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My first ever coaster road trip


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So today starts the first ever coaster road trip that I will be taking. I've only been to a handful of parks, cedar point, kings island, islands of adventure, both Disneyland and world when I was a kid and the now defunct Boblo Island in Canada/ Detroit.

 

Currently I am on the Ohio turnpike heading east for Kennywood where we will spend the day. it's not only going to be about going to parks, the rest of our tentative schedule looks like this:

 

Sat/sun: attend a family members graduation party in Somerset, PA and visit with family.

 

Mon: great adventure

 

Tue/wed: visit DC and possibly six flags America

 

Thu: Kings Dominion

 

Fri: Busch gardens Williamsburg

 

Sat/sun: visit family in Virginia beach

 

Mon: Carowinds

 

Tue/wed: Dollywood

 

Thu/fri/sat: Memphis/ Nashville

 

Sun/mon: Kentucky kingdom/ Churchill downs

 

Tue: holiday world

 

Wed: kings island

 

Thu: cedar point/ home

 

I'm really looking forward to getting on coasters like Phantoms revenge, El Toro, I305, twisted timbers, lightning rod, voyage, thunderbird, fury 325, lightning run, and storm chaser. My top 10 is surely to get work over, and I'm really interested to see if anything can compare to steel vengeance.

 

So I'll be updating the trip for anyone who's interested, and if anyone has any tips for the parks or cities I will be in I'd love to hear them, especially tips about restaurants! Thanks.

 

Robert

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For Dollywood- be sure to check out the Great Smoky Mountain National Park since you listed the area for 2 days. I live in Nashville and often take the scenic route taking I140 to bypass Knoxville and go in the back way through the park. Lots to see even if you only have an hour or two. All kinds of great local restaurants as well. Some of my favorites are the Apple Barn, Pottery House, Huck Finns, Bennetts, Make sure you try Dollywood's cinnamon bread. The food at Dollywood is pretty good as well, the 2 buffets Aunt Grannys and Miss Lillians are pretty good value for what they offer. The shows are also top quality at Dollywood. Whatever is showing in the Celebrity Theater is always good, as is Dolly's My People show if your into country or Dolly. Everyone flocks to Lightning Rod and Firechaser Express, but lines always die out around 4pm, and the park is open until 10pm. Also make sure to not miss Mountain Sidewinder and Daredevil Falls, some people miss them because they are tucked away in the hills, both unique water rides. If you don't know where you are staying I can help with that as well. Also can help with Nashville area tips too.

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My advice is don't report on your trip till after you get back.

Gives you a bit of time to recoup, get back to work (ugh),

and reflect on how it all went...both awesome and not so-.

 

And have a great time of course!

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This is ambitious, but doable. So long as you stay cognizant of your time, you should have a blast. Looking forward to seeing more!

 

We basically have all the time in the world so,we're not going to rush at all.

 

For Dollywood- be sure to check out the Great Smoky Mountain National Park since you listed the area for 2 days. I live in Nashville and often take the scenic route taking I140 to bypass Knoxville and go in the back way through the park. Lots to see even if you only have an hour or two. All kinds of great local restaurants as well. Some of my favorites are the Apple Barn, Pottery House, Huck Finns, Bennetts, Make sure you try Dollywood's cinnamon bread. The food at Dollywood is pretty good as well, the 2 buffets Aunt Grannys and Miss Lillians are pretty good value for what they offer. The shows are also top quality at Dollywood. Whatever is showing in the Celebrity Theater is always good, as is Dolly's My People show if your into country or Dolly. Everyone flocks to Lightning Rod and Firechaser Express, but lines always die out around 4pm, and the park is open until 10pm. Also make sure to not miss Mountain Sidewinder and Daredevil Falls, some people miss them because they are tucked away in the hills, both unique water rides. If you don't know where you are staying I can help with that as well. Also can help with Nashville area tips too.

 

Thanks for all this. The Great Smokey Mountain National park is definitely on our to do list. And we're getting skip the line passes everywhere they are offered so I'm not worried about lines. I'm usually not into water rides if you get absolutely soaked like the ones at cedar point. How wet should I expect to get on those at Dollywood?

 

My advice is don't report on your trip till after you get back.

Gives you a bit of time to recoup, get back to work (ugh),

and reflect on how it all went...both awesome and not so-.

 

And have a great time of course!

 

I'm a teacher so I don't get back to work for a while.

 

And thanks to everyone who wished me a good trip!

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Ok so time to talk about Kennywood, not sure where to start, so how about with the park appearance overall. I'm not exactly someone who cares too much about theming, but I appreciate a nice looking park and Kennywoood is as nice as anything I've ever been to. No it's not on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by water like cedar point, but it's still A very unique and beautiful park. I especially loved the unique fountains that the park has.

 

Now on to the rides.

 

Phantoms Revenge: What an amazing ride, this absolutely blew me away. Steel Vengeance might have the most airtime of any coaster, but PR has the best airtime. I was almost literally standing up on all those airtime hills in the back row. The restraint, if you can even call it that, didn't even come down far enough to touch my thighs. And that second drop, yeah, best drop on any coaster I have ever been on. Amazing ride. Grade: A+

 

Thunderbolt: this is another coaster that blew me away. I could not believe how smooth it was for how old it is. I loved how unique the layout is. A drop right out of the station, and then those turns that send you flying into your riding partner at the end were awesome! It's my new favorite woodie. Better than the Beast IMO, and yes better than the brand new Mystic Timbers. I still cannot get over how smooth it was for an old woodie. This was probably the steel vengeance of its time. I don't usually buy t-shirts for rides, it's not really my thing as I usually only wear them as undershirts and a lot of ride shirts are big bold and in your face with the designs. Normally I like to buy cups, mugs, glasses, shot glasses, etc..but I bought the shirt for this ride. It was red with a bolt down the front and the name. Very classy looking shirt. Grade: B+

 

Racer: this was a fun ride, probably the roughest of all the woodies here, but still as smooth as a good ride on Blue Streak at Cedar Point, so I wouldn't say it was rough. But not as smooth as Thunderbird or Jack Rabbit. The layout isn't anything special IMO, the racing element was definitely the best part. I'd say it's not as good as Gemini but better (because it's smoother) than the Racer at Kings Island. Grade: C+

 

Jack Rabbit: I could not believe how smooth this coaster is. for as old as this is it should not be that smooth. Kennywood obviously takes great care of their coasters. The ride itself isn't anything special, very tame. The double down after the lift is pretty special though, especially with only seat belts as a restraint. If that was thrilling for me in 2018 it must have been pretty special when it was built. Grade: C+

 

Exterminator: like I said before, I'm not really into theming, it doesn't increase the ride experience for me, and this one is all about theming. At the end of the day it was nothing more than a spinning wild mouse. It was fun, but I only rode once. Grade: C

 

Sky Rocket: I liked this one, even though the second half didn't have much imagination. The launch was a fun launch, but I don't understand why they stop you going over the top hat. I think it just wastes all the force from the launch. The inversions are fun, and it's a very smooth ride, a lot smoother than Flight of Fear at Kings island. This could have been a really top notch ride if it had a better second half. Grade: C+

 

The non coasters were for the most part pretty fun. The large swing ride's are my personal favorite flat ride and while Kennywoods was fun, it wasn't as good as Cedar Points. The Garfield boat ride was unique, and the whip ride was a classic. They claim it's their oldest ride and it was pretty fun. I didn't really care for the Aero 360 ride. It was very uncomfortable. Black Widow was fun, but not as fun as the Huss rides at CP and KI.

 

The food was better than average. The Potato Patch fries were overrated IMO. They were kind of soggy. On the other hand the burger I ate and the pizza I had were pretty darn good for amusement park food.

 

We did purchase their vip skip the line passes, and IMO it was a waste of money. First of all for Phantoms Revenge they don't let you pick your row, they have rows 7 and 6 roped off and saved for VIP guests. the lines were not bad at all 10-15 min) so we just waited with everyone else and were able to ride in whatever row we wanted. The only ride it really saved us time on was Exterminator as that line was easily the longest in the park. I have no idea why. The lines for everything else were 5 minutes at the most so the passes were really useless. I'm not sure if we just got lucky and went on a slow day or of its always like that.

 

The only real negative was the operations. They were quite slow, along with only running one train on Phantoms Revenge. But like I said, the lines were very minimal so it wasn't a huge deal.

 

All in all it was a great time at Kennywood and I'll definitely be back! Great start to the trip. Now I'm just relaxing with family in the middle of nowhere in PA, watching a little World Cup action and looking forward to El Toro and Great Adventure!

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For Dollywood- be sure to check out the Great Smoky Mountain National Park since you listed the area for 2 days. I live in Nashville and often take the scenic route taking I140 to bypass Knoxville and go in the back way through the park. Lots to see even if you only have an hour or two. All kinds of great local restaurants as well. Some of my favorites are the Apple Barn, Pottery House, Huck Finns, Bennetts, Make sure you try Dollywood's cinnamon bread. The food at Dollywood is pretty good as well, the 2 buffets Aunt Grannys and Miss Lillians are pretty good value for what they offer. The shows are also top quality at Dollywood. Whatever is showing in the Celebrity Theater is always good, as is Dolly's My People show if your into country or Dolly. Everyone flocks to Lightning Rod and Firechaser Express, but lines always die out around 4pm, and the park is open until 10pm. Also make sure to not miss Mountain Sidewinder and Daredevil Falls, some people miss them because they are tucked away in the hills, both unique water rides. If you don't know where you are staying I can help with that as well. Also can help with Nashville area tips too.

 

Thanks for all this. The Great Smokey Mountain National park is definitely on our to do list. And we're getting skip the line passes everywhere they are offered so I'm not worried about lines. I'm usually not into water rides if you get absolutely soaked like the ones at cedar point. How wet should I expect to get on those at Dollywood?

 

You might not need TimeSaver at Dollywood, or maybe could get by with the cheaper of the 2 options. It also gives reserved seating for most shows. IMO Lightning Rod / Firechaser benefit from it the most, but with my visit last week LR was under 10min wait after about 4pm. Of Dollywood's 3 water rides- Smoky Mountain River Rampage is a fairly good rapids ride. I normally get the most wet on it. Daredevil Falls was the country's tallest log ride when it was new. If you lift your feet up when you hit the water on the big drop, your feet don't get wet. I normally don't get very wet on this one. Mountain Sidewinder is a very unique mix of raft ride and water slide. You get about medium wet on this one. How wet you get heavily depends on the weight and who all is in your raft. Have a blast

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^ ok thanks. I'll try to observe how wet people get on the water rides at Dollywood and then decide if I want to ride. Everyone in the group has already made the decision about the fast pass so we will have it of we need it. If we don't, no big deal. Really looking forward to that park, and the smokey mountains as well.

 

But first, today I finally get on the great El Toro!!!!

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glad you enjoyed Kennywood. . yeah, that 2nd drop on Phantom (THRU Thunderbolt !!!) is a classic.

 

did you not do their other rare flats? (Kangaroo, Bayurn Kurve, Turtle, Noah's Ark)?. . all well worth a ride.

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So while I have some time just relaxing in the hotel room I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my Great Adventure and Six Flags America experiences.

 

I had an absolute blast at Great Adventure. I've heard some people call the park ugly. I don't necessarily agree with that. Some parts are certainly less desirable than others. I think the area to the left by El Toro and Kingda Ka were nice. The area you walk through to get to Superman and the stand up coaster is just pavement and reminds me of a typical county fair, which there is nothing wrong with that. But the area around Nitro and Batman could use some work. It looks like they built that section of the park with scrap metal. If they would just paint it or something it would look a whole lot better.

 

Something else that I think is worth mentioning before I get into the rides is the behavior of some of the other guests. I've honestly never heard so much cussing in my whole life. Now I'm no saint, but it seems like with some people the F word was used every 6th word. Obviously this is just one visit but it was far beyond anything at any other park. And it wasn't just young kids, it was adults too. Is it a jersey thing? Philly thing? East coast..

 

So with that said lets get into the rides, and I may as well start with an opinion that I know will be VERY controversial. El Toro just did not live up to the hype. It's a good ride, but with it being TPR's #1 coaster for 2017 and with a bunch of other folks saying that it's one of the top coasters in the world I expected it to be a top 5 coaster for me (only been to Cedar point, KI, and Kennywood before this) and easily my top woodie. But it is neither. There are 2 categories that make me really love a coaster, intensity and airtime and I was informed that El Toro had a crap load of both, and it had a little of both but not to the extent I was expecting. I thought Thunderbolt at Kennywood was more intense. It was definitely a fun ride, but I wish I didn't go in with the kind of expectations that I did. Grade: B

 

Blizzaro: I really liked this one. Obviously there isn't a lot of air time, that's not what this is designed for, but it was fairly intense. The inversions were fun and it was glossy smooth. Grade: B+

 

Kingda Ka: this one is as intense as Top Thrill Dragster, but not nearly as enjoyable. The biggest reason is the restraints along with the somewhat rough launch. I ended up banging my chin against the hard restraint. I only rode this twice because they don't allow small objects to be placed in zipped pockets and I wasn't going to waste money buying a locker. I've honestly never seen a more ridiculous policy. I could totally understand if people didn't have a secure pocket to put things in, but for people who have zipped pockets it's completely ridiculous. So I rode in the very front and towards the back. The front is way better, and a lot smoother. The back is when I banged my chin. If they had Maverick style restraints it would be a lot better. Grade: B-

 

Nitro: this one has some unbelievable airtime. And the employees didn't even try to push the lap bar down. They would just tap on it and make sure it didn't come up. Easily the best B&M hyper I've ever been on (out of 2 lol). I can't give it an A because I thought it lacked the kind of intensity I would give an A to, but this was a very enjoyable ride. Grade: A-

 

Batman: another very enjoyable ride, you can't go wrong with a B&M invert. I do however think this one is inferior to the other 2 I have ridden, Banshee and Raptor. I just didn't think it was as out of control or as intense as the other 2, but it's still very enjoyable, very fun, very smooth. Grade: B

 

Joker: this one surprised me. Before I rode this I did not think I was going to like it, but I loved it. It was so disorienting and that made it pretty intense. I just wish it were longer. Grade: B

 

Dark Knight: just a wild mouse indoors, fun, but nothing special. I think the fun thing about a wild. Ouse is the feeling of going over the edge, but on this one you can't see the edge. A lot of people like the show in the queue. I've never seen the newer batman's so I didn't really get it. Grade: C

 

Superman: I'm not the biggest fan of flying coasters but I was excited to see if the B&M ones were better than Firehawk, and I think it is, but not by much. The thrill here I guess is just being on your belly looking straight down, but it just doesn't do it for me. I think it would be better of there were some near miss elements. Grade: C+

 

Skull Mountain: This one really caught me off guard. It was a lot better than I thought it would be. I ended up riding this 3 times. The first time was in like row 4 because I figured it would be lame, but it was pretty forceful the way it whipped you around. So then I had to ride in the back thinking it would be more intense and I was right. I also think that being in the dark adds to this ride unlike the wild mouse because you don't know which way you will be whipped until it's over, even after a couple rides in a row. Grade: B-

 

 

So that's all the coasters I rode. I don't ride stand up ones for obvious reasons, so I skipped that one. Plus I skipped the mine train and other family one. I did ride the Ferris wheel and sky screamer. Both were what I expected.

 

Overall the park was very fun and enjoyable, but a tad underwhelming because of El Toro.

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When you're in the Dollywood area definitely do one of the mountain coasters. It only takes a few mins and they are a blast. We only did the goats on the roof mountain coaster during the day and came back at night cause rerides are cheaper the same day. Awesome experience.

 

I think you just hyped El Toro up in your head too much, it's an absolute amazing coaster and only setting some unrealistic bar would leave anyone disappointed coming off that ride. Did you get to try Justice League? It's really a great ride too.

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I have gone to Great Adv. 3 times since El Toro and every time my daytime rides I don't enjoy as much as I expect. But a little airtime and intensity? It has as strong of airtime as anything I'd want to ride without something good to hold on to (fortunately you can hold on to the bars on each side of you on Skyrush) and is very intense. And night time rides are incredible. I enjoy hypers and airtime machines so much more then. It seems that I like inversions and curves more during the day. Since El Toro is somewhat uncomfortable for me, the difference is even larger.

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When you're in the Dollywood area definitely do one of the mountain coasters. It only takes a few mins and they are a blast. We only did the goats on the roof mountain coaster during the day and came back at night cause rerides are cheaper the same day. Awesome experience.

 

I think you just hyped El Toro up in your head too much, it's an absolute amazing coaster and only setting some unrealistic bar would leave anyone disappointed coming off that ride. Did you get to try Justice League? It's really a great ride too.

 

Thanks for the tip on the mountain coasters. That looks like something I would enjoy.

 

I don't think I hyped up El Toro too much. I didn't expect it to be better than Steel Vengeance. But I did expect it to be my #1 woodie, and like I have been saying, I haven't been to too many parks, but it's not even my #2 woodie. And I expected it to be a top 5 coaster overall and it's not. I don't think those are high expectations based on what others have said, especially this site naming it the #1 overall coaster.

 

I have gone to Great Adv. 3 times since El Toro and every time my daytime rides I don't enjoy as much as I expect. But a little airtime and intensity? It has as strong of airtime as anything I'd want to ride without something good to hold on to (fortunately you can hold on to the bars on each side of you on Skyrush) and is very intense. And night time rides are incredible. I enjoy hypers and airtime machines so much more then. It seems that I like inversions and curves more during the day. Since El Toro is somewhat uncomfortable for me, the difference is even larger.

 

I thought Mystic Timbers had more airtime, and I wasn't blown away by that one. I had 6 rides on El Toro and it just didn't deliver for me, the airtime was minimal and it was not that intense at alI.

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So while I am sitting here in DC traffic I figure it's a decent time to talk about Six Flags America. We only spent 4 hours here yesterday but I don't think we needed more. It wasn't a beautiful park but not ugly either. I got on 6 of their coasters and I thought they all were very enjoyable.

 

My favorite coaster there was Roar. It's only my second GCI, but man this thing hauled @$$. It was pretty nenes and the airtime was pretty good. It wasn't as smooth as El Toro or Mystic Timbers but it wasn't rough either. I really liked this and it made me really excited to ride Thunderhead at Dollywood. Grade: B

 

Superman: probably the weakest hyper I've ever been on, but still a lot of fun. I appreciate the fact that they tried something totally different with the layout but I would prefer more airtime. Grade: B-

 

Wild One: for being as old as it is it is damn near glossy smooth. I just wish that it did more. I like the one near miss when you drop down after the turnaround and the airtime you get on that drop is really good, in fact I think it's pretty comparable to the air you get on the drop after the MCBR on Steel Vengeance. The helix at the end is also very fun and very forceful. This is a very good ride! Grade: B

 

 

Joker's Jinx: so I guess this is flight of fear but outside and without stopping halfway through the ride. i really enjoyed this mostly because of how it is just relentless from start to finish. There's no first drop and not a whole lot of airtime so I can't rank it up there with the better coasters I have been in, but I loved it! Grade: B-

 

Batwing: again, not a fan of flying coasters. If this isn't a clone of Firehawk it's pretty similar except it's a lot rougher. I didn't really enjoy this because of the roughness and the fact that it's not intense. Grade: C-

 

Ragin Cajun: just a spinning wild mouse, not a lot to say about it except that it was at least smooth and enjoyable, but certainly not thrilling at all. Grade: C

 

Another thing I would like to mention is how great the employees were at this park. Very enthusiastic, and very friendly.

 

Overall I enjoyed the short visit, and I think this park packs a pretty good punch for its size.

 

Now on to Kings Dominion if we ever get there. Damn you DC traffic!!!

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I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you are saying isn't physically possible.

 

It pulls -2 Gs, sometimes over. Much less and it valleys. If being pushed hard against the restraint and then even harder doesn't feel like airtime to you, that is your opinion, but still it is not technically the same as saying it has little air. Myself, it find it surprising how that doesn't always mean I love it (despite decades waiting for the industry to give it to me), but it is very powerful and bull riding like. Floater air is sometimes freakier and minimally restrained air also. It can also be more sustained because they're not burning potential energy as fast.

 

Also if you didn't ride Toro (or Nitro) (or Batman)at night, suffice to say it makes a big difference.

 

Other than that bit of head scratching, good report!

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El Toro not intense? ROAR was your favorite at SFA? Can't say we agree on those points, but I do enjoy reading other people's opinions. FWIW, I thought Superman ROS was the best coaster at SFA. It's funny, my daughter refused to ride Joker's Jinx based on the look of it. I thought it was great and didn't know until afterward that it's Flight of Fear outside. She loved FoF, BTW.

 

Thunderhead at Dollywood is a pretty great coaster. From your thoughts on El Toro and ROAR, I'll be curious to see what you think of it.

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I get the Roar thing. We usually end up riding that more than anything else when we visit the park (almost exclusively during Holiday in the Park).

 

Personally I probably prefer Superman and maybe Joker's Jynx and Wild One depending on the day but ever since they did some work on it a few years ago it's been a really fun ride.

 

As for the El Toro thing... I don't get it, but everyone likes different things.

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Something else that I think is worth mentioning before I get into the rides is the behavior of some of the other guests. I've honestly never heard so much cussing in my whole life. Now I'm no saint, but it seems like with some people the F word was used every 6th word. Obviously this is just one visit but it was far beyond anything at any other park. And it wasn't just young kids, it was adults too. Is it a jersey thing? Philly thing? East coast..

 

Yes.

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