Castles n’ Coasters
When it comes to airports, I like to play it conservative. I strictly adhere to the 2 hours for domestic and 3 hours for international flights. Now I know a lot of people who ignore that recommendation and make it through just fine, but that’s not my preference.
I originally planned to be there from 5-5:45, which would give me plenty of time to make my 9 pm flight to Edmonton. But because I enjoyed Wildlife World far more than expected, I didn’t end up leaving that park until 5 and Castles n’ Coasters was 45 minutes away.
Did I do the responsible thing? Probably not. But did I do the fun thing? Absolutely!
As expected, crowds weren’t an issue. However, finding the ticket booth was. You’d think the giant sign underneath the castle that says “Ticket Booth” would be the right place, but you’d be wrong. I was redirected into the impressive looking arcade to the prize redemption counter.
My first stop was Desert Storm. If I was only going to ride one thing, it sure as heck was going to be the effed up Hopkins looper. Because of its location, you never really hear much about Desert Storm. But I was intrigued by it.
The loading procedure was painful. The lone employee sat by the control panel with a timer before sending out a train. My watch timed the average dispatch at about 7 minutes. That’s frustrating on a normal day, but especially when you have a flight in a few hours.
In many ways, Desert Storm rode like a drunken Schwarzkopf. The first drop had some vicious, throw-you-over the seat divider laterals. And that was followed by a circular vertical loop that pulled enough Gs to almost make me kiss my own knees. But it’s the second loop that’s the true WTF.
It starts like your normal vertical loop, but then it curves sideways almost like a corkscrew. The end result is an element with as many Gs as the first loop and the crazy laterals of the first drop. The following helix is slow, but quite dizzying probably because that second loop destroyed my equilibrium.
If you want a smooth, refined coaster, Desert Storm is not for you. It’s not rough (especially since it’s lap bars only), it just has forces no normal coaster would provide. But if you like rides that are so screwed up that they’re awesome, maybe you’ll like Desert Storm as much as me. 8.5 out of 10
After my second ride, I contemplated leaving. But then a notification popped up on my phone that WestJet had a flight delay! I anxiously opened it up…and it was for all of 10 minutes.
But I sure as heck was going to use those 10 minutes.
My next stop was the junior coaster in Patriot. I have no clue if the Cardinals will ever face the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but Castles n’ Coasters is in good shape if they lose a bet with Six Flags New England. The ride itself was a bit bumpy, but the final helix was extremely tight and actually pulled some Gs.
Probably the most noteworthy things about Patriot is the all-American montage of Rambo and Fred Flintstone adjacent to the lift and the spiral staircase in the queue. 4 out of 10
SkyDiver was loading, so it would have been a sin to skip out on the Larson drop tower. By luck, my ride happened to be during sunset and it was a beautiful sight seeing the sun descend over the mountains. But that beauty was disrupted by the inevitable and terrifying plunge. This one sounded like it needed some WD-40, but it still packed an absolute wallop. 10 out of 10
I always thought Castles n’ Coasters had one of those standard portable flumes, but they actually had a neat looking custom one with some pirate theming and a tunnel. I didn’t want to arrive at the airport dripping wet, but Splashdown was worth the gamble.
Thankfully it only provided a gentle sprinkle and it had two solid drops- the first had a tiny pop of air and the second was taller than I expected. Ultimately, it was a really solid flume. 8 out of 10
Since I needed to pass Desert Storm on the way out, I couldn’t help myself and took one final ride in the back. To experience the screwy laterals in full, that is the place to ride this coaster. I ended up back in the parking lot around 6:30 and comfortably made my flight. Security had no line whatsoever and I even had enough time for a full sit-down dinner.
Castles n’ Coasters is a neat little park and I wish I had more time there. It’s not a park worth traveling to exclusively, but if you’re travels take you through Phoenix, it’s absolutely worth a stop.