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Gazza

Month in North America

42 posts in this topic

Hey everyone,

I'm back from a month in the US (With a brief amount of time in Canada) and this was probably my biggest theme park trip ever. Ended up riding 90 roller coasters that were new to me, and a total of 14 parks, including:

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Great America

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Knotts Berry Farm

Disney California Adventure

Canadas Wonderland

Darien Lake

Waldameer

Cedar Point

Kings Island

Kentucky Kingdom

Beech Bend

Holiday World

Rainbows End

I got a Cedar Fair season pass, and a Six Flags standard pass, which worked well for my purposes.

In particular, the early entry and free parking offered by the Cedar Fair one made things much easier.

Another little tip, but get an AT&T "go phone" sim when you arrive. $60/m.o, 2.5GB, no contract, they happily sell to non US residents, they even use a test sim at the shop to make sure it will work in your handset, made things a heap easier in terms of being able to keep in contact with others, look stuff up, use google maps navigation etc. Way cheaper than using roaming, and less bothersome trying to find wifi.

I probably won't write full blow by blow trip reports, but rather stick to the rides.

Discovery Kingdom

Quite a nice park, and in some places looked as well presented as Busch/SeaWorld (Shocking, I know!). Getting there you can take a ferry from Downtown San Fran to Vallejo, and then a bus to the park. Be aware the last 30 mins of the trip is a slow crawl up the river to Vallejo. If you've ever used the ferry to Parammatta you'll know what it's like. Getting home I used a bus from Vallejo to Cerrito Del Norte BART station, which was slightly quicker.

First up did Superman Ultimate Flight. Better than the maurer skyloop. Because it "loops" twice you don't keep covering the same section of track over and over, it feels more varied and unexpected, launches are good too.

V2 Vertical Velocity was my first impulse coaster. The LIMs sound terrible, like an old washing machine, but pretty cool ride with a powerful launch. The way the track barrel rolls over the entrance plaza is a nice touch.

Roar was a mixed bag. Some parts ran better than others since its part way through retracking. Many GCIs feel the same, but it was a good length ride, and the crews were really fast, getting the one train onto the lift before the 2nd was back in the station.

Kong, well run of the mill SLC without a helix, still beats you up so I'm thankful Arkham has the good trains.

Medusa was a typical solid B&M floorless, a lot of fun in the front seat with your legs stuck out in front of you.

Cobra was this Zierer kids coaster with a hillariously long train, it didnt go very high, and the steel support structure looked like it was made out of sticks, but still decent fun.

The Boomerang, well they're one of the few ride types that makes me slightly queasy, so once was enough.

The animal exhibits were nice enough, with the exception of the seal one with its crappy seaside cardboard cutout backdrop. They were scattered around the two ends of the park, and had everything from dolphins, sharks, elephants, tigers and even one of those humid butterfly enclosures.

The park had coke freestyle machines in a couple of places, basically its a postmix machine with a touchscreen with 20 or so products on the main menu (fanta, sprite, cokes, Mr Pibb, minute maid, Hi C, Dasani, powerade etc) picking a product then brings up a submenu with multiple variants of a product, Eg picking coke brings up the lemon, lime, cherry, vanilla, but also unique ones like orange coke. I liked vanilla orange hi C myself.

I did the Skyscreamer, a star flyer type ride (first for me), not particularly scary or thrilling, but a nice view. I liked how during the cycle when it reaches the top it raises and lowers a few meters a couple of times so you get the sensation of spiralling up and down.

Highlight of the day was waiting for a bus at the end of a day when a triple car rear ender happened. Relatively low speed knock between the first two, but the 3rd, innatentive driver came through and really caused a mess.

Great America

Again, great park, and the place was immaculate. They play the US national anthem at opening time. Again, getting there is easy. You take Caltrain from San Fransico to Mountain View (Home of Google......The train was full of Silicon Valley employees, and I felt like the only one without a laptop) and then switch to the VTA light rail system which drops you right out the front of the park (And the new 49ers stadium).

Only main fault with the park was the utter lack of shade on most ride queues.

When I got to the park 3 other people were there, initially a worrying sign, but turns out it wasn't that much of a busy day. It did fill up as the day went on.

Gold Striker wasn't ready for opening, so I started off with Flight Deck . An early B&M inverted and I loved it, only 3 inversions, and it was a sharp ride that was to the point and did what it needed to do. I like helixes over water, so that feature was a good one.

Next up I did Demon, an older arrow looper. Starts off with a tunnel before the lift, before a drop, a couple of loops, a couple of corkscrews and a helix to the brakes, as i soon discovered on this trip a lot of the older arrow loopers are quite similar, and only feel marginally more involved than Sea Viper, it was "okay".

Next I went back to Vortex, a stand up coaster, and B&Ms 2nd coaster ever. Had heard these old B&Ms were rough as guts but I was fine, great little ride which had quick changes of direction, making the most of the stand up position.

Psycho Mouse is a rare example of a mouse coaster by Arrow Dynamics. Its interesting to see how the track and support style lives on today in El Loco coasters like Green Lantern. Decent as far as mouse coasters go.

After that i jumped on the sky ride (Which is named either Delta Flyer or Eagles Flight depending on which end/themed area you board in) and got some photos.

I then started working back again, and did the Flying Eagles flying scooters ride. Despite my best efforts, all i could do was get them to twist a bit, and couldn't "snap" them.

It was hot so Rip Roaring Rapids seemed like a good plan. One of the better rapids I have been on, with a couple of quasi waterfalls on them. A giant water spray akin to fire hydrant covers the full width of the final lake before the final conveyor, and this will soak you if it cycles on when you are riding. it did for me, lucky i have a waterproof phone ;)

You can have a lot of fun on the 25c coin operated geysers in the viewing area, and the staff member in the nearby watch tower eggs people on, put about $3 through, worth it.

Gold Striker was excellent and running really well. Probably my favourite GCI, doesn't let up from start to finish. A cool feature is how after the first drop it races at full speed along side of the queue, station stairs and load area, pumping people up for the ride.

I had panda express for lunch (This is one people should try when they are in the US, their flagship "orange chicken" lives up to the hype), and it was funny to be the only person eating with chopsticks.

Grizzly is a mirror clone of Wonderlands bush beast. didnt run as catastrophically rough as people say it does, but overall it was nothing great, very shallow drops and wide turns. I'm sure if you missed Bush Beast you could come and ride this, but you'd probably come away realizing how far things have moved on from it.

Woodstock Express is a really old kids coaster from Intamins early days, nothing really to say about it.

Loggers run is a lengthy flume ride, including a bizzare section where it just does multiple u turns on an elevated section a good 15m in the air. Capacity was huge on this one due to a revolving station and twin final drops (boats alternate between the two so they can drop independently without risk of a rear ender), after the drops the flumes merge together for the station.

The ride offered some good views of the Boomerang Bay water park, though I didn't bother going in since all the slides I've done elsewhere (WnW Sydney having everything will do that lol!)

I also did Drop Tower, similar to space probe except it had 6 drop tracks, and no theming. Good, but hey, we're lucky to have a really tall one like Giant Drop aren't we?

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After doing a few more days in San Fran, and visiting family in the central valley of California (Including seeing the spectacular Sequoias and Kings Canyon) and Santa Barbara it was down into LA.

In a big day I did both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm.

I was with my mum for this part of the trip, we set off from Santa Barbara early, and I got dropped at SFMM before opening for a quick 4 hour visit while mum did her own thing. I headed straight to Full Throttle . Good ride, but I probably would agree with criticisms that it doesn't really do enough for such a huge coaster...also, where is the hardcore pumping soundtrack in the station?

I got a seat near the back, which works well for the backwards section since you get more of an inversion. Anyway, you launch into a giant loop, around a couple of turns, twist over and dive loop into a tunnel (music here at least!), stop, launch backwards up into the dive loop (sensation is like on buzzsaw when you go backwards), then fowards out of a tunnel onto a hill built over first giant loop (no airtime at all) and straight into the brakes. I reckon after that final hill it could have done a few more turns, but meh.

Didnt re-ride because it already had a massive queue by the time I exited.

Next I reaquaninted myself with Tatsu, fantastic as always.

After that I did Superman: Escape From Krypton, none of the cool launch tunnel theming like TOT 2, but at least it launched properly, going to the red zone of the tower.

I did a few laps on Green Lantern via the single rider line. Still one of my favourites. The sensation on the drops is so unique, because you are dropping, but moving fowards and backwards, so you get flung forwards as well as airtime.

Typically on Zacspins the final hill causes the car to do a somersault, on one ride it didnt and instead stayed upright, creating this powerful surge of airtime at the apex.

I did Ninja, it had barely any queue, and barley any trees on mountain (all just logs lying on the ground) due to the recent accident. Bizzarely, we got sent on a 2nd lap because the operator didnt stop us in the station properly. yay.

I was going to attempt to re-ride collosus before it closes/ gets the rocky mountain coaster treatment, but a full queue made me give up on that idea quick smart. They did have a cool dispay at the entrance of some 70s stuff to commemorate the ride like a station wagon with timber panneling and a coaster car you could sit in. They also had a moose holding a sign saying "Sorry, parks closed".

Did Apocalypse instead. Curious that all the terminator theming was removed except for the terminator robot in the gift shop at the exit. Still running well and as exciting as ever. also nice that the fire effects are still going.

Lex Luthor Drop of Doom had a perfect single rider queue, I walked into it, and literally a group was boarding with 7 people, so straight on. Single rider is great on this one too, because you basically always get an end seat. I preferred this one to Giant drop because the harnesses are less obtrusive, it gets to the top quicker, it has a nice little audio spiel from lex luthor, and it sways a lot more when Superman launches. I mean a LOT more...I think the fact it's not a solid tower means a lot more give, so you noticeably sway for a solid 10 seconds after the launch.

With that, I had run out of time. The drive down to Orange County took a couple of hours due to frequent pockets of congestion. After checking in we headed to knotts, for me it was free of course, for Mum just $35 due to it being after 4pm.

I always have a knack for coming to KBF on stupidly busy days and this is my 2nd time back.

Sorry to dissapoint you DjRappa but completley missed the Calico Mine Ride and Log Ride with their new theming, as well as Ghost Rider (But to be fair have done Ghost Rider before, and i was doing other good Woodies on this trip to make up for it)

I started off with Pony Express. More comfortable than motocoaster, and roughly as exciting, except for the final turns which had a bit of a nice twist to them. The theming/presentation was very solid.

Next we did the observation tower, and Mystery Lodge. Mystery lodge is kinda a glass projection/peppers ghost type show with a live actor, and is bloody impressive considering its age. I liked how at the end the storyteller just dissapears, leaving his walking stick just standing there, which prompty falls over, unsupported.

Next was Montezoomas Revenge. Surprisingly powerful launch for an older ride and pretty good overall. I like shuttle loop coasters anyway :)

Next was Coast Rider a Mack Mouse with a triangular layout and the big drop at the start of the layout. It just seemed to run really slowly though and wasn't particularly exicting. The queue was taking forever too, and it was nearing 10pm, the parks closing time according to the website, a staff member informed me that they were staying open till 11....phew!

Boomerang was another one I had missed on my last visit. Lucked out with a front row seat, which I find more tolerable (coupled with the cool night air), it ran pretty well too.

I hotfooted it to Jaguar! which thankfully was a walk on. The Mayan temple theming was well done actually, with the skulls and so forth. The coaster itself I guess was pretty middle of the road, but it did cover a lot of ground and intertwine with other rides quite well.

Phew, so I've finally been on all the coasters at Knotts, time to get on Xcelerator after almost 8 years. Still fantastic, It has the better launch and top hat than Superman, but I probably prefer Superman overall.

Anyway, awesome feeling soaring over the park at nearly 11pm with everything lit up.

Only one train running, which was surprising for summertime.

I got off the ride at 10:56, which was enough time for me to sprint to Silver Bullet. If I had a couple of extra minutes I would have sprinted to GhostRider instead, but i didn't want to risk it and be shut out with no final ride.

Ended up being on the 2nd last train of the night in the back row. Still a pretty cool inverted coaster and more disorientating at night, and it has a helix over a lake <3

Anything you would love to see move from the American parks over here?(rides, operations etc.)

Definitely would love to see the fast operations...Even Six Flags seem to have come good, but Cedar Fair parks were excellent.

Ride wise, well I certainly was very taken by the B&M wing rider, despite what some enthusiasts think of them.

Edited by Gazza

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Next morning was another early one despite getting home at midnight...DCA opened at 8am, and not 10am as I had thought for the past couple of days. Thankfully I had double checked when arriving back at the hotel room, so adjusted the alarm accordingly.

We stayed just around the corner from Disney...an easy walk. I found the typical hotel breakfast hard to stomach....uber sweet danishes, that awful american bread that is too sweet and isn't soft. (later in the trip I just got bananas if they ever had them at the buffet)

Anyway, DCA is well and truly a full day/evening park now, and I had an excellent time. I think the only rides mum didn't go on were Tower of Terror and California Screamin. Didn't bother with a park hopper (and I'd probably advise against it these days, just stick to one park per day!) Didn't do DL this trip, wasn't sure if I could justify the extra cash given i only had one day, and the only new thing for me was the lift hill projections on big thunder.

We were there prior to opening, ready for the "hose drop" for carsland. Walking down the pathway we veered left thinking the set of ropes led into carsland, turn out it was Fastpass distribution for Radiator Springs Racers...Winning!

So we grabbed those and joined the standby queue. I was expecting the standby queue to be super amazing like other E Tickets (Indy, Test Track, Everest), but really I didn't think it was worth stressing about, and in any case you can see what it's all about from the SR/FP queues, basically you just wind through 3 cabin type buildings, one of which has bottles built into the walls, there are a few bits of auto themed stuff like number plates stuck on the walls. Not saying it was bad, it looked excellent, but you don't miss anything critical if you dont go that way.

Ride was a lot of fun, I did feel that the "dramatic waterfall reveal" in the outdoor section at the start was a bit forced, but otherwise lots of fun, and the animatronics are so true to the movies with their movements. the race section was loads of fun, particularly the airtime hills.

The ride is a capacity monster too. a car goes through every 10 seconds, meaning a bit over 2100 people per hour. That's like 30,000 rides in an operating day!

I did 4 rides over the day (last two on single rider), only bummer is I got ramones paint shop all 4 times (Mum managed to get Luigis tyre shop once) which was perhaps the only downer of the day.

Luigis Flying Tyres was a walk on. To be honest I preferred the queue theming on this to Radiator Springs Racers. Ride was a bit of fun, albeit pretty gentle. We still did manage some good hits on others. Controlling it isnt too hard...you can tell straight away if the disk under the tyre is bottoming out so you just lean back slightly to hit the sweet spot. Later in the day we re-rode and snagged a tyre at the start that was away from everyone else so we could just attempt to cross the arena and try and see how fast we could get.

Next up was Soarin' over California, which mum got a lot out of since she's seen most of the state now. As a bonus, I got a top row ride for the first time.

They've Pixarised this ride...now the video in the staging area showing the californian places you'll be flying through has Planes characters buzzing about.

(I noticed Redwood Creek Challenge Trail has Russel from UP in it too)

We realised we probably should go get our World of Colour faspasses, and ended up in the blue section, which is the bridge from little mermaid to paradise pier, plus some waterfront areas facing the lake perpendicular to the bridge.

Next was Toy Story Mania. I still had a lot of fun on this one, but I can only dream of getting those scores of over 500k that you see. First round i got 80k, on a 2nd ride in the evening I googled how to do well, and got 104k, despite completley mucking up on the buzz lightyear ring toss. In the final game where you just shoot as hard as possible i managed to blister and rip a layer of skin off my finger in about 30 seconds flat.

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Lunch was at the Chinese place in the pacifc wharf area and we got a salted caramel sundae from the Ghilradelli chocolate place.

Stupidly didnt have a fastpass, so waited 40 mins for Grizzly River Run. Suprisingly for summer they were running a pretty dry mode so the only people who got wet were those who were backwards at the bottom of the drops. I still love the theming on this one, and spotted a few details id never seen before. On the top of the mountain is an artists easel where a hiker has obviously been painting grizzly peak.

Mum wanted to see Alladin, and I wanted to get the thrill rides knocked off, so I did TOT with a 13 minute wait. I was treated to seeing Disneys new fastpass rules in action. Previously you could return any time after the start of your return window (Eg if it was 2:00pm to 3:00pm you could use it say at 7:00pm if you wanted)

Previously I used to build a deck of FPs and then use them as needed.

Now you cant, and you have to come back in the designated hour (Meh, not bothered to be clear)

Anyway, someone was returning and the FP CM wouldn't let them in, and just immediatley binned the FPs....hahaha! The guest continued to argue, the CM offered to call a manager, meanwhile i kept walking thinking to myself that they should just join the damn 13 min standby queue.

Anyway, I still love this ride, and don't think its really that much of a lesser ride compared to the orlando version. Oh, and we got estopped after the first drop and a couple of girls got removed from the ride, not sure why though? Anyway, all that happened is we sat at the top for a couple of minutes, lowered slowly to the load area, then just restarted.

I did both Francis Ladybug Boogie because I've never been on a Zamperla demoliton derby...it was alright, then I proceeded to do Maters Junkyard Jamboree which is huge. Two sides to the ride, and each has 4 turntables that the vehicles lock and unlock from, so during the cycle do do a double figure 8 turn ( like this: oooo ) , In addition, the seats are sprung behind the pivot point, so you get a bit of side to side flinging like a classic whip ride. coupled with the theming and a unique song by mater on each cycle the ride is a real treat, and tops Disneylands famous teacups.

Also did a lap via single rider on California Screamin', still one of my favourite coasters, but man the new loading area spiel is irritating! "I know you’re in a HURRY, HURRY, HURRY, but for your SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY, make sure you pull down on the shoulder restraint until it locks in place. Please keep your head against the headrest and remain seated with your hands, arms, feet and legs inside at all times. And do me a favor….waaaaatch your kids!"

After that we did Monsters Inc ...First time ive not walked onto it...15 min wait. It appears they've ditched the CM at the end who voiced Roz and gave a personalised ribbing to each car, now it seems to be a few generic ones. Am I right on this?

Next we did the two 3D shows, Muppetvision and It's Tough to be a Bug, both great to escape the heat. Was muppetvision the first proper theme park 3D show or something? I get the feeling the way the dialouge was it might have been, especially since it was launched in 1991 in orlando.

Tough to be a bug was good, but unfortunatley our bench didnt have its poker or that thing where you feel the bugs underneath you working, so didnt get to see

mum jump.

Little Mermaid had a short wait and it was quite nice, my favourite part was the colourful and extensive "under the sea" song scene with various sea creatures dancing in sync.

We finished off with the non swinging seats on Mickeys fun wheel. I do wonder why they went to the expense of building it below water level?

With the park done we ducked back to the hotel room to get the car packed, grabbed some dinner, and then re-entered the park to do some re-rides before World of Colour. This is when i did my last roll of the dice ride on Radiator Springs Racers trying to get the other side of the storyline.

Got back to my show position with 5 mins to spare. World of Colour is a real treat, and there is so much to it you dont realise, not just the fountains, but projections onto the Cali Screamin loop, the fun wheel, the streetlamps in paradise park, laser shape projections, and the "glow with the show" mickeys ears that people can wear.

During the day they also run mini fountain shows, where goofy appears and paradise park, and conducts a muddled symphony of fountains.

With that the night was over....hard to believe people in Disneyland were still gonna be going for a couple more hours!

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Next we did the two 3D shows, Muppetvision and It's Tough to be a Bug, both great to escape the heat. Was muppetvision the first proper theme park 3D show or something? I get the feeling the way the dialouge was it might have been, especially since it was launched in 1991 in orlando.

Tough to be a bug was good, but unfortunatley our bench didnt have its poker or that thing where you feel the bugs underneath you working, so didnt get to see

mum jump.

Captain EO dates back to 1986, but I think it was pretty limited in its inhouse special effects.

Totally jealous.. sounds like quite a trip.

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good write up gazza. sounds like an awesome trip. I Dont know how you remember so much in detail.

One question about the at&t sim card, can you buy it at lax airport? I'm hoping to get one there so I can use my phone as a GPS

Edited by sidekick

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We finished off with the non swinging seats on Mickeys fun wheel. I do wonder why they went to the expense of building it below water level?

My first thought was probably a height restriction in OC, but then my brain when 'duh... this is Disney'... my next thought is probably the aesthetics - they wanted the fun wheel, and they wanted screamin, but at level, Cal Screamin would be not even half the height of the wheel. Looking at some of my pics from different angles, the wheel has a nice balance in comparison with the other rides surrounding it - it doesn't dwarf anything nor does it seem too big.

Probably not a big consideration but because the loading area is ramped at each end, if they had built it on the same level as the rest of the park, the loading ramps would be a couple metres above that...

I'm sure someone else has wondered the reason - time for some googling!

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good write up gazza. sounds like an awesome trip. I Dont know how you remember so much in detail.

One question about the at&t sim card, can you buy it at lax airport? I'm hoping to get one there so I can use my phone as a GPS

Not sure if they have a shop at LAX...but there are plenty around in most places.

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After LA I flew up to Toronto to visit a mate. Midweek I made the trip out to Vaughan to visit Canadas Wonderland, which involves taking the TTC subway to Yorkdale, where a half hourly Go Transit bus connects to the park. The bus trip involves travelling along the famous 16 lane wide highway 401.

You get dropped off at a stop which is right at the bottom of Levaithans first drop, I headed straight for the entrance and got ready to be on the first wave of guests on Wonder Mountains Guardian, since it is the newest ride. It is a roller coaster/3d shooting ride. Each train has two 4 person cars, and you sit back to back. You leave the station inside a mountain, go up a lifthill, down a small turn and dip, and then back into the mountain, where the ride vehicle turns sideways, and essentially you run along a very long projection screen and shoot mythological targets, it did have a cool feature where you felt like you were going downhill and sinking into the water because as you moved sideways the image you were looking at had you running down a shore and sinking into the water. The final scene had a wrap around projection where you'd encounter a dragon. Suddenly, the track section freefalls (Similar to Verbolten or Th13teen) and you are at the end of the ride. Felt like a real mixed bag...The drop at the end kinda made the ride for me, since I didn't even know it did that, but otherwise the ride did seem a bit poorly put together compared to say justice league...you could see a "flyscreen" pattern on the screens because the projectors were so low quality, and the theming itself was pretty bland in parts (a lot of black painted walls: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Wonder_Mountains_Guardian_Station.jpg )

My strategy for parks like this is to get low capacity stuff done first rather than rushing with the masses to the big coasters (Everyone seemed to go for Levaithan) so I got The Fly (A large version wild mouse identical to Coast Rider, but running at a proper speed...decent) and The Bat (Another Boomerang) out of the way.

Next I headed around to Time Warp. My first encounter with a Zamperla Volare. The big issue with this ride is that unlike most flying coasters, the turns aren't sweeping, but rather very tight and sudden, and because your head sticks foward out of the car/harness unsupported you do cop some whacks. Only bothered to do it once.

Sledgehammer and Windseeker both were working. I had read that both rides have a tendency to be unreliable, so I did them both in succession. Windseeker is basically a 90m high spinning chairs ride which offers a nice view of the park, pretty pleasant, but not that scary actually...Guess I've done giant drop too often.

Sledgehammer is a one of a kind "Jump 2" ride by huss. Imagine little pods of 8 seats that face inwards that are are at the end of an arm a bit like what you see on an earthmover. The ride has 6 such arms around a central tower. As the ride runs, the tower spins, the pod spins, and every now and then the arms all lift up and suddenly you are 20m in the air, a short time later they all drop down again. The lifting and dropping isn't quite fast enough to cause airtime, and thankfully the spinning isn't too fast to cause nausea. A cool, unique ride.

The park actually has a really big selection of full sized flats, including a top scan, a gyro swing type ride, and a bizzare top spin with two parallel gondolas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riptide_(Canada's_Wonderland)

Backlot Stunt Coaster was next, previously it used to be themed around the italian job movies (this video probably explains what is supposed to be going on pretty well

), so you speed through some LA themed environments like an aqueduct, past freeway signs, and around police cars. Sadly, the theming all seemed a bit vauge (Eg the bit where you supposedly dive into a subway tunnel felt more like driving under a picnic shelter)...plus none of the fire effects worked. As a ride, it felt like a slightly more forceful version of motocoaster.

Next I did Skyrider, an old Togo standup coaster which just had its closure announced for September. Better than I thought it was going to be given togos reputation. The tiny hills gave good airtime, which is a bit scary on a standup because it meant your feet lost contact with the floor!

Mighty Canadian Minebuster was a large wooden coaster, decent enough actually, though not particularly crazy.

Behemoth was my first B&M hyper coaster, and pretty darn good. On the hills you don't really get flung upwards out of your seat like on Superman escape, but its more like you float out of your seat all the way down the drops on the bigger hills till the train "catches" you at the bottom. The final few hills did lift you up a bit. Overall, solid, but I think B&M do a better job on their other product lines.

Flight Deck was on the way across the park, with no wait at all. The theming looked decent, with bits of queue in hangars, spinning radars, plant rooms themed to look like armourys and and so forth, but the ride was the roughest SLC I've ever done.

Lunch was at "Pizza Pizza" which is a chain everywhere in Ontario. North Americans seem to love their plain cheese/plain pepperoni pizzas...felt like I was the only one eating supreme. Also got some garlic sticks, which literally had

I jumped in the fast moving queue for Levaithan. 3 trains were running, and they had a count down clock in the station, and they were actually telling guests "this train leaves in 20 seconds" to encourage them to get on and off quickly.

Perhaps the oddest suprise, but a 300ft high coaster doesn't seem as big as you'd think as it would be. Not that it matters, it's an excellent ride and just belts along at high speed from start to finish. The airtime hills are similar in feel to the ones on behemoth, but it had more high speed turns. The ride has the odd feature of a brake run that starts 20m in the air and slowly slopes down to the station for a good 100m of track. In effect, it works like a Mid Course Brake run and enables them to run 3 trains, since one can be waiting to enter the station, and the other can be progressing down the enormous main brake. I do reckon they could have at least put in one last hill, and a shorter brake however.

Dragon Fire is another samey samey arrow looper, really just like Sea Viper, with an extra loop, and a helix before the brakes.

Wild Beast was next. I thought it was another near clone of Bush Beast, but turns out it had a few more (sharper) hills. Rough as guts basically and seemed to bounce up and down the whole time.

I had a go at the Boo Blasters on Boo Hill Sally Dark ride. This one seemed insanley hard compared to JL, and other ones I have ridden like Laser Raiders (Legoland). I literally got one or two targets for the whole ride, so I'm not sure how kids are supposed to have any fun with it. Despite being cardboard cutout theming and UV lights, the aesthetic seemed to work well overall....quite cartoony.

Ghoster Coaster is a kids coaster similar to WLs Beastie. Fun enough, the main highlight was the pre-recorded song they'd play on the lift hill.

Silver Streak is another kids coaster, this time a clone of Escape From Madagascar at Dreamworld.

I was in the area so kind of just wandered into White Water Canyon rapids ride. Mildly wet compared to most North American rapids rides, which probably is fine for the Toronto climate. Don't recall any noteworthy features on this one.

Next was Vortex , a really good arrow suspended coaster that climbed the back of the mountain before turning around, dropping off the edge and doing a really rapid paced layout that got the cars swinging quite forcefully. Probably the best suspended coaster I've been on. When you hit the final brakes the whole brake/transfer track support structure visibly shakes back and forth for 20 seconds for so.

The 3rd ride in the mountain is Thunder Run , a Mack powered coaster that does a couple of outside helixes before spending the rest of the time inside the mountain, passing an awful dragon model and a few coloured lights, but pretty fun overall, and you get a couple of laps for your efforts.

With everything I wanted to do out of the way I did a few more laps on Behemoth before calling it a day.

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Holy shit gazza mate, do you ride rollercoaster's and stuff for living. Like is it a job or just a really awsome hobby cause riding "90 roller coasters" and going to over "14 parks in a mouths time" would be like the Ultimate dream for me, glad you had wicked time and your reviews are awsome keep the reviews coming throw and where about's will your next trip be too . ???

And what would of been the ruff total cost to

Do all that in a mouths times including airfare tickets, fuel and stuff??

Edited by Jakev8

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Not a job by any means. The past couple of years I've not done any travel due to finishing my masters so I was overdue, but otherwhise, every 18 months I'll do a big theme park trip focused on a particular area. One year it was a few parks in the UK, another year it was Orlando etc. Been doing it since I finished school. Often I'll be crafty about where I schedue stopovers so I can tick off particular theme parks in a convenient manner (When QANTAS started flying to Dallas-Fort Worth I used that as an opportunity to visit Six Flags Over Texas for the New Texas Giant, for example, or when I went to the UK i flew Emirates so I could check out a water park in Dubai)

In terms of cost.

Flights - It varies, I paid $1700 return to SFO with Air NZ, have paid more in the past, sometimes really good sales are on and you can pay a lot less.

Hotels - I normally stick with basic chains like Super 8, Days Inn etc, which seem to be around $80-$90 a night, but in some metropolitan areas even basic hotel chains can be very expensive. I had a few nights staying with friends/family on this trip (about half all up), so I think my total spend was somewhere around $1600 (San Fran hotels are expensive in particular)

Transport - I managed to pay about $550 for a week with a hire car, that said it was a one way rental and unlimited Kms which puts the price up. Otherwise I'm pretty fine with getting around on public transport, which might be $10 a day max in most US cities. Using public transport does need a little more pre planning in some cases.

Food - I'm terrible and have a month straight of "cheat meals" when I'm in the states and tend to just try whatever fast food chain I come across (Not entirely true, at most I can tolerate doing this for a week at most), but food is cheap in the US, even a sit down meal seemed to rarely be above $20 total for me.

Theme Parks - Doing the Six Flags parks is cheap since a season pass for one park gets you into them all across the country...$80. The Cedar Fair owned parks have similarly priced annual passes for parks across the country, but I splurged $200 on the platinum pass so I could get early admission privelleges at Cedar Point and Kings Island, and so I could get free parking.

I think the trip cost $5000 roughly all up.

Edited by Gazza

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So after a few days in Toronto I was up at 5am to take a commuter train to Burlington and then a coach onwards to Niagara. The highlight of the trip along Queen Elizabeth Way was seeing in the other direction the dump truck that had wedged itself into the support structure of the Burlington Skyway Bridge the night before due to the driver being drunk and having his tipper raised, and the kilometers of banked up traffic trying to use the exit before the bridge. We just sailed through.

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/polopoly_fs/1.1941193!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg

Upon Reaching the city of Niagara Falls I begun what I call the 'death walk', carrying my luggage on my back, and my laptop on my front. The bus terminal is about 2km away from the falls, and the length of the falls is another 1.5km long on top of that. My shoulders were aching due to the cumulative walking I did that morning.

I passed the fallsview indoor water park (part of the casino) which looks quite odd due to being a base of 7 levels of car parking, with the water park sitting in a glass dome on top. In the distance I could also see the space shot towers at Marineland (Didn't go here either, so no Dragon mountain for me)

Viewing of the falls is definitely a lot better on the Canadian side, you get a great front on view of the american falls and the canadian horseshoe falls. Didn't go on any of the boats, or the "behind the falls" tour through the tunnels due to limited time, but the view from the top is spectacular as it is.

I continued to lug my bags across the rainbow bridge and crossed into the US border on foot, which was a pretty quick process, and got a taxi to Niagara-Buffalo airport, where my hire car was waiting. $80 all up, and I passed my 3rd park without visiting that day, Martins Fantasy Island.

After getting my car, and stopping via a "Tops" supermarket, and then navigating some country roads to get back I arrived at Darien Lake at around 1pm, which is only about 40km out of Buffalo, and 70km from the falls. Darien Lake used to be a Six Flags park, and seemed fairly well presented (mostly). The water park area looked popular too.

First off the rank was OCC Motocoaster , Zamperlas version of a motorbike coaster. The harnesses basically work exactly like the ones on Shockwave/Redback, but with a couple of paddles that close to stop your thighs moving back. Fairly comfortable. I wasn't expecting much from the ride since all it does is just zigzag downwards in a repetitive figure of 8, but it had lots of little s bends that gave tiny pops of air on the banking, and was zippy overall, so it wasn't bad.

Next I did the Boomerang with virtually no wait (Queues were pretty short, and they have a policy that if you ever experience a wait of over 45 mins you can go to guest services and get a front of line pass for something else.

The main motivation for my visit was Ride of Steel. Funny to see how it was blatantly still Superman themed, just with that part of the sign removed. Just before boarding they decided to close the ride to fix a broken seatbelt buckle (they had closed the seat, but apparently they were supposed to close the whole row, but had no signs to do that, so I got to sit back for 10 mins and watch the mechanic do it, before sitting himself in the seat alone and going for a test ride.

I did a ride in the front and the back. It has a huuge first drop straight into a left turn, before a giant hill which doesn't really do much, you then go around a massive 540 degree helix at ground level, a long flat section another average hill, and then a 450 degree helix. The whole middle section of the ride seems a bit odd since it just seems to burn off speed and use up track. Things become good at the end with the last 3 hill, which deliver strong airtime just like Superman.

I think I've come to the conclusion that small airtime hills work better than big ones.

Predator was next, which on the surface looks like it should be a really good wooden coaster, with lots of hills mixed in with turns. But it was rough as guts, and not in the fun way like Ghostrider, so once was enough.

I continued heading around to Viper , an older arrow looper which had a loop, batwing and a couple of corkscrews, and finished off with a helix that got tighter and tighter, (through a tunnel). A bit rough, but nothing too terrible.

I was about to board the aptly named Mind Eraser suspended looping coaster, but it decided to break down as I was about to board due to a loss of air pressure, so I got some garlic fries for lunch, rode the ferris wheel, and then came back and it was running again, and I walked straight on. Pretty close to being as rough as the one at Canadas Wonderland.

With the park done I hit the New York Thruway and drove a couple of hours to Eire, Pennsylvania to visit Waldameer.

Probably the biggest little park I have been to, heaps of flats, but very "amusement parky" feeling with lots of corn dog stands and permanent carnival rides. I did have a small water park area too, but the reason anyone comes here is for Ravine Flyer 2, a particularly good Gravity Group wooden coaster. Managed about 4 laps.

The ride doesn't look too big when you approach, reason being is that some of it drops off a hillside, and another part crosses out of the park and over a main road.

From the top of the hill you head up the lift, drop off the edge, and from that point on the thing just moves, you twist down the drop, fly over a camelback bridge over a road, get flung from side to side as you climb up and around the turnaround, then over the other side of the bridge back into the park, a few more crazy banked turns, one of which is in a tunnel, before you drop off the other face of the hill for one last big drop and rise up to the brakes. Loved it, more crazy than the likes of ghostrider, and bit more out of control than Gold Striker.

The park had one of those chairlifts to nowhere (instead of a 2nd station, it just turns around at the wheel in the air, and goes back to the station you boarded at) so I did that while I still had light.

Next was Steel Dragon, a standard model Maurer Sohne spinning coaster. Despite being loaded unbalanced with only 3 people we didn't get the crazy spinning like the one at Chessington, but it was still a fun, varied layout, with a big drop, overbanked turn, helix, and a twisty "trick track" section.

The Wacky Shack dark ride had a short queue (Hey, gotta do the terrible ghost trains don't ya!) which left the Comet , a well kept older wooden coaster which ran through some nice trees, and overall was a solid little ride (Preferred it to comparably scaled rides like Ghoster Coaster).

It was time to hit the road again, but not without a stop at Wendys (Finding the fast food you want to try out is easy on interstate highways, big tall tower signs everywhere, and on approach to each exit are standard signs, which show the logos of the "FOOD", "GAS", "LODGING" and "ATTRACTIONS" options for each exit. When you get on the exit ramp itself you have another set of signs telling you wether to turn left or right for your relevant hotel, restaurant etc, and how far it'll be.

Passing through Cleveland during the night was pretty spectacular, helped along by passing a football stadium right as fireworks were going off. At about midnight I had reached my hotel in Sandusky Ohio.

Edited by Gazza

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The next day I was up at 8, out the door at 8:15 and out the front of Cedar Point ready for early entry at 9am, which is one hour before the general public gets in. Platinum Pass holders and Cedar Point Hotel Guests get this benefit, and it is well worth it, since Gatekeeper, Millennium Force, Maverick and Iron Dragon all open an hour early. I had two days at the park, and on the saturday I forked out $100 for fast lane plus, well worth it on a Saturday in the peak of summer where waits for Top Thrill Dragster were reaching 2 hours.

I headed straight for the back of the park, reasoning that most would go for the new Gatekeeper right by the entrance, and soon enough I was on Millennium Force.

Excellent ride with an impressive first drop, The final little speedhill you go over before the last overbank is a gem too. Overall, its a tough ride to place for me though, was good, but I think it does get overhyped. This was my last ride of the night on the first day, at the stroke of midnight in the back row, which made it even better.

Next I did a couple of laps on Maverick. Fantastic, and just belts along from start to finish, couple of strong airtime hills, and a surprisingly powerful launch halfway through, and of course non stop twists and turns. The ride is spolit a bit however by the harness design. On a ride like Superman Escape they work fine because there isnt that much side to side movement, but on this ride the main gimmick is its fast and furious transitions, so your neck is repeatedly thrown sideways into a narrow strip of harness. A ride like this really does need a rubber vest type harness that sits flat on the chest to avoid this. On later rides I learned to move my neck across to the other side of the harness to eliminate the hits, which worked well.

The ride impressed me in the way in that it was one of the few I've seen that has a real "Disney" feel in terms of scale, operations, and even station theming.

Again, excellent ride, just be ready to brace to enjoy it.

So with one ride on Millennium force and 2 on maverick that was the hour of ERT up, so I headed to Top Thrill Dragster. No sooner had I rented a locker it started to rain, then pour, then become a full blown thunderstorm. Cedar Point is known for its temperamental weather, and most rides shut in even light rain due to some anal polices. It took a solid couple of hours to pass, part of which I used to get an early lunch at Chick-Fil-A ("Chick Fillet" is the pronunciation)

Spent a bit more time hiding out in shelters, and using toilet hand dryers to get dry, and I noticed Wicked Twister was running, no doubt due to only having one rain, and a magnetic braking system. Pretty nifty ride, but quite a short cycle (Much like Surfrider). I sat near the front to get the effect of Spiraling towards the sky, which I liked.

MaxAir was going too, a Huss Giant Frisbee. In short, a bigger version of the Claw at Dreamworld, and really, it felt much the same despite being bigger. Not a bad thing though, I like this style of ride.

GateKeeper had opened too, but with only one train, Fast track helped since a lot of visitors had flocked to it. I took back row left (left being the side of the station closest to Raptor), which turns out is probably the best seat on the ride.

Man, enthusiasts seem utterley jaded by this ride, but I wasn't. It was fantastic, and one of my favourite rides now. At the top of the first drop the left seats get flicked upwards before the first drop, and this was one of the first times in a long time I've really been giddy with excitement for a coaster. The ride moves along at a faster pace than videos would suggest, and runs smoother too! the seats hanging off the side exaggerate all the movements. Just a really enjoyable sensation of flight with the harness just holding you in.

Weather was still not that great, and Blue Streak was open. Didn't really expect much out of it, just an old smallish wooden coaster, but it's a gem. Good air on the hills and seems to be well taken care of, so tracks well.

The weather was starting to warm up, the clouds were clearing so I hoofed it to the entrance of Top Thrill Dragster waiting for it to re-open. Soon enough it started to test, and then the first batch of riders were sent through on half loaded trains while the launch system warmed up again. The fastlane queue merges in at the load station, and just as I made it in they called for a single rider for a spare seat in the front row. Despite being near the back of the crowd in the station I jumped up and down a couple of times and they waved me through.

Again, excellent ride. Suprisingly, the giant top hat and not the launch was my favourite part...It's bloody high. The downwards spiral tries to throw you sideways out of your seat. Ended up doing several laps that day making use of the fastlane pass.

I did the Corkscrew next, which is a simple oval layout. Drop, hill, loop, turn, two corkscrews and then the end. Our Corkscrew/Sea Viper was probably better, so moved on.

Magnum XL-200 is an arrow hyper coaster. Cedar Point afficiandos seem to like this one, but I didn't really. Car 1, row 3 is supposed to be the airtime seat, so I tried that one out. Well, they aint lying, but the thin little lap bar means you just get thrown up into it over and over, and given the vintage of the ride and the engineering methods, its not nice smoothly shaped hills. rather, you get your thighs beaten, then slammed down into your seat again. Rinse and repeat. Tried it again, the next day in the back row. Not violent in those seats, but still not a very good coaster.

Gemini is right next door and was probably a bit more fun. Its a steel coaster, with a wooden support structure and a retro 80s themed station. Not sure what they were going for, but it was solid family fun and watching the other train race adds to that. I reckon if I was ever building a theme park a family racing coaster would be a perfect addition.

Mean Streak is a wooden coaster i just wanted to make stop because of how bouncy it is. Much like predator, it could be a spectacular ride on paper, but just bloody uncomfortable. This ride is a #1 candidate for a renovation by Rocky Mountain Coasters.

I continued around to Cedar Creek Mine ride. The shaping of the turns and curved drops literally looked like something out of RCT2, but despite that it was also a decently fun family oriented coaster. Not much in the way of theming, just lots of s bends and so forth on wooden trestles.

Shoot the Rapids was in the area and bizzarley had no queue considering it was hot and sunny now (None of Cedar Points water rides seemed very popular for some reason :S ) Decent theming, moderatley wet, but not excessively so. Im uncertain why they made the big drop the first one and the 2nd drop the smaller one however. Not too different to Wild West falls etc really (Ours is better in fact)

Went to Mantis, and i was locked into the harness and ready to ride, but we were told to get out...the other train had stopped on the lift. Operators went up and down a couple of times (No fall arrest gear which shocked me!).

Gave up at that point and went to Raptor instead.

Just as I was about to board that one, again the ride had a temporary stoppage as they had recieved orders to add the 3rd train. I got to geek out and film it since I was wating for the back row, which is right where the transfer table is.

Baiscally, one train is moved to the bottom of the lift and stopped, another sits in the station, and then the 3rd is added in behind.

Its one of the best B&M inverted coasters out there, good mix of inversion, but also a few bits of "in between" track to mix things up, like the cool upwards sweeping turn, twist and upwards spiral after the cobra roll. Later in the night I did a front row night ride, which was a highlight of the visit.

Went back to Mantis to give it another shot, and got straight on. I was apprahensive since everyone says this is rough and uncomfortable, but that wasn't the case. Ran no differently to other B&Ms of its age, though can cop a couple of hits to the head on the last few quick turns/transitions.

I guess I just have the right leg/torso proportions for stand ups since I'm never uncomfortable. I always have the back part of the harness adjusted so its resting right on my shoulders so my legs get to feel the full force. The ride starts off with a few big loops and an elevated turnaround, but then finishes off with a seemingly never ending, (and confusing) sequence of quick turns, with a corkscrew thrown in. Solid ride.

The other remaining big coaster was Iron Dragon. Wasn't taken by it. Every other arrow suspended I've done is better (Even the one at Chessington), just didn't go very fast, or swing very much, so bleh.

By now it was 7-8pm or so, so I spent the rest of the night doing re-rides on the good coasters (TTD, Gatekeeper, Maverick, Raptor, with a ride on MF to top off the day)

Edited by Gazza

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We were at SFMM in Jan this year and X2 was closed at the time, did you ride it while you were at the park? I would like to know what it is like and is it was good as Tatsu or Green lantern.

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REALLY?

I've taken on all three. X2 is definitely an experience in itself and I couldn't really compare it adequately - but in my opinion, the experiences were similar to Tatsu (although in a different riding position) and so smooth...

Compared to Green Lantern? I don't think there is a comparison. GL's gondolas swing freely, whereas X2's are controlled to put the rider into a specific (read: comfortable) position throughout the ride. Riding GL to me, felt like a really out of control Zipper... a bad one.

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I’ve done X and X2 at SFMM in the past, but was too limited for time on this visit.

I prefer Tatsu to X2…X2 a good ride, but very shaky and your legs flap around a lot, and doesn’t seem to flip that much…If you want heaps of flipping, Green Lantern is the way to go.

Anyway, time for me to keep going on with these since I know there are a few readers lurking out there haha.

My 2nd day at Cedar Point was until 4pm or so. I started the ERT up front with a couple of rides on Gatekeeper in the morning since all things considered I probably liked that ride the best. By all means, try and get a ride on the 4 main points of the train (front left/right, back left right), and always try and get the outside seat.

Headed up to Maverick again, and got a ride in there…seemed to have the hang of it in terms of leaning into every turn to avoid hitting my neck on the harness.

Millennium force rounded out the morning ERT session, but seemed to have built up a reasonable queue…I waited 30 mins.

Got in line for Top Thrill Dragster, and I got to be a nerd again because it broke down when I was near the front of the queue…one of the brake fins on the launch wasn’t retracting so we got to see the park mechanics do a quick hose change or something, and it was up and running 20 or so minutues later, and I ended up getting straight on because many people in front decided to leave.

Next I knocked off a few rides I hadn’t done, including the Woodstock Express (Clone of Roadrunner at WBMW sans theming, and one train only) and Skyhawk, an S&S giant swing. Have done this ride in the past (Rush at Thorpe Park) and its still awesome fun. Only one side running. Turns out a few days after I rode it decided to throw a tantrum: http://www.cleveland.com/travel/index.ssf/2014/07/skyhawk_riders_witnesses_descr.html

Also got some photos onboard the Giant Wheel.

Did rerides on Mantis (Still reckon its nowhere near as uncomfortable as people say it is), Magnum XL-200 (Front this time, so instead of airtime that hurt there was barely any at all), blue streak (Yay, still a gem). Wouldn’t have minded redoing Raptor but that seems to always blow out in terms of queue times due to being near the entrance, and no fast track today meant I didn’t bother.

For a late lunch I went to Chickie and Petes, which is a chain of sports bars. Their signature product are “crab fries”…no actual seafood content, but they have old bay seasoning on them and a side of cheese sauce for dipping. They were nice, and the bucket you got was the size of a small pot plant, in terms of taste, they tasted pretty similar to nandos peri peri fries, with a little less spice and a little more saltiness. The bar only served beer, and no spirits, which made me sad L

All things considered, Cedar Point is a great park…but does it deserve the accolade and golden ticket awards of being “The worlds best amusement park?” Tough to say. The thing is, yes it has 17 coasters, and a lot of flats rides, but only a few of those coasters are actually really good, and a lot of them are just lingering rides from the 80s the park has held onto.

I hit the road to Cincinatti, 3 hours away, and got into the spirit of the countryside I was driving through with country music going on the radio. Such stereotypical American countryside with barns and Baptist churches dotted along…I even saw a crop duster out doing its thing over the cornfields. American rural roads can be frustrating, because they have a speed limit of 55 (only 90km/h) and they put stoplights at major cross roads in the middle of nowhere rather than doing what we do and having give way signs and staggered intersections, so you don’t seem to progress as fast as you’d like.

Finally reached the interstate, and pulled off a short time later because I saw a sign for White Castle hamburgers. Don’t go, it’s terrible. Worse tasting burgers than HJs. I had ‘chicken rings’ and they are as bad as they sound. think the only reason people go there is because it’s cheap.

I went straight to Kings Island rather than my hotel since the park was still open for an hour or so. Enough time to squeeze in a night ride or two.

Did Firehawk, my first Vekoma Flying coaster. Unlike the B&M version you load in sitting upright, and are reclined backwards, which feels awkward rolling out of the station on your back, almost like being at the dentist. Harnesses are a bit different, which a lap bar, and basically two thick padded “backpack straps” that get bucked together in the middle. At the top of the lift you twist over and head down the first drop, around an overbank, another turn which twists you onto your back and up into a loop (so similar to the B&M flying coaster pretzel loop, but perhaps not as intense, but still pretty darn cool arcing over and diving headfirst), a final turn leads to a couple of inline twists (like at the end of Arkham asylum), a helix, and the final brakes. Wow, turns out Vekoma can build a good coaster, ran quite smoothly, was comfortable and overall just a really enjoyable ride. I tend to like flying coasters anyway.

I only had time for one more ride, so I did flight of fear next door. Probably a smart move since it’s not part of the fast lane scheme, which means a wait no matter what. Ended up being only 20 mins or so. You head into a giant “Area 51” type hangar where a flying saucer is being stored. Theres a cool trick where they only built half of it, and one entire wall of the hangar is a mirror, giving the impression that a whole ufo is parked in there, and that the hangar is much larger and more extensive than it is. The ufo had plenty of monitoring equipment hooked into it, and overall it was a well detailed queue.

The queue then heads up a ramp into the UFO itself, inside, it was a bit like what the spaceship scene was like in Bermuda triangle, complete with capsules containing abducted humans in statis. The boarding area was in the core of the ufo, and all you could see was the track leading out a hole in the wall into darkness. It was quite fun seeing the expressions of riders being launched directly from the station.

As for the ride, the launch is probably on par with tower of terror, but what follows is a twisted mess of track inside a dark building. I was hoping it would be pitch black inside, but there are a couple of small lights in there that give a bit of a silohuttle of the whole track structure. It runs pretty well, and the fact its just lapbars means you have a bit of freedom to put your arms up. The ride begins with 3 quick half loop/half corkscrew type inversions before reaching a high point and spiralling downhill with just lots of turns, before a final corkscrew at ground level in the building. Quite confusing, and probably more interesting in the back to give a real element of surprise.

By the time I got out the park had closed for the day so I retired to my hotel around the corner.

Edited by Gazza

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A ride I neglected to mention at Cedar Point was Cedar Downs, which is a giant carousel perhaps a good 20m wide. The horses sit in rows of 4 across on a giant doughnut shaped turntable. The horses bob up and down as you'd expect, but what made the ride cool is that each horse was on a pole in a slot in the floor, during the ride the 4 horses in each pack would slide back and forth slowly in the slot in the floor, so at random it would be like a different horse was "winning" in each pack. Sometimes you were ahead by a nose, sometimes you weren't. Horse racing music during the ride cycle completed the effect. I had fun!

Next day I was ay Kings Island for their ERT session which starts at 9:30, half an hour before the park opens.

I joined the running of the bulls and made a beeline for Banshee which at present is the worlds newest B&M coaster, and a great one at that, a massive 7 inversion inverted coaster. The ride is very comfortable thanks to using a new train design which features harnesses similar to their Wingrider and Flying Coasters, a rubber vest and lap bar, with metal grab bars curving right out in front of you.

The queue line winds past some tombstones and a toungue in cheek eternal flame memorial that pays tribute to Son of Beast, the failed wooden coaster which occupied the land banshee sits on..

You head up the lift hill with speakers playing dramatic music, and as you reach the apex you hear the scream of the banshee before going over the drop.

First drop is inane, very steep and you basically spiral towards the ground like an out of control plane before pitching up into a dive loop. You then complete a massive loop which hooks around the lift hill. The following Zero G Roll is excellent, particularly in the middle seats...a perfectly contoured 360 degree twist you float through weightlessly. After that is the pretzel loop, you curve upwards, twist over, dive down into half a loop, straight into another half loop before twisting over diving down and carrying on out the other direction, so it basically looks like a giant pretzel. By now the train is absolutley barreling along and you hit the fastest point in the ride,,the train even gets a bit of a rattle going due to the speed, another big loop follows and then you curve into an uphill spiral. The last inversion is a drawn out inline twist. Imagine the twists on arkham asylum, but instead of two its just one long one over the same distance you get a bit of hangtime because you are upside down for so long. One last helix and quick turn and its into the brakes. Like Levaithan, this has an uber long final brake run to allow 3 trains to run, and it was working perfectly. Like levaithan they also had a countdown clock in the station so operators and guests alike knew how long it was going to be till the train was dispatched. Coupled with a no loose items policy this ride has insane capacity. by mid afternoon the queue was only 5 to ten minutes, they were pushing out train of 32 riders every 90 seconds, and in fact at some points trains were going out with spare seats due to people physically not walking into the station fast enough to keep up with the ride crew. Stopped counting during the day after my 7th ride. There seemed to be a cohort of guests who would just repeatedly ride, join the queue and be on again within a few minutes.

One thing you'll see in american parks is that if there is a shade sail within throwing distance of any stairs guests will chuck hairties, armbands and coins onto it.

A sport of guests in the queue would be to jump up, grab the edge of the shade sail and bounce things off and catch them.

Moving on, in the morning ERT i headed to Bat , another arrow suspended coaster. Did a lap in the front of the back. Reasonably middle of the road, seemed on par with ninja at SFMM.

I ran back to Banshee and got into the queue literally 1 minute before 10am and the masses were let in.

While the crowds were occupied at Banshee I went over and did a lap on Flight of Fear again after the previous nights ride, and some daytime rides on Firehawk.

The queue just didnt seem to be building up for Firehawk so ended up doing about 4 laps with minimal wait, and seemed to always end up in the front row.

Shame there aren't more Vekoma flyers around, would rather them to the abundance of SLCs and Boomerangs.

I then picked up a photo pass for $25 (every time you do a ride they'd scan your card and email your onride photos) and a fast track pass. It was $60 for Standard and $80 if you wanted Firehawk and Banshee included (Fastlane plus) , but given I'd gotten both those rides out of the way I didn't cough up the extra $20.

Nearby I spotted the park had one of those slingshot rides (like at Adrenaline Park in Surfers), for only $5. Wasn't gonna turn that down, so purchased a ride. With a short wait I was on. Experience ride, I didn't think it was significantly better than the likes of Batwing, though being launched on your back was pretty nifty. The lady i got paired with as a single rider clearly had a sense of fun and suggested we rock back and forth to get the "ball" you sit in to do a flip, despite our best efforts we kept only getting it around about 90% of the way , and never a full flip.

Ah well, thats one ride ticked off to do list, no need to spend $50 doing the one in surfers.

Backlot Stunt Coaster was nearby so got on that. It was better than the Canadian one since the fire effects and sound actually worked.

From the station you launch into an uphill triple helix that is supposed to be like spiraling up a ramp in a car park. You then drop down and do some s bends dodging police cars. A fan turn leads you to more s bends around road signs and billboards, and you turn sharply left into a short tunnel supposedly like you are driving down into a subway tunnel, another left turn and you are brought to a stop in an area surrounded by oil refinery pipes and oil drums, a police helicopter is at the front of the scene and fires its machine gun, which sets off some fire effects and explosions around you, you feel a bit of heat....basically like a mini version of the grand finale of HSD. You then launch slowly fowards into a pitch black tunnel, drop down a curve to the right, through a couple of dips in darkness, around a turn to the left and emerge from the tunnel, where you go down a little drop into a concrete drain/aqueduct type thing (like what you see in LA). A final turn brings you to the brakes.

Similar thoughts to the canadian one. the fire effects working improved things, but its a pretty mild coaster, and some of theming (apart from the slalom through the cop cars, and the oil refinery) looked a bit bare.

Racer was only running one side (apparently 2nd side doesnt open till 12). Pretty fun, and runs well, possibly aided by the fact that it just goes in a straight line for the most part, so little juddering. Came back to it a couple of times later on when it was racing, and it really adds to the fun value of the ride, especially when you are on the turnaround and can see the other train on approach coming in towards you at an angle.

Hmm, reckon I enjoyed this one more than SFMMs colossus.

Next I hit up Vortex an arrow multi looper similar in size to Viper at SFMM. Definitely brace on this once since it really embodies the notion that Arrow Dynamics used to shape the curves on their rides using coathanger wire as a model. Features a big drop and wide turnaround, a couple of loops, a couple of corkscrews, a "batwing" and then a tight turnaround. This is actually the first time i've experienced a "grey out" on a coaster (either that or i was just squinting for a couple of seconds, I'm not sure)...happened between the two loops, and the best way i can describe it is as if your vision has its saturation reduced, and contrast reduced (photoshop talk here).

Since I was down this end I walked a lap around Dinosaurs Alive which was exactly the same in terms of sequence and content as the other two I'd been through at CW and CP. The setting was better because it was deep in the woods.

I ambled back to Invertigo which is the SLC version of the vekoma boomerang. It has back to back seats, so you can watch the reactions of the riders opposite.

Wow! Really good, because it ran smoothly, and the lift hill system seemed better engineered so it lifted and dropped the train on each spike with less mucking around. Much better than a standard boomerang. Again, wish more parks had these.

It was time to tackle Diamondback , a large B&M hypercoaster with an out and back type layout. I preferred this one to Behemoth (hills seemed better), but Levaithan is still my fave of this ride type. From the top of the hill you drop into a couple of big airtime hills. A hammerhead turn brings you around to another airtime hill. B&M have installed a bloody trim brake on this hill, but interestingly its on the uphill, so as it catches you lurch foward in your seat and get some bonus airtime. A helix brings you around and lines you up with the last few smaller hills that lead back to the station (the smaller hills are good too...i think ive come to the conclusion that for airtime hills smaller ones work better than bigger). the final feature is a drop onto a straight section of track over a pond where scoops on the back of the train touch the water and throw up a spectacular "rooster tail" of spray. It's just a shame the whole pond is fenced off a fair way back, it would be fun if they had a platform where you can stand and get soaked like on a lot of the shoot the chutes rides.

Best ridden in the front, and for extra thrill on the first drop stick your legs and arms out in front of you.

The Beast is an enormous, long wooden coaster that runs right out the back of the park into the woods, so far that it feels like you are miles from anything. A lot of the ride consists of long straightaways and drops that keep the thing moving (in some ways it feels more like a train than a coaster), but sadly the ride has a ton of trim brakes. The highlight of the ride comes after the 2nd lift hill, where you drop into this 540 degree helix enclosed in a tunnel that is banked such that if you sit in the left it feels like you are going to be decapitated. This is one ride where the back is heaps of fun. Ran reasonably well, not so rough that it wasn't enjoyable but still a bit untamed.

The bright blue Woodstock Express kids wooden coaster was reasonably good, and the Flying Ace Aerial Chase was just your typical Vekoma family suspended.

The last coaster to do was Adventure Express , an arrow mine train that clung to the hillside, overall quite decent and probably the best arrow mine train I have done (Not including Big Thunder Mountain of course!). Some good drops and consistent pacing. An odd feature was that the main lift hill came at the end of the ride, so you just end up back at the station. Would have been better if they had extended the height of the lift a little more and done one last drop or helix to spice things up, but on the plus side the lift hill is all enclosed, and features moving temple statues you pass under.

After some lunch (Quick serve of tenders at Chick-Fil-A and a cup of Peach Dasani from a coke freestyle machine) I tackled "Drop Tower", an Intamin Gyro Drop. Basically, instead of individual pods of 4 or 8 seats like Space Probe or Giant Drop, it was ring of 40 (?) or so seats around the tower to keep capacity high. The ring rotates like a revolving restaurant as you are lifted to the top, so everyone gets a good view of all the park at some point during the ride. The drop was thrilling, but the nicest thing about the ride was that as it hits the brakes the sheer size of the ring of seats means it forces a big waft of air down around the base of the tower, a pleasant relief for people sweating in the queue.

The middle of the day is the best time to take photos from ferris wheels and the like because it means the sun is directly above so it wont spoil your photos. Kings Island has a 1/3 replica of the Eiffel tower you can go up in a lift and take photos from. A staff member is on hand to answer questions about the park....Why is it called Kings Island when its not on an island? Turns out it's because it was named after Coney Island NY, but since the area this park is in is called "Kings Mills" thats how they got the name.

The rest of the afternoon i spend doing rerides on the main coasters (including heaps on Banshee when the queues dropped to 10 mins), and a lap on the steam train.

I knew the park had the worlds only installation of a Huss giant top spin, indoors no less (previously tomb raider themed in the days of Paramount ownership, changed to being called "The Crypt" after the Cedar Fair buyout. What I hadn't been paying attention to was that the ride had been closed in 2012. Oh well.

Like Canadas Wonderland the park had a Boo Blasters on Boo Hill and like the candian one it seemed near on impossible to hit any targets. Only time I managed to get any was when the ride temporarily stopped, and even then i felt like i was shooting at the one target 20 times to get it to even register.

Conclusion is that Toy Story Mania, Buzz, Justice League (And even Duel at Alton) are way more fun than these rides.

The ride differed to the Canadian version in that it used an omnimover type ride system boarded via a turntable, so much more of a people eater.

As night fell I did a couple of laps on Diamondback, and went up the Windseeker tower (another spinning chair swing ride that lifts you up to 90m) before the main game (and supposedly something every enthusiast should try once), a ride in the back row of the beast at night. The ride apparently takes on a whole new personality at night, and it's true. The ride already feels quite isolated in the woods, but at night time in darkess it becomes something great. I do have to subtract some points for there being section where floodlights were on, but it's still utterly unique, and we'll probably never see any wooden coaster of this scale and style built again.

Final ride of the evening at around 9:45 was Banshee. Even better at night ,and I lucked out getting a front row single rider seat. The queue shade sails have gobos projecting onto them, and the back half of the ride is quite dark save for some red lights illuminating the elements.

My hotel for that night was in Louisville, Kentucky, a couple of hours away. The highway was good, and it felt like it was 99% trucks at that hour. The road seemed to be at a constant dowhill, and you could tell that the scenery would be pretty spectacular in the daytime.

Overall, Kings Island is a great park with several great coasters, and the recent addition of Banshee has really rounded out the line up. I hope Cedar Fair keeps investing big in the place.

Edited by Gazza

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Gazza. This trip sounds amazing. How much I would pay to do something like this! You're so lucky!

Gazz mentioned earlier he spent about 5k.

I think the more important point is how do you convince your Mrs to let you?

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In Terms of cost Santa07 check out post #12 where I gave a rough breakdown of cost for Jakev8.

Next day was a double park day, I got a bit of a sleep in since the park didn’t open till 11am and wandered a short distance (I was staying about 400m away) to Kentucky Kingdom.

This park had been closed for a few years after Six Flags got rid of it and there was a kerfuffle with the Kentucky state fair board over what would happen with the park. But it’s open now (partly, some rides at the back of the park such as the SLC, the racing wooden coaster and the river rapids ride are reopening in 2015 due to being in a state of disrepair. The park still does look a bit scrappy in parts…dirty concrete, unlandscaped areas with bare dirt. Hopefully next winter they really get the park to a more complete state.

On park opening I went straight to Lightning Run, a Chance Ride Hyper GT-X, which is basically a mini hyper coaster type ride, similar in style to an Intamin Mega Lite. Basically heaps of little hills and rapid fire turns. Imagine jet rescue and superman escape had a baby, but a lift hill instead of a launch and you get the idea. Excellent…perhaps I overhyped it a little in my own head prior to riding, but still loved it, some really powerful airtime. First half is lots of medium sized hills and overbanked turns, then you drop down to ground level and do a rapid fire slalom and then the ride finishes with 3 powerful bunny hops. Best ridden in the right hand seats because theres one hill that banks upwards to the right at the apex, so you get a real boost of airtime in that spot if sitting on that side.

I did a few laps until the queue started to build up (Only one train running)

The next coaster was Thunder Run , another wooden coaster, big drop, wide turn turn, and then a bunch of hills in an out and back layout that extends further back than it looks on first appearances. Pretty good!

Last coaster in the park was Roller Skater which is a roadrunner type coaster, but the next model size down, and with cars that look like little roller skates. Not much to say other than it ran really smoothly.

I headed across to the Hurricane Bay side of the park, which is on the other side of a road you cross via a barb wire covered footbridge. On that side was a big Vekoma ferris wheel you can get some good shots of lightning run and hurricane bay.

First slides I hit was a 3 slide proside complex called Wikiwiki Wai featuring a Cannon Bowl called Waikiki Wipeout (No different to Little Rippers), a Topsy Turvy called Calypso Run (As I’ve said in other threads, the funnels are too small compared to full sized tantrums and tornadoes, so you don’t really do much rocking around) and a Pipeline slide called Kilawaya with “Explosion Curves”, (This is proslides equivalent to the Whitewater West constrictor), which was cool because it was dark inside, but it didn’t have the ballistic speed of comparable slides like Tropical Cyclone at WnW Sydney.

Next I tackled Deep Water Dive, currently the tallest water slide in America, 37m high which is around the height of MWs Green Lantern! Off the same tower is a speed slide with 3 bumps, but only about half as high. The climb to the top seems endless, but thankfully very few people seem daring enough to take it on. You load into the launch box, the floor drops out (Like Wedgie and Aqualoop) and you plunge down. After the initial moment of weightlessness you seem to equalise and hit max speed, and just “cruise” down the bottom portion of the slide till you splash down. Great fun, very comfortable, but not as scary as you’d think.

Nearby is Plummet Summit, a family raft slide that for all intents and purposes is basically exactly the same as Curler at WnW Sydney. Tight enclosed turns, interspersed by open air drops. This one ran circular family rafts rather than cloverleafs, so you did get a bit more “wall time”.

Mega Wedgie is a Proslide Bullet Bowl. Which is a one/two person raft bowl slide like Little Rippers, except it has a slightly reduced diameter for parks on more of a budget. This was installed back during Six Flags ownership. I think I prefer this one to the Cannon Bowl because the tighter radius makes it more forceful. Side note: I think its curious that the park installed two very similar slides. Why didn’t they make the Cannon Bowl on the 3 slide complex the enclosed dark version to set it apart?

I skipped the Tornado, Lazy River and Wave Pools since they are pretty standard.

Next was Deluge, a Hydromagnetic raft slide (Like Supertubes at Whitewater World). Usefully, this one has 4 person rafts rather than 3, so they were able to keep the line moving by combining groups of 2 and 2. They also used the double raft loading area properly with two ops, so they didn’t have to do what happens at WWW with the op using one control panel, then moving over to the other one. The slide was pretty much the same, but slightly longer. Instead of landing in a pool you skid to a stop on a conveyor belt.

There was a set of generic enclosed raft slides called Mt Slide Hai, but the line was pretty long so I passed them up, there was however a fast downhill bodyslide Vanishing Falls, (basicaly exactly like like the enclosed whitewater mountain slides at WnW but translucent blue rather than green) which nobody was riding, which was decent.

With the park done I headed a couple of hours south to Bowling Green (Where Corvettes get made), stopping off at Dairy Queen for lunch. My destination, Beech Bend.

The place is pretty dumpy to be honest, just a whole lot of flat rides set up in grass around a lake, with a few permanent buildings that looked like they were made out of off the shelf type stuff you’d get from bunnings (dunno how theyd last in the long term with typical guest wear and tear) and a sketchy looking ghost train in a besa block building. The place also had a small water park area with a few slides and a waterplay structure.

But the reason you come here is to ride Kentucky Rumbler , a GCI wooden coaster with a particularly messy (In a good way) layout that criss crosses so much its near impossible to memorise the layout. Even the prelift section at low speed was quite extensive. Aside from all the fan turns and helixes and whatnot, there is also a tiny little airtime hill literally only a meter or so high partway through the layout which is a bit of a surprise. This ride would have to be the only one where you exit into a restaurant rather than a gift shop. The ride only has one train, but it never gets queues and seems to only ever have about 8 people onboard each cycle, so it’s not a problem.

Next I ticked off Dragon which is a simple kids coaster two helixes. The first one is uphill with drive tyres and serves as the lift. Interesting for the fact it is so banked It feels like you are going to tip out of the car.

The final coaster is Wild Mouse , a standard model Zamperla spinning coaster (Basically identical to the one that you see at the Ekka, Royal Show etc), didn’t spin too heavily though which may be good or bad depending on what side of the fence you sit on.

I had a go at that dodgy looking Ghost Train which was hilariously bad. The sound system consisted of individual sony boomboxes sat along the track playing their own thing (the type where the subwoofers have a ring of red light that pulsates with the sound) and various ghouls and zombies in cages that were lit up when you passed.

post-88-0-57112000-1409018055_thumb.jpg

After a few more laps on Kentucky Rumbler I was done and drove back

Edited by Gazza

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