aforementioned Free Fall Thrill Park. I'd say it was a bit pricey, but it's probably you're best option in town to take aerial photos unless you rent a helicopter.

 

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Fun fact, this is the second tallest Ferris Wheel in the country.

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The Myrtle Beach strip goes on and on.

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I spy a Gay Dolphin.

 

Miniature Golf

 

Myrtle Beach is the self-proclaimed mini golf capital of the world. The Myrtle Beach strip spans approximately 25 miles and there are over 50 mini golf courses. That's a lot of mini golf!

 

My favorite types of mini golf courses rely on obstacles. Unfortunately, a majority of miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach were obstacle-free. Most courses had a flashy centerpiece (ex. volcano, plane, ship), great landscaping, and boring holes.

 

4 of the courses I tried were exactly like that in Hawaiian Rumble, Molten Mountain, Mayday Golf, and Captain Hook's Adventure Golf. Each course may have had one or two unique holes, but most were straight-forward and obstacle free. Heck, some holes literally made it impossible for you to miss.

 

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Hawaiian Rumble- The erupting volcano was easily the highlight.

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Molten Mountain- I think the volcano was supposed to erupt. It rumbled. But nothing came out.

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Mayday Golf- This course was spotless. There wasn't a single piece of trash or obstacle in sight.

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Captain Hook's Adventure Golf- This was an absolute tease. There were animatronics, but they were off to the side rather than being part of the hole.

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This was literally the entire hole. If the straightforward nature wasn't enough, the hole itself is concave inwards.

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But if that's too hard for you, give this hole a whirl. I see no way someone could mess this up.

 

The one saving grace in the town from a mini golf perspective was Mount Atlanticus. This is a really unique course that appears to be a converted parking garage. The course mixes indoor and outdoor holes and stands 4 stories tall. As a result, the course has some really creative multi-level holes and it was by far the hardest course I tried. I played both sides of this course and would happily return in a future visit.

 

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4 stories of fun!

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Obstacles!

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Unlike the other courses, Mount Atlanticus enjoyed seeing guests get above par. Just look at this hole and the lack of a border.

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I definitely tried, but ended up in the water.

 

So while Myrtle Beach has an unmatched quantity of mini golf courses, I'll still take Lake George for the quality.

 

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Wow that maze hole for mini golf looked sweet. I have been to myrtle beach but i really need to explore more. Looks like you have really experienced it. I enjoy your reports

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South of the Border/Pedroland

 

In the age of cancel culture, I'm sort of surprised this place South of the Border still exists. This infamous tourist trap alongside I-95 is all Pedro, all the time.

 

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With a billboard as desperate as this, you know it's going to be awful.

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This *may* be a tad racist.

 

The mascot? He's named Pedro. The guy behind the counter? He's also named Pedro. The girl working the arcade? Also named Pedro. Every employee here, regardless of gender or race, is called Pedro.

 

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Hello Pedro.

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The dog? Probably named Pedro too.

 

My main draw was to ascend the iconic Sombrero Observation Tower. I had no clue if there was anything worthwhile seeing from such a high vantage point, but I just had to ride atop a 200 foot tall sombrero.

 

But unfortunately it was closed. I have no clue if it was because of covid, maintenance, low attendance, or indifference. The website said it was open, but I'm guessing they don't pay that much attention to it.

 

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Sorry folks, tower's closed. Pedro out front should've told ya.

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El Toro was open! Too bad it wasn't an Intamin pre-fab.

 

But in general, a lot of things were closed at South of the Border. It is clear this pit stop has seen better days. Examples of other closed establishments included:

 

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The poorly reviewed Sombrero Restaurant.

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The world's number one miniature golf course (that didn't appear to exist).

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And Pedroland amusement park. Or what remains of Pedroland.

 

Pedroland once had a rare L&T Systems wild mouse and a few other attractions. But the park had a new-for-2020 addition- a brand new fence and a "No Tresspassing" sign.

 

Recent reports of South of the Border showed people roaming an abandoned Pedroland. I cannot find a recent report showing the park operating. As a result, I'm not surprised the park now tries to deter people from entering. Like the observation tower, the park was listed as open per their website. But it looked pretty lonely over there.

 

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Pedroland is what I imagine a carnival looks like if the carnies skip town and leave the rides behind.

 

I think the only thing open in the entire complex was a gift shop and the restrooms.

 

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Originally I had to use the bathroom, but I decided to hold it.

 

So do I recommend stopping at South of the Border? Only if your route takes you directly past it. The actual attractions all seem rundown and seem to have unreliable hours. But I was glad my route took me past South of the Border so I could see this politically incorrect tourist trap in all its glory in the event it's cancelled or permanently closed sometime in the future.

 

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Holiday World

 

With Indiana having a relatively cavalier attitude towards the pandemic, I was a bit nervous to check out Holiday World. I saw all the photos posted from the opening days for Indiana Beach and Holiday World. And the night prior, I was kicked out of a convenience store for wearing a mask after the owner said it made him feel uncomfortable.

 

But it turns out it was extremely easy to socially distance oneself at Holiday World...on a day when it was a borderline miracle the park even opened. The forecast called for thunderstorms and torrential downpours all-day. I think the total amount of rainfall was expected to amount to 1.5-2 inches. Whatever park I visited on this day would have been a risk.

 

I ultimately decided to hit Holiday World because I could have easily shoehorned it on the back-end of my trip if the weather ruined my day. But in all honesty, it probably made it better. Holiday World was a ghost town.

 

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Clear skies for now, but the forecast clearly scared everyone away. The entrance procedure was fast. The park just checked that you had a reservation and scanned you in. There was no temperature check.

 

While Holiday World isn't requiring masks, they are offering the InLine virtual queuing system this year to help guests socially distance. Now I admittedly visited on a quiet day, but I really hope Holiday World keeps this system active in future years as well. It worked like a dream!

 

You reserve a ride on your phone. You can reserve just one ride at a time. Because of how empty the park was, every ride was pretty much available in just 1-3 minutes. The only time I ever saw a ride with an extended wait seemed to coincide with a periodic cleaning. Once it's your time to ride, you have a 15 minute window. If you anticipate that you'll miss your window, you have the option to differ it into the future. Whenever I scanned into an attraction, I pretty much boarded the next train.

 

All of the major attractions are on the InLine virtual queuing system, but some of the smaller attractions are not on the virtual queue. And I think that's a smart idea. On a busy day if you're stuck waiting a long time for your Voyage reservation, there are several attractions that you can queue for normally.

 

Holiday World was skipping rows between parties on every coaster except Thunderbird. And there were social distance markers in the queue, but compliance was mixed. However, other guests did tend to give me space once they noticed I was wearing a mask. I really think that's the biggest benefit of wearing a mask; people give you space!

 

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I really hope this sticks around in future years.

 

Let's get back to the weather. Remember those thunderstorms? They held off until the evening. But the torrential downpours? Those occurred. Holiday World is well-known for their water coasters and the weather transformed Voyage, Raven, Legend, and Thunderbird into the world's best water coasters. And as long as there's no thunder or lightning, Holiday World will dispatch those coasters even in a monsoon.

 

Many guests were screaming in agony, but my face was completely protected. Thanks to my crappy vision, my glasses shielded my eyes. And my face mask shielded the rest of my face. There's one positive of a pandemic.

 

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Cheetah Chase is marketed as the first launched water coaster. Except Thunderbird beat Cheetah Chase to it.

 

Thunderbird in a heavy downpour was quite the experience. No one else dared wait for the front, but I was morbidly curious what the front row of a launch coaster would feel like in a torrential downpour. And it was a unique experience.

 

Thunderbird is definitely one of the better wing coasters. It's easily the best paced wing coaster. No other wing coaster holds its speed like Thunderbird. And it has that good launch and an awesome second half. I love the hangtime of the final two inversions and the surprising airtime of that funky s-hill. 8 out of 10

 

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I wish the other wing coasters were paced as well as Thunderbird.

 

Moving onto the wood coasters, I thought Raven, Legend, and Voyage were running as smooth as they have been the past few years. I've never found these coasters rough and could easily marathon any of them. Keep in mind, I'm conditioned by Boulder Dash.

 

Raven is easily the shortest of the three woodies, but it's a really well-rounded coaster. The ride has impeccable pacing. The first half has some solid airtime moments, but Raven really goes berserk in the second half. You have the insane ejector airtime of the fifth drop followed by the high-speed turns that are loaded with laterals.

 

I was admittedly disappointed after my first ride on the Raven back in 2017, but I think I overhyped the coaster based on all the accolades it received over the years. But with each subsequent ride, I appreciate the coaster more and more. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I have no clue how Raven ever won those awards when Phoenix and PNE's Coaster existed, but if it helped Holiday World grow into the park it is today, I'm not complaining.

 

Legend is probably the most polarizing of Holiday World's coasters. Some hate the laterals while others love the ride's relentlessness (put me in that camp). Several wood coasters have strong laterals, but few sustain them as long as the Legend does. That double helix is incredible and a borderline endurance test.

 

But another overshadowed element of Legend is the airtime. When Legend decides to do an airtime hill, it executes it quite well. The fourth and fifth hills have some powerful airtime and the return run has several pops reminiscent of a GCI. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Surprise, surprise. The headless horseman was not wearing a mask.

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I'm still amazed I returned with a full cup of water last year during the water cup challenge.

 

But the star is undoubtedly the Voyage. This is without a doubt one of the best roller coasters in the world. It does everything I could want. It has an incredible setting on a wooded hillside. It has incredible pacing; you just flow from one element to the next effortlessly. And you get a smorgasbord of airtime- sustained floater, floater pops, ejector pops.

 

When I think back to a particular ride, I can usually remember how a specific element rides. I cannot do that with the Voyage. Every single element sort of blends together. But every element sticks and I can vividly remember how fast, enjoyable, and relentless the experience is. There's a reason the Voyage is in my top 5. 10 out of 10

 

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The first half feels like a hypercoaster.

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The second half feels like a wooden coaster on a 5 hour energy. It feels completely out-of-control.

 

Holiday World did end up closing early at 5 pm, 3 hours sooner than their posted close. And in a show of amazing customer service, the park provided rain checks to return for another full day. The park had been open for 7 hours and I had been able to ride the woodies dozens of times. I definitely felt like I got my money's worth because of how empty the park was. So it was just gravy getting a ticket to return another day.

 

So unfortunately I cannot tell you what Holiday World is like on a normal day in 2020. But I can tell you it's an incredible park to visit on a day with iffy weather.

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I really need to get back to this park. I only visited this once and it was a cold rainy day. The day before we were at KK and it was a beautiful sunny fun day. We did not get good rides on Voyage. I kept expecting a bigger better version of Shivering Timbers but what I got was a boss like ride. It was unbearable. But the Voyage is always ranked so high and with me loving Hades 360, Ravine FlyerII and Mine Blower I really need to give it a second chance. Glad you had a great time at an empty park

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