A theme park gift under $10? Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Dates: 6/23-7/2 (well, really 7/3...got home 2 am Saturday)
Parks visited: 4
New (Unofficial) Coaster Count..272
Best New-To-Me Coaster of the trip...DIAMONDBACK. I got to KI for early opening after a Waffle House breakfast and headed straight to D'Back. The first half of this ride is mind-blowingly great in any seat, but especially the back. It delivers incredible floater airtime on all three hills prior to the turn-around. This was my first coaster with the V-type seat arrangement, and I liked the extra room. The second half is a slight let-down, although the water splash makes for a great visual. I got about 23-25 rides over two days, and none were bad. I met up with Gary Dowdell, who posts here, but also managed to make use of the single rider line about half the time. Never waited more than a half-hour in either line.
Thoughts on WOODIES: I still love my wood, but as I'm getting older, I hope that isn't changing . I got a dozen or so rides on the Beast, with a coupla great night circuits. The trim on the straightaway after the first drop, before the bridge, bothered me. Racer was running really well, but the blue train was prone to problems. Mean Streak continues in its painful ways, even in the front seat. I'd always seen a lot of negative comments on Predator at DL. All of my three rides were very bumpy, and I couldn't detect too much difference front vs. back. Those trains are recent, aren't they? Didn't help. Up north, the Mighty Canadian Minebuster did nothing for me except cause discomfort. At the same park, I did like Wilde Beast, a smaller woodie, much smoother in the front. So, KI wins the Best Wood Award for this trip, because I also enjoyed the Woodstock Express. Its cousin, the Ghoster Coaster at Wonderland, was terrific, the smoothest junior woodie I ever rode.
I've started occasionally trying a new position riding in the front, or in seats where there's no seat back directly in front..leaning forward onto the "hood." It worked really well on Diamondback and some seats on MF.
Other coasters.. Wonderland:
Behemoth...my second experience with the V-seats. Liked the setting, liked the views, but after the first two drops it's running on fumes.
Time Warp ...most unusual coaster of the journey. It's a flyer, but you're laying flat in an enclosure, rather than open air like the Supermans and their ilk. This one beat my head and jaw some, but it's a very disorienting ride. There's one at Playland in Rye, but Time Warp had more inversions and a longer layout.
SkyRider (stand-up)...pretty much the same as KD's Shockwave.
Dragon Fire..pretty standard Arrow looper..no more, no less.
Biggest surprise..I enjoyed the hell out of Thunder Run, a Mack mine train in a mountain. No real drops, but some good speed, darkness, light show, decent theming, and two circuits to boot!
I had 14 potential credits at Wonderland, but skipped Flight Deck (SLC,) Backlot Stunt Coaster, and the Fly (mouse)..lines were pretty long. Waited 45 minutes max for Behemoth on four rides over two days.
Arrived Saturday afternoon and went to church, then to the park. Did Blue Streak, Raptor, and Disaster Transport. Streak ran great, smooth as glass, a little airtime. Hot 45-minute wait for Raptor, 10 for DT. Wicked Twister was close to walk-on. I didn't get on it last year, so I took a spin. Not much to say about these rides, but I enjoyed them all. Rode all the other flats in that area, then walked to Mean Streak. As mentioned above, my front seat ride was tolerable. Gemini was OK, didn't feel as out of control wild as on my last coupla visits.I took three rides on Magnum as the sun was setting and it was turning dark. I got the airtime I expect, but I didn't remember a trim heading into the helix. Don't like that. This is still a classic, and the best front-seat visual of any coaster I've been on. I didn't like the visual on my hands after my rides, though...they were up, and they were speckled with bug carcasses. On my way out, I got on line for Dragster at 9:45 (10pm close.) Got on about 10:30 in a rear seat. Still like it better than KK. I got a lot in, considering I was only there 4.5 hours.
I hadn't made definite plans to meet up with a friend on Sunday, but we had each other's numbers. My deafness caused us to play some phone tag, but we met up by the entrance to Millennium Force a short while after early opening. I'd had my first ride before meeting, and was a little disappointed. I rode back seat, blue train. I sensed a lack of energy and speed, but my friend assured me it just needed to wake up and warm up on a hot Sunday morning. She knows her stuff. Second ride was much better, and the couple others I got were terrific.
When I rode Maverick in '07, it left no real impression on me. I rode near the front. Mav was having some issues this weekend, and I only got one ride, and it was with my friend. She introduced me to the back seat. Needless to say, it was a big difference. I didn't understand the I-305 comparisons until now. I had no problems with the transitions or the restraints. Loved the ride, and it just goes to show ya..if you don't give a disliked or "meh" ride a second chance, you MAY be cheating yourself...Dark Knight notwithstanding.
After my friend, who lives in Sandusky, left around 3, I split about 7 after a couple more rides on Magnum. MF is my fave coaster at the Point, but Maggie will always have a special place in this deep dark heart of mine.
Monday morning, I met my friend as she walked from the back gate and I from the front. She informed me Maverick was not operating for early entry. We took a ride on MF. We were to meet another friend when the gates opened at the MF entrance. I rode Mantis while she waited for the new arrival.. I generally skip it, but this ride was actually semi-OK. I was comfortable in the position, and my ears didn't get boxed quite as bad as usual. Our companion arrived at about 10:25 or so and we got on line for MF. We waited for the front seat. Since this was my last ride before heading to Canada (excuses, excuses, as she so eloquently put it in her report) we rode front seat together. Easily the best of the five rides I had over 2 days.
Had good rides on FireHawk, Vortex, Adventure Express, Flight Deck and even Flight of Fear, which I hadn't rode in either of its CF incarnations in over three years. The haters can jump in feet-first, but I felt a twinge of sadness every time I looked at SOB..and I looked at it often.
I was disappointed with Darien's coasters, with the notable exception of the MotoCoaster. Yeah, it doesn't have speed. Yeah, the layout is blah. Yeah, it's too bleeping short. I clocked it at 34 seconds from launch to brake run. Makes KK seem like the Beast for ride time. Yeah, you get the same ride no matter where you sit. But I liked it. I've never driven a motorcycle, but I've loved them since I was a tyke. The trains are very detailed and colorful,
and I enjoyed riding in that position. Got four rides. Easily my second favorite new-to-me coaster of the trip. I mentioned Predator above. Ride of Steel opened late, and ran only one train all day. I got a back seat ride first, but the back four were roped off later, decreasing capacity even further. Some employees were occupying them occasionally...is that right (or fair?) ROS seems to be akin to its Maryland cousin, but lacks that ride's speed, forces and airtime. Intersting that the exit gate still features Superman's "S" logo. Their Boomerang, cleverly called Boomerang, was actually the least violent of its type I've been on. Viper is a decent Arrow looper with a brief tunnel, an element you don't see often on this type of ride. Mind Eraser? 'Nuff said. Couldn't ride Brain Teaser because of height restrictions.
Top Spins..rode three: Crypt, DL's Twister, and Wonderland's Riptide. Twister gave a very long cycle, but Riptide, a double bench model, had the most action.
Enterprises..CW's Orbiter had nice multi-colored cars, and DL's Silver Bullet was alright.
Log Flumes..really enjoyed the one at KI in the kids area, but got wetter at Darien.
Shoot-The-Chutes..went on at CP, DL, and KI. Best were the two CF parks. Shoot the Rapids appealed to me, but I couldn't get on.
At CW, there's a ride called Night Mares that I was really looking forward to and enjoyed immensely. It's a variation on the Round-Up, but riders are enclosed in "jail cells" in groups of four with gaps, and the circumference of the ride is greater than a Round-Up. So when you go vertical, your zenith is much higher. And it picks up its speed much more quickly than the Round-Up does. This was my first, and then I found Darien had one too, called UFO.
Darien had a traditional Himalaya called Sleighride. The cars are carved (can metal be "carved?") to look like sleighs, and the ride is decorated with lights and symbols representing Christmas in various cultures. Even gave a backwards cycle, which many don't. This ride would fit nicely at a certain park in Indiana. DL also has a Himalaya-type ride I haven't seen called Raging Seas. It maintains a clock-wise motion, but the individual cars swivel and lock between forward and backward five times.
I don't try to find things to dislike at parks. Every one has something to offer, it's just harder to find at some than others. I enjoyed all four parks on this trip.
Cedar Point is the Point. It's still my favorite park, although only two of my top-ten steels reside there. I love the views, the beach, the lake, the Midway arcade, and of course, Cedar Downs. The crowds were light-moderate on Saturday night, slightly heavier Sunday.
Kings Island has some great rides, is nicely kept, ant the staff is very gracious and friendly. I was there two full days and the weather was very hot. I liked the fact the food stands had cups of ice water already made up.
Canada's Wonderland has the most beautiful entranceway I've ever seen..fountains set in front of a mountain with a spectacular waterfall. It's got average coasters, but a nice mix of other rides. The prices are in line with their American counterparts. I had been told it could get crowded, and it was. My companion and I were disappointed that the high dive show was to start the next day and we wouldn't see it. My two days at Wonderland featured the best weather of the trip..low-mid 70's, nothing but sunshine. Strange to see people shivering in an amusement park on June 29-30!
Darien Lake reminded me slightly of Kennywood, albeit more spaced out and not as many rides. The scenery is pretty, especially from the Ferris Wheel. A few semi-unique rides. I don't know how it was under the Six Flags banner, but I enjoyed it.
Kings Island...Motel 6 a few minutes from the park. Inexpensive, clean, White Castle next door, McDonalds across the street.
Cedar Point..did not reserve a room in advance. Made the mistake of thinking I'd have no trouble finding a room in my price range ($50-60) on a late June Saturday. Dream on, Mikey! Every room I checked was $120-140 IF they even had one. Finally I pulled into the Value Motel (sounds promising, right?) on Cleveland Road, a very short distance from the causeway. Posted Rate was $88 for a single room. There was no one at the desk, so I walked out. Guy runs out as I'm driving away. We haggled a tiny bit, and I got the room for $60 (70 with tax.) Shower leaked, killed one spider, thumbtack holding up part of the ceiling. Fleabag is too good a word. Room was the size of a closet. When I came back from the park, the posted rate had gone up to $135 for a single. I asked about Sunday night. He suggested $60, I offered $40, and we did $50, no tax. Funny thing was..those were the two best nights of sleep I had!
Canada...First night, I stayed with a friend in St. Catharines who was gonna join me at Wonderland . We drove to the park and I paid for a shared Motel 6 room in Brampton..$63 and tax. Her place again the next night.
Darien Lake..EconoLodge five miles from the park...$75 including tax. More than I'd want to spend, but I got a discount ticket for DL at the front desk. Normal admission is $40 plus $8 to park. I got the ticket for $36 INCLUDING parking, so that offset the cost of the room.
I went to Ryans Buffet near CP for breakfast last year but it didn't pass the BACON test. This year it did. I had a lot of great bacon this trip, not only Ryans, but little cafes in Canada and a Country Market buffet near the Econolodge at Darien.
Number of times I ate at Wendys...3
Number of delicious Wendys meals..3
Golden Corral near KI..dinner buffet. Terrific fried shrimp and fried chicken. Even ate some fruit and vegetables!
Best meal of the trip...Awesome fish and (pretty good) chips at Casey's in Brampton, Ontario. As good as any I've ever had in NJ's Scottish mecca, Kearny. Also at Casey's, I had the only alcoholic drink of the trip..Southern Comfort and OJ.
Best breakfast sandwich..Bacon, egg and cheese biscuit at Waffle House near KI. Unfortunately, I also ordered a sausage one and ate that first...
Had to get a battery jump at KI..left lights on.
Worst experience of the trip: My friend's place in Canada is about ten miles from the Lewiston Bridge, where I was coming back across the border. I sat there for almost FIVE SOLID HOURS. I left her place at 11:50 and crossed at 5pm.
She smokes and I don't. She doesn't enjoy spinny rides and I do..so those two factors dovetailed nicely. She'd take a smoke break and I'd ride.
One of the best moments of the trip..partaking of a different sort of controlled substance under a moonlit, clear Canadian sky. Not something I do often nowadays..last time was three years ago. Before that? Looong time back.
I was looking for a motel room en route home from Darien Lake. I left the park about 6, but didn't really want to make the nearly 8 hour drive through. but it was Friday night of July 4th weekend, and every place I stopped wanted at least $100. I was not feeling overly tired, and felt pretty good physically, so by the time I got to the Poconos, I stopped looking. Made it home at 2 am, courtesy of a few bottles of diet Mountain Dew.
I make only one New Years Resolution each year...to do at least one thing in the next calendar year I've never done before. A few things on this trip fit that criteria, notably:
1. I fell asleep at an amusement park. I came off Diamondback about 45 minutes before I was to meet Gary. Plopped down on a bench on the shady porch of the gift shop, and conked out for twenty minutes!
2. I participated in a sports activity at a park. Darien Lake had a batting cage, so I decided to take some swings..20 for two bucks. I didn't hit more than three balls hard, but they make you wear a helmet with a face mask. That made it tough.
I was worried about buckling into MF, with the apparently shortened belts and my extra weight. I managed, but the attendant had to actually do the buckle on all but my last ride. It didn't feel tight, though...very comfy. I think my difficulty was was trying to squeeze my hand between my "love handles" and the armrest.
My friend and I had planned to visit the Clifton Hill area at Niagara Falls in Canada. But it turned out she had to work that day, which was Canada Day. As much as I love putt-putt, walk-through haunted houses, simulators, and wax museums, I didn't feel like doing those types of activities on my own. So I skipped that. Therefore, my first visit to Canada in 40 years took me to the Niagara area, and I crossed the Niagara River in NY...but I never got to see the Falls. My memories from when I was five are still all I have...
From the ridiculous to the sublime:
If there's any RUSH fans out there, you may remember their song "Lakeside Park." Well, Tina took me to the actual park immortalized in the song. We went for a walk, partly on the beach, partly on the pier. I took off my socks and shoes and actually got to dip my feet in Lake Ontario (fulfilling my New Years resolution yet again!) It's a beautiful spot, made all the better by a carnival on the grounds with a Zipper, junior coaster, and more. Couldn't ride..too early. But...we did ride the beautiful carousel, a permanent resident of the park since 1921. It's really nice, well kept, and follows the first rule of a good carousel..there ARE NO stationary horses. You wanna stay still, grab a bench seat. The horses' tails are made from real horse hair. And it only costs a nickel! Tina bought us each five tickets, but we only took one ride. I gave the tickets to some children who were heading for the ride as we walked out. I bought postcards, but must have left them on the counter as I put away my change.
And...lastly (for now, anyway)..my Beast T-Shirt did not survive the trip. It's lasted me since my first ride in the mid 90's, but I wore it at Darien Lake, and it somehow ripped at the belly..too big a tear to hide. RIP, Black Beast Tee.
I told myself I was gonna do things differently this trip. I didn't push myself, I rested, I stayed hydrated, I ate..well, except for the last day..and I took my insulin. I'm tired, but I don't feel nearly as wiped out as I have in the past. And if I end up in the hospital this week, it won't be because of the trip. I feel pretty good, and went to GAdv yesterday..first time since Easter Sunday.
I'm sure there's stuff I've missed and forgotten. If y'all have any questions, want more info, or need some blanks filled in...you know where I am!
Thanks for reading!
Stuck at the No Tell Motel...I mean Value Motel on Cleveland....wow. Let that be a lesson to all future Cedar Point visitors to make reservations. The park is always busy during the summer.
Good to know you still had fun though.
Glad you enjoyed Canada and its controlled substances. I have friends that prefer to partake in those before riding at the park. My buddies saw Rush perform in Ottawa this weekend. They tried to tell me how amazing it was, but died in the process.
Also, your points about Wonderland are dead-on, mostly. Wild Beast is miles ahead of Minebuster, but only gets half the love. Behemoth's first drops are whoppers, but then it calms down somewhat. I disagree about Thunder Run, though. That ride is just terrible. Slow-loading, slow-moving, terrible effects. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though.
I must confess I didn't "GET" your comment about your friends "dying" vis-a-vis the RUSH concert.
Geddy, Neil, and Alex will be in MY home state of New Jersey in September.
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