7 day, 9 park trip 6/23 - 6/29

Friday, August 17, 2018 9:15 AM

It took me awile to get to this, but I didn't want a trip of this magnitude to go unreported.

Day 1 - Left from Michigan about 8:30 in the morning and drove to Waldameer. It had just finished thunderstorming when I arrived about 2 PM, so the crowds were fairly light. Bought a Wally card with 27 points for $25. Started on the Comet 'cuz it was there and so was I. That's about all I have to say about the Comet. Rode Ravine Flyer II next, in the back row. Wow, for as small as it is, that sure is a fun ride. Loved the first hill and everything after was great too. Was really happy that as a taller guy (6'5") the coaster was not a knee-knocker. Got right back in line for a second trip in the front. I could've just ridden this all day, but with only 15 more points remaining, decided to see the rest of the park. Tried out Whacky Shack (whacky) and Pirate's Cove (less pirate-y than I thought it'd be) then Steel Dragon which I enjoyed, especially the backwards parts. But decided another trip on Ravine Flyer would beat out a second on Steel Dragon, so finished up there. Would've liked to have stayed longer but the rain had already set me back some and wanted to get back on the road to Bloomsburg PA before it got too late.

Day 2, stop 1 - Started off Sunday morning at Knoebles. Would've liked to have gone on a weekday to get a ride-all-day wristband, but had to settle for $30 in tickets. Walked back to the Phoenix first. How was this only a station wait? Great ride in the back, then another great ride in the front. Smooth but intense, a really nice ride. Figured I'd try out Twister next, but passed by Flying Turns on my way and figured that could come next. Longest wait of the day (would've been 25 minutes, but as a single rider, got on in 15). Interesting ride, but not an experience I need to repeat. Twister surprised me because I did no research on the coaster and was expecting a typical #2 wooden coaster. Really laterally intense and such a unique layout. I really liked this coaster. Rode once in the back, one in the front. Next up, two rides on Impulse. A lot of umph in a pretty small package. My first vertical lift hill and I gotta say, a pretty scary sensation (feeling you're about to fall backwards out of your seat). I liked the ride, but still my third favorite coaster in the park. Finished off my tickets with a trip on Black Diamond (who knew mining could be so much fun?), the Haunted Mansion, Power Surge and the Flyers. The latter made me a bit woozy and I decided against stocking up on more tickets and instead left to go to Dorney Park.

Day 2, stop 2 - I should've stayed longer at Knoebels. I had been warned against Dorney, but it had things I wanted to experience like the Jojo roll on Hydra the revenge and a re-ride on Demon Drop which I just started to appreciate right when CP decided to get rid of it. Got to the park, walked over to Talon, saw it was a 35 minute wait, thought "Waits be cray, I'm getting a Fastlane wristband", bought one, went back to skip the line and get right on Talon. It was worth the non-wait. Not sure if it would've been worth the 35 minute wait. (Caveat: I'm not a really big fan of these B&M inverts). Rode it, thought "Well, that happened", then proceeded to the next ride, Meteor, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Next up was Hydra. The only floorless coaster I'd been on prior was Rougarou. I'm one of the few who enjoyed Mantis and wasn't all that impressed with the Rougarou makeover ...riding Hydra made me think "Oh, so this is what a floorless coaster is supposed to feel like." All in all a pleasant, moderately exciting ride. Went back through the line for two more rides. From there, walked over to Demon Drop, which used to be fun. Now it is not. Now it hurts. Don't know if it's 'cuz I'm getting old, the ride's getting old, or both, but I did not enjoy my ride on Demon Drop. Rode Thunderhawk next 'cuz it's old and was there. This is what I was expecting Twister to be, the typical non-hyped 2nd coaster in a park. It lived up to that expectation. Rode Magnum Jr. next. Was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and give it a shot ...but really kind of a boring ride, which was disappointing because I love Magnum so much. Rode it again to make sure, but it felt meh. Bypassed Dominator and Revolution because I wasn't in the mood and the Flyers because the ones at Knoebels had gotten to me earlier in the day. Got in two rides on Possessed, which I enjoyed. Mourned the loss of Stinger 'cuz I enjoy Invertigo at Kings Island. Was getting a bit hungry and I had heard so much about Chickie's and Pete's and figured why not? Went to the sit-down restaurant. Service was sooooo sllloooowww (It took close to a 1/2 hour to get a table even though there was no one waiting in front of me. Plenty of open, clean tables, just no wait staff to serve at them). Got an original cheesesteak and crabfries. The fries were pretty good, the cheesesteak was not, and I decided I'd had enough of Dorney. Got on the road for Six Flags Great Adventure about 7:30.

Day 3 - Woke up in Wrightstown NJ, drove to the Koffee Kup, and devoured the Pemberton Special (recommended). Enough food to last from 9:30 in the morning until a gyro at 4:30. Arrived at Six Flags Great Adventure a bit later than I wanted to at 11:00. That was a mistake as apparently every school group from the area was arriving at that exact same time. Stood in a very disorganized horde for about 30 minutes with no movement. One employee guessed it'd be 1:00 before we got in. After a while, security started actively wrangling the line and directing people into the bagless-entry line. Once this occurred my line actually started moving. I understand the need for the security checks, but wish the park would extend out the ropes a bit further for peak times (the park employee I spoke with said it'd been like this for the past two weeks) so that standing in line is less like being in a mosh pit. Anyhoo, got through security about noon and headed to the Fastpass office (I had pre-ordered the Platinum Flashpass since I figured this would be my only trip ever to this park). I really like this line-skipping option, both in the functionality and the fact that it limits the number of people skipping the lines at any given time. Started with the Joker since both it and I were right there. I ...experienced the Joker. It flipped around so fast and violently that I didn't have time to even be disoriented, just uncomfortable. Went next on SkyScreamer (I like these rides, but they're admittedly redundant, so this was my only one of the trip). Batman next. Again, not a huge fan of inverts. This one was okay. Found my way over to Nitro. I LOVE B&M HYPERS!. Rode Nitro 4 times straight, couple times in the front, couple times in the back. I could ride these things all day, except that wasn't the only reason I was there. So, somewhat begrudgingly, I left and headed over to the front of the park. I figured two of the reasons I'd come were to ride El Toro and Kingda Ka and I should do it before they close down. Walked to El Toro. It was closed. Skipped the Larson loop 'cuz if you've been on one, you've been on them all. Decided on Kingda Ka next. Found myself in the queue for Zumanjaro instead. Nice to say I did it, but I find most drop towers to be similar regardless of height. 400 feet doesn't seem that much different than 200 feet. I was excited to ride Kingda Ka since I love Top Thrill Dragster so much. But the shakiness and roughness of the ride detracted from what really is a better (not just taller) tophat. And the extra hill adds nothing. So I can definitively say now Dragster is the better ride. (Side note: ever wonder how many dead ends one park can have? Come to Great Adventure and find out!) Walked back over to El Toro which (thank goodness) was running again. 3 rides on this one, one back, one middle, one front. Wow! I'm not too big of a fan of rides that rough you up, but willing to make an exception for this one. This thing is crazy. After one ride, heard a person behind me saying "That was wild. They should call that the bull ride ...it's like riding a bull." Can't say I (or most) would disagree :) El Toro was one of the reasons I made this trip in the first place and I was not disappointed. Given that I never really got the whole layout of the park and spent way too much time walking from one end of the park to the other over and over, decided that I'd next start looking for Skull Mountain which I remembered bypassing on my way to El Toro. Rode Skull Mountain (meh), then decided to walk all the way across the park again for some reason to Bizarro. It was down. Rode Runaway Mine Train (fun for what it is), then back to Bizarro which was now running. Rode Bizarro twice (I really enjoyed this one ...Hydra introduced me to what a floorless coaster could be, but Bizarro really delivered on it). Hit up Green Lantern (I'm one of the crazies who enjoys stand up coasters). This one's not bad. Then, Superman: Ultimate Flight. It was down, so I broke for dinner, then returned to find it up and running. I enjoyed the only other flying coaster I'd been on (Firehawk) and while I like the sensation, I much prefer the "lie-to-fly" lift hill to the "hang-and-dangle" method this one employs. Finished up with Dark Knight Coaster (boring), Justice League (twice) which is one of the better rides of this type, found Cyborg Spin and noted it was down for the day. Decided to get on the road to DC in case traffic was bad (side note: got an EZ Pass specifically for this trip. The time the EZ Pass lane saved me driving to DC made the whole thing so worth it) ... but I digress ...

Day 4, stop 1 - Six Flags America is very different from Six Flags Great Adventure. Happy I didn't by a Fastpass in advance 'cuz this place on a Tuesday morning was dead (not quite Kentucky Kingdom on a Wednesday dead, but pretty close). Not being familiar with the park led me first to Mind Eraser. Being the only person in line led to extra scrutiny which led to the operator noticing I was too tall for the ride (max is 76" and I'm 77"). The guy measuring me was waffling a bit, but I saved him the trouble. I'd been on the model before (Thunderhawk at Michigan's Adventure) and figured he was doing me a favor. Mind intact, I walked over to Apocalypse, which went down shortly after boarding. Rode Roar. Roar hurt a bit. So far, this trip seems like a dud. Wanted to see if I could get on Superman since it has the same max height as Mind Eraser. Saw Joker's Jinx on the way and rode in the back. Really enjoyed it. Much more than the indoor version(s). Rode Superman: Ride of Steel next. No problems getting on. Rode twice in front, twice in back. I like the hills and it's enjoyable to put your arms out in front of you while humming the Superman theme and imagining Margot Kidder in the center of those helixes while "Jimmy Olsen's Blues" plays in your head. Next up was Batwing which had me humming the Danny Elfman Batman theme. Nice flying coaster if you're into that kinda thing. After massaging my foot (turns out all of those miles walking from one end to the other of Six Flags Great Adventure over and over led to tendonitis on the top of my left foot), finished up in the park with rides on Wild One (meh), Ragin' Cajun (why do I ride these things?) and Apocalypse (call me crazy, but I enjoyed this one). Had my fill in about 3 hours which was good because I had Day 4, stop 2 to think of.

Day 4, stop 2 - Kings Dominion. I was really looking forward to Kings Dominion and hoped the 6 hours I had planned would be enough. My Waze App kept wanting to take me to a wooded area in the middle of nowhere rather than the park. It felt very "Wrong Turn" for a while, but eventually I found my way there. Upon arriving, went straight for Twisted Timbers (actually, I tried to go straight for Grizzly, but couldn't find the entrance, so went to Twisted Timbers instead. After a half hour wait (wish more parks had a single-rider line), got seated three rows from the back. I was really looking forward to this one and maybe that's why my first ride was only so-so. I enjoyed it, but the thrill I'd gotten from my first RMC (Storm Chaser) wasn't matched by this one. Apple Zapple next, then Racer 75 (which was surprisingly fun and seemed really long). I rather enjoyed Anaconda as well, even though I wasn't expecting to. Was excited to try Intimidator which surprisingly was a station wait. First ride in the back row. Really intense. Enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Second ride in the front. Wowza. About 3/4 through, the wind ripped my right contact lens clean from my eye. Oops. Now I know why Dale Earnhardt wears sunglasses. I was too lazy to walk back to my car for another contact, so the rest of the visit was a bit blurrier than I'd hoped. Flight of Fear was okay (too well lit for a dark ride), Volcano was depressing, Avalanche was boring ... I decided against the Crypt. Doubled back for Backlot Stunt Coaster (Dunno why, but I really enjoy these things), then rode Dominator (didn't impress). Walked back to Grizzly (I liked it) and finished up with a second ride on Twisted Timbers (3rd row from the front). Second ride was better than the first, but still a bit of a disappointment compared to what I was expecting. Will have to give it another shot sometime, maybe if/when Volcano is back up and running. Panda Express on the way out of the park and then on the road to Williamsburg. Overall, I prefer Kings Island to Kings Dominion. The one-two punch of Diamondback/Mystic Timbers far outweighs Intimidator/Twisted Timbers. Banshee's probably a better 3rd ride than Dominator too but I'm not a fan of either.

Day 5 - I planned this trip around a Wednesday visit to Williamsburg for the Ultimate Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens. I had been to Busch Gardens once before but in the early 90s, so it was virtually like a new park. I highly recommend it to any coaster fan, even if you couldn't care less how they work as long as they do. Two front-of-the-line rides on each coaster alone is worth the $75 in my mind. Tour began at 8:30 in the maintenance bay of Loch Ness Monster. From there, walked to The Griffon for a trip up to the top. It was a bit windy up at the top, but a beautiful view. That alone is worth the price of admission. After the shortest 15 minutes of my life, it was back down to see how it all worked. Had an interesting discussion with one of the maintenance workers about grease (I had asked about the interplay between the water element and the wheel bearings). He said it's been a near constant battle since the ride was installed about keeping the splashdown because of the added maintenance it leads to. He then demonstrated 6 or 7 greases applied to different parts of the train. Who wouldn't want to see that? Next up was two front row rides, one in the middle and one on the left edge. The only other dive coaster I've ridden is Valravn. On that one, after the first drop the rest of the ride is meh, but I absolutely loved this whole ride. I couldn't wait to ride again, but had to 'cuz our next stop was a pair of rides on InvadR. I'm glad I'd read Bakeman31092's description of the ride and how it came to be prior to riding. Going in knowing the limitations that were imposed by the park made me appreciate the ride for what it was. And it is as fun (I feel) as it can be. Good ride for the littles without being boring for the bigs. Next stop Alpengeist. I liked the ride theming and all and all it's not a bad invert. Next was Verbolten. I tried to keep the surprise a surprise, but about a week before riding, accidentally read the trick. Even so, I really enjoyed this ride, from the theming to the Big Bad Wolf tribute hill. Learning about the ride after was great as well, getting to see the inside of the effects shed and seeing the (air-conditioned!) control room afterwards. Over to Tempesto next. Rode just once 'cuz that was all we needed. It's fine and some interesting sensations, but not something I need to ride over and over. Apollo's Chariot, on the other hand ... Our two rides on this one (one front, one back) were not enough. While I still like Diamondback more, I love this ride's interplay with the terrain. I definitely preferred it to Nitro which while great didn't have the setting to go with it. After the Chariot, we all rode Loch Ness Monster as the tour ended. (As for Nessie, still a fun ride, albeit a little hard to fit into. Still, one ride was enough). After the tour, I walked over to Battle of the Eire which thankfully has an air-conditioned line. The ride itself was so-so ...if you like VR rides, this is one of them (actually, it's not conditional). Had lunch at Das Festhaus (sausage sampler *drool*) then was elated to find only a station wait for Apollo's Chariot. Proceeded to ride 5 times, mostly in the back row. Grabbed a third ride on Griffon (not so thrilling in the middle row) then called it a day. Got on the road for Harrisburg around 4:30.

Day 6 - Hersheypark. Another great park, although by this point fatigue was setting in a bit. Arrived, parked, walked to the entrance, realized my ticket was in the car. Upon second arrival, I first rode Farenheit. The straight-up lift was a bit less unnerving than Impulse's at Knoebels, I think because of the restraints. Farenheit's a fun one. Next walked over to Storm Runner. Got into the front seat line and straight to the front as a single rider. It lived up to its name as just before it launched it started raining. Ouch. I can't say much for my first ride on Storm Runner as I was squinting and shielding my face for most of it as a heavy rain pelted down. The shower ended as quickly as it had begun, but since they have to wait 30 minutes after it stops raining to re-open the ride, I rode Trailblazer and Sidewinder while I waited for my second Storm Runner ride. Trailblazer happened. I enjoyed Sidewinder a lot more than I expected to. Even grabbed a second ride on it. Still waiting for Storm Runner to run, I went on the Triple Tower (Hershey, of course). I liked the view from on top of the hill. Could easily see Storm Runner was still not running. Walked over to it anyway and caught the line just when it was re-opening. Rode two more times. A fun, albeit short, ride. The barrel roll was a fun sensation. Grabbed a third ride on Farenheit, then grabbed rides on Wildcat (not so wild), Wild Mouse (wild, but unpleasant, in a wild-mousy way), Lightning Racer (two rides on this one, of course, one for each train. Lightning was a bit more fun, even though Thunder won both times), and Laff Trakk (longest wait of the day (of course) and it was still only 25 minutes. Going on a Thursday was a good idea). Laff Trakk was okay, but I like my dark rides to be dark. This one was too well lit to be considered a dark ride and I preferred riding it in full sunlight at Waldameer. Maybe it was 'cuz I spent most of the ride sideways, but Laff Trakk didn't do much for me. After a lunch which consisted of a milkshake I walked back to the front half of the park (grabbing a ride on Farenheit on the way). Rode Comet, then three rides on Skyrush. After the first I thought, yeah, that was pretty good, but pretty intense. I might have to give that another go. After the second I thought, yeah, that's a kinda fun ride, but the pain at the end makes it less worthwhile. After the third I thought I'd had my fill and the thigh pain outweighed the first drop. So I think I'm over Skyrush. Rode Superdooperlooper quickly because there's no other way to ride it, then Great Bear twice. That's saying something because I usually don't dig inverts, but I really liked this one (the interplay with the Coal Cracker and Superdooperlooper is better than the usual view of concrete, dirt, or grass). Thought about doing the tour, but didn't want to wait around for it, so a quick trip to the gift shop to buy Special Dark with Almonds and I got on my way to Pittsburg.

Day 7 - This was originally supposed to be a 7-day, 10-park trip, but Kennywood did me in. (Not Kennywood so much as the heat). Rode Phantom's Revenge first and was surprised at how boring I found it. It was a station wait so I grabbed two more rides at various spots of the train, but just found I don't particularly care for this one. Considered buying the VIP Coaster package so I could just ride the coasters and be on my way, but with Phantom's Revenge already out of the way and Sky Rocket down for repairs, I couldn't justify it. I should have justified it, though, because as it was I wandered through the park making occasional stops (Noah's Ark, Swing Shot, Lego Show at the 4-D theater, Ghostwood Estate, Aero 360) but couldn't bring myself to stand in a hot 45-minute line to ride any of the coasters. Finally settled on a hot 25-minute line for the Exterminator, got wild-moused out and decided to get on the road. Not my best day of amusement-parking ever, I'll have to give Kennywood another shot, maybe the Steel Curtain will make the trip more worthwhile. Because of the heat and humidity and the overall fatigue I felt, I bypassed Cedar Point on the way and just drove back to Michigan. (Turns out, maybe I should've gone. A friend was there and said the longest waits were 25-minutes for Maverick and 60 minutes for Steel Vengeance ...oops!)

Overall, a good week of coasterin'. The longest trip I have planned in the near future is 5 days which I think will be optimal. And I'll have to hit up Cedar Point sometime this fall since I've already bought my ticket. That one I can do in a day.

Last edited by ThatTallGuy, Friday, August 17, 2018 1:47 PM
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Friday, August 17, 2018 11:33 AM

This was fun to read, and about the best example of "YMMV" I can think of. Many of the rides you enjoyed, I don't; many you disliked, I love; and many we have the exact same opinion of, be it negative or positive. Wonder if some of that has to do with height difference (I'm 5'9").

Oh, and good call on the EZ Pass.

Last edited by Vater, Friday, August 17, 2018 11:33 AM
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Monday, August 20, 2018 10:41 PM

I enjoyed your report, TallGuy, but the pacing (Of your trip - not the report) would be too much for me to take.

For me a park like Knoebles needs to be relished slowly. I can spend about 20 minutes just looking at the umbrellas / gearbox connection and the craft area adds to the flavor. I understand that you were on a strict time limit...but I can't marathon the way I used to...and then get in a car and drive a considerable distance...etc.

On the other hand, I have always had a "bucket-list" type of trip in mind to go coast to coast. Maybe when I retire...

It could make a great movie...I could just hear a non-enthusiast type say something like...."Another Scrambler...these parks are all the same!" The response.... "Another Scrambler...let's ride it!"

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 11:01 AM

Sounds like my kind of trip! I am too cheap to pay for FP anywhere, my trips have been planned to coincide with school starting and to avoid common group outings. (School choirs, reunions, Brazilian tourism, etc.)

My traveling companion and I were able to walk on everything - and I mean EVERYTHING at SFMM last year. No one in line at any station. It was a ghost town, just the way I like it.

We'll see if my CP visit on Monday is successful in the same way.

Last edited by T2, Thursday, August 23, 2018 11:02 AM
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Friday, August 24, 2018 4:38 PM

Great read! I really enjoy reading other people's impressions of parks I've visited and coasters I've ridden. I'm with you on Twister but liked Twisted Timbers a lot more than you did. Also with you on Fahrenheit's lift v. Impulse's. I think what unnerved me about the lift on Impulse is that the chain was making loud noises as if it was at its last gasp. Wish I had the stamina to do a trip like this.

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Friday, August 24, 2018 6:31 PM

I knew this trip wasn't gonna be everyone's cup of tea ...I'd prefer to stretch it out a bit, but circumstances are such that the quick "smoosh-'em-all-in" trips work better for my schedule. I'd been waiting to go to Kings Dominion for the last 29 years and figured it was better to squeeze it in rather than to wait for the right time ...

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