The park made the event the official celebration of The Beast's 25th anniversary. That's a very cool distinction and fitting for the crazy late-night rides on the ride.
We arrived at about 8:45 and navigated in the back way to a special parking area near the gate. There was already a pretty huge line at our ticket window. We had 170 pre-registered attendees, and few of the people there had pre-registered. Knowing it would be slow-going to sign people up just from the window, Stephanie went out into the crowd and took care of name tags and paperwork while I worked cash and tickets. We slammed out more than 100 tickets and eliminated the line right at 9:30, so those that wanted to do the walk-back got their chance. That was close!
The park printed nice itineraries and gave us lanyards, which in addition to being a cool souvenir also helped in crowd control on the walk-backs.
At about 11, we left the booth to Cousin Dave and Soon-to-Be-Cousin Niki. We spotted them tickets in exchange for watching the booth for two hours. This was the first and only exposure to enthusiasts they've ever had.
Steph and I met up with Mike (onceler) and Artemisa from Chicago, a couple we've seen at every event since last year. We got the details on the scavenger hunt and worked together for awhile.
At about 1 we fetched our cousins and closed up shop, where we discovered the total attendee count was 226. That's more than CBCon at 140 and last year's BeastBuzz at around 75. Extra props to the park for making the whole thing so appealing!
Since we missed the Tomb Raider tour to pass out tickets, Ultimate PR Fighting Champion and soon-to-be daddy Jeff Siebert gave us a little private tour. The cousins and Mike and Artemisa joined us. The theater geek in me (I minored for one semester in college) was really into the lighting and sound automation of the show. 19 amplifiers and a relatively small set of dimmers and other components run the show. It appeared very well thought out.
I was surprised to see that they used steam and not chemical fog for the ride. The steam room was, not surprisingly, very hot. In the back of the room was an access tunnel that went under the various rooms leading up to the ride.
Next we saw the electrical and control room for the ride. Now I better understand why they had so many issues with downtime the first year. It's complicated! Basically the issue is that the motors on each arm must synchronize so that the gondola is not torqued or twisted in a way that could hurt it. To make things worse, it has to compensate for different weight distributions. When these get out of alignment, the ride stops. To give the computers a better shot at getting it right, they reduce the weight and keep its distribution centered by closing off certain seats. It reduces the capacity of the ride, but keeps it more reliable until they can improve the programming.
Next we got a bonus perk... we got to see the ride in motion from the maintenance area on the floor in the ride building. I have to say, from down at that level, the ride is a thousand times more impressive. If I were to see this thing in motion, even with the relatively mild program it runs, I'm not sure I'd get on it. The sheer mass of that gondola moving as fast as it does is mind boggling. I couldn't believe it. If this were out in the open, I imagine people would just watch it for hours. Amazing.
We also got to view the ride from the control booth. Not much to see there really, aside from video monitors. The controls are very straight forward, indicating which seats have been locked and that all the doors leading to the "low zone" have been closed. The show control computer also lives up there. We ended the tour with a ride, where we found the ride operators to be particularly up beat and proud of their ride.
After that, it was lunch time. Huge crowd, pretty much filling the pavilion. We managed to get most everyone into a group picture, then we ate! After lunch, Tom Rebbie from PTC shared some memories of building trains for The Beast. I also met Steve and Maureen of the marketing team. Maureen and I talked about the ups and downs of working in IT. She's pretty cool.
My mini-posse decided it was time to partake in the consumption of beer and fries, partly because the lunch food was kind of mediocre (as it generally is when you feed hundreds of people). We stopped at the place between Tomb Raider and the train station and had brews. It was fun to talk couple stuff. My cousins get married in a few weeks (I should say cousin and future cousin-in-law before you get the wrong idea), and Mike and Artemisa get married next year. We got married about three and a half years ago, so we traded stories about planning, looking for a place to live, etc. I felt like a grown up. Weird.
We left the group and went back to the hotel to catch a nap. There was no way in hell we were going to make it through a 16 hour day otherwise. It's weird, because to that point we had only been on Tomb Raider. I was blasted because I worry too much about stuff prior to the event. I'm worried too many people will show up, that I won't have enough change, that the tickets will get stolen, that the list will spontaneously combust, you know, all that irrational stuff. Steph didn't sleep well because the air conditioner was too noisy.
When we returned, the only thing I was really hell bent on riding that day was Top Gun. We headed back there and enjoyed it. What a shame that when Arrow really got it right, no one else bought a ride like this. The crew was not very good here, unfortunately. Slow and not much emphasis on capacity.
From there we ran into Cousin Dave and directed them to the Flight of Fear area for the SOB tour. We did it last year so we skipped it. I wanted to eat more crap, so we got pizza on the other side of Vortex. By this time we lost interest in the scavenger hunt and missed the deadline.
Eventually we ended up with Mike and Artemisa again at Lieutenant Dan's for beers and girly drinks. Scott Short and Howard Gilooly had similar ideas, which made sense given the proximity to the theater where we'd meet for the evening activities.
About 180 or so people made it to the Paramount Theater for the awards in the scavenger hunt and The Beast anniversary video. I chatted with Siebert a bit and talked about how the rides weren't really that important to us. We were there to be with friends and hang out. He went on to mention that after I introduced him there.
The Beast video wasn't bad. They pulled a lot of really old footage out, from old video, film and stills.
After that, the group moved outside to watch some of the fireworks. I spoke briefly to Rebbie, and mentioned that I never miss their booth at IAAPA because his product is one of the few left in the industry that demonstrates some kind of craftsmanship. It's neat stuff.
From there, the ERT tour began. We started with Delirium, and it's still my favorite non-coaster ride anywhere. Outstanding! Next up was Drop Zone, still one of the best free-fall rides out there. It was weird to see they upgraded the seat belts to those found on Millennium Force, complete with orange tug handles. Both crews were very cool and accomodating.
Someone asked how we arrived at the rides to include in ERT. The Beast was a given, but other than that, it made most sense to hit the rides with the longest lines during the day.
So with that we went to Flight of Fear. This year, they're giving a squeeze on the mid-course, which slows down the second half a little. It's not terrible and it doesn't kill the ride, but they've toned it down a little from last year. Still the best steel ride at the park.
I heard someone complaining about the style of ERT, the "tour" ERT we do. It kind of pissed me off but I just let it go and ignored it. Honestly, I would much rather blast through several of the most popular rides without waiting than riding one thing for two hours.
We ended the night on The Beast, where it appeared that most everyone that wanted to was able to get two or three laps. The ride continues to run well after last year's modifications, and the helix is still one of the most out-of-control things I've experienced on any ride. It's even better at night.
With that, Jeff thanked us for coming and we all walked to the exit. It was a really great day for me, and everyone else seemed to enjoy themselves as well. People kept thanking me, but I had to explain that all I did was sell the tickets. The park did all of the heavy lifting.
On the way out, we noticed a giant Zamboni-looking vehicle cleaning the parking lot and sucking up garbage. Steph decided it was called a Garboni. Funny!
As it turned out, Mike and Artemisa were staying in the room across from us at the Microtel. Weird coincidence!
Can't wait for next year with the new ride...
The Sieb-ERT is a blast. As Jeff said, it was cool going from one ride to another. That was my first time riding Delirium at night and I won't soon forget it.
The Garboni, now thats funny. :)
Super cool event this year without a doubt. I hope we get to do it all over again next year. (minus me losing that darned wallet! :) )
The whole day was an absolute blast and PKI went out of their way to make it one of the funnest "enthusiast" events I have attended yet.
I was surprised that I managed to spend the whole day (open to the end of DD/Del. ERT) at PKI without tiring out too easily too soon. I had originally planned on leaving and coming back later that evening but got wrapped up in various things and didn't realize how fast the time went by. :-D
I haven't spent that much time in the park in one day in years. I rarely even noticed the crowds.
I heard a few complain about the ERT but I thought it worked well. I got more than enough Delirium and Drop Zone fixes. :-)
*** Edited 7/6/2004 9:15:08 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
As for the "Garboni", it is called a Tymco. How do i know this? I used to drive the one at CP in 87 & 88. Probably the best job at night because you had an FM radio inside, and air-conditioning!
For those that say 'I paid for my ERT', that's bull. For forty bucks I got admission, the tours, the scavenger hunt, a good meal, a great speaker, and a forum to meet up with friends that I talk to on these boards. As a bonus I got some really awesome ERT on rides that, frankly, I would have waited in line for half my day, had I not rode them in the ERT. I honestly would have paid $100 for all of that or more. Forty bucks for all of that is a steal. The park did a lot for us that they really didnt have to do. For that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Anyways, enough of my rant. Very well run event. Jeff S. and the gang did a bang up job of putting together a day full of activities and making it one of the best days I have ever had at an amusement park, even though it was one of the busiest. Thank you Jeff and Steph for setting up this event and working with the PR staff at PKI to make this happen. You did a lot more than just take the tickets like you indicated above. You made this happen and hopefully you can make this happen for many years to come. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.
My response was met with an eye roll and an "I suppose."
I heard only one complaint about the ERT: "This isn't how ACE does it."
If this were an ACE event, we would have had a gravy buffet.
But whatever, I don't want to deal with that kind of negativity. I rode six rides all day and it was one of the single best days I've had an amusement park in a very long time.
As far the ERT thing was, I thought it was pretty cool how we all went as a group and did the four rides one-at-a-time. As far as the people complaining about "This isn't how ACE does it," just sounds like typical ACE person wanting to ruin everyone's fun...although I did talk to a few people that were apart of ACE and they were really cool and fun to talk to.
Anywho, good TR Jeff and hopefully you're already working on next years event :) *** Edited 7/6/2004 8:33:11 PM UTC by Jeff Rowe***
Can't wait for next year with the new ride...
Did you get some kind of hint, or are you just taking an educated guess?
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