I debated for months about driving all the way to Panama City, FL to visit this Miracle Strip I had heard so much about for years. The fact that the
park is on it's last season influenced my decision to find the time to visit. Luckily the July 4th weekend was the perfect time. It turned out to be one of the funnest weekend excursions I have done
to this date.
Saturday morning I loaded up my rented Kia and headed south to Valdosta to Wild Adventures, another park I had never visited. I also wanted to hit SFOG on the way and try to get that final but elusive Deja Vu credit, as well as get the new Wile E. Coyote coaster.
I burned about 10 CD's the night before. It was
going to be a LONG trip. I was ready to GO!
The trip down was uneventful, with the exception of being pulled over in South Carolina for speeding. I knew the cops were going to be thick that weekend but I "hoped" that I would get by without getting
nailed. Luckily the dude gave me a break. I explained to him that I had no idea I was speeding and had a rental which I wasn't used to, blah blah.
To make a short story shorter he gave me a warning and let me go. WHEW! I think I was going 80 in a 65 or something like that, which is strange
cause when I was going 80 people were passing me by like I was going 30. WTF?
Hmmm, and I thought there was a difference between "speeding" and merely "keeping up with traffic".
Anyway, I got to Hotlanta in the mid-afternoon I think. I called SFOG to see if Deja Vu was running, which it wasn't. Acrophobia was also
down. I contemplated stopping there anyway since I love the park and had an urge for a good Mindbender ride or two, but decided against it at the last minute. I was already feeling the exhaustion setting in
from the 8 1/2 hour drive. I wanted to get to Valdosta so I could have time to relax, have some dinner and drinks with my friends, and get some
rest. I opted for American Adventures, which turned out to be a nice waterpark/mini-kiddy park in Marietta.
After paying the $6 parking fee, I went to the first building, which turned out to be a mediocre arcade with a restaurant and a HUGE indoor
play area called the "Foam Factory". It was something you would see in the McDonald's play area except MUCH bigger. It also was big enough for
adults, which seemed to make it more fun.
After a quick scan of the arcade, (I am always on a DDR lookout) I asked where I get my ticket. I was directed to the entrance to White Water,
which was the waterpark. It was somewhat difficult to find at first, since the entrance was actually behind the "rides" area, which WAS American Adventures. I soon discovered the "main" entrance, but they both seemed to have you go through the rides area before you could get to the entrance. Strange.
I went up to the window and displayed my SFKK pass. At first the girl didn't seem like she wanted to accept it, and asked a Supervisor if it
was OK. Apparently it was. After getting my wristband I went through the water park just to check it out. I immediately noticed a funnel similar to the ones at Splashin Safari and Boomerang Bay called the Tornado. Awesome!
White Water seemed like a nice little water park, and had a respectable collection of slides. I didn't want to take the time to get too involved though, so I went back to the rides (American Adventures) area.
The one and only coaster, the Ridgeline Racer, was pretty decent. It was a Zamperla "powered" coaster. It was worth a credit at least. ;)
The park also had a very impressive collection of flats for it's size........a Tilt-A Whirl, Pirate Ship, and a cute little train, among others.
I stopped by the arcade again to play some skeeball and a few of the arcade games, which were lame for the most part. I guess violent video games aren't the place for a kiddy parks nowadays....... ;)
Anyway, it was a cute park and great for smaller children. I would recommend it especially if you have a SF pass. I enjoyed the park in the short time I was there but will probably never have the urge to go back unless I do the water park. Did it. Liked it. Onto Valdosta.......
Got back on 75 South and luckily didn't hit too much traffic. I decided to skip the beltway and take 75 directly through Atlanta just for the hell of it. Sweet!
Once I got out of Atlanta it was pretty much traffic-free until I got near Macon. Then it was horrible. There happened to be an accident and
we were bumper to bumper for nearly an hour.
Why is it that even something as minor as a fender bender has to result in the worst traffic jams? I guess everyone has to slow down and look. ::)
75 south of Atlanta is quite the trip. Tons of tourist-trap things to get into according to the billboards. The one that stood out the most was probably the "Crime and Punishment" museum next to the "Last Chance" cafe or something like that. I believe it was next to one of the many Adult Erotica Cafe's that were advertised.
I got to Valdosta around 8pm I believe, and met up with good friends Bill (aka rollergator) and his better half, Jill. Very cool peeps! It was awesome seeing them again.
The first thing I noticed about getting out of my nice, air conditioned car was the humidity. WOW! I almost forgot just HOW humid this area was, and the gnats! It's been a while since I have been in Southern GA/FL.
Once I caught up with Bill and Jill, had a nice Corona and had rested up a bit we headed over to the Mexican restaurant next door to the
motel. After eating we watched a very cool fireworks show from the restaurant parking lot which seemed to go on forever. Nice!
After that I pretty much went out like a light. I had planned on drinking more but that didn't happen. The long, 11-something hour drive was catching up to me, and FAST!
The next morning we got up bright and early and headed down to the motel lobby for breakfast. Bill was impressed with the waffle maker and I
opted for bagels as I usually do. I believe they had something that resembled gravy but I could have been wrong. ;) Nasty stuff. lol.
We got to Wild Adventures soon after and I was immediately impressed with the park. Absolutely beautiful, especially the turquoise-colored
lake in the middle of the park. None of the rides were really themed, but the whole park had that overall "jungle" or "outback" theme. Being
that I am from the Midwest and immediately took notice to things such as palm trees and sand made it even more fun for me, let alone the excitement about visiting a park for the first time. ;D
The park was not crowded at all, as a majority of the patrons seemed to be in the water park. Most every coaster was nearly walk-on. The animals
were amazing. AWESOME collection of flats. Life is good. ;D
I left the navigating up to Bill and Jill, and they got me on 8 of the 9 coasters, as well as a handful of flats and most of the animal exhibits......
Tiger Terror.......probably identical to the one at Safari Land in Chicago.
Ant Farm Express......LOVED this kiddy. Nice speed. Bug Out........a fun mousey coaster with SWEET-looking trains.
Fiesta Express.........Cute. I feel like such a credit whore now with all these kiddy rides.lol
Hang Man........YES! Now we are talking. A sweet hang-n-bang that didn't do too much banging. INTENSE!
Boomerang.....AWESOME! This thought of this initially as a "check off the list" coaster but was blown away by it. Smoother than the
usually boomers. It turned out to be my favorite coaster in the park. YES!
Cheetah.......Eh, way too rough, although the front
seat had the nicest rides. Too bad. It's fast and furious, and I heard
it kicked butt it's first year. The track and trains are beautiful. It has the potential to be one of the most awesome woodies in the country if it didn't beat the crap out of you. Maybe someday it will be revived, although Bill and Jill told me it was "worse" last year. YIKES!
Swamp Thing.......sorta reminded me of the Runaway Reptar. OK.
Gold Rush.......closed. Oh well.
We also enjoyed some of the wonderful flats including an Aviator and a much-loved Power surge..........AWESOME!
Being an animal lover, I was impressed with the collection of wildlife. The train ride around the park gave us a great view of Lions, antelopes, giraffes, elephants, emus, goats, peacocks, and others. They looked well-taken care of. That's all that matters.
There was a also a snake "pit" of sorts, monkey, macaws, etc. They seemed to be scattered all over the park. Awesome!
The only downside to visiting this park would of been the unfortunate accident that Bill had with an overzealous goat. He seemed to think Bill's finger was food. No permanent damage though. ;-)
After a great afternoon at the park we decided to grab some lunch and head even further south to Panama City, FL.
We got to the La Quinta about six I think? I had to remember that we went into central time. After checking in we decided to chill out for a bit and hit the pool and jacuzzi.
We got to Miracle Strip an hour or two later and I immediately fell in ove with the park. After getting our wristbands we headed straight for
HOLY **** how in the WORLD could they be removing this thing? It blew me away. So smooth, tons of airtime, and a all-around great out and
back. It reminded me a lot of the Swamp Fox at Myrtle Beach. Actually, the "strip" in front of the park was reminiscent of MB's Grand Strand, or any typical
beach front park. You have the motels, drunks, surf shops, bars, restaurants, and a ton of touristy things to do and see. The atmosphere was awesome. I was a happy camper.
After a few laps on the Starliner, we went on the awesome S&S Tower, which gave us a BEAUTIFUL view of the strip.
I was very impressed with the selection of flats, some I had never seen or done before, including the Loop-O-Plane (which I opted not to do due to my experiences with the "planes") and the Shockwave, which I believe was a Kamikaze THAT really messed us all up. There was also a Paratrooper and a killer Musik Express.
There were three "dark" rides which included Dante's Inferno, a very, VERY insane Trabant with plenty of strobes, air conditioning, smoke, funky music and by far the COOLEST dark ride I have seen since the rockin' Gravitron at Myrtle Beach. I was in bliss.
There was also the Dungeon, which was the indoor Tilt A Whirl. All three of us got into one car and WHIRLED like it was meant to be, which I believe took it's toll on the Gator..lol. The ambiance and decor was awesome, especially the spiderwebs painted on the walls. Last but not least was the Abdominal Snowman, which was the indoor, funky Scrambler.
After enjoying Miracle Strip we decided to walk over to the beach as the fireworks were going off like crazy. We took our shoes off and went out onto the sand and eventually waded in the warm Gulf water. It felt awesome...much warmer than the Atlantic or Pacific.
We noticed that the beach was quite crowded, and every other person was lightning fireworks. THIS you never see in West Virginia. The South seems to worship their fireworks as much as their sweet tea and it shows. It's awesome. We are not talking about JUST Roman Candles or Sparklers, but REAL fireworks......all down the coast. There were fireworks as far as the eye could see......for MILES....both directions along the shore. It was quite a site and it lasted for what seemed hours. I have never seen such a breathtaking display of fireworks in my life. It seemed like the entire Gulf of Mexico was lit up. It was sweet!
After that we went back into Miracle Strip and enjoyed a few more of the rides, including a few more laps on Starliner. :-) The only complaint (if that) I had about Miracle Strip was a lack of an arcade, unless I missed it. I am really into collecting skeeball/redemption tickets and tokens with the park's names on them and was hoping to find something like that here. Oh well.
It was an awesome time and I am so glad I made the trip down there. It was worth every second. I am really going to miss this park and I still can't understand why something like another set of condos or a strip mall is going to be a better investment than to keep this park open.
The next morning I got up, said my see ya later's to Bill and Jill, and headed home to Charleston. I took a different route this time, which led me up through eastern Alabama and into Columbus, GA and eventually through Hotlanta again and cut about an hour off the trip. I really didn't feel like going on I-10 and 75 again. The trip from Panama City FL to Charleston took me about 13 hours going almost the legal speed. It's amazing how exhaustion leads to hallucinations and slight delirium. Luckily I drank a ton of coffee (which I am NOT a coffee person) and soda to at least keep my eyes open.
Speaking of Hotlanta, I once again called SFOG to see if Deja Vu might be running as I was passing through the city. It wasn't. Oh well.
I would recommend EVERYONE to get down to Miracle Strip ASAP. It's worth the hassle and the driving and you will be blown away. It's just THAT awesome. A huge thanks to Bill and Jill for convincing me to visit, and for being great "hosts". Bill, please feel free to add anything.......................
Thanks for reading!
*** Edited 7/7/2004 11:03:36 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
Great TR! I was thinking of heading down to Miracle Strip this year myelf, but now that my wife and I are buying a house, plans have shifted. I read somewhere that the Starliner is going to stay as a standalone attraction after the park closes. Can anybody confirm this?
These must be two very fickle coasters.
In a recent trip (June 12 - June 25), I found Cheetah to be one of the surprise delights of my trip. A bit forceful, but not really all that rough, with good pops of air. Will agree on great trains though (only my second encounter with Gerstlauer's... first being on Pavilion's rough Hurricane... and I was surprised to find how much I liked these).
Starliner was the surprise dissapointment of the trip... slow, plodding, no air, and very rough in some spots (the base of my neck still hurts a little after the one drop inside of the tunnel). The tracks looked like they had not been greased in years.
Oh well... different days, different conditions (temp, humidity, etc), different opinions.
Bill and Jill went back to Miracle Strip the day after I left and I believe Bill talked with the GM. As soon as he gets his lazy arse on here he will better explain it. Of course I wasn't paying attention. lol.
From what I understand nothing is set in stone yet.
EDIT: I just saw this thread.....duh.......
-Tina *** Edited 7/7/2004 9:15:40 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
I really liked WA it's definetely worth a stop if your heading Florida way.
The only complaint (if that) I had about Miracle Strip was a lack of an arcade, unless I missed it.
Tina, last time I was in PCB was in 1993 so I know a lot can and probably has changed since then. But, in '93 the large arcade building was right against the street just to the left of the Starliner entrance. Maybe it's gone now but I vividly remember it and the Skeeball.
The only complaint (if that) I had about Miracle Strip was a lack of an arcade, unless I missed it.
Tina, last time I was in PCB was in 1993 so I know a lot can and probably has changed since then. But, in '93 the large arcade building was right against the street just to the left of the Starliner entrance. Maybe it's gone now but I vividly remember it and the Skeeball games in '93.
I definitely THOUGHT there was an arcade out front by Starliner, and we were there *about* two years ago....so it must have been a more recent casualty (for those who love their arcades as much as Tina does). Tina, I think it was in the building that housed the three kiddie rides. I might be able to get pics up by this weekend, but I'm not making false promises TODAY (tomorrow, maybe)...;)
As I said in the other thread, the GM of MSAP/Shipwreck Island mentioned the Starliner itself as POSSIBLY being saved from the wrecking ball as part as ONE of the redevelopment plans. It sounded TO ME like the more likely possibility was the coaster being relocated, but we ALL know that's dicey and even still, a beachside location was a large part of the charm. Also, when there's the kind of money we're talking about at stake, things can amd do change frequently.
I do NOT remember Starliner giving THAT kind of airtime from my previous visit, it seemed more of a *SMOOTH, fun family woodie* akin to Swamp Fox (or a tamer version of Lake Winnie's Cannonball). THIS time, however, it gave surprisingly intense rides, and the *tunnel bunny* rivaled PKD's Grizzly at its very best. SLFAKE, not sure what happened on your visit, Starliner for US was *heavily* greased and had NO jarring, not even on those tricky changes in banking on the return leg.
Cheetah, running considerably better than during Runnin' Wild, but there's *still* quite a way to go maintenance-wise (IMO as always) for the ride to keep up with what Chuck experienced...;)
Excellent fireworks in both cities, all along the gulfshore in PCB like that was impressive.
"That kid bit my finger", the comedy skit...:)
I don't know what to say, I *spaced out* bigtime and let a small goat nibble on my thumb. He was being gentle and I got disarmed, ROFL, and the next thing you know his eyes glowed red and he bit down HARD on my thumb. I called him some foul name, washed out the wound (razor-sharp teeth), and we went on about our day. Definitely one of the funniest things to happen to me at a park in awhile, and I'm TOO sure it was fun for the goat too...:)
Waffle makers....EVERY hotel should have one...
I don't THINK you were supposed to get in at American Adventures with your SF season pass, but what the hey, it's a POWERED ride anyhow...;)
Upon further review, the gross-looking food item was "sausage gravy"...let's just say that just because it's Southern, and stricly speaking edible, doesn't make it GOOD...
The 02 Tower *will* be sold (personal opinion there, BTW), it's virtually pristine and runs a VERY solid combo program....more parks should think about giving both a SHOT and a DROP, it kicks butt HARD...hard to replace THAT view of the Gulf though...
We had quite a bit of fun with the signage for the *Abominidal* Snowman....gotta love it!
Tilt-A-Whirl, and Paratroopers, no more for the gator, he's DONE with those evil contraptions...but I will say how great those rides looked and ran, The Dungeon was awesome with its Elvira-meets-torture-chamber appeal, and Dante's Inferno was BEYOND fun....great ops make a great ride THAT much better!
(/editorial section) The amount of construction on the beach at PCB was *astounding*, I'm sure there was NO way the park could make the kind of $$$ the land will bring from the developers. The Shipwreck Island waterpark stands for now because it could draw BIG crowds (even on Monday, July 5). Apparently the "shortened summer" from the school year starting in EARLY August took a serious toll on the business at MSAP, though, and led to it's eventual demise. Myrtle Beach would do well to delay a year or two and see the RESULTS from PCB before deciding that the Pavilion property really is needed for development....(/end editorial)
Other than THAT, I don't have much to add...;)
P.S. I am Jill's better half....don't tell her I said that....:)
Two of my three lifetime speeding tickets came courtesy of the SC troopers. They've always been cool about writing it lower than I was actually going though. :)
I always thought there was a difference betwen speeding at maintaining the status quo myself, however one of those aforementioned SC tickets came when approximately 5000 troopers appeared from nowhere and pulled over literally 6 or 7 cars at once - all of us doing the same pace and not even going ridiculously fast. Just riding the fast lane and keeping a good flow going. One of the weirdest things I've ever seen and I can only imagine what people coming up on us thought when they saw all the police cars with lights flashing along side the road with a half dozen cars pulled over.
I haven't ridden Cheetah since a month or so after it opened, but I remember it as being pretty damn good. I almost don't want to get back there and ruin that memory.
To this day, Hangman is the smoothest SLC I've ridden. It's not a bad ride when you're not concentrating on minimizing the damage. :)
Great TR Tina! Enjoyed every minute!
Brian, who LOVES sausage gravy!
I saw the same thing twice in SC.......there would be between 4-6 cop cars all parked under an overpass in the shade....waiting... and two officers on the overpass clocking everyone Guess they had nothing better to do that day?
I got nailed a little south of Greenville on my way down. I blame Brian. ;-) j/k.
Bill, Happy Birthday man!
I love Wild Adventures as well. I went the opening year of Cheetah and found it to be incredible. The only rough section was a transition during the figure 8 at the end.
While the Tiger Terror is similar to the one in Chicago, the indoor version is the larger of the two if I remember correctly.
I also agree with you about Boomerang. I couldn't believe how smooth that ride was.
Starliner remains one of the most smooth wooden coasters I have ridden. When I went there a few years ago with some other enthusiasts, we couldn't get enough of that ride. What a surprise.
Don't feel bad about not getting a ride on Deja Vu. It took me 4 visits to that park to get on the thing. I have ridden 2 out of the three now. I stopped even trying to go to SFGAm to ride it there after 5 attempts. If I am in the area, I would call and ask, but then again, both SFGAm and SFOG have other rides that I like so I would probably visit again. I just will look at Deja Vu and if it's running, then I will get in line. I just don't find it to be worth my time to wait and try and get on if it won't be running.
You got lucky with you being pulled over. The one and only time I got a ticket was on the way to Cedar Point. Ever since then, I watch my speed.
On the other hand I ran into that traffic jam near Macon so I ended up arriving in Valdosta *later* anyway. lol.
Funny you should mention speeding tickets. I had never had a speeding ticket in my life till last year....all in Ohio. I got two on Rt. 23 and another in a small town coming home from Cedar Point. All small-town cops. That was the LAST time I took the backroads to/from Sandusky....lol.
I have been given a "warning" twice by state troopers, once this past weekend and another years ago in Maryland. I guess the state troopers are more lenient than the small town cops?
It sounds like you had a better time at Wild Adventures than I did. While the Vekomas were smooth, operations wasn't. A large number of rides were closed, and the park was semi-busy. We also had to wait somewhere around 40 mins for tickets, with about 7 parties in line. We had gotten on all the operating rollercoasters except bugout, when it started "raining" (not much more than a mist). This forced Bug Out to close for about 40 mins, with 20 of those mins having no rain at all... Well, good to hear you enjoyed the place.
--Kevin, who was recently pulled over for doing 52 in a 30 zone in his WRX, and the cop let me go with a verbal warning... I think I've used up all my luck for the rest of the year!
Kevin Knapp, Colorado Springs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Remove "cyclone" from e-mail address to reply
52 in a 30? Yikes. I do believe you used up your luck and borrowed someone else's for that! ;-)
I agree about Cheetah, it LOOKS like a CCI and FEELS like.... well like you're stuck in a washing machine, without any water or clothes, as the machine is shoved off a cliff.
If they just invested in some PTCs, and maybe re-tracked a bit, it would be amazing.
Needless to say I'm glad to be back home, only a few hours from Cornball :)
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