Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Updated, Part 4: Holiday World
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Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Condor » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:19 pm

I took my first trip to the Missouri and Indiana parks from June 4-7. Plans to include a few friends and family didn't work out, so I decided to just do the whole thing myself. I used St. Louis as a hub and flew into and out of there, and then branched out to the surrounding cities' parks. I actually saved quite a lot of money by doing it this way.

Originally I had intended to spend one full day each at Worlds of Fun, Silver Dollar City, Six Flags St. Louis, and Holiday World, but my plans changed and instead I had to book it from St. Louis to Kansas City the first night to catch Worlds of Fun before closing and spend two full days at Silver Dollar City instead. This only gave me 2 1/2 hours at WoF, which turned out not to be much of a problem. It allowed me enough time to get all the credits and repeat a few, but what it did not allow was time to take pictures. I took boatloads at the other parks, but for WoF I'll just skip right to the reviews:

Prowler: I was really excited to ride this after all the praise it gets on these boards and its lofty ranking in the Hawker poll. I hadn't yet been on any of what I would consider the "elite" crop of GCI's and Prowler was to be my introduction. But when my train pulled back into the station, I had a thought. It wasn't an exciting thought, and coaster enthusiasts probably aren't supposed to have these thoughts, but there it was: "Is Prowler a disappointment...?" I didn't know what to make of it. The ride was typical GCI-smooth, held its speed well, and had the trademark terrain and constant directional changes, but it was somehow underwhelming. It was more than just the complete absence of the airtime I was expecting. For some reason nothing about Prowler felt at all engaging or compelling. I would have liked to ride it more to get a better understanding of Prowler, but my time constraint limited me to only three laps. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoyed it and it is the best of WoF's coasters, but it just left me cold.

Mamba: Morgan hypers have always appealed to me. They are not as thrilling, fast-paced, or packed full of g-forces and airtime like the Intamin and B&M hypers, but I just think they're fun even they don't excel at any one thing (wow this sounds hypocritical after my Prowler review). I liked Steel Force the year before and Mamba was obviously more of the same, just minus tunnels, plus headchoppers, and in an open field instead of a ravine. Mamba is by no means one of my favorite coasters, but it was good enough to warrant a re-ride with my limited time.

Timber Wolf: Rocky Mountain or tear it down. Does nothing more for me than it does for anyone else. I've been on far rougher and far slower, but Cedar Fair needs to jump on the RMC iron horse bandwagon sooner or later and this would be a good place to start. It's still kind of surprising to me when you realize that all of the remaining Summers & Dinn woodies are in such poor standing and condition.

Spinning Dragons: I don't care much for Gerstlauer spinners. Never have, never will. But sometimes you get lucky on family coasters and receive a ride that almost threatens to change your opinion, such as the one I got on Spinning Dragons. A ride op saw I was riding alone and suggested I lean as far as I could to the left going down the first drop. I did and ended up having the craziest spin-fest I've ever had on one of these! Still not a great or even particularly good coaster, but it more than delivered on this occasion.

Patriot: Okay, here we go. This one could ruffle some feathers or draw cheers. I did not like Patriot. Not at all. I am a huge B&M fan and it kills me when I come across a ride that embodies every single negative stereotype people have about their coasters. Patriot is one of these rides. It has methodically slow pacing, does not hold its speed through any of its elements, and lacks any positive or negative forces of any consequence whatsoever. For a ride that has a similar layout and identical sequence of elements as Talon (which is no beacon for the extreme itself), Patriot feels nothing like it. Move over Silver Bullet, I have a new least-favorite invert.


Alright, and with that out of the way, I'll move on to day 1 of Silver Dollar City.
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Branson? You mean as in like, Richard Branson?
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Maybe Richard has a theme park here. Virgin Land, anyone?
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The arrival of this bad boy put SDC at the top of my list of parks to visit.
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First stop, Brownfire.
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These B&M sitdown loopers always seem to deliver. Wildfire may not be Kumba, but every element packs a punch and the first drop has hypercoaster-like airtime plus the best view from the lift hill I've ever seen.
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Fun fact: Most people don't know this, but this is the actual tank that was used to grow Joe Biden.
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I think of Wildfire as one of the last of the truly old-school B&Ms. It maintains a type of sustained intensity that feels missing from all of the floorless coasters.
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It takes the inversions much faster than B&M's recent loopers, yet none of the transitions are uncomfortable or result in headbanging. Only the trim before the cobra roll was in use. It only came on about 50% of the time and the affect was negligible.
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Wildfire is the only coaster at Silver Dollar City that is easy to photograph.
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I didn't figure out where to take pictures of Powder Keg until the second day. Loved the ride though. Both Wildfire and Powder Keg made the lower half of my steel top 20.
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In line for Outlaw Run I met a Gatekeeper shirt-wearing ACEr named Bob (sorry ladies, no pics). Nice guy though and I ended up spending the rest of the day with him. I was confused when he told me that he thought Gatekeeper was actually BETTER than Outlaw Run. But that was before he told me his license plate says "CEDRPNT." Then I understood perfectly.
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Outlaw Run is stupid good. The hype is real. Believe it. I'll be shocked if it doesn't finish in the top 10 of the Hawker poll next year.
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It does have one nasty problem though that reared its head the more I rode it. There is a sharp metal strip under the seat that dug into my the backs of my ankles every time I lifted out of my seat, which was roughly 94% of the ride. I am not a restraint complainer (Skyrush does not bother me whatsoever) and Outlaw Run's lapbars are fine, but after eight or nine rides I was convinced it was trying to gradually sever my achilles tendons. That in fact became my pet name for the ride.
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Thunderation is even more difficult to photograph than the others and this was the only stretch of track I could spot off-ride. What an awesome mine train though. It's great, and not just by mine train standards. I liked it much better than Patriot, actually.
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The Intamin of cinnamon rolls. Also better than Patriot (I kid, I kid....)
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At the Best Western. A towel... cobra?
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I booked a hotel within walking distance of the Branson Landing waterfront. Dinner and bar-hopping were in order.
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This is apparently what a waterfront looks like.
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Branson nightlife was, shall we say, uninspiring? This was bar #1.
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And moving on... Place was empty anyway.
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This joint was much better. Great beer selection and pizza. And it had actual people inside it!
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It's not exactly Wynn Macau or Bellagio, but the Branson folk seemed into it.
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Credit?
Last edited by Condor on Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:50 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Condor » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:21 pm

Day 2 of Silver Dollar City plus a bunch of Ozark Wildcat photos coming shortly!

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby PKI Jizzman » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:17 am

Great report! It's like which long long drive should I take...Silver Dollar City to ride Wildfire and Outlaw Run or East to I-305 in Dominion? Haha. Tough call tough call.
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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Condor » Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:28 am

Silver Dollar City Day 2:

I stopped by the old Celebration City site to see how close I could get to Ozark Wildcat. Having never been here prior to this trip, I never got the chance to ride OzCat, but it certainly looks like one GCI's better creations. It still seems to be in decent condition, though there are lots of plants and weeds growing up through the track. On the surface it looks like a coaster that could still be saved if another park wanted to buy it and go through the effort of disassembling and relocating it. Unfortunately I doubt the marginal cost savings over buying a new GCI and building from scratch are worth the time and effort for something that's not a piece of history like the Phoenix (Rocket).

Looking at the surrounding area I'm surprised Celebration City never caught on in the Branson market. The immediate area around the park is packed with go-kart tracks, miniature golf, a small water park, dozens of theaters, and other similar attractions. It seems like the ideal area for a small amusement park with later operating hours than Silver Dollar City to thrive.
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Celebration City's old parking lot now appears to be overflow parking for a church. The lot was open and unlocked so I was able to walk right up to the coaster.
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It rained for about 15 minutes the morning of my second day at SDC. Weather threatened all day and probably deterred the crowds from showing up. Park was uncrowded all day.
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Rain-slicked Outlaw Run with no wait to start the day? Yes please! I rode it five times while it was still a walk-on, with only my by now inflamed achilles tendons keeping me from riding it more.
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It's hard to decide on my favorite part of the ride. The overbank and barrel rolls were great, but I think I liked the twist-and-turn through the lift structure and the 90-degree wave turn the best. Both gave a variety of airtime different than anything I've ever felt.
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I bought this.
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And he bought this....
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Barn Swing was the longest line I waited in all day. All ten minutes of it!
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I rode the train to get some better photos of Achilles. By the way, I commend those of you who rode this train over and over for construction photos last year. Sitting through the part where you get "held up" by the world's worst train robbers once was tough enough for me.
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Achilles doing its thing. Neither coaster train decided to grace my camera with its presence while I rode by.
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The overbank is definitely the most visually impressive portion of the ride, but it's probably only my third or fourth favorite element on this coaster.
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Grand Exposition credit-whoring.
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The Exposition is a nice little area, but it's so off the beaten path from the rest of the park I bet many visitors miss it entirely.
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I don't usually do water rides. American Plunge looks like a solid flume though.
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Dark rides like Flooded Mine are a different story, even if they technically do take place in water.
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I'm not the kind of guy that takes pictures of my food eight times per week for my Facebook or Instagram, but the food at SDC is so good it warranted an exception. Chili cheese kettle chips for the win!
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I love the atmosphere here. Probably my favorite of any park I've been to.
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I would like to propose a trade with Knott's Berry farm: Pony Express for this swinging bridge.
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More Thunderation. Such a fantastic ride. Silver Dollar City really hit on a winning formula with this and Powder Keg as family coasters that are still thrilling enough to draw enthusiasts and thrill seekers.
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I still failed to find any photo-ops for this coaster.
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Poweder Keg was closed for the first few hours. I'm assuming the wet proxy-sensor issue I've heard about. I got another seven laps on it once it re-openend.
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I knew about the airtime, but what really surprised me were the g-forces it pulls in this spot and the low turn where it transitions to the old Premier track.
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I got plenty more rides in on Wildfire over the course of the day too. After doing everything else I wanted, I settled into a rhythm of 2 laps each on Wildfire and Powder Keg, then 1 on Outlaw Run, then rinse and repeat.
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Last edited by Condor on Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:10 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Chittlins » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:59 pm

Condor wrote:Silver Dollar City Day 2:

I stopped by the old Celebration City site to see how close I could get to Ozark Wildcat. Having never been here prior to this trip, I never got the chance to ride OzCat, but it certainly looks like one GCI's better creations. It still seems to be in decent condition, though there are lots of plants and weeds growing up through the track. On the surface it looks like a coaster that could still be saved if another park wanted to buy it and go through the effort of disassembling and relocating it. Unfortunately I doubt the marginal cost savings over buying a new GCI and building from scratch are worth the time and effort for something that's not a piece of history like the Phoenix (Rocket).

Looking at the surrounding area I'm surprised Celebration City never caught on in the Branson market. The immediate area around the park is packed with go-kart tracks, miniature golf, a small water park, dozens of theaters, and other similar attractions. It seems like the ideal area for a small amusement park with later operating hours than Silver Dollar City to thrive.


The problems with Celebration City were numerous, It wasn't open much longer than SDC so if you stayed at SDC till close, CC was nearly out of the question that evening. That nixed lots of folks that take advantage of the come to SDC after 4, come back the next day free promo. It should have stayed open to 10 weekdays and 12 Fri and Sat. but near by resort properties may have howled. Unlike the FEC's like The Tracks, you had to pay theme park admission. It should have been free to enter and priced per activity with ride wristbands. Think Kemah Boardwalk.

Herchend has shown no inclination to sell the property so they may do something one day but they pulled the plug on it quick when the economy tanked. There's still a S&S tower and a spash ride on site, too.

Whitewater is Herchend's too. It's maintained well but really lacks much of what folks think a water park charge that admission needs.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby GrapesLie » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:14 pm

I'm really enjoying this trip report! Looking forward to hearing your opinions on six flags dumping ground cough I mean St.Louis. :lmao:

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby blade1 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:36 pm

With 2 days there, did you tour the cave? It's a nice change of pace.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Shavethewhales » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:10 pm

Nice TR, thanks for sharing the photos. Still hurts to see OzCat wilt away. I didn't know the vegetation had gotten so bad. For awhile there I was holding out hope that they'd ship it to Georgia, but I think now they're just putting off demolishing it for as long as possible. Lots of awesome memories on that thing - it was even better than it looked. I would even go so far as to say it kicked of a golden age for GCI coasters...


I still haven't made it to SDC yet this year myself. It's been surreal seeing all these coaster enthusiasts flock to the park and talk it up. I'm still used to it being this hidden gem that I had to convince people to check out.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Condor » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:15 am

Thanks for the feedback! No I did not visit Marvel Cave. I thought about it, but in the end I was having too much fun just re-riding the coasters. Interesting to learn about Celebration City. Sounds like another case of poor planning/management unless it was the fault of surrounding businesses.

Onto day 3, Six Flags St. Louis:
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I passed a prison bus on the way to Six Flags St. Louis. I got scared for a second, thinking I had made a wrong turn and driven to Magic Mountain instead.
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As the saying goes, I guess quantity has a quality all its own.
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I was very curious to compare American Thunder after being disappointed with Prowler. Part of me was honestly concerned that perhaps GCIs just didn't "do it" for me.
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It was a walk-on all day and they still ran two trains! Just who do they think they are?!
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So did at least one of the two GCIs on the trip live up to my expectations? YES! American Thunder was one of the most pure fun coasters I've ever been on. Smooth, packed with air, and extremely re-rideable - everything a GCI should be.
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Like a lot of Six Flags Parks, SFStl looks really nice in some areas, but then you walk around the corner of a nearby building and wonder if you're even in the same park.
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I had no clearly defined preconceptions of The Boss. There's one side of the enthusiast community that can't stand it and constantly suggests it as a candidate for the RMC iron horse treatment, but there is also a smaller, but ardent group of Boss fans that absolutely love the thing.
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Boss is one of the most visually impressive wooden coasters there is, though you can forget about taking any worthwhile pictures of it before the return run and helix.
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My opinion of Boss takes a middle ground. I appreciated the unique layout, epic scale, and long track length with a variety of elements. It is in fact very rough, though it is not the unrideable abomination some would have you believe.
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Roughness would be forgivable if the Boss were to compensate with large amounts of airtime or prolonged laterals, but it just doesn't.
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Though a flawed coaster it is, I think Boss is a potential gem of a wooden coaster if given the right treatment. It already has a great layout, so I'd like not to see a steel i-box conversion, but instead Rocky Mountain topper track with or without new trains, or a Gravity Group re-tracking with Timberliners. Either would improve the comfort of the first half and allow the second half to run trim-free and maybe unleash some of that airtime and laterals I can sense lurking within.
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Ah yes, the ubiquitous, white-painted, gracefully-profiled, Americana-themed, 1970s wooden roller coaster.
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I have always had a fondness for John Allen coasters and as his ultimate design, Screamin' Eagle was almost a grail of a coaster for me. Allen's rides are all a little too tame to hold elite rankings in polls these days, but they are still a lot of fun when running smoothly.
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Screamin' Eagle doesn't give much air until the last few hills, but it has held up well over the years and feels a half-notch more intense and ambitious than Allen rides like Great American Scream Machine or the Kings Island Racer.
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"If you wish to challenge the King... YOU'LL HAVE TO GO THROUGH ME!!!!!!!!!"
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Ninja was closed too. Damn it, don't they know I'm credit hunting?!
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Superman: Tower of Astro World.
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Do the Sky Screamers run different programs depending on the park? It might have been just me, but this one seemed much less thrilling than SFGAdv's.
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Batman doing what Batmen do.
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I wondered if the mirrored layout would throw me off at all, but it felt just as natural as all the others. I know even steel clones can vary a bit from one installation to another, but for some reason I really prefer this one and SFOG's.
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I think all Batman: The Rides are known for their long, redundant queue lines and SFStl's has to be the most hilariously redundant of all of them. It starts here...
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Then goes here...
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And then here...
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here....
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and then to this indoor section before finally proceeding up to the station.
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At SFMM it seems like every kid under 15 (or under 25 if they also won a basketball) wears one of these capes. Here though, I hardly saw anyone with them. Good....
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"Excuse me, is his cape available at Six Flags St. Louis???"
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I generally am not a huge fan of shuttle coasters. Only Schwarzkopf shuttle loops rank highly on my list. I do remember always liking Speed: The Ride though, so I had some hope for Mr. Freeze.
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Having not previously been here or SFOT, I did not ride Freeze before the Reverse Blast so I cannot make a comparison. I did like it though and was surprised by the g-forces it pulls.
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Wow! I had no idea SFStl was so dedicated to theming in their DC Comics Plaza section. A Shazam/Captain Marvel themed flat ride?! Sarcasm aside, I am impressed Six Flags would dig so far into the obscure depths of the DC universe to name a scrambler.
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Oh cool, I bet this area is appropriately well-themed.
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Nah, it just has this.
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Pandemonium was okay, but I did not get the kind of ride on it I had on Spinning Dragons a few days earlier.
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Let this photo be an example in contrast between the atmosphere here and at Silver Dollar City.
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Finally got the Mine Train credit. Hard to get excited about this one after riding Thunderation for the last two days. Not much to see here.
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Ninja eventually opened up too. It was not as bad as I feared and only the sidewinder inversion was objectionably painful.
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It was Boomerang's media day, so no credit for me.
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I got a few more rides on Screamin' Eagle and Boss. Boss was annoyingly running two trains but cycling one of them empty all day despite having the longest line in the park.
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Finished the day with an American Thunder marathon. It briefly (for a day) made my top 5 wooden coasters.
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I really liked this coaster. I wish I had time to ride it more. It also convinced me that I must not have experienced Prowler at its best.
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I stayed in downtown St. Louis for the night, so of course I had to see the Gateway Arch.
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The immediate area around the arch looks pretty nice.
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I work for Hyatt in Huntington Beach, so I got a night here free at the employee comp rate.
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I call this the "Star Trek" shot.
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I went out exploring downtown at night.
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St. Louis is not a bad city, but I tried to make it look nicer in pictures than it actually is.
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It's not quite San Francisco, but there are lots of, shall we say, "non-home owners" in St. Louis.
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Hookah lounge credit #24! It did not make my top 20.
Last edited by Condor on Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:25 pm.

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Re: Photo TR: WoF, Silver Dollar City, SFStl, Holiday World

Postby Koasterking48 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:46 am

^ I understand ya about St Louis. It's been improving over the past ten years though. East St. Louis is still very bad on the other hand.

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