WolfBobs wrote:Didn't see any mention of Valleyfair's new coaster Delirious. Did you skip it? Did I miss it? Was the line too long without a fastlane?
I had never seen such an utterly unique style of coaster and we were intimidated by it's brilliance so we took a hard pass. Maybe next time I'll work up the courage.
The second day of the trip was our Mall of America day, which might have been the day that I was most excited about. As it was a Sunday the mall was operating on limited hours from 11-7 but that was fine with us as it gave us an excuse to sleep in a bit after our long day the day before (with a 4am wake up call to catch the flight).
We arrived a little before opening and entered up on the top floor. We weren't exactly sure of the setup but basically the mall is a giant rectangle with 4 levels and the entire center of that rectangle is reserved for Nick Universe. Right as we entered we were greeted with an "aerial view" of the park and I immediately had a tiny bit of regret.
The most striking thing in the park is absolutely Orange Streak. The ride has an insanely long and spread out layout and it basically covers the entire park. Unfortunately for us it was right smack in the middle of a 2 week long refurb and while I initially wrote it off as a skippable family coaster I was sort of kicking myself for it now (though the alternative was visiting on a weekend when the Twins weren't home so I guess it was still the right call).
That aside, the place was still insane and we were pretty excited. One thing I didn't expect was that it was actually a really nice theme park. I sort of assumed that it would be a bunch of rides plopped down on concrete with no real atmosphere aside from the "cool factor" of being in a mall but that's not the case. Everything in Nick Universe is well themed and the park is FULL of trees and vegetation. Evidently the park has over 400 trees that are able to grow because of the glass roof that lets in tons of natural light. You actually get sort of hot in the sun (to the point where some of the ride ops have shade umbrellas) and the park really makes you forget that you're in a mall. The place oozes with atmosphere and I really didn't expect that at all.
After looking over the railing for a bit we finally made our way down and joined the growing ticket line. I don't know much about the park but we sort of figured the best course of action was to start out with the Intamin Halfpipe since by process of elimination an Intamin with multiple launches had to be the most unreliable coaster in the park. That said, after we got our tickets we noticed something a little odd.
We happened to glance up at the Orange Streak platform and we saw a few people walking around up there. Obviously there's nothing surprising about that since they were doing maintenance on it but everyone on the platform was wearing a bright ride op uniform and none of them appeared to be maintenance. We decided to walk over there and noticed a small line forming behind a small chain hanging across the doorway of the entrance building.
Despite the initial excitement we never saw the ride cycle and after 10 minutes or so one of the ops slowly made his way down the stairs. I assumed he was about to explain to everyone who was lining up outside the entrance that the ride was closed for refurbishment but much to our surprise he grabbed the chain, pulled it aside and we all followed him up the stairs. Holy sh*t!
We were a decent way back in the line but the train is enormous so we easily got on the first train of the day. It was a tight squeeze for me but I barely cared, I was thrilled to actually be riding it.
We really enjoyed Orange streak. There's nothing thrilling about it and if anyone shows up in this thread and complains that the ride isn't thrilling enough for them then I hope they step on a Lego because I mean... duh you miserable, awful hypothetical person. That said, it's sort of like the park's unofficial train ride. It goes all over the park and gives you great views of everything, it's a super long ride and there's this cool tunnel thing through the flume that I never knew existed. Orange Streak gets a thumbs up. I don't know why it was open but it ended up operating all day which was a great surprise!
Since we had already shot our plan to hell, we figured the next stop might as well be Rock Bottom Plunge as it was right across from Orange Streak and had absolutely no line. This seemed to be the park's star coaster as it featured multiple inversions and a beyond vertical drop so we were pretty excited at the prospect of riding a respectable looping coaster in the middle of a shopping mall.
The first thing we noticed was that the ride had an adorable entrance sign featuring Spongebob and Patrick barreling towards earth at suicidal speeds. It's kind of weird that the park has so many thrill rides that don't fit the Nickelodeon demographic at all but I mean... we're not complaining.
The highlight of this ride is certainly the lift and drop as it takes you within a few feet of smashing through the glass ceiling but at the last second you abruptly change course, plummet back towards earth and you're whole world is turned upsideown. They should call this the "Hillary Clinton Experience".
Please don't talk about politics now. It was a layup of a joke. I voted for her even though she sucks. Chill. lol
While it's easily the roughest Eurofighter I've ever ridden, it was still enjoyable. The drop is great (especially the temperature change up top) and the layout is super fun. We weren't up for an immediate re-ride but we figured we'd come back later on.
We had totally thrown this plan out the window earlier but at that point we realized that we had better get over to that launched Intamin just to be safe. As was the case with a lot of things at Nick Universe, the first thing we noticed was the really cool signage and entry area. We hadn't actually seen a train launch all day, but the gate was open so we made our way down into the queue.
Surprisingly as we approached the ride platform it was actually loading, so I guess it was just a coincidence that we never caught a train earlier. We didn't really expect much from this ride but we absolutely loved it. The cars spin a ton and the launches and pullouts of each hill are really abrupt and forceful. The cliff notes version is that Intamin made it so what should be a glorified swinging ship is somehow awesome even though it has no right to be. I guess we should have expected this.
The final coaster of the day was Fairly Odd Coaster which I believe is a Pandemonium clone (though I think it was the original). Generally these rides have super stupid layouts, but it actually makes sense at Mall of America since it's built for the spot that it's in and it's sort of cool to see one of these that's not an aesthetic abomination.
We ride Pandmonium at Six Flags New England a ton, but you almost never get the chance to ride alone. It had only happened to us once before (during some passholder ERT thing), and when we realized that we were the only two people boarding odd coaster we knew the ride was about to go bullshit.
Generally I find that these types of spinners provide a pretty reasonable amount of spinning, but if you put two people on one side and nobody on the other side that goes entirely out the window. We spun like a motherf*cker throughout the entire course and we were pretty much seeing stars when we finally hit the brakes. For a lot of people that would have been a bad thing, but we thought it was absolutely fantastic.
Alright, alright alright... enough bullshit. We got the stupid credits, now it's time to ride (by all accounts) the best ride in Minneapolis.
If I came up to you and told you that the best ride in Minneapolis was a log flume in a shopping mall you could easily explain that away as "Well, he would say that... it's a log flume and he's an idiot". The reason I was so excited for this ride was that other people were saying it... lots of other people. Aside from a few GCI fanboys it's almost unanimously considered the best ride in the state. I knew we were in for a treat.
I really appreciate the fact that the park made the decision to leave this ride alone when turning the park into Nick Universe. It's pretty much the only ride in the park that didn't get a Nickelodeon overlay but it's so great in it's current state that shoehorning some Nickelodeon crap into it would have been a really unfortunate decision.
As you enter the themed queue you feel like you've stepped into a totally different park. It almost has a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train vibe with the dark cave and interactive games that you can play while you wait. Before you burst out laughing they're not totally comparable but it's the same general idea on a "Shopping mall in Minnesota" budget.
As for the ride, holy sh*t. It's absolutely loaded with cheesy animatronics, tunnels and well themed passageways and features two large drops. I'm a big fan of the first drop as it's hidden from the loading area by a wall but every few seconds you get to hear the sound of screaming riders and a large splash just a few feet away as you prepare to board.
After awhile the ride goes up a lift and ends up level with the second or third level of the mall. It's designed so that you basically float within a few feet of the people sitting at the food court tables and it really interacts well with the rest of the mall (which is obviously by design). It's really weird how one minute you're lost in the theming and another minute you're floating by a Dick's Last Resort and a Hooters.
The flume is absolutely great and due to it's location in the middle of a mall it gives you a nice little splash without soaking you. I am kind of entertained by the thought of a ride that soaks you to the bone in the middle of a mall in a place that routinely dips below zero degrees in the winter but obviously that's not how Log Chute rolls and I guess we can all be thankful for that.
While the park is absolutely loaded with awesome rides and there were plenty more that we wanted to check out we had ridden all of the "must-rides" at that point and decided to check out the rest of the mall. Hot take: This place is huge. There are four main levels. The first two are basically your standard American mall (only huge) aside from the amusement park, Soarin knockoff, American Girl money printing factory and Lego store. The top two mix in different types of things like tourist traps and destination dining, mini golf courses, laser mazes, escape rooms, go kart tracks, comedy clubs, movie theaters and a Crayola Experience. The basement also houses a giant aquarium which offers combo tickets with the amusement park but we'll get to that later...
We took a walk through the food court and grabbed lunch at some awesome noodle place and then took a few laps around the mall so we could grab some souvenirs and walk off that lunch. In addition to the usual stores, they know their audience and have a few stores appealing to tourists looking to buy some Minnesota and Mall of America trinkets.
After hitting up the Great American Cookie Company (I can't pass one of these without stopping) and ruining all of that great mall walking we decided it was time to head down to the basement and check out Sea Life aquarium. Unless you're just rushing through I highly recommend doing this as a combo ticket with the mall as it's actually really nice aquarium. Obviously we've heard of Sea Life and I've heard mediocre reviews at best but I was pleasantly surprised. They had a lot to offer for the price.
One cool thing about Mall of America is that (again, despite being in a shopping mall) they've amassed one of the more unique flat ride collections in America and we were just as excited to hit those rides as we were to hit the coasters. The first ride we came across was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock ride which is honestly one of the strangest contraptions I've ever laid eyes on.
This was our first experience with these types of rides but basically you sit in a seat with two wings on the side that you can control and use to flip yourself as much (or as little) as you'd like. Unlike a Rock O Plane or something, there's actually a level of skill involved but luckily the mall has a video playing in the queue giving you tips on how to flip it and when to lean certain ways. We were really grateful to have that since otherwise we'd have probably been flailing around aimlessly. It's pretty involved but watching the video for a bit gives you all the information that you really need.
We're in no way experts but we managed to flip the hell out of the ride and we had an absolute blast on the thing. I know capacity isn't the best but this ride is a visual spectacle and it's a ton of fun. I don't know why more parks haven't bought these things.
Up next was Ghost Blasters, a ride that seemed to have no connection to Nickelodeon whatsoever and that I didn't even know existed before we walked up on the queue line. The ride is sort of tucked up next to Rock Bottom Plunge and we couldn't help but assume it would suck simply because there doesn't really seem to be enough room for them to fit much track inside. It may be a case of low expectations but this was a solid little shooter. I have no clue how they managed to get that much track into such a tiny space.
Next up was "Brain Surge" which was also a new type of attraction for us. I know that these things have been popping up more and more lately but this was our first encounter with one. It's basically the same concept as the old Knoebels "Looper" ride, but much more modern and comfortable. Rather than being held in by Jesus and a burlap strap, there's an actual respectable restraint which is nice because as much as I love Looper I refuse to ride it now unless it's freezing out and I'm layered AF because hanging upsideown by your upper legs by a repurposed potato sack sucks ass without a bit of padding.
That said, it also maintains the best part of Looper which is the awesomely fun concept and the incredibly precise controls. You can put yourself in any position you want, creating a ride experience that ranges from "Lamer than Dumbo the Elephant" to a nauseating sh*tshow with 50 consecutive inversions. We went for the latter (with a few quick breaks to just hang ourselves totally upsideown for 10-15 seconds at a time).
I won't lie, for the second half of this report I've been winging it a tad. We dipped in and out quite a bit checking out some of the other things the mall offered but the park is easily accessible from everywhere so we often popped in for a ride or two before heading back out. Brit loves her a good mall so I was definitely dragged into more than a few stores along the way but I guess that's more than fair after dragging her on all of this coaster sh*t.
Since we had a wristband we decided to hit the Ferris wheel and while I totally understand it's existence because of it's nonexistent footprint, this is the only ride in the park that I really consider to be a useless piece of garbage and I offer my deepest sympathies to anyone who actually spends money to ride it.
So here's the problem...
Since you're in a four level shopping mall you pretty much get an "aerial view" of the park just by walking around. The ferris wheel is right on the edge of the park and basically brings you eye to eye with people standing on the railing by the miniature golf course. The entire point of the ride is the view, and you could get the view by taking the escalator up to Dick's Last Resort. I mean... why? With a wristband I mean... whatever, but who would pay actual money for this?
After that ride we were down to our last 30 minutes or so before the mall closed so (after raiding the gift shop and buying Brit a stuffed Appa since she's the only one on the planet that liked that live action Avatar Airbender movie) we decided to hit the Avatar ride again and then finish the day with back to back rides on Log Chute.
I know I said this earlier, but these Intamin Half Pipe rides are great. Every park needs one of these.
We had about 15 minutes left at that point and we used it wisely with a few more Log Chute rides. I love flumes but it's rarely where I choose to end my night. Log Chute is spectacularly good though and while the park is full of great attractions it's really the only one that qualifies as a big-time "standout" ride. It's easily the best ride in the park (and the state) and while I'm not sure why they didn't opt to re-brand it with Nickelodeon bullsh*t, I applaud their decision.
We knew we would love the mall but Nick Universe blew my expectations away. The rides were great but the level of theming and landscaping was a big surprise. It makes you forget that you're indoors, and if it were an outdoor park I still think it would be my favorite park in the state. I highly recommend it to anyone.
After our second flume ride the park had closed up as did the vast majority of the mall. Thankfully the fourth floor and some of the third floor restaurants remained open for hours after the rest of the place shut down so we could grab something to eat before heading out. With so many things to choose from it was a super tough call...
This Margaritaville is nothing to write home about but we opted to eat there anyway to fulfill my life's mission of giving all of my money to Knoebels and Jimmy Buffet. The mall had tons of great options but I'm not too particular, not too precise.
PS: Boldikus refers to this as "The stupid cheeseburger song". I don't know why I continue to hang out with that guy.
Up next: More Minneapolis fun!