Halloween at GAdv..Sunday 10/31

Monday, November 1, 2010 2:08 PM

Well, SFGA's season is over (well, except for some wine festival of some sort this week..don't believe any rides are open) and that means mine is too. it was a nice finish to a fine season at what has been my home park since 1974 (of course, back then, the words "home park" to me referred to Riverfront Stadium..I was a Reds fan, then when I became a Mets fan, it became Shea Stadium.)

I was having second thoughts about going. I was anticipating Halloween in the park since the beginning of the season. But after reading some stuff on this site about incidents at the park the LAST time Closing Day was Halloween on a Sunday, and seeing Sunday's weather forecast (gorgeous, mid-60's) I had a few Clash moments.."Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" But (bleep) it..this is what I do. I drove to Dorney last Friday afternoon after having a procedure done on my eye that morning. I drove with no left eye and no peripheral vision. Stupid? Yeah. But it's not nearly the stupidest thing I've ever done. I had considered going to Hershey Saturday, staying over, and driving to GAdv Sunday morning after church. I even reached the point of reserving a Motel 6 and finding a church..that's how close I was. But partly due to logistics and mostly due to finances, I didn't.

Halloween morning, I put on my Coaster Enthusiast costume..jeans, Son Of Beast T-shirt. After gassing up, hitting the ATM, and stopping by the cemetery to wish my Mom a happy 82nd birthday, I headed down to Jackson and walked through the gate at 9:58..hey, that rhymes! Missed my calling as a rapper. I coulda been the next Eminem, although with my mad skills, I woulda been the next Vanilla Ice.

I knew there was a possibility I might run into Fran, a client of mine from the job. She wasn't feeling well this week, but she was hoping to make it. We'd made no plans to meet. I also called Kathy, the woman I met at Family Fun Night at the beginning of October, to see if she felt like meeting up. Her daughter was gonna be at a Mischief Night sleepover at a friend's house, then the friend's Mom was gonna take the girls trick or treating on Sunday. Kathy thought she might pick up Casey, bring her over to Grandma's then join me at the park for a while. I told her my theory that it would be moderately crowded during the day, see a boost around 3 or 4, then be a sardine can at night. When I talked to her, we said I'd make my way to Toro's entrance around 2pm. If she was there, great. If she wasn't there, it meant she wasn't making it.

After walking through the gate, I did NOT head over to the left side rope drop by the Carousel. Instead, I went to Guest Relations to purchase my Parking for 2011. $45 and tax..$48. Gave my ATM card, but it seemed to take forever. Woman apologized for a computer glitch when handing me my re-labeled pass and my card.

When the rope dropped (I was there by that time) I momentarily thought about heading to Kingda Ka first, still anticipating heavy crowds around mid-day. But, as usual, I followed my well-worn path past the Carousel and Tea Cups, through the arcade, and into Plaza De Carnival. Toro hadn't started running yet, so I snagged the first ride of the day. Didn't get my customary seat, but I've realized something on my last few visits. There simply is not a bad seat in the back third of the train on either side. So I was riding with a fellow named Ryan, a park employee on his day off, and we were interacting with two little kids, a brother and sister. We kept sitting in front of or in back of one another, high-fiving, fist bumping (even Rory, the attendant, was doing it.) We got 11 rides in different seats without leaving the station, although the kids missed the 11th. The little girl's costume was one of my favorites of the day..she was a Twister game mat. Her dad, who wasn't riding, was holding her spinner hat and waving to her with it. Her younger brother was a ninja. So I was riding in back of or ahead of Ninja and Twister! Coasters on Coasters! The rides? They got steadily better, the early morning chill contributing to some sluggishness. The last couple were decidedly up to par.

I did want to hit up Kingda Ka before it filled up, so I headed over there. The left side was a one train wait for most seats, so I got two rides near the back, although I did have to walk around. The rides were quite good, but a little rougher on the launch than on recent rides. As I was leaving the platform after my second ride, I saw Fran and her husband crossing to the left side. I signaled I'd come around again and met up with them in the queue for the front seat. We were able to chat for a bit..they'd only just arrived..and Fran and I shared a front seat ride. It was terrific, best of the three. It's the only place Fran will ride..but she also prefers front on Toro, so take that for what it's worth. They were heading back for more, so we split. I headed out of the Kingdom, and didn't see them again.

My intention was to hit Bizarro, but I made a pit stop to poke my head into the queue for Superman. The line was longer than I expected, given the very light crowd to that point, so I passed and walked to Bizarro. My knee was starting to bark a little. I had forgotten my little canister of pain relief, so on the way down, I stopped in Aberdeen and picked up a trial size pack of Aleve . I took a couple at that point. Got a half-dozen rides on Bizarro. All effects were working, rides were nice with a little ear-boxing, and I didn't have to leave the station. Since it was still a little chilly, and I wasn't wearing a jacket over my t-shirt, the fireballs felt pretty damn toasty.

It was about 1:30 at that point, so I took a spin on Runaway Train. I was surprised to see the Log Flume running. It had warmed up, so I couldn't resist. Needless to say, no wait.


I headed over to the Bull to see if Kathy would make it. She was already there. First time I'd seen her since we met. After greetings, we got on line for Toro. Wait was around 15 minutes with a full first set of switchbacks. Ran great in the next to last seat. We then popped over to Rolling Thunder, which was actually running and racing all four trains..for the moment. We had been seated on the left side in the yellow train, waiting to race the green train on the right. Then the green train took off, and the dreaded voice came over..the left side was experiencing mechanical difficulties. I couldn't pull a Linda Blair and turn my head completely around to gauge what was happening, and neither could Kathy. By that time, the blue train had unloaded on the right side. We were told to get out, cross under/over the railing, and load into the blue train..much to the chagrin of those waiting to board, having already waited a few cycles. In crossing over, we could see the red train stopped on the brake run under the roof, passengers still in it. They got them back into the station while we were waiting to move into the station from the brake run. Then they closed the left side. So this was, I believe, the first time I'd ever been transferred to another train.

We then took one more ride on Toro before heading to the other side of the park for two excellent rides on Nitro...ten minute wait, stayed on (separately) for another...SkyWay wasn't operational. On the way, we hit Blackbeard and Skull Mountain. I didn't notice the Skull and neither did Kathy..and she can see better than I can. No Skull? On Halloween? Sorry, that just ain't right. Seemed darker than usual, despite the mid-day sun leaking in here and there. One thing that was cool..the ops momentarily killed ALL lights in the station prior to dispatch, but they were back on upon departure. And I havent been on Blackbeard much this year, but I don't remember them having a switchback queue. I remember the area being open aside from the wooden ramp leading to the platform. Are these new? The metal looked new. Also did two laps on Batman. Not used to seeing more than a station wait lately, but it was about 15 minutes.

I had made up my mind before going that if I went, I was gonna treat myself to a Woody Allen sandwich (the biggest..corned beef and pastrami) at the Carnegie Deli near the park entrance. As a corned beef/pastrami connoisseur, I knew it would be decent, at worst. Of course, when I planned that, I didn't know I'd have company. Kathy was amenable to having that, but when I saw how inviting the onion rings looked, I had to get those too. Most I'VE ever spent on a meal in a park!..$21! I suggested to Kathy we take it out to my car and eat..to be able to talk and eat away from the crowd and noise, and because my iced tea was in the car ;) That's what we did. I doubt I would have been able to finish on my own. It's a New York sized sandwich with a pound of meat on rye, and a VERY large portion of rings, some of which fed the seagulls in the lot. I hope the birdies enjoyed them as much as we did..they were fantastic!..(but quite unhealthy, of course..don't take food recommendations from Yours Truly)

Kathy wanted to leave by 6-6:30 to pick up Casey at her Mom's, and by the time we finished eating it was about 4:30. So we went back in, and all of the lines were much worse now. We waited about 1/2 hour for another Nitro ride with a bonus. We had decided to catch the 5:30 Hypnosteria show, which was okay. I enjoy watching, but continue to be skeptical of its validity (if that's the right word.) Too easy for someone to appear to be under, but simply follow what the host says and simply desire to be the center of attention, regardless of what they have to do to get there.

Strangest sight of the day: six or seven HUGE bags of ice sitting on the stairs at Runaway Train.

I walked Kathy to her car at about 6:15, and we stopped for a moment to "admire" Chang.
I split about 6:30. Took the long way home to pick up a couple things at Target, WaWa, and Wegmans (my LATEST source for fresh squeezed OJ!)

The radio station I listen to was doing a Classic Rock top 104 on the way home, and I heard a bunch of songs that make me think of coasters and parks. I'll share:

Springsteen's Thunder Road...Nice rides at Carowinds on my birthday.

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody..can't listen to it without thinking of my old friends Wayne and Garth, and by extension, the Hurler coasters.

Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here..it's a thought I have pretty often at parks, because there's so many memories..many good...of people I've been with on these rides, or at these places.

Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb..The way I should feel after a great day of coaster riding..the aches and pains shouldn't show up until the next morning :)

Eagles' Hotel California .."They stab it with their steely knives but they just can't kill THE BEAST."

Can't come up with anything for Kashmir, Satisfaction, or Let It Be....

And I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but what's with the lack of "Halloween Songs" during the festivities this year? Granted, I'm partly deaf, but I do hear the music in the background. Bryan Adams? Summer Of '69? Heard that three times at GA Halloween. Dorney? Everything they played last week seemed to be instrumentals..jazz, practically..not very spooky. The only Halloween song I heard in a park was Columbus Day, at GA, when my favorite seasonal tune..Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London..was playing right as I met up with Gary Dowdell, who pasts on here. Where's the Monster Mash? Where's the Time Warp? Hell, where's the Witch Doctor? Doctor Demento would be rolling over in his grave..if he was dead, but he's not (even if he's not heard in the NYC area any longer.)

I find it interesting that I spent my Mom's birthday at GA Sunday, and will ideally spend my Dad's birthday there next year...according to GA's site, Opening Day is April 9th, 2011...woulda been Dad's 84th.

Wanna thank two groups of people for a fine season at GA. First the cool people I got to ride and hang with throughout my 11 visits...those whose names I know, and those I don't..Judy , Jen, Kathy, Casey, Jean, Amy, Gary, Fran, Mike, Ryan...it was fun, let's do it again sometime. April 9th? :)

I also thank the guys and girls from GA's ride and Guest Relations staff..John, Dan, Matt, DJ, Rory, Shane, Margaret and Donna..and again, others whose names I know not.

Thanks for reading, CBuzzers.

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Monday, November 1, 2010 7:07 PM

The park was going to be open this upcoming weekend along with the food and wine festival. It was one of the first cutbacks by Weber to close the park and just have the festival.

I thought the log flume was closed for the season, since it was closed on all 4 of my trips to the park this October, nice to hear it was open which hopefully means it will be open next spring before Memorial Day as well (opening day is April 9th next year, 2 weeks later than opening day this year).

Blackbeard's got 1 switchback in early October last year and got the rest of the switchbacks either towards the end of October last year or by opening day this year.

I'm surprised crowds were so low, even though it sounds like it got crowded later I would have thought by the early afternoon lines would be an hour or more for the major rides.

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Monday, November 1, 2010 7:47 PM

12k on Friday
39k on Saturday
16k on Sunday

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Monday, November 1, 2010 8:00 PM

I was there from about 1:15 until about 4:45 to meet up with my buddy Chuck who's been stationed in Germany for 2 years (Air Force) and several other friends who were there to see Chuck as well. At the gate, the attendant swiped my pass one time and asked if I got my hand stamped (thinking I had already used my pass today). I said no and he told me I had to go to Guest Relations. Gee, thanks. So after waiting in that line for a bit, I finally got a ticket to enter the park. And of course now I had to wait in another line to get in. Thankfully the rest of the day was mostly pretty enjoyable.

Lines were virtually nothing at first (<5 minutes for Nitro), 10-15 minutes for El Toro, but then started to really pick up after 3pm. We rode Nitro several times and took one lap each on Ka, Supes, Toro, Medusa, Skully, and Houdini. It was getting chilly and the lines were getting annoying, so we were happy to get out of there when we did and head down to Long Beach Island for dinner at The Chegg (Chicken Or The Egg restaurant), which was also closing for the season and the real reason I drove all the way out there for the afternoon (other than to see Chuck and my other friends of course). The Chegg was awesome as always. I hate that it's so far away and only open during the beach season through Halloween.

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Monday, November 1, 2010 8:02 PM

Crash, for what it's worth, I heard 50K+ for Saturday, but I have no idea how valid that is (or your numbers for that matter).

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Monday, November 1, 2010 9:27 PM

No where near 50k. We had 44k last Saturday. This past Saturday was only into over flow. Saturday before the Harbor lot was completely full.

PS I work in the security department and they call the numbers every hour.

Last edited by Crashmando, Monday, November 1, 2010 9:29 PM
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 12:06 AM

Good to know.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:42 AM

Kashmir - Flight of Fear (traveler of both time & space)

Satisfaction - Any lap on El Toro, B-TR, or Carowinds' Intimidator

Let It Be - The continuing saga of Conneaut Lake on life support

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:10 AM

Any classic rock song --> Magnum. Old and worn, but for some reason, people still like it. ;)

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:22 AM

So any classic rock song is a short wait on the way out the rear exit so we might as well ride it while we're here? ;)

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