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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Gillian's Wonderland Pier- The calm before the Gale Force

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Really terrific report. We were so blown away by SFM a few years ago when we visited! Medusa Steel was absolutely incredible for us, and I'm sorry to hear it's running a little tamer now. Reading your description of moments of no airtime and tame turnarounds was so different from my memories of it! Hopefully it picks back up.

 

We also loooooved Superman too though. My wife just adored it.

 

And Mexico City as a whole is just amazing. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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La Feria de Chapultepec

 

One of my favorite things to see in the heart of a major city is an amusement park. In the US, the only notable ones I can think of are Coney Island and Elitch Gardens. I encountered a pair in Sweden last year and since I was staying in downtown Mexico City, I just recently visited La Feria de Chapultepec before my return flight to the US.

 

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An impressive skyline from my hotel window.

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I was across the street from the National Auditorium, but I think you are all focused on what's in the distance.

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More cities need an amusement park downtown. I also may be very biased.

 

The trip to the park was again the scariest ride of the day. Google Maps estimated that it would take just under 20 minutes to reach the park. After picking me up, my driver drove over the median strip and backed up one block to get to the closest onramp. This death defying stunt managed to trim 15 minutes off the ride. I wasn't quite sure if I should tip or not. On one hand, I got there in 5 minutes. On the other hand, just imagine being in that vehicle.

 

I only had 3 hours before I needed to leave for the airport, so I knew that'd be a gamble to squeeze in La Feria. For one, I was taking a gamble the city's propensity for thunderstorms wouldn't hit in the morning. But a bigger factor would be La Feria’s operations. I heard they were random and frustrating, so hitting all major rides in such a short timeframe could be complicated.

 

And La Feria's operations lived up to its dubious reputation. It began before even entering the park. 99% of the time, I like to buy my ticket online so I can proceed straight to the turnstiles. Unfortunately you must be a native of Mexico to do so. I arrived a half hour prior to opening and found a short line at the end behind a family.

 

About 5 minutes prior to opening, an employee hung a “Cerrado” sign on our ticket booth, so everyone in my line switched to the other ones. 5 minutes later, the "Cerrado" signs were flipped to "Abierto" causing a running of the bulls to those ticket booths we previously thought were closed. La Feria was not off to a great start. After buying my wristband, I proceeded to the turnstile with the shortest wait only to be told I had to wait in the one with the long line.

 

Also as a note to those who typically throw out their receipts, absolutely do not do that at La Feria. You’d think the wristband you receive is your park admission, but nope they use your receipt. So don't throw it out in the inconveniently placed trash can next to the ticket booth. One family who had disposed of their ticket had to fish it out before being admitted to the park. The whole process to enter the park probably took 20-25 minutes, but it was chaotic. Though since an all-inclusive wristband costs the equivalent of $10 USD, I guess it comes with the territory. Even more impressive is that a season pass is just $25. That's insane for a park located in such a populated city!

 

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La Feria's operations bugged me.

 

Once inside the park, I immediately made my way to the park’s star attraction, the Montana Rusa. While a majority of the park’s attractions are relatively compact in nature, this hulking wooden coaster can be seen from anywhere in the park. Despite this fact, it's more difficult than you'd expect to get good photos of it since all the other rides are adjacent to the structure. Heck they even have a sizable amphitheatre in the middle of the ride.

 

I was warned in advance the park usually only runs one train on this mobeus coaster. And that's not one train per side. No it's one train total. Sure enough that was exactly what they were doing on Cinco de Mayo. Combine that with their glacial dispatches (I don't think any coaster had a dispatch under 5 minutes and that included the spinning mouse) and I knew I'd only be getting one ride on Montana Rusa. I only waited 15 minutes, but later in the day the queue was spilling out of the building. You aren't able to wait for any row on the coasters La Feria; it's first come, first serve. All the seats towards the front were taken, but I was able to snatch the second to back, which was honestly the seat I wanted anyway.

 

I'm pretty sure most in the US would consider this coaster rough, but after 5 days of driving over all the potholes and topes in Mexico City, Montana Rusa felt like riding on a cloud. Sure there were some bumps, but this would have been perfectly reridable if it had no queue. After the first two drops weren't steep at all, I figured I may be in for a snooze fest.

 

Then the 3rd drop arrived and holy guacamole! It had some serious ejector air. The next two drops are back to ADA compliant slopes before being hit with back to back steep plunges leading into the final turnaround. And like the third drop, these both had terrifying pops of ejector air. The return leg is something in between and may have given a slight hint of air, but nothing compared to those three hills.

 

It's a shame this mobeus coaster doesn't race, but it's a historical ride with some surprisingly intense moments. The airtime isn't sustained like an El Toro, but it's up there for the most intense and violent pops of airtime of any coaster. And it does this three times. But the rest of the coaster doesn’t offer much. Now Idid see them add a second train later in the day, but by that time, I needed to call an Uber to the airport. 7 out of 10

 

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It's impossible to be anywhere in the park and not see Montana Rusa.

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It doesn't race, but it makes up for it with some oddly profiled drops.

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Montana Rusa's air is orgasmic at points. See the dude in the back left as proof.

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I love how the color scheme borrows the colors from the Mexican flag.

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A true classic.

 

I planned to follow up my ride with the two Schwarzkopfs, but both were still closed with no sign stating when they'd open. I decided to check on Raton Loco, the park’s spinning mouse and lucked out. They had just finished testing and an employee came down to move the heavy, metal trashcan blocking the entrance. Usually a chain will do, but I guess Lou Ferignou wanted to impress a few woman with his muscles.

 

I mentioned it earlier, but they had 5 minute dispatches on the mouse. Though it isn't as bad as it seems. Instead of loading one vehicle at a time, they load all 6 together. Once all the cars are filled and checked, they then send a car out every 30 seconds. I thought this may have just been a quirk hitting it immediately after it opened, but they were doing the same later in the day even with a full queue.

 

The mouse itself was somewhat notable for two things. First, the ride was extremely close to a few trees. So close that it may be the reason why riders aren't allowed to raise their hands. Two, I don't think La Feria knows what trim or block brakes are. Usually these spinning mice are braked before the hairpin turns, but here they were taken like someone in the Fast and Furious zipping around a corner. On one hand, it yielded insane spinning in the second half. On the other hand, the first half was borderline painful without proper bracing. 5 out of 10

 

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This ride taught me that La Feria doesn't know what a trim brake is.

 

I was tempted to hit the park’s haunted walkthrough, but decided to check back on the Schwarzkopfs. I saw the shuttle loop operating, but decided to check Quimera. There was no trash bucket blocking the entrance, yet there was no activity by the station. I confusedly got into line and heard over the PA system “diez personas.” Ah ok, I could wait for 9 other riders. And it took no more than a minute. I eagerly grabbed the first row. After riding Olympia Looping last year, I was interested to see how its brother would ride. It was off to a good start without those annoying accordion restraints. Now there were comfort collars/straps along with the lap bar. They were tricky to secure and dramatically slowed loading, but they weren't uncomfortable. In fact, the forces of the ride tried succeeded in partially removing them.

 

99% of the time, I'm not the biggest fan of one train operations. Quimera is the 1%. Liking one train ops? Have I gone mad? No, not in the least bit. You see, Schwarzkopf designed this creation to be a capacity machine. Meanwhile La Feria doesn't give a flying hoot about capacity. Since they plan to run with one train until the end of time, they disabled the 4-5 block brakes. So while the coaster starts off like Olympia Looping, each lap gets progressively faster and wilder. Take the final loop. Schwarzkopf loops are always intense. But this loop was...Jesus Christ. I have no clue how many Gs the third and final loop pulls, but I don't think it would be legal in the United States. I was shocked RCDB said it pulled less Gs than Olympia Looping, but then I realized that figure was calculated from the ride's former homes with the block brakes active. I'm confident in saying it's nowhere near 4.7 Gs anymore.

 

But it's not just the loops that are amplified, but the second half is as well. As great as Olympia Looping is, the helices after the loops are pretty uneventful. Not on Quimera. The hills that were previously designed to runoff the train's speed now function as airtime hills. Those "gentle turns" off on the MCBR? Those now give you the laterals of a wild mouse. I have no clue who at La Feria thought it would be a brilliant idea to operate this coaster in this fashion, but they deserve a promotion.

 

Without a doubt, Quimera is the most intense roller coaster I have ever ridden. The intense Gs, crushing laterals, and surprising airtime alone make it a strong candidate, but Mexico City's altitude seals the deal. If you think Denver is high, look at Mexico City's elevation; it's 3000 feet higher than the Mile High City. Going in, I think I may have been dealing with some altitude sickness. On one hand, that made Quimera the wildest ride I've ever ridden. On the other hand, this is the first time I have been unable to reride a coaster due to its intensity. If I had more time to recuperate, I definitely would have given Quimera another ride because it was amazing. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Quimera is arguably the most intense coaster I've ridden when you factor in the location.

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Olympia Looping hauls through just the loops. Quimera hauls through everything- drops, loops, helices.

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Comfort collars look like B&M clamshells compared to those Schwarzkopf accordion restraints.

 

I needed a 20ish minute water and rest break before daring to ride Cascabel 2.0. If I immediately jumped into another Schwarzkopf loop, I feel like that could have been the knockout blow. When I entered the queue I was greeted with just a 10 minute wait and ended up with the second row.

 

The launch had a strong snap and the vertical loop traveling forwards was as forceful as you'd expect. In reverse, it felt quite a bit more drawn out. I didn't remember that on Montezooma's Revenge. Maybe it's a hair slower? Either way it's still intense because of the nearly circular profile.

 

I felt dizzy and short of breath after the ride ended. I mean it's a pretty action packed coaster, but I think the altitude was giving me an issue. I had no clue why it didn't bother me at Six Flags Mexico, but I guess it shows just how intense Schwarzkopfs are. It's a shame the shuttle loops are a dying breed since they're pretty good rides. 7 out of 10

 

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Schwarzkopf loops and high elevations are a powerful combination.

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Cascabel doesn't quite make it all the way up the tower.

 

I had about an hour before I had to go. It was tricky to pass up rerides on Quimera or Montana Rusa, but I figured I should take it easy. Fortunately the park’s haunted walkthrough (Casona del Terror) is noted as a highlight in many trip reports so that was absolutely perfect. The queue took about a half hour, but it gave me time to feel better.

 

I had zero clue what the scare actors were saying (I can only understand written Spanish or if it's spoken slowly and clearly). But they were really animated and plentiful too. I should also note that since we weren't in the US, the actors could touch us. Combine detailed and creepy sets and this was as good as any Halloween haunt out there. This was also longer than anticipated. The building didn't look too big from the outside, but it was multi-leveled and the narrow walkways allowed for plenty of scenes. I think it took about 10 minutes. The only full-time haunt I can think of quite like this in the US is Morey's Ghost Ship. 9 out of 10

 

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You'd think a permanent carnival would have one of those terrible, tacky dark rides, but La Feria has a bonafide haunt-level walkthrough.

 

I had just 15 minutes left. Since I knew Montana Rusa’s queue was a lost cause and I didn't want to risk feeling queasy for my ride to the airport, I went with the park’s drop tower, which was a one cycle wait. Called Torre Pepsi (which as you can guess translates to the Pepsi Tower), this is up with with the Helpful Honda Express for the most corporate sellout of a name out there.

 

This was an odd drop tower. I don't quite know the manufacturer, but the drop was taken pretty slowly. Nonetheless, it did provide a sensation. It wasn't quite a full-on stomach dropping sensation like a Larson or Intamin tower. It felt more like a tickle in the groin; I really have no other way to describe it. The only other rides that yield the same sensation are those tiny little Moser and SBF towers. As an added bonus, the park gives a double cycle, something I've never seen on a larger tower like this. While it isn't the most intense tower out there, it does provide spectacular views of Mexico City and the drop, while slow, manages to do something. 6 out of 10

 

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The (not so) Power(ful) Tower.

 

La Feria also had a rare mix of older flats including a Loop O Plane, Huss Condor, and then a swinging inverter ship that was a splitting image of the Chinese one included in the Roller Coaster Tycoon Wacky Worlds expansion pack. They also had an odd looking flume with the weirdest profiled drop I’ve ever seen. It has a pullout sized for a hyper coaster’s drop despite being no more than 40 feet tall.

 

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It may look like your average flume.

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But just look at the profiling on this drop.

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I really wish there were more Huss Condors left.

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Another rare flat.

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So this is where that Chinese themed swinging inverter ship in Roller Coaster Tycoon came from.

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I regret skipping this. I knew it would be terrible, but it's the type of terrible that's so laughably bad that it's enjoyable.

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Lastly, WTF is this slide?

 

La Feria doesn’t have the modern thrillers like Six Flags Mexico, but it knows its niche. Really it serves as a permanent carnival in the center of the city. Honestly the retro feel is refreshing as the park has some pretty rare attractions.

 

I really wish this park had better operations. That's the lone Achilles heel. Now that I think back, I don't think any ride had more than 2 people staffed to it. That includes the operator, attendants checking restraints, and height check employee. In many instances, the employees performed a little of each. Beyond that, the confusing mess to enter the park had me pulling my hair out. But then again I have to keep in mind the admission price. I thought a Six Flags season pass was a steal, but a park in a downtown metropolis costing just $25 for the year is unbelievable.

 

Not sure when I'll revisit this park, but if I'm ever back in Mexico City it's a must. I’ll just take some more preventative measures against the altitude and hopefully have some extra time for rerides on the coasters. This really is one of the more unique parks out there.

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Six Flags St. Louis

 

Visiting Six Flags St. Louis would have completed one of my bucket list items - visiting every Six Flags theme park around the world. And I would have succeeded too if it weren’t for the chain’s surprise acquisition of Frontier City last week. But I still did end up visiting one of the nicer Six Flags parks.

 

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Six Flags St. Louis is a very green park.

 

As I approached the park, there was a light drizzle. I wasn’t too worried since the chain usually has no qualms operating rides in the rain. Upon entering the park, I consulted my handy dandy Six Flags app and everything was closed, including the indoor rides. Surely that had to be a glitch, so I made my way to Justice League. And go figure, it was actually closed too, but for non-weather related reasons.

 

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I guess the Justice League took Memorial Day weekend off.

 

In retrospect, I probably should have started with the low capacity Pandemonium, but I was too tempted by the park’s GCI. I joined a small group queuing and about 20 minutes later, American Thunder opened and I was on the third train in the very front row.

 

American Thunder is essentially a double out-and-back coaster with a ton of crossovers mixed in. The airtime was weaker than other GCI’s in terms of strength (weak floater as opposed to strong pops), but American Thunder compensated with quantity. Basically every single hill had me flying out of my seat. It wasn’t the most intense coaster in the world, but I couldn’t help but smile as we hit the brake run.

 

I immediately grabbed a second ride in the back, waiting maybe 20 minutes. While the air wasn’t as plentiful as row 1, the air was stronger when it did occur. I also found the laterals to be a bit stronger in back. That being said, I preferred the very front for the added airtime.

 

I think the most remarkable thing about American Thunder is how smooth it is. Several of the GCIs I’ve ridden are glass smooth in their infancy but have become rougher in time, particularly if you ride further back in the train. Yet American Thunder is incredibly smooth in every seat. 8 out of 10

 

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Finally a test train.

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For a primarily out-and-back layout, American Thunder has a ton of crossovers.

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It's basically one airtime hill after another.

 

Fans of the park have been clamoring for the park to receive a hyper. Please don’t get greedy, you already have a coaster in excess of 200 feet- Mr. Freeze. I found the blue paint scheme much more fitting here than the red scheme Over Texas uses on their version.

 

The launch isn’t particularly forceful, but that’s probably for the best considering it’s in reverse. My favorite inversions are loaded with hangtime, but I also like inversions that cause me to grey out. Mr. Freeze’s inverted top hat is a disorienting experience that somehow provides both sensations. Better yet, as a shuttle coaster, you get to experience this inversion twice.

 

The overbank is nice and whippy, but the highlight is the spike, especially if you’re riding in the very back. The gravity defying boost on the spike really messes with your mind and the subsequent drop has some very nice airtime.

 

Mr. Freeze is probably the park’s best steel coaster as it’s an extremely fast and forceful coaster. It’s also extremely reridable thanks to the lap bar only trains. I found this one a bit smoother than the one at Over Texas, but otherwise it was a comparable experience. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Here's the park's hypercoaster.

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This Mr. Freeze is significantly more entertaining than watching Arnold fail miserably in the 1990s movie.

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I didn't know Mr. Freeze liked to wear top hats.

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Looking at this overbank just gives me the chills.

 

I was hoping to tour the park without a Flash Pass, but the queues for Ninja and Pandemonium convinced me to splurge $30 for a Gold Q-Bot. Overall Six Flags St. Louis was a really well landscaped and operated park, but the one critique I have for the park is how the Flash Pass is handled.

 

First, I really am not a fan of parks that load skip-the-line passes through the exit. I hate experiencing the look of disgust from oncoming riders and much prefer merging with the queue. Second, signage for Flash Pass queues was often minimal and confusing. The latter could be easily improved by providing a printout with the entry points. This is something Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Silver Dollar City do.

 

With the ability to skip the line of almost any ride, for some inexplicable reason I picked Ninja. Either an Arrow looper or Vekoma looper is bad enough, but Ninja has the dubious honor of being a collaboration between the two. I chose the back row and braced myself for non-stop karate chops to the head.

 

The first drop has a good pop of air and the following vertical loop is pretty darn forceful. But the highlight is the most terrifying headchopper I’ve ever experienced. Headchoppers are usually caused by supports. They also usually occur during drops. After the disorienting sidewinder, there’s a surprise headchopper from the chain lift. I’m pretty sure I head Ninja scream “Hiya” as it tried to decapitate me.

 

No one ever has anything positive to say about Ninja, but you know what? I actually found the coaster to be decent. This ride would be absolute hell for a shorter rider, but I was tall enough such that my head was above the OSTRs which resulted in no headbanging. 6 out of 10

 

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This Arrow/Vekoma looper really does look like a torture device.

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But this is the only point it tries to kill you with a sneaky chain lift to the throat.

 

Next I made my way over to Batman the Ride, which was a walk-on. Batman the Ride always has a nice looking queue, but I really liked the black color scheme on this one. Batman is a dark and gritty hero, so the black is very fitting. Seeing bright yellow or blue gives me PTSD to Joel Schumacher’s Batman films.

 

The ride was your typical Batman- fast and forceful. Every time I hit the brake run on these Batman clones, I can feel my legs tingling from the intensity. While Batman is usually a supporting coaster at other Six Flags parks, it’s arguably one of the stars at St. Louis. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I love the black paint scheme on Batman.

 

River King Mine Train was the perfect example of a confusing Flash Pass line. The main entrance had the standard Flash Pass sign with no arrow directing me anywhere. I entered into the main queue and saw no grouper anywhere to be found. Fortunately the regular queue wasn’t more than 10 minutes anyway.

 

I rode towards the back and was pleasantly surprised by this mine train. Its overall speed is pretty modest, but some of the tight turns did have decent whip and the wooded setting was a plus. The highlight without a doubt was the final plunge. I didn’t see it coming and it even provided a pop of air too. 6 out of 10

 

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This is probably the mine train's max height, but it uses its little speed quite well.

 

Superman Tower of Power is arguably the park’s most imposing attraction. Sitting atop a hill, Superman looks a whole lot bigger than 23 stories. I was hoping to ride on the side overlooking the hillside, but unfortunately Flash Pass users were being loaded on the backside facing Screamin’ Eagle.

 

I was sort of letdown by my first ride on Superman. The drop was good, but it didn’t have the punch I expected from a second generation Intamin. Fortunately I gave the drop tower a second change later in the day and it delivered the stomach dropping, airtime filled drop I’ve come to expect. 8 out of 10

 

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The Man of Steel looks over the park.

 

I then made my way over to one of the top RMC candidates in the world, Boss. As I approached the ride, I could only see a few imposing hills towering above the treeline. I was really intrigued to experience this coaster. On one hand, the layout definitely seemed unique. On the other hand, there must be a reason people want to see this thing RMCed so badly.

 

While there were two trains on the track, only one was being loaded. The other was loaded with weights, presumably to prevent a valley. Because of this, I would have felt like a total dick taking the front row with Flash Pass, although another couple had no qualms constantly reserving and requesting row 1.

 

I was expecting a large drop followed by a million helices, but the Boss surprised me with several large drops, each providing a substantial pop of air. My favorite moment though was that surprise double down after the initial plunge. Having a tiny 20 foot plunge while going 55-60 MPH is a recipe for major airtime.

 

The MCBR did bring the train to a complete and total halt and the following turnaround explained why the park couldn’t send out an empty train. The finale clearly wasn’t taken as fast as it was intended, but a few of the bunny hills still provided modest pops of air

 

It was definitely bumpy, but at no point did I find it uncomfortable. This is just a coaster with an aggressive layout. I wish I could have experienced the Boss before the trim brakes were added and the helix was removed, but as it stands, it’s a unique and solid coaster. I immediately rerode it in row 3 and while it was a bit smoother, I missed the strong air from the drops. 8 out of 10

 

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I was not expecting all these large, airtime filled drops on the Boss.

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As much criticism as people give Gerstlauer trains, I actually didn't mind them.

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RIP helix.

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Even the final bunny hills dish out pops of air.

 

Pandemonium was essentially the same as SFNE’s identically named spinner with a few slight differences. The first was the amount of tree coverage around the coaster. Secondly, there was a subtle change in the set-up of the station and brake run. Ultimately I’m a fan of these Gerstlauer spinners as an off-balanced ride yields some forceful spinning and the finale is usually good for a pop of air. 7 out of 10

 

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Why do these Gerstlauer spinners always seem to end up at larger chain parks?

 

While Pandemonium is a coaster I don’t mind seeing cloned (outside of the miserable capacity), I have much different feelings towards boomerangs. I don’t hate boomerangs, but I’ve ridden so many that they just aren’t that exciting to me. It’s like corn at Thanksgiving. It’s there, but do you really care to have any? SFSTL’s Boomerang was one of the smoother ones and delivered the usually intense ride. 5 out of 10

 

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If you throw shade at a boomerang, it may throw headbanging back at you.

 

The last coaster I saved was actually the one I liked the best, the Screamin’ Eagle. I would have ridden it earlier in the day, but unfortunately its queue and exit configuration kept it from being on the Flash Pass. To add insult to injury, the coaster was only running one train resulting in a half hour wait.

 

I started in the front and was blown away by the ride. The ride sustains its speed well and cleverly uses the park’s hilly terrain to mix in some surprisingly tall drops, particularly the third and far turnaround. Most hills offered solid floater air and the turnarounds offered some surprisingly strong pops of ejector air. Then when you mix in the glass smooth ride with the wooded setting, you have a real winner.

 

A convenient breakdown (someone complained that their lap bar came loose) cleared out the queue, which enabled me to get two quick rerides- one in the back and one in the front. While the larger drops provided good air in the back, this is definitely a front row coaster. I definitely wasn’t expecting the Eagle to be the best ride in the park, but it does everything a classic wooden coaster should. 8.5 out of 10

 

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I don't know why no one talks about Screamin' Eagle. It had some awesome airtime!

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It also had some surprisingly tall drops too.

 

Unfortunately Xcalibur was closed for an extended rehab. The evolution is an incredibly rare flat. It was a bummer to see it down, but luckily I have ridden one on the fair circuit in California (Butler Amusements).

 

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King Arthur's sword is being tended by the blacksmith.

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Maybe if the archer grabbed a screwdriver instead of a bow and arrow Xcalibur would have been open.

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Their scrambler was also closed, not that anyone cares.

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This one people may care about. The new water slide clearly wasn't ready to go quite yet.

 

I had a half hour left, so I grabbed rerides on the park’s two other wooden coasters. The Boss was still cycling both trains and only loading one. I’m kind of confused why they didn’t just remove the train, but it did prevent the coaster from going down during the day. I grabbed another back car ride on the Boss and a front row ride on American Thunder to finish off the day.

 

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Will this be Twisted Boss the next time I visit?

 

Six Flags St. Louis is one of the nicest looking parks in the chain. The themed areas don’t look quite as good as Fiesta Texas or Six Flags Mexico, but it’s surprisingly well-shaded and probably has the best landscaping.

 

My one gripe seems to be common among all enthusiasts, the lack of a standout coaster. They have the perfect supporting cast of coasters, but they lack that world-class coaster you want to marathon at the end of the day. If they ever get the mythical hyper coaster or RMC Boss, a return visit will be fast-tracked.

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St. Louis

 

Whenever I travel, my primary focus is without a doubt on amusement parks. Why else would I be posting on Theme Park Review? That being said, whenever my park travels bring me through a major destination, I like to put on my tourist hat.

 

Six Flags St. Louis brought me to the Gateway City. Ever since I discovered the City Museum, St. Louis has been a destination I’ve been eying for a while. The City Museum deserves its own update, but there a few other sites I visited in St. Louis.

 

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More on this in a later update. Words really cannot describe how weird and awesome the City Museum is.

 

The first was St. Louis’s Incredible Pizza Company. No reputable guidebook would ever list this wannabe Chuck E. Cheese’s as a travel destination, but I was convinced by its 2.5 star rating on Yelp. Actually it was the SBF spinner I discovered while browsing RCDB. You didn’t think I’d have a whole update without a ride, did you?

 

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I fully admit I only went here because of a certain credit.

 

Unlike many arcades, the Incredible Pizza Company isn’t free admission. All guests are required to either pay for the buffet or spend a minimum amount on a game card. Since the food at Six Flags wasn’t exactly on par with Knoebels, I decided to go for the buffet. How bad could pizza be?

 

I arrived 20 minutes prior to closing and the on-duty manager graciously admitted me into the buffet for no charge. I was incredibly grateful. So grateful that I forked over $7 for the coaster without any hesitation. The buffet was pretty sparse this time of night, but I did sample several slices of pizza and some pasta. It was decent pizza, definitely a step up from Pizza Hut or Domino’s.

 

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Not the best pizza I've ever had, but far from the worst. And it was plentiful!

 

After indulging myself, I had a train to myself on the Incredible Spin Coaster. While $7 is probably a bit much for this type of coaster, the park did compensate by giving 10 laps. I think that’s a new record for me. Despite riding alone, the car didn’t spin as much as I had expected, but it was still disorienting coming mere inches from the roof and speeding by the bright, flashing lights of the arcade. 3 out of 10

 

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I'm pretty sure I would have hit the roof if I raised my hands.

 

The next day began with a destination that didn’t elicit judgmental looks from my girlfriend, the Gateway Arch. A son of an architect, I am always fascinated by the iconic bridges, skyscrapers, and structures that a city has to offer. The arch is incredibly simplistic, but its sleek design is extremely impressive in person.

 

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What a beauty.

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The world's biggest magnet is quite the sight to see.

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The location on the river is perfect too.

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The arch feels even bigger because of how slender it is.

 

Multiple reviews online cited a lengthy queue to ride to the top, so I purchased the first available admission at 8 am on a Saturday. Who would want to get up that early? I certainly didn’t, but the view from my hotel room convinced me otherwise.

 

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This is a pretty convincing reason to get out of bed.

 

I was wondering why lines were an issue if you purchased a specific time, but I quickly discovered why. While you have a specific time for the tram, you could enter the museum at the base well in advance. Then they don’t check your time when you board the tram. I can see many people purchasing a tram time later in the day, getting impatient, and deciding to get in line anyway.

 

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I wonder how many people actually visit the museum before ascending to the top.

 

The trams definitely weren’t ADA compliant. There were 6-8 cars that each sat 5 riders in a tight semi-circle. You really get to know your fellow riders as you scrape knees and bend over due to the sloped roof. Fortunately the ride to the top is only 4 minutes. You only have a narrow porthole, but there’s nothing to see other than the 60 stories worth of stairs if the tram lost power.

 

But the view from atop the arch was spectacular. Actually I should clarify that; the view of the Missouri side from atop the arch was spectacular. The Illinois side is that dark shadowy place Mufasa warns Simba about. The Missouri side had a really impressive skyline filled with skyscrapers, ballparks, and bridges.

 

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Here are the little windows you look out.

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630 feet in the air.

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I love how the Arch's shadow is cast over the city.

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This building (whatever it is) sure looks nice.

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This would be a really cool place to take in a Cardinals game.

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Not a Ram to be seen.

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And for contrast, here's East St. Louis.

 

Prior to my visit, I was always told to avoid East St. Louis like the plague. From Google street view and crime statistics (number one murder rate in the country), I could definitely see why. However, all the picturesque views of the Arch from across the Mississippi come from East St. Louis.

 

Per the hotel front desk, they recommended I visit the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. While it was in East St. Louis, it was distant from the downtown area and frequently patrolled by cops. I’m glad I listened to the recommendation. At no point did I feel unsafe there and the views were spectacular.

 

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An overview of Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.

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I'd say this view was worth it.

 

Further, the park is also home to the Gateway Geyser, a 630 foot tall geyser equal in height to the arch. I timed my visit to coincide with the noon eruption. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for the Gateway Geyser, but it was probably the most impressive fountain/geyser I’ve ever seen.

 

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Facts for the history nerds out there.

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Shooting water higher than Kingda Ka.

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Or even the Orlando's Polercoaster (if that opens).

 

Last but not least, I made a side-trip at Gus’ Pretzels. I was born without a sweet tooth, so the doughy goodness of a soft pretzel is my guilty pleasure. The place was cash only unless you hit $5, which was surprisingly tricky since each pretzel was only 50 cents! So I did my part and purchased a smorgasbord of pretzels- pretzel ends, pretzel sticks, and pretzels.

 

All the pretzels were piping hot and fresh. While I still prefer those addicting pretzels at Busch Gardens and Wetzel’s Pretzels, these are ahead of Auntie Anne’s and far ahead of those generic Super Pretzels you find at theme parks.

 

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This place actually had good reviews on Yelp.

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Whenever a place has an open kitchen, it's usually a good sign.

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Best part is that I ate all this before going to Lambert's later that day.

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A reminder I was in the Bible Belt.

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And yes, I also prioritized pretzels over beer too.

 

St. Louis really was a fantastic city to visit. Beyond the usual great food, they had a national landmark in the Gateway Arch, the eccentric City Museum, and for us theme park fans, Six Flags St. Louis. Hopefully I can add in a Cardinals game in an inevitable return visit.

 

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And I need to visit this place next time. What could go wrong?

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City Museum

 

Words cannot describe how weird and awesome the St. Louis's City Museum is, so this update will be far more picture heavy than usual.

 

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The entrance has boobs. Doesn't that say it all?

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This is the lobby when you walk in. It's apparent this isn't like your grandfather's art museum.

 

The best way I can describe the City Museum is an oversized playground that sprinkles in a cafe, arcade, and bits you'd find in a typical museum. The museum is a complete sensory overload. Everywhere you look there's a climb or slide taking the form of something straight out of your dreams. And the best part is that adults have just as much fun as kids (until they get stuck in the climbs ).

 

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You can be boring and take the stairs or you can get one heck of a workout climbing a multistory slinky.

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Who knew evacuating a plane could be so fun?

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Congratulations, you have reached the top. Your prize? A climb back down (after enjoying the view of course).

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And then there are caves for good measure.

 

I originally intended to spend just Friday evening at the City Museum, but a rainstorm closed the outdoor section. As a result, I returned on Saturday morning after visiting the Arch since the outdoor section is just as awesome as the indoor area. While I think I hit a majority of the slides, there is absolutely no way I experienced everything in the City Museum. That's partly because of how huge it is and that's partly because the museum is basically a labyrinth to navigate. The last part may sound like a criticism, but it's far from it. Randomly discovering a new area or slide was part of the excitement!

 

Some of the slides, particularly the two near vertical ones and the two 10 story slides, were even more terrifying than a majority of the roller coasters I've ridden. They were possibly better too. The 10 story slides had stronger laterals than Kennywood's Thunderbolt and the vertical slides had some of the most terrifying airtime I've ever experienced. When you look down the shaft, you can't help but say a prayer.

 

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Pictures do not do this slide justice. It's almost vertical and it's more terrifying than a Golden Horse dive machine. Ok maybe not that terrifying, but it's close.

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If you go without braking yourself, you absolutely fly over this hill for some scary airtime.

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And if the slide wasn't screwed up enough, the exit sends you through this claustrophobic passage that even kids struggle to pass through.

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And then there's the 10 story slide. This is what a 100 foot tall maze of twisted slide looks like.

 

For those planning a visit, there are three key takeaways that will help make your visit far more enjoyable.

 

1) Visit late in the evening. There are less crowds to deal with and the average age is significantly older. Meanwhile on Saturday morning, the museum was reminiscent of a McDonald's Playplace with screaming kids constantly cutting lines and having no regard for personal space.

 

2) Wear athletic shorts. Originally I thought I'd be smart wearing sweatpants. While the sweatpants did help for the climbs and crawls, the museum was like a furnace. As a result, I got stuck in almost every slide which is no fun. I switched to cargo shorts and had a similar problem. But my athletic, moisture-wicking shorts did the trick and I was able to appreciate the lunacy of some of those larger slides.

 

3) If you wear a brace when you play sports, wear it to the museum. It may look stupid strapping up an ankle brace before going into a museum, but you'll be thankful. I was on the fence about wearing my ankle brace, but it definitely saved me from reinjuring my ankle on several of the slides and climbs.

 

Onto the photos! I hope these convince you to visit the museum since it really is one of the coolest places I've visited. It's basically a gigantic fun house. More specifically, it's basically a gigantic European fun house. I really don't know how a place like this exists in America, but I certainly am not complaining!

 

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Oh and they even have an aquarium here. This museum is the oddest mismatch of activities and I loved every minute of it.

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Classic pinball. I would have played, but I lost my quarters climbing through the caves :(

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Hopefully this ball pit doesn't have syringes like the one at the local Burger King.

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There's nothing like getting a view of downtown St. Louis atop what's essentially a playground.

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You can even get a legit ride credit at the City Museum.

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The praying mantis about to mount that slinky. Or maybe that unsuspecting guest?

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Ironically, the elephant is smaller than the mantis.

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Two of the fastest slides there.

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The museum is a life-sized game of Chutes and Ladders.

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Or Escalators and Eels if you're a SpongeBob fan.

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Lift hill porn without the lift hill.

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Someone is about to get one heck of a wedgie.

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Branson Mountain Coasters & Lambert's

 

When I think of Branson, I associate it with Silver Dollar City and amusement rides. Alternatively, my girlfriend is a foodie and associates Branson with one thing, Lambert's Cafe. Ok technically it's in Ozark, but it was directly on the route between St. Louis and Branson so it would have been foolish to skip. Anticipating large crowds on a Saturday, I tried to avoid crowds by arriving around 3:30-4. After struggling to find a parking space, I realized my efforts were futile. As I approached the main entrance, it was hard not to notice the line of people extending outside the building. But much to my amazement as a smaller party, I was seated right away!

 

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That's a lot of people.

 

All I knew going into Lambert's was that they were famous for throwing rolls. I'm shocked no one has tried suing them over a thrown roll (edit- of course someone has... ), but it was an incredibly simple concept that had everyone anxiously awaiting the roll cart. I will say that I was disappointed how frequently the cart came out. I only saw it come out once during my visit. However, the waiter was absolutely launching rolls across the dining room to compensate. And the rolls were delicious too.

 

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Can you spot the thrown roll?

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To quote Oprah, "I love bread."

 

Beyond the thrown rolls, several servers came by with additional sides such as fried potatoes, fried okra, beans, etc. I think it's impossible to leave Lambert's without gaining a few extra pounds. I went with the traditional fried chicken and it actually came out before the roll cart even made its lone appearance. The chicken was delicious and probably the best fried chicken I've had outside of Pigeon Forge. The restaurant is cash only (so be prepared), but definitely hit this unique restaurant if you're passing it on your way to Branson.

 

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I feel obliged to go with the fried chicken anytime I go to a southern style restaurant.

 

I had every intention of using the preview option on my Silver Dollar City ticket, but first I had two mountain coasters to hit. I started with the unoriginally named Branson Coaster. I have ridden several mountain coasters, but this one had several unique features. First and foremost, they offer a skip-the-line pass. As a $20 upcharge, it's pretty pricey for just one ride. To be honest, I'm not too sure how often it's even necessary since there was no wait whatsoever on a Saturday on Memorial Day weekend.

 

I gave the obligatory thumbs up to the safety spiel and immediately rolled out of the station. But instead of traveling up one of those endless mountain coaster lift hills, I immediately began the descent. Unlike the other mountain coasters I've ridden, this one's loading area is at the highest point. The descent was short lived, but there were some solid turns until the autobrake kicked in. If it were only a bit longer, this had the potential to be one of the better mountain coasters.

 

After reaching the top of the lift, I fully expected to return to the station, but instead there was a second downhill bit. That completely caught me off-guard and I appreciate how they did that to compensate for the shorter hill. The second half was quite a bit shorter, but it was significantly better as it was essentially a steep, downward run slaloming between trees. There was even a pop of air mixed in too.

 

The Branson Coaster's double lift was definitely unique and something I wasn't expecting. Ultimately I'd say it's a pretty middle-of-the-road mountain coaster, highlighted by the excellent second half. 8 out of 10

 

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For some reason, I don't think the skip the line pass is needed today.

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I'm kind of glad I didn't see this sign prior to riding since it made the second lift a nice, unexpected surprise.

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Doing the usual mountain coaster things.

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The first half is a warm up. The second half is the real star.

 

As good as the Branson Coaster is, it's not even the best mountain coaster in the town. That honor goes to the Runaway Coaster. Not sure if it was the location or if others shared the same thoughts, but the Runaway Coaster was definitely more crowded. Fortunately, I was able to fill out the waiver faster than a majority of the crowd (not going to make any reading jokes ), so I didn't wait more than 5 minutes.

 

The Runaway Coaster was a return to normalcy with the ridiculously long lift hill at the start. The entire descent took place entirely in the woods and it felt much faster than the Branson Coaster. The layout had a few double downs and tiny drops that produced quick pops of airtime and the tight turns yielded some strong laterals. As an Aquatic mountain coaster, I did find this to be one of the rougher ones. I'll take the added intensity in exchange for a slightly rougher ride, but those with bad backs may not share the same sentiments.

 

After my ride, the staff noticed my roller coaster shirt and were anxious to hear my opinion on the coaster. And I didn't disappoint them by saying it was better than the other mountain coaster across town. Further, it's one of the better mountain coasters I've ridden anywhere and it even stands its own with the traditional coasters out there. 8.5 out of 10

 

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If you only can ride one mountain coaster in Branson, this is the one to ride.

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I wish I had a better picture, but it's nearly impossible to photograph any of the layout. It's entirely in the woods.

 

I had every intention of making it to Silver Dollar City for the preview option included with my admission ticket, but first I had one more stop to make. There was a Bigfoot sighting on the strip...

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Bigfoot on the Strip

 

In light of the most recent lawsuit that came across my news feed today, I'm writing to leave a glowing review of Bigfoot on the Strip. In all honesty, this isn't me censoring myself or anything. I actually had a really positive experience at this FEC and wrote a majority of this review a week or so ago.

 

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"Give me a positive review...or else."

 

Bigfoot on the Strip is a very weird attraction. For the most part, it's your typical FEC with an arcade, mini golf, and random thrill rides. But then they have their flagship attraction, the 1.5 hour Bigfoot Expedition. That sounded incredibly corny and a complete tourist trap, so I sort of regret not trying it, but the temptation of Silver Dollar City was too much.

 

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They missed the perfect tie-in with Jack Links here.

 

My sole reason for visiting was to experience the Bigfoot Action Tower, which contains two terrifying thrill rides- Gravity Bomb and Super Sling. A local New England casino (Foxwoods) had installed a slightly shorter version of the same tower and I absolutely loved it. The one negative was the cost. It costs $35 for one ride on each attraction. Meanwhile Bigfoot on the Strip offers both attractions for $24...and it's unlimited!

 

I actually split my visit into two parts. I stopped in for a few minutes on the way to Silver Dollar City to experience the view of the mountains in daylight, but then I returned in the evening since they were open until midnight. With almost non-existent lines, I was able to rack up about 15 rides on the drop tower and 7-8 rides on the saddle launch.

 

My favorite of the two attractions was Gravity Bomb. It really has everything you could want in a drop tower.

 

A mountain view? Check.

Sound effects? Check.

Minimalistic restraints? Check.

An incredible, gut-wrenching, air-time filled drop? Check.

 

The drop tower had a lot of reride value because of those restraints. Since the restraints are a simple seatbelt (actually two seatbelts for redundancy), you can mix up the experience by staring at the ground a la Falcon's Fury, stare off to the side, or look directly at the moon. Actually the one bummer was the sound effects on rerides. For my first ride, the sound effects were incredible. But on rerides, they tipped off the exact moment when the drop would occur which sapped some of the thrill. Still this is about as fantastic as a drop tower can be. 10 out of 10

 

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It's like a taller Larson drop tower with even less restrictive restraints.

 

Then there was the Super Sling. Stan Checketts is an absolute madman for designing this ride vehicle. If you thought RMCs had nothing to hold onto, wait until you see the Super Sling. It's just a saddle and you feel completely exposed. For my first ride, the operator had some fun with me. After securing me, he asked if I'd like a countdown. Before I could even answer, I was speeding towards the sky. Well played, well played.

 

The launch isn't the most forceful, but it doesn't have to be. The real thrill is the anticipation of the flip at the top. The flip is insane. Instead of being perfectly graceful, you feel the bungee cords shift you sideways and then you abruptly flip upside down in one of the most disorienting bits of hangtime out there. If the weight is unevenly distributed, you're basically guaranteed to get an extra flip or two on the descent. On some of my rides, I actually stalled upside down which generated some really weird forces.

 

Super Sling was the more popular of the two attractions, but even still, the queue line peaked at just 10 minutes. 9 out of 10

 

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I never thought I'd be launched into the air on a saddle. But these are the things Stan Checketts thinks up.

 

The park also does try and maintain somewhat of a coherent theme. Every 30-40 minutes, they announce a random Bigfoot sighting over the PA system and this is accompanied by a little light show in the evening. And immediately after this announcement, they follow it up by requesting you to like them on Facebook and drop them a positive review on Yelp and/or Trip Advisor. In retrospect, that explains a bit more about the lawsuit...

 

Bigfoot on the Strip will never be a place I'll spend a whole day at. And to be honest, I don't think that's what the FEC expects either. But it is a place I'll always hit in a visit to Branson because of Super Sling and Gravity Bomb.

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I am SO glad this made the front page, otherwise, I would have missed your amazing updates of St. Louis, and the museum!

(I was on vacation when you posted them).

 

great, great pics, and looks like you had an amazing time.

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^ Thanks Bert!

 

St. Louis is an awesome city. In all honesty, I think I had more fun at the City Museum than Six Flags St. Louis. That's not a knock on SFSTL (I had a good day there), but more a testament how quirky and awesome the museum is.

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Silver Dollar City

 

I don’t even know how to begin with Silver Dollar City except for saying it may be my new favorite park. As a big fan of Dollywood, I expected a similarly awesome park. It was apparent Silver Dollar City and Dollywood were owned by the same company. But my takeaway was that Silver Dollar City takes everything Dollywood does well and in many cases exceeds that already high bar.

 

After procrastinating around on the Branson strip, I finally decided to venture to Silver Dollar City to take advantage of the preview on my one day ticket. As I approached the parking lot, I scrambled to find a parking pass. I must have bought one. I always do. I kept looking but couldn’t find it. Then I found out why- free parking. This has to be one of the largest parks with free parking and I applaud them for it.

 

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Silver Dollar City feels like a step back in time.

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The park map was a newspaper. A freaking newspaper! No other park does that and it's awesome.

 

Since I’d have an unlimited Trailblazer the next day, my priority on my preview night was any attraction not covered on the Trailblazer (i.e. Flooded Mine) or restricted (i.e. Time Traveler). Anticipating a long wait at their newest attraction, my original plan was to hit Time Traveler at the end. However, it was only posting a 20 minute wait so I immediately made that my first stop.

 

The presentation of the coaster is outstanding. The oversized sign dominates the entry plaza and is absolutely mesmerizing. Thankfully I didn’t need to queue in the barren first floor, but the second floor had some solid theming with blueprints on the wall and ornate clocks hanging from the ceiling. Then you have the constant ticking sound that’s only interrupted by the gong of a dispatch. When that gong occurs, all eyes shift to the imposing vertical drop.

 

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If you stare at Time Traveler's sign long enough, I'm pretty sure you could be hypnotized.

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I wonder if Doc Brown's plans were this detailed.

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Does anyone know what time it is? Time to ride!

 

Silver Dollar City assigns seats to maximize the coaster’s throughput, but on all my rides, my request to sit in the back car was granted. Once grouped, you proceed to the third floor where the theming becomes even more impressive. There are rotating gears on the ceiling (nerd points from an engineer) and this is the first opportunity to see those gorgeous ride vehicles. I love the openness of Mack restraints, but one odd thing here is how the restraints are automatically checked with the push of a button.

 

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I don't know what's more gorgeous- the trains or the rotating gears.

 

I cannot emphasize how important it is to request the back car. The primary reason is the first drop. If you thought Thunderbolt’s drop out of the station was a wow moment, what does that make Time Traveler’s vertical, spinning plunge. Sideways ejector air is every bit as wild as it sounds and Time Traveler has the best drop in the back, no easy feat when there’s a RMC to contend with. The insanity is followed by a disorienting corkscrew that I don’t think I experienced forwards even once.

 

Before the first launch, the coaster does pause, but I think it’s necessary for the upcoming train to clear the block. This isn’t Lake Compounce; Silver Dollar City believes in multiple train operations. In terms of raw power, Time Traveler’s launch is pretty weak. However, if you’re lucky enough for your car to spin during the launch, you will feel high Gs akin to a tilt-a-whirl.

 

The vertical loop isn’t forceful, but it is disorienting. Much like the first inversion, I don’t think I once took this inversion forwards. That’s followed by a surprisingly wild S-hill combining ejector air with laterals. Then without having a moment to catch my breath, Time Traveler hurtled through an amazing zero-G roll with copious hang time and that’s followed by a tiny little pop of air entering the second “launch”.

 

I use launch lightly since it really is more of a speed boost. The finale has the non-inverting dive loop (or whatever it’s called) and these elements feel more like what you’d expect on a standard spinner. Once we hit the brake run, I was in complete awe. I expected Time Traveler to be good. But I was absolutely blown away how out-of-control the coaster felt despite the controlled spin.

 

If you ride in the back car, it’s an easy 10/10 type of ride. I immediately grabbed a second ride in the third car and the coaster felt noticeably less intense (still a lot of fun, but more like a 9/10 type of ride). So I’ll split the difference and say Time Traveler is a 9.5 out of 10.

 

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If you ever wondered what sideways ejector air feels like, go ride Time Traveler.

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Left, right, up, down? I had no clue which way I was going.

 

Since Thunderation was literally next door, I walked right onto the back row. The layout is really unique for a mine train. It’s almost entirely in the woods (except for the bit that opens up by Time Traveler) and the whole course is one downhill run. In some ways, the layout felt more like an alpine coaster than a mine train. This is one of those weird coasters that ends on the lift hill.

 

Or so I thought. As the train crept up the lift, I noticed a rather large drop off to my left. I couldn’t remember experiencing a drop that large, but maybe the perspective from the lift made it appear larger than it really was. Nope, there was a surprise final plunge after the lift that has to have been at least 70-80 feet tall. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger drop on a mine train.

 

It can’t compete with the park’s larger coasters, but Thunderation is mostly smooth and a nice complimentary coaster in the park’s lineup. 6 out of 10

 

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All aboard!

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I'm guessing this used to be fully in the woods before Time Traveler came along?

 

Prior to visiting the park, I took a peek at the map, but I have to say, Silver Dollar City is one of the toughest parks to navigate for a first-timer. This is particularly true in the evening. Since they don’t seem to operate often in the evening, it appears they’ve forgone the typical amusement park lighting in favor of traditional lanterns to fit the theme.

 

As a result, I struggled to find Flooded Mine. After going down a corkscrew and going all the way round the mulberry bush, I waved the white flag and asked an employee for help. My struggles were rewarded with a complete walk-on. Flooded Mine’s ride system is very unique. I can’t think of another aquatic shooting dark ride and the way the guns are set-up makes me think this attraction was retrofit.

 

While there are definitely more high-tech shooting rides out there like Justice League, few are as well done as the Flooded Mine. I love shooters with physical sets and targets that respond to being shot, and Flooded Mine had both. It was a pretty long ride too! Any longer and I would have developed carpal tunnel like David Price. This was a hidden gem for me. 10 out of 10

 

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I don't know what flooding a mine has to do with jail, but somehow the theme worked.

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I'm guessing some guests came prepared with their own guns. This was Missouri after all.

 

I had waited long enough; it was time for Outlaw Run. I had intentionally waited for the sun to set, so my first ride would be in almost total darkness. Night rides are exceedingly rare on this coaster, but they’re considered one of the best coaster experiences out there. I was surprised to find absolutely no wait and walked right onto the second to back.

 

The first drop is exceptional and one of the best out there. I was completely ejected from my seat and felt like I was plunging into a black hole. This was exasperated by the pullout causing me to grey out a bit. Outlaw Run then rockets into this weird pseudo-inversion/turn thing. With RMC’s resume, I was actually shocked this element didn’t have air, but it still felt out-of-control.

 

Outlaw Run then rockets over two airtime hills with some really strong ejector air. The coaster then performs a Stengel dive underneath the lift and followed it with an unexpectedly large drop back into the forest (of course giving great air along the way). That’s followed by a high speed wave turn. I’m still amazed RMC can somehow completely eject a rider while they’re horizontal to the ground, yet they can.

 

Then there’s one last speedy ejector hill before the ride’s famous finale, the double barrel roll. From POVs, I always thought these barrel rolls were flat. In actuality they’re uphill. The result is ingenious. The first barrel roll is snappy while the second one has major hangtime. The second barrel roll was so slow that it always felt like the train would roll back during the inversion.

 

Outlaw Run is absolutely relentless. Yes it’s a bit short, but it’s one of those rare perfectly paced coasters without a single moment of dead track. Even the turns (for the most part) manage to provide crazy airtime. Then when you throw in the incredible setting, you really have a world-class ride. It immediately made its way into my top 5, wedging itself between Wildfire (Kolmarden’s that is) and El Toro.

 

I immediately grabbed a second ride up front. While fun, the back car is the place to ride Outlaw Run. It’s a crime not to experience the first drop and Stengel dive to their fullest effect. I know some have jokingly dubbed this coaster “Outlaw Rough” but those are the same people who call El Toro rough. Sure there are a few more bumps in the back row, but it’s still smoother than 90% of the wood coasters out there. 10 out of 10

 

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Good luck getting any other photos of Outlaw Run, especially at night.

 

I had a half hour left and walked right onto the front row of Powder Keg and that launch hit me like a sack of bricks. I honestly think it was the best launch I’ve ever experienced outside of Intamin’s accelerator coasters. It was one of those launches so forceful that it caused my stomach to drop. What this taught me is Do-dodonpa’s launch has to be pure lunacy if I thought this about little Powder Keg.

 

The subsequent two camelbacks were massive and loaded with sustained ejector air. Then there’s a turnaround mixing airtime with laterals before speeding through the old Buzzsaw Falls track. Because Powder Keg takes this section significantly faster than Buzzsaw Falls ever did, the turns aren’t properly banked which results in some sustained laterals. And this all takes place in a dark, wooded setting.

 

The lift hill gives a reprieve from the action and a chance to take in the picturesque mountain view. The final plunge had a nice pop of air in the back and the final turnaround looked like a throwaway element, but it was anything but. The entry has another solid moment of airtime and that’s followed by some strong positive Gs. I immediately rerode it in the back and got another great ride.

 

I was expecting a family coaster with the 42” height requirement, but Powder Keg blew me away. I honestly liked it better than Storm Runner or even Top Thrill Dragster. It combines a forceful launch with a complete ride. I didn’t think any attraction would surprise me as much as Flooded Mine, but I was wrong, Powder Keg was the surprise hit of the trip. 9 out of 10

 

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If this is intense, I really need to know how wild Do-dodonpa is. Thankfully I'll find out in 2 weeks!

 

With 10 minutes left, I struggled to find WildFire. After passing the correct path a few times, I finally found the big B&M and walked right onto the front row. WildFire is one of the most highly regarded B&M coasters out there, so I was shocked the inversions were relatively forceless. I thought enthusiasts needed a ride to be forceful to be fun? WildFire was fast and smooth.

 

What I found out the next day is that WildFire is absolutely a back seat ride because of the first drop. Unlike a majority of B&M loopers out there with curved drops, WildFire has a long, straight drop more akin to something you’d find on a hyper and it’s loaded with airtime. As an added nerd bonus, WildFire was my 600th coaster too. 8 out of 10

 

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In retrospect, I can totally see the mountains in the background even at night.

 

I had just three hours at the park, but Silver Dollar City had already left one heck of an impression. So needless to say, I was excited to return 11.5 hours later. Actually it was closer to 11 hours since they opened the front gate about a half hour before the scheduled opening. Without any hesitation, I made my way to Time Traveler to beat the rush.

 

Unfortunately Time Traveler had some technical difficulties to start the day, but I was off the ride about 40 minutes after the official opening. I was again granted the back car, but the riders of car 2 decided to take the back instead when we reached the boarding platform. It’s still a good coaster up front, but I did miss experiencing the crazy air on the vertical drop and S-hill.

 

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I think I have a new screensaver.

 

Afterwards I made my way over to the Grand Exposition area of the park. This is essentially Silver Dollar City’s version of Dollywood’s County Fair, except with a lot more trees. The only people who visit this section of the park are families, fans of spinning rides, or credit whores. Can you guess which group I fell into?

 

Of course the latter. I shamefully walked right onto the Grand Exposition Coaster. This was actually one of my priorities early in the day since it wasn’t part of the Trailblazer pass and I noticed it had queues reaching 30-40 minutes the day prior. That’s insane for a kiddie coaster! As far as the coaster, it was your standard Zamperla kiddie giving 3 laps. 2 out of 10

 

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No shame...ok that's a lie. Maybe just a little shame.

 

I reclaimed some of my dignity for being in the Grand Exposition area by riding Electro Spin. This is one of those large diskos, but this one was noteworthy for its proximity to nearby trees. I’m pretty sure a taller rider could graze their arms against the leaves. Otherwise, this one had a comparable cycle time and speed to the others out there. 7 out of 10

 

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For some reason I don't think Six Flags would have trees this close to an attraction.

 

Along with rides, Silver Dollar City is also well known for their shows and food. If I had an additional day, I probably would have checked out some of the shows, but I’m admittedly more of a ride person. What I couldn’t possibly skip though was the food.

 

I started with the sausage and potato skillet. For a late breakfast, it was a really heavy dish loaded with potatoes. It came out piping hot and tasted great. Also, I should probably state here that you will not find the obligatory cinnamon bread in this report. I would rather ride the worst SLC than eat sweets.

 

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Who needs cinnamon bread?

 

I got a quick reride on the Flooded Mine before returning to Outlaw Run for a mini marathon. I believe I got 10 or so rides in a row, primarily in the back car. After experiencing the coaster in total darkness, it was interesting to whiz past all the trees and actually be able to admire the beautiful view cresting the lift. With each ride, I kept liking Outlaw Run more and more.

 

I also found it interesting that Outlaw Run never developed any sort of a queue during my visit. I’m guessing that never happens since this was a long weekend too. It was actually faster for me to use the regular entrance than to walk all the way around to the Trailblazer entrance, though the latter did give a nice view of the double barrel roll. Really that and the lift are the only two parts that can be seen offride.

 

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Yeehaw!

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If you know of any other spots to get shots of Outlaw Run, please let me know.

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I especially like how Outlaw Run hides the inversions so those scared of inverting on a wooden coaster don't see it coming.

 

While leaving Wilson Farm, I hopped onto the Giant Barn Swing. With only one arm running (seems to be the norm for most screamin’ swings), the standard queue had a sizable wait that I bypassed. Despite explicit instructions not to touch our restraints, the girls next to me pulled their’s down and triggered one of the weirdest faults I’ve ever seen- a restraint being closed too much.

 

A quick reset and adherence to the instructions had us on our merry way. Like all screamin’ swings, the cycle felt far too short, but the max swings we did get had some decent airtime. I particularly liked staring down at Lost River of the Ozarks on the backswing. I was not expecting that added thrill. I can only imagine what the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood must be like. 7 out of 10

 

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It's almost as if I've seen this before at Dollywood.

 

I’m from New England, so mid-90 degree heat isn’t exactly my friend. Therefore, I was ecstatic to skip another lengthy queue and climb aboard Lost River of the Ozarks. This river rapids was definitely the cure as I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to not come off this ride drenched.

 

There were at least 3 rapids that nailed 3/4 of the boat at once (the small drop off the lift and the two in the final tunnel). Then there were 4-5 others that weren’t exactly slouches either. Add in an unavoidable waterfall and I hope you have a lifeproof case for your phone. As an added bonus, Lost River is extremely well landscaped making it one of the best rapids rides out there. 9 out of 10

 

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Resistance is futile.

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You're coming off soaked. Just accept it.

 

My next stop was FireFall. While it was pretty good for a double shot tower, the launched S&S towers just don’t do it for me. That’s especially true after riding the crazy drop tower at Bigfoot so many times the day before. Launching above the building was cool and there were two nice pops of air, but this was a one and done for me. 6 out of 10

 

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I really loved how FireFall rose out of the building. I do that all the time in Roller Coaster Tycoon.

 

Time Traveler had a posted 120 minute wait, so I thought it was the perfect time to use my single Trailblazer skip to reride it. Unlike earlier, I was able to get the back car and was treated to another fantastic ride. I’m really excited to see more of these extreme Mack spinners pop up. While I would love for an uncontrolled spin, I completely understand why they have it. Maybe an uncontrolled ride can be a perk at an enthusiast event much like the mythical trimless Voyage rides.

 

After a quick ride on Thunderation, I doubled back to WildFire. The night before, I thought WildFire was in the middle of the woods. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s strategically placed in an opening, which enables it to provide breathtaking views of the Ozarks. This really is one of the most photogenic coasters out there. Even if you miss the coaster, you have the gorgeous mountains to distract your eye.

 

Like Outlaw Run, WildFire never seemed to develop any sort of a queue. I think the ride’s location in an absolute dead end helps, but the operators are extremely efficient and I rarely saw the coaster stack.

 

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Let's give this a whirl in the day.

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That setting speaks for itself.

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It's sort of easy to ignore the coaster in this shot. A shame because it's a pretty good coaster!

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I was actually surprised this wasn't an overly forceful coaster, but it was a lot of fun.

 

I was still relatively damp from Lost River so I decided it was the perfect time to hit the park’s flume, American Plunge. Offride, I couldn’t help but notice how tall the final drop appeared so I was excited to check it out. The layout was a lot more expansive than I expected, as it wound through the forest and even included multiple tunnels.

 

But the highlight was definitely the final plunge. Not only was it tall, but it also had a little pop of air to boot. Then came the splash. And holy moly was it soaking. This wasn’t Ripsaw Falls wet, but it wasn’t too far behind. While most flumes repel the water outwards, American Falls sends the water straight up and back down into the boat. What a great flume! 9 out of 10

 

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Why is it called American Plunge? Because 'Merica.

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If you hoped to come off dry, that's as likely as Disney not releasing another Star Wars movie.

 

My stomach was rumbling, so I picked up a bag of pork rinds. At $5, this was quite the deal. The bag was equal in size to a bag of Lays at the store, but instead filled with freshly prepared goodies that can best be described as a potato chip crossed with bacon. It took an hour, but eventually that bag was completely emptied.

 

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I had no shame eating the whole bag.

 

Other than Time Traveler, Powder Keg was the only other major coaster garnering a significant wait. The app said the queue peaked at about 40 minutes, but thanks to Trailblazer, I was able to get about 3 rides in that time span. Like Outlaw Run, Powder Keg is another incredibly difficult coaster to photograph since it also runs through the woods.

 

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This has to be the oddest rollback track out there.

 

The last coaster (I know it depends who you talk to) was Fire in the Hole. I was sort of hoping they’d yell “Blazing Fury” as it dispatches to mirror how Blazing Fury’s ops yell “Fire in the Hole” before each dispatch, but instead they stuck to the ride’s name. The dark ride section is definitely dated, but it’s a charming attraction I’m glad the park has kept around.

 

The climax is without a doubt the final 3 plunges. The drops tracked as well as an Arrow helix, but the generous restraints prevented any pain. The second drop was forgettable, but the first one had a surprise pop of air and the last one included a splashdown, a fitting end to a coaster about fire. 6 out of 10

 

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Fire in the Hole!

 

Silver Dollar City even has a fun house in Grandfather’s Mansion. Actually it’s more of a crooked house, but whatever you call it, it’s an interesting diversion and not something you’d expect from a larger corporate park like this. The strength of the attraction was the consistent theme throughout as it was a stark contrast to the fun houses that usually don’t give a rat’s booty about theming. 6 out of 10

 

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I think they mean Grandma says "Stand erect."

 

The last major attraction I needed to hit was what started it all for the park, the Marvel Cave. As an added bonus, I booked a Lantern Tour because a) I heard they were cool and b) it allowed me to reserve a time instead of spending precious time queuing.

 

The tour guide I had was exceptional. He usually answered any of our questions. I say usually since we had one fellow in our group who basically had an orgasm anytime a history question was asked and he tried to answer it himself. This probably makes me a terrible human being, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when he hit his head on one of the narrow passageways after talking over the guide’s warning.

 

The tour lasted almost 90 minutes and I loved every moment. This was completely unlike any attraction I’ve ever experienced in a theme park and in many ways, it didn’t even feel like we were at Silver Dollar City. We were 500 feet below the ground appreciating a true natural wonder of the world.

 

And for you ride fans, they have you covered. There’s a cool inclined railway at the end of the attraction to return you to civilization. No trip to Silver Dollar City is complete without a tour of the Marvel Cave.

 

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I have my cheap Chinese lantern (park's words) and am ready to go.

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It's pretty easy to forget you're at a theme park at this point.

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Marvel Cave is marvelous.

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All you ride fans get this credit at the end.

 

After exiting, I grabbed a reride on Time Traveler since the queue had dropped to 20 minutes and then I fueled up on a delicious calzone from Crossroads. Admittedly I was already full, but I didn’t care. The calzone looked really good and it was.

 

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I didn't really have room, but I made room.

 

To finish my day, I planned to make one last tour of the coasters, making a very prolonged stop at Outlaw Run. In the end I think I had almost 30 total rides on Outlaw Run. And I very well would have done more if park closing wasn’t a constraint.

 

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A Golden Ticket award that was actually deserved.

 

With 20 minutes left, I decided to ditch Outlaw Run and try to get a night ride on Time Traveler. It was tough leaving Outlaw Run, but Time Traveler looked like it’d be pretty dark along the course. I reached the coaster at 9:47 only to find that the queue had already been closed for the night. One of the employees said they don’t like to keep rides open more than a half hour past closing, so this is something to keep in mind if you visit on a busier day.

 

Thankfully Thunderation was literally next door so I was able to get two last rides on this underrated mine train. I sort of am glad Time Traveler’s queue was closed since Thunderation was a really awesome night ride. The wooded setting was almost pitch black and the sense of speed, particularly in the back of the train, was exceptional. This really is one of the best mine trains out there.

 

When the clock struck 10, I was sad to leave Silver Dollar City. The park really succeeds in every way. It has a fantastic coaster collection anchored by two world-class coasters. Then it has some standout water rides, flat rides, and dark rides. Add in a wonderful cohesive theme, mouthwatering found, and Marvel Cave, and it’s apparent why Silver Dollar City is so highly regarded.

Edited by Canobie Coaster
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Great TR! Silver Dollar City is awesome, and I'm stoked to be back there in a few weeks. It's amazing that every single thing there is one of the best, if not THE best of their kind, be it rides, food, or pretty much anything you can think of.

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I really need to get out to Silver Dollar City at some point. After falling in love with Dollywood, I knew I'd love the charm of this park, but the stellar lineup of coasters is making the urge stronger with each addition to finally pull the trigger!

 

Thanks for sharing another excellent report!

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Great TR! Silver Dollar City is awesome, and I'm stoked to be back there in a few weeks. It's amazing that every single thing there is one of the best, if not THE best of their kind, be it rides, food, or pretty much anything you can think of.

 

Thanks! I agree Silver Dollar City may not have as many rides as the country's other major parks, but what they do have is exceptional.

 

I really need to get out to Silver Dollar City at some point. After falling in love with Dollywood, I knew I'd love the charm of this park, but the stellar lineup of coasters is making the urge stronger with each addition to finally pull the trigger!

 

Thanks for sharing another excellent report!

 

Thanks! I was *this* close to booking a trip to Branson last year, but held off one more year with rumors of a major new coaster. I'd say Time Traveler was certainly worth it.

 

Excellent report! Silver Dollar City is very high on my "priority list" of new parks to visit, but my goodness it's in the middle of nowhere and seems difficult to get to. Same with Dollywood too.

 

Thanks! For Dollywood, I fly to Atlanta and drive four hours. The drive through the mountains is scenic and goes through the Smokies for almost half of it. Plus Atlanta is one of the cheapest airports for me.

 

With Silver Dollar City, I flew through Kansas City, which resulted in another 3.5-4 hour drive. But both parks are absolutely worth the hassle it takes to get there.

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Worlds of Fun

 

Worlds of Fun had a very tough act to follow. Really any park after Silver Dollar City had its work cut out for it and in many ways, Worlds of Fun reminded me of Dorney Park. I know Dorney is easy to make fun of, but I actually enjoy Dorney Park.

 

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I was stunned Snoopy wasn't in the balloon.

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Worlds of Fun was really well landscaped.

 

I visited during a heatwave, so I knew Oceans of Fun would be absolutely mobbed. Likewise, I knew if I was going to ride Worlds of Fun’s water rides, I had to hit them first. But instead I used early entry to queue for the coaster with the worst capacity, Spinning Dragons. Why does it always seem like these low capacity Gerstlauer spinners end up at major chains?

 

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I sort of regret hitting the flume, but I wasn't going to wait an hour and this was basically the only ride that needed FastLane.

 

Spinning Dragons opened punctually at 10 am and I was on the first car. The layout was identical to SFNE’s Pandemonium, but there were two differences that stood out. First, this one had a persistent rattle noise throughout. I have to specify noise since the ride was perfectly smooth despite sounding like death.

 

The second difference was the first drop. Usually you either go down the first drop forwards or backwards on these Gerstlauer spinners. Somehow my car rotated 90 degrees after cresting the lift, so I experienced the drop sideways. The rest of the layout was the usually spinny goodness I’ve come to expect from these Gerstlauer spinners.

 

Later I noticed the queue was easily over a half hour, so I’m glad I knocked it out early, especially since the queue had almost no shade. On the bright side, the queue passed through a very well landscaped garden. 7 out of 10

 

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Fun fact, this is the only US Gerstlauer spinner that wasn't renamed at some point.

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Spinning Dragons spins, but I didn't see any dragons.

 

I then made my way to the coaster named in honor of the best football team in the NFL, Patriot. The invert was having some technical difficulties to start the day, but the park had it sorted out in short order. As the test trains cycled, it was hard not to notice the one-of-a-kind candy cane paint scheme. It absolutely pops!

 

Going in, I hadn’t heard too many positives about Patriot relative to the other B&M inverts. The lift offered unobstructed views of the wide open field adjacent to the park. With a view like that, you’d think Worlds of Fun is in the middle of nowhere, but nope, it’s mere minutes from a bustling downtown metropolis in Kansas City.

 

The first drop and loop were actually forceful! In many ways, it reminded me of the older B&M inverts. But then Patriot remembered it was a newer B&M invert for the middle section. The zero-G roll was taken a little too gracefully and then there’s a rather forgettable Immelmann, upward helix, and airtime hill that doesn’t offer any airtime.

 

As the Falcons found out in Super Bowl 51, the Patriots finish strong. The corkscrew caught me off-guard since it was a throwback to the snappy corkscrews of old and that’s followed by an intense little helix a la Silver Bullet. Last but not least, there’s an abrupt little airtime hill leading into the break run that gives bonafide airtime on an invert.

 

It probably is my least favorite B&M invert (almost forgot the B&M part and then I remembered SLCs exist) because of the lackluster middle section, but it’s still a good coaster that, at its best, does everything an invert should. 8 out of 10

 

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Worlds of Fun is good to go if they lose a bet with Six Flags New England.

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I love the candy cane paint scheme.

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Zero-Gs are still B&M's best inversion.

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If Patriot's middle was anything like its beginning and end, I think more people would be talking about this invert.

 

I was really intrigued to try Timber Wolf. From POVs, the layout actually looked to be pretty solid and I was hopeful the recent retracking would yield an enjoyable coaster. Yet as I entered the queue, there were multiple signs warning me about a rough (but perfectly safe) ride ahead.

 

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The only other times I've seen a warning sign like this are at Mt. Olympus and Clementon. Not the best comp.

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But in all honesty, I think Prowler needed this sign more.

 

Unfortunately, it was at this point I realized Worlds of Fun lagged behind the chain’s other parks with regards to operations. I thought they were slow at Patriot, but they were excruciatingly slow on Timber Wolf. I don’t think they started checking restraints until the previous train hit the brake run. Instead, the operators stood there howling (I wish I were kidding).

 

As a precaution, I started up front and I have to say, job well done Worlds of Fun. Timber Wolf was a really smooth coaster. Not Phoenix smooth or anything, but there was absolutely no jackhammering and it was reridable even in the back car. That’s a claim the park’s other wooden coaster couldn’t make.

 

Several trims probably helped in that regard, but the coaster still had 4-5 small pops of air plus a surprisingly strong moment of ejector air on the L-turn underneath the lift hill. Plus the relatively flat turns yielded some laterals too. The train barely crawled through the finale, but it's my understanding that part hasn’t been retracked recently so it’s probably for the better. 7 out of 10

 

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Timber Wolf always appeared to have a decent layout.

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Now it's pretty darn smooth. You can see all the fresh wood on the overbank that isn't really an overbank.

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And it has solid airtime too.

 

Usually I skip S&S space shots, but Detonator looked really peculiar. It’s one of those S&S towers that stops about 2/3 of the way up the tower. I walked right on and was immediately impressed how the two towers dueled. That masked the launch, giving me a nice surprise.

 

Then came an amazing moment of airtime. The car freezes at the top and then is seemingly launched downwards with the force of a turbo drop. Compare that with the other space shots that seem to travel at a rate slower than gravity. I expected the ride to be over, but the car actually returned back to the top for a second (albeit weak) pop of air. Was this a double shot?

 

The return to ground took forever. The other tower was back on the ground almost immediately yet my tower took an extra minute or so to slowly descend back down. I thought that was odd. After the fact, I found out this was the first of its kind in the US and that makes sense that the prototype may have some quirks to it. I still prefer being dropped instead of launched, but Detonator does a launch about as well as you can. 7 out of 10

 

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Snoopy looks like he's having the time of his life.

 

One of the highlights of Worlds of Fun is its rare flat ride collection. They have a classic enterprise, a Huss condor, and a Huss troika. I hit the latter after Detonator since it was loading and I hadn’t ridden one of these in years. Mustang Runner’s cycle was pretty short, but the ride came really close to giving some faint air as it reached its maximum height. 5 out of 10

 

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One new and one old flat.

 

I have a question for locals- does the pathway between Detonator and Mamba always smell like a row of porta potties at a NASCAR race? Holy poop, literally! This pathway absolutely reeked and I wasn’t the only person holding their nose walking down it.

 

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This is the path in question.

 

I eventually reached the fresh air of Mamba and struggled to find the queue. I saw a sign for Fast Lane, but not for the main entrance. After confusedly walking back and forth in the ride’s plaza, I realized the main entrance was shared with the FastLane entrance and unmarked.

 

Morgan hyper trains are already odd ducks. For one, they’re ridiculously oversized, a stark contrast to the minimalistic trains of B&M or Intamin mega coasters. Then Mamba had widely variable restraint heights. On some of my rides, the lowest setting of the lap bar was touching my lap. On other rides, I had several inches of space on the lowest setting.

 

While it lacks the intensity of the newer hypers, Mamba still dishes out floater airtime in droves. The two camelbacks on the outward leg are the highlights up front. In the back, the highlights are the progressively stronger floater from the oddly profiled first drop and abrupt pop of ejector off the brake run.

 

The MCBR did sap a considerable amount of speed, but each of the return hills still managed to give at least a small pop of air. I do wish the seats were cushioned since the rapidfire switch from negative to positive Gs was a bit rough on the back. I think I prefer Steel Force slightly since the MCBR doesn’t hit as hard, but it’s otherwise a comparable coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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When was Steel Force relocated to Missouri?

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Morgan first drops are profiled so weirdly and it really pays off in the back row.

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Mamba slithers over the bunny hills.

 

Boomerang was the next coaster in my path. I was a little worried the shuttle coaster would have built up a bit of a queue, but it was completely empty. It was also closed. And from what I heard from locals, the coaster had been down all of Memorial Day weekend. Guess this was one credit I wouldn’t be getting. Or so I thought…

 

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I didn't exactly shed a tear over this closure.

 

Boomerang’s closure would lead to me riding Prowler sooner. Or so I thought… As I approached the park’s GCI, I noticed a train parked on the lift hill and riders being evacuated. Uh oh, that didn’t look good. The employee stationed by the coaster said it would reopen shortly, but I was a bit pessimistic considering there was an evac going on.

 

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Well that doesn't look promising.

 

I escaped the heat and grabbed lunch at Chickie’s & Pete’s. I had a longer reprieve than expected from the heat since there was just one employee working the counter. But the crab fries were well worth it.

 

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Are there any Chickie's & Pete's outside of Cedar Fair parks?

 

I planned to make a second loop around the park, but I wanted to hover around Prowler to ensure I didn’t miss out on what many consider the park’s best coaster. Worlds of Fun’s new-for-2018 Nordic Chaser was nearby so I gave it a whirl. Despite its compact nature, this himalaya actually has some strong laterals. Then the humps came close to providing air.

 

However, the ride had one issue- the scolding hot seats. Since the ride had no cover, the seats were absolutely baking in the 100 degree heat. I came *this* close to skipping it after sitting down, but am glad I sucked it up. But I did notice a few kids scream in pain after sitting down. Hopefully they can add some shade since it’s otherwise a nice addition. 6 out of 10

 

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Nordic Chaser also doubles as a griddle on hot summer days.

 

After my ride, I noticed Prowler cycling so I made my way over and walked right onto the front row. I was joined by a rather interesting companion who thought it was necessary to yell “I am the bar” every single time we experienced airtime. And he yelled that random statement a lot.

 

Almost every hill delivered a nice pop of air and the pacing was incredible. Prowler absolutely hauls and doesn’t have a single dead spot. Even though it’s essentially an out-and-back coaster, the wooded setting and banked turns kept me off-guard. Prowler had everything I could possibly want from a wooden coaster, but it had one unwanted addition- the smoothness or lack thereof.

 

I really wish I could have experienced Prowler in its opening year. I’m pretty sure Prowler would have been a top 10 wooden coaster for me back then. But in 2018, I felt like I was riding a jackhammer, a jackhammer traveling as fast as a car on the freeway. Thankfully Prowler has the original, heavily-padded Millennium Flyers to help compensate.

 

The back row was one and done for me. But I did really enjoy my front row rides despite the bumpiness; I just couldn’t marathon it. After they finish retracking Timber Wolf, I really hope Worlds of Fun gives Prowler the TLC that it deserves. Prowler could be a truly special coaster, but as it stands it’s an incredibly wild, but flawed wooden coaster and still probably the park’s best coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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If Prowler is any indication, I really need to get out and ride Mystic Timbers ASAP.

 

One previously closed coaster reopened for me and wouldn’t you know, Boomerang was cycling, so I made my way over there where a decent sized line had started to form. About 10-15 minutes later, Boomerang opened. From posts on the park’s discussion board, apparently this boomerang runs as frequently as Lightning Rod, which is particularly baffling since it’s one of the newer ones and they’re usually pretty reliable.

 

The ride itself was about as smooth as a boomerang can be and delivered the usually intense ride. In some ways, it felt every more disorienting considering the 100 degree heat. 5 out of 10

 

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The Vekoma gods have spoken.

 

After grabbing rerides on the coasters, I had two flats left to hit. The first was SteelHawk, which I was admittedly a bit fearful to ride. Was it the daunting height? No. It was the admittedly slim chance the ride could breakdown in midair causing me to miss my return flight home. But SteelHawk had me covered; it had already broken down.

 

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I didn't get a picture of SteelHawk, so here's the park's really cool gift shop that sells merchandise from retired rides and attractions.

 

Last but not least was arguably the park’s most unique flat (and maybe their most unique ride), Cyclone Sam’s Cloudpoofer 2000. The name sounds like one of those convoluted “As Seen on TV” gadgets that never seem to work right and the queue line has a perfectly 1990s pre-show to amp riders up for the experience.

 

The ride was just a one cycle wait, but that was a 15 minute wait. I timed it and at the rate they were loading this attraction, it would have a maximum capacity of 160 riders per hour or 4 dispatches per hour. It’s a shame since this is easily the park’s best flat.

 

Worlds of Fun transformed an otherwise pedestrian wipeout into a memorable experience by enclosing it and adding random blacklight graphics on the side of the building. This setting amplified the side-splitting laterals these Chance Wipeouts are known for and there were even a few pops of air as well.

 

SFNE used to have an enclosed Wipeout as well in Joker’s Wildcard, but unfortunately it was retired and moved outside before I was able to ride it. Cyclone Sam’s was my redemption and other than the putrid capacity, it was one heck of a wild flat. 9 out of 10

 

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This looks more like the entrance for a crooked house than a Chance Wipeout.

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I think I'm going to have nightmares after seeing this.

 

It’s definitely not the best Cedar Fair park, but Worlds of Fun does have a respectable lineup of coasters to go with an interesting mix of flat rides. The biggest negative from my visit was that I encountered uncharacteristically slow operations for a Cedar Fair park. But overall Worlds of Fun does deserve to have the word “fun” in its name.

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PowerPlay Family Entertainment Center

 

If you’ve heard of this place, it means one of two things. 1) You’re a local to the Kansas City area and a moderate credit whore or 2) you’re not local to the Kansas City area and an absolute credit whore. My visit speaks for itself which group I fall into.

 

Living near a huge metropolitan area in Boston, I’m pretty leery about rush hour traffic. Since I had an 8 pm flight, I left Worlds of Fun early enough to give myself buffer if I encountered the red lights of doom on the highway. In retrospect, it was a long weekend so such precautions probably weren’t necessary, but it gave me time for a quick stop at PowerPlay FEC.

 

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The litmus test for a credit whore- have you heard of this place?

 

PowerPlay is basically a reincarnation of Jeepers. It’s a modern arcade with amusement park staples such as a carousel, tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars, laser tag, and last but not least, the Python Pit. But don’t let the modest height and speed fool you, it was actually a surprisingly enjoyable coaster.

 

Several of the Jeepers attractions are housed in separate rooms from the main arcade. This allows for a random mishmash of theming and effects to compliment the ride. I shamefully handed my card over and I got a solo ride on the park’s star attraction (for coaster enthusiasts). The layout was your standard Miler kiddie coaster.

 

As far as kiddie coasters go, the Miler ones are some of the smoothest out there, but the setting is what elevated this kiddie coaster. The track had chaser lights. The finale traveled through a darkened room complete with glowing trees and audio effects. PowerPlay put more effort into this coaster than Six Flags did with Skull Mountain! Plus it’s always terrifying to know that raising your hands will actually hit something (in this case, the ceiling). 4 out of 10

 

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The operators were staring at me, so I took cover behind the Carousel.

 

Having already experienced one flat elevated by an indoor setting earlier in the day (Worlds of Fun’s Cyclone Sam’s), I decided to give the complex’s Tilt-a-Whirl a go. I was treated to another solo ride and what may be the best tilt-a-whirl out there. This one boasts a long cycle, so when you combine that with the ride’s placement in a darkened room with glow and laser effects, you have a recipe for a truly disorienting flat ride. 8 out of 10

 

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Tilt-a-Whirl or a rave? Actually both!

 

I didn’t spend more than 15 minutes at PowerPlay and really that’s as much time as an enthusiast will need. I think most will grab the credit and run (or skip this place entirely to maintain their dignity), but fans of spinning rides should seriously consider trying their Tilt-a-Whirl as well.

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Just getting caught up here. Great reporting, as usual! SDC looks amazing, I really need to make it out there at some point.

 

Are there any Chickie's & Pete's outside of Cedar Fair parks?

Not only are they at not just CF parks, the CF park locations are generally a VERY limited menu compared to the menu @ full sit-down locations in and around Philadelphia (the original location is about a 7 minute drive from where I grew up). There are locations all around Philly now, as well as stands in all of the Philly sports venues, on the boardwalks along the Jersey Shore (two in Wildwood - a sit down right across from Mariners, and a walk up crab fry stand on the North end) as well as two spots in Hersheypark.

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great stuff! And to answer your chickies and Petes question...They are a popular restaurant that started as a Philly sports bar.

 

Thanks! I figured they had a start outside theme parks but that's the only place I've seen them.

 

Just getting caught up here. Great reporting, as usual! SDC looks amazing, I really need to make it out there at some point.

 

Are there any Chickie's & Pete's outside of Cedar Fair parks?

Not only are they at not just CF parks, the CF park locations are generally a VERY limited menu compared to the menu @ full sit-down locations in and around Philadelphia (the original location is about a 7 minute drive from where I grew up). There are locations all around Philly now, as well as stands in all of the Philly sports venues, on the boardwalks along the Jersey Shore (two in Wildwood - a sit down right across from Mariners, and a walk up crab fry stand on the North end) as well as two spots in Hersheypark.

 

Thanks! Since you're a big fan of Busch Gardens Williamsburg (I mean who isn't when you think about it), you'd love Silver Dollar City.

 

Now that I think about it, I think I have been to that Hershey location and also hit the one at Gillian's Wonderland Pier. I figured they had a start outside parks and will have to try one with the full menu someday.

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Six Flags New England- Harley Quinn Spinsanity

 

My visiting habits to SFNE are sort of odd. I usually visit 2-3 times before Labor Day and 2-3 times after Labor Day. If I visit in the summer, usually it’s only for 2-3 hours around closing because I force my route through Springfield. Since I purchased a season-long Flash Pass during last year’s Flash Sale, I may change those habits a bit this year. But this visit was my usual summer visit.

 

My goal was to ride the big two coasters and Harley Quinn Spinsanity. Anything else would be gravy. My sister wasn’t interested the least bit in Harley Quinn, so I figured I’d Flash Pass that a few times and hope Wicked Cyclone and Superman had modest waits. However, I wasn’t too optimistic when I pulled into the parking lot.

 

For those familiar with SFNE, I was parked way back in the second lot. Usually I walk, but I figured this was an occasion for the tram. About halfway through the main lot, the tram crawled to a stop and we were transferred over to a bus. I’d say it was planned, but I honestly think we ran out of gas

 

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That tram only took a 15 minute break. Goliath has taken a season long break.

 

Once in the park, the first order of business was to process my membership. I wasn’t planning on upgrading until next year, but I needed to expedite it in order to ride Fiesta Texas when I was in San Antonio for work on the membership preview weekend. I think any enthusiast would have done the same.

 

The membership house was a complete madhouse. The staff members were friendly, but most of them needed to defer their questions to the lone on-duty manager who was seemingly helping 3-4 customers simultaneously. Hopefully the membership process flows more smoothly in the future.

 

Despite parking in the absolute boonies, crowds in the ride park were actually quite manageable. My sister and I walked right onto the back row of Wicked Cyclone. This is definitely my most ridden RMC. For an RMC, it’s middle-of-the-road, but that’s still an easy 10 out of 10 coaster.

 

The layout is a non-stop barrage of floater airtime in the inversions and ejector airtime on the drops. The ending bit after the zero-G roll was crawling, but even when this happens, the final outward banked airtime hill and two hills leading into the brake run still provide satisfyingly strong pops of ejector air.

 

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I'm pretty sure this would have been called Twisted Cyclone if it weren't for this being in New England.

 

Superman had a considerably lengthier wait. The entire queue house was filled, but speedy operations had us in the station within 20 minutes. Then we waited an extra 20 minutes for the front row. That is the absolute money seat on Superman. It’s one of the few hypers where that’s the case for me.

 

Superman was running pretty well early in the season despite the 40-50 degree weather, but Superman loves summer more than Olaf. It was absolutely hauling like it was for much of last year. I don’t know what SFNE did to Superman last year, but it hasn’t run this well since the Bizarro conversion.

 

The layout is near perfection. The beginning is like any other hyper, except the airtime is sustained ejector. The fourth hill in particular is one of the most powerful airtime moments on the planet. Then the second half is a tangled mess of airtime and positive Gs. When it runs like this, it’s still my favorite in the park over Wicked Cyclone. 10 out of 10

 

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SFNE reinvigorated the Man of Steel. The same can't be said about the DC movie universe.

 

It was time for the newest hotness- Harley Quinn Spinsanity. Harley Quinn forever changes the South End (err Gotham City) skyline. It’s truly unbelievable walking towards it and seeing just how close it gets to Joker. It really looks like Harley Quinn is about to bang the Joker.

 

I had reserved Harley Quinn during my Superman ride, so I was able to bypass the posted 70 minute wait. The queue line was overflowing onto the midway so it looks like the park has a hit on its hands! The lengthy cycle and loading procedure also contributed. I hope the park keeps the cycle as-is, but they need to do something about the latter.

 

To load Harley Quinn, the park cattle pens a group of 20 riders by Gate A and another 20 riders at Gate B. After the previous ride, SFNE opens both gates which leads to a free-for-all reminiscent of Black Friday shopping. Then the groups who can’t ride together inevitably circle the attraction a few times. Some separate while others re-enter the queue, which leads to the ride not running at max capacity. They really need to assign riders seat numbers in sequential order to minimize confusion and keep groups together.

 

As for the ride, it is now SFNEs best flat, and that’s no easy feat when you have a 400 foot tall star flyer. These Zamperla giant discoveries take a while to reach their max height, but once they do, it’s pure bliss. You experience sustained floater air in all sorts of different positions. And there’s probably 8 or so maximum swings, which far exceeds the norm for this type of ride. Beyond the airtime, you absolutely feel the 70MPH on the downswings. It’s crazy this is almost as fast as Superman.

 

I do prefer the Intamin giant frisbees (it only feels natural to prefer Intamin over Zamperla), but these are the next best option out there. 9.5 out of 10

 

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Harley Quinn is absolutely imposing in person.

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Looks like SFNE has a hit on their hands.

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A pendulum of happy riders.

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I still can't believe how close this thing gets to the Joker. They don't leave room for the holy ghost.

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And the lighting package is truly spectacular as well.

 

I suggested we ride Riddler Revenge next, but my sister absolutely refused. She’s not particularly tall, so the old restraints beat her head into submission so badly that she lost a pair of earrings. That experience could never be erased from her mind. I tried explaining that it was retrofitted with better restraints, but right as I said that someone came down the exit ramp saying it hurt so she didn’t exactly believe me.

 

Though the proof is in the pudding. I will actually ride this SLC now! It still tracks as poorly as the other SLCs out there, but the complete elimination of headbanging lets me enjoy the intense, rapid-fire succession of inversions instead of entering into the concussion protocol. 7 out of 10

 

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Also to note, I'm shocked the park renamed their Slingshot to fit in with the Gotham area, but it's a nice touch.

 

We wanted to finish our night with last rides on Wicked Cyclone and Superman. We rode the former in the first row and it was hauling through the finale unlike our first ride. Then we tried to get one last ride on Superman, but it broke down due to a train issue. We wanted to hit Nicky’s before continuing our drive down south and since this awesome pizza place closed at 10 pm, we bailed early, so I’m not sure if they got Superman back up and running before the night ended.

 

SFNE has been knocking it out of the park lately with their additions. In the past 5 years, they’ve given us the (formerly) world’s tallest star flyer, an awesome RMC, a restored Superman, a chaotic free fly (say what you want, but I love Joker), and now an outstanding giant frisbee. Harley Quinn is definitely a ride that’s a must in any future visit to this park.

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Another excellent update. I really, really want to get back to that park this year. HQ looks fantastic, and I really like this park a lot. If by fourth hill on Superman you mean the one right before the S shields (near the onride photo) I agree 100%, that was one of my my favorite hills on the ride. Also, this photo is amazing:

 

 

Thanks for the new desktop.

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