Photo TR: Operation Lake Effect Insanity

Our family does four Chicagoland parks in five days!
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Photo TR: Operation Lake Effect Insanity

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Sun Jul 27, 2014 10:00 pm

It's July, and that means family summer vacation! This year we're headed up North to Chicago, and it was an awesome week. Temperatures were in the 70s pretty much all week, and except for a brief thunderstorm spell very late on Tuesday, it was clear and cool all week. Made for a great relief from the Southern Missouri heat--today was our first day back, and it was 95 degrees today.

First up was Little Amerricka. I was most excited for the Swiss Toboggan, for the sheer novelty of that coaster. I've never seen anything remotely like it. Honestly, though, it wasn't all that great of a ride. Now Meteor, on the other hand, was amazing. The ride op there was simply the best I've ever seen. He had such charisma, and engaged not just all the riders, but everyone in line too. The line was long and slow, as would be expected with a 60-year-old coaster with a single train, but we didn't even mind the wait. The ride op (and it was just him all alone running the ride) made it a show. Absolutely the best roller coaster ride I've ever had, bar none.

After that, we spent a day at Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium, and everyone had a good time. I'll focus on the amusement park portion of our trip, though, for this trip report.

Next up was two days at Six Flags Great America. This is the first time I'd been there with he park open (I did go for the media event back in January), so we wanted to do everything. I planned on getting a Flash Pass for the second day, so the first day I focused on the rides that weren't included with the Flash Pass. We got there at opening, and I skipped the line for Goliath, knowing I would get a couple of rides on it the next day. Instead, we went as far as they would allow us to go before the park opened, and when 10:30 came, headed straight to American Eagle. The blue side was the only one running at opening. This is a fantastic ride! Honestly one of the best at the park. From the top of Eagle's lift hill I could see that X-Flight was just a station wait, so I headed there next. I loved it. I know several of you are less than enthusiastic about wing coasters, but I thought X-Flight was flat out fun. There are moments of intensity, and the flybys are a little freaky. It was really great.

After those two coasters, we focused on the flat rides the rest of the day. We did ride Spacely's Sprocket Rockets and Little Dipper. Spacely's is simply the best children's coaster I've been on. None of the jerkiness or odd turns you usually get; the whole ride was smooth and fun, just as it should be. Little Dipper was honestly a bit of a disappointment after having been on Meteor just two days before, but it's still a very special coaster. My daughter loved it, and it was just plain fun. Not intense at all, but a blast from start to finish. My last ride of the night I went back to American Eagle to ride the red side. The two rides are very different from each other, and I loved them both.

Our second day at Great America I went straight to Goliath. I was able to use the single rider line and got on the second train of the day, front seat of the back car. Absolutely amazing, one of the best coasters I've ever been on. Best ride in the park, bar none. After that, I went to get my flash pass. I rode X-Flight twice in the front on the left side (having ridden the right side the day before, I wanted to see the difference), then went to Buccaneer Battle on the way to Demon. Buccaneer Battle is not a good ride. There's hardly any place where you are able to squirt other boats, and there are very few targets. Tom and Huck's River Blast at Silver Dollar City is way better than this. While on Buccaneer Battle, my reservation came up for Demon, so I went there next. I really liked Demon. It reminds me of the way Ninja in St. Louis used to be years ago, back when it was good.

After that, we headed back to Camp Cartoon for the little ones, so I made a reservation at Vertical Velocity. But just as my flash pass buzzed, the ride had broken down. So I went over to Batman instead. I wanted to know if it's substantially different from the one in St. Louis. It's not. Yes, it goes the other direction, and I liked the last turn over the lake, but it's pretty much the same. Still good, though. I only rode that one once; I've been on the one in St. Louis many, many times.

As I was leaving Batman, my flash pass let me know that I was finally able to reserve Yankee Clipper, so I did immediately and went straight there. I love log flumes, and this one was great. I rode it twice in a row and was thoroughly soaked both times. Next was the Dark Knight. I only rode this one once as well; it was really not very good. Just a wild mouse with some sound effects really, very disappointing.

We then moved to the Whizzer. I was very much looking forward to this one, having loved the Zambezi Zinger in Kansas City when I was a kid. It was a blast of nostalgia, and a fantastic ride. I went twice in a row in the front car, second seat. Very enjoyable. At this point, the sky began to get very cloudy, and it felt like it might rain, so I wanted to hurry and get to the last two coasters. First up was Viper. Fantastic! One of the best in the park. I haven't been on the actual Coney Island Cyclone, but if it is indeed exactly like Viper, I can see why people have been riding it for 90 years. It was great fun. Then I went on Raging Bull. This may get some ire from some around here, but I actually didn't like it. Mostly it was all the brakes. Four times we were jerked to nearly a halt. It just ruined the flow of the ride. Sure, it's big and fast on the first drop, but they've trimmed the coaster beyond any fun at all.

From the lift hill of Raging Bull, I could see Superman testing. I hadn't seen a train on it all day, but being all the way across the park, I figured I'd make my way over there and ride a few things in the process. So I went back to Goliath again, this time using the first of my two Flash Pass rides on it. I rode in the back, and it was great again. Then I went back to Vertical Velocity, and it was running this time. I watched it go a couple of times and chose the fourth row, because it was the last row to spin on the front spike all three times. This ride was one of my favourites, second only to Goliath. It's like Mr. Freeze combined with a Screamin' Swing. Absolutely a blast.

At this point, I probably should have gone to Superman, but didn't. That was a mistake, but more on that later. I went to Logger's Run, and then on Goliath again before going on to Revolution. This was my first, and honestly probably last Huss Frisbee. I didn't like it very much at all. I'm not a big fan of spinning rides, but I gave this one a go because I like Diskos, but Revolution spun too much early on for my liking. Once it got going high, it was very fun, but overall I didn't care for it.

Now we headed back to the front of the park, as it was getting late. I hit Roaring Rapids twice and then went up to Superman. I rode in the back and the ride was fairly good, but when we got back to the station, we were stuck in the flying position for 15 minutes until maintenance could arrive to let us down. This is the only time I have ever been stuck on a coaster, and it was not pleasant in any way. Not a great introduction to the flying coaster for me. Fortunately, for the inconvenience they were handing out passes to skip the line on any ride, and since I already had the Flash Pass for the day, really the only one I wanted was Goliath. They let me on it with the pass for my last ride of the night, and the fourth ride on Goliath for the day. Definitely made up for the rush of blood to the head.

After a day at the Museum of Science and Industry, we next went to Navy Pier. We were there for one reason only: the Ferris wheel. I had been to Navy Pier several times before, but hadn't actually been on the Ferris wheel, so it was a priority on this trip. I thoroughly enjoyed it--it's a view you won't get anywhere else--but I could have stood without the onboard audio. It was more irritating than informative.

Our last day in Chicago was at the Santa's Village Azoosment Park. It's a great park, far more low-key than Six Flags, and a relaxed atmosphere overall. There were no long lines at all, despite the parking lot being 80% full, and we even got to bring a cooler in! We still bought drinks and snacks there, but it was great to pack a picnic lunch at eat our own food in the park--especially since two of my kids have food allergies and it can be hard to find things for them to eat. We especially loved the two unique rides, the sleigh ride and the fire truck ride. They also were in the process of constructing a Troika. My wife and oldest daughter loved the Triple Play at Great America, and I can see this being a big hit at Azoosment Park as well. The big draw, though, was the Wildcat, a Galaxi coaster that's new this year. This is the best Galaxi I've been on, and the only one that didn't feel like it was run down. They even had some great landscaping around the ride, a good sign that they intend to keep and care for the ride for many years.

Overall, this was a great vacation. We got to see in addition to the amusement parks the Field, Shedd, Science & Industry, and Chicago Children's Museums, as well as Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory. It was exhausting, but truly a great time. See below for some photos!

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