Show Me The Coasters - Part 6

September 21, 2019, 5:16 PM

The abrupt end to our day at Silver Dollar City, disappointing though it was, did have a bit of a silver lining. We had a three and a half hour drive from the park to our hotel for the night in Kansas City, so it was nice to get a head start on that adventure. While stopped for dinner at a conveniently located Hardee's, Andrew asked how close our hotel was to our park for the next day, Worlds of Fun. I quickly checked Google and learned that we were only a couple exits away. The follow-up question: "What time will we arrive at the hotel?" The answer: "About 9:30." "How late is Worlds of Fun open tonight?" "10, why?"

Show Me The Coasters
Part 6: Around the World in 7 Coasters

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9:38 P.M. That was the time on the car's clock as we parked at Worlds of Fun. The park was closing in 22 minutes. As quickly as we could, we got out of the car and walked to the entrance. I wasn't sure if they would admit us with so little time to closing, but they just scanned our passes and welcomed us inside. Since none of us had visited this park before, we quickly consulted a map, then set off through Scandinavia to our destination in Africa beyond.

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The original itinerary for this tour only included a morning and afternoon at Worlds of Fun, with no evening time at the park. However, due to our earlier than expected arrival, we managed to get to the park with just enough time to sample something once referred to as a religious coaster experience: Prowler at night. With no line at all, we hopped in the back of the next train and took off into the night.

HOLY (bleep)! Prowler at night is ridiculous! After the first drop and turnaround, the ride races away from the main park area and off into the woods. However, just before entering the darkest portion of the ride, a camera takes your picture.

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That flash is completely blinding, making the rest of the ride a wild jaunt through the trees with no clue what is about to come next. While not absolutely smooth, the ride is still in very good shape and features tons of airtime and laterals throughout the course. It's not a long ride, but it is far from short, and like many GCIs every inch of track matters.

We exited the train and went around for another ride. We would have gone for a third, but by that point the park was closed for the night. Still, it was a very successful visit, and those night rides on Prowler mostly made up for missing a couple hours of Silver Dollar City time. Satisfied and worn out, we headed to the hotel to rest.

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The next day, we arrived at Worlds of Fun early to take advantage of their early entry period. Our strategy was simple...ride Spinning Dragons, then circle the park counter-clockwise. Unfortunately, Spinning Dragons was being uncooperative, so rather than wait it out we skipped it and headed to Americana to start the day on Patriot.

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Patriot was the last B&M inverted coaster in all of North America for me to try, so I was looking forward to the ride. The coaster bears a lot of similarities to Talon at Dorney Park, which I consider to be a middle-tier invert.

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Unfortunately, Patriot is essentially a forceless version of Talon. It has a nice layout, flows well, and is exceptionally smooth, but there is little in the way of intensity or thrills.

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I do rank it slightly higher than my home B&M invert (Silver Bullet) primarily because I like the layout better, but it is certainly near the bottom of the ranks.

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We next made our way over to Timber Wolf, the park's other major early-entry coaster. A Dinn Corporation woodie, my expectations for this one were set pretty low. I have experienced every other Dinn in existence, and even my favorite ride by them (Kentucky Kingdom's Thunder Run) is just an okay coaster. No, Timber Wolf did not dethrone Thunder Run for the title, but it sits proudly as my second favorite Dinn. Recent trackwork has made a huge difference, resulting in a reasonably smooth ride with a few small pops of airtime and a nice long layout. There are unfortunately trims scattered throughout the ride that decrease the potential, but what remains is still a fun coaster if you're not expecting extreme intensity.

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By the time we finished Timber Wolf, the hordes had been unleashed. At most Cedar Fair properties, this means several thousand guests come charging in. At Worlds of Fun, however, it was probably a few hundred that quickly dispersed themselves. We had no sense of urgency...it was clear today would not have a crowd problem. We headed over to the nearby Planet Snoopy for our next coaster.

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Cosmic Coaster is a generic kiddie coaster model known as a wacky worm. This coaster type is flat out awful, with a boring figure eight layout traversed at a ridiculously slow pace. I personally did not expect that we would be allowed on, but Andrew talked to the bored ride op and we were invited aboard.

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The ride itself was exactly what I expected...dull and pointless, only escaping the worst coaster award because of how uncomfortable the Grand Exposition Coaster had been.

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As we headed back toward Africa to tackle the park's remaining coasters (Spinning Dragons was still inoperable), we took a brief stop at Detonator to take advantage of the non-existent line. While the ride itself is little different than any other S&S Space Shot, this installation is unique in that the towers do not run independently. Both sides are loaded at once and launched together, racing up and down the structure. The first of three space shot attractions on the tour, this was probably the weakest of the bunch (though still stronger than Silver Dollar City's double shot).

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Continuing on, we arrived at the largest coaster amongst Worlds of Fun's offerings: Mamba. One of three similar Morgan hypers, this coaster is quite similar to Steel Force at Dorney Park. 205 ft. tall and 5,600 ft. long, the ride consists of hill after hill interrupted only by a double helix at the far end.

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It is a fun ride with a little bit of floater air on the out run, but sadly the midcourse brakes rob the return camelbacks of any air. On the whole, I'd say this one is a tiny bit better than Steel Force due to the double helix, but it did nothing to dethrone Steel Eel as my favorite Morgan.

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Nearby was the second Boomerang of the tour. Much like SFStL's installation, this is a common model that can be found at many parks around the world. WOF's version was boomerang number 14 for me, and while not the best of the type I would place it in the upper third. No need for re-rides here...we took our spin and moved on.

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Since Prowler was nearby, we returned for a daytime ride. During the day, it is not nearly as insane as the rides we got at night, but it is still a very solid GCI woodie.

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My top two GCI's are Thunderhead and Gold Striker, but below that is a group that contains Kentucky Rumbler, Lightning Racer, and Mystic Timbers all approximately tied. Prowler slides right into this group, landing just below Mystic Timbers due to the slightly rougher ride and lack of shed.

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By now, Spinning Dragons was operational, so we made our way back over to the coaster. This ended up being our only significant wait of the day, with a queue taking approximately 40 minutes to get through.

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The ride itself is a nice family coaster with a nearly identical layout to SFSTL's Pandemonium, though this one seemed to have more braking and less spinning. A fun ride for sure, but not an amazing one and probably not worth that wait.

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The coasters conquered, we did a second lap of the park for re-rides and flats. For the most part, the park's flat rides are average, but there is one that stands out.

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Named Cyclone Sam's the ride is a Chance Wipeout built inside a barn. The idea is you're riding an invention designed to study storms, so the attraction simulates being inside a tornado with various special effects. It's incredibly cheesy, but something a bit different that was worth checking out.

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Overall, Worlds of Fun is not a Cedar Fair park that gets much attention, and many locals deride it for the lack of major investment (other than Michigan's Adventure, this park gets the least capital in the entire chain).

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However, I think this reputation is undeserved.

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I went into the park expecting to be underwhelmed and ready to leave within three hours, but what I found was a passable locals' park with several quality rides and better theming than most of Cedar Fair's lesser properties.

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The park is clean, the rides are enjoyable, the landscaping is nice, and the operations are passable.

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Yes, the fact that we were there on a quiet day probably helped, but we spent about six hours at the park and found the whole time enjoyable.

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Now, is it a park I would travel out of the way to revisit? No, probably not. Is it one I would likely stop by again if I found myself in the Kansas City area? Absolutely.

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Worlds of Fun Coaster Rankings:

B Tier:

1. Prowler
2. Patriot
3. Mamba

C Tier:

4. Timber Wolf
5. Spinning Dragons

D Tier:

6. Boomerang

Never Again Tier:

7. Cosmic Coaster

Sadly, Worlds of Fun would be the last park for Evan as he had an evening flight out from Kansas City. However, we still had a little time before that happened.

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On the recommendations of locals at the park, we headed to Arthur Bryant's for a late lunch/early dinner of Kansas City barbeque. This restaurant dates back to 1908 and is often listed among the most famous barbeque restaurants in the United States. While Arthur died in the 80s, the place continues to be run by his descendents in much the same manner. A very basic interior awaits diners, with service through windows at a counter in the back. All types of meat are available, with burnt ends being the house specialty.

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I didn't get those, but I got a two meat sandwich (three months later, I couldn't tell you which ones) and lathered it up with the restaurant's signature sauce. From my memory, the best barbeque ever it was not, but it was still quite good and extremely filling.

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With approximately two hours before Evan needed to be at the airport, we had time for one final stop. I have an enthusiast friend by the name of Gary who enjoys putting together trips to go ride kiddie coasters in remote locations.

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With our remaining time, we all decided to channel our inner Garys and visit PowerPlay Family Entertainment Center, a family fun center that took over a former Best Buy in Kansas City. The best way to describe this place is a Chuck E. Cheese on steroids.

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In addition to a giant arcade, the facility offers several regular amusement park rides, laser tag, go-karts, and a couple more extreme attractions. Naturally, many of these were a draw, so we each purchased around $20 of points to kill an hour here.

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Of course, the coaster was the main attraction for most in the group. A Miler family coaster called Python Pit, this ride wins the award for best kiddie coaster of the trip. While the layout itself is just a drop, hill, helix, and turnaround, PowerPlay went overboard on the theming here.

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The entire ride area is decorated with plastic trees and cardboard cutouts of animals, with green rope lighting illuminating the scene. At one end of the path, the trains pass through a dark room with a couple fake rocks and several sets of bat eyes. Compared to Disney, it's super cheap and tacky, but it amazes me that a small FEC can do a better theming job than most regional theme parks.

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Beyond that, we took a spin on the tilt-a-whirl, played a round of laser tag, and loaded up on candy from tickets won at the arcade games. Eventually, it was time to head out. Due to a complication, Rob needed to make a shopping stop, so I dropped him and Andrew off at a nearby strip mall while I drove Evan to the airport. In short order I returned to retrieve the pair, and then we set out for what would be my last new state of the trip...Iowa.

Some photos courtesy of Evan and Andrew.

Replies (3)

September 24, 2019, 12:45 PM

The incomparable James Rao would have you think WoF is the worst amusement park on the planet. This seems to paint a much better picture of a decent regional park that probably doesn't get the love it deserves from its corporate overlords. I feel the same way about Six Flags America, but recognize the because I visit the park so much (because it's the closest to my home), I tend to notice its warts far more than those visiting for the first time.

September 24, 2019, 2:46 PM

Wow. Great report on Worlds of Fun. Really gave me a better idea of what this park has to offer. Better than what I expected and certainly seems worth a visit if I am in that area. I especially like how you arrived at the park minutes from closing just to get in some nighttime rides on Prowler. Something that a younger version of myself might have done.

Edited: September 25, 2019, 1:11 PM

Russell, I imagine James is frustrated by the fact that Worlds of Fun hasn't received a major attraction in a decade, which would frustrate me too if it was the only park within day trip radius. That's one reason why I usually trust the opinions of locals when it comes to visiting advice but the opinions of infrequent visitors when it comes to quality of the park. Compared to other Cedar Fair properties, I'd put Worlds of Fun roughly on par with Dorney Park, though if Cedar Fair was willing to invest it could become the next Carowinds. I am hoping the park gets a new coaster very soon, and could see something like HangTime at Knott's working very well here. A bit of a spoiler, but it was the best Cedar Fair park we visited on this trip and probably third or fourth out of fifteen parks overall.

Ed, I wouldn't recommend making a special trip for Worlds of Fun, but if you find yourself in Kansas City I definitely recommend checking it out. The Prowler night visit is something I had originally tried to squeeze into the itinerary, but it would require us leaving Silver Dollar City by 5 P.M. and I didn't want to cut our time there short for it. However, the weather ended up doing that for us, so it all worked out. I did intentionally look for hotels within five miles of the park just in case the opportunity presented itself.




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