HWODTR: Holiday World Opening Day Trip Report

Thursday, May 11, 2006 6:01 PM
The following morphed into a ginormous report that I have found too large to proofread. Read and enjoy at your own risk.

Wednesday, July 13th will stick out more than many other days that I have declared myself a roller coaster enthusiast. On that day I was living out one of my recent dreams; I was a Cedar Point ride operator. Living at Cedar Point was like living in a different place, you were strangely set apart from the rest of the world. Sub-major news rarely got through between the long shifts and long nights. It was hard to keep up on the news of the amusement industry due to the small amount of time I spent on a computer. Even thought my online time was limited, I became aware of the news that Holiday World was finally going to announce what was going in amongst those trees to the North of the park.

That evening, after my shift, I secured a computer and was speechless. I watched the animated POV a few times and quickly relayed the news to my enthusiast roommates and coworkers. We all were in awe.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

I started entertaining the idea of taking a certain Saturday off and head over to my neighboring state to take a voyage for The Voyage. After a quick note to my boss, the plans were set.

Fast forward to Saturday.

Beth, my girlfriend, and I wisely planned to sleep in a little longer and hopefully arrive at the park around 11. That morning we stumbled around the house a bit, filled up at Kroger (which had some great soapy water to wash my windows with), and soon was on our way East.

Newly burnt tunes and a small stash of new magazines kept us entertained well past the 57/64 interchange. After that we let the tyPod take over the music and I kicked up the Tib to 80 miles per hour as the traffic on I64 was very weak.

Yes. You are right. I got pulled over.

Somewhere in the Wayne County I spotted an Illinois State Trooper on an overpass. I did the usually coast but knew it was way too late. Actually I didn’t know how late I was till I came around the bend and met the Troopers four friends. The trooper in the front of the pack was so happy to see me; he was flashing his lights at me. I was going so slow by this time that we barely made it .2 miles past the pack before I was parked on the side of the road, shutting the tyPod down, searching for the usually requirements, and counting the cash that I had dreamed of spending on funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

The confrontation with the officer was the most pleasant one I have ever had with a cop. He didn’t BS me. He stated that I was clocked at 80, was getting a ticket, and could deal with it via these certain ways. He made a little small talk after realizing I was living in Carbondale and going to SIUC, his alma mater. Once the cash was gone and he made sure I on the FBI’s Top 10 List, I slowly accelerated away and giggled at the two other chums that were hanging out with my officers friends. At least I wasn’t alone.

The irony of the situation is that prior to my run in I thought, “What good would it be for cops to patrol such a dead road? After realizing that everyone was speeding because of it, I deemed it an appropriate place to slow people like me down.

The rest of the drive was thankfully without incident.

Before we reached the Dale exit, we stopped a few exits West for a little relief, bottle of water, and a Pepsi can for Beth to get the sweet $7 discount. The BP we stopped at looked nice on the outside, but the inside held the distinct, heavy odor of deep fryers. I quickly spotted the menu hanging above the kitchen area. Chicken tenders, pizza rolls, fries, onions rings. It you could deep fry it, they had it. I’m all for deep frying, but place was in a great need for better ventilation. When we got back on the road I could still smell the place. Sure enough, the fatty residue had blanketed my body and was trapped in my shirt. Yum!

Eventually we made it to Dale and graciously gave to the gentlemen at the stop light of our left turn. He was a very kind man and thanked us and wished us a great day. Beth & I chomped on our Tootsie Rolls as we traversed the winding road of Highway 245.

The Tib pulled into the empty main lot right around 11 AM. I could see a decent amount of cars in the Legend lot, but determined the park wasn’t busy. I didn’t expect it to be crazy, but there was a slight bit of hype rolling around.

I had my CoasterBuzz Club Card ready to purchase my ticket but still inquired if I could use it to buy two. I suspected (and still do) that it wasn’t allowed, but the woman in the booth rang us up for the $23.95 price. I wasn’t going to complain.

We disposed of the Pepsi can and were welcomed with another smile and the soft sounds of Christmas. We veered right and relieved ourselves after the trip and refreshing A&W we had enjoyed post Wayne County. As I waited for Beth, I was disappointed to see their new fountain (I didn’t make it to the park last year.) without the pair of hands that were described. Nevertheless, the fountain looked nice.

It was our plan from the beginning to leave Thanksgiving till a little later in the day due to the perceived lines for The Voyage. We ended up being wrong about the length of the lines, but still followed the plan. During my last trip to Holiday World, my brother, Travis, & I decided to finally get our Howler credit. We amazingly got ourselves in the back car of a train full of kids no older than 8. It was a painful ride but was so much fun at the same time. Poor Beth didn’t have the credit yet, so I sucked it up and squeezed myself into the tiny car again. Only this time we split up.

Right before riding Beth & I had decided to play a little game called “Spot the Enthusiast.” The goal was to spot a roller coaster enthusiast. Additional points were given for fanny packs, patches, etc. It was a good way to pass the day. It started harmlessly and pretty even, but then I spotted a group of 10-15 from the RCCGB. It didn’t seem so fair anymore. We quickly dropped that game.

After passing Holidog, we progressed to the next highest coaster in Holiday Worlds arsenal, The Raven.

Raven was only one train, but the line was just inside the building. If it had been any longer I don’t know if I would have survived. We were stuck behind three younger guys and one of them had forgotten to shower or apply deodorant. Heck, maybe it was both. Bottom Line: He/they stunk.

When Beth & I reached the top of the stairs, a duo of Brits called out for a group of two to ride before them. We were up there in a flash and the coaster ran great, as usual. Every time I ride I can’t help but think of my first ride on The Raven back when I was a wee lad. It was either my first or second roller coaster (Screamin’ Eagle may have taken the honors.) and I was terrified of it. It seemed to be 200’ tall and go on forever. Saturday it seemed so small and short compared to that day 10ish years ago.

We then went next door to The Legend to find its line 2/3 the way down the stairs. Unfortunately we got paired up with another annoying group of queue-mates, the group of female pre-teens. They were crawling over everything, trying to get two guys behind us to cut ahead, and being their lovely squeaky selves. It was so funny that one woman leaned over and told Beth that we must have been really lucky to get a spot next to them in line.

Our first ride on The Legend was toward the front due to a shorter wait. Now, I love The Legend. Ok. I only love half of it. The first half is great, but I don’t care for the meandering and helix. I just don’t. However, the ride was running great. (Again, so surprise here.)

Tummies were now growling so we made our way from Halloween to 4th of July to dine at The Alamo, a Holiday World eatery I had skipped until then. The lines looked long but we thought, “How long can it take to get a pair of taco salads?” We should have asked, “How long will it take to get a pair of taco salads on opening day?” We waited in excess of 20 minutes for our food. The great thing about the wait was that everyone was really cool about it. Most chalked it up to opening day quirks. The food was a nice change of pace from the usual cold corn dog or soggy French fries.

For a change of pace we took a spin on Lewis & Clark Trail Antique Cars and browsed Liberty Bell Shoppe to pick up my 24 caret gold

With tummies full we headed down the hill towards Thanksgiving to snap some photos of The Voyage and see what else we could see. The path down was nicely landscaped with bricks and was wider than I had expected from media day pictures. Eventually the new path turns from asphalt to wood makes a jog right, then left behind Raging Rapids. Even though the backs of the “buildings” surrounding Raging Rapids were painted, it would be nice for them to half another “front” stuck to them so that it doesn’t look like the back of fake buildings. I suspect something to be done about that, especially if Thanksgiving is to become the new center of the park.
The very wide wooden path crosses right under The Voyage and takes you back to asphalt into the heart of Thanksgiving. The area was understandably covered in straw for an upcoming blanket of grass. I noticed a trio of trees planted in the area after the last tunnel and the brake run that will really help that dead area in the years to come.

The Voyage station is on your left and its gift shop is to its right. On the right of the path are another Pepsi Oasis, restrooms, and Gobbler Getaway. Further down on the left was the beginning of The Plymouth Rock Café. The area will really look nice. What I couldn’t help but notice about almost everything is how multi-leveled the area is. Both major rides have multiple floors in their station/building. You can see the proof all the work that had to have been done to build up this area.

As we let the taco salad do it’s thing, we took in the area with a handful of pictures from a few locations that I’m sure will become a staple among shutterbugs. Eventually we jumped in line for The Voyage. I was a little surprised by the lack of signage around the entrance. When you look around there really isn’t anywhere else the entrance would be, but it still seemed a little less noticeable than the awesome gates of Raven. The lines were short enough for us to bypass the queue downstairs, which also meant we didn’t get to see the viewing window, but I’ll give up that opportunity for shorter lines.

There was a lot of room to move around in the massive station. We choose the front of the second car for our first ride, again because it had a little line. As I waited for our train to come rolling in, I took in the transfer track that the coaster had. The Voyage has a very interesting set up that I hadn’t seen on any of the other coasters I had ridden. It has transfer tracks before and after the station with no transfer table. Basically, they are able to route the trains from the last set of brakes, through one of the two curved transfer tracks, and into their respected storage track bays. Then they use one of the front two transfer tracks to send the train to the lift. It really is a neat system.

Then we rode.

The path back up to 4th of July really is steep when you come all the… what? Oh? The ride? I guess I could say a little bit.

After a quick little dip to the lift hill, we were quickly ascending to the top. In fact, we were moving up there a little quicker than I had expected. As someone had mentioned, a look backwards yields great views of The Legend and of course Splashin’ Safari. As we crested the top and made our way back down I was reminded that The Voyage was/is the steepest wooden coaster drop out there. It was certainly nice to have forgotten something about the ride.

Everyone but one person has the layout at least generalized so I’ll split it up into its four parts. The first set of major hills was a lot of fun as we poked above and below the Indiana tree line. It’s only going to get better when those trees start growing over that skinny swath of bare land I didn’t notice an amazing amount of air in the front of the train.

Then we hit the hit the first tunnel full. Brrrr! Tunnels are great. I don’t need to reiterate that. After you make it out of that first tunnel, the surprises and gasps start to accumulate… rapidly! After the first tunnel, you are immediately thrust into another tunnel, even though your head tells you that you should be heading up another hill. Bam!, another tunnel. Then the chaotic turn around begins. I still couldn’t draw you a picture of what happened there. All I know is that it was fast and fun.

Towards the end of the turn around was my favorite part that I’m calling the “curvy-double-down.” That is the section that takes you into the tunnel before the mid-course brakes. In fact I dub it way more than the triple down, but I never road in the back seat.

The return back to the station is not as crazy as the turn around. It’s more. The speed picks up and you are sent careening down that hill, twisting through the “out” structure. As mentioned, there is a rough spot before the final 90° that is being taken care of this week.

Finally, the cross over the lift hill really marked my beginning to a huge finale consisting of two more tunnels, a few pops of air, and a brake run of smiling faces.

The ride is incredible. I’m sure I’m repeating the words of others when I say that it never lets up. As much as you read that, it really doesn’t register until you realize you’re picking up speed towards the end. As much as I love its older cousin way up North, this coaster delivers exactly what a coaster of its height should.

After one dose of Holiday World’s newness, we headed back up the hill for a spin on The Raven, a pass on Legend’s longer line, and a back down to Thanksgiving for a rear ride on The Voyage. I could notice a decent different between the front and back, but I really wanted to try a back seat ride. Unfortunately, it was the coveted seat of the day, holding the longest line.

On the way out of the park we stopped to visit Legend’s now empty line. The damn ride left me with a headache right before the helix, so the rest of the ride was spent fighting back that urge to vomit. It was really sudden. Maybe I had my head turned weird and something just got screwy in my ear. Dunnoh.

We then walked back through Christmas, pass the huge season pass line, and attempted to find my car in the practically empty parking lot. It was a lot harder than one might think.

The drive home wasn’t as quick as the drive there for obvious reasons. Once back in Carbondale we at a little Chinese and closed the chapter of May 6th.

Here are my pictures of the day. I also have a panoramic on my blog. Thanks for reading.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006 6:18 PM
Did you notice if there were any lockers near the voyage? Or, I guess a better question would be, what did you do with your camera while you were riding?
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Thursday, May 11, 2006 6:25 PM
I put it on the unload side shelves.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006 10:59 PM
^Ok, I'm sure thats pretty safe at holiday world, I would just be worried about getting my camera janked.
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Thursday, May 11, 2006 11:08 PM
3 years of doing the above and my Mavica is still by my side. *knocks on wood* ;)
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