Blame Canada -- Canada's Wonderland -- 5/18/02

Associated parks:
None

Wednesday, May 22, 2002 4:52 AM

After waiting for over seven months, tackling a great deal of stressful projects over the course of the last month of school, and after an 11-hour long bus ride that, even WITH movies, music, books, and a really dirty game of Telephone, seemed WAY TOO LONG, three well-equipped coach buses carrying my high school band arrived in beautiful Toronto, Canada. This year's band trip, my first, promised to be a unique experience, filled with many firsts, and I most certainly was not disappointed. I paid a visit to the mecca of hockey, the Hockey Hall of Fame; took a behind-the-scenes tour of the Skydome; got soaked under the raging waters of Niagara Falls; performed in two competitive performances for which my band received two "Superior" ratings; and caught so many compromising photographs and funny stories that the world-famous flutist from "American Pie" looks downright cool.

Of course, this IS a coaster forum, and while many of you have interests that may be touched upon in that last paragraph, the great lot of you couldn't give a flying about me and my band, so I'll cut to the chase...on Saturday, after performing our concert band selections then taking a one-hour bus ride, we arrived at Paramount's Canada's Wonderland, a lovely little park situated right smack dab in the middle of multiple highways. Upon entrance, we grabbed our instruments, practiced, and then marched in a short parade through one corner of the park. By 12:00, we were done marching, changed out of our uniforms, and David, the alto sax playing bandie, became Davie the Coaster Fiend, and we were ready to invade the Great White North.

My group was aptly named Coaster Crew 2002. Our mission: to ride every coaster in the park.

The mission started on a rough foot...in more ways than one. Ride number 1 was Top Gun, the Vekoma SLC situated at the front of the park. I'd heard bad things about these rides before, but had never experienced one before, so I remained open minded. But after a 45-minute wait that shouldn't have been 45 minutes and a crew that lacked as much efficiency as they lacked personality, we were heading up the lift hill. While the ride is fast, and does contain one genuinely scary footchopper, it lives up to its "hang and bang" reputation. I was glad, for more reasons than one, to have put this behind us first.

Next stop was the lineless Mighty Canadian Minebuster, an out and back woodie that offered some decent speed, but little airtime. About the only advantage of this ride was the fact that we walked right onto the train. More on the woodies later though. Right across from the Minebuster was the TOGO SkyRider. The word TOGO sent a shiver down my spine, but I'd never been on a standup before, and I was rather excited. Unfortunately, this ride suffers from another awful problem...two, actually: a clueless crew, and the single worst restraint system I have EVER SEEN. Four separate restraint systems hold the rider firmly in place, so there's absolutely no fear of dying...of course, getting on, dispatching, and getting off is an absolute nightmare. The train takes a two-minute journey, but the train then sits on the brake run for at least 2 to 3 more minutes waiting for the VERY NEXT TRAIN to dispatch. This 5 to 6 minute cycle time turned a simple four-train wait into a half hour, which slowed down my group's time and caused a great deal of impatience among us.

After taking a short bathroom break, we hiked up a small hill and raced down a valley towards the Arrow suspended Vortex. This line was remarkably fast, but the ride was unfortunately even faster! It lacked the smoothness of other Arrow suspended, wasn't too fast, and didn't have any elements that increased the element of danger at all. It was a fun ride, just not worthy of the repeats.

Time check: 2:36 PM. Less than 5 hours to go. Will we make it? This was the question that was on all of our minds as our group disbanded for a food break. During this time, myself and fellow coaster freak Steph decided to increase our count and tackle a major obstacle: the low capacity wild mouse known as The Fly. I must admit that, while this line moved faster than I expected, it still was a pain to wait for it. After a wait of approximately 25 minutes, we got into the small four-seat car and prepared ourselves. The immediate first drop was a pleasant surprise, given that I usually find mice wholly unimpressive. This mouse was a bit different though...it even had an on-ride photo! It was bright and shiny, but on the negative side, it was overloaded with brakes. The result was a somewhat tamer ride, but it was a pleasant diversion from the otherwise serious task at hand.

After our flight, Steph and I rejoined our group and partaked in delicious food...where we discovered one of the strange anomalies of Canadian exchange: $8.07 in Canadian translated to $6.00 American, but when I gave them $6.00, I got change back in Canadian! What gives?

Anyway, at this point, my group was becoming increasingly impatient with the cold weather. After inspecting the old watch and noticing that, even if we hit a non-coaster, we should still have time, we rocked and rolled over to the indoor 7th Portal 3-D motion simulator. All in all, this ride was a VAST improvement over the usual simulator, and it was much better and more exciting than the Dino Island simulator at my home park of SFGAdv. I base the experience on the "scared the crap out of me" introductory sequence, which was killer!

Now that we were full and warm, we ventured out once more into the cold Canada air to continue our mission. The next targets were the smaller, kiddie coasters of Hanna Barbera Land, the first of which was the tame Vekoma kiddie SLC Silver Streak. One train operation didn't help make the line move faster, but it did provide one of the more interesting pictures that I took all day...

We were now at the halfway point of our venture...6 coasters down, 6 coasters to go, and my watch read 5:02 PM...two and a half hours to go! Afterwards, we moved full-on into the kiddie area. The first of our kiddie coaster targets was Ghoster Coaster. Hidden away behind a well themed haunted house queue, I didn't know what to expect from this ride. When I finally saw that it was a legitimate wooden coaster, I was stunned! The kids of Ontario really do have it made at PCW, ladies and gentlemen! Of course, the pain my knees experienced confirmed that this ride was not made for behemoths like myself...but hey! They all count, don't they?

I confirmed this belief by being the only one to challenge the most ridiculous and absurd target on the trip: Taxi Jam. Like a previous experience I had with the Pteranadon Flyers at IoA, I realized that I would need to recruit a small child in order to experience this ride. The first family I tried claimed not to speak English (even though the mother's Spanish consisted of, ┬┐Tu quieras ride?), but my second attempt was a with a lovely Canadian family with an enthusiastic young son who couldn't wait to ride with me! By the time we got on the ride, I noticed that the other eight people in my party had left the Ghoster Coaster, and were lined up along the fence, taking pictures of me in succession as I raced by at a whopping 6 mph. I was later accused of absconding and sbducting a small child. I have NO SHAME, folks! None whatsoever!

At last, the kiddie coasters were done...8 down, 4 to go, and time is starting to run short. A quick time check confirmed that it was 5:43 PM...under two hours left until the 7:30 departure time. The next target was the Vekoma Boomerang The Bat.

In all honesty, I'd been looking forward to the Bat all day. I've never ridden a boomerang before, and hadn't heard good things about them, but I was excited for it in an inexplicable way. The excitement factor built as we waited in the short line, screaming loudly and purposely at each train that raced by twice. As the little cart that carries the train up the first hill slid down, my group started singing, "Na na na na na na na na...BAT-CLAW!!!" In short, we acted like dorks, but like really close friends, we had a BLAST. And the ride didn't disappoint me AT ALL. In fact, I consider it the best steel coaster in the park. For all the nightmares I've heard about Boomerangs, it was incredibly smooth, the inversions were long and fun, and there were some moments of genuine shock. It was one of the only rides that we later rerode. Call me crazy, but I thought the Bat rocked. Definitely my favorite.

With the queue for the Bat right next to the queue for the next coaster, it was easy to see that no one was waiting at our next target, the wooden Wild Beast. This woodie definitely topped the Minebuster for a number of reasons: first, it had SOME airtime! Not much, but hey...when you're born and bred on Nitro, your expectations tend to run high, what can I say! Also, unlike the Minebuster, this ride contained some banking on the turns, something that I've never been able to understand the lack of on other woodies I've ridden. The only DECENT woodie I was on was the CCI Excalibur at Funtown USA in Maine, but that was years ago, back when I wasn't a coaster fan and didn't appreciate the experience. But if the Wild Beast is any indication of what other woodies around the world are like, I do believe my outlook on woodies is improving!

A quick glance at the watch indicated that it was 6:21 PM...just over an hour to go, and two more targets still to hit! Being as they were nearer to the front of the park, I expected longer lines than the others...what we make it???

Target 11 was the Mack mine train Thunder Run. To my pleasure, the line wasn't long, but the train was! Three trains and ten minutes later, we had raced through the spiraling darkness twice, and it's mediocrity was overshadowed.

Under an hour to go...11 coasters down...1 more to go...the one I'd been studying since we reached the park...it stood right at the entrance, roaring over our marching band as we prepared to parade through the park...I had seen full trains before and my heart was racing with the fear that the line would be too long and I wouldn't be able to finish it in enough time. After Thunder Run, my group made a bee-line to the Medieval Faire, raced around the corner and finally, my heart stopped as we saw the queue for Dragon Fire.

The EMPTY queue.

With a cheer of triumph, we raced up the station steps, took a lap on the Arrow double loop corkscrew, and cheered in victory! ALL TWELVE COASTERS DONE. Mission: Accomplished! In celebration, we took another walk-on ride, during which time, I noticed that, while the loops and corkscrews weren't too rough, the turnaround, brake run transition, and helix were hard on the old noggin. But oh well, who cares??? I had succeeded where the rest of my group had failed. I won.

With 45 minutes left, we raced back to the empty Bat and took another lap. With about 40 minutes left, we raced back to the Medieval Faire and renewed our dinner certificates for a meal. As I chomped into my burger, though, I realized I had lost my lucky hat on the Bat! I ran back once more, and was lucky enough to find the hat sitting on the floor of the station. Another lucky success, and the perfect ending to what had shaped up to be the perfect day.

All in all, the park wasn't spectacular, but it had a lot to offer, and had a great deal of variety. Nothing too big, mostly mediocre, but for a park that clearly places quantity a few steps ahead of quality, they've succeeded. I think the park still needs a true anchor coaster, something of stature and superiority, like Michigan's Adventure's Shivering Timbers or Six Flags New England's Superman: Ride of Steel, or even the aforementioned Funtown USA's Excalibur. If the park had one of those rides, it'd be spectacular. And while the lines were pretty short and people were well-distributed in the fairly well-balanced park, operations in general leave a lot to be desired, expecially on the abominable SkyRider. But these are relatively minute details, and ones that can easily be remedied.

But the story's really not over yet. With just under ten minutes to go till the bus left, I had the opportunity to do a quick run through the gift shops. After painstaking looks through shirt racks and novelty shelves, I realized that I wanted to get a souvenir, I just didn't know what. I was about to give up and leave when my eye caught a familiar item, one that perfectly symbolized the day I'd had. I quickly bought it and bid farewell to PCW for good.

Now, I'm back home in American...and I'll have you know that my PCW postcard -- which features an overhead view of the park that, like me, captures all 12 coasters -- is taped to the mirror of my dresser, a fine sight to wake up to in the morning, if I may say so myself.

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Nitro Dave -- 69 Laps ---------- Track Record: 41 and counting...
"Na na na na na na na na...BAT-CLAW!!!"
106 FUNNY THINGS IN CANADA: #4 -- Corporate sign: "Canadian Erectors, Limited"

*** This post was edited by Davie the Luv Monkey on 5/22/2002. ***

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 7:12 AM
There seem to be a decent number of saxophone players on the Buzz. Den, Me, and you :) Any others?

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Proud CB club member

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 7:19 AM
ME! saxes rule

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If your really evil in this life, do you come back as toilet paper????
ladies and gentlemen, due to an increase in line jumping, people caught cutting in line will no longer be ejected from the park. u will be ejected from the ride

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 7:41 PM
I play trumpet....

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Hey man. Wanna buy some weed? Crack? Freepass on Millennium Force? I got the hook up...

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 7:52 PM
You got change in Canadian??? Well, you are in CANADA!

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My two favorite coasters are named Superman.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 8:10 PM

Hmmm, no flat rides, Davie??

What's up with that.. PCW is notorius for flat rides. Their mondail flats are among the best in North America, with Cliffhanger, Shockwave, and the new Psychlone...

...did you happen to catch a ride on either of those?

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....Summer is only a short 91 days long. How much of that time are you going to use at the amusement parks??

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Wednesday, May 22, 2002 8:14 PM

ME ME! I am also a saxplayer (hence the name)! I pay sax at Illinois State University! I am in the marching band there. Great TR and congrats on getting all 12 coasters in one day!

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X Looks Awesome! Oh Yea!!

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Thursday, May 23, 2002 12:13 PM

DawgByte-- Although there were a few flat rides that seemed VERY tempting, including Psyclone and this strange contraption called Shockwave, we just didn't have enough time to hit them. Besides that, I have a Psyclone-clone (hmm...) at SFGAdv to enjoy whenever. And anyway...my whole group just wanted to ride the coasters anyway! And who am I to complain with that?

astro-- My point wasn't that I got change in Canadian...but it came out to a certain total, which they then converted to an even American total...yet when I paid the exact amount, the conversion back to Canadian resulted in me getting change. I would've figured that, no matter which currency I'm paying in, if I pay exact, I wouldn't get change! Go figure.

Anywho, for any of you who may be interested, feel free to grab my AIM screen name and start checking my profile for the soon to be world-famous list of "106 Funny Things in Canada" from the trip. The entire list should be up soon, so stay tuned!

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Nitro Dave -- 69 Laps ---------- Track Record: 41 and counting...
"Na na na na na na na na...BAT-CLAW!!!"
106 FUNNY THINGS IN CANADA: #4 - Corporate sign: "Canadian Erectors, Limited"

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Friday, May 24, 2002 7:40 AM

An 11 hour bus trip is nothing. Last month I took a 14 hour bus trip (band trip also) from Alabama to San Antonio. The reward? Steel Eel, Great White at Sea World and Superman:Krypton Coaster, Boomerang (A VERY smooth and fun ride, btw),Roadrunners Express mine train, the coolest log ride I have ever ridden being Bug's Bunny's White water rapids, and the pain of ridding the Rattler (SFFT BURN this thing down!!). In the fall, my marching band is considering going to Orlando (we got invited to perform during half time at the Tangerine Bowl) and visiting USF and IOA!

Band is the best!

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New coasters in 02 so far: SE,GW(SWSA) SKC Rattler, RoadExp,Boomerang:CtC(SFFT)

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Friday, May 24, 2002 6:58 PM

I just joined this year...I was reminded of the famous line in American Pie 2:

"I'm a band geek...I just never joined the band!"

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Nitro Dave -- 69 Laps ---------- Track Record: 41 and counting...
"Na na na na na na na na...BAT-CLAW!!!"
106 FUNNY THINGS IN CANADA: #4 - Corporate sign: "Canadian Erectors, Limited"

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Friday, May 24, 2002 11:24 PM

What about that girl from the first American Pie?

"And this one time at band camp..."

This was my first year to march, which was quite fun.

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New coasters in 02 so far: SE,GW(SWSA) SKC Rattler, RoadExp,Boomerang:CtC(SFFT)

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 12:56 PM

I know it may seem like I'm making excuses here, but you hit the park on a particularly bad day.

The weather was freezing (it snowed for a while that morning), so most of the rides, if not all, were running very slowly. Only the weekend before the Skyrider and the Wild Beast both rolled back, due to the temperatures...

Add in some very obnoxious guests (including one who threatened to kill myself and my lead), and it just wasn't a good day.

But now at least some other people know why those of us who have PCW as a home park are always complaining about not having any big coasters! Top Gun is the newest big one (I don't count the Fly), and TG was built in 1996! (or '95, I can't remember)

I'm suprised that some of the other coasters took so long with loading, as that weekend there was a capacity contest going on, with prizes for the fastest loading crews (Which is why we were hustling to get Vortex going as fast as we could, as you may have noticed).

But I am disappointed that you didn't try any of the flats. I myself am a coaster junkie, but to be honest, the two best rides in the entire park are Psyclone and Shockwave.

Oh well, at least you had a good time.

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 5:51 PM
Former high school band trombone player here. And I also have lots of coaster/band stories from my past too. Lots of fall fantasy parades at kennywood and several trips to disneyworld.


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"Looks like you've been missing quite a bit of work lately"
"Well, I wouldn't say I've been MISSING it, Bob."

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 7:14 PM
Actually the flat in question at SFGAdv is *not* the same as Psyclone. The one in Jersey is a standard Huss Frisbee (seating facing in) while the Psyclone is a prototype Mondial where you face *out*.

A shame you didn't hit Shockwave (Mondial Top Scan) as that's one of the best things in the park. PCW hasn't installed many coasters lately but their flat collection is rapidly becoming marvelous.

And on one final note: Don't complain about getting Canadian currency back when you're in Canada, IMO the people of the country are *far* too willing to accept American currency (a testament to the character of the country, could you imagine an American establishment more than 50 miles from the border taking Canadian cash?) and I consider it extremely gracious of the park to even take green backs inside the gate.
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* The Legend @ HW
* Superman: Ride of Steel @ SFNE
* Mondial Top Scan

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 9:06 PM

Colin W. said:

A shame you didn't hit Shockwave (Mondial Top Scan) as that's one of the best things in the park. PCW hasn't installed many coasters lately but their flat collection is rapidly becoming marvelous.


Hey Colin, just out of curiosity, did (do) you ride in the money seat on Shockwave?

I'm suprised about the number of people who don't know about it. The ride itself is great. This one single seat makes it soo much better (#1, seat 5. Trust me on that one)

*** This post was edited by Vortexguy on 5/26/2002. ***

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Sunday, May 26, 2002 2:35 PM

Davie the Luv Monkey said:

After our flight, Steph and I rejoined our group and partaked in delicious food...where we discovered one of the strange anomalies of Canadian exchange: $8.07 in Canadian translated to $6.00 American, but when I gave them $6.00, I got change back in Canadian! What gives?



The reason you got change was that six dollars American is more like nine dollars and fifty cents Canadian. Therefore they translated your six into nine fifty, and subtracted eight-O-seven, therefore giving you Canadian change.

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What's life if you never get to the PO!NT

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