Part 2 – Second day at KBF and Viva Las Vegas (2/7/03)
I woke up at around 8:00am. After a quick shower, I watched Jeff play a few games of Simpson’s Road Rage on PS2. From the look in his eyes while he was playing, there is no doubt in my mind that he is addicted to that system now. See, I told you so Jeff! =:^) Now all you have to do is get an Xbox like I did two days ago.
We left Jeff’s pad around 9:00am and got a quick bite to eat at a place called Norm’s. The breakfast I had was quite good. Jeff somehow ended up dripping egg yolk on his black shirt. This would provide some laughter later in the day. After our quick breakfast, we headed towards Knott’s. As we were passing the Anaheim stadium, Jeff noticed a HUGE black pick-up truck riding our rear. He quickly got out of the way of the near-tank vehicle. As we came to a stop light, Jeff takes a good look at the all black truck, which was now sitting in front of us, and realizes that the person driving the truck is his brother-in -law. Jeff then picked up his cell and called the man in the truck.
I found this whole thing quite funny. I mean, here we were, in the LA area. An area that is pretty large in size and Jeff ends up almost getting run over by his brother-in-law. I have no idea what make or model the truck was, but it was easily the largest pick-up I have ever seen. Once we were at Knott’s I purchased another ticket, thanks to a half-off discount coupon that Jeff had, and waited for a friend to show up.
Jeff took this time to get his season pass. While he was in getting it processed, Miles Ketchum showed up. Miles was also on my coach for the Europe tour we did last year, and was in the group of people I hung out with at Europa Park, That was easily one of the most fun times I have had at a park. We must have ridden Euro-Mir 8 times that day. This was the first time I saw Miles since the sad ending of the tour last year so it was cool to get to hang out with him again.
Once inside the park, we met back up with Jeff who now somehow had egg on his jeans and shoes. We noticed that there was a sign out front stating that Xcelerator was to have a delayed opening, so we decided to give Ghostrider a ride. This time, Jeff and I rode in the front car. Call me crazy, but I think the second half of the ride (minus the drop), feels more wicked while riding in the front. I know a lot of enthusiasts who claim the back car to be the only seat that matters on that ride, but I actually like the front as well.
Once we rode, we left and I attempted to play some more DDR on the same machine I fell off the day before. I did much better this time. Since we hadn’t seen Xcelerator test, we took the time to walk around and ride whatever we could. We got a double ride on Supreme Scream and took a quick ride on Jaguar as well. Supreme Scream ended up surprising me as usual. The view from the top is spectacular. I could easily see downtown LA. Jeff and Miles pointed out the beach, which was very far away, but you could tell where it was.
It was pretty chilly out, but not freezing. Jeff and Miles thought differently and I was surprised to hear that they wanted to ride the log ride. This log ride is one of the best I have ridden. It provides a nice, long ride with excellent theming. I love triggering those “S-s-s-s-s-sit down” sensors. We triggerd quite a few of those during the ride. We also learned as our ride came to an end that Knott’s now takes two photos of riders during the ride. One is located on the final drop, while the other is located at the very end of the ride. At first, this seemed to be pretty odd, but at least you get a choice of two pictures if you wanted to purchase one.
Xcelerator still wasn’t testing so we walked around some more, checking out some of the deconstruction going around the park. The Tampico Tumbler (sp?) was totally gone, as was the Falling Star. I guess a new flat ride is going to be installed in this area. Rumor has it that it will be a Huss Frisbee. It’s a shame that Knott’s took out those two rides as I know many people like them, but if they were a maintence nightmare, then I fully understand. As we were riding the Wave Swinger, we got a good look at the deconstruction as well a look at the second train of Xcelerator sitting underneath the ride in pieces. The trains on Xcelerator are very sharp looking.
We walked over to the station area and asked an employee what the status was on opening. It didn’t look good. Jeff, Miles, and I took this time to go get milkshakes at the nearby Coasters diner. The inside looked exactly like the one that is at Cedar Point. There was even a picture of Mean Streak on the wall.
Since there wasn’t anything else I wanted to ride at this time besides Monty, which was closed, I sat down with the other two guys and just waited for some activity to appear. Jeff and I had to catch a flight at 4:00pm so we decided the latest we wanted to stay at Knott’s was 1:00pm. As luck would have it, Xcelerator never opened, so I didn’t get my ride. I was thinking of coming back out in August to give it another try but now that I think about it, it probably is my best interest to wait a couple more years before trying to ride it again so the park can hopefully work out the nasty bugs it has. I don’t know if the blame should be pointed at Intamin or Knott’s, but I know for a fact the park can’t be too happy with this machine. Time to leave.
Jeff and I said goodbye to Miles and departed the area. We arrived in Ontario at around 2:30pm and made our way into the airport. Jeff got extra searched through security thanks to the belt he was wearing. I somehow managed to walk thorugh with no problem at all. Considering the camrera equipment I was carrying, I thought I would get extra searched as well but it didn’t happen.
The flight to Las Vegas was very full. Jeff and I asked to be put on the “bump” list so we could get comped. There are a lot of flights going to Las Vegas from Ontario so we didn’t mind to wait another hour for the next one. However, we didn’t’ get bumped this time. We ended up being in Group B once again. Jeff wanted a window seat as did I, so we both decided to sit in different rows. Not only does a window seat provide the view, but I have found out after flying quite a bit that the actual window framing can make for a good place to rest my head, as uncomfortable as that may seem.
The flight took less than an hour so I didn’t exactly fall asleep. In my row were two men who were very anxious to get to a casino, although, I couldn’t tell that from the way they exited the plane. I was sitting in the back of the plane, where Jeff was probably 10 rows in front of me. It took a good 10 minutes to just walk down the, now cleared, isle because the two men decided to stop and chat with every single flight attendant. I consider myself a paitent person, but that was really testing me.
Once I met up with Jeff, he told me he needed to go smoke. He loves to smoke. He loves to gamble. He loves to smoke and gamble at the same time while in the Las Vegas airport. Not being a fan of smoke, I decided to meet him down at the rental car desk. I waited for about 10 minutes before I got a call from him. He told me he put in a $5 bill into one of the machines, and won $250!!! He emptied the machine and had to wait for an attendant to fill the machine up so he could get his dough. Not bad.
Jeff then showed up at the rental car booth and told me the Stratosphere Tower was on him tonight. I had no problem with that. We took a shuttle to our rental car place and quickly got into our new Silver Neon. We were to meet back up with Sean Winder who just happened to be in Las Vegas the same time we were going to be. Sean said he would meet us at the Stratosphere.
By this time, it was dark out and I could clearly see the Big Shot lights up on the tower. The only thing was, I didn’t see the Big Shot running. I stared at the top of that tower for most of the drive up to it, but I never saw it running. This didn’t look good. The last time I spent some time in Vegas was 2 years ago. I did ride the High Roller while up there, but the Big Shot was down the entire time for maintence. Was I going to be able to finally ride this tower?
Jeff has this new thing for valet parking so we took advantage of it. He said it was cheap and easy. Once inside the Stratosphere casino, we walked around a bit looking for Sean. Sean was at the complete other end of the casino so we walked down the inside mall area until we met up. Sean seemed very happy about something. Jeff told him about his big winnings at the airport. Sean then tells us that he won $860 on Blackjack so the Stratosphere was on him this night. I had no problem with that, and neither did Jeff.
We made sure the rides were listed as open before we purchased our tickets. After we purchased our tickets and walked away from the ticket area, I noticed something very cool. There was a small booth set up at the top of the stairs underneath the Eiffel Tower façade near the ticketing area. The booth was for a company called Crystalix. The company specialzes in putting 3-D imagines inside a crystal cube. They had some of their work on display and it was amazing looking. I am a huge fan of anything 3-D. Movies, holograms, comics, games. Pretty much anything 3-D. To see an actual 3-D image of a person’s face inside a glass cube amazed the heck out of me.
I asked the man behind the booth how much it was to have one done. He told me around $50 for the smallest cube. He also explained how it was done. Basically a 3-D scan is done of someone’s face, and then lasers project a focal point inside the cube and heat up tiny sections of it, creating very small bubbles. The whole process can be done in 15 minutes. I was very interested in this and almost decided to purchase one, but I declined. Maybe later.
We made our way over to the Stratosphere enterance. Since the last time I was here, I could tell they obviously beefed up security. We had to walk through a metal detector and have any belongings we had, searched. I had no problem with this and I appreciated the fact that they do this now. We quickly made our way to the elevators, and in a matter of seconds (36 seconds to be exact), were at the top of the tower, 108 floors above the Vegas strip.
I always love being up in the tower. Jeff, however, isn’t a large fan of heights and didn’t care for it a couple of years ago. He has gotten used to it now and doesn’t mind it that much, but he still hadn’t ridden the Big Shot. We decided to ride High Roller first, to “save the best for last” as the tower employees told us. I actually like riding the coaster at night. It seems to go faster and the view is spectactular. During the day, it isn’t as scary IMO. There really isn’t much to the coaster but it is neat to be that high up in the sky while riding.
After our ride, we took a quick walk on the outside platform. Sean and I found the small rig used for bungy jumping. We asked a few people about it but couldn’t’ really get a solid answer as to if they still do the bungy or not. If they did, and the price was a LOT cheaper than the rumored $1,500, I would do it in a heartbeat. Talk about your rushes! We still had one more thing to do on the tower, and I know that Jeff was semi-dreading it. I actually had butterflies because this was going to be my first ride on what some enthusiasts call, the scariest ride in the world.
---The Big Shot---
We walked up the stairs to Big Shot and realized the reason why the tower wasn’t running. There wasn’t anyone riding it. They were waiting for people. Jeff, Sean and I quickly took our seat and prepared for what was to happen. Sean had ridden this before so he wasn’t as nervous, but I will admit, as we slowly rose to get weighed, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was supposed to be one of the best Mark I S&S Space Shots. The Mark I space shots are a bit different than those found around parks now. For one thing, the red tube in the middle doesn’t go all the way up. Neither do the pulleys. The vehicle however does go above the pulleys and the tube, resulting in some violent airtime at the top.
After a quick countdown, we were blasted up the tower.
“WOW! Check this out! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOA! Floatage! WHAAAAOO! Double floagage!”
What a ride! I was VERY impressed with my first ride on Big Shot. It wasn’t exactly as scary as I was led to believe, but it was more thrilling. Does that make sense? I was really surprised at the fact that you get two moments of airtime as the vehicle bounces. It felt similar to an S&S Double Shot. When you are at the top of the tower, you can’t even see the foundation below you. Just the view of the surrounding Vegas area. Because we were so high as it was, I really couldn’t tell a difference in actual ground perspective as we were blasted up. It felt more like we stayed put as the tower dropped from below us. It was quite an illusion. I needed to do this again.
We quickly walked down the steps and paid $3 for a re-ride ticket. As we were waking back up the steps on the other side to ride again, we noticed a helicopter heading right for us. We all just kind of stopped and watched as the helicopter came within about 100 feet of us, buzzing the tower. It was actually scary looking, but very cool at the same time. While we were sitting on the ride getting our harness checked, the same chopper did the same thing two more times. It was very strange to see.
For our second ride, there were only 6 of us on the tower. We could tell a big difference as we floated out of our seats for a longer period of time, and the second float period was more pronounced. After our second ride, Sean and I purchased another re-ride ticket while Jeff decided to sit out. Our third ride was diferent from the first two as it was fully loaded. This time, we got the nice air at the top, but nothing on the second bounce. After our third ride, we decided to stop riding.
I could have easily ridden this thing all day if I was allowed to. It has, by far, the most impressive view I have ever seen while riding. I needed to come back and ride this the next time I was in town, which was going to be in a couple of days. I was hoping time would permit it.
Before we left the top of the tower, I had to find a restroom. The restrooms on the inside portion of the top of the tower are kind of hidden, just like a few other things. Once I found what I was looking for, I went in. The bathroom was pretty quiet, so I got a big kick out of feeling the whole structure move and rumble as High Roller was running. You really don’t notice it as much when walking around because there is music playing and people talking. The bathroom was pretty silent so the rumbling was enhanced.
Once back down on the bottom floor, we decided to walk down the street to the Sahara and give Speed a few rides. As we were walking through the mall section of the Stratosphere, we passed by an arcade. There was a DDR machine sitting off to the side. I decided to give it a play. I also saw a DDR 3rd Mix machine as soon as we exited the elevators, but it wasn’t working. The machine I played was a DDR 6th Mix (2nd machine of the trip….not counting the broken one). I hadn’t played an actual 6th Mix machine before. Yea, I know. The PS2 DDR Max is essitially a 6th Mix version, but I had never played it in the arcade. After one game, it was time to move on.
We walked down the street towards Speed. Once inside, we quickly purchased our $11 all-day wristbands, and got in line. Being this was the only Premier Rides coaster in the country that hasn’t gotten retrofitted
with the cool lap bar setup, I was interested to see how this coaster would feel. The last time I had ridden it,
it was probably one of the smoothest coasters I had ridden.
The launch was as intense as I remember as was the ultra-tight overbanked turn exiting the tunnel. The train flew through the loop and we rapidly passed throught the second LIM section before making a couple of curves and heading up the 200-foot tower. The flotage on this tower was very nice. We then made our way back to the station in reverse. While the coaster does seem a tad more violent, I still love it. This is probably my favorite coaster in the Vegas area.
After a few more rides, I decided to go play, (yes, another one), a DDR machine right near the entrance of Speed. This time it was a 7th Mix machine (3rd machine on the trip) so I was more familiar with the songs as I have played this version a lot. A girl that was playing before me asked it she could practice on the pad next to me. She has just gotten bitten by the DDR bug and wanted to learn more. I am not the best DDR player by a long shot, but I do play much better than when I first started. She asked me for some tips and I had no problem helping her out. It was quite fun.
I met back up with Jeff and Sean for a couple last rides on Speed. Jeff and I decided to wait for the front. While we were waiting, Jeff decided to “clear the area” and did so rather quickly. I about lost it when a girl in front of us got out of the way very rapidly. It was so bad, but I was tired and started to get slap happy so I was laughing about every little thing. Yea, it might have been tacky to mention Jeff’s “talent”, but it was pretty funny.
After our rides, we decided to head back to Stratosphere and leave for our hotel. We decided that Speed was rougher in the back half of the train than the front. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t tell the differrnce, but this time it was noticeable. Let’s hope they go to lap bars someday as I think it will make that already incredible ride loads better.
Sean had to leave us at the Stratosphere to get back to his girlfriend, who was with some of her other friends. Jeff and I left the Vegas strip and took the 20 minute drive to the Suncoast hotel. This hotel is fairly large and is perfect for those that don’t want to stay on the strip. I have no problems staying on the strip, but for the price Jeff got this room, it was well worth staying at the Suncoast. It was a very nice hotel, complete with a large casino. The room itself was one of the largest rooms I have ever stayed it. It had some nice features. Heck, it even had a phone next to the toilet.
Jeff went down to the casino to play some more slots, while I stayed in the room watching TV. This was the day that President Bush moved up the Terror Warning Signal to orange. On the local news, there was a story about this and a list of places where people should pay special attention to, or possibly avoid all together. The top three on the list were:
3. Amusement parks
Oh, how nice. I have done the top three in one day. Funny thing is, I wasn’t the least bit concered and it didn’t even cross my mind. As I continued watching TV, I got a call from a friend that lives in the area, Fred Biedermann. Anytime I am in Vegas, I usually meet up with Fred and we ride coasters. He is a cool guy to hang out with. Due to the nature of this trip, and Fred’s work scheadule we didn’t get time to hang out with Fred. So, he decided to pay us a visit at our hotel once he got off work. While he wasn’t able to stay long, it was cool getting to talk with him a bit. I am sure I will run into him at Stark Raven Mad or some other event soon.
By this time I was very tired again. Tomorrow was another travel day. I was able to get more than 5 hours sleep this night so I knew I would be plenty rested to start the next day.
Next up……. Castles and Coasters
Thanks for reading,
*** This post was edited by Sean F. 2/19/2003 2:03:51 AM ***
Just to back up your experience with Xcelerator, I've been to Knott's 5 times in the last month and a half. I've ridden Xcelerator a total of twice! It's too bad you weren't able to catch it, it's a pretty cool ride. Hopefully Dragster won't be as moody.
*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN 2/19/2003 7:39:31 AM ***
I never "got" what's so great about Big Shot. I have never been a fan of the S&S rides, and Big Shot didn't do it for me either. I loved going up in the tower, though. I could look off of high things all day. ;)
You know there's a DDR 6th mix at the Putt-Putt on Refugee Road. It has some great songs but the total number of songs is quite low.
A day is a drop of water in the ocean of eternity. A week is seven drops.
Thanks. I like the travel aspect of going to parks almost as much as being in the park so that is why I mention the traveling also.
Yes, I would consider you lucky. At least I tried. Now I learned not to visit for a while until things are doing better.
Thanks again dude. Nope, as Josh pointed out, I still have a couple reports left. It took me about 45 minutes to write this one.
Too bad you didnt' care much for Big Shot. While I do like the S&S towers, I have ridden a few that didnt' do it for me either. THat is why I was so surprised at Big Shot. I thought it was going to be overhyped but it really wasn't.
Thanks for the info about the 6th Mix. I just passed that place the other day and I should have stopped and played.
I just heard they have a place, here in Columbus, right down the street from where that 6th Mix machine is. I have a feeling they are going to be very popular soon.
*** This post was edited by Sean F. 2/19/2003 2:24:11 PM ***
Also did you not ride Perilous Plunge, our group managed it the once, and it was awesome, but a shame about the restraints
anyway great TR, I loved reading your European TR's and these are just as good :)
*** This post was edited by PaulD 2/27/2003 7:42:56 AM ***
Sorry to hear you didnt ride XCellerator Sean :( when I went on the ECC California trip, we were due to ride XCellerator but it didnt open on the day we went and was delayed by 2-3 weeks, we were treated to Xcellerator testing show, so at least we saw it run, but its a shame, we never rode it.
As it turns out, I will be getting my second chance (or is that the third?) on March 31st. Wish me luck!
Also did you not ride Perilous Plunge, our group managed it the once, and it was awesome, but a shame about the restraints
I have never ridden Plunge but I rode the near-same version at Oakwood with the lap bar restraints. That was freaky!
anyway great TR, I loved reading your European TR's and these are just as good :)
P.S. The trip on March 31st has been canned. =:^(
I plan on going back out in late April
*** This post was edited by Sean F. 3/1/2003 11:31:32 PM ***
You must be logged in to post