Another great chapter! Thanks for the detailed report. Glad you were able to get some sweet Sheikra action in. I've got a Naples trip coming up and have been really tempted to find a way to squeeze in a Tampa stop..
Chi-livin. @adultswim @cartoonnetwork | World traveler, concert attendee, salsa connoisseur, comic reader, and theme park nerd. Snaps: photoboothezizi
coasterbill wrote:First off, I want to give a quick shout out to jedimaster1227 for his great Howl O Scream review. I actually pulled it up while in a ride line earlier and it was our primary tool in determining what houses to hit and what houses to skip. We didn't agree on everything but that's pretty much a given since haunt mazes are incredibly subjective to begin with and a lot of it has to do with luck about being in the right place at the right time for some great scares.
I'm glad you enjoyed the report! Like you said, houses are really subjective experiences and very much about timing and who is in front and behind you in line. I've had great runs through houses where I've been startled frequently and others where the people in front and behind have been targeted, leaving my to only witness their scares. Howl O Scream relies less on timing-based scares (in my opinion), especially when compared to houses at other haunts (like Saw at Horror Nights) and I truly find that I get more scares out of this event than I do at others. Howl O Scream is just one more great reason to enjoy Busch Gardens during the year... Truly one of my favorite parks around.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
DavidB wrote:Excellent report! I enjoy the amount of detail you include for the parks you enjoy. Especially the ones I haven't visited, such as BGT. I remember Kumba being one of the first coasters that really intrigued me that wasn't at Six Flags Over Mid America or Cedar Point. Glad to hear it's still as awesome as it looks 20+ years later!
bert425 wrote:great report, and brought back really fond memories of BGT
Dombot wrote:Awesome report of my home park, Bill.
PKI Jizzman wrote:Another great chapter! Thanks for the detailed report.
jynx242 wrote:We're headed to Howl-O-Scream next week and this makes me even more excited!!
Thanks Bill for another great report
Philrad71 wrote:We're hoping to maybe get there this December...fingers crossed!
Awesome! There are awesome deals on airfare to Florida the first 2 1/2 weeks of December. You should definitely go!
ytterbiumanalyst wrote:I mean, I was already sold on Busch Gardens, but this report tells me I must do this. Will definitely target Florida in the next 2-3 years.
You too. Go. It's awesome. lol
CaptainUnknown wrote:It's awesome Trip Reports like this that piss me off that I live 20 minutes south of BGT without a car.
Does Tampa not have buses? lol if not I'd start walking (though not after dark, that area around Busch Tampa... yeah )
Canobie Coaster wrote:As tempting as it is to visit Disney, I'm going to visit SeaWorld and Busch Gardens since I've never visited those two parks on family vacations. I'm really looking forward to the B&M collections at both parks.
That's what I like to hear. I can't speak to Animal Kingdom (I've never been there, though we should be making our first trip in January) but I'd much rather spend a day at Busch Gardens than the other Disney parks. Between the amazing coasters, awesome animals and great beer selection / policy it's pretty much the perfect park and easily my favorite park in Florida.
We almost always skip Disney on our Florida trips, we'd never skip Busch Gardens. Also...
bert425 wrote:Try to catch the Cheetah Run demonstration (they do it once a day, at 11, I believe).
... listen to this man. lol
anonymouscactus wrote:Love the photos and .gifs! The photography in your posts is ever-improving. Keep up the awesome reports!
I really appreciate that! While nobody specifically commented on the photo quality it's something I've been working on because I've never been satisfied with it. I'm no photographer and my phone is pretty limiting since it sucks at taking night shots and sh*t's itself every time you attempt to zoom but I'm trying to get better.
The biggest change is that I'm trying to take more photos now (I never used to take enough pictures). Now even if 75% of them suck, I can easily dump them and use the other 25% and still have a decent amount of photos while creating the illusion that I'm taking less-sh*tty photos.
Photos might range in quality depending on how much of a rush we were in at the parks (in English class they call that "foreshadowing" of the next chapter. lol sorry in advance) but in general it's something I'm working on.
Alright, onto the next (crazy) day! This report should have a slightly more reasonable length, but we'll see how that goes.
After a long day, night and early morning at Busch Gardens we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little the next day. We didn't really have much planned, but it actually turned out to be an insanely jam packed (and great) day.
Our hotel was in Tampa and we had a flight out of Orlando Sanford at 3:30, so our only real plan was to head to Kissimmee and hit Mine Blower, go to Walgreens and pick up a Sun Pass, head to the airport, land in Trenton around 7:00 and make the 2 hour drive home. It sounded simple, but as usual we shot that plan completely to hell and managed to f*ck everything up.
Our drive to Fun Spot was uneventful (other than the fact that it took place in a Camaro) and we arrived a little after opening ready to check out the new hotness. As soon as this ride was announced I predicted that it might actually be the best new coaster in America this year but once it opened I saw nothing but reports of the ride being rough and underwhelming so I didn't really know what to expect.
When we pulled up it was hard not to be impressed. The last time we were at the Kissimmee Fun Spot it definitely felt cheap and run down compared to it's sister park in Orlando but with Mine Blower, the re-routed entrance through the arcade, the cool new flat rides, the updated Old Town and the way things were moved around it felt like a brand new park.
This ride is incredibly imposing. Photos and renderings make it seem like a very small little ride but it seems huge in person.
We had already ridden the other coaster and we didn't know what to expect from Mine Blower so we opted for the pay per ride option rather than the wristband. Paying per ride at Fun Spot gets expensive fast and the $9 price tag definitely seemed a little steep but we knew what we were getting into so we happily ponied up the cash and made our way over to the coaster.
When we arrived at the station we were greeted by a complete walk on so we made our way to the front row, took our seats and ended up getting our own private train (which seems to be a Fun Spot tradition for us). While waiting to dispatch we couldn't help but be impressed with the level of theming in the station. It's nothing to write home about really, but it was a hell of a lot more than anyone could have realistically expected from Fun Spot. That was definitely a cool, unexpected plus.
Ready to have our minds (and mines) blown.
The ride starts out with a slow, but incredibly tight left hand turn before beginning it's climb up the lift. Despite the negativity our anticipation was building to pretty impressive levels as we ascended the lift and saw the awesome looking inversion and great looking drop looming ahead of us. We didn't really expect it, but visually Mine Blower is a really awesome looking ride and if the ride was even half as awesome it looked we knew we were in for an awesome experience.
Once you drop off the lift, you make another really sharp turn to the left before plunging down the drop (which provides a nice little pop of floater air). I normally never do this on a wood coaster I haven't ridden before, but as we descended the drop and approached that insane looking barrel roll I couldn't help but throw my arms in the air against my better judgement. I know everyone says it's a rough ride but that inversion looked so awesome that I totally ignored their warnings and figured I'd throw caution to the wind.
The barrel roll was actually a really fun element. There's not a lot of force to it but it's a pretty amazing sensation and a super fun, "hands up" moment. So far the ride was amazing, but I saw some laterals up ahead so I pulled my arms back down and braced for the inevitable roughness I'd heard so much about.
After the barrel roll the ride went through an incredibly tight and forceful turn. I braced for roughness, but it never came. Huh...
After the pull-out it went up another hill, then into an awesome double down that provided great airtime. It was at that point that I determined that once again, I should just ignore everything enthusiasts had to say. So far the coaster was absolutely awesome and it didn't show any signs of toning down it's awesomeness any time soon. The ride veered left, then into an absurd 90 degree overbank and then proceeded into a complete blur of awesome laterals and laugh inducing floater airtime hills. It's a much longer ride than you would think, and I remember being amazed at how much track they managed to cram into such a small space.
The ride is a ridiculous lateral fest with tons of turns that feel way too compact for a wood coaster but despite all of that, it's incredibly smooth and enjoyable. I can't for the life of me understand the lackluster reaction to this ride. When we hit the brakes, Brit and I both looked at eachother in amazement that this kick a** ride actually existed at Fun Spot Kissimmee.
We've been lucky and we've done a lot of traveling this year. We haven't ridden all of the new for 2016 American coasters, but we have ridden InvadR, Mystic Timbers, Joker at Great America, Joker in New England and Hydrus and I can confidently say that I prefer Mine Blower to all of them. This little motherf*cker packs a punch and nobody should let the complaints about roughness deter them from riding it and making their own decisions. Personally, we thought it was amazing. Congratulations to Fun Spot on such an awesome coaster!
After exiting the ride and coming down from the high caused by that mind blowing Mine Blower ride we made our way back to the car and realized it was only 11:30 and we still had a decent amount of time before our scheduled flight time. We considered heading back in for another ride, but the price was a bit of a turn off. We threw around a few other ideas, trying to think of things right off of I-4 or on I Drive like the Orlando Eye but we weren't in love with any of them. Then, at almost the same time we had an epiphany. We had an idea for an hour long pit stop that was right off of I-4 (and I mean RIGHT off I-4), awesome and (for us) totally free! As an added bonus, I wouldn't have to do much convincing...
We're back! Hey, remember what I was saying about taking better pictures? Yeah sorry. lol We were in a rush, what do you want from me?
The timing couldn't have been more perfect. We had a 45 minute drive to the airport so we knew we needed to be on the road by 1:00 so we'd have a little over an hour and a half to drop the car, get through security and wait for our sh*tty plane to inevitably be delayed and make all of that rushing pointless.
We proceeded through the parking booths, were directed to the preferred parking lot (This is probably the first time that free preferred parking was actually helpful since we were in such a rush) and found ourselves walking through the gate at 12:00 on the dot with a One Ocean show scheduled for 12:30! With only 2 shows scheduled for the day that was an amazing stroke of luck so we decided to make our way over, grab some pretzels for lunch, watch the show and then head out. I was a bit worried that this plan wouldn't work as Brit would have to use every ounce of will power she had to avoid the pull of the Shamu Store on the way out but, I reasoned that if she did fall victim to the Shamu store, Allegiant would probably be delayed anyway so maybe we'd get lucky.
I normally hate structure at theme parks, but this time we knew we needed to stick to the plan. We were confident in our will power, and while it wouldn't be easy to avoid all of the awesome stuff on the way to Shamu stadium we were grown a** adults and we needed to be responsible. We walked past through the gates, made the right hand turn, successfully avoided the gift shops and...
HOLY SH*T THE LAST 3 ROWS ARE EMPTY!
Lol I have no will power, none. Also, I had no time to wait for a train. Sorry guys.
Manta. Why did it have to be Manta? We had just ridden Kraken on Friday and I knew I could skip that one without issue. I loved Mako, and I knew the short wait would be tempting but I had already told myself to fight the urge and skip it since we got tons of rides on Friday. But now, the coaster that had tortured us all day on Friday by cycling hundreds of empty trains but never opening was tempting us with a walk-on. Manta. The best coaster in Orlando... sorry Shamu, but this was a risk I had to take.
We entered the awesome queue, resisting the urge to stop and check out the cool animals along the way (is there a better queue anywhere than Manta's) and made our way up to the station, crossing our fingers for an empty station all the way up the stairs and... YES!
Not only was the station relatively empty, but the back row line nonexistent! Not only were we actually going to get to ride Manta this trip (something I never thought would be possible on Friday), but we'd get to ride in the best row! Woohoo!!! Still in disbelief over our amazing luck, we walked through the gates, put our stuff in the bin, took our seats and after flipping up to the familiar "woosh" sound effect, we rolled out of the station and made our way up the lift hill of the best coaster in Orlando. So far, our SeaWorld visit had been nothing but rush, rush, rush but the lift hill gave me a few moments to bask in our good fortune and really take it all in. I was going to get to ride Manta and Brit was going to get to see Shamu on a day where our only plan going in (other than one Mine Blower ride) was to sit in an airport terminal waiting for our sh*tty plane to show up. Holy crap!
As always, the ride was amazing. I love everything about this coaster from the awesome lift and drop to the great, forceful first half to the awesome, well themed finale racing by waterfalls and over water. Manta is perfection, and in my opinion one of the most underrated coasters anywhere.
As we flipped back to a sitting position, we only had about 15 minutes until One Ocean, but we booked it to the back and made it with time to spare... even grabbing a pretzel and a drink from the awesome pretzel place on the way!
We entered the stadium and sat down in the reserved seating section (again... I love these passes) and it couldn't have been 30 seconds after we sat down that the music started, the whales came out and (like clockwork), the waterworks started for my significant other.
Normally I'd take a bunch of photos, but thanks to Brit my phone has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records for having more Shamu photos in one place than anywhere else in the world so I decided to shoot a quick video and then sit and enjoy the show instead. We were good on Shamu photos at that point.
For whatever reason, that Shamu show seemed to be better than most. They seemed to have more whales participating than normal and the crowd seemed to be especially energetic and I'm sure those were the main reasons why, but the fact that I spent a lot of the show basking in the fact that we managed to pull this crazy pit stop off may have also contributed in making it seem especially awesome.
Once the show ended, we booked it out of there. It was definately the sunniest and hottest day of the trip, and as we briskly made our way to the front of the park we couldn't help but laugh at the fact that the day where we'd have to get from the back of SeaWorld to the parking lot in 10 minutes would be the only day of the trip where there were absolutely no clouds in the sky to stop the glaring sun from accompanying the insane Florida humidity with no relief of any kind. We weren't running, but we were walking about as fast as we could walk and we were dying by the time we finally reached the car. Oh well, no guts no glory I guess.
Thankfully the drive to the airport was uneventful, and after saying a bittersweet farewell to my beloved Camaro we entered the terminal and an hour or so later boarded our first Allegiant flight in seemingly forever that was actually on time.
When we stepped off of the plane in Trenton, we were greeted by the brisk, almost refreshing fall air. We love Florida, but we both agreed that a nice cool night with 0% humidity was a welcome change and thanks to an unlikely gift from the Allegiant gods, it wasn't even 7:00 yet and we actually landed early!
We had already had an incredibly full day. Brit noted on the plane that technically if you started at Midnight when we were still at Busch Gardens, in just one day we would have been to three amusement parks, flown from New York to Trenton and done about 4 hours of driving. That was already quite a bit, but (and this right here is why Brit is perfect for me) it wasn't lost on either of us that we now found ourselves in Trenton an an absolutely beautiful fall night and our GPS telling us to take 195 to the Jersey Turnpike to get home. That's an intersection we knew all too well, and one that normally requires about 2 hours of driving to get to... but now we had to be there just to get home from the airport and that meant we were only 10 minutes away from a potential bull ride.
We openly discussed whether or not this was a crazy, stupid idea and we decided that it was. It was a tough call and as we found ourselves on 195 approaching the exit I had a decision to make. Do we keep on driving, or do we get in the right lane, exit on to the Turnpike, get home at a reasonable hour and ensure that we would arrive at work the next day well rested and ready to tackle life's responsibilities.
LOL F*CK THAT!!!!!
It seemed totally surreal. Just a few short hours ago we were standing in an incredibly hot and humid theme park in Florida looking at the best B&M flyer in America thinking about what a crazy awesome day it was. Now, we were standing in an incredibly cool and borderline cold theme park in New Jersey looking at the sh*ttiest B&M flyer in America and thinking about how that day just got even more awesome.
We made our way up to the gate, noting the terrible Fright Fest decorations and thinking about how funny it was that we went from arguably the best theme park haunt event in America to undoubtedly the worst in the same day. Despite the fact that Great Adventure does usually draw the short straw when comparing it to the other parks we visited that day, it does have a few things going for it. One of which is a Skyway that's not closed for maintenance, and the other is (of course) one of the best wood coasters in the world.
While we were prepared to ride El Toro and leave if we ran into typical, hellish Fright Fest crowd levels, a quick check of queue times revealed that all of the major coasters were posting reasonable 10-20 minute waits so we decided to adjust our plans a little.
Riding Nitro when it's absolutely freezing outside has become somewhat of a tradition of ours. lol
Nitro's line was only to the bottom of the stairs so we couldn't resist taking a ride. While it wasn't that cold out (high 50's probably), I was still dressed for Florida so as we hopped in line for the back row we couldn't help but have flashbacks to power riding Nitro during Holiday in the Park. It feels like we only ride this thing when we're cold as sh*t.
"Six Flags' Most Explosive Coaster" on the way up to... explode... or... freeze... or... I don't know
As always, Nitro delivered the goods. There's nothing like riding Nitro at sunset with a view from the lift that looks like it's straight out of a postcard followed by an awesome, airtime-filled journey through the woods. The ride was absolutely great, and our train rolled back into the station to the sound of applause.
I love this ride.
After our amazing Nitro ride we decided to hit El Toro to end the day with a bang and then finally head home. Of course sticking with the day's theme of riding rides that had eluded us all weekend my plan for getting to El Toro had nothing to do with walking through that scare-actor selfie sh*tshow at the fountain but you guys already probably figured that out.
Hey look! We're doing the least surprising thing ever!
Skyway had about a 10 minute line, but obviously that was no deterrent. After not riding the one in Tampa I definitely wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to take this one for a ride, and despite the fact that it meant freezing out a**es off Brit was on board since it meant we didn't have to fight through the sea of humanity near the fountain taking selfies with the park's full cast of scare actors (which is like 2 scare actors if you're keeping score at home).
The ride was great as always, and always provides a cool view during Fright Fest since the park is enveloped in a sea of fog. They may not have the budget to hire more than 2 scare actors for the entire park but when it comes to buying fog machines Great Adventure makes it rain.
"Biggest Fright Fest Ever" = Someone got us a gift card to Party City so we bought another fog machine
Once we descended into Frontier Adventures... sorry I mean "Bone Butcher Territory" we made our way through the hordes of bone-butchering scare actors and over to El Toro. Most people didn't laugh at that joke, but anyone who's been to Fright Fest did because you all know that "hordes of bone-butchering scare actors" is code for "LITERALLY NOT ONE F*CKING SCARE ACTOR IN ALL OF BONE BUTCHER TERRITORY. NOT ONE".
Unfortunately for us Ryan was busy living it up at Canada's Wonderland, and the Toro crew was totally mailing it in without their fearless leader so thanks to atrocious dispatch times they managed to create a bit of a line. Honestly, Brit was probably kind of happy about it since it meant by the time we got off the ride it would be late and I wouldn't annoy her about riding Kingda Ka on the way out (because despite the b*tching from most of the enthusiast community Kingda Ka is basically the north pole and I'm convinced I must have a magnet up my a** because I can't get enough of that thing).
Once we reached the station, we found our way to the magic seat and a few minutes later we were on the ride. What's there to say about this ride that hasn't been said? It had been an amazing day and an amazing weekend, riding amazing coasters at some of the best parks in Florida but we can happily say that we saved the best for last and we're insanely lucky that it's only 2 hours from our house.
El Toro was the perfect way to end an absolutely amazing weekend and an absolutely awesome and insane day.
I normally don't do this in my trip reports, but because it's so f*cking all over the place here's our ride count for the day (starting at midnight)
Montu 1 Mine Blower 1 Manta 1 One Ocean shamu show (not a ride but whatever, f*ck it) 1 Final Destination, the ride (an Allegiant airlines adventure) 1 Nitro 1 Skyway 1 El Toro 1
Great report! That's a pretty crazy day. Usually if I'm combining parks into one day; it's smaller parks of the ilk of Fun Spot, Clementon, etc. It's impressive you were able to get 3 major corporate parks into a day schedule.
Also fyi the link underneath the topic didn't seem to work for me.
Just finished your BGT report. I had to read it in two sessions. BGT really is a great place, and someday I will definitely plan a Howl-O-Scream trip. Every coaster there is awesome, and the animal exhibits are great. I even have friends still working there.
I thought Mine Blower was great too and I can't believe people are calling it too rough. Wimps.
Your spontaneous trips to SeaWorld and SFGAdv sounds like something I would do. Definitely approve. Once, I did SFMM and SFDK (7-9 hours away by car, depending on traffic) and rode one coaster at each in the same day since I'd be driving by both and why not?
Also, Britt has the same El Toro sweatshirt I have. I'm starting to think she's my spirit animal.
On my office wall right next to me as I type this.
Itty bitty orca, blue whale, and bottlenose in the window
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