Knowing that I wouldn’t get another chance to get back up to Holiday World before May 2007, I had to make room for another trip before the 2006 season was over. Problem was, I have tickets to 85% of the Florida Gators football games this year, so working a trip up to Indiana was gonna be tricky. I opted to make the trip September 15 through September 17.
So off I was again, driving my way 11 hours North to Indiana, on Friday, September 15. But trouble struck two and a half hours out of Tallahassee. My passenger side window motor went out while down in Dothan, AL. I had to stop at Honda to have them look at it, and $40 later, they told me it would be $250 to fix, but they didn’t have the part and I’d have to get it done when I got back home. It was decision time. I didn’t want to cancel the trip, but I couldn’t afford to go and also pay for the window to get fixed when I got back, and I wasn’t about to leave the window just sitting open for 3 days.
I called Corey in Chicago to tell him the problems that were happening, and as I was talking to him, miraculously, the window went back up with some fumbling around. I put it in locked position, and was on my way to Santa Claus.
The weather on the drive up, and for the whole weekend, was perfect. Not too hot, not a sign of inclement weather, and it was nice and cool at night. Hell, I could even see my breath! I won’t be able to see my breath in Florida until about….January.
I arrived in Santa Claus around 8:30pm and waited at the bar at Santa’s Lodge until about 9pm for Corey, Scott, Andrew, Nicole and Steve to arrive. We spent the rest of the night catching up, having some drinks and hanging out around the bon fire, before calling it a night in our King Size RV at Lake Rudolph Campground.
Speaking of Lake Rudolph, I don’t know if it’s just because I’m terrible with location and orientation, but that place seemed absolutely HUGE. Luckily, Corey found his way around easily, but I was completely and utterly lost every time I set foot in that place. Our RV was nice, though, aside from the fact that my head went about 3 inches about the shower head; and Andrew promised WiFi, which there was none of to be found. Aside from those minor complaints, I had a great time for both nights in the RV.
The following morning we awoke a little later than planned, and once everyone was ready, headed to Holiday World around 11am. Andrew and Nicole had gone ahead and left before me, Scott, Andrew and Steve got up, so we met them later in the day.
The parking lot was buzzing a lot more than I was expecting, so we headed over to the Legend Lot instead of the main lot for quicker access through the tunnel. After purchasing our tickets, we headed in and went straight for Kringle’s to get food. As we were sitting there eating, a familiar, but long-lost friend popped in out of nowhere.
Sean Flaharty has been one of my best ‘coaster friends’ for YEARS, and I hadn’t seen him since 2001 or 2002. It’d been forever and I was so glad that he made the trip. He came with his buddy Josh and Josh’s girlfriend., and they were supposed to get to the park later than us but our debauchery the night before got us going late for the day.
After eating we had planned to do Raven and Legend before hitting Voyage since we had a HW Virgin in the group. But Raven’s line was out to the switchbacks and was only running one train, so we instead headed to Legend where we had about a 10 minute wait for the front row.
I love Legend.
It was running pretty sluggish in May, and that disappointed me. But today it was FLYING. I only got one ride on it, just because of how the day went, but it was a great ride. The air on the double up was intense, and the run before the helix was out of control. The Four Corners of Death aren’t what they were in 2001, but it was definitely performing better than it was in May.
After Legend we headed to Voyage, where we ran into a 20min wait.
The whole Thanksgiving area has progressed very nicely in the few months that it’s been since I was there last. The trees around Voyage seem to have filled in pretty good, Plymouth Rock Café is looking great, and the umbrellas that were put up in the resting area were a nice touch and a great addition for getting away from the heat. My only complaint was that instead of having the underground portion of Voyage’s queue open where the tunnel fly-by is, they had the outside switchbacks open, and that as pretty brutal in the sun, even though it wasn’t THAT hot out.
As for Voyage, it’s just unbelievable.
I was asked a couple of times throughout the trip if it was worth making the drive from Florida for. My answer was basically, if it wasn’t worth it, would I do it twice in one year?
As good as I thought it was in May, it was even better now. I personally thought it was running more out of control during the day than it was running at night during HoliWood Nights. All of the first three hills had GREAT air in them, and I also noticed a lot more positive G’s at the bottoms of the hills. It was hard to keep my head upright at the base of them, and I don’t remember the forces being that strong 4 months ago.
The turnaround….What can be said? I think my favorite part of the turnaround is the reverse banked hill right before the first 90. It’s just so stupid. And the two little quick combo turns/hills before the dive into the tunnel before the brakes, was just tossing and throwing me around like it had no remorse whatsoever. And it doesn’t. In fact, Voyage doesn’t care about you. It rides like it wants you out of it’s train and it wants you out NOW.
After the brake run is just….a blur. It just gets faster and faster and faster. It’s relentless.
There’s a little, almost trick-track portion of track right after the hill that runs right next to the second drop. On the way down the hill, the train rotates to the left before throwing you back to the right and ducking under the second hill to the other side of the outrun. It’s little moments like this and that reverse banked hill in the turnaround the really add something special to this ride.
And once you hit that third 90, the train takes off like it got shot out of a slingshot. Imagine strapping fifty 100 shots of nitrous to the back of the train, and triggering them at the same time. The train is already hauling ass, and that 90, for whatever reason, seems to just throw the train into the rest of the ride.
You hear a lot of people say they can’t rank Voyage ‘that high’ because it is lacking a ‘signature moment’. I beg to differ. The whole ride is a signature moment. That’s what makes it absolutely incredible. It doesn’t let up, it doesn’t care about you. You have to fight it to enjoy it, but once you do, I can’t imagine anything else coming close to topping it.
All in all, I rode Voyage six times throughout the day, which I was very content with. Most of the day was spent in Thanksgiving, with a side trip to Raven when the crowds died down a little bit. Raven was running alright, but I wasn’t too impressed with it. I enjoyed it a lot more in May.
Later in the day, we met up with Mike Graham of TGG, and spent about two hours with him. Paul Drabek joined the group later in the day as well, and we had a nice little group of about 12 for most of the second half of the day.
Around 4:45, Voyage went down with some problems, and once it opened back up, it was only running one train. I guess they were having issues with the blocks, but after our one more ride, we decided the wait with only one train running was too much. We decided to call it a day, and headed out of the park around 5:15pm, when the closing time was 6pm.
After the park we headed to the grocery store to pick up dinner, and ran into Will Koch. Had a few words with him before we took off and headed back to the campsite to eat and have some drinks. The rest of the night was spent at the Santa’s Lodge bar where we consumed a good portion of the Santa Claus alcohol stash while watching and rooting on the Gators against Tennessee.
The next day, I woke up at 9 and was back on the road by 10:30am. I was going to skip out on Beech Bend, but by the time I got to Bowling Green, KY, I was hungry, needed gas and as starting to get tired. So I opted to pull off at that exit and make a stop to get my Rumbler credit that I missed in May. I was warned not to go, but in the end I’m glad I stopped!
Rumbler was a great ride! Actually, I really loved it. It was my first experience with the Millennium Flyers and, aside from the lap bar that crushed me on it’s initial descent, I thought the trains were very comfortable. I rode Rumbler 7 times in 45 minutes with a stop at Looping Star (hands down the worst ride I have ever been on…) before heading out and making my way back to Florida. Rumbler was definitely a front seat ride, and had nice spots of air, and a great layout. The rest of the park was dismal, at best, but I’m really glad I stopped to ride Rumbler!
The rest of the drive back to Florida was long and boring, and I passed right out when I got home.
Thank you to Corey, Scott, Andrew, Nicole, and Scott for making it such an AWESOME trip! And Sean, it was GREAT seeing you again! It had been way to long since he hung out, and I definitely need to get up to Ohio next year. Also, thanks to Josh, his girlfriend and Paul for making the trip even more enjoyable, and to Mike it was nice to meet you. You’ve built a monster and I can’t decide whether I hate you or love you for that! Haha.
Until HoliWood Nights... *** Edited 9/25/2006 3:22:52 PM UTC by gatorchomp83***
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