Holiwood Nights (5/18-19, 2007)

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Trip Report: HoliWood Nights 2
Holiday World
Santa Claus, IN
May 18-19, 2007

Today begins that springtime ritual that declares roller coaster season is really upon us. Most seasons the prime coaster season starts with an event at Holiday World and ends with one at Knoebels. Holiday World sweetens the deal by having a second bonus ERT session and meal the night before the main event.

Technically the event starts at park close on Friday, May 18, but the admission ticket will admit you as early as 5pm, and we learned quietly that they would start admitting people at 4pm. This didn’t really matter as we plan our arrival time around 5-6pm and anything else you get is a bonus.

It’s about a three hour trek from my house to the park, so even though I could probably work a half day and then go to the event (and in fact when I had to punch a clock I would do just that) now I just take the entire day off. I started the day by trying out a newer Indian buffet in my area (It was your typical Indian buffet, seen one, you’ve seen them all). A short time later a Crown Vic containing Dave “Rideman” Althoff, Jr and April arrived at Coasterville and we started the 3 hour trek to the park. All told, we pulled into the Raven lot around 5:45. Since we knew we couldn’t do much in 15 minutes, we took the extra time to vulture (or is that Raven) a close in parking space donated to us by a departing park guest.

Holiday World has coaster events down to a science, I mean they just activate “Coaster Event Mode” So, with little fuss, we headed up to the main gate, collected our packets, and then returned to the parking lot to drop off the stuff we didn’t need. First to go into the car was the event T-shirt. It seems they have settled on a look for the Holiwood Nights shirts. The front has a smallish Holiwood Nights logo, and the back is made to look like a movie poster. Last year’s shirt was gray, and the movie poster was “The Greatest Coaster Ever Built”, this year the shirts were a nice cream color with the movie poster being “Attack of the Airtime Monster”. We also ditched the envelopes containing the event schedule, (after confirming that yes, it is the usual schedule), the coupon sheet and Saturday’s tickets. We took the name badges and Friday tickets with us and headed back to the main gate.

By this time the park had closed for the day, so instead of being sent to the picnic grove for the pre-event safety briefing and prayer, we were held outside the park in the entry plaza. As we would later find out this has great advantages, primarily we could talk to each other without having to compete with the PA system, we weren’t crammed into the grove with the herd, and when ERT started we were admitted through the front gate instead of joining the running of the bulls from the picnic grove. In fact, we reached Raven well before anybody starting from the picnic grove. Rideman made a smart comment about the sign “the park will close tonight at 6:00PM” as we enter at 6:30PM.

We started the night with two back car rides on the Raven. Since, by now, most people have been to Holiday World or have read a lot about their coasters, I’ll leave the track layout descriptions as read. For me the first ride was 6.1 and the ride seemed sluggish , like it hadn’t quite warmed up yet. We then went for a second ride, which I took in the back seat. Ah, yes there is that infamous strong dose of airtime the ride is famous for. And the ride seems to be doing a tad better than the first ride. At this time, April went to join friends for pizza at 7, and Rideman and I headed for a Pepsi Oasis to start enjoying those free soft drinks, and then went for a back seat ride on Legend.

Last year, we both thought Legend wasn’t performing well, it was sluggish and a shadow of its former self. We could tell right off with this first ride that Legend received a lot of attention and was already performing at or near as well as when it first opened. After Legend, we followed the shortcut path behind HoliSwings to go grab some pizza, and we made the silly error of continuing up the hill bypassing Raven instead of taking another Raven ride.

We entered Kringles Kafe to join the rest of the group already dining. Two jumbo slices of pizza, pepsi, phudge, potato chips and a veggie tray were on the menu. Apparently seconds are available on everything except the fudge. So we wound up having 4 slices of pizza. We sat for awhile chatting as we enjoyed dinner, and someone was walking around passing out free CD’s that contained a copy of the HoliWood Nights theme song. I gave it a listen when I got home, pretty cool. After having our fill of all the pizza we could stand, it was time to head for the main event

We headed to Thanksgiving, first being thankful they had the path through 4th of July open which is a little bit gentler terrain. We entered the Thanksgiving section of the park where the Voyage was running. We would wind up spending the rest of Friday on the Voyage.
Rideman and I took our first Voyage ride in the very back seat. I could tell right off that Voyage is still “The Greatest Wood Coaster Ever Built”. In the back seat, the ride waits no longer than the first drop to start providing nice strong pops of quality “legs pinned to underside of lap bar” airtime. I mean airtime on just about every drop, and the turnarounds on either end are just wicked. We gabbed a drink, and followed that up with another Voyage ride, this time we took the first available seat, which happened to be the seat 4.2. It was a nice middle of the train ride, and we got to learn that the ride is no slouch in the middle cars. You may not get as strong of airtime as in the rear, but you do get nice floaters throughout the ride, and you still get all the wicked laterals in the turns.

Having finished that ride, what’s a coaster enthusiast to do? Well, get back in line and this time we found ourselves strapping into seat 3.2. The train left the station with an uneasy vibration and grinding noise under our feet. This train did not track near as smooth as the other train, leading to a much rougher ride. That was still a good ride, but not near as good as the other train. After this ride we met up with April’s group, and decided she needed the back seat experience. So, we all got in line again, and we all waited for the back seat. Coaster nirvana coming up, nice strong airtime, great laterals, a wonderful layout and total darkness. Folks, it just doesn’t get much better than this.

At this point, we were thinking about heading up to Raven, but hey we can squeeze in just one more Voyage ride. We got back in line, lined up for the back seat, and not much longer, looked out the station window to see the queue had been cut. Doing the math, we decided to turn 1 back seat ride into 4 car 3 rides. The only bad thing about it was we got the bad train, so while we got 4 rides on a great coaster, we were also feeling pretty drained.

All told I wound up getting 8 Voyage rides. 2 in the very back seat, 2 in the middle, and then a 4 circuit super ride to end the night (in car 3). The queue for Voyage never extended much further than the stairs out of the station, which meant it was easy to get multiple rides.

Woe to us, the Pepsi Oasis was closed for the evening, and we have, except for coming out of the back of Splashin’ Safari the harshest uphill hike to the front gate. We hiked up to the front gate, talked a bit in the entrance plaza, then headed to our car. We next made the trek to our hotel. The hotel website said it was off of the Dale exit in Huntingburg, it didn’t say it was on the far side of Huntingburg. Roughly 16 miles later we checked into our hotel in the middle of nowhere. Roughly 10 minutes later we were heading to Denny’s for some late night chat and munchies. Yeah, those hot and spicy buffalo wings at midnight were a great idea. Now, leave me alone as I enjoy a night of waking up about every half hour going “Why did you do that to yourself”

The next morning, I wake up, check out the somewhat underwhelming hotel courtesy breakfast. We discover the hotel hot tub is anything but hot. All told, after some missteps, and backtracking we arrived at the park around 12:30. We could have parked in the back of the Raven lot, but decided to chance the gravely Legend lot. It was also looking pretty bad, but we were able to vulture a space not too far from the stairs.

We walked down the stairs and tunnel, then the railings ensure you walk all the way to the front of the Raven lot, instead of taking the shorter path through the Raven lot. We arrive at the entry plaza to learn that Voyage was on the list of rides not currently operating. Boo Hiss. So with one of out 4 coasters closed, where does the group head? Towards Voyage naturally to see what’s wrong. By the time we got to Thanksgiving the ride was in fact reopened. However instead of going to ride it, or any of the other rides in Thanksgiving, we decided to check out the parks newest attraction, a brand new eatery called the Plymouth Rock Café.

The PRC is a cafeteria style operation that serves up traditional style thanksgiving dinners. The concept is real simple, you get in line, choose 1 meat, any 3 sides (and they have darn near every side dish imaginable), and 1 bread. You take that up to the register, and pay just $6.99. Yep, a full meal at an amusement park for under $7. If you want to add dessert to your meal, its just $2.49 more. Don’t forget to grab a free beverage at the Pepsi Oasis located conveniently right outside the exit doors to the serving area. I opted for Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake, and a sweet ice tea. All for $9.48, it’s a fantastic price, but how is the food. Well, the portions were generous, and the food quality was above average.

We enjoyed our lunch, had some nice conversation, then decided to go explore the park. April and her group headed to the waterpark. Dave and I headed to the rides. With Thanksgiving filling up fast now that people have figured out Voyage is open, we decided our futures were better served in Halloween. We headed to a walk-on Legend, and took a ride in car 2. Legend was running great, but it seemed rougher than our ride last night. We also ran into JerryD at this time. So the three of us went around for another Legend ride, this time in the front car, of the other train. This put Jerry in the same seat he just got out of, but on the other train. We agreed that the “A” train was running better than the “B” train and continued our park tour. Rideman wanted to get photos of all the rides, so we paused at but did not ride the Scarecrow Scrambler. I looked at the diving show, looks to be the same show as last year, except I noted in last years trip report that the American flag was displayed to the far right of a grouping of international flags, instead of the far left, this has been corrected this year.

We next headed for a walk on ride on the Raven. We took a nice back seat ride, and the Raven is warming up, should be a great ride by tonight. Next Dave went to get photos of the rides in Rudolph’s Reindeer Ranch children’s ride area. It’s something about taking video and photos of children that aren’t yours that has raised a significant amount of interest in some parks and carnivals, so Jerry and I stayed back by chatting until Dave safely cleared the area. We headed past through Christmas in an effort to get to 4th of July. Once in 4th of July, we headed to Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride (an Eyerly Spider). It’s a particularly well running Spider, and I noted we had an all Dave sweep. The riders in both tubs on that sweep were named Dave, as was the loader. The ride seemed somewhat short, but it delivered well in the spin department.

We grabbed another drink and observed the Rough Riders bumper cars, they still have too many cars on the floor but they look to have been sped up a little bit since last year. We knew Liberty Launch has short seatbelts, not that I have ever been denied a ride, it just takes the operator really shoving on the bar. We decided to skip it owing to its line. We headed into Holidog’s FunTown so Dave could get more photos. It’s really a cute well done area. We grabbed some Orange N. Cream ICEE’s (no, those aren’t on the beverage plan, but the prices are reasonable) After enjoying our frozen slush, we headed back to 4th of July.

Our next stop was the Revolution (a Dartron Zero Gravity) which is a modern Round Up. He Zero Gravity features a quicker ride owing to the fact it gets up to speed quite fast and slows down at the end of the ride quite fast, leaving more time for the main part of the ride. Never fear it spins quite fast and is actually a great ride. I noted it got new restraint belts this year.

From the Revolution we headed to the Eagle’s Flight (a Bisch Rocco Flying Skooters). Why do we continue to waste our time with this ride. I think it’s partially because Kings Island removed their Skooters a couple years ago and we are suffering withdraw, and it isn’t going to help that my last Flyers ride was on THE Flyer of Knoebel’s Grove. I tried to remind myself this isn’t going to be as good as the Knoebel’s ride, but this was just lifeless.
Jerry had to check into his hotel, so Dave and I headed into Thanksgiving, the line for Voyage still looked a bit long, so we thought we’d save that for ERT, and instead headed to the new Turkey Whirl (a Sellner G5 Tilt-A-Whirl), that I prefer to call “Turkey Twhirler” It’s a custom Tilt was the new open style cars that are made up to look like giant smiling turkeys. Its one of those ‘too-cute’ custom rides. We took a ride on the Turkey Whirl and to no ones surprise it rides about the same as a Tilt-A-Whirl. (What else did you expect?)

Next we headed to Gobbler Getaway (a Sally interactive dark ride). This just opened last year, and it appeared as if they were still putting the finishing touches on it last year. There was a bit of a line, but it had just reopened after a shut down, and once things got moving, the line pretty much is constantly moving. We get into our car, lower the lapbars, and grab our Turkey Callers. You know, I want to say Gun so bad, but Holiday World, like most theme parks, don’t want to promote guns and violence, so instead of guns you have Turkey Callers, or Fright Lights, or some other innocent sounding device. But here I think the premise fails, as a Turkey Caller should attract any Turkey within earshot of the device, not just those with line of sight contact. But let’s dispense with that, even the Holiwood Nights theme song uses verses like “Shooting Turkeys for points is so fun” and “Dark ride lovers, grab your guns” It’s the modern version of the shooting gallery, except to make it harder, you are constantly moving. Hey, if it keeps both shooting galleries and dark rides alive, I’ll take the fusion of the two concepts. Gobbler Getaway is a great ride, its got several long scenes where you just get to watch, so you still get the story, then in other parts, you tune out the visuals and the sound, its just nail those targets, nail as many as you can. In the end we see the other problem with using Turkey Callers instead of guns, near the end of the ride, the family is sitting down to dinner and the father says he just couldn’t do it, as he raises the silver lid on the platter to reveal a pizza. After that we go through the infamous room of dancing turkeys and chaser lights. The turkeys have won, and they are rubbing it in your face. I didn’t notice the strong pumpkin pie smell this year, which is a shame, as that would have led to tons of suggestive sales at Plymouth Rock Café.

From Thanksgiving, we head back up to Halloween. Dave needs a quick break, so I grab a ride on the Scarecrow Scrambler (Eli Bridge Scrambler). Then Jerry rejoins us, and eventually so does April’s group. We all head to Voyage, take 2-3 rides on Voyage, mostly towards the back, on our final ride of the regular day, we opt to ride in the front seat. Waiting for the front seat added another half an hour onto the wait, and made us officially late for dinner. The front seat ride is great for wind in your hair, and offers some nice airtime pops, but I think I prefer the back better. I think they were starting to clear the park when we exited Voyage, so we quickly pinned on our name tags, grabbed our meal tickets and made our way back to the Picnic Grove. They had closed two of the serving lines by the time we arrived and we were some of the last to get dinner, but to the parks credit, they did restock the buffet table even as we were grabbing our meal. They were halfway through the auction when we arrived. This year, I was good I totally ignored the auction, and didn’t buy anything. Especially not the massive Zinga vinyl banner, that the park suggested you could convert into the world’s longest Slip-N-Slide.

At the end of the picnic style dinner, we waited for the herd to leave the Grove, then Rideman and I headed for Legend, figuring that the crowds all headed off towards Voyage. One back seat ride on Legend later, and I was heard to loudly proclaim “Now THAT’s The Legend I remember” It all seemed so fitting to be riding Legend wearing an Arnold’s Park shirt. It was so good we rode it again, and then again with April and group, and then maybe again. Legend was running fantastic tonight. But let’s not get carried away here.

We did go up the hill and take some insurance rides on Raven, just in case we didn’t make it back up out of Voyage Canyon in time. Then we headed down to Voyage. I recall we weren’t as picky about where we sat on the second night, oh wait maybe we were, we did seem to wind up in that back car more often than not. We rode Voyage until it wore us out. Each ride seeming more intense and demanding than the ride before it. Voyage isn’t just a passive ride, Voyage is a challenge, Voyage is just about the most intense night ride there is out there, owing in large part to that wicked turnaround at the far end that demands bracing and anticipation, but you can’t see what is coming.

Around 11:30 we headed up to Raven and finished up the night on Raven. Again, more often than not in the back car. Raven is a great ride, but when taken right after Voyage, seems to lose a little bit of its luster. We then made our way out of the park, and back to the hotel. We decided against any late night dining adventures tonight as we were all pretty much worn out, and I think I was asleep within 5-10 minutes of getting into my room,
But wait, there is more! Stay tuned as on Sunday we head to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, watch for it in a separate trip report.

Thanks for reading. *** Edited 5/26/2007 8:24:31 PM UTC by Coasterville Dave***

David Bowers
Mayor, Coasterville
My Blog -> http://coasterville.blogspot.com

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