Holy Ship! (The Voyage & HW, KI, SFKK: 8/5-8/8)

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 11:47 AM
For part two of my “Summer of Good Wood,” I flew out to Louisville to do a tour of the Ohio River Valley. First stop: Holiday World.

I arrived at the park around mid-afternoon on Saturday. I wanted to do the rides in chronological order, so the first stop was The Raven, which was a walk-on. I have to say, after all the hype… I didn’t get it. It was good, but it was really short. Ridiculously short. I could only compare it to Cyclops at Mt. Olympus, which has a few drops, twists, and turns before “the big drop.” But don’t worry, I’ll come back to The Raven.

Next, I got in line for The Legend… and it promptly broke down. I figured if I was going to wait in line in 95-degree heat, it was going to be for The Voyage. So I hiked out to the new Thanksgiving section.

Even around 4 pm, there was only about a 20-minute wait for The Voyage. I aimed for the back of the train, and I have to admit that this was the first time since I first rode Dragster in ’03 that I actually felt nervous boarding a ride.

My first ride? Holy crap. Amazing first drop, excellent airtime hills following that up, and then at the turnaround, all hell breaks loose. I had no idea a coaster could move like that. I was getting tossed around like a ragdoll, but in a good way. I think it was a few hills after the sweet triple-down that The Voyage entered “holy crap” territory. This is the point when your brain is ready for the ride to be over, but the ride isn’t… not by a long shot. I honestly wasn’t sure if my lungs were working for the last 30 seconds of the ride. Once I stumbled off the ride, I took a seat down by the entrance and just sat there collecting myself… for five minutes. I’d just been on Hades in June and experienced that Gravity Group “I gotta catch my breath” sensation. But it was even more intense after The Voyage. Holy crap.

After getting myself together and downing a few cups of Gatorade, I walked back to The Legend. My overall impression? Meh. The first drop had a nice pop of air in the back, but that was the last I’d experience on that ride. The trims killed the pacing in a few spots, and the helix tunnel just wasn’t that exciting or fast. It was aggressive, but I didn’t really get it. It seemed like it was supposed to be The Beast with hills, but it didn’t do it for me.

Anyway, there was dinner, then another ride on The Raven, then I got in line for a night ride on The Voyage. It ended up being a full-hour wait, but that just meant it was that much darker by the time I boarded. Everything I said about The Voyage two paragraphs up? Multiply that by ten and that was my night ride. It was without a doubt the most insane ride I’ve ever ridden. If the ride is intense in the daytime, it is outright chaos at night. It’s like the tunnel on Hades… only it lasts for the entire ride. Out of the 127 coasters I’ve now been on, nothing comes close. This is officially my favorite coaster by a large margin.

After that, I had to call it a night. Within a few hours or arriving in Santa Claus, the trip was already officially worth the cost and effort.

I returned Sunday morning to do everything again. I got two more rides on The Raven, which I warmed up to, even though it’s still ridiculously short; one more on The Legend, which was rougher in front; and two more on The Voyage, which just got better every ride. That last part of the triple-down got me every time.

Overall, I really enjoyed Holiday World. I saw Pat Koch welcoming people into the park Sunday morning, as well as working the scrambler ride. I saw Will Koch walking around the park, saying hi to the employees. And that just blows my mind. These folks care about the park, and it absolutely shows. It was clean, the free drinks were fantastic (especially the Gatorade), and the employees were terrific. They were smiling, they were efficient… it was amazing. I’m really curious what the future holds for this park.

Bonus: the drive from Holiday World to my hotel in Tell City was better than about half the wooden coasters I’ve ridden. What is up with those hills? In my lightweight rental Hyundai, I was getting serious airtime. Although it was slightly terrifying, not being able to see oncoming traffic… or deer.

On day three I drove out to Kings Island. I’d visited once before, in 2003, and had a great time. This time I was hoping to get a night ride on The Beast, as well as take some better pictures. The park was practically empty. I rode everything I wanted to ride by noon. I was concerned that Son of Beast being closed would negatively impact the lines for other rides. I shouldn’t have worried. Everything was a walk-on. Strangely enough, Top Gun had the longest line of anything I rode that day. That was probably attributable to SOB’s closure. They still had two employees guarding the entrance to SOB… perhaps to explain why it’s still down… and why there’s a train under a tarp still sitting on the lift hill.

I did take a spin on The Italian Job right after the park opened. It’s a neat little ride, and I was surprised at the G’s in the “parking garage.” It’s a nice family ride, though, and it was the only ride at the park with any sort of line all day. I also took a spin on Adventure Express, which was closed last time I visited. Yep… Arrow smooth. Smooth like a train wreck. I bailed out around 3 pm to check into my hotel. Came back to the park around 6 pm, took some more pictures, and waited for darkness.

Riding The Beast at night was cool, but after having ridden The Voyage the previous two days, it just didn’t compare. It was fun, for sure, and there were some moments where the intensity came close to matching The Voyage, but it fell short. The torch has been officially passed, I think. I imagine the folks out there who have gotten un-trimmed Beast rides will disagree, and I understand. But from my experience alone, The Beast just isn’t the same once you’ve been on The Voyage. It’s like a Flight of Fear launch after you’ve been on a Dragster launch.

Overall, the park looked very nice, as usual. Very friendly and efficient employees. The smoking ban was not at all enforced, however. Keep working on that one, Kings Island. And I’m ashamed to admit that it took me until 2006 to finally try Dippin’ Dots. Clearly, I’ve been missing out.

Day four was a quick one. I had a few hours built in to my schedule to hit Kentucky Kingdom before my flight out of Louisville. But just my luck, after three days of blue skies and scorching heat, it started to pour just as I got to the park. I tried to wait out the rain in my car, but they were running rides, so I decided I might as well get drenched and cram in a few rides. Screw the person sitting next to me on the airplane. I need my fun.

I really only wanted to ride two rides at SFKK: Greezed Lightnin’ and Thunder Run. And I got ‘em both. I hadn’t been on Greezed Lightnin’ since 1991, when it was Tidal Wave up at SFGAm. It was just as good as it ever was, although I miss the nautical theming. And Thunder Run was OK. It didn’t track very well, but it packed a punch. I’m sure it gives better rides in better conditions. I passed on everything else… I’ve been on a hang-n’-bang, and I’ve been on Mantis and didn’t feel like a Chang-n’-bang. And Twisted Twins didn’t open till I was getting ready to leave, so I had to skip it. But it was supposed to be a quick stop anyway, and I was already thoroughly drenched.

Overall, I was really impressed with how nice SFKK looked. There’s a scathing lack of shade (which didn’t matter on that particular day), but the landscaping is beautiful. I liked how the waterpark was in the middle of the park, and I kind of liked the odd layout of the park (which kept reminding me of that RCT scenario where there were two sections of a park separated by a road). What really got me, though, was how great the employees were. They were all really polite, and sure enough, I was intercepted by Bugs and Daffy while walking around the park (and I got a picture with them). My trip to the park was brief, and probably not indicative of a normal day, but I really hope SFKK survives any Six Flags cutbacks. It really seemed like a gem of a little park while I was there.

So my “Summer of Good Wood” ends on a great note. Not only did The Voyage become my new favorite wooden ride, it became my all-time favorite ride. It is that good. It delivered the most perfect ride I can imagine, and more. I only hope it holds up in quality over the next few years. If it does, I can easily see The Voyage attaining legendary status, like The Beast before it. *** Edited 8/12/2006 3:47:45 PM UTC by Olsor*** *** Edited 8/12/2006 3:48:23 PM UTC by Olsor*** *** Edited 8/12/2006 3:49:51 PM UTC by Olsor***

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Saturday, August 12, 2006 12:08 PM
"The trims killed the pacing in a few spots, and the helix tunnel just wasn’t that exciting or fast."

Legend doesn't have any trims. it's just running laggy.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006 1:26 AM
Legends getting a reprofile this winter that hopefully will stop the binding of the trains in a few of its curves.

It has not trims but it tends to wear wheels and upstop track out rather quickly.

All my best rides on Legend have been after ten PM except second season with the G train. it flew!

Chuck, whos glad you found Voyage's intensity and madness to be a good thing :)

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Monday, August 14, 2006 9:19 AM
My favorite part of Voyage is as you hop over the lift and enter the second-to-last tunnel next to the station. It feels as if someone has strapped booster rockets to the train and flicked them on right then. The pick-up of speed is simply breathtaking.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006 10:41 AM

Charles Nungester said:
Legends getting a reprofile this winter

Ummm...no it's not.

We always schedule trackwork for the coasters during the offseason, but there's no reprofiling planned.

Paula

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006 11:01 AM
Should I restate that as major helix work?
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006 11:10 AM
The Voyage is one of the only coasters that gets more intense as the ride progresses, remarkable given how the coaster starts with extreme floaters. And its not just speed that intensifies, but the multitude of ride elements thrown at you, literally shifting into higher and higher gears. It starts with a bang and ends with an explosion, always unnerving for first time riders expecting things to mellow out.

There are a lot of great wood coasters out there, but the Voyage as taken wood to another level, a level it will be alone in for some years to come. A special bonus is this ride will always reside at Holiday World, a park that spoils their guests.

We’re not worthy! *** Edited 8/16/2006 3:24:48 PM UTC by rc-madness***

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