Solace is over and now it's photo and trip report time!
Overall, the weekend was REALLY good. Knott's was as expected, Magic Mountain actually exceeded my expectations, and Universal was just plain FUN!
Our weekend started on Friday night meeting up with some people from Westcoaster at Buca's. Fun night, good dinner, but we were both pretty tired so we turned in. The highlight of Friday was Joey paying up for his portion of the Europe trip! And it wasn't in huge bags of pennies!!!
The next morning we arrived at Knott's at 8:03. Just three minutes past when free parking expired and the lady in the booth made DAMN SURE we knew that, too. What a great way to start the day! =)
We arrived to the reception area to find two girls who looked like they had either just come off of a 24 hour bender with Cheech and Chong, or wait...that's just the typical expressions on the faces of the park's guest relations. After looking at our information and seeing the park couldn't even spell the name of their new coaster correctly, this lack of any intelligence greeting guests didn't surprise us in the least!
For some reason they ran out of lanyards and we managed to get the last two. While we were there another guy walked up to get his packet of information and the conversation went something like this:
Random ACEr dude "Hey, I'd like to get my stuff."
Stoned Knott's chicks "We ran out of lanyards."
ACer: "Ok....can you tell me what the schedule is?"
Stoned chicks: "We don't know...we're stoned...read the flyer or something...BTW, do you have any brownies?"
Anyway, off to the park we go. We were both anxious to ride XLR8R since last year it was only running one train and it was a 45 minute wait. There wasn't any Silver Bullet or Ghostrider ERT, so XLR8R was the 'newest' ride in the park open for us, since they didn't have anything like RipTide or Revolution open either. Not a big deal, really...but it does show how Solace really has changed from an "event" from past year's to 'just a couple hours of coasters open before and after the park' now.
Makes sense, though, in the theme of how Knott's has as devolved over the past 5 years, the event has gone from being something REALLY special that almost set the standard for enthusaist events with guest speakers, coaster museum, and a vibe that the enthusiasts are REALLY being taken care of to something that is almost just an afterthought now.
Well, XLR8R was traditionally once again running one train. *sigh* At least it wasn't as bad as last year, the wait right when we got there was only about 5 minutes, which was cool, but it flucated between 10 and 20 minutes after that. Not a bad wait, but when you've only got two hours and you're waiting 20 minutes per ride when there is a perfectly good 2nd train sitting on the transfer track which, had it been used could have made it NO WAIT, it's just a little bit disappointing.
So after that we made the rounds....one ride on Boomerang, Monty, Timberline Twister, Jaguar, Supreme Scream....now what? We went back to XLR8R towards the end of ERT and got our 2nd ride in.
It was now just 10:00 and some of the people we were with needed to get their Silver Bullet credit, so we wandered over to SB to find them still cycling empty trains and a line that filled 30-40 minutes of the queue area and was coming out of the front. Screw that!
Same thing over at Ghostrider!
If there is one thing Knott's doesn't do well is handle large crowds. And it was clear that today would NOT be a 'light' day, so we went into emergency mode "Quick! This place is screwed! We need to get to a good park! Any suggestions????"
Since some of the guys hadn't gotten their Mummy credit, we were off to Universal!
We had a REALLY good time there! Yeah, it was PACKED, but this is a park that knows how to deal with crowds and push people through the rides.
We did the single rider line for Mummy, which everyone thought was 'fun', but nothing amazing; Jurassic Park, which is still my favorite ride there; Backdraft "Hi, I'm Ron Howard"; We got really bored on the tram tour, but at least the War of the Worlds stuff was worth it; and then Josh just HAD to ride Back to the Future...we nearly killed him for making us do that. We all walked through the Van Helsing or the "insert the Stephen Sommers movie here" maze. All I can say is that if this maze is any kind of example of what Halloween Horror Nights was like at USH, I can understand why people don't believe us that HHN in Orlando is so good!
It was the perfect way to kill 5 hours before having to head back down to Knott's. The park is run REALLY well, and the only complaint about USH is there just not enough to do. If this park had two more major rides, like Spider-Man and MiB for example, since I know they can't have an outdoor coaster, we'd go here a LOT more often. But it's a nice, hassle-free park, which was a nice break for the day.
We made it back down to Knott's around 5ish and the line for Silver Bullet was much shorter so we took our ride. Again, it's a fun ride, nothing at all "WOW" about it, and it certainly makes you appreciate the more forceful B&M's like Batman, Dragons, Nemesis, etc.
After Silver Bullet it was time for the meet over at McDonalds. We wandered over and spent the next 2 1/2 hours there chatting with tons of people and just having a good time catching up with friends. For us, this is what the event is all about.
We didn't stay for night ERT partly because we really had no desire and partly because Elissa was coming down with some death flu. We took our "token ride" on Bullet and we'd just been on Ghostrider the week before, so we had our fill of Knott's.
The next morning was the Rideworld event at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Elissa stayed home with her death flu, so I was on my own. Now, I'll be the first to admit that SFMM isn't the best run park in the world either, but they ARE improving...a LOT! We've now been to the park 3 weeks in a row, and have seen examples of improvements that we haven't seen in the past 3 years, but I'll get to that later.
As for the event, Goliath, Riddler's, and X were running...all with two trains, and all with crews that seemed to be energetic and hustling to get people on and off the rides.
This made it so that the stations were empty and you could ride as much as you could handle! We ended up getting like 8 rides on Goliath, 3 on Riddler's, 1 on X. And we could have done a lot more had we wanted to, but it was nice to take it at a slower pace.
Around 9:30 we noticed the park was testing a TON of coasters. Batman, Superman, Viper, Revolution, etc were all going. Why can't Knott's do this? Then heading up the lift hill on Goliath around 9:57 we noticed that people were on Superman! Had the park opened the gates early...AGAIN??!? (To our shock they opened the park at 9:40 last weekend!) As we pulled into the brake run we noticed the public had started coming in. ERT was over, and we had gotten more than our fill of rides in.
Josh needed his Batman credit so we headed over there, running two trains, with no wait. Next up was Scream since Carlos needed that credit. Same thing two trains, no wait. Next up was Colossus.....ugh...running one train..WHY?!?! Doesn't this ride have like 10 trains?!? It was only a one-train wait, so that wasn't too bad, but by the time we got off the ride, the station was full.
Yes, that was dissapointing, and unacceptable, but it's good to see the park improving in other areas. I'm hoping that under new management, maybe we'll be able to say the same thing about Knott's with future visits! If SFMM can do it, so can Knott's!
We went up the hill for Superman, but the line there was already 30 minutes, so we decided to head out, go to lunch and say goodbye to everyone until next year.
Like I said, overall it was a really fun weekend. It was good to see everyone again, good to get a couple rides on XLR8R, good to have Universal as a great fall-back option to Knott's, and good to see SFMM is getting their act back together.
Anyway, until next Solace....
---thanks for reading!
Solace Weekend Photos HERE:
I've checked Knott's and USF's Halloween events, and although I think Knott's still rules that holiday, USF does an excellent job. Hoping to head south this October for HHH (and the "good" Revenge of the Mummy") and BGT's Howl-o-Scream, which is supposed to be a bit more intense than its Williamsburg cousin.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood