I've always been somewhat interested in theme parks and rollercoasters, but it wasn't I visited Disneyland and Universal Hollywood in 2011 that I really started to take a serious interest. Yes, California Screamin' turned me into a coaster nut (you have to start somewhere, right?). I started planning an epic trip, one that would take in some of the biggest, best and most notable parks and coasters the USA had to offer, and plenty in between.
So in May and June of this year my brother Jon and I, armed with our cargo shorts, goggles, and tie dyed t-shirts (OK not really), spent six weeks on the road clocking up 150 coasters at 22 parks.
We started at Disneyland. It had only been 18 months since I'd last visited but in that time plenty had changed. Guests no longer entered via the alley behind Soarin' and, most importantly, Cars Land had opened! This was a big deal for me - Cars is my #1 Pixar film so I was very excited to see Radiator Springs. Apparently it was a big deal for a lot of other people too, because the place was extremely busy.
On to the photos of Disneyland Resort (but mostly Cars Land!):
The number of bozos who were trying to film a crappy WoC video with their GoPro was astonishing. Whatever happened to just enjoying the show? (I took this after the show had ended!). Anyway, that's it for this installment. Next up: Knotts!
Yep. It's also easily the best place to watch World of Color.
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree looks like a kiddie ride, but is actually really fun!
RSR is even better at night! It makes more sense too, since the indoor portion is set at nighttime.
...nope. Nice lighting though!
Maybe Luigi's is more fun after dark...
Radiator Springs looks awesome at night, this pic definitely doesn't do it justice.
Ignore the Carthay Circle, Flo's has the best food in DCA. The breakfast French toast was amazing!
Mater has enslaved baby tractors to work in his amusement park.
Ghetto on-ride photo. Me in the front, Jon in the back.
The detail on both the ride and the whole of Radiator Springs in general is phenomenal. It's hard to believe this used to be a carpark.
This is the shortest stand-by time I saw the whole time we were there. Fastpass was about a 20 minute wait, plus the 20 minutes you spent waiting for the Fastpass machine. Single rider line saved us a lot of time - often getting on within 5-10 minutes, and we usually ended up in the same ride vehicle!
This way to the main event!
In reality it was a minute and a half of Jon and I yelling "no, lean THIS way!" at each other in a vain attempt to actually get our tire to move.
I love the concept, a giant game of air hockey sounds really cool.
It's just like the movie!
Up until this point Jon had always refused to go on drop towers. He thought Tower of Terror was just another dark ride and didn't realise his mistake until too late. Hilarious!
It's somewhat hokey and not the best the Muppets have to offer, but I'll be sad to see this go if the Monstropolis rumours are true.
"Congratulations, you've been selected to play the role of... dog butt!"
There are always Newsies on hand to welcome you to DCA.
Roger Rabbit is easily the most underrated attraction in Disneyland.
There were more strollers at Small World than people.
Monstro says: "'sup?"
These people are waiting 30 minutes for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I'm sure they will all think it was worth it...
The new Fantasy Faire area is really well done, and much more interesting than the glorified gazebo that was there before.
Mandatory castle photo.
Walt showing Mickey where California Adventure is.
But despite it being only 11am, queues were already quite lengthy. So we left, having at least processed our Cedar Fair season passes.
Did I say we started at Disneyland? Not strictly true. After arriving at LAX, we immediately headed to Knotts with the intention getting a couple of early rides in.
Last edited by azza29 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:23 am.
Sir Clinksalot wrote:I know most people love Flo's but in my two experiences there I was EXTREMELY underwhelmed, especially for the price. I actually think that the Paradise Garden Grill has the best food at the resort.
It's at the high end of 'good value', but I'm always a fan of simple meat-and-veg meals. And the brioche french toast was delicious. Paradise Garden Grill is great as well, although last time they drowned my skewer in sauce.
I forgot to mention that we tried the Wine Country Trattoria to get premium viewing for World of Color. Not cheap, though the food was excellent, particularly the grilled chicken sandwich. Even though the restaurant is right in the middle of the park it feels quite secluded, so was a great place to take a break from the crowds. And it saved us having to line up to get a good spot for the show (we ended up front and centre next to the railing), which was definitely worth the extra cost.
We also visited the Blue Bayou for the novelty factor. Ended up going twice because Jon liked the Monte Cristo sandwich so much. Both times we ended up with fairly ordinary seats (i.e. near the door) but it was still a lot of fun to be in a restaurant that was in a ride!
Part 2: Knott's Berry Farm My parents don't travel much. They haven't left the country since their honeymoon, and even then they only got as far as New Zealand. But back in the early 80's my mother had taken a trip to California, and would occasionally regale us with stories of her trip. While we definitely knew what Disneyland was, tales of a place called "Knott's Berry Farm" seemed incredibly lame. Why go halfway around the world to visit a berry farm? It wasn't until years later that I realised it was a theme park, with nary a berry in sight...
After three and a half days of the craziness that is Disneyland, a day at Knott's was like a breath of fresh air. Crowds were light, nobody was stressed about making that "perfect vacation", and not an ECV for miles. It didn't matter that half the park was either closed or still under construction, we had a fantastic day at the park. We even returned a month later to ride everything that was new and/or freshly reopened!
Back at Knott's! They played the national anthem before opening, which was something I'd never seen happen at an Australian park.
I am a big fan of motocoasters when they're done well. Pony Express was OK, but a little short for me. On the plus side, we were able to re-ride a few times before a school group showed up and filled the queue.
After seeing the Timber Mountain Log Ride refurb, I really hope the same is done to the Calico Mine Ride. It was good enough, and I imagine would have been quite spectacular back in the day, but definitely needs some TLC.
The rapids queue takes you on a walking tour of the entire ride before you get to the station. No surprises here!
The old west/mining town theming was a real highlight, and made me wonder why they don't just extend it across the entire park.
For a tasty beverage and a sympathetic ear, visit the Calico Saloon!
The Calico Saloon stage show was hilarious, and it was great to see the performers giving 100% even with a small crowd.
Not quite a ghost town, but pretty quiet all the same.
Nice touch. Bonus points if you know where this is!
When you can't find the right word to make a tombstone rhyme, just invent one.
Theming...? Or just a ride vehicle that got left out?
Three days after we skipped it because the line was too long, Ghost Rider was closed for refurb.
However it had reopened by the time we went back in June. I don't know if I just got a good seat, but while it was a little rough it wasn't the bone-shattering ordeal I'd feared.
That said, SFA's Roar and Coney's Cyclone were still very fresh in my mind, which may have affected my perception a little. Still, there were more thrills than aches to be found here.
Timber Mountain had another three weeks of refurb left at this point.
I did! The updated scenes were great - I could tell it was a 'classic' ride without having to forgive it for being too old-fashioned.
Look at these crowds!
So this was my first Boomerang. I think we ended up riding seven during the trip.
Yellow and green have never looked so good together.
The problem with waiting until you get back to do your trip report is that you end up with photos of attractions under construction that have opened in the interim. Future installments will feature unfinished Gold Striker, YOLOcoaster and Flying Turns.
On the last day of the trip we waited a good 20 minutes in this queue for Coast Rider. Ended up being the last coaster of the trip.
It was pretty good for a wild mouse, and didn't feel too much like a stock model. Definitely helped that it was only two weeks old and was still quite smooth.
I think this is some Cedar Fair or Knotts management getting a hard hat tour. We were having lunch in the Ghost Town Grill (delicious!) later in the day and a group of them sitting next to us were talking about adding soft-serve ice cream machines.
It would be a full four days before we were able to experience the majesty of flyers for ourselves at CGA.
Definitely one of the highlights of the trip, Xcelerator packs a punch that the bigger launchers just don't have.
The feeling as you glide over that top hat is awesome!
Gotta love pink track!
Definitely one of the best Intamin launchers, right up there with Maverick and Superman Escape.
Windseeker was, of course, shut. Of the four we would encounter during our travels, only the one at Kings Island was operating when we visited.
I had high hopes for Jaguar! Surely a ride with such elaborate theming would be awesome, right?
Sadly, no. Long and dull. Apparently that's OK if you call it a 'family coaster'.
We rode Montezooma's Revenge, then on the following cycle it broke and stayed shut for most of the day. Awesome airtime on the ends!
It's weird that a park with such elaborate landscaping at the front becomes a concrete mess at the back.
Best themed bin ever.
The first time we rode this a couple of kids were on the other side of the car. Talk about an unbalanced load! We spun so fast I had no idea what the track was doing!
B&M have never built a coaster in Australia, and my nearest is in Hong Kong. So Silver Bullet was my first!
It's not as good as some of the other B&M inverts but still pretty solid, and definitely worth re-riding. The helix is one of the highlights.
Aesthetically it's not great. Maybe if those white supports were painted to blend in a little? I don't know.
It wouldn't be a Knotts trip report without this guy. Moo.
After dinner at Mrs Knott's restaurant (which I'm still full from) the sun set on our first week in Los Angeles.
Let's end on a glamour shot of the rental car. Next up: Discovery Kingdom!
Having no experience with this make but Funtime HighFlyers seem to run every time I visit - Prater, Tivoli, Hansa-Park, Holiday-Park - while I often read here that the Windseekers are not very eager to seek some wind...
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