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bert goes to Texas Theme Parks (mega thread)

A stop at SFFT, with LOTS of pics of Dr. D's Cliffhanger Construction & Sangerfest Halle

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Glad you had a fun day and that you chose to honor my request to not be tortured by pictures of beignets. I am still butt hurt that I missed out on those.

But, seriously, shhhhhh........do not tell the Universe we are trying for a fourth time. You will make it angry. Two of our cancelled trip happened less than 24 hours before we were to get on the plane. Hopefully, 4th time is a charm and the boy won't have any trouble getting off work that weekend. I think it will be fine SFSTL is pretty good about that as long as you put in the request early enough and it isn't a holiday. 

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44 minutes ago, teacherkim said:

Glad you had a fun day and that you chose to honor my request to not be tortured by pictures of beignets. I am still butt hurt that I missed out on those.

But, seriously, shhhhhh........do not tell the Universe we are trying for a fourth time. You will make it angry. Two of our cancelled trip happened less than 24 hours before we were to get on the plane. Hopefully, 4th time is a charm and the boy won't have any trouble getting off work that weekend. I think it will be fine SFSTL is pretty good about that as long as you put in the request early enough and it isn't a holiday. 

Remind me not to plan a trip to a park with you guys! LOL! Seriously though, I hope the universe is done crapping on your plans and these work out!

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  • 1 month later...

 

So, after trying twice earlier and the universe being against her, Kim and her son Joel *finally* made it out to Six Flags Fiesta Texas last weekend.  

Originally her trip got cancelled and then rescheduled as part of an ACE event in Feb - which then got wiped out by the Texas Ice Storm.

I was supposed to meet up with them both times. . . .however, in the interim, a new FB group formed, Thrill Seekers United (that is Texas based, but welcomes anyone from anywhere).  I joined this group, since local-ish, and I knew some of the people in it from a prior group.   TSU planned their first official Event, called "Unite" for 4/10, and because the ACE event had been cancelled - and several members of TSU are members of ACE, as well as other clubs (Thrill Seekers *United*) the group admins had reached out and invited  ACT to share their planned event.  

Which meant that Kim/Joel were coming as part of ACE, and I was going as a member of TSU facebook group.   It was a full weekend planned (with unofficial meetup Fri at SWSA, full official day at SFFT (with pre-open activities, dinner, as well as post close ERT), and a separate official event the next day at ZDT.

I was concerned about a 16 hour day in the park (and having to be up at 6am to ensure I could be at SFFT two hours prior to open for check in - since between TSU & ACE, there were over 200 people participating in this Unite event.     

So when I realized that I easily had enough points on my Marriott account to score a free room in Shertz?  I booked the room, and then signed up for the Sunday event too, since I could crash less than 20 minutes from the park once Saturday night was over.. instead of having to drive back to Austin.

so Sat I got up way early, made some coffee, and made some fantastic time to San Antonio (I was at the park a good 30 minutes prior to the parking lot even open for our group, but it was fine, as I was able to get in the "line" to go in.   Lots of construction around the entrance to the park - a couple of new strip malls opened up right there!  

But the park has been doing some refurbs for upcoming 30th anniversary, and one of those is the front gate/sign. . . which looks AMAZING (and at night lights up all kinds of colors on the sign, and on the waterfalls behind.  Great job)

 

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by 8:40 the gates opened, and we headed into park, check in out front of the gates, and then head inside the park.

here's the badge with the schedule for the day:

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the line to get in wasn't too bad, because most of the folks there were for the event - the park didn't officially open until 10:30 am
However it was a little strange, as they were letting in pretty much anyone who showed up.  It was so early, I have to assume folks hadnt' checked the operating calendar, and just showed up assuming a 9am opening, because it did start to get a bit busy.

*even to the point that when they grouped us into batches of 8 for the lifthill climb, we ended up with two folks in our group who were not part of the event, and had to leave the line (they had thought they were lining up to ride Goliath, and none of use even noticed they weren't wearing badges. . so were just chatting away waiting our turn, and someone noticed they were wearing sandals - which was explicitly forbidden for the lift hill climb - and THEN we realized they had no idea what was going on, and were just at the park for the day, but not part of the group.


but I easily met up with Kim and Joel - and was very happy to see her.   I had last met her when we visited St Louis a few years ago, and she spent the day showing us around her park, so i was excited to get the chance to show her around my home park.

here we are in line for the Goliath (ie: Batman clone) lift hill walk.

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and it's our turn. 

it was really windy.   I mean. . really.

to the point that we wondered if anything was actually going to operate today if the winds didnt' die down (we saw Jefferey while in line and commented about the wind, and he said "don't worry, we'll get everything open for y'all. . one way or another!". . . LOL. . such a great guy, and a great park.

but we left our hats and anything that could blow away in the cubbies in the station before our climb.  Some in our group held onto the rails for dear life too - yeah, it really was that windy early on in the day.

 

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see?  Windy :)

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I do love the really unique views you can get of the track (and the park) from the lift hill.

we were on the "outwards" facing ramp, but I was still able to get some nice pics of the park from our side:

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the famous Texas shaped wave pool at the park

 

 

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still pretty windy . . .

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didnt' realize they have so much space in the picnic grove.    They really could put another big coaster over here, just run it over the picnic area so they can keep the party options.

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After our Goliath lift hill turn, we made our way over to rope drop area (stopping along the way so Kim could pick up Flash Pass to use during the "free" times of the day.  We could already tell it was going to be packed - and boy was it ever!   

they sold out of the Brass Level, and even Gold & Platinum level ended up not helping too much, since the lines at the Flash Pass entrances (once the watch told you it was time to go to the ride to get on) were a good 20-30 minutes.    it was crazy how busy it ended up being, although spoiler - they did end up getting on most everything at least one time.    so it worked out well they ended up getting Flash Pass. .but boy was the park busy.

but luckily for the "Event" attendees, we were able to pass over the rope and be walked back to rattler before rope drop.

 

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the new CrackAxle theming, so that Daredevil Dive fits in better.  This sign is animated, with gears moving, some lights, and smoke coming out of the steam pipe on upper left. 
It actually works for this area to make it Steampunk themed.

 

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What's this?    Dr. Butterskotch ?

oh, ok. . it tasked like buttery cream soda, available in frozen, on tap, or with a whisky floater. 

I must say, it was very good, and I loved that it could be used for a "snack" option on the meal plan.

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menu.

tho I do wish they didn't sell any other alcohol here - it resulted in really slow moving lines, as it seemed everyone wanted to buy beer and shots (which then had to be measured out, and ids checked, over and over) and very few were buying the "Elixir" the stand was selling.  Since this is the only place to actually get that?  I do wish they'd restrict this stand to only the Elixir, and direct anyone wanting shots or beer to Thirsty Buffalo just around the corner from this stand.

anyways. . once I tried it later?  it was good.

 

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Since it was Kim/Joel's 1st time at Fiesta Texas, they wanted to wait for the front car ride on Iron Rattler.   

Because the coaster has only 1 train ops at the moment, that front row had a good 10 car wait - which resulted in some of the attendees getting the "1st ride of the day on Iron Rattler" to spend ~35 minutes in line.     I went to the 2nd row, which only had a 2 train wait, and as a result finished my ride way sooner than them.   

But while sitting on the brake run, I noticed that Daredevil Dive really didnt' have a line (yet). . so I told them I was going to get my 1st ever ride on that while they were in the IR queue, and headed over that way.

it was a good call, because by the time I got off my ride (1 cycle wait), the line was already spilling out of the queue house.   

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what did I think?

Really, really, fun.   And tho I was later told that each "plane" is programmed differently, so it wont' always be the same ride?    I'd be happy if every ride I got was like this one:
Tons of flips, including several really fast "whip" like flips once it gets going, mixed with nice 8-10 second (feels longer) hang time, where the plane just holds you upside-down.

*just* long enough that you don't get nauseous, but I'd still recommend riding this before eating anything.

great addition to the park.

 

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eventually Kim & Joel made it thru the queue, and I bought the pic for them:
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we had missed the group photo in front of the waterfalls.. .but we still had time to make the Lights on Walk Thru of Pirates of the Deep Sea.  

So we booked it across the park over to the Boardwalk area.

(to be continued)

 

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Great shots so far, Bert! Looking forward to more of your visit there.

I rode a new (at the time) version of Dare Devil Dive in Tivoli / Copenhagen. Was an awesome flat to ride.

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TPR 2014 Scandi Tour. I forget this one's name.

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Continued:

we made it over to the boardwalk area, and they let us in because of our badges (past the growing line of folks who were ready to head to this portion of the park, that opened up at Noon).

It was ~11:40, so we still had time to make the pirates walk thru, and I was really glad to get this opportunity.  I've ridden this a TON of times, but what a difference walking thru it with lights on makes - I noticed all kinds of detail that had escaped me before!

granted, no effects were really on (safety, of course, you cant have live effects when folks are walking), but I still really appreciated getting to see the detail work!
(and being able to get some clear pictures, when you're not in a moving vehicle that makes them blurry)

 

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Bumped into Jeffrey on the way out of Pirates, and chatted for a few moments. 
he was wonderful to chat with, and really, as I've said before :  he makes this park feel so welcoming.    It's like visiting with family when you see him.
(he even answered Joel's question about why Boomerang was called "Coast to Coaster" - which really is a pretty silly name. . LOL.)

 

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Kim doesn't do "spinning" rides, so while Joel and I headed over to Hustler - with plan for he and I to then go grab back seat ride on Iron Rattler using Flash Pass, Kim headed to the car to drop off the jackets they had been wearing - the wind had died down, and it had started to warm up.

Hustler was fun as always.

 

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caught a few moments of the Disco Fever show as we passed in front of Rockville High on our way to CrackAxle

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another snap along the way.
(as noted, it was crowded by now, but I'm a photo ninja, so able to get shots where it looks like no one is around. . LOL)

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FlashPass said it was our time to ride, but the folks queued in front of us on the stairs said "nope.. you're gonna wait at least 30 minutes"

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we ended up waiting even longer than that, because moments after I snapped this picture? a power surge hit the park, and took down EVERYTHING.

I mean, the entire park shut down.   They were very quick to get the food stands, and some smaller rides back up pretty quickly, but I think Iron Rattler and several other of the "big" rides were down for the better part of an hour.   with one train operations, that wasnt' a great situation - even tho many folks gave up and left the line (resulting in the open food stands and open ride lines to swell). 

Something out of the park's control, and I don't blame them at all. . . hell, they did an excellent job getting things back up as quickly as they did!

we bailed after about 40 minutes, as Kim was texting that she had gotten in line for food, and that Joel really needed to eat something, so we should come meet her.  (I hadn't eaten at all yet either, so even tho we knew we were going to be eating in 4 hours or so, I wanted Kickin Chicken too).  

what *WAS* a horrible situation, and unfortunately we didn't bail before that point?   the group behind us in the line had one of those portable sound pods. . and after about 25 minutes?  started blasting "Baby Shark" to the delight of anyone under 10 in the queue (and the audible groan of anyone over that age) - seriously. . 5 days later, I still have that damn thing stuck in my head.   
Oh he also played "What does the Fox Say". . . but thank goodness Kim convinced Joel to bail shortly after that.

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we got food, ate, wandered the park, and rode a few things - I believe Joel had Flash Passed Batman so we waited while he rode that (about 20 minutes) and he and Kim used a skip the line on Wonder Woman.       They also did the Joker (tho only Joel rode, Kim just did the funhouse queue and then walked past the ride. .LOL).   a few other things, and then Kim really wanted to ride the Bugs Bunny Flume.

I can't recall if they used the Flash Pass or a skip the line, but we headed that way and waited about 25 minutes in the Flash Pass line.   

Unfortunately, the power surge knocked out all the cameras - so there really weren't any onride pics I could get for them.   Since I hadn't gotten Flash Pass tho, I did my best to get some pics of them :)

 

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by the time we got done with Bugs' it was time for dinner in the picnic grove.

We weren't all that hungry, as had eaten at Kickin Chicken - however the fact I dont' have any pics of the meal kinda tells you if it was great.
(it could have just been the servings I happened to get - but the chicken was way overcooked and stringy, and the brisket was fatty and undercooked on one side.   I didn't complain because: a) I wasn't super hungry,  b) it's a theme park, so dont' expect great food if the place isn't Knoebel's, and c) the hot dog was good, and the Cobbler (tho not heated up) was excellent.   I had peach and would buy it in the park if were available for purchase anywhere.

but the event by the park was really well organized, the folks running TSU are great and friendly, and the park reps that spoke to us during the meal were full of information.  The upcoming Roller Coaster Rodeo Event sounds like a great time.

oh, and there was a raffle too, and Joel won a wheel from an Iron Rattler train (perhaps explaining why there is only one train running now? LOL) :)

here's Jeffrey addressing the group after dinner.

 

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after food, we got together for a 2nd attempt at group photo, with perfectly timed Goliath loop in the background.

(Everyone I met at this event was great, and a lot of fun)

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food settled, we headed over to DareDevil Dive so Joel could get a ride (he liked it too):
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and then back over to Wonder Woman

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Killing time while waiting for Kim & Joel to get on the coaster  (we didnt' ride Superman during the day, because we knew we had ERT on the ride - along with Zoom Jets and Skyscreamer after park close). . so we did ride it later, but for now, just took some pics of it.

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and here they are in seat 1 & 2

 

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a few more things ridden and Kim/Joel wanted a night ride on Iron Rattler.   
I was starting to wear down a bit, so i relaxed with a Dr Butterskotch Elixir as dusk fell, and they waited ~30 minutes in Flash Pass line.

(it was while I was waiting for them that I checked Facebook, and found out a friend of mine had passed in a traffic accident. .so that put me in a really odd mood for the remainder of the evening, but I tried my best to have fun, as there wasn't anything I could do that would change it, and he would want me to have fun at a Theme park)

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by the time they got off of Rattler, we were limited on time, since the park was only open for ~45 minutes longer.   But Joel had gotten flash pass reservation for Poltergeist, so we headed that way and Kim and I sat and visited (and chatted about my friend) while we waited for him.

he got of Polty with ~10 minutes left of park officially open.

he REALLY wanted another ride on Wonder Woman. . . I was pretty convinced that the line had been closed off at least 40 minutes earlier, but he wanted to try.   So Kim and I decided to go to Pirates for a ride, since we were close to the boardwalk - and Joel would go attempt WW.  and we'd meet him over at Superman entrance for ERT.

Kim and I were pretty much the last folks on Pirates for the night (they announced park was now closed while we were on it). . but on the way over to Superman, we stopped by WonderWoman to look for Joel - and were shocked to see him getting off the ride!   He had been able to get into the queue 5 minutes before park close.

SUCH amazing customer service at this park!

(and again, i think the longer lines never really recovered from the power glitch earlier. . but HUGE Kudos to the park - the entire time we were doing ERT?  they were still clearing lines on Joker & Roadrunner Express.   That's some amazing service that not every park would do - letting those in line, still get a ride well after park close).

 

here I am on Zoom Jets during ERT.  I rode 4 times total. . it's a fun ride, with some real fun centrifugal force.

 

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look at that blur!  it really does move pretty fast. . LOL

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and an official photog pic from earlier in the day :)

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Leaving the park ~10:20, I was already in my hotel in Shertz, and in bed by 11pm.   Exhausting but fun day. . hope you've enjoyed reading along!

in the next few days , I'll post the pics from the next day at ZDT.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Nrthwnd said:

Great shots so far, Bert! Looking forward to more of your visit there.

I rode a new (at the time) version of Dare Devil Dive in Tivoli / Copenhagen. Was an awesome flat to ride.

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TPR 2014 Scandi Tour. I forget this one's name.

the one at SFFT is the tallest in the world tho, since it goes up 5 stories :)

and I totally forgot to post my purchase I made while they were in the queue for Joker:  A KISS meets the Phantom shirt.

I had seen others post about buying them and was determined to find it in the park! 
(the shop in Rockville where I found it sells all kinds of weird non-connected-to-Six-Flags-in-any-way stuff. . . .   but at least this has a connection:  "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park" was filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain!

$30 including tax, but yes, i really DID need *another* KISS shirt (as I explained to my Spouse)

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We had a really fun day. The super windy lift hill was the scariest thing I have every done in a theme park; felt like you were going to blow right off the damn thing. Thanks so much for all the great pictures Bert and for being such a great host!! 

And I think you mean that Kim won a wheel from Iron Rattler but gave her ticket to her son like Moms tend to do 😜 It is now down in his room next to the chain dog from Mine Train at SFSTL he won a few years back (and ironically now works that ride) 

I texted the pic of us on WW to my husband and parents and had to then answer all sorts of inquiries regarding what it was and why it was a single rail and why we sat single file, much to Joel's embarrassment at his "GP" family, lol. 

And when Joel asked the park Pres about the "coast to coaster" name for Boomerang he said "you're right, it's dumb....that was before me!" HA!

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Waiting for a night ride on IR was worth it but it did come at the expense of doing some other stuff a little further down on the priority list. Never made it on the train, nor did Joel make in on Pirates and a few other things. We loved this park and will for sure go back one day.

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I'm late getting back to this to update my 1st visit to ZDT (!). . . I'll try to get it up in the next few days.


but the positive coming out of my procrastination?  the Admins from the TSU group - many of whom are photographers - have been uploading their pics over the past two weeks, so I have some pics taken of me I can use (they gave permission) :)

here's just a tease, and I'll have my ZDT morning up soon. . .


back right:

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so Sunday morning, after an ok (but not great - the AC in the room was so noisy, it woke me up every time it kicked in) night's sleep I headed down to the breakfast area where I grabbed a light snack of pancake sticks and coffee, and reviewed my printed out directions.

yes. . printed out directions - I'm OLD.

I knew that on paper, the direction said that Seguin / ZDTs was only about 25 minutes away from my hotel in Selma. . but I know I'm not the best with directions when going somewhere for the 1st time, so I gave myself a good 50 minutes to get there for the 9:30 am check in with the TSU group.

it was to be my 1st time at ZDT's and I was very curious to check the place out - and get to finally ride Switchback.

I only got lost once, but managed to find the place via my directions in ~35 minutes.


there were only a couple of other cars in the lot when I arrived just after 9, so I got out to explore the place while it was quiet.

I really loved how they repurposed the silos for a climbing wall experience (I did NOT do it. . not a fan of that kind of activity, but it was cool to see)

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they also have a Parachute themed drop tower, that I did one ride on later it was fun, if not as scary as some of the other shorter ones I've been on - such as AtmosFear at Knoebel's,  where you can't see the top of the tower due to the larger canopy and have no idea how close to the drop you are.

there were a couple of water slides in the back over here (not yet open for the season), and this building behind the drop tower is a combo of the 2nd arcade (also filled with "classic" games set to free play with your armband), and a banquet hall/meeting room - which is where we had lunch later.

Behind the silos on the right is the GoKart track (indoor/outdoor combo)

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turning around the other direction behind me, here is the main entrance - which has another arcade, a snack bar area, some indoor play stuff, and the exit into the main park/Switchback.

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Switchback is not quite awake for the day, but I think it's a wonderful sight and makes for some great pictures. 
It really is just plopped down in the middle of a neighborhood tho.. which is a little weird.

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very nice of ZDTs to put up a sign for the TSU group, that is promoting the event that I'm attending.

we have run of the place from 9:30am-12:30 am, which includes ERT on Switchback for an hour, and ERT on the goKarts for an hour, before they open to the general public.

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Overview of the park, from where I had parked at the far end of the lot.

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ok, THIS is right across the street from the main parking lot (and around the base is additional parking).   I took this pic from my parking spot, turning around from the prior pic.

if it had said anywhere that I looked to "look for the Seguin watertower!"  ?   I wouldn't have gotten lost at all while trying to find the coaster :)

Oh well.. now I know for next time, just head for the watertower when I hit Sequin

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ooo.. not quite time to check in yet, but what's this?     they are starting test runs on Switchback.

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whee!

I dont' think I've ever seen a park employee, when doing test runs, ride hands up.   I thought that was kinda neat to see.

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Once checked in, we gathered in the main Arcade/building, waiting for official start time, so I wandered a bit in the building to see what else was in here:

there's a giant ball pit, what looked like a sorta/kinda ropes course, and then in this room:

A trampoline attraction, and indoor rock climb, and a Max Flight simulator.

 

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I had intended to come back and play in this later to check it out, but honestly, by the time I remembered I had wanted to?  the place had opened to the general public (and very few masks), and I didn't feel comfortable getting into an enclosed attraction thing like this after someone who didn't wear a mask (and all that implies) was in it just before me.

so if I go back, I'll give it a shot if I catch them on a slow day.

I looked like fun tho, and did all kinds of movements to tie into whatever program you chose to ride to.

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Kim and Joel had arrived, so I met them by the "Dancing" game that Joel had already started interacting with.

I liked the "ZDT" made out of glass bricks in the building wall. . . lots of theming for a small park.

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an announcement was made, and the group headed out to Switchback, and we lined up by the number on our entry ticket (the earlier your arrival, the higher up on the lift hill you'd get to go -as we were going to climb the Switchback lifthill for a group picture)

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it doesn't really seem that high until you turn around and look down (and see the spike)!

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from the lift hill overlooking the parking area. 

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overview of the park itself. . it's a really nice set up, even if in a very small footprint.

directly ahead of the spike (unfortunately, you can't see it in this pic) the park also has a small "Toucan" themed frisbee.  That i didn't ride, so not sure if it does a full 360 revolution, but it did look like fun.

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as noted, it really IS in the middle of a neighborhood. . . this home is directly across the street, looking down from the lift hill.

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it's truly impressive how much coaster they crammed into this small space.

it has a lot of airtime in the back row (8 seat trains/4 rows total), and it was a little rough for the backwards portion. . but I really liked it, and would say it's certainly worth a trip to ZDT if you're in the San Antonio area to take a ride.

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the train designs are quite neat too.

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what's this I see across the street from Switchback's queue? 

"Mary's Texan Cafe" - that's the place that Elissa had told me had really good food, and the line of cars seemed to agree.    Made a note that I'm getting tacos before heading out, and convinced Kim and Joel to walk over there with me a little later in the morning.

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but first?  we had some ERT on the Electric Go Karts at ZDTs as well:

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it's not the longest, or most unique track I've been on - but I did enjoy how it makes use of the covered warehouse, and the outdoor ramps for some fun, tight, turns.  
and those cars can really get some speed on them once they "flip the switch" and allow everyone to go full speed.

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After Go-Karts, still had a little bit of time to kill before lunch was to be served.   (Kim and Joel were heading back to SFFT to try and get a few more coasters in before their flight, but were going to hang around ZDT until lunch).   

So I convinced them to make the walk over to Mary's with me.

Fair warning. . there's no sidewalk!  (and the main building at ZDT is basically flush with the street)..and seeing as Mary's is mainly a drive thru?  yeah, next time will hop in the car, as the way we went (which seemed the logical way) meant walking in the street and trying not to get run over.   I mean, it was for tacos, so it would have been worth it. . but still :)

(the only "safe" way to go without car, would be walking all the way around the other direction, beyond the waterslides).

but I made it to Mary's and the guy near the door to the kitchen told us we could order from him and he'd bring it to us (I suspect the picnic table outside isn't for customers, but for kitchen staff breaks.. oops.. but now know for next time. .and again, he was happy to take our order even tho we had walked over)

 

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Joel was happy, he got his Mexican Coke while we waited for our order :)

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Big ol bag of tacos.     I was going to eat the lunch that was included with the event, but wanted to bring home a bunch of tacos for later, and they stayed excellent and tasted just as great.

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these tacos are LEGIT tho.

*absolutely* worth the trip, and if you're just going to ZDT for Switchback?   Do yourself a favor and also pick up tacos from Mary's across the street.

they are excellent!

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Bonus is that you can get some beautiful shots of Switchback while waiting for your food at Mary's:

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after we got back, we all went into the meeting room behind the 2nd Arcade, and the group played "ZDT BINGO" for some prizes (mainly Tshirts, mugs, and day passes to ZDT's I believe). .I dunno, I didn't win :p  

but then lunch was served:

The hot dogs were so interesting, because they are served in "special" buns.  At first I thought they were just pieces of bread, but no, they are bread that have been formed into Hotdog Buns (with square bottoms, so they stand up). . . really good hot dogs.

tho the star of the show are those up top:  Deep fried Oreos.

I've had deep fried Oreos before (at Kennywood), but these were way less greasy than my prior time, and were quite good.   I suspect they taste even better if warm (they had cooled while i was eating the hot dogs).

the Snack Bar had quite a few offerings that were better than standard snack bar food, and they appeared to be part of the wristband that included food, if one so chose to do that. 
so although I certainly recommend the tacos across the street?  it's good to spend some $$ in ZDT's too.. especially with treats such as these.

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Kim and Joel headed out to SFFT, and I hung around a bit longer, playing a few games, and riding the drop tower.

here's a pic I sent home to my spouse . . what can I say. . I'm so subtle  . . LOL
(it's the Flaming Finger)

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and closing with a few pics taken by the Admins of the TSU group that sponsored the get together/event.

I had a lot of fun, and even tho ZDT is for sure not a full day park?  I had a fun few hours there, and would go back in the future.

 

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  • 6 months later...

although I was just in San Antonio for Halloween at a Thrill Seekers United Event, I went back to San Antonio this past weekend for an ACE event at SeaWorld (the deal was just too good to pass up, since I'm an ACE member (joined for a year to ensure no issue at Coasterstock at Kings Island in July):  Two meals, ERT on Stingray & two flats for hour before park opens, ERT on Steel Eel, Wave Breaker, Great White for an hour after park closes, and behind the scenes tours of the rides if so choose.

plus get to see the opening weekend of the lights - with SWSA having the most lights up in Texas?  

so I went, and figured since staying the whole day, and I needed to activate my new Six Flags Fiesta Texas Platinum Season Pass, I'd stay over again (at a GREAT hotel this time with breakfast and checkout at noon).

only problem was that SFFT didn't open until 2pm on Sunday - but they had also started their Holiday in the Park activities. . . .no issue tho?  Groupon to the rescue (and a Noon opening) and I decided to go to the San Antonio Zoo for a few hours.

so.. . trip report coming soon here, with TONS of pictures from SeaWorld San Antonio, San Antonio Zoo, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

spoiler:  I ended up upgrading my ticket to the SW event to a 2022 Season Pass (including parking!), and since I got the SFFT Platinum Pass now too?  I suspect I'll be going to San Antonio a bit more often (as well as to other Six Flags parks since my Pass gets me into all of them - with the Dining Pass transferring with me to those other parks too).


spoiler 2:   of course, I rode the Carousels at all 3 places :)

TR starting soonish here, hope y'all enjoy.


SWSA:
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SA Zoo:
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SFFT:
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Great new set(s) of photos here, Bert. Looks like you had an awesome time, wherever you ended up, lol.

"Spoiler 2:   of course, I rode the Carousels at all 3 places"    

Carou-whore. In a really good way, of course. 😋
 

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so the Ace event was all day at SeaWorld. . starting off with an early morning ERT on Texas Stingray and the two flats over there (a mini-Troika, and a mini pendulum).

But check in was by 10:30am (park opening was 1pm).

funny. . ~6 weeks ago, I hadn't been to this park in well over 25 years.  This is now my 3rd time passing this sign since that time.

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1st time I'm in "general parking". . .I parked by Sydney - who reminded me of Jabberjaw (and glad I paid attention. . finding my car after dinner to drop off the gift bag I had won in raffle (stuffed Shamu Toy, Coca-Cola scarf, and ornament) was a real .  . . . adventure.  but luckily I had the pic of Sydney to remind me where I parked!

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overcast, but not dark enough to trigger the lights - tho they would go on well before dark, as it stayed pretty overcast all day.

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ooo. . pretty.

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Aquatica towers over the main entrance area.

when I upgraded my pass, they asked if I wanted "multi-park" so I could go in the summer. . but I'm just not a waterpark person.  Still, it's impressive from the front gates area.

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oh, they have this big sign at the actual SW gate too.  Hadn't noticed it on my prior visits, but since we were there so early, was easy to get a pic without so many in front of it.

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upon entering the park on our way back to Texas Stingray area for morning ERT, we passed all these cut out decorations by the lagoon.   I knew they had Rudolf as a guest (and a priced character meal one could do with him), but I totally forgot that the island of Misfit Toys would be there too, if Rudolf was!

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Eeek!!!!

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so they've topped off Tidal Surge since my visit ~3 weeks ago.   Wow.. the thing is really impressive in person now.  it TOWERS over that part of the park.

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Only ~100 of us here for the event, so even with 1 train ops, still got multiple rides on Stingray during the morning ERT.  (It's fun everywhere, but man, in the back seat this is an amazingly fun coaster)

and I got to try out the test seat.

Whee!

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our hour of ERT up, we headed back to the picnic area for Lunch - Hamburgers/hot dogs/chips, macaroni salad, & cookies.

not sure how SW prepares their burger patties that makes them so good, but once again, this was an excellent burger patty!

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this is Paige, whom I ended up hanging around with most of the day at the event (and the mohawk just above me is Oren (and off to the left out of frame is Sean) whom we started talking to during lunch, and we also ended up hanging out with most of the day.

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at lunch we were able to sign up for "behind the scenes" tours if we wanted to.. so the four of us signed up for "Texas Stingray" & "Wave Breaker" - while Sean signed up for Tidal Surge Hardhat tour, and Batman (i mean Great White).

"Behind the scenes" tour really meant we got to go to a restricted area and talk to the maintenance guys in the shed, and as them questions about the rides/trains.

it was pretty cool, and we were able to get some "non-regular" pictures.

and an answer as to why the coasters were 1 train ops - here's the other train for Texas Stingray, doing it's annual refurb.

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Not a whole lot of "extra" pieces available, but this was really the 1st time they'd taken a train apart since the ride is so new (per the Maintenance guy giving us the tour)

but they do have an extra chain lift motor standing by just in case!

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some rally nice angles for pics from the behind the scenes:

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hidden behind the "secure" area. . and luckily not needed today!

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then we headed up the way to Wave Breaker, and into the Maintenance shed where we got an up close look at the Maintenance track for this launched coaster.

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Wave Breaker actually has 3 trains.  but is running 1 train ops now:  1 train is in scheduled refurb maintenance, and 1 is being broken down to send to a sister SW park, as they're about to get a similar coaster (per the gentleman giving us the tour).

 

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these are the ones shipping off to another park.

With a great view of the track & Steel Eel.

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Great White across the way - from the restricted area

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our tour guide offered (if we wanted) to go into the launch building - so of course we said yes:

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I chatted with this operator for a bit, and he was a great guy.  I didn't realize they have cameras on every row during the pre-launch, and they look at every rider to make sure no cameras are coming out (he demonstrated how he can pick up the mic and shout out at certain riders to put away their phones).   I didn't even notice anyone in the launch building on my prior rides!  he's pretty well hidden. . LOL

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we also got to go outside along the 2nd launch and get some pretty cool pics from an angle most don't get to see:

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while waiting for Steel Eel's one train to come up the hill for a pic, I snapped a pic of Tidal Surge across the lagoon.

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here's Steel Eel!

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Sean had signed up for the Tidal Surge hard hat tour, but since we were at Wave Breaker, and the line was really short still, as the park had still opened, we convinced him to get in line with us to ride
(which of course meant there was an issue, and we had to wait 20 minutes or so for it to cycle a few times before we got on it.

we ended up getting a front row ride tho, so that was worth the wait:

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and then we rushed Sean over to the meet up point for the Tour (about 10 minutes late), while Oren, Paige, and myself headed to our first show of the day.

to be continued with way more pics. . . .but here are two that Sean told me I could share from his Hard Hat tour, including a really interesting one of the compressors inside one of the "legs"

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to be continued. . .

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SWSA continued:

after dropping off Sean at the hardhat tour, we continued on to the Beluga Show - only to discover we had missed that too during our delay on Wave Breaker

but, we saw "Clyde & Seamore's Countdown to Christmas" was showing in about 30 minutes, so headed over that way to Sea Lion stadium.

along the way tho, we passed Bumble who was out doing meet and greet . and of COURSE I'm a photo-op whore, so we hopped in line (gently dragging Oren & Paige with me, but they didn't protest too much):


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and an Elf out on the pathway being super cheerful also got stopped for a photo on the way to the stadium.

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the live entertainment thruout the park was quite good, with an excellent level of talent, and man these ladies had great voices too.    Mariachi Christmas Carols for the win!

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I had missed the SeaLion show on my prior visit to SeaWorld SA, so had no idea what to expect.   I mean, I knew it would be cheesy as all hell (which it was - even including a mime!!!), but I wasn't expecting the humor to skew a little "dark" - TWO jokes about death (including a melted Frosty being dumped back into the main tank) and vomit joke about getting car-sick rushing to the mall.    Lots of slapstick with the mime and a female elf.

the show is about Clyde and SeaMore getting SWSA ready for Santa to visit, and checking things off their list they need to do in order to get Santa to come visit.

but it was cute, and a nice use of ~25 minutes.   

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the otter is ADORBS!  (even if he seemed to have no idea what was going on, and just did it for the treat)

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it was quite a full crowd, but once the show was over, pretty much everyone went next door to the habitat to look at the Sea Lions sunning on the rocks (something Paige and I had peeked at on Halloween, but the area was closed and we were shooed away (politely) at that time).

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lots of folks buying the cups of food to feed them tho. . .

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we were close to the front gates, so I split off to go to guest services to upgrade my day ticket to a season pass.  it was very easy to do, tho "odd" in that "the machine is still broken" so my 1 year pass - good for 1 year from the date I purchased, since SWSA is a year round park - is a little piece of paper that I hope I don't tear or rip in the next 12 months.   (Maybe I should go get it laminated?)

then I headed back to go meet up with Paige/Oren over by the meet & greet (since Paige is friends with someone in the costumes and was gonna visit) .

More stilts!   yay!!!

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bet this is gonna look great once it gets dark!

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another look at the imposing Tidal Surge.  This ride is gonna be great!

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found Paige, but before we left, I had to get in line for another pic, since Rudolf (red nose included), and Clarice were out!

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and just before we headed out to grab a ride on the Carousel (we had time before the 2nd attempt at the Beluga show), Bumble came back out. .so I took the opportunity for a solo pic - LURVE him:

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be-still my heart!

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going into Sesame Street "Bay of Play" we passsed these that caught my eye.

are these. . .. .  Christmas trees made out of trash?  

YES.. what an awesome touch, that if you weren't paying attention to, could easily walk past without noticing. . LOL

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Hi Oscar!

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tho I love me a photo op?  the line for this group was way too long than I was willing to wait in (especially since it was almost all parent with tiny kids. . I mean, it's Sesame Street, I get it. .the right audience was in line for pics). 

So I just settled for a walk by picture.

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then onto the Carousel - which despite the crowd levels in the Sesame Street area, was only a 1 cycle wait.

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Carousel credit received, we headed over to Beluga Stadium to meet up with Oren for the show: "A Beluga Christmas"

this one was a reach, because there really wasn't anything Christmasy about it, other than the tree banners on the backdrop, and it looked like someone when to Home Depot and bought some colored trees to put on either side of the stage.
 

the music was sorta/kinda holiday themed, if you strained to hear it in there. . but really it was pretty much the standard show, I would say, with Belugas and Dolphins.

which isn't a bad thing, I really enjoyed it.

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these Pacific White Sided Dolphins really get some height, and speed.

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Belugas!

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awwww. . a Momma and her calf.

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adorable

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LOL. . looks like it's jumping the logo from this angle

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by the time the show ended, it was just ~ an hour until dinner.

Dinner was over in Discovery Point - which is outside the main gates of SeaWorld across the entrance plaza.  But they have Bottle Nose Dolphin exhibit and a shark reef over there, so we decided to head that way a little early to check those out.

there was an animal interaction tour going on, and they were feeding the bottlenose dolphins, as well as learning some of the training.  and luckily we just happened to be in the perfect spot for when the trainer motioned them to jump:

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unfortunately the Shark Reef is closed at the moment as they are re-doing the floors in there, so we spent some time visiting with other ACE and TSU attendees, before heading into the underwater portion of the Dolphin exhibit.

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and then it was time for dinner:  this time several different Pasta options/sauces, and a wonderful cinnamon/apple cobbler for desert.

just the meals were well worth the cost of the event - not to mention that I was able to upgrade my admission into a Season Pass.   

I did NOT leave hungry :)

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I also won a gift bag at dinner with a small stuffed Shamu, a Coca-Cola Scarf, and an ornament.

and found this (one of only 3 - of which I bought 2 of them) leftover from June "Pride" pins

it's a Mega-Gay shark (if the rainbow teeth and glitter maw didn't give it away, they also put it on a rainbow backing to sell. . .LOL).
too cute to pass up, so bought one for me, and one to have for a friend.

 

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then made the quick trip to the car to drop off the stuff and my hat/sunglasses, before heading back into the park proper to enjoy the lights, Orca show, & evening ERT.

SWSA day to be concluded. . .

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SWSA day concluded:

 

so walking back from the car, was able to get a picture of the big "tree" that SWSA has at the entrance to the parking lot.  Unfortunately, the Parking lot lights caused my iPhone 11 to pick up a lot of extra, and kinda put it into "night mode" and washed them out a little.

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same issue with this one..   tho as I got away from the parking lot lights, the night shots got better.

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they're not kidding around when they say it's the largest amount of lights in Texas.

I mean, this is still OUTSIDE the main gates. . so many lights, all along the outer fence of the park.

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and the "welcome gates" are impressive as hell at night:

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once you actually get into the park, it's even more impressive in places.

this whole area was hosted by Coca-Cola, and had the Red/White colors and the Polar Bear inflatables (drinking cokes of course). . . and a pop up bar that was offering all kinds of Coke drinks with and without alcohol.  

since we had just finished eating, I didn't try anything else, sadly, but I expect will be back at some point in Dec, (since have a pass now) and will try some of them out then.

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walking towards the lagoon (we were headed for a night ride on Texas Stingray since we didnt' have any evening ERT on it, so were just gonna stand in line) is so dang impressive.

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there were multiple stages set up along the pathways, and all of the performers were excellent.

I called these guys the "nudies". . since - tho it's clear in the pics they are wearing pink pants?   . . . in person, they were more "flesh" colored. .and as we came upon them, I really did a double take, as they looked like they were naked from the waist down!   (LOL).

the "brass" Christmas Carols were lovely tho, and drew a pretty good crowd in the walkway.

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they didn't have the lights ON Journey to Atlantis itself (but the event had just opened, so maybe still to come?), but the entire fence around it (and trees within it) were wrapped and looked stunning:

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I was shocked that although the park had gotten really crowded (I think I heard someone at ERT saying over 20,000 came in after 5:30 when it got dark), the line for Texas Stingray was still only ~15 minutes - even with only 1 train.

here's what the majority of the queue looked like:

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after our ride, Oren, Sean, Paige and myself continued around the Lagoon, to take in the lights, and enjoy the scenery:

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lovely angle. . my jowls really stand out 😛

but I loved how Oren tucked his long beard into his vest for our ride on Stingray.. and in this pic he hadn't' untucked it yet. . LOL

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another performer over by Rio Loco entrance  - who was really quite good. . she sounded a lot like Jewel.

we stood and listened to her for a little bit.

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and then noticed Santa was meeting/greeting just behind us.

Didn't get in line for him, but once we noticed he was wearing Red Leather Chaps?  (we decided they are assless chaps, to counteract the Texas heat).. well. . just HAD to get a picture !

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We headed over to the penguins - which was open, tho the Puffin portion was dark .. past their bedtime, I guess) and the whole building is just DRIPPING with lights.

It really looked amazing. . and all around the front of the exhibit there were a whole bunch of "themed" Snowmen - including these "Blues Brothers"

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and this darkly humorous "San Antonio Spurs" Snowman who tossed his head, and kept the ball.

dark!

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over by Steel Eel, the area seemed to be themed to CandyLand..with a multicolored light up path, giant gumdrops. . and was very purple.

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looking at the show schedule, it looked like there was an Orca show at 8:30. . which was perfect, since park closed at 9, and ERT started then.

so we cut thru Sesame Street Bay of Play to head to Orca stadium.

cool. . the "trash trees" even have lights on them. . and appropriately, the lights on one of em don't work.

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at the Orca show, Paige was VERY concerned we were gonna get wet - as basically 2/3rds of the stadium is tagged as "Splash Zone".

But I went by how wet the floor was, and simply kept moving until we got to a section where the floor was mostly dry, and we sat pretty far up.

So tho she stressed about it, we didnt' get wet - tho a lot of folks did, as this show had the BIG Orcas out, and they certainly made quite the splash during the show.

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of the 3 "animal" shows we saw today, this one was the least adapted to the Holiday Lights spirit. . . . really, all they did was put Snowflake cutouts along the tank, and called it a day, and just did the standard show (as far as I could tell).

which is fine, as the show is quite enjoyable - and educational.   

It's just not very Christmasy.

here's pics from it - as noted. . the big un Orcas were out performing today:

 

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Feeeeeed meeeeeeee !

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the show over, most everyone headed to the left towards the front gates. .but we (with our neon pink wristbands indicating part of the ACE event) headed right, and went to Wave Breaker to meet up, and start the hour ERT on WaveBreaker, Great White, and Steel Eel.

this time when passing this hysterical tackiness tho, I stopped and took a pic. 
This is close to where Santa is. . and yes. . it's a "Boot Tree"

HAHAHAHAHAHA

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Hi Santa!

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we went to get in line for WaveBreaker 1st, even tho I don't think it's a super exciting coaster.   But since we were there for ERT, we were able to go wherever we wanted, and decided to head to the back row.

ok. . the back absolutely makes a difference (as I suspect riding at night did). . but this felt WAY faster in the back.  Heck, I lost my necklace on it.. just blew right off me!

so I'll say, night ride in the very back?  elevates this coaster to at least a 7. 

Oh, it's still a family coaster, but daytime in the front is a 4-5. . I found it much more fun at night in the back.

(in this pic too, you can see the penguin house with all the "dripping" blue lights. . .so lovely)

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and a full moon too?

ooooo. . we were told riding Steel Eel (or as I call it:  "ow, my balls!") during a full moon will bring good luck.

So we decided we'd head over there after this ride and we'd all ride it - as long as we rode in the front car.

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here comes the prior riders. . zoom zoom

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with 1 train ops, hard to stand by to wait for a pic with the train in it.. but here's Steel Eel cresting it's 2nd hill (I think)

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it turned out to be much more enjoyable towards the front - still plenty of floater air, but only ~1" off the seat (as opposed to towards the back where the floater air seems to be between 2-3"). . so the "coming down" didn't hurt near as much and was actually quite fun.

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it was getting close to 9:40, so we headed over to Great White, and grabbed an excellent front row ride.   I think maybe because it had gotten a little chilly, maybe it was running whippier than usual?  It certainly felt way more intense than my prior ride on it (during Halloween) had felt.    Really running well.

we were literally the only folks on the ride, so they let us stay, and Oren, Paige, and Sean headed to the back row for another ride.

I used the excuse of "I'm old" and I was exhausted from the long day and all the walking, to sit that last ride out.   But took a pic of it:

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and with that, our day at SeaWorld San Antonio was done.

we thanks the SeaWorld staff on hand profusely (for sticking around for us to ride, and for hosting us all day), and we were directed the long way around the lagoon to head to the front gates.

the benefit of staying an hour + after closing, was that unlike earlier?  it was VERY easy to find our cars.    (there were maybe 11 cars total in the lot.. LOL).

and with that, I said my goodnights to my new friends, wished those driving home a safe journey, and I headed to 1604/I10 to find my hotel for the evening.
crossing my fingers that I wouldn't have anything like the experience I had had at Hilton Garden Inn.. as this time I was staying at a Marriott Towne Suites near Medical Center.

tho I had a bit of worry, as I'd never gotten my digital key from the app.

Fingers crossed, I headed off into the Night towards my hotel for hopefully a good night's sleep, and then to the San Antonio Zoo in the morning, followed by Six Flags Fiesta Texas!

to be continued. . . .

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Awesome night shots, Bert! And those photos of the killer whale "performing" ..... great!

I envy parks that do a Holiday make-over with the lights and all. And are still open.

Thanks for sharing, Bert.

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it's been a crazy busy several days. . sorry.  

quick update on the Hotel stay overnight on Sat.    Made it from SeaWorld to the hotel in less than 20 minutes, and what a difference a Marriott Towneplace Suites is from that shitshow a few weeks ago at Hilton Garden Inn.


at the Marriott, my room was ready at check in. .they handed me keys the moment I walked in (~ 11pm), and the room was not only clean and comfortable?  but it was HUGE (with a full size fridge, a working kitchen (including dishwasher, stovetop, and microwave, plates/glasses/utensils. . even a cutting board).

I realize it's because this was a little closer to Medical Center than it was to Fiesta Texas (which was still only ~8 minutes away). . but this place was amazing - and the room was less than $100 for the night.

the only downside was that I was only staying one night, as the grounds were lovely with a nice pool on site too. . . oh - AND a large, and varied *free* breakfast included in the lobby.

this is absolutely my go to hotel for overnights in S.A. for SW or SFFT now.

pics of the hotel now, but hopefully tomorrow will have TONS of pics from the zoo.   hope you like seeing animals/reptiles :)

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got up early-ish, and tho check out at the hotel wasn't until Noon, I knew the zoo opened at Noon and wanted to get there early, so headed out from the hotel by 11:15, and was pulling into the newish (and free) zoo parking garage by 11:30.


this garage is great!   It's a little bit further than parking at the Train Depot (but that lot is crazy to get out of because it's close to the zoo entrance and the kiddie amusement rides) - but this is up the hill and it's easy / peasy to get back to I10 (where I'd need to go to get back to SFFT - about 20 minutes away - later)

Nick could have never made it up the hill after going around the zoo . . heck, he couldn't have made it down the hill and I would have had to get into the traffic to drop him off.  But since was solo, chose the garage.

which as noted is free during zoo hours and weekends.

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walking to the zoo entrance from the garage, there are lots of service pipes - that the Zoo has "arted" up.. . most of them are snakes, but this Elephant was so well done I had to grab a pic:

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oh my. . it's a little crowded today.   This is the line for members and those who had prebought tix (thanks Groupon!  I got mine online the day before.  Saved $4 and let me bypass the gigantic line outside the main ticket booths that stretched all the way down the street).

but yeah.. crowded enough the mask went on almost right away, even tho I was outside.

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I think because it was such an overcast day, that brought out the crowds - because sure enough, all the animals that normally would be "hiding" from the Noon sun?  almost all were out and about.

LOL.. even tho the big draw is the "Zoo Lights" - presented by Whataburger!!!  (which I didn't really get to see, because I headed to Fiesta by 3pm.. tho it was overcast enough lots were on anyways). . they still had the Dinosaur displays thruout the park. 

Some of the Dinosaurs are animatronic - with limited movement - although no one was staffing *any* of the photo opportunities with the Dinos (they were instead staffing the photo ops with Santa, snow globes, Christmasy stuff).

Still. . it was amusing the Dino is still at the entrance sign and thruout the zoo.

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a bear with the Bears:

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which, as I noted. . were out, because it was so overcast.

I can relate dude. . I was exhausted from yesterday too.
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big boy out laying under the heatlamps

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is it wrong that I really want to paint his toenails hot pink?

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all the outdoor animals are pretty active today, thanks to it being cooler than typical for Texas.

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ooooo. . I love these tacky-ass things!    These machines are all over the park, usually tied to whatever animal exhibit they are close to.

and at $3, not too bad (tho I remember when they were $1).  

these are just outside the Reptile House. . .but they've already been swapped out from the Snakes/Lizards (or what I suspect was Dinosaurs) to reflect the Holiday stuff

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most folks pouring into the Zoo bypass the Reptile House because it's right at the entrance/exit, and they figure they'll hit it from the exit side on their way out.
I peeked in and saw it was completely empty, so went in right away - better to be in a small, really small, building without 100 other people with Covid floating around - yes, even tho I'm vaxxed/boosted AND wearing a mask.   No reason to put myself in a situation like that.

worked out in my favor anyways, as with the zoo just opened, and no little kids tapping on the glass?   almost all the snakes and lizards were hanging out near the front of their exhibits.

well. .the King Cobra was hiding. .but she most often seems to be.  She's back there tho, sorta in the open:

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[Kennywood] TURRRRRRR-TLLLLLEEEEEEE [/Kennywood]

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this guy is only found in Japan.

sigh. . I miss Japan.. can't wait to get to go back!

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so rare to see almost all of the snakes out in full view! 

I really lucked out in this visit.

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Little dude just hanging out at the front window

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Not sure what this was. . think it's a BobCat. .it was pacing like crazy, and was so pretty.

took about a dozen pics to get a couple that weren't blurry.

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this guy too was pacing/prowling

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so the San Antonio Zoo has a sense of humor too.

in the "Darkroom" exhibit - that has a display with HUNDREDS of bats (the window was misted up from the humidity, so didnt' take a pic), the only other exhibit in there is:

a Chupacabra.

no. . really :

 

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!!

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the San Antonio Zoo really is a beautiful Zoo.  

Tho you can totally tell the older, classic, zoo from the newer parts - this is one of the newer sections.

Just lovely.  (and yes, that's the zoo's carousel. . I'll get to that later after I loop all the way around)

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don't forget - sponsored by Whataburger!

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the newest thing they built is a Jaguar walk. .that goes over the walkway between the two halves of the Jaguar enclosure (on either side of the human pathway).    They mostly seemed to be hanging out there sitting. . but they were a little more active when I came back by later.

Still pretty neat to walk right under them.

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these HUGE squirrels have no fear.

just rooting thru the flower beds, digging holes.   dont' care about the hundreds of humans walking by.

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one of my favorite sections of the zoo:  Africa Live.

oh. and an inflatable Whataburger Bag says "Merry Christmas"

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while a lonely Dino hangs out in the background wondering "what about me?   the kids don't wanna see me???"

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the San Antonio zoo has some great artwork/sculpture thruout as well. . . these metal Hippos are among my favorites.

and I had to wait a good 10 minutes to get this picture (without unattended toddlers climbing all over them)

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of course the metal Hippos are just outside the Hippo Exhibit.

yay!  Hippos!

(and yay!   in a rarity at a zoo. . the hippos didn't poop while I was there looking at them.   it's apparently my superpower, making hippos poop, since they seem to always do that in any zoo we go to, and then I have to wait for the water to clear up before I can take a picture).

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No poop today tho!

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the crock was just laying in the sunlamp enjoying

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an unattended Dino photo op?

well. . the green screen does me no good. . but don't mind if I do!

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out of the "indoor" portion, and outside to the Africa pens . . . start to get into the bigger animals:

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well. .they can't *all* be Elephants out here 😛

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to be continued. . .

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More zoo.. . still in Africa section:

the Elephants were all out, and were pretty active today too

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and just up the pathway?

FEEEEEED MEEEEEEEEE

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the San Antonio Zoo has gotten in on the trend of places charging for every possible extra. . so yeah, you can feed the Elephants, or fish, or Birds, or Giraffes (if you pay extra) or walk with the flamingos, or kangaroos, or take behind the scenes tours. . if you pay.

i TOTALLY get that they are raising additional cash this way, and good on them.

but is sucks that things like the Giraffe Enclosure - that used to let you get up pretty close to that barrier, no longer lets you do that - unless you want to pay to feed them lettuce.

oh well, still got some pretty good pictures.

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the Giraffe Enclosure also has Zebras and some Emus in it. . some of those guys just don't wanna deal with people, and preferred to hang out towards the back of the enclosure eating the provided food, instead of having to intermingle with HUMANS to get it:

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the Emu was hiding underneath the platform. .but can still see them from certain angles :)

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More of that really nice artwork that's around the San Antonio Zoo.. this one just outside the Rhino enclosure

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who were also all out and about. . .and eating.    They must have just done a feeding after the zoo opened.

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these were put up for the Zoo Lights. . so temporary art.

but love the signs warning the kids to keep off

"Santa's Watching". . . . LOL

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and a Rhino that also lights up

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Warthogs

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recall I noted that one can really tell where the "old zoo" starts and the "new zoo" ends?

yeah. . getting over into the older zoo section now with the old skool enclosures:

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for some reason, this display wasn't near the Giraffes. .but was in front of the Lion enclosure.

I thought Lions didn't tend to go after Giraffes since they are so big?

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the Giant Anteater was actually out.

think it's the first time I've ever seen him!

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I saw these suckers in Japan. .they are MEAN.  and they look mean!

just look at those claws.

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amusingly. . as so many of the animals that are never active were active today?

the big cats - that usually are prowling - were sleeping, and kinda hidden, today.

here's the Lions:

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and here's the Tiger - hanging out in the hammock

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even the Kangaroos were kinda lazy this afternoon.

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tho the Porcupines were quite active

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yeah. . older section of the zoos.. but at least this enclosure seems to be getting a bit of love.

(some of them have sat empty for years, and one of them even just has a giant tree in it)

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how does *this* bear measure up?

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hahahaha. .that sad enclosure that I just mentioned that only has a tree in it?

they "festive-ed" it up, by putting lights on it, and a snowman!  HA!

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again, the enclosures in the "older" section of the zoo, can be a little bit depressing.

but I guess Fish (and birds) that tend to be over in this section, don't really care.

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Mean. . .   so mean.

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and just waiting for a small child to fall lin.

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another "repurposed" empty enclosure.   HO HO HO

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way way back at the very end of a dead end. . is the Kangaroo encounter (no feeding tho).

the zoo put this big Kanga at the end of the main path to at least draw people over, so they would see what's over there.

it worked for me. . even if I didn't bother with the paid "Encounter"

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[Kennywood] Turrrrrrrr-tullllllllllle [/Kennywood]

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wow. . BOTH Eagles were out.

one perched:

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and one on the ground eating what looked like a dead mouse:

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moving out of the older section back into the newer areas as I make my way around the zoo. .  ther really are some lovely areas.

think this is an older part still tho.. as it's not ADA compliant, and several sections of this path were closed-off and way overgrown.

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but you can get some nice pics from this "bridge"

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another one of those huge "I'm not scared of humans" Black Squirrels

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I'd held it off long enough.. time for a ride on the Zoo Carousel. 

Strangely, NOT called the "Conservation Carousel" here.   I wonder if the National Zoo Association knows they broke precedent?

at only $3 a ride, it's a fairly good deal.

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I had really wanted to ride the Eagle. . but once I got to it, I quickly realized that any adult is gonna have an issue. . as the way they did the wings?  there's no place for one's legs to go!

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so I settled for the Tree Frog next to the Eagle.

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Whee!

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It really is quite lovely. . if not the greatest Carousel I've ever been on.

Still. .it's a nice one.

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and a *really* nice job on the animals/reptiles on it.

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it was getting past 2pm by this point, and SFFT had opened at 2. . so I headed over to the last sections of the Zoo I'd not yet been to - mainly Amphibia, for the frogs/creatures.

and they had this area all done up for the Zoo Lights with a few displays up.

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so I stopped in front of a few of the decorated trees/backgrounds that I liked for some selfies.

it was so quiet over here, I took my mask off for the pics.
(this area is really sorta hidden off the main pathway around the zoo, since the Kiddie Amusement area cuts it off from the front gates of the zoo)

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as noted. .it's really sorta hidden back here.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that over here is where they had put Santa and "Twinkle Penguin the Elf" for photos.

Twinkle saw me taking pics and called/waved me over to them. 

She said "So what would you like for Christmas?"

and I responded:  "Well, I'm Jewish, and Chanukah starts soon. . so what I'd really like for Chanukah is a free photo with you and Santa on my phone, instead of paying for a picture"

She and Santa both laughed. . and:  Ta-Da!

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there was no one else around, so I hung out and talked to them for a few minutes - she liked my shirt, and my hair.. and we just BSed until some families showed up to purchase photos - at which point I took a quick pic of them, and went on into the Amphibia display.

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not sure what kind of sea-snakes these are. .but they freaked me out.

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NOPE

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Big, ol, fat, frog.

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there's a nice play area out back over here with some lovely mosaics too.

Some small animal enclosures. .but I think they might rent this area out (including the lawn where the trees were) for events.

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and the upcharge Camel rides are back here too:

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[Kennywood] Turrrrrrrr-tullllllllllle [/Kennywood]

although it's a GIANT TURRRRRRR-TULLLLLLLE

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lots of Turtles here. . .

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awww. . poor baby!  but so cute.

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walking back around to the Jaguars before heading out, I wanted to see if they had come down from the Bridge.
and at least one of them had, to ground level. . and was pacing:

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headed to the front gates to go over to Fiesta. . and what's this?

a walk around Rhino?   dressed as an Elf?

hmmm. . should I get in line and wait for a picture?

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please - do you know me at ALL?

of course I did!

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the Carousel in the kiddie park, as seen from the pathway to the front gates exit.

it will shock you perhaps that I didn't bother with it.   but I know that 1) it's a crappy carousel, very small and the animals aren't in great shape & 2) they have a weight limit for riders, and I am too heavy.    

remember, it's the kiddie park.. the rides really ARE kiddie rides.

So I just took a picture as I walked by it.

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but right by the exit, they did have one of the most animated Dinos. . who roared, and gnashed his teeth.

So took a pic with him  (and you can see it was overcast enough that the lights actually had come on).   worth a trip.. we did the Zoo lights a few years ago, and they were lovely.

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Rarrrrrrr!

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and with that, I headed out, and drove over to SFFT to pick up my brand new Platinum Season Pass and spend some time there before heading back home to Austin.

SFFT coming up next. . with pics of the pieces of Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger.

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Awesome tour, Bert!

But snakes .... eh ..... even photos of them make me feel a touch uncomfortable. Gators and Crocodiles, too.

One is too slithery ... and the others are too .....toothy.

Ho, ho, ho. 🐍

 

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