Four Jammed (Part 3 of 4)

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Wednesday, September 1, 2004 7:01 PM
Four Jammed – Part 3

Leaving” Bransoon” for Arkansas


“I thought Storm Runner was at Hershey.”

The third day of the trip was rather simple sounding. Spend some time at Silver Dollar City in the morning, and if we had any time left, head down to Celebration City for a couple of quick rides that we missed the day before. If we were lucky, we would even stop in front of the Shoji Theater for a quick photo.

Barry and I grabbed a quick breakfast while Jeff continued to get ready. Once everyone was ready to go, we left our nice hotel (Barry was 2 for 2 in getting great hotels on this trip) and headed back to Silver Dollar City.

We didn’t ride much this day. We went in and headed straight for the kiddie coaster so Jeff could get his credit. The only other thing we wanted to ride was ThuNdeRation and Wildfire. For our one ride on ThuNdeRation for the day, I decided to ride facing forwards for the first time. It was still a great ride facing in that direction.

Once we reached Wildfire, we met up with Sue Barry and Rich Yekel. They were on their way out of the park so they could leave for Arkansas. We noticed Miles exiting Wildfire so we talked to him as well. We made arrangements with Sue, Rich, and Miles in regards to our registration at the ACE Preservation Con we were going to. There was a good chance we were going to be late. Luckily, all three of them said they would get the message to whoever was running registration. We didn’t think we would be very late but it was always a good thing to have a backup in case we were hours late.

Miles joined us for a few more rides on Wildfire. With each ride, he made the “Just one more ride and I am done” comment he said countless times on our rainy Ozark Wildcat rides. True to his word, he decided to leave after a few rides and head out. Barry, Jeff, and I then decided to ride the train for two reasons. One, we needed something to do before Celebration City opened at 2:00pm, and I was still waiting to get info about a interview Jeff and I had to do for a radio station in LA. Once I got in contact with the radio station, we were able to plan the rest of our day.

The interview went pretty well although it was a bit odd. The producer we talked with had Jeff and I call into the station around the same time on each of our phones. When the live interview actually aired, you could hear both of us talking from two different phones so we didn’t have to pass one phone back and forth. I had to stand away from Jeff so his voice wouldn’t be heard in my phone. It was strange, but it went over well.

After our interview, we boarded the train and took a ride. That ride was much longer than I expected and contained a stop where a bit of a show took place. The highlight of the ride for me was getting to look at the construction of the new coaster up close. We could also see how much Buzzsaw Falls track was remaining.

Once our train ride came to an end, we left the park and headed towards Celebration City. We still had some time to spend so we grabbed a quick bite to eat at a nearby Steak-N-Shake. We arrived at Celebration City right before opening. Since it wasn’t raining, we had a much better chance of getting on the rides we missed the day before. There was only one other coaster I had not ridden at the park. We decided to hit this first.

----Jack Rabbit---(#550)

This coaster looked a bit like Scandia Screamer in Ontario, California. I still think the Screamer is one of the most terrifying coasters I have ridden. I don’t know why. It’s just wrong. The Jack Rabbit looked even creepier, although it was smaller. It still had that odd Miler look to it, but with banked curves.

We boarded the three car train and made our way up the lift. The first part of the ride took us across a virtually unsupported section of train before shooting us down the first banked drop. The rest of the layout consists of straight drops and very tight turns. Yep, this was a Miler alright. How a calm man like Fred Miler creates this stuff is anyone’s guess. Keep em’ coming Fred.

---Thunderbolt---

What is it with this park and Kennywood coaster names? This “Windstorm” coaster is the most wicked out of all the versions I have ridden. The layout is the same minus the placement of the block brake area (which wasn’t being used) but for some reason, the turns on this one seem even more wicked. I always love these rides but this one is really insane.

Jeff and Barry then wanted to get some video and photos of Ozark Wildcat running. I didn’t bring my camera in so I decide to ride the coaster instead. Barry and Jeff joined me for one ride before splitting. We all were amazed that the coaster was running just as crazy as it was the day before. It didn’t have any time to break in this day but it was running like mad. I ended up getting 4 more rides before we headed to the other side of the park.

We took a quick ride on the Double Shot, which was running great. The KMG Afterburner was running a very strange program but was fun as well. We looked at our watches and decided it was time to leave Branson and head to Arkansas. Of course, we had to stop at the Shoji Theater for a quick photo. Don’t ask.


The drive from Branson to Hot Spring, Arkansas was to be about 4 hours. We were going to be late for registration but we got that all taken care of. Barry and Jeff tried to sleep for most of the drive while I jammed to some of the CDs I brought. I will admit, the drive to Arkansas, while nice looking, wasn’t all that great. For some reason, people weren’t driving all that great and I almost got sideswiped twice. What’s up with that?

Just as we were entering the Little Rock area, we saw some nasty looking weather up ahead. It wasn’t long before we were slammed with one heck of a storm. It was raining so hard we saw people pulling off the road. We even saw a truck that had spun out and crashed in to the cement median. Right in the middle of the severe downpour, the rain stopped instantly, and the sun came out. Every way we looked was darkness, but in our particular area, the sun was shinning. A big bright rainbow formed to the left of us in a few seconds, over a field. I have never seen a rainbow form that rapidly before. Just as we were checking it out, it dissolved as fast as it formed and the rain started back up again. What was that? An intermission?

Once the rain finally stopped, we were near our destination. Magic Springs Park. We were welcomed by the site of an ultra-bright Vekoma SLC. It does make one heck of a statement when passing the park. When we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed we were only a half hour late. Thanks to the arrangements we made before, our registration packets were ready for us at guest relations (thanks Dave, Miles, Sue, and Rich)

We knew there was some bad weather heading our way so we tried to ride as many of the coasters as possible before it hit.

----Diamond Mine Run---(#551)

This smaller Miler coaster was longer than most of the junior Milers I have seen. We had no problem getting on this one. The ride ended with a nice little dive down a small ditch.

----Twist ’n’ Shout---- (#552)

This Zamperla mouse used to operate at Wonderland Pier in New Jersey before it was closed due to a fatal accident. I didn’t get to ride it in New Jersey as it closed the day before I got there. This was all about to change as it was running in Arkansas. The cars on this coaster look like old Chevys from the 50’s. It was a bit difficult getting into the cars due to the lack of leg room but once we were in, we had a nice ride. Some of those curves surprised us.

----Big Bad John---- (#553)

I didn’t get a chance to ride this coaster when it ran at Six Flags Mid America. I didn’t get a chance to ride this coaster when it ran at Dollywood (Do you see a pattern here?). As with the mouse we had just ridden, I was about to finally ride something that I have been wanting to ride for a long time. Sure, it’s just an Arrow mine but I like them. I was impressed with this 3 lift ride. It didn’t have any real wicked moments but the ending drop into a tunnel was nice despite the brightness of the photo bulbs as you dive down.

----Gauntlet----(#554)

I was honestly looking forward to riding this SLC. Really. I was. I had heard a rumor that this version was going to originally have a new type of Vekoma train on it. The difference had something to do with the way the trains were hung from the chassis. I have ridden a couple of good SLCs in Europe so I know a good ride can be possible.

Just as we were walking up to the ride, it started raining. We met up with some other enthusiasts who used the loading station of the coaster to dry out. They claimed one ride was enough for them. Could it really be that bad?

I usually prefer to sit in the very back row on an SLC as I have found that row to provide the smoother ride. This was not going to happen for my first ride as the ride operators told everyone they could only load the first 6 rows of the train when it rains. I didn’t question why but I went with their instructions and moved up to row 6.

Not only was I riding this coaster in the rain, but I was getting ready to put a rest to the new train rumor. I didn’t care much for this ride. It was very rough. One of the roughest SLCs I have ridden. Perhaps if I was sitting in the back row, I would think differently but I really didn’t want to give this another ride, at least this day. And to think Jazzland could have been the owners of this gem. =:^)

There was only one coaster left to ride, but we decided to wait until ERT started to give it a ride. Around this time, the park put together an ice cream social for everyone to enjoy that was attending the event. It was good seeing some old faces again that I haven’t seen in a while. By the end of the social, it was time for ERT. The park opened up a few rides for us including Big Bad John and….

----Arkansas Twister----(#555)

I knew virtually nothing about this ride other than it was relocated from a park in Florida. When I joined ACE in1992, this coaster graced the front cover of my first Rollercoaster! Issue. Other than that, I haven’t heard anyone talk about it other than mentioning it recently got a new Gerstlauer train.

For my first ride, I rode in the front seat. Scott Conner and Mike Thompson sat in the row behind me. They were familiar with the ride and were surprised when I told them I hadn’t ridden it yet. As we crested up the lift in total darkness, I didn’t know what to expect. Not being able to see the layout made it more special for me. The first half of the ride consisted of some mild floaters but a very smooth ride. We went around the far turnaround with some nice speed before making our way back to the station. The last few hills had some minor floats, but I had no idea what was in store. Just as I saw the last hill coming into view, and noticed it had two trims going into it, I didn’t expect much.

“Holy S***!!”

We were launched up into our lap bars. I was not expecting that. If that wasn’t enough, we flew around another turnaround with mad laterals before hitting the brakes.

This coaster totally caught me off guard. It was one of the smoothest I have ridden. It had a great ending and was very reridable. As my train pulled into the station, I looked up at Jeff and Barry and told them they were in for a treat as they were about to ride in the front for their first ride. They didn’t believe me but when I saw their reactions once they returned I knew they had a great ride as well.

The remaining time left during ERT was spent riding the coaster with other friends like Tina Nelson and Miles. I also got to chat a bit with Bill “Rollergator.” I don’t’ see him at many events but whenever I get the chance to chat with him, it’s cool. After chatting a few more minutes, Barry, Jeff, and I decided to leave but only after a quick ride on Big Bad John.

Once we left the park, we made a quick 5 minute drive to our hotel. While Jeff was checking in, Barry and I witnessed a nasty altercation between a woman and two other enthusiasts. We didn’t stick around to watch the end but it was getting heated.

It didn’t take long for us to fall asleep that night. The next day was going to require some more traveling but with that was a new park to us all.

Next up….

How Hot Springs got its name and Elvis’s favorite coaster.

Thanks for reading,

-Sean

. *** Edited 9/1/2004 11:07:29 PM UTC by Sean Flaharty***

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Wednesday, September 8, 2004 8:45 AM
The AR Twister was a VERY nice surprise. It's amazing, within the last few months I have rode some of the most awesome (mostly underrated) woodies on this planet, including the Twister, The Pippin at Libertland, and the Starliner at Miracle Strip.

I guess it goes back to my whole thing about "size does not matter in woodies". lol. Quality over quantity. :-D

Anyway, after the rain let up that night the Twister was running as fast and smooth as ever. SWEET!

I will NEVER forget that nasty humidity at Magic Springs......the worst humidity I have ever experienced. The Gauntlet, believe it or not, I LOVED even though I am VERY sensitive to headbanging. It wasn't too nasty, but I refused to ride the "experienced riders only" back seat. Bill did though, while Jill and I caught a VERY sweet front row seat during ERT.

I believe Bill regretted his decision afterwards. LOL!

-Tina

*** Edited 9/8/2004 12:46:37 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Wednesday, September 8, 2004 4:54 PM
Tina,

It's good to know at least a couple of people enjoyed the SLC. I tried. I really did. I guess the secret to that one was to ride it in the front.

-Sean

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