30 Parks in 16 days: Day 2 - PKD

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Tuesday, June 24, 2003 3:59 AM
June 27, 2003. Got up around 8 am. We were all really excited to begin the first full day of the trip, and what a great way to start it with Paramount's Kings Dominion. Simon and I had been to the park in 2001, and we both enjoyed it. It was my dad's first ever visit, and being a fan of launched coasters he was really looking forward to it. I looked out the window of the hotel room to see some thick rain clouds and drizzle, which was a stark contrast to the blazing heat we experienced at PKD two years ago.

Arrived at the park at 9.30 am and parked right at the front of the car park ($7 parking). We purchased a seasons pass each for $89.99; it had just gone up today from $84.99. After waiting impatiently at the gates, we were let into the park at 10 am, and I was the first person through the security check. We made our way down International Street and past the Eiffel Tower where another security guard was waiting, this time standing behind a closed gate. We were told the rides did not open until 10.30 am, this was a little annoying, but it did say on the web site that the park didn't open until 10.30 am.

By 10.30 am a small crowd had gathered, including one or two guys on their own who looked like coaster enthusiasts (I found out later they were). Just before the guard opened the gates, he said if anyone ran passed him he would send them to the back of the crowd. I think this is a far more civilized way of opening the park than just allowing people to haphazardly run to rides (like at Cedar Point). He also said three rides would be closed, but may open later if they get them fixed, one of these was Ricochet, the only adult coaster at the park I had not ridden. I was pretty annoyed as my track record would now be five new coasters down already, and it's only day two of my trip!

The gates opened and I quickly made my way to Hypersonic XLC. Some kids did run passed me just as the security guard walked off, but they made their way to Drop Zone, which didn't run all morning, so serves them right the little "pusher inners". So here I am walking into an empty Hypersonic XLC station straight up to the front seat, soon to be joined by Simon.

I sat forward a little in my seat before pulling down my lapbar. I had heard there was some airtime at the top of the hill, but I didn't get any in 2001, so I tried to give myself 1 inch or so room to experience it for myself. In a matter of seconds the train was full and ready for dispatch. I was really excited, I thought Hypersonic was great in 2001, but the lines were long and it kept breaking down, so I only got to ride it twice.

Hypersonic XLC was excellent! I love the view of the tower as you are waiting to be launched, and the launch is so powerful, far more so than Xcelerator, which is too drawn out. The negative g's going over the top of the hill are extreme, and I did get some good aritime, and on the bunny hop too. Both Simon and I were buzzing after we got off, and it was straight back in line afterwards for another ride. The ride was still a walk-on for all but the front seat, for which we had to wait about 4 more trains. My dad was soon back in line as well, and he thought the ride was fantastic.

They were running two trains and the dispatch times were really good. The staff were also calling out for single riders to fill empty seats, which helped keep the capacity up, and also meant my dad didn't have to wait as long to ride. After two rides in the front we decided to try out the back, by now there was a 1-2 train wait for the rest of the train and more people were coming in by the minute.

The back seat ride was not as good, and was a little bumpy, so afterwards we decided to get the rest of the park done in case it rained. I did notice my thighs were hurting a little, and on my second ride the sheer power of the launch forced the lap bar down really tight into my legs so I decided it was not a good idea to try and keep it a little loose. By the way, when I say loose, I mean no more than one or two inches, so I won't be falling out anytime time soon.

Next on the list was Grizzly. With the damp weather I had high hopes for the ride and headed straight to the back seat. I just love the queuing area for this ride as you walk out into the woods along a covered wooden walkway with lanterns. They were running one train and it was a complete walk on all day with re-rides in empty rows, and 1-2 train wait for the front seat. The ride ops were not stapling, but were watching like hawks as the train went up the lift, this is something I've noticed on all wooden coasters at Paramount parks.

I rode in the back with some enthusiast guy who stayed on from the ride before. I asked him how it was running, and he said "excellently." However, I found it a little disappointing and didn't think it was running its best, the tunnel was still great, but the rest of the ride was average. Simon and dad didn't think too much to it, but they rode it in the front. We bumped into the same guy later on, and he rode with my dad on a couple of rides. He had been to the park the day before (Memorial Day) and Sunday and said the park was packed. He also said Drop Zone was down all day, and Hypersonic and Volcano both broke down for most of the day as well!

It was now time for a blast on Volcano. We walked across to the other side of the park, noticing the nice landscaping on the way. The Congo area of the park is really well-themed, and Volcano looks great (at lot more effective than Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park). There was about a 7 train wait for the front seat, and some vacant rows for the rest of the train. Dad wanted to sit anywhere to get more rides in, I told him he had to wait for the front as it is the "only" place to sit. They were running 2 trains, and filling empty seats. There was a really friendly ride op who kept asking people if they were enjoying their day and stuff like that.

Our ride on Volcano was awesome! After a launch on Hypersonic I was expecting Volcano's launch to be a little weak, but it wasn't! The launch is powerful and seems long without losing any speed. The turnaround and second launch are also great, but the blast out of the Volcano is the best bit. Once out of the Volcano, I like the constant height of the ride and the three inline twists, and the big drop into the Volcano at the end. However, the ending is really disappointing, only if they could have added a helix inside the Volcano or something, this would have made the ride a perfect ten, instead I'll give 9/10, and it knocks the socks of any B&M inverted.

We all thought Volcano was great, and decided to get more rides. Simon and I tried out the back seat, whilst dad got in line for the front. The back was no where near as good, and I decided I'd rather wait for the front again from now on. I was hoping by the time Simon and I got off the back that I could get back in line and ride with dad, but they had just closed the air gates and were checking his restraints. Waited for the front again.

Avalanche had just opened up and was running two trains with no wait at all. Had a ride on that in the front seat, and it as running quite well. I thought it was quite boring before, so maybe the damp track made it run better. Still, it's nothing to get excited about, but it is a pleasant ride and adds variety to the park's coasters.

Next was Anaconda, with 2 trains running and no wait. My dad has not yet mastered looking at the track to determine the manufacturer, but he did know enough to say it looked like one of those "bashers". I love the setting over the water, and the water splash effect, but those tight turns after the midcourse brakes and before the corkscrews are not very nice at all. After just one ride no one wanted another one, so we moved on.

Flight of Fear was next. There was about a four train wait for front seat. Great theming on this ride, including the spooky music (which PKI doesn't seem to have) in the main hanger, and the eerie green lighting. Unfortunately, they still have the midcourse brakes on and they bring the ride to an almost complete stop (PKI's doesn't do this). A good fun ride with a good start and finish, but boring middle. Simon and I liked this, dad didn't, he said he likes to be able to see where he is going, since the sudden unexpected turns jar his back.

By now it was 2 pm and we were getting quite hungry. Simon and I purchased a large Boardwalk Fries between us which cost us $5 (with a $2 discount from a voucher in the seasons pass book). These were expensive, but all the other food places with discount vouchers were closed! After eating the fries, we could see that Drop Zone was now running, so we made out way over to it. The whole queue was full, and the wait was about 30 minutes. All of a sudden there was a loud smash as someone dropped their camera from off the ride, it broke into little tiny pieces, but didn't go near anyone. Let this be a lesson to people who take on-ride photos - learn to hold on properly you fool! After this, they made everyone hold their hands out as they checked the restraints (they may have actually been doing this before, but I wasn't paying attention).

Drop Zone is the highest Drop Tower in North America, but I'm not scared of heights, and it really didn't do anything for me as there was no airtime. However, it is a very good addition to the park and no doubt will please millions of guests over the coming years.

Next was Shockwave. I detest these Togo contraptions, and tried to convince dad (a fan of stand-ups) that Shockwave was no Riddler's Revenge. They were running two trains and there were no lines other than for the front. We sat in row two and still had to wait 10 minutes before we were on our way due to the hideous capacity of the ride. This ride was awful, as it launched us into the unpadded shoulder harness and it hurt like hell, one of the most uncomfortable rides ever. To add to it we had to wait a further five minutes on brake block waiting for the other train to dispatch, and then it started to rain.

After leaving the ride I put on my rain poncho and took shelter in a nearby arcade. Dad had waited for the front seat, so we had to wait for him. By now it was raining really heavy. Both dad and Simon left their poncho's in the car, so I volunteered to go back and them for them so they wouldn't have to get wet. It rained solidly for nearly two hours.

We then had one ride on the front seat of Hurler, which we did not enjoy due to the rain. I noticed in the Hurler line that Ricochet was testing, and indeed it opened up. I was very impressed by this because most parks wouldn't have bothered working on it in the pouring rain when the park was dead, but PKD did and they opened it, and I thanked the staff for it. Had three rides on it, and it ran quite well in the rain without too much braking. We were the only ones on it, and probably no more than 10 people rode it that day.

Had three rides on the front seat of Rebel Yell backwards, which was absolutely brilliant! I had my poncho on so I didn't get wet and as the train was running backwards so no rain went in my face. I had no idea what was going on, and my poncho was flapping all over the place. The ride was running really fast, and there was some good airtime, particularly on the drop after the turnaround. Had about three rides on it, shame it doesn't run like that when it's dry.

Went back on the Grizzly and just sat in the back seat for two or three laps. This was fun as well, and I love riding on my own on this because you get thrown over the other side of the train. The rain started easing off and dad and I took a walk-on front seat ride on Hypersonic XLC, this was okay but not the best in the rain.

It was now 4 pm and went off to ride Scooby Doo Ghoster Coaster. The whole Kidsville area had been dead all day as there were no little kidies in the park at all. This is a fun ride with two or three bits of airtime, and unlike Beastie at PKI there are no trim brakes. Dad desperately wanted to ride Taxi Jam but the ride ops wouldn't let him ride without a child. However, a kid came along to ride it on his own and he agreed to ride with us both (although he didn't look to happy about it). Simon said he wouldn't stoop so low as the ride it, However, I needed something extra adding to my Track Record, and now I had done every coaster in the park. I know lots of parks have this policy about riding kddie coasters, but I think it's stupid, especially if there is absolutely no one waiting. If you can ride with a child, why can't you ride alone?

By now it was 4 pm and it had stopped raining, so we made our way back to Volcano. The park was deserted and we walked on to the front seat of Volcano for another ride. Afterwards, a few people got in line, but still not many. At 5.30 pm I headed back over to Flight of Fear to get the last four rides of the day before the park closed at 6 pm.

Despite the rain, we all had a great day at the park, and had over 35 rides. This was my 4th visit to PKD and I have enjoyed every one of them, but I think this one was my best due to the walk ons. If I had to choose between sun and crowds, or rain and walk ons, I'd take the rain any day.

We left the park and drove up the interstate one junction and checked in to the Comfort Suites. I went in the fitness center for 30 minutes and then in the indoor heated pool. Afterwards, we went out for dinner at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, which I think is where the sniper shot someone last year.

The next day was Busch Gardens Williamsburg and a couple more hours in PKD.

Anyone wishing to view photos of the PKD and read a fulll review can do so at my website.

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Coaster Grotto - Over 1,000 coaster photos and 80 theme park reviews now online!
*** This post was edited by Grant 6/24/2003 10:11:42 AM ***

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