6,000 Miles, 24 Days, 29 Parks, 34 Admissions plus Niagara Falls and Mammoth Caves 6/28/19-7/22/19

Thursday, August 8, 2019 11:10 AM

Day 21, July 18th, Mammoth Caves and Beech Bend

Around 5 years ago, while doing a Holiday World/Kentucky Kingdom weekend, my partner at the time and I decided to do the Wild Caves Tour at Mammoth Caves. Other than being issued a pair of coveralls with ripped out knees that allowed the sand that got into my kneepads to grind into my knees, the tour was amazing. I HAD to do it again plus I TRIED to throw in stuff to do that wasn't amusement park related. They don't do this tour on Wednesdays and they only allow 14 people to do it per day, so, you need to schedule a bit in advance, especially if going on a weekend. THIS was the only thing we did during the trip that required us to be there on a certain day.

The great thing about this 5 hour tour which requires crawling, straddling, climbing and walking through water, is that you get to see things that none of the other tours allow you to. That's why I had to do it again. I am super happy I did. This tour is not really about sightseeing. It's about exploring. You walk at a brisk pace from one spot to another. Even with all of the crawling and climbing, we covered around 5 miles. It was awesome. The Cathedral Domes make the entire 5 hours of hard work totally worth it. Just amazing.

Near the end of the tour, the guides said we were doing so well that we had a choice to take an easier, less-rewarding way out or, we could climb our way out which, apparently, most groups don't get to. If anyone of us had said take the easier way, we would have. My 51 year old body told me to take the easier way, but, my pride was telling me not to be the one guy who backs out...Turned out Luke was thinking the same exact thing...lol! So, we climbed the hard way out. Was well worth the effort.

When it was all said and done, I'm extremely pleased that we did it and will probably do it again when I turn 55. Will I do it during a huge amusement park tour? You're crazy if you think I would. Otherwise, definitely. If you happen to be in Louisville for parks, I highly recommend this cave tour. It's absolutely awesome but very hard work.

After the cave tour, we drove the hour or so to get to Beech Bend to catch the last hour they were open. I think when we got there was about the time I realized that my wrists were killing me and were swollen from all of the crawling and climbing we had just done. I took some Excedrin for that and because I had heard that Kentucky Rumbler was a little rough, so, taking the pills was needed anyway.

By this time, we knew there was no way we were going to get to 200 different coasters on the tour, so, we started going for quality. One ride on KR told me I would be riding it as many times during that hour as I could, especially since we paid the entire evening admission price. This ride is a little rough, but, it turned out to be an awesome front seat coaster. I must have gotten 7 or 8 rides on it and loved it. They didn't allow re-rides, so, I was running down their ridiculously long exit ramp and all the way back into the station to literally get back on the train I had just gotten off of that they waited to dispatch until I got back on. Kinda sill if you ask me. I must have really enjoyed this coaster to do that because that cave tour wiped me out. KR is just an overall great GCI coaster. Ride it if you happen to be nearby.

After finishing up there, we headed to stay in Louisville for the night.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:25 PM

zoug68 said:

Before the trip, I had contacted Alabama and asked if I would be able to use my Holiday World Platinum pass for entry. Dan Koch replied and said, yes, I would.

That is... bizarre. Much like Dan himself.

Last edited by birdhombre, Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:25 PM
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Thursday, August 8, 2019 3:56 PM

I'm enjoying the scale and scope of how you're reporting this trip. The narrative is more about the adventure then inane detail of rides we all know.

I've already been to most of these parks at some point or another. This mammoth cave tour sounds awesome though and I will definitely look into it.

Last edited by Kstr 737, Thursday, August 8, 2019 5:14 PM
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Friday, August 9, 2019 11:32 AM

Days 22 and 23, July 19th and 20th, Kentucky Kingdom/Holiday World, Holiday World.

So, after having such an awesome time at Holiday World at the beginning of the trip and us both declaring The Voyage our number 1 coaster and The Legend in both of our top 5 list, we decided to skip Indiana Beach and Michigan's Adventure and instead hit Kentucky Kingdom for a half day and close out HW on Friday and spend the whole day at HW on Saturday since they close at 10 and we wanted some night rides on The Voyage and the Legend.

Kentucky Kingdom is a nice little park. We only opted to ride Lightning Run, Kentucky Flyer and Stormchaser. A couple of hours was enough, so, we left and headed to HW.

When we got to HW, we were thinking that with my HW season pass, Luke would be able to get in for $25 on Friday and then get in Saturday using the next day ticket for $30, but, the morning we arrived, HW started a deal where I can take up to 4 people for $20/person until August 11. So that was an unexpected bonus.

As always, I had a great time at both of these parks. Combining them both into a weekend is very easy and cheap to do, I highly recommend it. If you start at KK, you gain an extra hour heading to HW due to the time zone change and with HW being right at the beginning of it, it gets darker earlier.

Unfortunately for us Voyage junkies, it shut down a little earlier than the 9pm close due to fireworks, so, we just ran over to the Legend and got a few night rides there.

On Saturday, it got pretty busy. While the Voyage line was no longer than the stairs during the day, after the water park closed, they started using the basement queue. Definitely still worth the wait, though, they shut the line down 20 minutes before 10, so, once again, we closed out the night on The Legend.

Once again, I am declaring that HW has the best night ride coasters out there. None come close. NONE! The Voyage has the number one night ride during HoliWood Nights. It has the 2nd best night rides the rest of the time and The Legend ranks third. Those two rides kill all others at night. And they are pretty darned great during the day.

These 2 days were awesome. HW is open tomorrow, Saturday, August 10 for their last 10pm close....It's REALLY killing me not to go. I am tempted to just get in the Tahoe after work, today, and drive the 6.5 hours from Detroit to get there for closing tonight and all day tomorrow..hmmmmm!?!?!?

I have HW as my 3rd favorite park and have already renewed my 2019 platinum pass for 2020. I highly recommend others do the same.

Last edited by zoug68, Friday, August 9, 2019 11:42 AM
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:24 AM

Day 24, July 21st, Park 29 (DOH!), Six Flags Great America.....FINAL DAY!

After the 6 hours of driving plus a few hours of sleeping in rest areas to get Great America, we were finally at our last park. And I must say, this is an awesome park to end such a huge adventure with. I have ALWAYS loved SFGA. It's really pretty and they have an awesome collection of rides. The weather forecasted for the FINAL day of the trip was supposed to be absolutely perfect....and it was...FINALLY! After 23 days of excessive heat and repressive humidity, we had none of that. It was gorgeous!

When we got there, I was torn between going right to the new ride and crossing my fingers and hoping it would open on time and heading to Goliath like on previous visits to be able to get a 5 or 6 ride marathon in. I opted for the latter. Goliath is an awesome coaster that I could, easily, ride all day. And we did get at least 5 rides in. Then we headed to Joker, figuring that would get stupid lines for an ok ride.

At this point, we needed to hit most of the coasters to hit 175 different coasters on this trip. Luke was meeting up with friends to do YouTube stuff, so, we split up for the rest of the day. I bounced around from ride to ride, TRYING to hit what was next, but also keeping in mind that I needed to leave by 6 in order to get home so I could go on vacation from my "vacation" by going back to work. Stupid adulting.

One of the coasters that I really enjoy there is Raging Bull. It's actually one of my favorite B&M hypers due to the very unique layout which makes it their only twister that I can think of, at least in the US, plus, it has some really good drops while riding in the back. Due to not having seatbelts, thank you 6 Flags for not ruining your B&M hypers with them, they dispatch very quickly. Not Nitro fast, but the line moves pretty fast.

Another coaster that surprises me as to how good it is is Viper. Considering it was designed in-house makes it even more impressive. The turns are great and there are so many moments of airtime on this thing. I absolutely love this coaster.

One downfall, for me, at this park is that most of the coasters have twister types of layouts which make them not so re-ride-able. Goliath is the only one I can ride more than twice in a row. The other ones start to make me a little queasy if I ride more.

As far as food goes, I was very impressed with the grilled chicken Caesar salad offered at the Go Fresh restaurant in the front of the park. Rather than it being served in a plastic carryout container, it was served in an un-fried flour tortilla bowl. It was huge and actually tasted really good. Very nice addition.

While I did get most of the coasters in, I did not bother with Maxx Force since it had gone down a couple of times and I didn't want to risk hitting the 175 mark. I'll be back to get a ride or two on it.

By the time we had to go, Luke ended up with 176 different coasters and I ended up with 175. But, I never used any sort of fast pass on the trip, including the 2 rides that are allowed per visit with my Diamond Elite membership. He used passes he had won to get some rides in that day.

Anyways, while we only visited 29 parks due to night rides on The Voyage and The Legend, again, at Holiday World were way to good to pass up for Indiana Beach and Michigan's Adventure, especially since we still would not have hit 200 coasters, even with those 2 extra parks. If we hadn't gotten rained out of so many coasters, we could have, easily reached our goal. But, I guess 175 isn't too shabby during 22 days of being in parks.

AWESOME TRIP!

One more comment will follow with the estimated final costs.

Last edited by zoug68, Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:25 AM
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:36 AM

Estimated costs....

Gas $1,000 total at 17.5 mpg in my gas hog Tahoe. though we did sleep in it a few nights.

Hotels $1,000 total.

Tickets and parking:

$28 - Waldameer

$20 - Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls

$26 - Lake Compounce

$13 - Quassy

$25 - Seabreeze

$30 - Luna Park (Pay per ride total)

$26 - Beech Bend evening tickets

$20 - Knoebels (Pay per ride total)

$60 - Mammoth Caves Wild Caves Tour

SEASON PASSES (Number of months good), (Number of visits since purchasing)

$45 - Apex w/premium parking - 16 months, 4 visits

$415 - Cedar Fair+food+drinks+Fun Pix - 12 months, 10 visits

$80 - Fun Spots - 13 months, 5 visits

$156 - Holiday World Platinum - 12 months, 7 visits

$273 - Hersheypark Plus+Drinks w/pref parking - 16 months, 6 visits

$130 - Kennywood Premium w/pref parking - 15 months, 0 visits so far...ugh!

$70 - Kentucky Kingdom w/parking - 12 months, 3 visits

$180 - Sesame Place Platinum w/pref parking - 15 months, 7 visits

good at all SeaWorld/Busch properties

$26/month - Six Flags Diamond Elite+food - 14 visits since October 1 purchase

So, if I didn't go to a single amusement park for the rest of the year, $650 of my season pass costs would be what went towards the trip. Now, the more I go for the rest of the year, the lower that cost will be.

If I had done this on my own, the total cost of the trip, as of right now, would have been $2,900 plus food and drinks either at parks where I didn't have food or drinks included plus what we ate while on the road. Fortunately, Luke helped cover over $1,000 of the trip knocking my share down to $2,000 for 22 days of being away from home and in amusement parks every single day...sometimes even 4 places in one day.

I think my keeping up on all of the end-of-season, Black Friday, Christmas, pre-season and even current deals paid off. I've already purchased some passes for 2020. I am thinking of adding Waldameer to the list since I probably won't be purchasing the Cedar Fair pass, again, anytime soon even with Cedar Point being my home park.

It was amazing how fast the 10 months went by after I started planning this "probably" once in a lifetime adventure. As of now, for next year, the only major amusement park trip I have in the works is a Midwest tour that will include HoliWood Nights...even though it's a horrible event that no one else, but me, should attend...lol! Can't wait for trimless night rides on The Voyage and The Legend!

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