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The Brand-New Tom Foolerys in Texas & Riding the Hamster Wheel Coaster

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^ That's also a great time to go since you can maximize night rides.  Kings Island really is one of the best parks in the world for those since so many of their coasters go out into the woods.

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Kentucky Kingdom Oddly enough I was a Kentucky Kingdom season passholder in 2020.  I only went twice, but I got my money's worth because of the insanely low $50 price point.  Kentucky Kingdom is

Wow this brings me back.  Maybe over-sharing, but here are some fun facts about Keansburg Amusement Park (and the town) and how it has affected my life: -My father lived in that town from birth t

Sesame Place I made way more visits than I expected in 2020 to Sesame Place.  Most of these visits were because the park is just a half hour from Six Flags Great Adventure and Sesame Place tended

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14 hours ago, Canobie Coaster said:

The depth at Kings Island really is special.

Although I find they dont have a super amazing world beating coaster, I find a huge majority of their coasters are very solid. This park is much less top heavy then say a Carowinds 

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13 minutes ago, grsupercity said:

Although I find they dont have a super amazing world beating coaster, I find a huge majority of their coasters are very solid. This park is much less top heavy then say a Carowinds 

Like it or not, Orion and Mystic Timbers are def super amazing world beating coasters. 

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2 minutes ago, KIEnthusiast said:

Like it or not, Orion and Mystic Timbers are def super amazing world beating coasters. 

I meant it as more of a complement as to how deep the line up is and not as an insult. A park like Carowinds has 5 good coasters, some family coasters and some filler. Kings Island has around 8 or 9 good coasters, some family and not much filler

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3 hours ago, grsupercity said:

Although I find they dont have a super amazing world beating coaster,

The Beast is literally the longest wooden coaster in the world, so not sure what you mean by that. You mean in your personal ride rankings?

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Some people don't appreciate careening through a forest at 50+ miles per hour, for some reason.  I'm not one of them and don't understand.  Day or night, Beast in the front row cannot be beat by any other wooden coaster, IMHO.

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I've ridden several wooden coasters that are arguably "better" than Beast, but I still attest that my first experience riding Beast (front row, at night, light rain and a thick fog) remains the best overall time I've had riding roller coasters to date.

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My Banshee rides were in July and September and October. I don't remember the train colors but they only used the same 2 trains all season. I have heard the blame being pointed at one train in the past.

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Kentucky Kingdom

Oddly enough I was a Kentucky Kingdom season passholder in 2020.  I only went twice, but I got my money's worth because of the insanely low $50 price point.  Kentucky Kingdom is a solid park in between Holiday World and Kings Island.  While I don't like it as much as those other two parks, I always make sure to squeeze it into a road trip.

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Storm Chaser was having some issues during my visits in 2020.  In my first visit, the ride broke down in the afternoon and never reopened due to an issue with the control panel.  In both my visits, the ride was running slower than normal.  I don't think the half-full trains forced by the pandemic were the culprit since I've regularly ridden this ride with half-full trains in regular years.  The first half was as powerful as ever, but the airtime on the final bunny hills wasn't quite as strong.  It was still quite good and even a slower Storm Chaser is still a fantastic ride.  9 out of 10

I also got really lucky with the timing as a plane flew over Storm Chaser.  There are a lot of scary headchoppers on roller coasters, but I think this is one of the more underrated ones because of the shock value.

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The impact of a slower Storm Chaser is that it no longer becomes my favorite ride in the park.  In 2020, my favorite ride was Lightning Run.  I wish Chance Morgan built more of these hyper GTX models since they're aggressive, little rides that remind me of RMCs.  The final bunny hills in particular stand out as some of the most violent moments of ejector airtime of any coaster.  Seeing people thrown about while queuing for the ride is mesmerizing.  9 out of 10

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Kentucky Flyer is another airtime machine at this park, except this one is targeted more for families.  I've ridden my fair share of Gravity Group junior woodies, but this one is probably my least favorite by a slim margin.  It's smooth, but the pacing isn't as strong as the ones in the Northeast.  The airtime is as good as you can reasonably be for a family coaster though and I love the ride's placement on the backside of the water park.  7.5 out of 10

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T3 is a dumpster fire.  It's one of those rides that is so comically bad that it's funny.  The vest restraints will staple your thighs, but I prefer this over other SLCs because the vest restraints do eliminate headbanging.  Just know you will be rattled like a ragdoll.  3 out of 10

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Thunder Run is a ride that used to jackhammer pretty badly, but the extensive trackwork Kentucky Kingdom gave this wood coaster has made it fairly smooth (if you avoid wheel seats).  The outward leg has some great airtime, but the second half is still a dud with all that straight track.  6 out of 10

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2020 brought us a lot of casualties, but one of the most notable for the amusement park industry was the demolition of Dick Rock Mountain.  For those unaware, Raging Rapids used to have a snow-capped rock structure that was excited to see guests.  And yes, it sprayed water out the top too.  To the designer who snuck that by their boss, you were bold.  However, Kentucky Kingdom decided to finally castrate this piece of art for the 2020 season.  But at least they kept the Big O alive at their Antique Car ride.

I rode Raging Rapids in silence, but the light spritzing was refreshing in the heat.  I don't think this ride has the right elements to completely soak you.  You can tell this used to be themed to the Penguin, as the ride has the same station as Six Flags New England's Blizzard River and there are still penguin-themed sprayers throughout the ride.  6 out of 10

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I also hit a few of the flat rides, most notably Fearfall.  I am a sucker for ARM/Larson drop towers and this one is no different.  The drop is absolutely gut-wrenching and you can either choose a great view of Louisville or a great view of the park.  9.5 out of 10

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Last but not least, do not miss the pretzels at this park.  They are made fresh at the park and are just behind the ones at the Busch/SeaWorld parks for my favorite theme park snack.  They are that good and I usually stuff my face with 2-3 of them each visit.

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I love Kentucky Kingdom. Its not the best park around but somehow we manage to have more fun at this park then any other. Last time we visited this park is was a beautiful sunny day, and sadly the next day was Holiday World and it was down pouring and cold the whole visit. Lighting Run is easily in my top 5 favorite coasters. This little coaster packs a punch!!!!!

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I don't mind Holiday World in the rain since they keep everything open and lines will be non-existent.

As long as there isn’t lightning. We had some lightning when I went for Holiwood Nights so a lot of people kept riding that “turkey calling” shooting dark ride while waiting for the Voyage to reopen.


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We went in a biblical deathstorm (or as they call it in the midwest... Tuesday) and that's exactly what we did. Like 10 straight rides on Gobbler Getaway.

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Dollywood & Mountain Monster

I visited Dollywood twice in 2020.  The park is wonderful.  It's gorgeous and has a homey charm about it.  And it also happens to have my favorite roller coaster in the world.  Lightning Rod is both the biggest strength and weakness of the park.

Lightning Rod is my favorite coaster.  When it's operational, it completely changes how I spend my day at Dollywood.  But when it's closed- and that happens a lot- it serves as a giant lawn ornament taunting you in the distance that puts a major damper on the day.

And in 2020, I had a 50% success rate with Lightning Rod.

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Lightning Rod does everything I could want.  It has an amazing setting on the wooded hillside.  It has impeccable pacing.  And it delivers some of the strongest airtime of any coaster.  So I continued my usual strategy at Dollywood if Lightning Rod is running.  Buy a TimeSaver Unlimited and marathon Lightning Rod until it breaks or the park closes.

In my visit in early July, Lightning Rod ran fairly consistently until the end of the day.  At that point, the ride's brakes were getting a bit cranky.  I was worried I'd miss out on a coveted night ride, but Dollywood miraculously got the ride open just a few minutes before close so I could blast into darkness.  Voyage may have closed the gap with Lightning Rod, but this is still my favorite coaster.  10 out of 10

As many of us know, Lightning Rod is being retracked with steel I-box track for the 2021 season.  I've seen some complaining it will ruin the feel of the ride, but I don't care what material is used on Lightning Rod- wood, steel, PVC.  As long as the ride can actually run reliably and still deliver the out-of-control ride, it'll still be my favorite coaster.  The setting and elements make the ride special, not the track type.

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When I wasn't riding Lightning Rod, I was often riding Thunderhead.  The park has retracked major portions of this ride recently and it's riding like a dream.  The ride is filled with abrupt pops of airtime, particularly if you sit towards the front of the train.  The ride has excellent pacing and the shuffling it had in 2016-2017 is no longer there.  The trees around the ride are no longer there due to Wildwood Grove, but you still feel quite isolated with the hill on the back of the ride and the dense support structure boxing you in.  8 out of 10

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While Thunderhead was running smoother than ever in 2020, Mystery Mine had a rough year in more ways than one.  The first half was particularly jerky this year, which made it all the more important to lean forwards while the ride pointlessly meandered about its first half.  But it was worth it for that finale.  The beyond vertical drop in darkness is breathtaking, as is the sustained hangtime on the final two inversions.  6 out of 10

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I go back and forth which of the steel coasters is my favorite at the park.  Wild Eagle has a bizarre layout for a wing coaster.  I'm convinced the park ordered a floorless coaster and B&M accidentally gave them a wing coaster.  But it's quite fun.  The first drop feels like a B&M hyper drop with the sustained floater airtime.  The vertical loop has deceptive force to it and the final two inersions have good hangtime.  The final helixes are duds, but the coaster has a great setting on the wooded hillside to compensate.  7.5 out of 10

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Tennessee Tornado is short but powerful ride.  The first drop that tunnels through the mountain is incredible.  The inversions are forceful and shockingly smooth.  I just wish there was more to it and Arrow could have kept building rides like this.  7.5 out of 10

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I also took a few laps on the park's family coasters.  Firechaser Express is among the best of the genre with its bevy of elements.  Having multiple launches, airtime hills, and a backwards segment on a family coaster is quite rare.  That's especially true when the ride has a unique location on a hill and some theming to boot.  7 out of 10

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Dragonflier is 90% a family coaster.  Most of the ride consists of graceful helixes.  But that first overbank is downright wild.  It pulls some serious Gs and feels like an inversion.  It's one of the most out-of-place elements on a family coaster if you ask me.  But as a thrill-seeker, I don't mind.  Especially since the ride is so smooth.  6.5 out of 10

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Beyond the coasters, I also made sure to hit some of my favorite non-coasters like Drop Line, Daredevil Falls, and Smoky Mountain River Rampage.  The latter two were extremely refreshing with the blazing heat ad stifling humidity.

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I'm hoping the trackwork on Lightning Rod finally gets the ride running reliably 5 years after its opening.  That ride is special and if I had a guarantee it would run more frequently, I'd probably visit Dollywood more often.

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On my way out of town, I also made a pit stop to try the Mountain Monster.  I saw this attraction in November 2019, but it had been closed for the season.  This is a unique tower attraction that is essentially two rides in one.  The experience starts by boarding a drop tower carriage.  You slowly ascend the 20 story tower to some comical elevator music.  Once you reach the top, you actually leave this vehicle and transfer to a different one.

The best way to describe this ride is that it feels like a skycoaster, but scarier.  That is for three reasons.  One, the restraints are much more minimalistic.  As opposed to the usual flight harness, you just have some thin straps holding you in.  That's especially nerve-racking when the ride tilts you 90 degrees before the drop.  Two, the ride feels like it launches you downwards on the initial descent.  It felt sort of like a S&S tower how the initial descent has that extra kick to it.  Three, the weight of the vehicle relative to the size of the cable gives it an extra dimension of terror.  Ultimately, it felt like a sky coaster with an extra kick to it.

You are then pulled back atop the tower and transfer back to the original vehicle.  You then drop 20 stories at a rapid rate.  This would be satisfying as a standalone drop tower because of the drop's power.  Plus, the fact you drop through the scaffolding of the tower makes it extra disorienting.  Mountain Monster is pricey, but it's one heck of an adrenaline rush.  10 out of 10

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28 minutes ago, grsupercity said:

I have only managed to ever get one ride on Lightning Rod and it is very hard to judge off one ride but it was fun! 

I spent 3 days at DW in the summer of 2017 and Lightning Rod ran consistently my entire visit with little downtime.  It has pretty much everything you could ask for in a coaster (great drop, airtime, laterals, etc) and the night rides are truly epic.  I've hesitated to go back to DW as LR seemed to be running worse the last year or two, so I really hope that the RMC redo solves the dependability issues.

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Great report!

Nice to see that you were able to get some rides on your #1 coaster in 2020.  When I saw that LR was running somewhat consistently during mid-August, I decided to make the drive down for the first time.  I'm definitely thankful that I got to experience it as a wooden coaster shortly before it closed down for the year

As a whole, Dollywood's charm was simply undeniable.  It is definitely on my list of "places I'd like to see operating normally" (i.e. not during a pandemic).  Kennywood is another example.  

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Whoa whoa whoa.... thanks for the report.. but hold on there one second.... Dollywood has a wannabe Moose-on-the-loose themed with black bears!? Why is this the first photo or mention I've ever seen of this magical ride? Maybe I just missed it...

Any weight limits, limitations, or info I need to know? Is it a unique layout or a clone of the Darien Lake ride? (I'd assume it's the same manufacturer)

Is it relatively new? Maybe that's why I didn't see it on my visit a couple years ago (after lightning rod opened, though!) but I'm surprised it isn't talked about a little bit more wink_b.gif.6b5f7a3935af02e9b3032c21d427b98e.gif

Do the bears talk!? These are all important questions.

Time to find a POV on YouTube.

EDIT: ah, Wildwood Grove didn't exist yet when I was there, so that would explain that. I saw the POV and it looks lame compared to the SFDL counterpart :-P

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7 hours ago, grsupercity said:

I have only managed to ever get one ride on Lightning Rod and it is very hard to judge off one ride but it was fun! 

That first ride is a blur because of how quick you tear through that layout.

6 hours ago, VegasBaby said:

I spent 3 days at DW in the summer of 2017 and Lightning Rod ran consistently my entire visit with little downtime.  It has pretty much everything you could ask for in a coaster (great drop, airtime, laterals, etc) and the night rides are truly epic.  I've hesitated to go back to DW as LR seemed to be running worse the last year or two, so I really hope that the RMC redo solves the dependability issues.

It seems like the structure was the big issue lately, which likely got worse with time.

4 hours ago, dankeykang said:

Great report!

Nice to see that you were able to get some rides on your #1 coaster in 2020.  When I saw that LR was running somewhat consistently during mid-August, I decided to make the drive down for the first time.  I'm definitely thankful that I got to experience it as a wooden coaster shortly before it closed down for the year

As a whole, Dollywood's charm was simply undeniable.  It is definitely on my list of "places I'd like to see operating normally" (i.e. not during a pandemic).  Kennywood is another example.  

My August visit missed the ride by a week.  Dollywood's rides felt normal during the pandemic, but choosing to skip the shows felt wrong given their quality.

1 hour ago, anonymouscactus said:

Whoa whoa whoa.... thanks for the report.. but hold on there one second.... Dollywood has a wannabe Moose-on-the-loose themed with black bears!? Why is this the first photo or mention I've ever seen of this magical ride? Maybe I just missed it...

Any weight limits, limitations, or info I need to know? Is it a unique layout or a clone of the Darien Lake ride? (I'd assume it's the same manufacturer)

Is it relatively new? Maybe that's why I didn't see it on my visit a couple years ago (after lightning rod opened, though!) but I'm surprised it isn't talked about a little bit more wink_b.gif.6b5f7a3935af02e9b3032c21d427b98e.gif

Do the bears talk!? These are all important questions.

Time to find a POV on YouTube.

EDIT: ah, Wildwood Grove didn't exist yet when I was there, so that would explain that. I saw the POV and it looks lame compared to the SFDL counterpart :-P

Unfortunately, it had no narration but it was still cute.  I can't wait until the trees grow in Wildwood Grove so it's actually a grove like the name suggests.

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