Hotter than Hell - Visionland's Rip Roarin' Rampage - 6/4/05

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Sunday, June 5, 2005 5:51 PM
Hotter than Hell - Visionland's Rip Roarin Rampage, Saturday June 4, 2005

The day started out with an 8:30am alarm buzzing in my ear. After packing a few essentials and getting a quick shower it was 9:30 and time to hit the road.

The usual hour and a half trip turned into 2 hours due to various "speed zones" for road construction on I-20/59 that never had anyone working in them, and a stop or two for necessary breakfast items (Hershey bar & a Mountain Dew). With registration starting at 12 noon we arrive at the park close to 11:30 and find us a spot to park. Thanks to Visionland and the ACE team for working out free parking for the day! Shortly after 12 Robert arrived and we receive out registration packet containing a wristband needed for the nightime ERT, a wristband for admission into both Magic Adventures Theme Park and Splash Beach Waterpark that doubled as an unlimited soft drink coupon for the day, a coupon for 1 free raft rental, 1 free locker rental or a free stroller rental, and a nicely made name badge complete with a schedule of events of the back. We used our armbands and off into the park we went.

I had heard that Zoomerang had been tempermental in the past several weeks and was going down for maintenance early in the afternoon some days. With that thought in mind, I headed to the back of the park for my first ride. The area around Rampage in the past was very out of place looking. It never really had that "feel" of a ride entrance to me. You have to cross over a maintenance road and such to get to Rampage and to get to the Space Shot you have to walk down the mainteance road, complete with passing traffic. With the addition of Zoomerang the entire area was completely different. Now instead of a maintenance road, there is a nice walkway complete with new path lights and trees. A new spot of concrete connects the kiddie area with the new walkway and makes the entire area feel so much more complete. Kudos to whoever thought of this makeover. As luck would have it I run into another fellow coaster enthusiast who I had been wanting to meet (Ed) and since this was his first visit to the park I thought I'd show him around a bit.

The queue for Zoomerang starts in the corner where the maintenance road use to end, and it winds up the hillside to the ride. The ride itself is built on a huge hill that was created to give them level ground. The height of the ride above the normal walking paths makes it stick out very prominently and it look very nice sitting up there. My only complaint was the lack of shade. I have heard that landscaping was in the works for that area and lets hope it comes in soon. The Alabama heat has no friends and it was doing some serious cooking today. The station for Zoomerang has more of a "fair" ride feel to it. Very plain and simple. I think they bought everything that Wonderland had attached to the ride including entrance ramps and exit ramps because they all looked so used, but freshly painted to look new. Anyway, on to the ride. The queue gates open (one gate per car, you decide who sits in what row) and you board the old Demon trains that now sport a fresh new cost of red paint. We chose the back car front row. The ride starts with a very slow crawl out of the station until the train clears the loading area and then the lift picks up speed. Once at the top, well you know the rest... it's a boomerang. The ride wasn't rough at all, actually kinda smooth. We both did manage to get one good smack on the restraint as we went through the backwards part. The harnesses on this ride sit a little lower than the ears so the headbanging was kept to a minimum for me at least. After a few photos and videos we head off into the park to catch a mid afternoon ride on Rampage.

Rampage was running one train, the "fire" train, and the "lightning" train was on the transfer track. My hopes of them running two trains today were quickly smashed after we noticed there were no seats or lapbars on the lightning train at all. Terry Mackey, GM, later said at supper that the wanted to have the second train going today but it had only come back for its overhaul the day before and hadn't been broken in yet. Rather that running the risk of the train valleying and everyone having to look at the Ramage all night they opted to wait a few more days before running the second train so that the 3 hours of ERT later than night could happen.

Ed and I head to the back seat, the lap bars were checked and off we go. Having ridden Rampage hundreds of times before I had hyped it up for Ed and hoped that he didn't get any "anticipointment" with his first ever ride in the afternoon. When we hit the brake run, I looked at Ed and he looked like a kid in a candy store, grinning from ear to ear. Whew... at least I hadn't let him down by hyping the ride up. He wanted to ride in the front row and see what it was like up there and once again he wasn't dissapointed. After riding in both spots, he said that he couldn't decide if he liked the front or the back better. He mentioned that the ride was running great and I agreed, especially for the mid day ride that we had. I mentioned that if he liked it now, he would love it by nightfall.

Our cell phones began to ring as various other members of out parties were arriving and so we split up to go welcome everyone else in. For me and the rest of our group, the first stop was the local Sports Bar in the Celebration Street area. After a few guys through back a couple of beers, me and another coaster friend decide to hit the water park for a few hours of cooling off. I did notice that a new entrance to the speed slide and toliet bowl slide has been constructed. This was very much needed. First stop... Acapulco Drop, Splash Beach's speed slide. For the love of God in heaven and everything holy, WHY HAS THIS SLIDE NOT BEEN FIXED! I've heard that when the slide was built a few years back that the builder used a different type of sealant for the joints resulting in mini speed bumps forming at every joint. For anyone who has ever ridden a slide of this type, you know it needs to be smooth as glass to feel comfy as you slide down. I got to the end of the ride and my back (and everyone else that rode it) looked like they had been sliding down a concrete trough. One time on this one and that was it for me. Next up, the toliet bowl slide. I'd never been on one that has the opening at the bottom were you just fall into the water so I was kinda excited about it. After a disorienting spin around the bowl I fell into the pool of water below head first. Not very painful if you are a gymnast, but my back doesn't bend that way so once was enough for me. Next up we hit the wave pool. Visionland has started this very strange policy for their wave pool. Anyone who is past the second set of lifeguard chairs, must wear a life vest or have a rental tube. Not wanted to walk all the way back out to get my free tube coupon we just grabbed a couple of life vest and headed out to the deeper end. I only wish I had a picture of us. Two grown men over 6 feet tall wearing a life vest in a wave pool where the deepest part is only 6 feet deep. What was confusing was that while vest or tubes were required in the 6 foot deep pool, nothing was required on the toliet bowl slide which had a splash down pool depth of 8 1/2 feet. Oh well, maybe they'll work on this policy in the coming years. After a quick trip or three around the lazy river we headed back to Magic Adventure for the group photo.

After the group photo on the very steep hillside by Zoomerang, the entire group was off to a reserved seating area for supper. For a smaller park the food wasn't all that bad. Instead of the usual hamburgers and hot dogs we were presented with a potato bar with all the fixin's and hot wings. Not bad for supper. After supper there was a Q&A session with the GM, Terry Mackey were he informed us of a raffle of Rampage parts that would happen during ERT later on and then supper was over.

Around 9:45 Rampage's line was blocked off from the GP and only event attendees were allowed on. The ride ops were very enthusiastic about us being there and a lot of the times they were the start of the various cheers and applause that erupted from time to time. Rampage at night is something that can only be experienced. Words can't describe the insaine, out-of-control feeling that you get while riding at night. Once the lift hill lights were turned off pure coaster bliss at its finest was sure to follow. After meeting back up with Ed and his group of Git-R-Done guys, it was a 3 hour riding fest.

After riding over and over again, you realize that Rampage is a very physical coaster at night that requires a lot of your energy to ride. After being up for almost 16 hours and still having to face a 2 hour drive home, we called it quits at midnight. We said our good-byes and me and my better half were off. We stopped by a convience store on the way out to fill up on those necessary trip items when you are dead tired. Red Bull and chocolate.

All in all Rip Roarin' Rampage was a tremendous success I thought. After being fried crisy in the hot Alabama sun, made to look like a complete idiot with a life vest in the wave pool, and getting "mooshed" during a few rides at night it was time to call it a day. If you missed the event.. WHY? This is a must do event for anyone who is a fan of wooden coasters! I highly suggest you get yourself down to the little park that could and find out what you've been missing. Thanks to everyone who made the day a memorable one!

~josh & brandi

..editted for spelling..

*** Edited 6/6/2005 12:00:56 PM UTC by Rampage***

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Sunday, June 5, 2005 6:46 PM
Strange the the GM would tell you that the lightning train had just been brought back from its overhaul the day before. That train was on the track last weekend. They seem to lie a lot at that park. This isn't the first time I've heard of them lying about something like that. I don't understand it.
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Sunday, June 5, 2005 8:04 PM
I have to agree w/ Rampage. The ride was out of control last night. Not only did I have air time, but I had ejector air toward the finale. At 6'3 and 200 pounds, I don't find many rides that I feel ejector air. I heard many great compliments about the coaster and hope that everyone that loves a great wooy can visit VL. I got a chance last night to meet two fellow Buzzers-Mamoosh and Gator. *** Edited 6/6/2005 12:05:43 AM UTC by Steve Perry***
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Monday, June 6, 2005 12:52 AM
Glad to hear the weather cooperated. Night rides on Rampage are otherworldly!
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Monday, June 6, 2005 1:48 AM
Glad you had a great time, Josh. Sorry you had to spend it with Ed, though ;).

Actually, I think now that he is trying to Break the Habit, other Breakage isn't happening, obviously. I say we put the legend to rest ;).

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Monday, June 6, 2005 3:17 AM
Rampage was running freaking ridiculous last night. This was my third year at the event and it just gets better and better each visit. Like Steve said, this year the finale was delivering air like I've never felt before. The coaster is very physical as well, as can be seen by how quickly 2 trains worth of people can be widdled down to a half train's worth by the end of the night. Kim and I parked it in seat 7 after the drawing (I love my new Rampage wheel ;)) and didn't stand up again until the event was over at around 1 am. Like you said, if anyone out there is a lover of wood, they need to get to this event at some point. It's probably the single best wood ERT going on out there right now.
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Monday, June 6, 2005 11:36 AM

TeknoScorpion said:
Actually, I think now that he is trying to Break the Habit, other Breakage isn't happening, obviously. I say we put the legend to rest ;).

Clint didn't hear about the breakage on the Zierer Wave Swinger I take it? ;)

Rampage IS "that good". Daytime rides showed the potential, nighttime rides fulfilled the promise. How come I hadn't been to RRR before?

It was great meeting alot of other "Southerners" on home turf for a change, LOL! :)

Josh, Brandi, you guys ROCK! Thanks for writing up the report, saves me time for getting this *insane* TR underway...

Many thanks to V-Land and to all the employees involved, the enthusiasm of the mgt. and the ops made for a truly special event! :)

Next up: Carolina Coaster Classic anyone? :)

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Monday, June 6, 2005 7:00 PM
Thanks for writing up the report, saves me time for getting this *insane* TR underway...

Likewise...I'll just piggyback on Josh...hee hee hee ;)

Visionland was doomed before anyone in my group entered the park. We'd been to Dollywood earlier in the week...that's like asking a unknown stand-up comic to take the stage after Robin Williams had the crowd rolling in the isles: a very tough act to follow, indeed.

While I'm glad to see the park open after some tough years there are some definite problems they need to overcome. The worst offender being disgustingly dirty bathrooms and overflowing trashcans.

According to Dawnmarie the woman's room in the kids area had a diaper changing table but no trashcan, so soiled diapers were just stacked on the sink counter. Ewww! Someone thought it would be a funny idea to wipe fecal matter on the stall walls in the men's room by the main gate, creating quite a stench in the hot humid weather. And trash cans around the park overflowed with trash, including the one at the front gate...what a first impression that makes! If the park doesn't take pride in how it looks and presents itself the guests won't either.

At the end of the shopping area where the entrance to the water and amusement parks are is a water feature, yet the concrete was cracked and chipped and many of the jets did not work.

Another thing that shocked me was the choice of music being played at the park's Music Express [Himilaya] ride...definitely NOT family-friendly lyrics including one song that had the word "sh!t" repeated over and over. Ironically most of the riders, including yuong kids, were singing along but I saw many parents with "WTF?" looks as they walked by and heard that.

I could go on but enough of the bad...let's move on to the three positive things I found at the park:

1] Ops were generally friendly and upbeat.

2] The Wave Swinger is ran on a "German Fair" mode...that thing was wicked fast! Special shout out to Ed for our off-balance ride that e-stopped shortly after we began. That was quite freaky!

3] Rampage, despite the wheel on the last car with the flat spot, was running in Insane Mode [tm] during ERT and was providing excellent pops of air all over the train. The ending was especially out of control. My only real complaint is that the hill after the first turn -- aka the Ted Ansley hill -- isn't 10 feet lower. It could produce a nice pop of air but it does absolutely nothing. But otherwise another great CCI product. I rode the entire 2+ hour ERT session.

Kudos to everyone who planned the event and to the park for allowing it to happen, it was great! Visionland is a park with great potential and I'd definitely return for another RRR event.

NOTE TO JOSH - the four of us [Bass, Flare, Loofy, and myself] were wearing "Git-R-Done" t-shirts but we never got a group photo. The one time we sat together Bradi was filming us. If I could get a still shot of us that would be swell ;)

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Monday, June 6, 2005 7:26 PM
Brandi said she'll see what she can do Moosh! Gotta get all that video put on the computer anyways. It'll be a tad small, but that's all we got!

~josh

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Monday, June 6, 2005 10:19 PM
Thanks, Josh...anything is better than nothing ;)
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