Tuesday, May 29, 2001 5:57 AM
Let me just start by saying that my wife and I, my brother and his wife, all of whom had our first
visits to Holiday World on Saturday, all agreed that it was the most fun we'd ever had at an amusement park.
Instead of going through the day chronologically, I'll just break it up into categories.
We left Columbus a little after 7 a.m., and with a stop for lunch outside Louisville and the time zone change, we got there at about 11:30 a.m.
I had heard people say the atmosphere at Holiday World was different from other parks, and it most definitely is. It's a beautiful location, with
rolling farmland all around, and the landscaping is wonderful. But what struck me most was the people. Every single employee, from the
ticket-takers to the food vendors to the ride-ops was genuinely friendly and helpful. Some of the things I experienced at HW that I have never seen
before at a park include:
-A Nativity scene inside the front gate
-A teen-ager thrown out of the park for sassing off and swearing to a ride-op
-A greeter telling people who entered the children's area to "Have a nice day"
-Neat little rituals like the ride-op waving to departing Raven trains from the window, or the ringing of the bell as the Legend trains embark
-Consistent safety checks - ride-ops checked my bar AND belt every single time, and always watched trains until they went over the lift
-An employee at the skee-ball shack who had closed a little early opened back up because we wanted to play
-A ride-op was more than willing to give us accurate directions to our hotel
-The resident Santa Claus, the same one from the brochure and the same one from "America's Greatest
Roller Coaster Thrills Volume II," made friendly banter with us as we talked about the video (he said he had to ride Raven 17 times to get that
-Shops you might actually want to shop in, with uninflated prices.
-Delicious pizza and other food at reasonable prices
-And of course, FREE pop. Unbelievable.
Aside from the coasters, we rode the Banshee (a flying-carpet type ride),the Tilt-a-Whirl, Frightful Falls (a nice little log flume), and the
buffalo- and horse-shaped bumper cars ...hilarious! All the rides were well-maintained and well-run.
We rode this first in the front seat and then in the back. We liked the front better; the back was just a little rough for my tastes. The first
drop is the most wicked looking drop I have ever seen, and rides quite nicely as well...a curving drop to the left into a tunnel. After a bunny
hop, there's the "spiral drop," a long 180-degree curving drop, which is high on the laterals and fun.
The best part of the ride is next: A huge bunny hop that launches you from your seat, followed by another good drop into a slightly underground
tunnel. After that you fly through the tight double helix, which has two tunnels, slammed against the left side of the train the whole time. The rest of the ride is all slightly-banked turns, all offering extreme laterals, especially the last 180-degree turn into the station.
Overall, the Legend is a great ride and will probably rate among my top 10 coasters. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) it is at the same park as the incredible Raven and is overshadowed.
We rode the Legend about 6-7 times, with an average wait of around 5 minutes.
I took my first ride in the front seat, as I always do with new coasters, and my second in the back. I never went back to the front seat. I was
amazed after the first ride, but as the day went on, the ride got more and more intense, until, in the late afternoon and evening, it was like a
bucking bronco, trying its hardest to throw its riders off.
The ride starts with a nice little tour over the queue and around the station house (btw, for being surrounded by trees, you can see a
surprising amount of the ride from the parking lot and picnic area). The first drop offers incredible airtime into a long tunnel with some flat track at the bottom for speed. The second hill curves at the top, then drops into the beautiful turn over the lake.
Next the train heads up into the trees, down a short drop under some low-hanging branches, then a turn, and...
The fifth drop is where the ride begins, as far as I'm concerned. It gives back-seat riders HUGE air, but what's great about it is that there isn't a lot of elevation change for the rest of the ride. Instead the train just TEARS through the woods, turning this way and that, around
curves, dodging trees in a seemingly random fashion, until it slams up into the brakes.
The Raven easily is my new number one wooden coaster, and will either be No. 1 or 2 on my overall list (possibly beating out Raptor). We didn't keep count, but my brother and I rode at least 20 times. After about 4 p.m. we never waited more than one train, and often found ourselves alone in the station. We stayed in the same seat once twice in a row and once three times in a row. Our last ride was at dusk, with a rainstorm just starting...nice.
On a side note, during one ride, my brother and I both accidentally slammed our raised hands into a tree branch. I came away with a red hand, but he managed to grab a small branch with several leaves to prove it. On another side note, after all those laterals I have very sore ribs. It was
well worth it though.
For anyone who has not been to Holiday World, I would beg you to go immediately. It will change the way you look at amusement parks.
That night, we spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express in Tell City, Indiana. Once again, I would recommend it. It must be an Indiana thing,
or maybe it's just because I'm used to the big city, but everyone we spoke to was extremely friendly and willing to help.
On the way home, since we all have Six Flags season passes, we stopped at SFKK in Louisville. What a stark contrast to Holiday World. Sure, they have a couple of good rides, but...well, here's some things we saw that would
never happen at HW:
-Two teen-agers, for fun, throwing rocks at the Roadrunner Express themeing
-Two more teen-agers simply dropping their cups on the ground after they were done drinking
-A couple of pre-teens throwing dirt clods into a fountain
-Slow, apathetic ride operation
-Loud, rude, profane people in general, most of whom were kids ages 12-16 running around
without a parent in sight (in fact, I am sure myself, at age 25, was in the top 10 percentile of oldest people at the park)
Anyway, we just stopped for a couple of hours, because my brother had never been there. We rode Roadrunner Express (a nice mad mouse), both
sides of Twisted Sisters (fairly intense CCI, but nothing like the pair at HW), Thunder Run (a VERY nice, air-filled woodie) and Hellevator (a small
but fun second-gen Intamin freefall).
We skipped the B&M standup Chang and the Vekoma SLC T2, deciding to make the weekend entirely inversion-less. Also, having ridden Twisted Sisters in its inagural season, I noticed the addition of trim brakes before the helix on one half, but not the other. How silly is that?
Lemme put the parks in perspective this way: When we left Holiday World, even though it was dark and pouring down rain, we were happy, smiling, laughing and could've stayed another 8 hours. When we left SFKK, we were bored, tired, even slightly depressed.
Once again, go to Holiday World. That's not a request! :)