Parks visited: PKI (5/30), HW/SRM (5/31), IB (6/1), MiA (6/2) and IB again (6/2)
Weather: Muggy and hot in Indiana, perfect in Michigan
Crowds: Perfect everywhere, except for (yet again) PKI
Mullet-count: 634 (including fem-mullets, mul-ettes, 2 Elvis mullets, 1 feathered mullet, 1 WWF mullet, and 1 midget mullet)
(Note to readers: This trip report will reference the term "mullet" quite a bit over it's meandering course. This term is only being used to apply to a hairstyle and is not intended in any way to insult, debase or in any form demean the fine people of Indiana, who are generally the nicest I have come across in many travels.)
As SRM 2001 concluded last year, I already knew I would be returning for the 2002 iteration. Holiday World is probably as close to heaven as I'm going to get, and, since there's no way I could convince my wife to move there, repeat visits are a necesity. The only real question for me was what direction my pre/post SRM plans would lead me in. SFSTL/SDC was the early front runner, but hearing the many glowing reports about Indiana Beach and the Cornhole Express began to sway me. I wanted another hack at PKI ("The World's Most Crowded Park") as well, and Michigan wasn't that far away either (the Timbers have been calling out my name for years...).
I had also made a pledge to myself to make 2002 more about quality rides and less about quantity of rides. My two big trips in 2001 had jumped me from 67 coasters to 145, and I now felt comfortable enough about my count to slow down a bit and really hit the things that call out to me. The things that call to me are mainly smaller parks and CCI coasters, so the itinerary above eventually became the obvious choice. I knew in the planning that it would be exhausting, but I had no idea just how incredible of a time I was in for!
Day 1 - Who Let All These People In?!?!?
I don't know what it is, but I really enjoy traveling with a nice size group of friends. Some of it's just having lots of different people to talk to and ride with, some of it's sharing the expenses, and some of it's having others to split the driving with. But it's also the camaraderie, like being in a band on tour or part of a college road trip. The Team Short Bus concept originated last year for the SRM trip was reborn as Team Short Bus 2 this year, consisting of Greg "Poky" Galley, Mike "Instigator" Kallay, Tony "Indy" Milano, and Mike "Trip Report" Sterling. Yes, three Mikes in one van...let the predictable hijinks ensue! ;)
Mike Sterling arrived a few days before the rest of us, as he needed to bag all the credits at CP and SFWOA. The other three besides me flew in from the Left Coast Wednesday night, and I arrived very early Thursday morning. I had a very cool flight for a red-eye. I managed to sleep for about 2 hours, I saw a gorgeous sunrise after flying through a very intense lightning storm, and my approach into St. Louis featured a sweeping 180-degree turn that presented an awesome view of the Mississippi River and the Arch. A short time later I arrived amidst the cornfields in Indianapolis.
Short Bus 2 was nice and roomy and had a great sound system. Sterling put on some comedy CDs and we were off to Bob Evans for breakfast. I'm always astounded at how much better food tastes in the Midwest. I'm not sure if it's because it's fresh, or if it's because it's full of fat. Regardless, we had a good breakfast and were soon on the road to Cincinatti and PKI.
I slept a few more hours and awoke around the Ohio border. Soon after, we arrived at the park, to find a very busy lot. I knew the park was under "limited operation" rules and also that it was "passholders bring a friend for free" day. I had hoped it would not be that bad (my first visit to PKI last year was horrendously crowded) but there wasn't anything we could do about it.
Our first ride was Adventure Express, and, setting the tone for the weekend, we were E-stopped on lift #2 because one of our party was filming on-ride. Doh! A.E. was a bit rougher than I remembered, but still fun. SOB was next; I had really enjoyed this ride last year, and I was eager to go again after hearing reports that the ride was running even better this year. The line was quite a bit shorter than it looked from the start, and getting drenched by a downpour while waiting was more refreshing than annoying on this hot day. The SOB was, true to the word, even better than last year! I just LOVE the first 4 massive drops on this ride. I even rode in the next to last row this time (middle of the train last year) and the first drop is really something back there. The loop was fun and smooth as always. I agree with many that the ride is boring after the loop. I wish the park had done a bit more with it after the loop.
Racer was next, and it too was vastly improved over it's already excellent performance last year (in fact, improved wood would be a theme for the trip). All the new wood made for a stellar ride in row three of the train...airtime all over the place, and very smooth and fast. Up next was my first new credit for the trip, Vortex. This thing has a great first drop and cool, tree-choked layout, but man is it rough and grating...perhaps the worst Arrow looper in my count.
The Beast was next, and I was SO looking forward to riding this bad boy again. I had an excellent ride on it last year, at night and with virtually NO braking in the shed. The ride I had this year in the day time was similar in quality and braking to the previous one...if it was running that good during the day I can imagine the night rides are incredible! Our ride was marred a bit however by a very slow crew, something I've never seen at PKI before. Stacking all three trains on the Beast? What??
After running into George Booras and fortifying ourselves with popcorn chicken and some fine malt beverages, we ventured into the line for Tomb Raider, or Top-Spin-In-A-Box. The outdoor portion of the queue line was unbearably hot...no misters, inadequate shade, and no air movement. And what was with all the lemon halves on top of the queue?? That was wierd. The ride itself was kind of half-assed. I really expected something to happen in the "statue" room and was bummed to get nothing. The ride itself was made interesting by the ride vehicle, which is just plain massive. It holds you at some cool angles, and the height it reaches is tres impressive, but the program is WAY too short, and didn't have nearly enough flipping. I'm glad I rode it, but I wish I had spent that 45 minutes getting a Face/off credit instead!
At this point we had a little over an hour left and I still had three credits left to get in the park (Ghoster Coaster, Beastie, and Face/off) as well as Drop Zone, which I had missed last year and vowed not to miss again this year. Most of our crew had not done Reptar last year, so Greg and I split off and bagged Beastie. This was my first Jr. woodie and a total hoot! Those little cars are so cute!
Greg and I had about 20 minutes left afterwards and he talked me into a quick trip on Phantom Theater before our run to Drop Zone. PT is so classically cheesy (and a little bit freaky in how wierd some of it is) but was worth a ride. I had this wierd feeling of deja vu though, almost like I'd ridden something very similar before...hmmmm.
The last ride of the night was Drop Zone. I really hated giving this the miss last year, but Flight of Fear won out in the last-minute-dash competition (had I known the future, I would have chosen King Cobra over either last year). Drop Zone has been calling to me for a long time, due to the circular ride vehicle and the rotation while climbing. Greg and I made it there about 5 minutes prior to park closure, and endured about an hour wait in the cramped queue, enlivined occasionally by a throaty roar and a mighty gust of wind (how cool is that?) every time the carriage was dropped. It was finally our turn and we mounted seats facing Top Gun. This was fortuitious as the ground drops precipitously away from DZ on that side, making the ride feel even taller. I was fine most of the way up but the last 50 feet REALLY made me nervous! You can see for so far up there due to Ohio's mostly flat terrain. We finally stopped and then dropped...another mighty fine Intamin dropping product checked off.
After much shopping and waiting for the rest of TSB2 to get off of Flight O' Fear, we trooped out to the Bus and headed for the nearest Steak and Shake. Nothing (well other than greenery) says "midwest" to me more than a visit to the mighty S & S. We then handed the wheel over to Tony and he made MVP for the day, knocking out the long drive through the dark all the way to Santa Claus with nary a stop. It's such a wierd feeling to drive that route at night. Other than Louisville, there's just so many miles of nothing...no lights, no signs of life. I guess it's really fitting that Holiday World is out in the middle of nowhere, cause it really is out of this world. We checked into Satan's Lodge and quickly fell asleep, as we had an early morning date with Elvis.
To be continued...
Mike Miller - On the gravy train to coaster nirvan***
You had to have been in line for Sonny when I was. There were some really annoying kids jumping up and down in the water puddles above us and splashing all of us with muddy nasty water. I thought it was gonna come to blows as me, my friend Matt, and a very nice woman in line all started b*tching at them. Should have saw the looks the teeny boppers shot us. But they stopped. :)
BTW I still can't get the nasty water stains out of my Legend shirt. :(
The Beast and Night, They go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly
*** This post was edited by MagnumForce on 6/5/2002. ***
X-Flight World's Only flying coaster!
Batwing World's only flying coaster!
S:UF World's only flying coaster! Don't you love SF ?
Todd: It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive.
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