Trip Report: HoliWood Nights Weekend
Featuring stops at:
Holiday World (5/29-5/30)
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (5/31)
Kings Island (5/31)
"A coaster event so great it included divine intervention"
Okay,welcome to the official start of the 2009 Summer season, previewweekends are over and itstime to start the main season with the CoasterEnthusiasts Family Reunion aka HoliWood Nights at Holiday World.
Istarted my day May 29th with the pre-event ritual, a buffet luncheon atthe local Indian restaurant. Trust me, there is nothing like ChickenCurry, rice, and Nan to coat the stomach and prepare it for the threedays ahead I would advise, however, not waiting until the day of theevent to start getting your system used to Indian cuisine, lest yousuffer the consequences.
When Rideman picked me up, he noted myAmerican flag was wrapped around its pole, despite the fact I have aspecial pole that is designed to prevent that from happening. Hecomment s "I thought that wasn't supposed to happen with that pole" Intruth it doesn't very often, but o solution is perfect. I then leftCoasterville around 4pm which meant we got to deal with downtownCincinnati during rush hour, which wasn't bad this year, we even sailedthrough Louisville and were thankful we weren't heading east. We wereall smiles and making time until we got mid way through Indiana whenthe highway was cut down to one lane each way moving 40mph instead ofthe usual 70mph. That was painfully slow. Eventually we made our way toExit 63, and I am surprised there isn't a traffic light at the exit,what with the number of people heading to Holiday World from pointseast, and having tomake a left turn off the exit. We then start headingdown the 7 mile drive from the exit to the park chucking that this isthe point where first time park visitors are pulling out their mapsscratchng their heads.
It used to be the first sighting of thepark was when you drove around the back of HoliDogs FunTown, then theVoyage became the beacon indicating you were nearing the park, now itsPilgrims Plunge you see first. We had heard Santa Claus got its firstever trafic light this year (they ARE red and green afterall), we hadconjectured it would be at the intersection where you make the turn togo to either the Raven or Legend lot, but instead it is located at theturn near Fun Town. I guess it does help at the end of the night sinceanybody exiting towards Exit 63 has to make that left. Interestingly,we note evidence of a new road going straight at what was formerly athree way intersection, the new road might only be 50 feet long at thispoint, but it has arrows on the right side pointing in. We combinedthat with the recent news the park was negotiating more real estate toexpand the Legend lot, along with evidence the Legend lot is undergoinga lot of work, that we conjectured there may be a time when the Ravenlot will cease to exist as we know it, which will allow the park toexpand to fill in the Raven lot, and all parking will be at the Legendlot and you will enter the park via the tunnel under the road,Kennywood style.
We pull into the Raven lot and try to vulture(or is that Raven) a space as close to the front gate as possible,always a fun challenge due to the layout of the front of the parkinglot consisting of dead head rows where you pull in, find out the spaceyou were going to grab is filled with a compact car or light stanchionand then have to back out of the row. We score a parking space near thefront of the lot and do our best salmon imitation as we are trying toget to the park gate as swarms of people are trying to get out to theircars. We make our way to the front gate plaza and we find a nice crowdwaiting at the check in windows and another crowd gathered outside thegates. Yep the reunion has started, as soon as people got checked inthey were joining the crowd of people milling around outside the parkwaiting for the first night ERT.
Check in was an efficientprocess with two lanes for pre-registered people and one lane forticket sales. I got to the window, showed my ID and ACE card, thechecked my name, then handed me a t-shirt and my FUNvelope containingthe usual contents: nametag, ticket strip with admission and mealtickets, and a coupon sheet. The check in hostess was taking the timeto explain the ticket sheet, then handed me an itinerary after pointingout the key important parts. They even took the time to circle inhighlighter the fact I needed to be there by 8:15AM or no Morning ERTfor me. I pretty much decided right then and there that I would bebagging on the morning ERT. I also recieved a flyer for the CoasterBuzzevent in the fall, I will take that event under consideration.
Wethen followed more Holiday World event ritual by quickly returning toour car to drop off everything except the nametags and the Friday nighttickets. It may seem silly but we saw a space in the first non handicaprow of the parking lot and so we moved the car up to what is literallythe nearest non-handicap space in the lot. We return to the front gateplaza to join the reunion. The big topic of conversation was the closedrides board which indicated both Legend and Pilgrim Plunge were downfor the day. We didn't linger long so we could take care of some postmulti hour travel needs. By this time it was 6:40 and we weren't sureif they would let us enter the park now or if we would have to waitoutside until ERT begins. We entered the park and the reunion moved toby the Appluase fountain. We chatted there until we heard Will and PatKoch on the PA system announcing the park had been closed for 30minutes, telling us about return visit offers, its a very friendlytouch on the usual "Park's closed, get out now" recording. We noticedthere were a fair number of general pubic also lingering about thearea, and figured we would help the park be able to give the all clearfor ERT if we moved on to the picnic grove.
We were walkingtowards the Picnic Grove when we met up with Pat Koch near the Alamo,and proceeded to walk part of the way to the Pincic Grove with her. Ithink we got distracted when we noted what might be the only test seatfor a rapids ride. We entered the picnic grove just in time to hear thestories about Legend blowing a gearbox and a dedicated Holiday Worldstaffer making a mad drive from the park to Cincinnati, OH to have thegearbox serviced, then making te dad drive back to the park, thengetting the gearbox installed, and tested. Yes, they had it running intime for the evening ERT!!! The second story was about Pilgrims Plungewas down since Wednesday, it blew a shaft encoder, a specialty partthat needs to come from the Intamin factory in Germany. Its status atthe time was somewhere between Philadelpiha and a town just north ofthe park They apologized that Plunge would not be available for FridayERT, but Will is refreshing the UPS tracking page every 30 seconds, andhas the UPS agent in the local depot instructe to page him as soonasthe package arrives. Word has it that Will got the call at 5:30AM,and went out picked it up, and the park had the ride operational forSaturday morning ERT! We then went through a detailed explanation ofthe event schedule, during whch Dave Althoff got a shout out, adishonrable mention for having to pay the Procrastination Tax, actually.
There wasa moment of silence for some fellow enthusiasts who had recently passed away, then we started Friday ERT.
Wedecided to head up to dinner first, noting the Legend was open, butinstead taking a spin on the Raven as our first ride, hey it beatswalkinng up the hill. Our first ride was in the front row of the backcar and it was already performing nicely. We headed to Kringles Kafewhere we each polished off 4 slices of Sausage pizza with its famousthick soft doughy crust, a pile of potato chips and a block of fudge.We met up with more friends at dinner, and after dinner just outsideKringles. Man I'm gonna miss somebody if I try to remember them all,but hello again to Klockster, the Drabeks, David Cornell, the guys fromTexas, Kory and Chad, the dude who likes old rides who is building anaircraft we met in the bumper cars line, the Nungesters, and much,muchmore.
After dinner, it was time to ride,we continued CoasterForeplay with another quality ride on Raven, this time in thatwonderful back seat before heading onto Legend. Legend was a near walkon, we rode towards the front, and sure Legend was squealing and wasonly running one train, but lets remember it was down all day so let'sjust be grateful it was open. One ride on Legend, and we can say thatthe Legend is back! Legend had a spell when it wasn't really running asgood as it did when it first opened, but these last couple years theyhave done a lot to get it back to the way when it opened.
AfterLegend, we made a stop at Hollowswings which the park had graciouslysubstituted for Pilgrims Plunge. When we arrived the ride was runningempty to drum up business, when we boarded there were maybe half adozen peope on the ride, when our ride ended at least one lane of thequeue maze was full. The ride itself was fun with the spooky music andis a lot smoother ride than the Zierrer. Hallowsings is a custom themedZamperla Flying Trapeeze.
After Hallowsings, it was time to stopstalling and get ourselved down to Voyage. Voyage was a walk on inanywhwere except the front and back seats. We started wonering whereeverybody was, as it seemed like all the rides were walk ons, yet wesaw a good size group in the picni grove. Our first Voyage ride was amiddle car ride just to get on the ride, and we were impressed withthat. Then we took a front car ride in row 2, and that was even better,then another ridein maybe car 3. Around the time we had started hearingpeople saw the back seat is too intense. We took that as a challenge,and headed to the back seat. Wow! Extreme airtime on every drop, adevine triple down, and the ride seemed to be running all out inextreme mode. Little did we now what we would be thinking in 24 hours,but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
We continued to rideVoyage until about 10:15 (for a 10:30 park close), then headed to Ravenso we would not have to walk up the hill by Raven. Thats not to say wedidn't avoid the hill between Thanksgiving and Haloween, and werealized once again that Holiday World is a very hilly park. Wefinished night one with 2 or 3 back to back rides on Raven until theyshut the rides down for night one. We headed out of the park, thankingPat, Will, and Paula on our way out
We headed to our car, andthen headed to our hotel in Tell City. It seems just about every hotelnear the park charges at least $100 a night, but we found a Days Inn inTell City for only like $61 a night. Obviously a lot of other HoliwoodNights attendees also found the Days Inn as walking the hotel halls wedidn't spot one otherguest that didn't have a coaster shirt of sometype on. After dealing with the uneven parking lot, and finding ourroom despite the misleading directions we were given by the desk clerkwe soon found our room and settled in After getting the air conditionercranked up, and electronics chargers charging we went out to source alate night snack. We first stopped at the Super WalMart Tell City,clearly the city's big hang out spot. Snack supplies sourced, we nextfound the only open food in Tell City, a Taco Bell drive through. Ican't say it better than Rideman did when he said "You know somethingswrong when late night Taco Bell helps cure the digestive issues casuedby the pizza" Dave, I'm telling you, coating your stomach with chickencurry does wonders!
We had alread made the decision to skip thewaterpark ERT, well we also decided to sleep in knowing we had a latenight ahead of us. I think we fnally got to the park around 1pm after awild goose chase to Dale, but we did learn the Denny's has been moved,as has the freeway exit. By this time the Raven lot was marked as full,so we headed to the Legend lot and found a space within a reasonabledistance of the tunnel. Evidence of a lot of work going on in theLegend lot os obvious as much of the back half is coned off, and itlooks like they are building a tram circle in the front of the lot. Adisused parking trams sits in the Legend lot. We go through the tunneand we can see the front gate straight ahead of just accross the Ravenparking lot, unfortunately the park has built a chain link fence toensure you can't cut through the lot, you have to walk all the way tothe front of the Raven lot and walk around the perimieter of the Ravenlot to the park gates. I know the park caters to a lot of children, butthis just seems to be overkill, like they don't trust you with thebasic skill of safely walking through a parking lot. I notice the parkis also building a new tram circle in front of the park gates, which Ithink will probably be used for the Legend lot tram, as they alreadyhave a Raven lot tram circle and tram path along one side of the Ravenlot.
We noticed no rides marked as closed, so we entered thepark just in time for an anoyance rain to start coming down. We werehungry not having had breakfast or lunch yet, so we headed directly tothe Plymouth Rock Cafe. We walked right up to the serving line where Iopted for roast turkey, dressing, corn on the cob, sweet potatocasserole, dinner roll, butter, pumpkin pie and a sweet tea, all forjust around $12. It would be hard to find that kind of meal at thatprice at a casual dining restaurant outside of the park. Plymouth RockCafe still serves up good food, at a great value, but it still suffersfrom a bad bottleneck at the check out stands that it has had eversince it opened. I make my way out to a table, and I was pleasantlysurprised to see apple butter on the condiment bar. We proceeded to sitdown to lunch with Kory and his family. It was a great relaxing meal.
Afterlunch Rideman wanted to fetch something from his car, so I took a backseat on Voyage while I was waiting for him. Voyage, while running aboveaverage was not quite up to last night. I do, however, appreciate thefree lockers for cameras and the like. After my ride I met up withRideman who surprised me as I was expecting him to come down the hillfrom Halloween, and he instead entered through Splashin Safari.
Wenext headed to Pilgrims Plunge, the queue house was maybe half full andsports the largest cieling fan known to man. At the end of the mainqueue house is an ride attendant who has the job of controlling accessto the ride. You see the people entering the ride from the queue area,and the people exiting the ride from the ride both enter this areawhere there are loose article shelves and courtesy lockers for youruse. You get time to stow your stuff, remembering you can take yourshirts, shoes and socks off for this ride. After you access the lockersthis host has the job of making sure those enterting the ride head tothe stairs to cross over the trough, and those exiting the ride head tothe exit door. Once across the bridge over the trough you enter aholding area, it loook like five seat lanes except there are no gatesin front, instead there is only one gate and people flow through thegate from the seat lanes in order front to back. They use a "the boatsnever stop system" which is all well and good, but I freak out and mysense of self preservation refuses to let me make the jump into theboat. After two attempts and about to give up, I ask the ride host ifthe boat can stop, and find out that yes it can.
The rideitself, first yoou go along a long meandering trough with a rapidssection or two. You might get a slash or two here in the front of theboat, like we were. Eventually you come around to the base of theelevators. Here the boat waits for an elevator to arrive, then the boatraises almost stright up except for the fact the two elevator tracksbow outward to allow to elevator platforms to pass in the center whileonly have one 'station' at the top and bottom. Going up the elevator isjust a wierd feeling, maybe even a bit unsettling. At the top theelevator lines itself, and you sit there for a moment or two before theboat moves off the elevator and onto the boat chute. The boat chuteitself isn't that bad, the water spray is such that its hard to look atwhats going on. As has been reported the boats don't make quite thesplash you would expect, and at first I was thinking "That wasn't badat all" and then WHOOSH a wave comes crashing into the boat. Row A youget damp but nowhere near drenched, at least that was my experience.You then go through the run out and a U-turn back to the station. Thisarea has been outfitted with coin operated water geysers. The boatsthemselves have 5 rows of two seats with high seat backs and lap barsthat drop down from overhead like on Intamin's newest coasters, exeptthese do not have seat belts. I am a rider with a nice size gut, andalthough Intamin rides generally cause me issues with rider fit, Ifound this ride to be very accomodating, and I did not experiene thelap bar staple, or the sudden lurch into the lap bar at the bottom ofthe drop I had read about.
We checked our watches and it wasalready 3pm, so its time to head to the Raven/Legend photo walk back. Ilike the way the park is doing it this year, instead of a sharp "Youmust be here at 3pm" rule, you could arrive anywhere between 3 and3:15, which I'm sure in turn helped spread people out along thewalkback trail so we weren't all bunched up together. The walkbackstarted at the main gate to Splashin Safari so we decided to go throughThanksgiving as that seemed the shortest route. We were eager to takethis walkback as it had not been offered in a few years.
We got toSplashin Safari and after a quick nametag check were admitted throughthe gate next to the Splashin Safari entrance, this admitted us to apath that goes between Frightful Falls and Splashin Safari. We pausedto get a few photos of those two things, and then were guided to takethe first path to the left instead of continuing back to go to part ofLegend that goes alongside Slashin Safari. The first path to the left,takes you to see the frist drop, lift hill, and the part of Legend thatcrosses Frightful Falls. Once could also see the water treatmentbuilding for Frightful Falls. Some time was taken at each key point tosnap action photos of the rides. After this we came to a part where onecould take unadvertised backstage photos of the high dive show. Youthen continued along a path where you had the lower ravine section ofRaven to your left, and the helix section of Legend to your right.
Thetour itself, was pretty much a self guided tour, although the guys fromGravity Group and a Holiday World coaster mechanic were all there eagerto talk about their favorite subject with coaster enthusiasts andanswer questions. As you might expect give the chance some people wouldtake all day taking photos and talking with the ride designers andmechanics, so there was a pace person who started the tour a fewminutes after the entrance gate was closed whose job it was to keep thegroup on pace. As you might guess, this was where the pace person metup to us. We continued up a steed hill that wrapped around the Legendhelix past the wood coaster maintenance shed where this year you cansee wood, but in the past they had Banshee ride parts and the oldLegend train. At this point you walk across the dam that blocks LakeRudoplh from pouring into the park. The campground can be seen accrossthe lake, you can look down the hill on one side and see the ravineportion of Raven, or look on the other side and see the Lake Rudolphturn on Raven. We continues towards the LAke Rudolph turn, to finish upby walking alongside the first drop tunnel to return to the park viaRudoplhs Reindeer Ranch childrens ride area.
We looked at thenew for last year Reindeer Games ride and then noted we didn't havemuch time before the Voyage photo walkback. We headed back down toVoayge, talk about back tracking today. We got to Voyage a bit early sowe took the chance to get some Pilgrims Plunge photos. At this point wecame across the major annoyance the park has just installed.
Let me put it to you like an old text adventure game:
"Youhave come to the end of the Thnksgiving Section, you look stragihtahead and see a dead end where there is a Pilgrims Plunge observationarea complete with coin operated water geysers, to your left you see aclossed gate clearly makred "Employees Only", upon further inspectionyou see another of the parks walkways on the other side of the gate,and you see said pathway being used by park guests much like yourselfs.These guests don't even have the coaster shirts or nametags on. To yourright you see a walkway that leads to Pilgrims Plunge. Your destinationis the Voyage service gate to your left, just past the closed gate thatis currently being monitored by a park hostess. "
To solve thispuzzle, you have to walk up the path to Pilgrims Plunge, following thesigns to enter the ride, just before getting to the ride, you can walkthrough a gap in the fence to another Pilgrims Plunge observation area,with more coin op gesyers. There is a fence all along this pathseperating you from the path you were just on. As you continue along,you go down a long windy ramp, so you can tunnel under Pilgrims Plunge,then up another ramp to come out just on the other side of the closedgate. Talk about irritating, and it is clearly irritating their normalpark guests, I say this becuase when there isn't a park staff personpresent, folks were leaping over the closed gate. We're talking basichuman behavior here, folks don't have much tolerance for long out oftheir way detours, and will, given the chance, try to circumvent them.I've seen it happen at several different parks. Classic example waswhen Kentucky Kingdom wanted to prevent people from taking a shortcut,they errected a series of obstcles - such as a park bench, then afence, then a flower bed, then a hedge, then another fence, then arailing. That didn't stop folks from stepping up on the bench, leapingthe fence, walking through the flower bed, trampling through the hedge,climbing the other fence, then ducking over the railing. KentuckyKingdom, to their credit, finally decided to remove all that stuff andjust create a path there rather than fight it. It just doesn't makesense to me, the park spent a LOT of money errecting that tunnel underthe Plunge. I know they did it so they can have an attire checkpointwhen leaving Splashin Safari, but if they have to put a monitor at thegate that person may as well be checking attire. They seemed to reallyovercomplicate this, when the easiest chepest answer would have been tohave the attire check right after the Plymouth Rock Cafe, sinceSplashin Safari standards of dress are acceptable on Plunge. WhenSplashin Safari closes, then you close that gate.
Where was I,or yeah talking that long out of the way detour, the Voyage tour wasmuch luch the onces in the past, except that now the service gate hasbeen moved to almost the first drop. Its an out and back coaster, andthis is an out and back tour along the same path. They did have thepathway on one side of the ride open all the way up to and juststarting into the insane turnaround. Again more photos were taken,again the coaster mechanic and gravity group guys were on hand toanswer questions or just talk coasters. After suitable time was allowedthe group was paced back down the hill (Its a steep hillside Voyage isbuilt on), and then back out the same service gate, where we took thesame long detour back to Thanksgiving.
It was at this time thatwe decided we really should be riding some rides. We started withGobbler Getaway where we met up with David Cornell. So in our car wehad Dave Cornell, Dave Althoff, and Dave Bowers. Gee, I bet Dave isgoing to win! The queue maze was half full, I think the pumpkin piespice smell is back, and with three in the car that really spreads theavailable points thin. Still, gotta love a classic style dark ridecomplete with crash doors and turkeys that taunt you at the end of theride. Don't worry that our hapless farmer in the dark ride didn't havethe heart to kill the turkey, ad they armed you with turkey callersinstead of shotguns, becuase you can still have turkey at the PlymouthRock Cafe just across the midway.
We skipped Turkey Twirl andVoyage for now (hey, we have massive coaster ERT tonight!) and headed up into the main park. Since we were in a water ride mood, we decided toride the Raging Rapids in Boulder Canyon which we usually skip. Thisride was nearly a walk on and we got off mostly dry, and had moreamusement watching our fellow riders avoid the water. I'm thankful thewater curtain in the old town shut off just in time, and that the folksrunning the coin of geysers were also more interested in getting theother riders wet. This ride seems shorter than I remember it being inthe past.
After the Rapids Ride, we stopped off at the FunnelCake Factory for a snack of Fried Oreos, yumm yumm. From there we tooka ride on Eagle's Flight. Eagles Flight recieved a new fully automatedcontrol sytem since my last ride on it, at least it retains itsfriendly operator. What's more, I actually had a good ride on it. No, Ididn't get one snap out of it, but as is common for portable Flyers,although you may not get the satisfying KERCHUNK sound, you can atleast get the feel of getting into a dive bombing, then quick pull outride pattern. Its like its just a hair off from snapping then the tubpulls out of it without the payoff.
From there we walked rightacross the walkway and did a spin on Revolution. Not much to reporthere. We skipped Funtown as it was getting late, and besides neither ofhad much interest in trying to cram ourselves into Howler or theFreedom Train. Starting back towards the front of the park we noted weexceeded the weight limit on the Star Spangled Carousel, and I knewfrom past visits that Liberty Launch is a no go for me. We next took aspin on the Rough Riders, where wemet the guy who was talking old ridesand aircraft. Friendly guy who stuck around for this ride and one onPaul Rever's Midnight Ride. Rough Riders, the cars re comfortable, thebelts are comfortable, the cars look cool, the cars seem to have somepower to them, its just that I think there are too many cars on thefloor as it was just too congested at times.
Paul Revere'sMidnight Ride continues to impress as being one of the nations bestSpider rides. From here we decided the line for the car ride looked abit long. We took a look in the Liberty Bell shop. Wait, the park thatput Turkey Callers instead of GUNS on its shoot em up Dark Ride has atoy department in the gift shop with all kinds of toy weapons: swords,revolvers, all the way up to assault rifles, some of which shoot real"Safety" bullets.
We make ourway to the front of the park andstart taking another lap, we talk to Will for a short bit on the waypast Raven and then decide to skip the Scarecrow Scrambler and head forFrightfull Falls. FRightful Falls was a walk on and so we jump into themoving log. It should be noted that although Plunge caused me problemswith jumping into a moving vehicle I had no trouble with the log flumeor rapids ride.
When we finsihed up with the log flume, we tooka look through the front gate shops and in a memonary lapse ofjudgement walk up Raven hill intead of riding up. AFter checking outthe front gate shops, we run our cameras out to our car, and move it upto the front row of the Legend Lot, being nice not to park on the newlylaid cement. We re-enter the park and make our way to the picnic grovedodging rain that got heavier and heavier as we go along.
Wefinally get to the picnic grove and first head to the shelter that hadthe auction. At first I thought we were too late but then realized theauction stuff was in the back half of the shelter. We grabbed some freedrinks and perused the items.
The highlights of the auction werethe perinally popular roller coaster lift hill flags, this time theycame signed and bundled so you get the complete color selection for thecoaster involved. They also had various advertising signs and banners,some signed Gravity Group t-shirts, and more. They also had a rummagesale with media CD's, stationary, old maps and brochures, old souvenircups and more. They seemed to have a fair amount of bearings left, butthe bin labeled Roller Coaster Wheels was already emptied. We didn'trealize the food was setup until somebody mentioned they had finishedeating.
We head up the stairs to the red shelterhouse to pick updinner. Here I got my first clue that attendance was way down thisyear, as only 1 of the two big shelterhouses was open. We headed rightfor the buffet. We dropped our tickets off in the bin provided andproceeded down the line. Once again, we get to play "What toppings dowe need?" befoe knowing wha is being served. I note buns, rolls, bread,relish trays, fruit salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, hamburgers,chicken and pull pork. We fix our plates and settle into dinner. Midwaythrough dinner they make the announcements, sometimes interrupted bythe pre-recorded "Will and Pat"closing announcements. Silent auctionwinners are announced and its time for the live auction. The big itemup for bids was the original Legend drawings, that item sold for $500,which I think is a record for a Holiday World coaster event auction.They also sold a "Holiday World" logo flag that flew out in front ofthe park. I participated in that one up to $50,unfortunately for me itsold for $85. They commented they go through 3 such flags each season,which gives you an idea of the wear large flags take. Perhaps the mostunique items sold were Kory and Chad from Gravity Group. Each sold onehalf hour of their time during the ERT. During that time you could riderides with them, talk coasters with them, have them be your personalservant, etc. Kory mentioned he had brought his work laptop and that ifyou won he was willing to show you anything on the laptop that he wasat liberty to disclose, including all about the new coaster in China. Ithink they also metioned they could design a coaster for you usingtheir design software, just rmemeber you only have half an hour. I knowPaula really made a big deal of this on Twitter, but I just don't thinkthe fans were all that into it, leading to a "lets just get this overwith".
Okay, the auction was over, but the rain is gettingharder, then it gets much worse, the hail starts coming down,visibility is minimal, they asked people to huddle in away from theedges of the shelter, and they turned the lights on in the blue shelterhouse. We continue to talk coasters, and Paula provides regular statusreports and sports scores. Perhaps showing off technology, Paula sentout a Tweet looking for the first person to come up to the microphoneand say "They are testing the coasters" Such use of technology. Anywayabout an hour late the coasters open and we make our way to Voyage. Atthis point we wait in the longest Voyage line of the weekend, it wasdown the stairs out the doors and into the outside queue area with thelower cargo hold being closed. We get up into the station, and we holdout for the back seat, this was actually easier than you might exepectas people were eagerly trying to get on a train, any train.
Remembereverything I said about Voyage being in insane mode Friday, well forgetall that. We have a new Insane Mode, perhaps we should call itInsaneX10! That train could not travel the course faster it it were jetpropelled, It was literally flying over the hills, and taking thecurves at breakneck speed. You know how when you see a working coastermodel, it looks like the train is going rediculously fast beausegravity does not scale down? Well thats what this looked like. Theairtime was launching you up into the lapbar, and the laterals weretossing you around like a ragdoll. As if it couldn't get better thelightning off in the distance lit up the sky adding a whole newdimension to the ride. Wow, I've said Voyage is the greatest coasterever made, but there are few things likely to ever match theperformance of the Voyage during the Saturday ERT in all of coasterdom.
AfterVoyage we head back to see whats going on with Pilgrims Plunge as Ithought it would be a neat ride to try at night as it doesn't have thatmany lights on the drop. We enter the ride queue area and walk directlyto the loose article shelves. Stowing loose articles we start toapproach the ride as there was a boat stopped in the station and theexit gate was open. We were told we still need to cross the bridge overthe load side, which we do. When we get to the load side, the load gateis closed. A few moments later, the boat waiting at the loading dockglides forward presumeably on its merry way out onto the ride course.The boat gets as far as the end of the station area and comes to astop. The next boat comes up to the loading dock and stops. They do notload that boat, it then advances further and stops right behind theboat in front. They bring yet another boat up to the loading dock, butthey don't load that one either. Something doesn't look right here.They then bring the fourth and final boat into the station, but thereis no roomfor it so it stops on the top of the lift up into thestation. That boat has one rider stranded in it. After doing all thiswe hear the crew talking to the people in the first boat, and itdoesn't sound good. Some time later they come back to us, we are theonly two in the queue and tell us it won't let them start the ride, butthey are going to reboot the ride and try again. We wait a few minutesfor the ride to reset, they push the dispatch button and the boat atthe front of the platform still refuses to budge. They then bring outthe infamous Intamin black box that releases the lap bars in the boatsnot located in the load/unload position. They unload the first boat,and the incoming boat then close the ride. At least they were niceenough to let us exit through the boat siting in the station. That wasa waste of about 5-10 minutes.
We head back to Voyage and takemany rides, each one more insane than the last, whats more incredibleis even with it giving first rate rides the line was still completelywithin the station. We got a front car ride, another back car ride, andseveral middle train rides,doesn't matter when its giving out rideslike it was tonight. You know you are in for a treat when jaded coasterenthusiasts who don't normally react after a ride coming back withlooks of shock and awe on their faces and they are hollering andcheering.
When we had about 40 minutes left before park close wedecided to check out the other rides, we walked up to the Legend withKory and Chad who by that time had finsihed their auction obligations.Legend was running one train again tonight, and it was a total walk on,so we walked right on the back seat. Legend got the same insanetransformation as the Voyage, and the Four Corners of Doom were livingup to their reputation. I know some have written off the Legend as ithad a few sluggish years but I urge you to give it another shot, itseems to be back to the way it was when it opened.
We finishedthe night with a half hour long, didn't even get out of the train powerride session on Raven. Not a bad way to finish off the event and yesRaven was also in insane mode. Tonight all three HoliWoodies were intop form giving rides us mere mortals usually only dream about getting .
Wethen headed up to the park exit, gave our thanks to Pat, Will andPaula, and then headed out to the Legend Lot. When we got to the Legendlot there were maybe 8 cars in the entire lot, so that made it quiteeasy to find our car. We returned to our hotel in Tell City, and yesPaul, I see what you mean by the rollercoaster like quality of thatroad. We no sooner got into our room until we crahsed for the night.Next thing I know, my iPhone is giving me the "You have one hour tovacate the room" alarm clock. We push check out to the limit and arethen on the road. I noted the Indiana University logo statues inpeoples yards remind me a lot of devil's pitchforks.
We decidesitting in single lane slow moving traffic on I-64 was not our idea ofa fun time, and tried US 60. US 60 was moving about 60mph, and it runspretty much directly to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK). Just aftercrossing the border into Kentucky, we found an IGA selling gas about 20cents a gallon cheaper than the stations near Holiday World. Score!
Wemade our way to Kentucky Kingdom and make a stop on the way at Steakand Shake. Between the late check out, the time change, the drive toKentucky Kingdom, and the lunch we didn't get to the park until almost3pm. As we drove through Lousiville, we did not the firemen having oneof their "Fill the Boot" fundraisers, which is not bad in and ifitself, but when they park fire engines in the middle of the streetwith the lights flashing to draw attention to it, there should be alaw. We were passing through right as some emergency vehicles withactual emergencies were having trouble getting through since peoplewere ignoring the flashing lights after seeing the firetrucks beingused as props.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It seems like ourKentucky Kingdom visits always come right after Holiday World visits,so maybe I'm not being all that fair to Holiday World. We pull into theparking lot and get hit with a $6 parking fee. One one hand its one ofthe lowest parking fees in the Six Flags organization, on the other itsthe first reminder we're not in Indiana anymore. So we give the statefair $6 to park on the fairgrounds then drive through the center ofKentucky Kingdom to the big lot in the middle of the fairgrounds. Wedrive up and down the aisles and my this lot looks busy, but who is tosay what cars are there for the park, and what cars are there for otheracttivities. We pull into the lot to the right of the main gate andfind a parking space just a few feet from the entrance plaza.
Wehead to the ticket booths, and we see the employees in their new tennisball green shirts. They do stand out, and they remind me of the shirtsworn by employees at big sporting venues. We head to the one openticket booth and look over our options. Rideman is set to buy the $55season pass as he will be heading to SFMM in June, I have no such plansand note the one day ticket is $30. The park is also running a special,where you can get a 6 visit SFKK only pass for $30, and there is achance I might get back here this season. I purchase the $30 Big Sixpass, and the ticket seller hands me a voucher printed by the registerand then proceeds to block out the section where you are supposed tofill in your information to register your pass. They direct Rideman toGuest Relations as he might get a lower pass price as he was renewing a2008 pass. Unfortunately, when he got to Guest Relations he got thenews that since his 2008 pass was isssud from Great Advenutre, he isnot eligible for the renewal discount, but hey at least the ticketseller tried. We then quickly entered the park and passed though metaldetection. I note that at peak times they have arrangements for "NoBags" lines and a seperate season pass gate.
We enter the parkand head to the season pass processing center,yes I had to get a passcard for my Big Six pass. The line was just out the door and soon wewere inside.You first head to a room where they have a bank ofcomputers. You scan your voucher, then you do all your own data entryfor the pass registration. I wonder why they don't just install acamera and printer at each terminal and completlely automate theprocess. After you enter your data the screen tells you to take yourvocuher to the next room. In the next room they have the room devidedinto season pass processing and Big Six Processing, that way theworkers don't have to worry about which passcard blank they are puttinginto the printer. We go to seperate halves of the room where agentstake ou vouchers, scan them, they take our photos, and the same personhands us our passes. We pocket our passes and head into the park.
Wewalk past the games midway and I get my first dose of the "More Flags =More Fun"tagline. "Watching the Game = 3 flags on the fun meter,Playing the game - 6 flags" We head to the Himalayah, and afterwatching one cycle we board the ride. We procees to sit there as ittakes about 10 minutes to get the Himalayah loaded and checked. We arerewarded for our patience with a slow moving ride. The operator though,seemed to be auditioning for the role of carney ride operator "Want togo faster, let me hear you scream!" "Want to go backwards?" It doesneither of those things.
We exit the Himalayah and walk rightonto the Enterprise just as it is being loaded, what timing. Its a fastspinning Enterprise which still goes completely vertical, which seemsto be a rare thing for these rides anymore. I was a bit concerned withthe amount of lateral shaking the ride was doing, but Rideman didn'tseem all that concerend.
Next, we go to ride the Rainbow, orthat was we were going to ride the Rainbow, but it seems it, like theHellevator has been removed. The Rainbow does appear on the park map,but is not listed in the list of rides, last minute scratch, perhaps?Our next ride was Greezed Lightning, this coaster was a walk on aswell, even for the back seat. Its a fast ride, you get launchedforward, go through a loop, up the spike, back through the loop,through the station, up the back spike, and then down into the station.The good news is on the backwards trip through the station the weremerely trimming the train rather than trying to stop it, so back seatriders get treated to that unqiue backwards airtime. We exit the rideand I start to notice something really annoying, the park has decidedthat any segment of fence that borders a ride must have a large"Danger" sign affixed to it. Yes, I have read about the incidents, andknow exaclty why the park, or the parks lawyers, insisted on theirpresence, but after the first few its just overkill. I think some of myfavorites were the "Danger: High Voltage Area" surrounding a gasolinepowered Antique car ride, or Danger signs around the outside of thecarousel railing, and one Danger sign placed right next to the entranceto the Rollerskater.
From there its to the Road Runner Express,which was using the short path to the station. The line was just to thebottom of the stairs, and we witnessed what might be the best ride crewin the park. The station can hold four cars, they had one car unloading(thanks to the lap bars releasing automatically), two cars loading, andthen one car in the holding position waiting to be dispatched onto thechain as soon as the computer says it is okay. Unlike the rest of thepark, this is the model of proper ride operation. This, of course,means this crew will be the crew that gets into trouble. We get sent toa car with just the two of us, so we eah take a bench and they allow usto sit in the middle straddling the T shaped lap bar. This pays off inspades ot on the course as it was a lot more comfortable in the hairpinturns. All in all, I had a much better experience on this ride thanusual.
We next head down a long windy path past the Skycoaster(marked down to $15, sorry I don't fly for over $5), a Rio Grande minitrain ride. The Rio Grande is a powered train ride, and was sportingthe High Voltage signs, Rideman tells me the voltage involved to movethat train is an alarmingly high 110 volts. We pass a disused gamesarea that now sports a single vending machine inside a large emptyarea, and head back to Bluebeard's Bounty, the Pirat ride.
Wehead up the ramp and here is something that you don't see everyday, apush gate to get into the ride queue area. Guests have no gotten soaccustomed to waiting behind any gate that the crowd seems toinvariably stop at the top of the ramp until the ride operatorindicates it is okay to push in on the gate an enter the queue area.The Pirat, while not the most cared for ride, still has its faux sailsand rigging, which makes it better than the one at Kings Island in thatregard. We were lucky enough to score an end row, and taking the adviceto pick me feet up before we crested on our side, you do get someunique moments of something that might be liekend to airtime. The fullyautomatic, single position lapbars are a bonus for this park, helpingthis to be another ride that operates at a reasonable pace. At the endof the ride, you will notice the exit gates on the unload side havebeen chained shut, and you are instructed to exit back to the load sideand they have further modified the confusing queue maze to allow for anexit path. You exit towards the now disued older picnic grove that isnow reserved for use in the parks halloween event.
Finsihingthat ride, we head back to the main circle loop path, we look at but donot ride the Breakdance. IT is evident the Breakdance, as well asseveral other things in the park got a nice coat of paint, however dueto the modifications to the safety systems on the Breakdance thatrequire every seat to be locked and unlocked by hand, we have ridden itand know the loading process is just entirely too long.
Okay, wehave put it off as long as we could, its time to cross the darnedbridge in the center of the park. The bridge that takes you from thefront part of the park, over the fairgrounds entrance road and into theback part of the park. I swear this bridge gets higher and longer everyseason, even their own staff do not like it as the park staff can optto use a ground level crosswalk. We get to the back side of the park,and we bypass several rides: The Giant Wheel, the rock wall, thego-karts, the entire waterpark. I note the waterpark has been renamedSplashwater Kingdom, rather than the former Hurricane Harbor name. Isuppose given recent disasters, Six Flags thought it unwise to use theHurricane name. I note the name is about the only thing that haschanged as the theming looks to remain the same, right down to the useof what are commonly referred to as hurricane flags as theming. MoreFlags = More Fun, right?
We stop off at a wonderfully airconditioned comfort station, one of the things this park did do right,and I noted amogst the ammenities at the comfort stations in the parkare cell phone recharging stations, for only $2 you too can have yourcell phone battery rapid charged. No, I didn't try it out to see howwell it works. I have to wonder how big of a market there really is forthis. I also think this is a sign of the times, go to any decent sizepark anymore and look in the ride queues, you are likely to see peopleon their cell phones, not so much talking as texting, or playing games,or using the cellular internet connectivity. Those last two,particularly the internet functionality can really put a hurting to aphone battery. Every now and again I long for the days when going to atheme park meant the minute you left the house until the minute you gothome, you were completely out of touch, and if you didn't have ananswering machine, so much the better. Going on a two week vacationmeant two weeks of being totally out of touch with the real world. Isuppose you could still do that to yourself (I did in in Ireland lastfall), but now we have been programmed to take our mobile deviceswherever we go. Oh, where was I? Digressing, again. What a, uhm,surprise.
Anyway, Rideman reminded me of his distinct dislikefor Chang, so I head to Chang alone. I breeze past the shaded but emptyqueue maze, note the fact the weeds and vegetation that had started totake over the ride entrance and exit have been trimmed back, and startto head up the stairs. The sign at the bottom of the stairs told me Iwas in for a 30 minute wait, and the line was just haflway down thestairs. I note the ride wait signs are "sponsored" by the parkspay-extra line jumping program. I think, this is a B&M and the waitis just down one flight of stairs from the station, no way its 15minutes. I forgot three things: a) I'm not at a park that cares aboutride throughput b) It's a B&M stand up, even Cedar Point decided tomothball a train because they couldn't get the trains out fast enoughto run 3, c) this is Kentucky Kingdom where we only run one train, andtake our own sweet time doing it. I mist have joined right after theline advnaced, because 1 circuit later I advance to the top of thestairs, two circuits later I am in the back seat queue, and threecircuits later I am in the train. I take the back right 'seat' andstruggle a fair bit to get the belt fastened, a feeling not unfamiliarto me on a B&M ride, but I do get the thing buckled all on my own.I head up the lift, around the turnaround and down into B&M standup coaster goodness. I think there are 5 inversions on this one, allwonderfully intense, the mid course barely hits and all too soon itsback to the station. Down the stairs and then a forced trip through thegift shop. At the exit of the gift shop, Rideman is pawin through abook, I ask what it is, and he indicated its a cheklist off all of SixFlags rides, in all of their parks - for $10. I don't buy one, but Ithink its a really neat idea to build chain wide synergy.
Wethen walk past the sites were a Chaos, a car ride, and several carnivalstyle food trailers have been removed, to make way for waterparkexpansion, namely the Mega-Wedgie (no, I am not kidding!), and Delugewaterslides. We also notice T^2 (Thats Terror to the Second Power,how's that for a geeky ride name) has a brand new entrance formed bycutting a new entrance way directly into the queue maze instead ofrouting people around to the old entrance at the backside of the ride.Signs laert us that a full queue house is a 2 hour wait, man what adepressing thought. Luckily the ride was only a station wait, but tosay its only a station wait is both true and misleading as the seatqueues can easily hold 6 trains worth of riders. We wait out the linefor the back seat, dismayed by the one train operation on a weekend.After what seemed like almost a 20-30 minute wait we were on, and heythe wild hedge under the lift hill has been trimmed to the point whereit doesn't brush your legs. That is an improvement. Using proper rideposture, we were able to escape the somewhat rough running ride mostlyunscathed. We exit the ride, head down the exit ramp and look up at thetransfer table. Uhm, I see a second set of bogies but no car bodies,and more importantly no seats on the other train. It's quite obiousthis ride has not yet been given its second train for this season, whatare they waiting on?
We walk back and rejoin the main path,and all is not bad, I mean look they have Blizzard River open despitethe ride clearly being marked as closed on the signs out front. Wedecline a ride on Blizzard River, I recall waiting almost 20-30 minutesin a line far shorter than the line it has today. We do take advantageof the misting fans on the main walkway. We get around to the formersite of Top Eliminator Dragsters (man this park has ripped out a bunchof stuff since my last visit) you know its bad when a Six Flags parkeliminated a pay extra attraction. The area around Top Eliminator hasbeen converted to a live performace stage with a few benches. Accordingto the park guide it hosts karaoke during the week, and live guestbandson the weekends. Today we had a band, that was alright, nothingthat great. The band had an active audience of about 6 people,including 2 girls who were WAY to into it, as in I think they mighthave been family members of the band, or shills planted by the band tomake it look better thn it really was.
I note the walkway backto where the actual Dragster ride, and Twisted Twins beyond has beensealed off with tall chain link fencing. We continue around the openpath and walk under Thunder Run. Thunder Run has received a layer oftall privacy fence around its perimeter where it is near a walkway.Well, this will eliminate a popular line jumping spot/shortcut as theprivacy fence seperated the queue area from the walkway. We enter thequeue and its just to the bottom of the stairs, which is just past the30 minute wait sign.
Thunder Run only has one train to startwith, then they have taken lessons from Busch Gardens Tampa in thatthey check seatbelts first, then come back around to check lap bars.Add to this a crew that is in no hurrty to get things done, a safetyspiel that they wait until after the train is loaded and checked togive, and we are talking a train heading out of the station every 6minutes. Thats 10 dispatches per hour, and the train seats 24, no waitthere is a seat roped off, 22 per ride. Thats 220 persons per hour onone of the parks major rides. That, my friends, is disgusting. Afterwaiting entirely too long, the ride gets even more disgusting when Iget into a seat, grab the seatbelt and find the two ends of the belt tohave at least 2 inches between them. Did I not just spend two daysriding wood coasters, in PTC trains no less, that are way more intensean airtime filled than this one? I take the walk of shame and consolemyself with a trip to the parks Ben And Jerry's where I order thebiggest, most calorie laden sundae on the menu. Just kidding about thesundae, I do grab a lemonade to quench my thirst.
After that sadexperience, we head to the Flying Dutchman. This is the wooden shoesride sort of like a circle swing ride. It has a special spot for me asit is alledged to have come from Kings Island. In a brief moment ofsanity, Six Flags actually removed the lapbars from the ride, goingwith just seatbelts. We take a nice relaxing wooden shoe ride, and Inote the ride is mostly fully automatic, expect the turret stopslowering itself about 2' off the ground, and the ride operator lowersit the rest of the way manually. A neat fun ride.
We then noticea big privacy fence has been built behind the International Carouselflanking the restroom building blocking off the other entrance to theNorthwest Territory. Add Twisted Twins, Mile High Falls, and Zeppelinsto the list of rides that have gone out of service since my last visit.No wonder they sold me a six visit pass for only $30.
We finishup with a ride on Rollerskater, how come I can't ride Thunder Run, butI have loads of room in the cars of the kiddie coaster. We then makeour way to the front of the park, again crossing that darned bridge. Wetake alook at Lonney Tunes Music Land (the parks kiddie rides area),surely putting the candy store in kiddie land is purely coincidence,right? We do a gift shop run through Exclusively Six Flags (shortenedto just Flags on the park guide), and again I see nothing that evenfits the description of a flag for sale. We also look in the LooneyTunes shop, where I am most confused when I come to an aisle stuffedwith Mickey, Minnie, and their friends. Remind me again whose park I amvisiting?
Even more confusing, Rideman asks me to look at adirectional signpost located jut to the LEFT of the Himalayah, and asksme what is wrong with it. I look up and the sign clearly tells me toturn LEFT to go to the Himalayah, when clearly the ride is to theRIGHT. Rideman tried several times to get both the ride and the sign inthe same frame, but just can't do it, so we look at another side of thesignpost and it gets even worse. On the left hand side of the sigpostit indicates "<- Himalayah" , and the right hand side says"Himalayah ^", so this side is giving too conflicting directions to theride, both of which are wrong as it should say "Himalayah ->" Wespot an employee, not just any employee, but one wearing a suit andtie, we stop him, walk him over to the signpost and point the problemout to him. He could not have been less interested if he tried.
Wethen exit the park, and again I pass the "More Flags = More Fun" signs.Hmm, I still can't grasp the logic as to how the quanity of clothdecorations you have flying in the breeze correlates to the amount offun the experience is. I mean I am a flag collector and have well over200 flags (mostly desktop miniatures, but I do have full size versionsof the flags for 8 different nations. If More Flags = More Fun, Ishould be enjoying a never ending fiesta. (Incidently, Spain or Mexicoare not in those 8). Then again, its been pointed out to me that Voyagehas 16 flags, and 16 > 6 so maybe Six Flags is right: More FlagsDOES equal More Fun!.
But enough of that silliness, we head tothe parking lot, and for grins and giggles plot Kings Island into ourGPS. Hm, it tells us we could be in Kings Islands parking lot in 89minutes, that 9:30, the park closes at 10. Do we try? We're coasternuts, of COURSE we do!
We head up I-71 at legal speed and theGPS is actually a bit pessimistic as we pull into the lot at KingsIsland at 9:26. The parking attendants have left, so FREE parking, notthat we didn't have two valid parking passes with us. We go throughthat odd feeling of being salmon as we head to a park gate most peopleare heading out of. We througt perhaps the metal detectoon chechpointwas closed, but as we approached it a secruty guard walked up, scannedus, and we proceeded to the gate. At the turnstile, the ticket takerscans our passes and says "Last minute rides, Gentlemen?"
Wehead back to Rivertown and after a brief comfort stop get in line forDiamondback. The first queue house is totally shut off, and we head tothe second queue area which is a little under half full. About 15minutes later, we are being shown to a middle of the train ride in row8. (No choice of seats). Somewhat bummed we still take our ride and geta decent amount of floater air, but its definetly no Voyage. We exitthe ride and its 9:55, we race through the gift shop and zip backaround and abck into line. This time the second queue area is maybe 1/4full, so 7 minutes later we are at the top of the station stairsenjoying the fireworks. After fireworks we enter the station, and wehear the seat assignements of the groups ahead "14, 15, 16" Ugh, thisdoesn't sound good, we get to the front of the line "Go to row 1", areyou kidding me, we practically do the 100 yard dash to row 1 before hechanges his mind. So there it is, the last ride of an insane coasterweekend, on the front row of Diamondback, and I'm leaning over theclamshell which shifts your body position just enough to get a trulyinsane feeling ride on Diamondback, no wait, after Voyage on Saturday,I'm afraid I have to reserve insane for much more than this. Let's justsay it was a great ride with strong airtime.
We exit the ride,and exit the park, and head to IHOP to end a great coaster weekend. Iget home, and guess what the American flag is wrapped around the poleagain, we chuckle as it looks just like when Dave arrived to pick meup, and I had fixed it then.
Next up: Who knows! I have aninvite to a private party at Strickers Grove on June 21. I am also inarrears 7 trip reports, all to Kings Island, why I am I not lookingforward to digging myself out of that hole?
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