I was having second thoughts about going. I was anticipating Halloween in the park since the beginning of the season. But after reading some stuff on this site about incidents at the park the LAST time Closing Day was Halloween on a Sunday, and seeing Sunday's weather forecast (gorgeous, mid-60's) I had a few Clash moments.."Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" But (bleep) it..this is what I do. I drove to Dorney last Friday afternoon after having a procedure done on my eye that morning. I drove with no left eye and no peripheral vision. Stupid? Yeah. But it's not nearly the stupidest thing I've ever done. I had considered going to Hershey Saturday, staying over, and driving to GAdv Sunday morning after church. I even reached the point of reserving a Motel 6 and finding a church..that's how close I was. But partly due to logistics and mostly due to finances, I didn't.
Halloween morning, I put on my Coaster Enthusiast costume..jeans, Son Of Beast T-shirt. After gassing up, hitting the ATM, and stopping by the cemetery to wish my Mom a happy 82nd birthday, I headed down to Jackson and walked through the gate at 9:58..hey, that rhymes! Missed my calling as a rapper. I coulda been the next Eminem, although with my mad skills, I woulda been the next Vanilla Ice.
I knew there was a possibility I might run into Fran, a client of mine from the job. She wasn't feeling well this week, but she was hoping to make it. We'd made no plans to meet. I also called Kathy, the woman I met at Family Fun Night at the beginning of October, to see if she felt like meeting up. Her daughter was gonna be at a Mischief Night sleepover at a friend's house, then the friend's Mom was gonna take the girls trick or treating on Sunday. Kathy thought she might pick up Casey, bring her over to Grandma's then join me at the park for a while. I told her my theory that it would be moderately crowded during the day, see a boost around 3 or 4, then be a sardine can at night. When I talked to her, we said I'd make my way to Toro's entrance around 2pm. If she was there, great. If she wasn't there, it meant she wasn't making it.
After walking through the gate, I did NOT head over to the left side rope drop by the Carousel. Instead, I went to Guest Relations to purchase my Parking for 2011. $45 and tax..$48. Gave my ATM card, but it seemed to take forever. Woman apologized for a computer glitch when handing me my re-labeled pass and my card.
When the rope dropped (I was there by that time) I momentarily thought about heading to Kingda Ka first, still anticipating heavy crowds around mid-day. But, as usual, I followed my well-worn path past the Carousel and Tea Cups, through the arcade, and into Plaza De Carnival. Toro hadn't started running yet, so I snagged the first ride of the day. Didn't get my customary seat, but I've realized something on my last few visits. There simply is not a bad seat in the back third of the train on either side. So I was riding with a fellow named Ryan, a park employee on his day off, and we were interacting with two little kids, a brother and sister. We kept sitting in front of or in back of one another, high-fiving, fist bumping (even Rory, the attendant, was doing it.) We got 11 rides in different seats without leaving the station, although the kids missed the 11th. The little girl's costume was one of my favorites of the day..she was a Twister game mat. Her dad, who wasn't riding, was holding her spinner hat and waving to her with it. Her younger brother was a ninja. So I was riding in back of or ahead of Ninja and Twister! Coasters on Coasters! The rides? They got steadily better, the early morning chill contributing to some sluggishness. The last couple were decidedly up to par.
I did want to hit up Kingda Ka before it filled up, so I headed over there. The left side was a one train wait for most seats, so I got two rides near the back, although I did have to walk around. The rides were quite good, but a little rougher on the launch than on recent rides. As I was leaving the platform after my second ride, I saw Fran and her husband crossing to the left side. I signaled I'd come around again and met up with them in the queue for the front seat. We were able to chat for a bit..they'd only just arrived..and Fran and I shared a front seat ride. It was terrific, best of the three. It's the only place Fran will ride..but she also prefers front on Toro, so take that for what it's worth. They were heading back for more, so we split. I headed out of the Kingdom, and didn't see them again.
My intention was to hit Bizarro, but I made a pit stop to poke my head into the queue for Superman. The line was longer than I expected, given the very light crowd to that point, so I passed and walked to Bizarro. My knee was starting to bark a little. I had forgotten my little canister of pain relief, so on the way down, I stopped in Aberdeen and picked up a trial size pack of Aleve . I took a couple at that point. Got a half-dozen rides on Bizarro. All effects were working, rides were nice with a little ear-boxing, and I didn't have to leave the station. Since it was still a little chilly, and I wasn't wearing a jacket over my t-shirt, the fireballs felt pretty damn toasty.
It was about 1:30 at that point, so I took a spin on Runaway Train. I was surprised to see the Log Flume running. It had warmed up, so I couldn't resist. Needless to say, no wait.
I headed over to the Bull to see if Kathy would make it. She was already there. First time I'd seen her since we met. After greetings, we got on line for Toro. Wait was around 15 minutes with a full first set of switchbacks. Ran great in the next to last seat. We then popped over to Rolling Thunder, which was actually running and racing all four trains..for the moment. We had been seated on the left side in the yellow train, waiting to race the green train on the right. Then the green train took off, and the dreaded voice came over..the left side was experiencing mechanical difficulties. I couldn't pull a Linda Blair and turn my head completely around to gauge what was happening, and neither could Kathy. By that time, the blue train had unloaded on the right side. We were told to get out, cross under/over the railing, and load into the blue train..much to the chagrin of those waiting to board, having already waited a few cycles. In crossing over, we could see the red train stopped on the brake run under the roof, passengers still in it. They got them back into the station while we were waiting to move into the station from the brake run. Then they closed the left side. So this was, I believe, the first time I'd ever been transferred to another train.
We then took one more ride on Toro before heading to the other side of the park for two excellent rides on Nitro...ten minute wait, stayed on (separately) for another...SkyWay wasn't operational. On the way, we hit Blackbeard and Skull Mountain. I didn't notice the Skull and neither did Kathy..and she can see better than I can. No Skull? On Halloween? Sorry, that just ain't right. Seemed darker than usual, despite the mid-day sun leaking in here and there. One thing that was cool..the ops momentarily killed ALL lights in the station prior to dispatch, but they were back on upon departure. And I havent been on Blackbeard much this year, but I don't remember them having a switchback queue. I remember the area being open aside from the wooden ramp leading to the platform. Are these new? The metal looked new. Also did two laps on Batman. Not used to seeing more than a station wait lately, but it was about 15 minutes.
I had made up my mind before going that if I went, I was gonna treat myself to a Woody Allen sandwich (the biggest..corned beef and pastrami) at the Carnegie Deli near the park entrance. As a corned beef/pastrami connoisseur, I knew it would be decent, at worst. Of course, when I planned that, I didn't know I'd have company. Kathy was amenable to having that, but when I saw how inviting the onion rings looked, I had to get those too. Most I'VE ever spent on a meal in a park!..$21! I suggested to Kathy we take it out to my car and eat..to be able to talk and eat away from the crowd and noise, and because my iced tea was in the car That's what we did. I doubt I would have been able to finish on my own. It's a New York sized sandwich with a pound of meat on rye, and a VERY large portion of rings, some of which fed the seagulls in the lot. I hope the birdies enjoyed them as much as we did..they were fantastic!..(but quite unhealthy, of course..don't take food recommendations from Yours Truly)
Kathy wanted to leave by 6-6:30 to pick up Casey at her Mom's, and by the time we finished eating it was about 4:30. So we went back in, and all of the lines were much worse now. We waited about 1/2 hour for another Nitro ride with a bonus. We had decided to catch the 5:30 Hypnosteria show, which was okay. I enjoy watching, but continue to be skeptical of its validity (if that's the right word.) Too easy for someone to appear to be under, but simply follow what the host says and simply desire to be the center of attention, regardless of what they have to do to get there.
Strangest sight of the day: six or seven HUGE bags of ice sitting on the stairs at Runaway Train.
I walked Kathy to her car at about 6:15, and we stopped for a moment to "admire" Chang.
I split about 6:30. Took the long way home to pick up a couple things at Target, WaWa, and Wegmans (my LATEST source for fresh squeezed OJ!)
The radio station I listen to was doing a Classic Rock top 104 on the way home, and I heard a bunch of songs that make me think of coasters and parks. I'll share:
Springsteen's Thunder Road...Nice rides at Carowinds on my birthday.
Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody..can't listen to it without thinking of my old friends Wayne and Garth, and by extension, the Hurler coasters.
Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here..it's a thought I have pretty often at parks, because there's so many memories..many good...of people I've been with on these rides, or at these places.
Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb..The way I should feel after a great day of coaster riding..the aches and pains shouldn't show up until the next morning
Eagles' Hotel California .."They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill THE BEAST."
Can't come up with anything for Kashmir, Satisfaction, or Let It Be....
And I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but what's with the lack of "Halloween Songs" during the festivities this year? Granted, I'm partly deaf, but I do hear the music in the background. Bryan Adams? Summer Of '69? Heard that three times at GA Halloween. Dorney? Everything they played last week seemed to be instrumentals..jazz, practically..not very spooky. The only Halloween song I heard in a park was Columbus Day, at GA, when my favorite seasonal tune..Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London..was playing right as I met up with a friend. Where's the Monster Mash? Where's the Time Warp? Hell, where's the Witch Doctor? Doctor Demento would be rolling over in his grave..if he was dead, but he's not (even if he's not heard in the NYC area any longer.)
I find it interesting that I spent my Mom's birthday at GA Sunday, and will ideally spend my Dad's birthday there next year...according to GA's site, Opening Day is April 9th, 2011...woulda been Dad's 84th.
Wanna thank two groups of people for a fine season at GA. First the cool people I got to ride and hang with throughout my 11 visits...those whose names I know, and those I don't..Judy , Jen, Kathy, Casey, Jean, Amy, Gary, Fran, Mike, Ryan...it was fun, let's do it again sometime. April 9th?
I also thank the guys and girls from GA's ride and Guest Relations staff..John, Dan, Matt, DJ, Rory, Shane, Margaret and Donna..and again, others whose names I know not.
Thanks for reading, TPI'ers!