Friday, August 3, 2001 10:23 PM
August 2, 2001: The craziest day of my life.
Around 12 midnight, I was talking to my friend over IM and we realized that we had the same day off work. For no reason, at the drop of a hat we decided to take a trip to Muskegon, MI to ride Shivering Timbers. I don’t even remember how we got this idea. We were going to go to SFWoA but for some reason decided to be crazy…and crazy the day surely turned out! What a perfect road trip not only to Michigan’s Adventure but also to Indiana Beach!
5 hours after deciding I would be going to Michigan’s Adventure, I woke up to get ready to go there. Leaving a little after 6 in the morning from Marblehead, OH, we anticipated a drive of little over 5 hours…all for one coaster! The drive turned out to be less than that – more like 4 hours and 10 minutes – thanks to Interstates, Michigan’s 70 mph speed limits and my friend’s speeding (heck, we got passed by a cop while we were going 78 so we figured everyone speeds in Michigan). We actually arrived at MA at 10:20 (40 minutes before the park opened) and didn’t know what to do with ourselves, but we did realize that MA is a very small park and even with the Timbers, we would probably be ready to leave by early-to-mid afternoon. At this point, my friend suggested that we find something else to do to blow the rest of the day. Jokingly, I mentioned that there are 2 CCIs at Indiana Beach if he wanted to go another 4 hours South. “Let’s do it!” he said. “No way!” I, the enthusiast, said to the non-enthusiast. “That’s crazy!” Well, he was all about doing it so I said, “Why the hell not?” and got excited that I was going to ride so many CCI’s in one day! So the way it worked out is that we were up from about 5 in the morning until 4 in the morning the next day, driving for 13 of those 23 hours, spending about 8 hours at parks, and taking a few breaks in between. We drove about 750 miles, going through 2 full tanks of gas, doing about three days of traveling in one day. But you know what…there was never a dull moment! The roller coasters were great and all, but there is just something awesome about the road trip aspect of it all – driving far away from home with one of your best friends, listening to good music (classic rock only), seeing towns no one else you know will probably ever see (who here has ever been to Grand Haven, MI or Fulton, IN?) and just having the time of your lives. The best part of the whole trip was the spontaneity of the whole thing – if someone would have told me Wednesday night that I was going to be in Indiana Beach the next day, I would have told them they were crazy. Yet it was my friend and I who turned out to be the crazy ones! Even while we were traveling, we could not believe that we were actually taking the trip, yet everything was worth it. This was the best day off work I think I’ve ever had.
Oh, and did I mention that I rode two of the greatest roller coasters I’ve ever ridden this particular day??? Enough with the details of the trip: let’s get to the parks!
This is a nice little park and all, but seriously lacking atmosphere. Cedar Fair is already making it’s presence known and trying to add some atmosphere by building a nice entrance plaza and doing some much-needed landscaping, but it will take time. Crowds were heavier than we expected (though still hardly what I would call remotely heavy), and it seems Michiganers are still supporting their local park despite the Chaos incident (which is good for the park). Speaking of Chaos, the area around it is blocked off with Caution tape and the ride itself is surrounded by a plywood wall. I hope we hear what exactly happened to it soon. We didn’t ride any flat rides, preferring to stick to all the coasters (CLARIFY: sticking mostly to Shivering Timbers) in our few hours there. As for the coasters themselves:
Mad Mouse: 1 lap, 5 minute wait. We started the day off on this one, at first preferring to ride everything else besides ST first so the other rides didn’t seem disappointing. In all honesty, I was a little disappointed with this ride, my first Wild Mouse. I guess I was just expecting it to be a little “wilder”. I am a huge fan of turns that jam you to the sides of the car, and was actually looking forward to riding this beforehand. The turns (and drops for that matter) just didn’t seem to have that “OOMPH” I was expecting. Still a fun ride, but a little more tame than I was expecting.
Shivering Timbers: 7 laps, 5-15 minute waits. OK, OK, I wanted to ride this last originally, but we drove over 4 hours just to ride this thing and we just couldn’t wait any longer! After waiting a respectable 15 minutes (crowds were heavier in the morning due to the waterpark not opening till noon), we were in the back seat on the greatest roller coaster either of us have ever ridden. Going up the lift, I must admit that I was having some doubts that the ride would not live up to my expectations – after all, it’s such a simple ride – but all it took was that first drop to yank me standing out of my seat to realize that this was going to be one hell of a ride! The second and third hills did the exact same thing, in fact, I think the third was a little stronger than the other two, but still, three perfect hills! And then came that phenomenal fourth hill. The biggest reason why I rank Magnum above Millennium Force is because of its third hill…forever that has been airtime heaven for me. Well, now I’ve found a new heaven. ST’s fourth hill provided even more of a floating sensation (from anywhere in the train) and for a longer period of time. The best thing is at the end of this hill, the ride lets you know when “Floating Time” is over by the way it slams you back into your seat with it’s abrupt positive-G-pullout. After this hill is another tall hill that provides amazing ejector airtime on the way down in the back. And then, the turnaround (finally) comes. By this point in the ride, you’ve forgotten that lateral forces even exist on a roller coaster because of all the amazing airtime you’ve experienced, and the turnaround just slams you against the side of the car, reminding you that laterals are just as cool as airtime. My favorite part of the entire ride is the curving drop off the “would-be-block” in the back of the train. CCI is known for their “air-lats” and this has to be the best one they ever designed (anything more forceful would be too much). Imagine being ejected, thrown to the side, and almost hitting a wooden support beam on the right side while this is happening. Yes, it’s an air-lat-headchopper effect…just amazing! Every single return hill provides ejector air, and then comes the helix, where I realized how perfectly engineered this ride is. I just don’t understand how it keeps it’s speed to be able to rip around that helix the way it does…this helix is second only to the Beast’s in my book. It is so forceful that it was a struggle just to keep my hands up during it. Seriously, I don’t get how this ride can be longer than most hypers, only have a 125 foot lift hill, and still be flying like it does at the end of the ride! It is an engineering masterpiece. Yes, my friend and I both entered a euphoric coaster bliss due to this ride. It not only bumped the Beast as my favorite wooden coaster, but also became the greatest ride I’ve ever experienced! At the end of the ride, the adrenaline was pumping like no other coaster has ever caused. We also tried a few rides in the front seat to compare the different kinds of airtime it gives from the back, but ultimately, the appeal of the whiplash air in the back would not let us ride anywhere else than the last two seats. Oh yeah, this was in the morning. When we came back after lunch, the ride had woken up and was going faster! Amazing, amazing ride that alone made the trip more than worth it!
Corkscrew: 1 lap, 5 minute wait. Do rides get any more pointless than this? At one time, it was amazing, I suppose. And what is up with the station (echoing so many other visitors to this park)? It has to be THE most hideous piece of architecture I’ve ever seen…so hideous that I might actually be mad if Cedar Fair gets rid of it. ;)
Wolverine Wildcat: 1 lap, 20 minute wait. This ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Buzzers have not really had many nice things to say about it, and I suppose I can see why, but really, I thought it wasn’t too bad of a ride. The double up and down provided very little airtime, but there were a few intense moments on the ride, and overall not too bad. A bit rough, but nothing we couldn’t handle. It just needs some retracking work as it looks and rides so rickety. I wonder if CF didn’t buy MA, in 10 years would ST have looked as and ridden like WW does now? Another reason why CF buying MA is a blessing!
Zach’s Zoomer was down for the day, which was a bit disappointing seeing how this is one of the few junior coasters I’d take the effort to ride and was actually looking forward to riding. Oh well, I got my fair dose of CCI for the day between MA and IB.
Speaking of Indiana Beach, after we left MA at 2:45, it took till approximately 7:00 (6:00 Indiana time) before we arrived there.
Throughout the 4 and a half hour drive from MA, we found out why IB’s slogan is “There's more than corn in Indiana.” The drive down on Route 31 seems to suggest that corn is all one can find in Indiana! As for the park itself, this is one of the neatest places I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, and I’m not just talking about amusement parks, but places in general. What MA lacks in atmosphere, this place made up for! Everything is jam packed on top of each other, and there are so many things to do there (rides, restaurants, beaches, hotels, nightclubs…etc.) What a great place! Every sight and smell just seems to inundate the senses to the point of overload. After reading a lot about old amusement parks of the past, IB seems to remind me of how things used to be at parks. Prices are reasonable, and ride restraints are surprisingly minimal (I was shocked to find out that the Tig’rr coaster has absolutely no restraints at all!). Even without the coasters, I’m glad to say I’ve been to Indiana Beach just because of the way the Boardwalk is set up. While here, we rode many rides I usually don’t ride even at big parks like the Ferris Wheel, Dodgems, and Ski Lift. Impressive place well worth the insane drive.
Cornball Express: 9 laps, 5-10 minute waits. Oh my God!! This ain’t no junior coaster, folks. It may only be 70 feet tall, but this is the wildest roller coaster I’ve EVER ridden! There are several moments where I thought I was going to be flung from the train into Lake Schafer. I think the front has just slightly more airtime than the back on this one. We kept rotating between the front and back because both offer different, but equally insane rides (first drop is better in back, final slamming turn into brakes is better in front). The helix is almost as good as ST’s, but not quite, although it is neat because you enter it enjoying a dose of standing airtime from the previous hill. No matter what seat you take, this is one incredible ride, definitely worthy of finding its way onto the Golden Ticket Top Ten, if only more people would ride it! Saying that, I urge everyone who lives remotely close to IB or who passes by it traveling to make a stop: you won’t be disappointed! Every enthusiast should experience this ride. Also like ST, it is an engineering masterpiece. From the elaborate support structure, from the way it is sandwiched in between so many other attractions, to the way it feels like it’s going 60 mph at the end of the ride when it’s probably doing more like 30 mph, this ride, like ST, is also perfect! This ride has more insane moments than any other I’ve ridden, and that’s impressive considering it’s only 2000 feet long! Between this ride and ST, I entered this day a fan of CCI and left a lover of CCI!
Hoosier Hurricane: 2 laps, walk-on waits. I was a little disappointed in this one, too, but after ST and CI my expectations were probably a little too high. A great ride, but it just looks so much better than it really rides. I don’t quite get how a ride that travels so fast and has so many hills can offer so little airtime (there are a few spots, but not as much as one would expect). Still, a very fun ride that whooshes over the lake and has a few intense moments, also. I’ve yet to find a bad CCI and don’t think I ever will!
Tig’rr: 1 lap, walk-on wait. Another intense little coaster. I was clutching on for dear life on this one seeing that there’s no restraints at all! A neat little Schwarzkopf ride with some great curves, sudden drops, and a great helix (the one in the middle of the ride, not the one at the end). This ride is sort of a crossbreed between the Wildcat at CP and a Pinfari Galaxy coaster. Great fun!
Galaxie: 1 lap, walk-on wait. Speaking of a Pinfari Galaxy, IB has one. Not too great at all in my opinion, but worth the lap. The Tig’rr was far and away much better.
Other Rides worth mentioning:
Double Shot: A little lame since I’m used to the Power Tower, but this ride definitely stops you at the top much more abruptly than PT, leading to your being launched into your harness…pretty cool.
Den of Lost Thieves: What a wonderful little dark ride! The idea of shooting at targets makes it infinitely more amusing.
Dodgems: faster and longer than what I’m used to. You really feel the impact on these cars!
Superstition Mountain: didn’t ride because it had stalled.
Chaos: Was not shut down, but we didn’t ride it. As I walked by it, I heard a parent talking to his little girl about how those rides fall apart and crash.
I have previously claimed that I have no enthusiast friends, but I think I finally turned this particular friend into an enthusiast. That he would go all the way to Muskegon just to ride a roller coaster should already give him the “enthusiast” title, but in reality, he is just a crazy kind of guy who really likes taking road trips. Talking to him on the way home, though, I could tell that not only has he gained a new appreciation for coasters, but he has joined the CCI fan club.
This was a great trip and a crazy day. I don’t think I’ll ever have another day quite like it as long as I’m alive since spontaneously going to an amusement park will never be quite so spontaneous as it was this day. Thanks for reading!
CCI + CP = #1 Wooden Coaster
*** This post was edited by MooreOn on 8/4/2001. ***