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Bert spends Hallowee-kend in San Antonio at SeaWorld & Fiesta Tx. . a photo trip report

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so in addition to TPR site here (where I'm a long time member) & FB group, I'm also a member of the Thrill Seekers United Facebook Group - a group of mostly Texas Enthusiasts.

this past Saturday, TSU hosted an event at SeaWorld San Antonio, and as I've really never experienced this park (some may have heard me mention that the only time prior I've been to the park was in the late 80s - before they even had a single rollercoaster), I decided to go for it a bought into the event - which was to last from 3pm-11pm, and included a meal, and a skip the line pass for 1 haunted house, as well as quick queue in the evening.   + a reduced admission price that included parking.

Since I knew the event ran until 11pm - and it was the day before Halloween and the park would be SLAMMED - I decided to make a weekend of it, and just grab a hotel in San Antonio area to visit Six Flags Fiesta Texas on Halloween day for a few hours before heading back to Austin.   (I booked a hotel directly across the freeway from Fiesta, so once leaving SeaWorld, a short drive to the SFFT area, then crash. . .seemed like a good plan.  what could go wrong?  yeah, right?)

Anyways, a friend knew it basically was my first time to experience SWSA, and offered me one of their "Bring a friend free" membership perks, so we planned to meet at the park opening - so I'd be spending the whole day at SeaWorld.
As the day got closer, things kept getting better and better - same friend was able to gift me up-close parking as they weren't going to be using it.  

And the Event kept getting better: with 48 hours to go, we were given a surprise gift of Fear Pass - which would let us skip the lines at all 5 Houses (instead of just 1 of our choice), and then the day before we found out that our Quick Queue would be good all day, so if we wanted to show up at opening, we could get the wristband then to use for the whole day!

how perfect, and wonderful, since I was going to be getting there right at opening to meet my friend anyways.  

So I got up at 7am, and headed out to San Antonio ~8:15 am, to pull into the SeaWorld parking lot just around 10:15 am.

this is gonna be so much fun, and I can't wait to experience the park!

and luckily, since three weeks ago, when my spouse upgraded my iPhone to an iPhone 11, I've actually learned how to use the camera. . so got some much better pics than I had been getting right after the upgrade (like at the KISS concert)


Aquatica had closed for the season already, but that was OK, I'm not really a waterpark person anyways.   It's so weird it's in the center of the park tho.


the view from my up-close parking spot.
(this is an excellent perk, and I can TOTALLY understand why someone would upgrade the membership to get this perk)


I'm here, I'm queer, I'm ready for fishies!  (and rides)


Upon arrival, I eventually figured out that the main gates are just security, and are not the actual entrance to the park. . .  those entrances (one for Aquatica, and one for SeaWorld) are actually past these main gates.   So I went thru security and found the TSU folks sitting by the main fountain where I picked up my meal pass, my quick queue, and got pointed to where the actual park entrance is.

However, one of the TSU folks - either Frankie or Josh - mentioned that since it was really before the park opened still (10:30 was official opening time), now would be a great time to see the Dolphins.

wait. . Dolphins?   oh yeah. . I remember reading in CoasterBill & Britt's report that the dolphins are outside the main park gates (weird!). . so I headed over that direction with a few of the TSU folks - and really no one else - and not only were the Dolphins over here, but also a really nice Shark Habitat.

really weird it's outside the main gates. . so no admission needed for these (tho I guess to get to this point, you'd have paid for parking/had it with your admission anyways).  but still weird it's outside the entrance gates :)


oooo pretty over here!


back behind me there is an under water viewing area - which I did go to on the way back. . but once I saw the Shark Habitat sign, I wanted to check that out first.




and here it is. . sitting off by itself at the end of a path: Explorer's Reef - the Shark habitat.


Lion fish. . so pretty.


wonderful huge tanks full of stingrays




and then the main attraction (for me). . sharks.. ooga-booga




so mean looking



they even have tattooed sharks. . this one has "exit" on it's fin. . . so if you see it coming, yer dead 😛



it really wasn't crowded, but the signs on the doors mentioned this was an indoor attraction and masks were recommended, so I put mine on to go inside. 
Mask compliance wasn't great among attendees.. but I did see more folks with masks than I was expecting, so that was nice to see (I'm triple vaxxed anyways, but as it got much more crowded in the evenings, I was glad that I had my mask. .since I have someone at home who is really vulnerable, and I need to do what I can to protect him).  so yeah, I wore my mask off and on thruout the day, and then during the night when it got much busier.



after seeing the Sharks, I headed back towards the front gates, stopping along the way to see the Dolphins thru the underwater viewing area




and then I was in the park.

It was probably 10:40 by this point and the park had just opened, so it was very empty this early, and would stay relatively quiet until ~4pm when folks started pouring in for the Howl-O-Scream houses that started up at 7pm.

I headed towards the lagoon, and went to the right, planning to stop and ride/do shows as I passed them.

as you can see? absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather. . . it was in the mid 70's and in the evening it dropped down to the 60's



San Antonio has a very large Latino population, but still I thought it was rather cool to see so much Dia de los Muertos decorations up.


and lots of "traditional" face painted "scare" actors in these zones - that are not really part of the "Howl-O-Scream" sections.



SeaWorld San Antonio really does love their stilt walkers tho.. i counted no less than 5 separate pairs thruout the park.

cool, huh?



and they even had an Ofrenda set up.. where you were encouraged to send a picture of a departed loved one to the address noted, and then in the evening, the pictures were put up on the screen in the center of the Ofrenda.

THIS, I thought, is an amazing idea, and hopefully it's something more parks do, if they are gonna go all in on Dia de los Muertos decorating thru Halloween.



coming to my 1st ride in the park, this is the SWSA version of Journey to Atlantis - much shorter and very different than the version in Orlando. 
this one is basically a chute-the-chutes, but it does have an interesting backwards section between the two towers, and a small drop that's done backwards.

I was going to ride it, since this was the last weekend for operation of the water rides.   (and I had come prepared, with zip lock bag for my phone). . but didn't want to get wet just yet . so just took pics of it when walking by for now.


Loved this "sugar skull" design on the stingray.   nice job SWSA


Looking across the main lagoon, here's Steel Eel, a turnaround from Wave Breaker, and to the far right (behind the bush) Great White (Batman clone)


Closer look at Steel Eel track, and Wavebreaker turnaround.    Since the park had just opened, I figured the coasters hadn't started running yet and so that's why didn't wait for a train on the coasters to take the pics.
but it turned out, that Sea World was expecting a slow day - figuring everyone would be out for the Haunts not the rides (I was actually told this when I asked about it) - and so all the coasters were one train ops.

--> to be fair:  other than Wavebreaker during the day (which was pulling hour+ lines, and Texas Stingray at night (which had maybe a 30 minute wait), that was a pretty accurate gauge of what the crowds wanted to do (the houses had HOURS + lines).


from same location, a look at Bayside Stadium (in use during summer months), and a better look at Great White's lift-hill/drop.


and over here on the right?   the new ride for 2022 is taking place:  Tidal Surge - what will be the tallest & fastest Screaming Swing in the World.

Really excellent location - it's gonna swing out over the lagoon.  (little peek of Texas Stingray over the tent there too)





Great White, Texas Stingray, and Tidal Surge construction from across the lagoon.




Heading back onto the main path, passing by Journey to Atlantis, and snapping some pics of folks getting soaked as I head towards my 1st ride of the day








In the center here, is where the boat goes backwards down that slight drop before it turns back around forwards for the main splashdown.




SWSA was also doing a Beerfest this weekend (I think it was the last weekend for it too..which makes sense, Oktoberfest type of thing). 

not many partaking just after park open, but the German band was there playing to the folks sitting in the Biergarten.



ah. .HERE'S what I'm here for:







as noted, 1 train ops. . but really, for the first few hours of the day?  this was walk on.



see?  walk on.

I rode it 3 times during the day:  front, back, and middle.

in the front it was good, but in the back and middle?  this ride is really incredible.   It reminded me VERY much of InvadR at BGW, but with similar trains to what KI has on Mystic Timbers.
So every seat is a good one, and fairly smooth.

Spoiler - I also rode it at night, and holy crap, is this incredible at night.    My favorite ride in the park.  Easily.


directly across from Texas Stingray are two flats - what I'd call a mini-troika, and a mini pendulum.

Neither of these were open yet - I wasn't' sure if they were going to be open today or not, but as it was close to time for the 1st show of the day, I headed back towards Orca stadium (which I guess used to be called Shamu stadium?   no mention of Shamu today in any show I saw which was a little odd).


as noted, still pretty early, so the attendance for the show wasn't very much . . but I picked what I thought was a good seat and got ready to see Orcas.



(but I figured I had enough room around me to move if I needed to get out of the way. . and luckily enough, the Orcas DRENCHED the folks sitting in the section to the Left of me, and to the Right of me - but the skipped splashing my section :)


oooo. . pretty!














Nom Nom Nom






as noted. . once I figured out how to work this new iPhone camera, I actually got some pretty great pics.


Like this one:




and this one. . which amazes me every time I look at it.   

Sometimes I just get lucky with perfect timing.



Leaving Orca Stadium, you get a great view of Texas Stingray, so stopped and took a few pics of it



even waiting for the train to be on the tracks this time :)






as I headed back past Stingray (towards Great White), the two flats across from it had opened.

So I hopped in line for Riptide Rescue - a small Troika that has some great forces








it's actually more intense than it looks. . but yes, Sea World really needs some additional flat rides - so Tidal Surge is a fantastic addition for 2022.



and then I headed next door to Sea Swinger

wow, this smaller version is really intense.    Not sure if it's as intense as the one at ZDTs, but it's close, and I guess because it's so much smaller than Joker (SFFT), or Riddler (SFOT) or Max Air (CP) it really feels like it's flying and throwing you really high in the air.

Great ride.
(and I just noticed that they actually DO have a sign up for what time the rides open.   Well done on SeaWorld's part, even if I didn't notice it when I was in the park. . LOL)


Pausing to look at the park map, I knew I had 3 more coasters up ahead of me (only one of which I had been on - during the "Black Carpet Event" - Steel Eel.  

So I grabbed a bottle of water (less than $4 - at a theme park!  I was impressed) and continued on my way around the lagoon.




. . . to be continued. . . .


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. . Saturday daytime continued. . .

after my rides on the two flats, I continued my way around the lagoon path, enjoying looking at some of the Howl-O-Scream decorations - which weren't near as scary in the daytime:




from what I was told, this area typically has vampires haunting among the hanging cages. . but none during the daytime (and none at night on this Sat. before Halloween visit. . . tho I have to assume majority of the scare actors were being used for the Houses / queue lines - as there were TONS of scare actors in those places later.   Although there were a dozen or so unique ones scattered thruout the scarezones later. . just not really in this particular one).



the bar over here in this zone is amazing tho. . .and looked even better later that night.


the menus were out early. . many of the bars had similar drinks, but with slightly different names, depending what "zone" you were in.   I only tried a small sip of once bitten and it was good.  (just not a big drinker if out in the sun all day)


these skeletons had GLITTER on them.    were they Twilight vampires?   ewwwwwww. . .scary.


Rio Loco was running - it was also the last weekend for this water ride as well, I was told.  

I didn't want to get really wet tho was planning to ride.   the Staff at the gate assured me that the waterfalls were off due to the chilly evening weather.
It wasn't pulling much of a line, so I figured I'd come back and ride it on the way back thru the area as I wanted to try and catch the Beluga show later.


but I was more interested in getting over to this guy here:  another "new" (even tho a clone) coaster for me, Great White.





as it's a B&M Batman, I knew to head for back row, left side.   And this standby pulled some nice G-s and really chugs thru the course.     It's not the most intense "Batman" I've been on - that would be SFOG's version - but of the two Batman Clones in Texas (neither one named Batman), I do think I slightly prefer Goliath at SFFT, although the setting for Great White is much better (ie: it's not a parking lot coaster)


Next up was a new type of coaster for me - Wave Breaker: the Rescue Coaster (or as my brain kept calling it:  Wind Breaker - the gas powered coaster)

I wasn't able to "try me on for size" because this gentleman was cleaning the test seats for literally 40 minutes (he was still doing it when I walked by later).    I mean, I guess he did a thorough job on it. . but he certainly tied up the seats for quite a while.



as mentioned in part 1, all coasters were running 1 train ops.  But the only one that REALLY needed more than 1 train was Wave Breaker.  which makes sense, as it's the most "family friendly" coaster in the park, and there were TONS of families out this Saturday afternoon.   This was easily pulling a 1hour + line, but luckily with the all day quick queue, it was only about a 5 minute wait for me, and I was able to choose front row for my ride on it.



some great views of Steel Eel's Drop (and Wave Breaker's launch) from the raised station platform.


Nice view across the lagoon of Journey to Atlantis as well from the station.


and Great White.

I guess if this park doesn't have an observation tower, the closest you can get to it is the Wave Breaker station.


here comes the 1 train back from it's prior cycle


since i hadn't gotten to try the test seat, I was actually a little surprised at how one sits in this coaster.  

I had really thought you leaned into it, like a MotoCoaster, or rode like Pony Express.    Especially with those handles on the front.. I thought you leaned forward to grip them.

but nope, you ride it like you're sitting on a Jet-ski.    I mean, makes sense, but I hadn't realized that.

and to be 100% honest here. . . once I got situated in the train and the restraint came down?  I truly felt like I was sitting in an open air port-o-let.

not exactly the most comfortable riding position for a coaster. . .LOL


what did i think of it?  hmm. . well. . it was fast.   and enjoyable.    It didn't really do anything too exciting in my book.. but the two launches were fun, and if it hadn't had such a long line, I might have gone back around and ridden again.  (but even with quick queue, I didn't feel it was so good that I needed to cut in front of the standby line again to get another ride).   

So. . a solid family ride, but if you're looking for "thrill" ?  this isn't really gonna cut it.      But it IS very fast, and if speed is your thing, you'll enjoy it.




just across from Wind Breaker is the Penguin House. . with a "moving sidewalk" feature.    That was a lot of fun, but oh my, the stench in here.    
I'm not sure what, if anything, could be done to help counteract that. . but . . yeah.      Even if the doors hadn't recommended the wearing of masks?  I'd have put mine on, as it helped a bit with the smell.

the Penguins are adorable tho!







and then back out into the beautiful day (and clean air), and onto the last major Coaster I hadn't been on yet today:  Steel Eel




I had gotten to ride this early in the month when I was at Sea World for the Howl-O-Scream launch event, so this wasn't a new coaster to me.  But I enjoyed it, even tho I knew this Morgan Hyper doesn't have any padding on the seats, and the large amount of airtime is "not kind" to guys.   

So I knew better than to ride in the back.

but when I got up to the station, and walked right on?  where did I get directed to (the open row?). . yep, 2nd to last row on the train.

so yah.. this ride is now known in my memory not as "Steel Eel". . . but rather:  "ow, my balls"

at least I laughed thru the pain, and it's a fantastic ride up near the front.  So I recommend riding it towards the front of the train for you guys considering it.
(if only Magnum XL's Seatbelt Trick would work here on this coaster).


it was getting near 1:30 pm, and I needed to eat something (dinner wasn't until 5 and i hadn't eaten yet today) - and wanted to try to catch the Beluga show, so I started to head my way back along the lagoon path that I had come up, and discovered a place you can cut thru near Wave Breaker's launch that you can get some great pics.

(would have been perfect if I could have gotten Great White's train in the background. . but with 1 train ops I was too impatient to wait for that perfect pic).

I like this pic tho.


and this one (same comment but if I had gotten Steel Eel's train on the drop..LOL)


the coasters really are kinda batched up near each other in this park.   Makes for some nice photo ops tho.


Looking across the lagoon as where the Tidal Surge flat is being built.


Over by Great White's "thru the arcade" exit, I stopped her to grab a snack.

really pretty typical theme park food..but what's NOT very typical?   Look at those very reasonable (for a theme park) prices!


here's what I got for a light lunch (added the cup of cheese for .35)


after eating, I went ahead and put my phone & keys in my ziplock, and went ahead and queued up for Rio Loco. (no pics, since phone was in bag in pocket)

the line was dead enough that it was a walk on, and since the group of 4 behind me didn't want to share a raft, I got to ride this solo.     The only problem with riding a rapids ride solo?  yeah. . you're the only weight in the raft, so it constantly turned so your back is to the rapids.  

LOL. . yeah. . so even tho the waterfalls WERE off (thanks for that SeaWorld), I got off with my shorts, and butt completely soaked thru with what felt like 40degree water.

oh well. . was soaked, so might as well head over to Journey to Atlantis.  I mean, once wet, you're wet.

I tried to ride in row 3 in a center seat. . but after letting the raft in front of me go so I didn't get stuck on an edge (they were operating 3 boats total), a group of 3 came behind me in my row, and rather than mess with it?  I just went all the way to the end of the row and they got in behind me filling the other 3 seats.

it's a fun ride, but yeah. . being on the outside seat, drenched my top half to match with my soaking wet shorts.

at least the water, although cold, didn't have any smell to it (unlike, say, the water one gets splashed with from the Orca show).

once I was drenched and off the water rides tho, I could take my phone out and take pics again while I air dried.

from the "exit bridge" at Journey to Atlantis.





I hadn't realized how much time I had taken for lunch and the two water rides, and I knew we had a meet up at Bayside Brews at 3pm with TSU (the event originally was gonna start at 3, so this was the official kick off).   But I thought I had missed the Beluga show.   I decided to head over to the stadium anyways to see if I could catch part of it, along the way taking a couple more pics of Tidal Surge construction from the walkway along the lagoon:




I got to the pathway to the Beluga stadium JUST as the show was letting out, unfortunately.    But did bump into several folks that were at the TSU (Thrill Seekers United) event and they were heading over towards Bayside Brews for the meetup.

since I didn't really know exactly where that was (still too new to the park), and it was pretty close to meet up time anyways (~2:30 and we were meeting at 3), I headed back the way I had come with them,  and we found Bayside Brews, and hung out and chatted and I made some new TSU friends.

very quickly it was meetup time, and the TSU Admins came and welcomed those of us who were there for the event, and once again I got to say hello to Ray from SeaWorld (also a member here at TPR!) who came out along with some other ladies from the Park with a surprise for us:


(once we signed the waivers) - a behind the scenes Hardhat tour of the progress made on Tidal Surge!

yes, I'd been taking pics of it from across the lagoon. .but I was gonna be able to get up close and personal with it.

how cool is that??


it's HUGE up close.   and it's gonna be even bigger once they top it off with the top section and the "swing bar"
Those giant air cannisters fill me with joy. .this thing is gonna be INTENSE.




can't be a "hardhat" tour without a hardhat now can it?

i mean. . how sexy is this???


the view one will get if facing the lagoon in the seats when onride.






the attendees went back with Ray in groups of 5, while the rest of us chatted and visited (and I committed to going thru the houses with Paige - who had come to the event alone, but ended up going thru the houses with a a group of us).   

Dinner was at 5, but I knew from those that had been in the Beluga show, that there was anther show at 4:45 pm, so I headed over to Beluga stadium and grabbed a seat towards the back (so I could leave early to get to dinner).  


awww. . from my seat at the end, I could peek behind the stage and see the Belugas playing and ready to go on:



it was certainly getting noticeably more crowded, and i put my mask on to sit among this many people in the stadium.

as the show got closer to starting (this pic was still about 15 minutes ahead of show start I think) the stadium really filled up.


playful Beluga pod









I stayed for about 20 minutes of the show, but by then had MORE than enough of the rude people around me standing up, moving around, cutting thru rows after the show had started, fussing at kids to pay attention to "the whales", and I had seen the adorable Belugas.    So I made my exit and headed over to Port of Call - the picnic area that back behind one of the Stadiums and Journey to Atlantis

- it doesn't do much, but it sure is photogenic. . LOL


the buffet style meal served, with burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, beans, and ice cream for desert.

it was all very good. . among the best food I've had at a theme park in quite a while (the burgers in particular were very well prepared).


We ate until ~6pm, but then headed back out into the park.   Howl-O-Scream houses officially open at 7pm, so we had about an hour to kill. . and even more folks had poured into the park while we had been eating.   Makes sense, of course, it was the Saturday before Halloween.

the group I was hanging with to go thru the houses, including Paige, and one of the TSU admins, Amy, headed over towards Steel Eel.

but my testicles decided that I should sit this out out (and I didn't want to ride just after eating anyways) so I found a nice spot to rest in the Voodoo Bar near the Swamp House, and enjoyed watching the coasters and the beautiful evening while I waited for the rest of the group to ride things, and the houses to open.

such a pretty park:





. . to be continued in part 3: Night Falls and Howl-O-Scream begins.

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oh, and addendum that I forgot to mention above.

before I got to go on the hard hat tour, I was talking to someone (not gonna name, because don't want to get anyone in trouble) who was clearly someone in overseeing position at Tidal Surge - he saw me taking pictures over the fence and I struck up a conversation with him about how it's great Sea World is getting a new record breaking ride in 2022, since Six Flags Fiesta Texas is getting that new dive coaster.

and he laughed and said, yeah. . they're competition.    So I commented and said that means y'all need to build another coaster, to which he responded:  "just wait. . there's something that will be coming"

so. . . is SWSA gonna get another coaster?  (apparently there have been rumors). . is it gonna be a Giga or Hyper?  they don't have any height restrictions I don't think?   or would it maybe be an indoor coaster or spinner?  (they sure could use another family coaster).

I thought it was interesting.

not really a "dippin dots" moment. . but I DO believe this person, and I think SWSA will be getting another coaster added in the next 18 months.

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Part 3. . . night falls and Howl-O-Scream begins. .


from my seat in the Voodoo bar, I'm seeing the lines for the houses start to form.    That's the Swamp house across the way there, and it's ~6:30. . and the line is already completely full, and spilling out into the main walkway and off into the distance on the left.

sheesh, I'm glad we have Fear pass to skip the lines on the houses!


as the sun is starting to set. . the fog begins to roll in.IMG_6342.thumb.JPG.08dd395de28d9872b5cd0ef18e57c881.JPG

Spoooooky. . . .



the group finally got back from riding Steel Eel, and we head across to The Swamp.
I didn't take any pics, because I'd already been thru this house back at the beginning of the month for the "Black Carpet Event" where i represented TPR.   

there have been some changes made tho - the main one being that in this house the pathway now no longer goes thru the decrepit mansion, but rather around the side and just a quick in and out of one bedroom.   

I have to assume this change was made to help with crowd flow thru the house - as it was the day before Halloween and as noted above the queue lines were pretty full. . so by cutting out the interior of much of the mansion it certainly would help with thruput.

it most certainly was not due to staffing, as this house - like the others tonight - was stuffed to the gills with scare actors, who did a great job jumping out at those who reacted the most with shrieks.

a couple of upgrades had also been done to the voodoo priest area - lots and lots of creepy candles had been added.  and in the "blackout" section of narrow hallways in the dark (meant to mimic the curse placed on you that has rendered you blind) lots of really icky hair has been attached thruout the walls. . so as you're going back and forth in the narrow dark hallways, you keep touching .. . something.

Very effective.

overall, it was a solid C+ house - some scares, mainly from scare actors, and some interesting sets.

let's head around the lagoon to check out the other houses for Howl-O-Scream. . .


as the night crept in, it most certainly got more creepy at SeaWorld. . and more and more crowded


this area had a DJ set up with pyrotechnics, and a dance party going with creeps and spooks, and lots of audience participation.

not to mention the acrobats performing on either side of the walkway - all of whom were pretty impressive.





I thought it was really smart thinking, and a fantastic effect, that the video screens for Wave Breaker entrance during the Howl-O-Scream event are utilized for atmosphere.

well done


next up was "Unearthed: Scarlett's Revenge" - a House that this is apparently the last year for.

the storyline seems to involve a demon who has taken possession of Scarlett, and we're trapped in the house with her.


yeah. . this is the line we bypassed with Fear Pass.

it might seem a costly extra?  but for a Halloween Event at any park?  I'd highly recommend to factor in the expense and purchase any skip the lines option!
we waited maybe 5 minutes for this Haunt, as opposed to this queue that was an easy 2 hour wait.



ooo..I already like the theming and atmosphere here in this one.


my new iPhone 11 takes really great night pictures (once I figured out how to set it). .  . as dark as it was in portions of this house?  I really think some pics (like this one) came out phenomenal.

tho a couple of the encounters with scare actors came out a bit too blurry to use, since we were moving fairly quickly (for the scaredy cats in the group to get away). . LOL


Overall, another very solid house, but very similar to the 1st house - mainly just lots of Scare Actors populating the path as you moved thru the haunt, getting in your face and going for Jump scares.
it had a bit more solid theming, I thought, than the prior house, so I'd give this one a "B"

thruout the walkway were little stand-alone props, that sometimes (and sometimes not) had scare actors in them.

this one appeared empty - until someone got close enough that the head to toe covered spandax gimp popped out to terrify.


the reaction of this young man was priceless - he was scared, but also very amused.

(tho I didn't get a pic of the best reaction - a little kid, maybe 9 - was messing with Spandax Gimp guy, and eventually the Gimp just hopped out of the box, and just started chasing the kid up the path. . and the kid just hauled ass screaming.    It was brilliant.


More stilts!


stilts, clown girl, and returned spandax gimp?   (he climbed back into the box after chasing that kid). . .  I hear you can pay in some clubs for this "entertainment" combo  😛 .


We kept moving and headed over to the next house: Karver's Kradle a.k.a. "the House of Dolls"

Once again, pretty solid line. .  once again, thankful for the Fear pass.



this one seemed to have a back story about a doll maker?  I honestly don't know.

the props on the walls were mostly static (tho there's two great jump scares back to back upon entering:  a ghoul with knitting needles who thinks you'd make a great addition to the collection.   And a life sized doll on display in a case you walk by - tho he's not quite a non-living doll and he sometimes lunges at the front of the box he's in.   Really well done)

also several rooms of "hanging thread" that one walks thru that are kinda creepy.


but what nudges this one (again mainly a house that's a "maze" full of scare actors who will jump out and scare you) into a better grade than the prior two?

there's an incredible, tho fairly short, Mirrored Hallway section in this house that's not only incredibly disorienting - ie: effective - but also wonderfully staged.

very much a B+ house.

we continued our way around the lagoon, getting caught up in the massive crowds that were watching/participating in a Slenderman dance party over here. 
Simple, yet very effective . . so creepy.




and then we were there at the blood bar, that I had seen earlier in the day.   A few of the folks with wanted to partake, so we stopped and took a quick break here. . as mentioned when I saw it in the daytime?  this particular bar set up looks amazing at night.


Briefly rested, we made our way back to the 4th house of the night (one we had bypassed to get to the bar):

Milton Creek Manor

From what I gather, this is a hotel that some terrible things happened in, and so it's been abandoned, other than the ghouls who refuse to leave, and the ghosts who haunt it.


apparently, this is a year round structure in the park, that is only used during Howl-O-Scream, and you could really tell this from the quality of the props, the set design, and some truly incredible effects - that are at the level one would see at Netherworld Haunted House, or a special priced walk thru event.

in particular there's a transforming coatrack that becomes a skeleton/creature that I thought was amazing (pic came out blurry so not using, sorry).

but I mean. . . look at how gorgeous the design is here!



floating and writhing above the bed. . .impressive effects


Plenty of scare actors roaming the halls of the manor too.


my night-vision quality camera pics up the track/harness this effect is on. . but in the complete dark?  holy crap is this effective when it lunges out at you.



a very, very solid A+ for this house.    the strongest of the actual "houses" that we went thru during Howl-O-Scream.



that left us only - Zombie Horde to go.

this one was completely outdoors, and everyone had been telling me that this is the scariest "house" at Howl-O-Scream.


the entrance is located back behind Bayside Stadium. . and oh yes, this one was very popular.

just look at that line!   they send folks thru in groups of 6-8 . . so that's gotta be at least a 3 hour wait.



all outdoors. . and so, so creepy.

not a lot of "jump scares". . mostly walking by "sets". . but the jump scares there are?  holy crap effective - including bungee zombies who launch at you from atop leaking canisters of chemicals, only to snap back into the air after lunging at you.  great!





the final scare is actually a "chainsaw wielding" chaser scare actor. . . I still have never actually seen (or understand) why a zombie would need or have a running chainsaw to chase people with. . . . but I must admit:  VERY effective.

A++ and my favorite haunt of the night.

Still not really sure how this is "scary". . but I loved that it's a Police Box, and made me question where Doctor Who is.
(and that she is clear in the pic, but he's blurry?  think I saw something like this in the Omen movies).

Spooooky  😛


So we'd finished all the haunts, and most of the group I had been hanging thru the houses with were headed out (just after 9pm) as they had to go get ready for a Halloween party they were having that evening.   But since I was staying over, and since Paige wasn't ready to head out yet, we headed into the Monster Stomp show which was starting shortly.


I have absolutely NO idea what the hell the story was supposed to be - it's like they started off with a storyline idea of a Diva who is lusted after by a mad genius who stalks her. . but they kinda gave up on that storyline 1/3rd of the way thru and just started doing song and dance numbers.

dont' get me wrong tho. I truly enjoyed it, and it has elements of the "Stomp" stage show - which I guess is where the "Stomp" in the show name "Monster Stomp" comes from - tho if you believe the absolute morons who were sitting directly behind us and commenting thruout the show "it's just like Blue Man in Vegas!!"

(yeah. . i said nothing and held my tongue the whole show).




not only impressive dancing/acrobatics. . but really impressive voices.    Top tier talent on display in this show.





I'll give this show an "A-" grade based on the strong performances. . but loses a little bit because the story really made no sense.

oh. .if you're wondering what other observations the "geniuses" sitting behind us made during the show:

- Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" is a song by the Gap Band   (pretty sure he mixed it up with "you've dropped a bomb on me")

- "Ballroom Blitz" is a song that was made a hit from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and is originally sung by Meat Loaf.

(FYI, it's by Sweet, and it's NOT in the Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Leaving the show, I got another opportunity to test if the camera would capture the cop. .this time it did (and he had a psychopath locked up in the box next to him. . so I guess that's what makes it "scary"?)


the scare actors in this section didn't really interact with the people around, other than just hovering creepily close by. . but the outfits great and it was effective.


I had heard there was another coaster here, over in the Sesame Street area, that was on quick queue. . so I asked Paige if she wanted to go check it out, since I hadn't been in that part of the park at all today.

so we wandered over to that area, and discovered the Super Grover Coaster is a kiddie coaster that just goes around in a circle - i'm certainly not enough of a credit whore that I needed that (and there was a line). . so I was like, "no need to bother"

BUT right next to it?


oh you bet your cookie loving ass, I was gonna get on a Sesame Street Carousel!


especially one where the horses all look stoned out of their minds. . LOL


I noticed the seatbelts, and asked the operator who confirmed that *every* rider must wear a seat belt.

So I sucked in the gut, and got it to click. . and . . yeah. . i'll suffer for a carousel!




and Paige doesn't look like she DIDN'T enjoy it :)


It was still only ~9:45 and tho we knew no more shows were going on, I spotted on the map the Sea Lion habitat beyond the Sea Lion show building. . so we wandered over just to take a look at it.

the gates blocking it off to the public for the evening are way down at the end of the path, so even tho we knew it was closed, we could see the sea lions resting on the rocks, so walked down to where the gates were to take a quick look at them (which immediately drew out a couple of park employees who informed us the area was closed).     We said we were aware it was closed, and we weren't going to climb over the gates. . we just came down to the gates to peek at them sleeping.

and with a big smile (and the most polite subtext of GTFO) she said, "yes, well, this area is closed.  have a nice night!"

so we thanked her and headed back to the main park area (tho I'd think if they didn't want people to see the SeaLions sleeping, maybe put the gates up at the top of the path leading to the habitat instead of at the end of the path right by the habitat?  

we went thru the Pumpkin/Hay maze - which was easier than I expected it to be (tho might have been harder if we had gone thru on our knees, since this was set up for the kiddos :) )



and then decided it was still too early to leave, since we were both still having fun.

So we decided to do another lap of the lagoon and get our steps in to work off dinner.

Dance Party over near Steel Eel still going strong and with decent crowds (and FIRE from the DJ)









tho elsewhere as we got further around the park, the crowds had started to thin out, other than the lines for the Houses, which were still pretty long (otherwise we might have hopped in line to go thru one again), and the crowd catching the last performance of the evening of Monster Stomp.

but it was just past 10:30, so we decided to call it a night. . . goal being to get out of the park/parking lot before official park close to beat some of the traffic exiting.

all in all, I had a fantastic time at SeaWorld San Antonio for my 1st "real" visit. . and I'm already planning to go back in a couple of weeks for some of the Holiday Light offerings.

Howl-O-Scream is a great event, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to have fun, or enjoys jump scares in houses.   it's certainly an adult event, with lots of alcohol offerings, but I did see a LOT of families, and younger kids out today too.

(the Beer for the Beerfest promotion all looked interesting too).

and with that, we headed for the gates, and I headed to my hotel for the evening (which was a hot mess in and of itself, that I'll probably post about in the next update before Six Flags Fiesta Texas on Halloween morning).


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Nice report Bert, the Monster Stomp show looks like the same on SeaWorld Orlando had this year and I also really enjoyed it. Like you I don't really know what the plot was but it was well done with really good voice talent, super fun show.


That's awesome that the carousel was open lol, in Orlando there was a que for a haunt maze right next to the carousel and I wish they would have had it open, throw on some fog and let some monsters ride or something, that would have been really fun. Looked like a good time!

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So. . after a fantastic day at SeaWorld San Antonio, I headed out to go to my Hotel.

since I was going to be staying until ~close at SWSA after spending the full day there, i had decided that instead of driving home exhausted, I'd stay in a hotel and head over to Six Flags Fiesta Texas on Halloween morning for a few hours.

With that as my intention, I looked around to try to find something fairly inexpensive close to Fiesta Texas.

while there aren't really any hotels within walking distance to the park - by it's very nature, the entrance is deep inside the quarry and you really need to enter by car - I saw several decent hotels across the way (at "the Rim") including several Marriott's, a Hilton property, and there's also a Motel 6 (on the side with SFFT, but I would never stay there).

due to the weekend, and I suppose Halloween, the prices weren't cheap, but I went ahead and scored a deal using my Hilton Honors account to book a stay just across from Fiesta Texas at the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio at the Rim.

i want to make sure to name the hotel, so you know which one to avoid if you ever stay by SFFT.

I started out with a red flag when I was asked via the app if I wanted to check into my room at 9am Friday (the prior day).  I waited until 4pm to do it, as I wasn't staying until ~11pm on Saturday.
So I checked in, picked my room, requested digital key.. easy peasy.

but while at the park on Saturday, i got a message on the Honors app that there was an issue with my digital key and I needed to stop by the front desk to resolve before I could access my room.
Ok. .no big deal, tho I had a bit of stress wondering what the issue was, and if I was still going to have a room when I showed up so late, even tho I had prepaid for it.

rather than type the whole thing out again, I'll just paste the email I sent to the General Manager Monday morning - which i have gotten NO follow up on, nor a response to *my* follow up to them on Wednesday evening.    Nor any response from Hilton Honors, which after the 3 email from them thanking me for my stay and hoping I "enjoyed" it, I gave in and submitted similar to the app - also. .surprise. . no response.


Hello Mr. xxxx (the General Manager),

I was in San Antonio this past weekend for an event (at SeaWorld San Antonio), and chose your property – Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio at the RIM – as my Hotel of Choice for Saturday night based on both my standing as Hilton Honors member, and also due to your location so close to Six Flags San Antonio across I10.

I booked my room thru the Honors website a couple of weeks in advance, and checked in via the app the evening before (after getting notified I was eligible to check in the prior day) and chose my room. . noting that I would not be arriving until post 10pm the next day.

The service received was absolutely NOT the quality I expect from a Hilton branded property.    I do not personally fault the Night Manager, Alex, as he attempted to sort things out – and I believe he might have contacted you, as he said he was talking to a Manager.   But what I experienced was completely unacceptable – especially considering supposed Covid Protocols:

1) I arrived at the Front Desk ~11pm – because despite checking in via the Hilton Honors App, I was told there was an issue with generating a digital key for me.     It was explained to me that at this particular hotel, for any digital key front desk must be contacted at arrival, as that’s this hotel’s policy.   (ok, it’s a policy that I assume is for safety, so although a bit of an inconvenience – after spending a 15 hour day at an event, I just wanted a shower and sleep – no real complaint).

upon getting keys generated at front desk and heading up to my room xxx (chosen the day before), I noticed immediately upon entering the room that the bed appeared to have been slept in and was unmade.  I also noticed coffee cups and open sugar packets on table.   This room had not been cleaned.   

I called down to front desk, and while on phone with him opened up the bathroom door to find dirty towels on the floor.

I informed Alex what was going on, and that this was not acceptable and please move me to another, clean room.

He told me there were not any rooms available – completely sold out.   And as it was late evening, there was no one available to clean my chosen room.  

Again, I said he needs to find a way to fix this, as I had pre-booked, pre-paid, and was exhausted. . . he said he would call someone , and I headed back down to the front desk.


2) When I got to the front desk, Alex was on the phone with someone (yourself perhaps?), and he nodded to me, and filled out a new set of keys.   Room yyyy, and apologized again, and sent me back to the elevators.

I got to the room. . . and the keys would not work.     I tried several times, and then, frustrated, headed back to the elevator and back down to the front desk.

2a) I told Alex and the other gentleman on the desk that the keys would not work.    And *asked* are you certain the room is unoccupied?  (as I believe the keys won’t engage if the interior lock is closed).   I was assured the room is empty and he reprogrammed the keys, apologized and sent me back to the elevators.   Once again, the keys at room yyyy would not work.  

I knocked on the door, and an annoyed voice from inside the room yelled “it’s 11:30 pm, what the f@#k do you want?!?!”   

I apologized thru the door and made my way back to the front desk (again). . please keep in mind, exhausted, wanting a shower, and furious at this point.

3) Alex didn’t know what to do. . and I said “I’m seeing lots of rooms with the “clean seal” on the doors, how are you telling me you have no open rooms?  Certainly there must be one available.
Eventually he offered that he doesn’t have any King beds, but he could put me in a room with twin Queens, Room zzzz. . . . which of course, I said I was fine with – I’m a single person looking for a place to sleep.

he actually walked WITH me to the room to ensure this one was available, and cleaned, handed me the keys, and headed back to the front desk.


It was now close to midnight, and I was very disappointed with the Hilton Garden Inn (to say the least, and I had made the trip from the lobby to 3 different rooms 4 times), but at least I was finally in a room, and started to get ready to take a shower.

and of course, as I turned on the shower?   The fire-alarms went off, and the entire hotel had to evacuate into the parking lots.  

->  Note:  the fire alarms, and not being able to get back into the room to get my shower until after 12:40 is *not* something I blame you or the Hotel for.   This kind of thing happens.
(added note:  a truck pulling under the front entrance ignore the height sign warning that took out a sprinkler and caused the fire alarms to go off)


*but* I will point out that when we were told by the firemen we could go back into the hotel?   My keys for room zzzz DID NOT WORK.

Luckily there was a housekeeping staffer near the elevator (perhaps was called in after the issue with my 1st room?  As this was ~1 hour later).  And she was able to use her master key to let me in.   No, I did not go back down to the front desk to fix the keys.  I just wanted shower and sleep at this point.

I held off until this afternoon to write you, thinking for certain there was a report on my situation, and perhaps the Manager will contact me.  
but as I have not yet heard anything, I am reaching out.

it’s absurd that this was my experience at a Hilton Branded Property, and the room absolutely SHOULD have been comped (yes, it was pre-paid.  . a credit SHOULD have been issued).

I asked for your business card on my way out so I could contact you, as I was told at the front desk that nobody on staff had the ability to offer me any kind of compensation or discount . . and I will point out here, I was not even offered a complimentary breakfast (nor was I aware the hotel was offering any kind of breakfast) after my experience the night before. 

I just saw the people eating breakfast, and asked about it - and was told that it's an upcharge of $10, but they stop serving at 11 (in 10 minutes).

as noted, *greatly* disappointed with a Hilton branded property being run in this manner.

So reaching out to see if there is a way to credit back if not the entire room, than a portion of the $$ paid, as this was NOT a pleasant experience, and I doubt I will be looking to any Hilton property going forwards if I have to stay over again (which is happening in November), as while standing out In the parking lot at 12:30am, I did notice the two Marriott properties across the way.

please advise if there is anything that can be done here.

bert (with my confirmation information, and stay info)

so yeah. . as of Friday at 8pm?  no response from anyone.

and I'm going to a Christmas Event at SWSA on 11/20, and once again have decided to stay over because I have purchased a 2022 Platinum Level Season Pass from SFFT (now that they have started offering Season Passes with options for all parks, parking, and soft drinks included), and I am going to be going into the park to activate it and enjoy the park for a while.

--> No, I did NOT book at Hilton, and yes I *DID* book at a Marriott property.     

i think it will be a LONG time, if ever, that I book again at a Hilton property. . as this was shameful.

here's the gushing water from the damaged Fire Sprinkler:


Here's my face, sitting outside at 12:40 just wanting a shower and bed:

at least there was a little fire-pit I could sit at while waiting to be given the all clear to go back inside (everyone else just stood out in the parking lot)




scary Halloween Eve, indeed. . sheesh

Coming up soon:  Halloween Day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas!

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Wow. That sucks about the hotel. Never had an issue like that with Hilton and I stay at a lot of Hampton/Hilton Garden Inns on various coaster trips. I will be very curious to see if they make it right.

Howl o Scream looked like a good event. As you know Joel and I were there in April, on a brutally hot day, so didn't mind getting wet on the water rides. We 100% agree that Texas Stingray was the best ride in the park, and that WaveBreaker was fun for a family coaster but not super interesting. As for Steel Eel I was very underwhelmed by it.......boring compared to Mamba at WOF or Steel Force at Dorney, which are pretty fun.  Joel didn't complain about his balls but we were up front and maybe that's not something you would bring up to your Mom anyway 😜

Confusing Queen with the Gap Band and Sweet with Meatloaf and Rocky Horror...................how is that even possible?

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so after that horrific evening at the hotel, I was up and out just before 11am, and drove across the street into the open SFFT parking lot, and lined up at the Gates - which opened at 11:30 for a 12 pm rope drop.

I parked pretty far back in the lot, because I was expecting to leave before the Halloween crowds potentially showed up - even tho I could have pulled up much closer since I was there so early before opening.  (parking far back makes it easy to find my car - right under one of the light poles - and also gives really easy access to one of the exit lanes, so I do it. . i mean, not like I'm not gonna walk alot in the park anyways)


Goliath looks great still, even for a parking lot coaster. . . but it wasn't  on my list today, as I had just ridden Great White yesterday.    My list today was to walk around and look at what Halloween decorations they might have up, grab lunch on meal plan, and perhaps ride one or two flats.  For sure the Carousel.

the repaint on Poltergeist (hard to see in this pic tho) looked FANTASTIC with it's green colors.



arriving up to the front, I was surprised the gates main were closed until 11:30, and multiple lines had formed to get in once they opened. But it was a nice day, and not too hot, so no real issue to wait (and most of the front ticket booths are gone now, just ~1 week later, as they have started renovations to the front gate).



Hurm. . a LOT of rides down. 

so many, they ran out of space on the sign. . . sigh.

*but*. . . a little spoiler. . . most of these listed did end up opening today.    From my count, the only things that truly were down were:  the Bugs Bunny flume, the Railroad, Hustler, Fireball, the Daffy Duck bus kiddie ride.

so that was a lovely surprise to see so many of the "listed closed" rides up and running. . guess either someone forgot to check the sign and change out the list?  or they are already planning for what will be closed for HitP perhaps?


I wasn't quite sure what to expect, since it was Halloween day. . . so it was either gonna be packed, or GET packed.   based on the crowds at opening, it certainly wasn't gonna be packed to start with:





after snapping a few pics of the Fright Fest decorations in the main plaza (and watching Goliath and Boomerang cycle - they did open both of them to people about 10 minutes prior to rope drop if I'm not mistaken), I plopped on a bench in the shade to wait for rope drop to happen on the WW side, behind me down the hill (where those folks are gathered).


really, my only two goals today were to get pictures/see the new Poltergeist queue, as I had not been to the park since it had reopened. . and to ride the Carousel.

but once rope drop happened I had to peek into Sangerfest Halle, as Jeffrey Sibert had been posting pics of the renovations going on in there for the park's anniversary in 2022.
(they are restoring the main stage back to it's former glory, and have started redoing all the food preparation side, to make more exciting offerings).

But I had been teasing online that "oh no, I hope they don't paint over Sweet Connie!!" - which is the woman painted in the back of the Sangerfest Halle, next to the Women's Restroom, by a lightpost.
I've always thought she looked like a "lady of the evening". . .and tho probably no one ever really notices her but me (since I go into Sangerfest Halle so often as it's right next to the Carousel.  so a place to sit and get a drink before riding). . but to ME?  she's a park Icon and I had to make sure she was still there.

whoo.. still here (for the moment at least)


and of course, I couldn't help but to take some pics I could mess with Jeffrey online with:


for this one, I asked if SFFT was hiring, since I apparently have "skillz". .   (a park employee took this for me, giggling the whole time)



Satisfied that Sweet Connie was "safe" for the moment at least, I headed over to Poltergeist. . which looked closed.    But no, the train cycled (and they had two trains on the tracks today too, as did every coaster). . so I decided perfect, I can get pics of the whole queue!

the Refurb and new queue are AMAZING. . such a fantastic job.  I only wish I had stayed late enough to see it at night!

Lots of pics of the new/refurbed Poltergeist queue:









damn the coaster looks great in these colors:







This car lets out an occasional loud honk, which I'm sure startles the crap out of folks.  and the headlights flicker.




once these bushes/hedges grow in, it's gonna look incredible here.





ok.  the old queue. . up these stairs, and to the door on the left brought you into the station.  

how's it look now?

ooo. .that door is blocked off?  ok. . . let's see where this goes?











I honestly hadn't planned to ride, but when I got to the new station?   it was almost completely deserted (appropriate!). . so went ahead and got in the front row queue.


these really cool display boxes with LCD displays and trinkets are small touches that are just so cool.. .the enclosed station is such an amazing improvement (unexpected too)


the queue for front row:



a look at the refurbed trains. 

They didn't just wrap them. . all new padding, and I easily fit - no walk of shame. .so perhaps the new padding in the seats, make the restraints a bit more forgivable for different body types?
(it still has the weird seatbelt that clicks into the side of the lap bar set up)




they even built out a little "tunnel" at the return to help keep the station so dark (the ride exit is covered by a dark curtain/tunnel as well)


you can see how walk on it was. . this is the train returning after mine (which was loading). . only folks in the first two cars.





Getting off Poltergiest, I wandered over to Rockville, to take a peek at the "Invastion/Infestation" decorations. . that even in the daytime looked pretty dang great:




yeah. .it was still pretty empty.    I really had NOT planned to ride much. .but I mean, Wonder Woman looks like a walk on?




yep. . complete walk on. . . . so I took two laps on it.    The 2nd ride in the very back seat, where I did notice a little bit of a rattle.  So it doesn't surprise me they are doing a little refurb on it for the next week or so still.





I decided to take a cut thru the boardwalk while I was over here - and to my disappointment?  not much Halloween over here.  This area always seemed to have the Carn-Evil section with the evil clowns and jack in the boxes. . but if they had been here (taken down in prep for HitP set up already perhaps?  I mean it was Halloween today) they were gone now.

Boardwalk was DEAD tho. . so grabbed a ride on Pandamonium (tho skipped Spinsanity, as I hadn't eaten yet and didn't want to get sick. . the SFFT version of this Tilt-A-Whirl really spins like crazy!)


yeah. . just look at that Wonder Woman "line". . it's full of Ghosts !!!!


ah. here's sort of an evil clown decoration. . . at the front of the House that's in the Joker Coaster's old funhouse area.



Fiesta is doing a Beerfest as well for October. . I didn't sample any, but the offerings at the tent on the Boardwalk sure were tempting:



and since over here, of course I rode Pirates.     Walk on, so car by myself and I double barrelled it. . . ending up with high score and low score on the same ride (hey, I'm right handed, of course aim better with that one)


The animatronic Pirate is still MIA from the queue. . wonder if he'll ever come back :(


I was starting to get hungry, so after a quick walk on ride on Scream (drop tower), I headed back over to Sangerfest Halle to grab something.   (the prior day at Sea World, one of the TSU Mods had opined that the Schnitzel was good there, so i wanted to try it).

Not sure how this is a special Halloween treat. . I mean, it's a chicken pattie on a stick. .but thought it was funny so snapped a pic of it at the drive in restaurant as I passed by.



here's the Schnitzel. . with sauerkraut and a spicy raspberry reduction.    I must admit that it was very good, and I hope it sticks around on the new Sangerfest Halle menus.
(they were out of the Germn Potato Salad, so had to make due with chips)


while I was enjoying my lunch, I played around on Facebook and checked out TPR Group as well as the TSU group.  In the TSU group, Jay Kite had posted that he was at Fiesta with his Grandma and was anyone else at the park.

I responded that I thought I had seen them, and would say hello if I did again.

then put the phone down and looked up. . and they were sitting two tables over.   So I went and joined them to say hi:



He asked how long I was gonna be at the park, and if I wanted to hang out a bit.   I mentioned to them I was about to go on the Carousel. . so:




we were gonna head over to Iron Rattler, since Jay had some skip the line passes, but he remembered I have posted in the past in the TSU group how I don't often get to ride the Crow's Nest Ferris wheel, since they have a no single rider policy.   He offered to ride it with me if I wanted to, so i said sure, and we headed over to the boardwalk.

I dont' work in a themepark, so I dunno why SFFT never loads the entire wheel, or even half the wheel. .they seem to load only one or two gondolas per color, and then cycle it around a few times.    So the Crows Nest always has a really long line, even if it looks short, since it loads so slowly.

Jay put his Grandma under a shade (where she started chatting with folks) and we got a long ride on the ferris wheel.  

and when I say long?  I'm not kidding.    I really think the operator forgot which gondola he started loading with, as we were the first gondola on the next cycle.  He loaded up all the ones he was going to. . cycled around twice. .then instead of pulling us into the station?  he started unloading/reloading with the gondolas in the next color.   

then he did that AGAIN.  

and then when we finally got off the Ferris Wheel it seemed to be because the operator had changed and the new operator stopped to unload our gondola.

all in all, it was a 20-22 minute ride on the Ferris Wheel!   (it was so long we missed the window for the Iron Rattler tickets and couldn't use them as the hour had passed - tho I think Jay may have gone back to the Flash Pass and had them switched to new time after I left).

oh well. . at least I got a ride on it, and it was a beautiful day with a nice breeze up there.

So some pics from the Crows Nest:






this was pretty cool to see tho. . something I hadn't noticed from ON the boardwalk. . they built an outdoor haunt back behind Hurricane Force 5 (the Disc-O). . i'll bet that is so much fun at night when full of scare actors!


Hoofing it over to Iron Rattler to try and make our Skip the Line time. . there's a crashed spaceship over here. . overseen by Batman.



and despite the sign out front, Gully Washer was running too, in it's "Blood Bayou" mode for Halloween.



turned away from Iron Rattler Fast Lane was ok tho..I had ridden way more than I had intended, and since we were right across from Dr. Butterscotch's Elixer stand, I went ahead and used my snack credit to get a frozen, and we sat at the tables back there to enjoy.

VERY VERY cool that SFFT has turned the location for Dr. Diabolical's Cliffhanger (dive coaster for 2022) into a photo op!

with a piece of track there you can actually pose with and touch:



the site where it will be. . where the Sundance theater was:




bert on the tracks

(and yes, those tracks were HOT in the Texas sun, even with the beautiful day. . I'm surprised I didn't burn my ass. . LOL).




by now it was close to 3:30 (if I'm not mistaken) and I had started getting texts from home asking when I'd be back in Austin.

so with a final pic, I said my goodbyes to Jay and his Grandma, and headed to the car for the drive back to Austin.


It had been a really fun weekend (despite the hotel debacle).  

So much fun, I'm doing it again in two weeks, when I again go to SWSA for the day - this time a Christmas Lights thing, and then staying over (NOT in a Hilton.. a Marriott thank you very much) and activating my new Platinum Season Pass at SFFT the next day.

can't wait.

thanks for reading. . hope you enjoyed the pics!



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so. . still never heard ANYTHING (at all) back from the General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio at the RIM.

But I did hear back from the Hilton Honors folks - who did not offer me credit back for my stay, but instead offered me a future night free at any Hilton Garden Inn.

I suppose at least they are trying to make amends, tho still really annoyed this is a Hilton branded property and no response from the GM or anyone at that hotel.

oh well.

@teacherkim here's the response from them I got from Hilton this afternoon:

Dear Bert,

Thank you for your reply with the information requested. My name is XXXX with Hilton Guest Assistance. It will be my pleasure to assist with your concerns at the at the Hilton Garden Inn San Antonio/Rim Pass Drive on October 30, 2021.

I do apologize that a member of their leadership team has not contacted you to address your concerns.  I do understand how this experience was disappointing.


I'm also very sorry for the key not working, room assigned not cleaned and fire alarm went off at the time of your arrival.  The Voice of our Customers is critical to ensuring our guests receive a rewarding experience when staying at the Hilton Portfolio of Brands. Thank you for bringing this concern to our attention.

In an effort to make amends for your experience, you will receive a Be My Guest certificate for a one night complimentary stay in a standard room at any Hilton Garden Inn

Thanks for your ongoing loyalty and understanding. Should  you have any questions, please feel free to reply to this message and we will be happy to assist you. 


Best regards,


Corporate Guest Relations Specialist
Hilton Reservations and Customer Care


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Well glad to hear they did some sort of compensation. Essentially they are refunding the night, just with credit instead of cash. So is the way of the world. Hopefully, you made your point about the refusal of the manager to contact you and he or she will get admonished for it by corporate, although unfortunately you will never know. Going through Honors was probably a smart move as their whole job is to keep you loyal to the brand.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/9/2021 at 5:41 PM, bert425 said:

so after that horrific evening at the hotel, I was up and out just before 11am, and drove across the street into the open SFFT parking lot, and lined up at the Gates - which opened at 11:30 for a 12 pm rope drop.

I parked pretty far back in the lot, because I was expecting to leave before the Halloween crowds potentially showed up - even tho I could have pulled up much closer since I was there so early before opening.  (parking far back makes it easy to find my car - right under one of the light poles - and also gives really easy access to one of the exit lanes, so I do it. . i mean, not like I'm not gonna walk alot in the park anyways)


Goliath looks great still, even for a parking lot coaster. . . but it wasn't  on my list today, as I had just ridden Great White yesterday.    My list today was to walk around and look at what Halloween decorations they might have up, grab lunch on meal plan, and perhaps ride one or two flats.  For sure the Carousel.

the repaint on Poltergeist (hard to see in this pic tho) looked FANTASTIC with it's green colors.



arriving up to the front, I was surprised the gates main were closed until 11:30, and multiple lines had formed to get in once they opened. But it was a nice day, and not too hot, so no real issue to wait (and most of the front ticket booths are gone now, just ~1 week later, as they have started renovations to the front gate).


wow. Goliath a parking lot coaster?  Have you seen Scream at Magic Mountain?  That’s parking lot coaster. It actually has a parking lot under it.  The site wheee Goliath was wasn’t parking lot, nor does it even resemble a parking lot. That’s the one thing SFFT never let it look like.  


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Dude - I've been going to this park for decades, and know what used to be there.

It's sitting where the picnic tables  & Shuttlebus dropoff (which they haven't used in YEARS) used to be.

*outside the main gates*

here's a map from 2007 the year before it came from SFNO - it replaced the tram turnaround, the front Picnic tables, and several rows of parking. . (note: the picnic grove behind it is still there behind it - used for special events)


it's a parking lot coaster.

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Whatever “dude”. I used to work there. I know what was there before the coaster was there. Just because it’s next to the parking lot doesn’t make it a parking lot coaster.  Scream at SFMM and Medusa at SFDK are built on an ACTUAL parking lot where six flags didn’t even throw rock down to cover the asphalt or paint over the lines. Now THAT’s a parking lot coaster.  

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oh, I'm a Theme Park fan who goes to Parks to have fun, and not get hung up on stupid bullshit arguments about if a Roller Coaster that was built in the parking lot can be called a Parking Lot Coaster - because there are other coasters that are MORE built on parking lots.


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