I was a little worried about the weather but it ended up being beautiful; sunny and probably about 100 degrees. Driving up on the park I was excited to see the beautiful B&M, whose colors I wouldn't have liked on paper but look awesome in real life.
After parking in a nearly empty lot, I grabbed my July special N.C. resident ticket for $40 and change and headed on in. I was really impressed with the entrance way, definitely an IOA light (bet I'm the first one to say that :) ). There were plenty of staff handing out maps and trying to take pictures and stuff, but I managed to escape.
I planned on doing Maximum RPM first since I knew it could get a line, but after walking through the gates of Rock 'n' Roll Heaven, I knew where I was heading.
LED ZEPPELIN: The Ride
Throughout the day I rode this seven or eight times and there was never any wait, just the whole pre-show. Great entrance and line for this and I love the coaster's placement over the water. I'm not a huge fan of them pretty much assigning seats, but you could go to another block for a different show that would go later. They only had two of the four pre-show rooms running (not that it mattered with the crowd) and one guy joked that he wanted Jimmy Page and the OP said that one has never worked and right now Robert Plant is down b/c someone broke the door, not such a good start...
As for the pre-show, I was a little worried when it started with just interviews but the song and the "environment" was really cool. BUT! the show is about 2 minutes too long, they shouldn't have so much of Whole Lotta Love. I know it is technically part of standing in line, except when it isn't. Most trains all day were never filled, but more on that later.
As for the ride, I rode in the front, back and several other spots. They were running two trains and I had wondered if there were separate load/unload spots, and there are. The lift is definitely steep, like Griffon.
The first drop is great, especially in the back row (and "LOOOOOOOOOVE" doesn't hurt either) and the first loop may be the best I've had on a B&M, I actually got tingly feet. The cobra transitions are butter smooth and very more disorienting than usual. The brake did, unfortunately, pull quite hard before the zero-g, meaning it was kind of a let down. The second loop was decent and the turnaround was fine* (look for the * in a second). There is a pop of air into the brake run, which doesn't seem to pull until the end, when it slows you A LOT, too much I say. The downward helix is boring because of this (on a side note, I don't like this new B&M trend of putting a helix right out of the brake run, what happened to a sharp dip or dive?) but the flatspin and helix finale makes up for it.
Is the ride a fun, popular, re-rideable...yes. But here's the *, and believe me I wanted to not talk about it, but the B&M rattle that has gotten so much talk around here is there and it's BAD. I really am at a loss for what causes this, I know it's been discussed to death by me and others for Hydra and others, but why wasn't this an issue on older rides? On Zeppelin I rode several times in the back by myself with nobody until maybe row three and I expected a little shaking, which I got, and more, as the whole train seemed to rattle in front of me. Row 2 in a full train was actually the worst, I couldn't believe how much it rattled. It starts after the cobra roll and is bad in the second loop (it's kind of funny because the song goes "shake for me girl" at it does) and the turnaround is especially bad. Also there is a point in the downward helix that almost seems misaligned because you can watch the whole train shimmy. Now what is to be done here I don't know. For as many people raving about the ride, I heard at least one or two on each train complaining that it was rough.
Sorry for the long expose but it somewhat confounds me, shouldn't the damn thing be glass smooth? I still say it's something they did with the trains or wheels recently.
There were other things and I did them.
This ended up never really having a line and they were running six or seven cars, couldn't seem to count them all but there were a lot. The karaoke thing was kind of fun to watch. Interesting dual loading here. I rode twice and once the sound wasn't on, which is no fun. The ferris wheel is a bit disconcerting but really quite fun. The first drop is great and yes, the rest is just curves, but they're a lot of fun on a family coaster. Neat little ride, maybe could have been better but definitely a blast. Seemed to be running well.
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
I've never loved single-rail coasters but this one was a lot of fun. The front row definitely gets wet, the back not so much. I guess "fight back" starts that water cannon on the people shooting at riders? Love those abrupt brakes, too. Running well, several cars and short line.
EAGLES LIFE IN THE FAST LINE
Yes, I'd have preferred Midnight Rider, but this was the surprise of the day. One train running and no line, once the music wasn't on. This ride is just plain fun and the second time with music and the crew getting everyone pumped, people were cheering and just having a blast. It may not be huge but it is, undeniably, a fun ride. Go Vekoma!
The rest of the park:
The theming here is great and I love how they put it around the lake. I can't believe that the old Pottery building is being used for stuff, you can't even tell.
I don't think I rode anything else but Nights in White Satin which was kind of fun.
I saw the Beach Blast (or something) show and it was pretty good. It was great how raunchy and not really for kids it was, but the divers were pretty talented and it was actually funny. They seemed like they were having fun. The Roadies Stunt Show wasn't as good, but still a lot of fun. It seemed like they needed a better main guy because at times his narration was lacking.
There are such nice touches all around the park, from the Gibson store to Phonehenge to the water guitar to the roaming performers. They workers were generally great and very friendly. I'm not sure if you have to be hot to work at Hard Rock Park but the park sure isn't hurting...
The food was decent and not overly expensive. I had a burger and fries and the burger was huge.
I re-rode stuff but had fun for six hours and could have stayed longer.
I copied a certain other Coasterbuzzer and decided to tell customer service how great I thought it was. She said people have cursed them out for "not having enough to do" and she appreciated that I understand it is only the first year. She wanted people to give "him" a change. Maybe that is the owner? She said there were going to be a lot more concerts, there's talk of a hotel and casino, and the future holds more coasters and such. She said something called Paradise Island will open next year I believe and will have water rides. Don't know how accurate all this was, but she was nice anyway.
Suggestions and concerns:
- Single rider line for Zeppelin so you can skip the pre-show and fill in all seats, watching it over and over again is not all that fun.
- Some audio issues on RPM and EAGLES, these lessen the experience, of course.
- Loading on White Satin was kind of confusing the workers should direct people better here.
- The workers were great and should stay that way!
Overall, Hard Rock Park is a lot of fun and while I probably won't go back this year, I can't wait to see it grow. I hope they find the crowds (it got crowded in the afternoon and the lady at guest services said the day before, Saturday, was packed) and people understand that this isn't Six Flags or Disney. I, for one, thought it was great. Did I have just as much or more fun on the Vekoma? Maybe. Will the park improve with expansion? Yes. Did it rock? Yes!
*** Edited 7/30/2008 3:25:14 PM UTC by Willh51***
That's cool that you stopped by customer relations as well. I think the park needs more compliments! Did you talk to an older lady (maybe early 50's) with blond-ish, short hair? She was the bomb!
*** Edited 7/30/2008 11:17:12 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!
And I agree, it's about the rock, not just the coasters. I wonder how sick the operators get of "Whole Lotta Love" though?
I wonder how sick the operators get of "Whole Lotta Love" though?
Ha! I thought the same thing. :)
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