Drunken Rip Roarin' Rampage - June 5, 2004

Associated parks:
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Monday, June 7, 2004 12:14 AM
This Saturday was my first visit to Visionland for the ACE Southeast annual event, Rip Roarin’ Rampage. I was in Florida three years ago, then the park was closed for a season, and last year I couldn’t make it due to prior obligations. I had heard a lot about Rampage, the 1998 CCI double out-and-back wooden coaster, and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype.

For those that don’t know, Visionland is a very small park located just outside Birmingham, Alabama in one of the most ghetto towns ever – Bessemer. I had worked in the town before at a previous job when the park wasn’t open, so I had low expectations for the types of people that would be there, both visiting and operating the rides. For the most part, I was dead on with the exception of an extremely friendly and welcoming management and public relations staff.

All things aside, the trip was awesome! After heading out of Atlanta at 10:30am, we drove through traffic and construction and arrived at Visionland at 1:30 central time. After checking in with Robert Ulrich & Co., we received our badges, wristbands, and itinerary for the day. Admission to the event included all attractions at the Visionland complex, as well as a picnic dinner and 3 hours of nighttime ERT on Rampage.

Our group (consisting of Bill, Greg, David, and myself) headed into the gates of the Celebration Street section of the park, and were stopped halfway down by the $2.00 beer man. We all looked at each other and went straight to the Visionland Sports Bar for some “ADULT” beverages - $3.00 for a Heineken at a park was a pretty good deal.

From here, the park split into two directions, one path led to Splash Beach, the water park section, and the other to Magic Adventures, home to all the rides. Each section is a separate admission park, but our registration included a combination ticket to both parks. We opted to head straight to Rampage to get the credit.

On the way there, we ran in to Josh and Brandy, who decided to join us for the rest of the day of fun and drunken insanity. Visionland is a confusing park, with multiple dead ends and rides placed out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, the park used to be completely joined together before the new management, and was easier to navigate.

After walking up the hill and through the structure, we made it to the queue for Rampage. The park was only running one train, as the other train is undergoing refurbishment, including a new paint job. It didn’t matter, as the park was relatively dead and we only had to wait for 2 or 3 trains. They were loading the ride Cedar Point style, by holding the line and only allowing a trainload of passengers into the station at once. Luckily, the group before us opted for the front, so we headed for our first ride in the back car.

Most of the layout cannot be seen from the park, so I was completely unaware of what this journey would be like. After climbing the lift to 120 feet, the ride makes a 180 degree left turn before plummeting 102 feet. After racing over a speed hill, the track rises into the first turnaround, where riders are slammed into the right side of the train. The 3rd drop leads into a rampy, mediocre hill that gives riders a breather before rising into the second turnaround, which tosses riders to the left side of the train. After a couple more hills and another turnaround, the finale unfolds before you. This portion of the ride is not visible in any photographs that I’ve seen, and is hidden well inside the massive structure of Rampage. It begins with an airtime filled drop that yanks you out of your seat, similar to The Raven’s 5th drop. You float over another speed hill, and rise into the final turnaround. I still don’t know what the track does to make this portion so amazing, as it all flies by you in such a blur. All I remember is being thrown to the right, then to the left, then to the right again before being yanked from my seat, and then slammed to the left one last time. WHOA!

The train rose into the brakes, and we were all impressed. Sure, the ride was running rather slow during the first half, but we had 3 hours of ERT later that evening in the dark. It was at this point that I started worrying – could that finale be MORE intense than it already was?

Since we were as close as we could get to the parks S&S Space Shot, we decided to take a ride. The ride-ops were fairly inefficient, as they just opened the gates and left riders scrambling for a seat without actually counting the number of riders they would let through the gates. The ride was a fairly good space shot, but I prefer rides that sit at the top with anticipation. Visionland was home to both a shot and a drop tower, but the drop side was repossessed by S&S when the park filed for bankruptcy.

Next, we meandered through the kiddie area, which consisted of a kiddie whip themed to NASCAR, a Dumbo-style ride with a plane theme, and the Baloon Wheel (as misspelled on the Visionland website). We found the Miler kiddie coaster, Marvel Mania, here as well, and decided to credit whore ourselves on for a ride. We got 2 cycles, which was enough on this medieval torture device. The trains boast NO padding, and constantly slammed into your knees and back. I guess I shouldn’t expect more from a kiddie coaster made for someone half my height.

Bill mentioned that the park’s wave swinger, Tidal Wave, was not to be missed. After waiting one cycle, we boarded and found ourselves on the most temperamental ride ever! The ride would begin and make about three revolutions before making a huge bang, stopping mid-cycle. We thought the swings were all going to run into the tower and someone was going to get hurt. After surviving three or four breakdowns like this in a row, the operator decided to close the ride and call for maintenance.

It was clear that what we needed was more alcohol. We headed back to Celebration Street to grab some more beverages, and ended up sitting at the Sports Bar chatting and downing a few. The special of the day was $4.00 margaritas, so Josh decided to be the first to try this interesting concoction. A basic margarita is supposed to be made of lime juice (or mix), tequila, and triple sec. These were made with tequila, tequila, tequila, tequila, triple sec, lemonade, and pure citric acid. Sure, they tasted really bad and ate away at the esophagus, but there was a LOT of tequila in there for $4.00! Bill and I decided to sit out on the “margaritas” for now, but David and Greg were more than willing to jump on those.

After a quick stop to the bathroom hidden in the back of the arcade with broken Skee-ball, we made our way to the parks rapid ride, The Wild River Gorge. I’m a big fan of unique rapids ride, and Visionland’s was different than any other I had ridden. Our 6 passenger boat departed onto the course, which boasted some unique elements, but only one wave that really came into the boat (on me of course). The unique elements included waterfalls reminiscent of RCT, a wave pool section, and a trip along the edge of a whirlpool.

After several more attempts at the broken Wave Swinger, we decided to move on to the Huss Pirate, located just past the park’s non-operational log flume. Once was enough for Brandy and me, but the others decided they were up for two rides. For some reason, this is one of those rides I can’t really handle that well, especially after three beers. We also took a ride on the Chance Giant Wheel, called the Skywheel. Greg, David, and I decided to spin our gondola, while the others opted for a peaceful ride. This was a very short cycle, which consisted of two whole revolutions. When we were exiting the ride, the ride op was shocked we had traveled all the way from Atlanta for Visionland, when he thought that Six Flags over Georgia was clearly a superior park. We shrugged it off and walked down the exit ramp.

Josh tried to lobby us all to venture into Splash Beach. The rest of us had a better idea - more alcohol! We headed back to the Sports Bar for more tequila-acid drinks, but the woman had run out of tequila. She came up with a similar concoction, substituting tequila for vodka. This was clearly a mistake. I tried my best to drink it, but just couldn’t stomach this disaster. Fortunately, the woman felt bad, and substituted it for a Jim Beam w/ Coke, heavy on the whiskey. With the exception of Josh and Brandy, we were clearly wasted at this point, and decided to ride the parks Bertazzon Music Express, called the Hurricane. I vaguely remember the ride, but it was definitely fun!

After another spin on Rampage, which was clearly getting faster, we headed back to the Tidal Wave to try and get our ride. We noticed the ride operating from the other side of the park, so we had high hopes in getting a full cycle this time. The cycle before ours had broken, but after some riders left it eventually worked. We were worried that our combined weight, while low, might have been too much for this ride. It seemed to get thrown off balance fairly easily, so we decided to spread ourselves out around the ride. After a couple attempts (11 total all day), some people left, and the ride finally worked! These swings were spinning so fast and made all of us a little queasy. I’m sure the alcohol had nothing to do with this. When I say fast, I mean FAST - the chains were almost parallel to the ground.

We stumbled back to the other side of the park, got accosted by our stalker, Josh ate some $4 rip-off “nachos”, and we all posed for the group photo. We made our way to the picnic pavilion and had dinner, which consisted of ribs, hamburgers, chicken, corn, and some questionable side dish concoction with mayonnaise. I have to go on record saying that mayonnaise is the single most disgusting thing on the planet. I would also like to mention that the food was barely edible, with the hamburger being the least of all the evils. Fortunately, there were ice cream sandwiches for dessert, followed by the usual speeches from the park and a couple giveaways. Visionland was very interested in hearing our input. Nobody was screaming “TERA TERA TERA”, and the park seemed genuinely interested in feedback about the park.

Sam Ulrich decided to join our crew, and since we had some time before ERT, we took our chance on the Scrambler of death. Not only was this ride making scary noises and lifted very high off of the ground, the operator was cross-eyed and making some serious mistakes. First, he let a rider on the cycle before us take his lit Black & Mild cigar on the ride. Then, he let in guests for the next cycle. There wasn’t enough room for everybody, so the leftover people were asked to stand INSIDE THE GATE, next to the ride until the next cycle. These people looked terrified as the cars flung towards them. We notified park management of these operations. Not only have there been enough accidents already this year, this is the last thing a struggling park like Visionland needs.

After one final shot on the S&S tower, we made our way to Rampage to prepare for the three hour marathon session. As the general public filtered off their last double ride of the night, the small group of 44 people got ready for an abusive onslaught of Rampage! This ride has seriously picked up by now. There was crazy air and laterals all over the place, and it just got better and better until the final ride, just after midnight.

As our battered and bruised bodies made our way to the parking lot, the almost full moon was rising in the sky, ending a fun-filled day at Visionland. If you’re ever in the Birmingham area, you have got to check out Rampage. It is definitely worth the price of admission alone. I know I’ll be back for more next year.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember many details of yesterday, so the order of events could be entirely incorrect, however everything really did happen. This trip was brought to you by:

* Heineken
* Too much cheap tequila
* Lemon Jelly’s CD - Jelly Mixture
* The Cream of Underground House mixed by Chris & James – Mix 1 and 2
* Wendy’s, open till 1AM in Bessemer!
* Parliament Lights (of course)
* Both moons

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Monday, June 7, 2004 11:48 AM

Matt D said:
On the way there, we ran in to Josh and Brandy, who decided to join us for the rest of the day of fun and drunken insanity.

Fun & drunken insanity... what better way to enjoy a theme park!


We got 2 cycles, which was enough on this medieval torture device. The trains boast NO padding, and constantly slammed into your knees and back.

Aww now.... It wasn't all THAT bad...


Bill mentioned that the park’s wave swinger, Tidal Wave, was not to be missed. After waiting one cycle, we boarded and found ourselves on the most temperamental ride ever! The ride would begin and make about three revolutions before making a huge bang, stopping mid-cycle. We thought the swings were all going to run into the tower and someone was going to get hurt. After surviving three or four breakdowns like this in a row, the operator decided to close the ride and call for maintenance.

How many times did this happen? Three, maybe four times... We had enough revolutions on the thing to account for ONE regular ride. Funny how the fat kids got off and it worked... ;)


It was clear that what we needed was more alcohol.

The quote of the day!


We headed back to Celebration Street to grab some more beverages, and ended up sitting at the Sports Bar chatting and downing a few. The special of the day was $4.00 margaritas, so Josh decided to be the first to try this interesting concoction.

I'm still trying to figure out why I had to be the test dummy for that stuff. Margaritas with lemon? I knew it was gonna be bad, but geez... That crap burned like all hell and it wasn't the Tequila, Tequila, Tequila that made it that way!


Josh tried to lobby us all to venture into Splash Beach. The rest of us had a better idea - more alcohol!

After the heartburn of those drinks I think that the waterpark would've been a better choice!


With the exception of Josh and Brandy, we were clearly wasted at this point, and decided to ride the parks Bertazzon Music Express, called the Hurricane. I vaguely remember the ride, but it was definitely fun!

That just means I can hold my liquor better than yall! lol. I still say yall are crazy as hell for ridding that evil spinning machine while having a moderatly good buzz...


we headed back to the Tidal Wave to try and get our ride. After a couple attempts (11 total all day), some people left, and the ride finally worked! These swings were spinning so fast and made all of us a little queasy.

A little! I felt sick for a long time after that! Kudos to Greg for suggesting we scarf down hamburger buns to kill that vomit feeling.


We stumbled back to the other side of the park, got accosted by our stalker, Josh ate some $4 rip-off “nachos”, and we all posed for the group photo.

"Good times, good times!" (as quoted by Joe C.)


* Too much cheap tequila
* Wendy’s, open till 1AM in Bessemer!
* Parliament Lights (of course)
* Both moons

A few of my memorable moments...

*Drinking the Sports Bar that ran outta tequila and yall trying to eat at McDonalds when they ran outta meat (what's up with that!)
*Greg always losing something (phone, cigs, etc..)
*Both moons!?!?! I only remember the biggest one that was at close range! AHHH!!! My eyes!
*I guess I need to watch the video again and see what all I've forgotten.

BTW, very good TR. I had a grin on my face just remembering some of that stuff!!!

~Josh

-editted for stupid mistakes. lol
*** Edited 6/7/2004 3:50:15 PM UTC by Rampage***

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Monday, June 7, 2004 8:38 PM
Matt, fun TR to read. Rampage is probably my fav woodie in the South...gave me insanely good rides last October. Sounds like RRR was a fun little event. I can't imagine stomaching all that alcohol and riding their Musik Express!

Good call on the Scrambler ride op. That's an accident waiting to happen. Tidal Wave is run really at the most intense level I've ever experienced on a Wave Swinger. Matt, you're right about the parallel to the ground feeling!

By the way, did the park take down the signs around the flume for the "Coming in 2004 - New Attraction"? I'm guessing they didn't install the dinosaur theming around the flume for this year and may have decided not to go with that idea after all.

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Monday, June 7, 2004 9:36 PM
Great TR. I agree that the thing that sums up this little fiasco....I mean event....is alcohol! If it hadn't been for the alcohol I don't think I would have been able to make it. It's a nice little park but they haven't got enough to do.

Rampage and the waterpark are the only things that keep people in the park IMHO.

And yes all signage is gone from the log flume which has no lift and all the boats still in the trough. Weird little place, that is.

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Monday, June 7, 2004 9:41 PM
Good TR Matt. It was cool talking to you for a little bit. I wish we could have had some more time to chat. Maybe at the next event. I was eyeing up the Sports Bar but never got in there. Nice to hear that a little liquid refreshment helped get you through the day ;) The Rampage ERT was even better than last years and has to be one of the best out there. I need to get these airtime bruises on my thighs healed before I leave for my trip this Friday. You didn't miss much not going in the waterpark. They didn't even have their new ride (The Splashdown) anywhere near completed, even though it's advertised on both their website and on billboards along I-20. Anyway, anyone who hasn't gotten a chance yet, needs to get down to Visionland and ride one of the best woodies in the world. I'm allready looking forward to next years event. *** Edited 6/8/2004 1:43:50 AM UTC by Pale Rider***
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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 8:39 PM
Josh - There was a 2nd moon - you know, the one in the sky.

Thrillerman - I hard about the dinosaur theming on the flume, but there was nothing there at all. The drops are gone, but the queue and signage are still there.

TNcoasterman - There isn't much to do at Visionland, but hopefully they'll send a buyer to Miracle Strip!

Pale Rider - It was nice meeting up with you as well. Have fun with the Mrs. on your upcoming trip!

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 8:56 PM
I keep meaning to write my own trip report for the weekend, but Matt sums up RRR itself pretty well (well, except I'd only had one margaritta myself, so I wasn't drunk ;) )

My group skipped out on the dinner -- while it was great of the park to provide one, I have some VERY restrictive dietary needs and was afraid I wouldn't have anything to eat at all. Sounds like I was correct.

Rampage is one amazing ride. I rode about 35 times, give or take, and it was wearing me out. The "squiggle thing" at the end is one of the best endings I can think of.

--Greg (but not the same Greg as referenced in the original trip report)

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 12:59 AM
Has Visionland corrected that huge bump on Rampage where the train enters the transfer track? That's my only beef with it. Last fall it felt like it was rolling over about a 1/2" - 3/4" change in track height.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 2:01 AM
Sounds like an intoxicating time! I don't know if I could handle an Amusement Park when drunk. I've been drunk twice (and only 17!), and they are interesting experiences. I relate being drunk sometimes when you turn your head, your brain has to catch up. If I've had like 5 Haggermister shots along with whatever else I had after prom at an Amusement Park, that wouldn't be a pretty sight for those behind me on any coaster. Their vision might suddenly become chunky.

Anywho, I've heard some very good things about Rampage. Being a huge CCI fan that I am, I'll definately need to get to this park sometime soon, especially should they ever have an accidents (I would've called that Ride-Op "Crazy Eyes" but thats just me) or once again have to file for bankrupcy. Lets hope something of the sort won't happen again.

Great TR! I enjoyed it greatly! Warns me never to have alcohol at an Amusement Park!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 8:39 AM

thrillerman1 said:
Has Visionland corrected that huge bump on Rampage where the train enters the transfer track? That's my only beef with it. Last fall it felt like it was rolling over about a 1/2" - 3/4" change in track height.

Nope. Still there. As far as I can remember, it's always been there since they built the thing. It doesn't seem to be as jolting as past years, but it is still there. You have to wonder what kinda damage is being done to the wheels from rolling over that thing over & over during a busy day.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 7:46 PM
Wow how hard can that jolt be to fix? It has to be doing damage not only to the wheels on that side of the train but also to the rest of the train itself. Otherwise, Rampage is amazing.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 11:50 PM
Just so it is known not all ACE members go to parks just to drink. Do not want any one to get the wrong impression
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 11:58 PM
You're absolutely right! Most event attendees don't save room after meals to fit any alcohol in their stomachs.
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Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:00 AM

scubasteve673042 said:
Just so it is known not all ACE members go to parks just to drink. Do not want any one to get the wrong impression

You right! The #1 reason I went to RRR was to get drunk! I mean, who cares that there is a top 10 coaster there? THEY HAVE A SPORTS BAR!!! Geezz.... (sarcasm implied) Now, why would anyone get a wrong/bad impression of ACE on CBuzz? I thought that RRC was for that. ;)

-editted for spelling....

*** Edited 6/10/2004 1:01:29 PM UTC by Rampage***

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Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:18 AM
I doubt it takes Coasterbuzz for people to get a bad (or is it correct) impression of ACE. People can watch the trough feeding that is an event meal and get a good understanding of what the club is about.

Adam

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