A theme park gift under $10? Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
In a previous post, I had offered some tickets and Fright Lane passes to Dorney Park. With no takers, I invited my client/friend Fran and her husband, Mike, to join me. Fran's a Great Adventure/Kingda Ka groupie, but has not been to any other amusement park in over 20 years, and even then it was local small parks like Palisades and Olympic Parks here in NJ, and seaside parks like Seaside Heights and Coney.
I met them at McDonalds around 11 am after a stop at the local Weis supermarket and we headed over. No trouble picking up tickets and Fright Lane passes at Guest Services. I gave the fourth admission ticket to a woman on line at the ticket booth.
It's important to remember what I said about Fran and other parks. We hit the Wild Mouse first to avoid the anticipated line later, followed in succession by the Top Spin (Hang Time,) A back and a front seat ride on Talon (B&M invert) which felt a bit forceless, but still enjoyable and two rides on Meteor, an inverting non-coaster ride which I still love the heck out of. Fran and Mike took two front seat rides on Hydra, the B&M floorless, while I took the back. It's nowhere near my favorite floorless, but I like it a bit more than I used to.
We then headed down to the lower section. I figured Fran would like Possessed, since it's Dorney's only launched coaster (impulse.) She did, but it felt, to me, very sluggish and slow on the launch, and it made a terrible noise on the launch that made me wonder if something was wrong with it. Their inverted boomerang, Stinger, was next. I'll only ride it in the end seat facing out as you climb the lift. This was actually Fran's favorite coaster of the day. But since she has no real point of reference...take it for what it is. We only got one ride each on Possessed and Stinger, then hit Steel Force (hyper) for one. Good ride, not too much braking. Again they went for the front..she's one of THOSE people ;) Hell, she even likes the front seat on Toro!
We decided to eat, and made our way back to the Game Day Grill by Hydra. We stopped for a few flats including the Whip, Enterprise, and Dominator (space shot/drop tower,) which I passed on. Two rides on Free Fall..I mean Demon Drop..thrilled the heck outta Fran, as she always loved it GAdv. I like the ride for what it is, but I HATE the flip-back into the upright position. Fran was insisting that GAdv's model was remosed because of a fatality, but I believe she's incorrect..I can find nothing about an accident on Free Fall.
I had a hunch they would pick up the tab for dinner, and they did. I had a very good cheeseburger and excellent onion rings. Free refills on soft drinks, which I took advantage of through copious amounts of decent iced tea...they used very small cups, though.I gave the fourth Fright Lane pass to a woman sitting near us, who said she'd use it to avoid waiting with her kids (who were not present in the restaurant) I thought that was pretty funny.
After that, Fran wanted to re-ride Hydra, Steel Force and Stinger, but the crowds had increased exponentially as we realized upon leaving the restaurant at 5:30. All three of those coasters had very long(for Dorney) lines. So we did a couple more flats, killing time until the haunt attractions were to open at 7pm.
The haunts were slightly disappointing this year. There's a coupla new ones, but my favorite... Backwoods/Camp Cudie... has been eliminated because of those darn dumb dinosaurs. We started with Grave Walkers, an outdoor cemetery (whether intentional or not, the word "cemetery" is misspelled on the sign.) Not bad, very disorienting, without a clearly marked path..you just kind of wander around until you find the exit.
Most of the Haunts were very crowded and the Fright Lane seriously came in handy. Most did a good job with the visuals/props/decor/creepy atmosphere, but the scare actors left something to be desired. Highlights:
The farting horse in Blood Shed.
The violin-playing zombie in the Mansion Hotel..he was very good, and playing live. Working where I do, I've developed a slight appreciation for classical music. I actually let Fran, Mike, and several others pass me by while I listened for a bit.
The urinating hillbilly in CornStalkers.
Being complimented by not one, but two zombies on my Walking Dead t-shirt!
Fran and Mike left about 10. I wanted to visit two more Haunts, so I gave their Fright Lane passes to a young couple lining up in that area of Blood Shed and CornStalkers, which are in Wild Water Kingdom.
Okay, that was Saturday.
Now, on to Sandy...I mean Sunday.
The storm was coming from the South, so what does your favorite nutjob do? He heads south to finish the season at SF Great Adventure. I waffled several times on the way down, and came close to turning around. But I didn't...and I'm glad. I won't spend a lotta time on this part of the report, because I write about GAdv enough. But all rides...and I went on only five..felt somewhat rough..maybe it was the chill, the heavy winds, who knows? I was also stapled tighter than usual, since I was wearing a baseball jacket over two t-shirts, instead of my usual one-and-done t-shirt. When I saw there couldn't be more than 1500-2000 people in the park, I decided to try for ten rides each on my four favorites (El Toro, Batman, Bizarro, and Nitro) The only thing that prevented me from succeeding was Nitro, which was running two trains but took one off while I was next to board the back seat. Because of that reduced capacity, I knew it would be difficult to poach empty seats and took only two rides. I got to the park slightly before 10:30 and left about 2:15 after 33 total rides (I took a lap on the Runaway Train, too)
I ran into some rain on the way back north, but not heavy. The brunt of the storm is expected to hit later today and tomorrow. But there's no coasters on the horizon, that's for sure. When does April get here? And that better not be a newly named hurricane...
Thanks as always for reading.
And remember, there ARE none in Jersey (double :(
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