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Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 12:23 pm

Hey everyone!

A while back, I asked Michael, "Where do you want to go for a vacation in 2018?" Given that he has a thing for visiting presidential gravesites and homesteads, he immediately said, "Lincoln's Tomb in Springfield, Ill...and is there any way that we could tie in Branson?"

Lincoln's Tomb was the last of the four assassinated presidents of which Michael had not been to their grave, so I knew that it had been a bucket list place for him for quite some time. So in doing that, we also knew that theme parks were going to also tie into this trip because well...we just love theme parks!

So when he said Branson, I perked right up, because we all know what famous park resides there...plus they just happened to have a new one of a kind coaster there named Time Traveler. So hell yeah I wanted to go to Branson! :b


Given that I knew Michael would also want to see a couple of shows while there, I went online and booked tickets to see a Patsy Cline tribute concert as that is his favorite singer of all time.

For you young-un's that have no idea who Patsy Cline is, she is a country crooner that blazed a path for female country singers like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton (of course, you know HER! ;-)) and Tammy Wynette. While I am not the biggest fan of country music, I do appreciate her music and she really does have an incredible voice. This impersonator was really good too!


Giving in to our "Let's cram six days into five", we also scheduled in a stop at the St. Louis Gateway Arch. After a couple of cocktails at our hotel the night before, I used my Club TPR membership to go online to Tickets At Work and pre-purchased last minute tickets for SfStL for the following day - a park that neither of us had been to. Such a beautiful park and one that is one of the more under-appreciated parks in the chain due to it not having a lot of the record-breaking coasters like other SF parks have.

Overall, we thought operations were wonderful, the park was super clean and most of the employees were right up there with CP's, SDC or Dollywood... I shit you not, people - this is a really nice SF park!!!


After that, it was off to Branson for three nights. Two days at SDC and one afternoon spent sight-seeing and going to the aforementioned show.

After our first day at SDC, we even got to hook up with a fellow TPR member, Andrew (better known as ytterbiumanalyst) for a couple of pints at Branson Landing that evening. Thanks so much for coming down from Springfield, Andrew...it was a real pleasure meeting you!!! :)


We also got to see another show that we booked last minute at the Welk resort (where we were staying) called 'The Million Dollar Quartet' which was much like a documentary of the only time that Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis ever performed together. The show was tight and featured a lot of their top hits. The Johnny Cash impersonator was the highlight of the show for me though - this guy NAILED the look and voice of this musical legend!



Once we left Branson, we then headed to Sandusky in hopes of me riding the new hotness. Given the "incident" and one train operations, I knew that it was going to be a super long wait. But despite that and the horrid weather, I did get to ride it Friday night (May 11th)...and I will go on record to say that it absolutely lives up to the hype!

All I can really say about Steel Vengeance is to go to CP and ride it for your yourself! It shot up to my new #1, but others may feel differently when having their own experience. Although I can't really imagine someone having a negative or even mediocre feeling about the ride after riding it.

The ride is relentless from start to finish, but butter-smooth and just a ton of fun to ride with your hands thrown in the air - don't wait, book your trip to CP now!!!


While it did turn out to be a bummer because Michael was basically worn down and the weather was absolute crap, CP went above and beyond in our checking out of the Breakers on Saturday versus Sunday. They refunded the cost of the room, our tickets, our FL+ and even the ECV that I had rented for Michael!

We were both blown out of the water as we really had already understood the rules and had accepted that we would lose everything that we had booked. The fact that we never asked for a refund for anything but my FL+ ticket (given that they were refunding them because of the SV incident), just reinforced why CP is my #1 park.

The addition of SV is just a bonus for a park that literally has everything that one could want, crammed onto a peninsula outside of a small Ohio city. I can't say enough about the friendly staff at this park - they truly are one of the best (if not, THE best) staffed parks in the world. Truly amazing customer service goes a looooong way in my book!


So with that said, let's begin our journey, shall we?
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Given that we were headed to Springfield, it made perfect sense to spend the first night in Springfield...Ohio!

We drove through not one, not two, but four Springfield's on this trip. And we didn't see the Simpsons once!

But when we saw this place, we knew where we were having dinner - the rays of light beckon us! ;-)
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Sure, we missed Cinco De Mayo by one day, but it didn't matter because the food was still good and the beer was cold and that's all that matters, right?
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Fast forward to Saturday afternoon and we made it to our first destination!
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The street going to Lincoln's home was beautiful. Just imagine carriages going down this street back in the day!
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Here it is in all it's grandeur - Lincoln's home!

The home actually had several remodels and additions done during the Lincoln's tenure there.
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Inside the home. You were allowed to take pictures, but you got a flogging if you touched the walls (original wallpaper)!
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This was a replica of the vehicle used to bring Lincoln's body home from Washington.

The funeral caravan passed through a small town near where I live - Westfield, NY.
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And here is the tomb - quite impressive!
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Inside the tomb. Lincoln is actually buried below in a sealed tomb due to some idiots trying to rob his grave.

Yes, there were idiots back then too!
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Now that is one happy guy right there...another destination checked off the bucket list!
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Fast forward to Sunday morning and we are in St. Louis at the famous Gateway Arch!
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I have to admit that handicap accessibility wasn't the greatest here, but they were working on a new entrance plaza that mentioned being more handicap friendly.

SfStL coming up...thanks for reading!
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Last edited by Philrad71 on Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:08 pm.

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 1:24 pm

Such a great start for a wonderful report! =) Those pictures were amazing! Can't wait for the next trip reports!

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 1:34 pm

without even reading the caption, my first thought at the picture by the Lincoln statue was: Dang, Michel looks SO happy.

:)

can't wait to read the rest of your report. . did you go up into the Gateway Arch? It's something i've always wanted to go do, but simply haven't found enough to do there to justify a trip to St. Louis for us.

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 1:38 pm

^^ Thank you!

You do some great reports yourself! :)


^ Thanks Bert!

We couldn't get up in the Arch because the website said that you needed to be able to walk 90+ steps and that it wasn't wheelchair accessible. Michael wanted me to go alone and I was tempted, but the line was insanely long just to buy the tickets.

Actually the entire area around the arch is not handicap friendly, but it looks like that will change once the new part opens. I was bummed that we couldn't even go into the museum or the gift shop without a ticket, so we didn't get our fridge magnet or Christmas ornament like we always like to get when we visit places. :(

But it was cool to see it close-up and at least walk around it and underneath it...it's a very impressive structure!

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 3:11 pm

Ah, yeah, I can understand their restrictions regarding going up to the top of the Arch. Even though they take you up in a sorta elevator, the possibility of it breaking down means you'd have to traverse stairs for an emergency exit. Plus, those little pods they use have 5 seats, but dang if you can barely fit 3 adults in there comfortably.

I wonder when all this work on the Arch is gonna finally be finished. It's been going for quite a while now.

Apparently once everything has been finished, the museum will once again be free admission (I guess stuff requires a ticket right now because of the renovations...?). Sounds like what they're doing is gonna be pretty cool once it's done; they're even gonna have a replica of the top portion of the Arch with live webcam views in the windows for people who can't take the elevators/pods up to the top!

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/hotlist/gateway-arch-museum-visitors-center-to-open-in-time-for/article_9222e6c1-b789-54ac-93af-241ea9abeccd.html

Loved your pics of Lincoln's Home and stuff; can't wait to see your Branson pics!

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 3:15 pm

Time for some Six Flags St. Louis!!
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Who doesn't get excited when they see a view like this unfolding before your eyes?
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Batman is one of the coasters right at the front of the park. Here is the obligatory 'Six Flags' pic as well.
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You can't tell from the photo obviously, but they are running Batman as Namtab for the month of May!

So this was my first coaster of the day and holy sheet was this insane going through the circuit backwards!

I normally don't get disoriented on coasters, but this thing was crazy intense. If you get a chance to do one of the Batman rides backwards - do it for an experience that you won't soon forget!
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I was going to try Ninja despite everyone saying what a POS it is, but it was down when we walked by it and I never made it back to that side of the park.

Andrew said that I definitely didn't miss anything. lol
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Another ride that I didn't mind passing on.
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Another ride that I chose to pass on. I normally don't mind boomerangs like some folks do, but the line was fairly long and I was looking more forward to riding the woodie (Screamin' Eagle) in the background there.

For some dumb reason, I didn't get any decent photos of this classic icon. Luckily, there was only a two train wait for the front car so I was able to nab that. Screamin' Eagle is a classic out and back woodie that sits pretty secluded on it's own in the woods. While there was a little jack-hammering at the bottom of the hills, it gave some really fun floater air at the tops of the hills.

This could be a really interesting ride at night. Maybe not quite on the level of the Beast at night, but I bet that it's still a neat experience.

Anyone else note the grammatical error on the rules sign where riders board this coaster? ;-)
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The Shoot the Chutes ride had water flowing, but was not open. Another down ride was the Superman drop tower, which was a shame as that was one that I definitely wanted to do.

I love me some Intamin drop towers and I am sure the views from the top would have been stunning- given it's location at the top of the hill.

I saw it testing at one point, but never saw riders on it.
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I see you over there, my pretty - the coaster that I was the most excited to ride!!! :-)

Part 2 of SFStl coming soon - thanks for reading!
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Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Sun May 20, 2018 3:21 pm

tinaalsgirl wrote:Ah, yeah, I can understand their restrictions regarding going up to the top of the Arch. Even though they take you up in a sorta elevator, the possibility of it breaking down means you'd have to traverse stairs for an emergency exit. Plus, those little pods they use have 5 seats, but dang if you can barely fit 3 adults in there comfortably.

I wonder when all this work on the Arch is gonna finally be finished. It's been going for quite a while now.

Apparently once everything has been finished, the museum will once again be free admission (I guess stuff requires a ticket right now because of the renovations...?). Sounds like what they're doing is gonna be pretty cool once it's done; they're even gonna have a replica of the top portion of the Arch with live webcam views in the windows for people who can't take the elevators/pods up to the top!

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/hotlist/gateway-arch-museum-visitors-center-to-open-in-time-for/article_9222e6c1-b789-54ac-93af-241ea9abeccd.html

Loved your pics of Lincoln's Home and stuff; can't wait to see your Branson pics!


Thanks for the nice comments and for posting that link - a very interesting read!

We were wondering when the renovation would open as the signs said opening in 2017, which contradicts the article stating that it was set to open in 2015. :lol:

I figured that they must have hit some red tape with funding or something.

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Mon May 21, 2018 5:51 am

Great report! I'll be reliving your same trip minus the history next weekend. I will be doing the Arch though and your report affirms my decision to buy tickets in advance online. I also have the 8 am tour which I feel like people won't want to wake up for.

Shocked (and happy) to hear that SFSTL is that friendly. Looking forward to seeing more on their other two woodies.

Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Mon May 21, 2018 3:04 pm

^ Yes, definitely pre-purchase your Arch tickets online to be safe!

In terms of the other two coasters, let's see what I have in the vault here...
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Wait, I thought we were in St. Louis?

Check out the wooden version of the Liberty Bell!
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"All around a water tank
Just a-waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home
Just a-waiting for'n the rain
I walked up to a break-man
Just to give him a line of talk
He said, "if you got money
I'll see that you don't walk."
"I haven't got a nickel;
Not a penny for to show."
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum!"
And he slammed the boxcar door
They let me off in Texas
A state I dearly love
The moon, the stars above me...and what else?"
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All aboooooard!

Here you can see Ninja's drop as well as the mine train. While I didn't ride Ninja as mentioned, I did ride the mine train.

Fairly standard Arrow mine ride, but I did like the little surprise at the end of the ride.
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Here is a better shot of the lift hill
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A little more of Ninja as well as some train theming.
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The water park had not opened and the pieces for the new Pro-Slide were still in pieces in the parking lot.

Glad to see that they are sinking money into a new slide, because the water park looked a little run-down and in need of some TLC.
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Batman...or at this time, Namtab.

Love how close to the ground this gets.
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Loop De Loopeeeeee!

The train passes right around Batman at the front of the park.
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Several rides in one shot
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Now on to those two other wooden coasters...

This is American Thunder (aka Evel Knievel). To be honest, this was the SURPRISE hit for me at this park!

While I knew Mr. Freeze would be awesome, I am a bit hesitant about knowing what to make of any wooden coaster that isn't named El Toro, or was built by RMC, but this coaster delivered the goods!

Surprisingly, I found this coaster to be butter smooth and the 14 crossovers and 16 hills were tons of fun!

I ended up riding this later in the day as we were winding down. Had I known how awesome this coaster was, I would have hit it first instead of Batman and taken multiple laps!

There was literally no line for this coaster and I got a walk-on in the front seat - I will say that a front seat ride is highly recommended!
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A twisted mess of track and for a coaster that only boasts an 82' foot drop, this bad boy packs a pretty nice punch of smooth laterals and pops of airtime...loved this coaster!
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Now for coaster #3 - The Boss.

I guess that this is the only photo that I grabbed of it, and maybe that was a premonition before I rode it.

Going up the lift I thought that the layout looked really cool and that this might be right up there with Ravine Flyer 2.

Wrong.

Oh man was I sooooo dead wrong.

This was probably one of the roughest coasters that I have ridden outside of Son Of Beast and Hurler. Good God mang, this made the old Mean Streak feel like Steel Vengeance in comparison.

The first drop was great and the revamped part at the end was decent, but in between I was holding on for dear life hoping that I didn't rupture my spleen or another major organ.

This is one of those "ride it defensively" coasters - so be warned. My recommendation for Canobie Coaster would be to wait it out for the front seat and let us know if it's any better than Satan Seat #3.

Ouch.
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We ended up back at the original station at the Super Loop/Ring of Fire/Rolling Thunder/Diablo/Drunk Puking Hangover...or whatever the f&ck this one is called. Was tempted to ride, but decided to skip it.

Thanks for reading...more SFStL soon!
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Re: Phil & Michael's 2018 Adventures

Mon May 21, 2018 6:00 pm

Glad to hear American Thunder is still smooth! Some of the GCIs I've ridden haven't aged too well like Thunderhead (still rideable but not exactly smooth). As for the Boss, I'll come prepared. Was the new turn at the end smooth at least?
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