With getting married, and having all that sort of stuff on my plate at the time, I had to keep an Astroworld trip in the back of my mind until I wasn't so busy, so after things were more relaxed, I was able to sit down and seriously look at what I wanted to do.
With my remaining vacation time, park schedules, the off-season, finances, airfares, and the wifes schedule, the only open weekend we could do would have been October 14th through 17th. Airfares were a differnet story because this allowed us to fly in and out of different airports. My wife, Carrie, being a travel agent, was able to look at fares that would be most cost-effective to us. It turned out to be a couple Hundred Dollars cheaper to do it this way:
So the plan set in stone was:
FRI: Fly into Houston, do Astroworld, drive a bit noth to Dallas
SAT: Continue driving North, Do SF over Texas, Drive South towards San Antonio
SUN: Drive to Sea World, then Drive to Fiesta Texas
MON: Fly Home
Friday, October 14th, 2005. 7:35AM
We were on our way to the runway from Columbus. With a quick Transfer down in Nashville, we were back on our way to Houston. We finally landed around 11:30, but with Texas, we gained an hour, so by the time we got our rental car, it was Noon. Astroworld would not open until 6:00pm.
An extra-long Wal-Mart trip to get a cheap foam cooler, and some snacks helped to kill the time, as well as a Super-Target Trip and a viewing of Tim Burtons Corpse Bride. Add lunch to that, and it was quickly going on 5:00. it was 5:30 by the time we arrived at the gate and with pass-in-hand, we anxiously waited for the gates to open.
I had always wondered what the format for transferring people from the parking lot, over the bridge, and through the park would be like. I never really knew, until I looked at older photos that the Freeway and footbridge had always been there. The vies of the park were wonderful. I got a few shots of the SLC and the Cyclone. The pathways to the gates were flooded with planters that looked very remanisic to that of what I have seen at Disney.
Passing a beautiful plaza, complete with fountain and palm trees, and a makeshift Graveyard for the Halloween event, we headed towards the gate. I was probally ten paces ahead of Carrie, but thats just how I get when it comes to a new park experience. Knowing that this is not very nice, I quickly returned to her side.
I had some private messages with Coasterbuzze's own MARKIEB, who was willing to give me a grand tour of the park. I thought that having someone as compassionate of parks as I am would be perfect to hang with for a bit, so when we met up, we had all kinds of great things to discuss. That made the next half-hour fly-by.
Friday, October 14th, 2005. 6:00PM CT
Astroworld was now open. With probally 300 or more so patrons entering the gates, I was ready to move as quicly as possible, I had a lot to see, but only about an hour left of Daylight to do so.
With a scan of my WYANDOT LAKE pass, we went in towards the main plaza, I loved the Disney-esque building designs. It had somewhat of a swiss-type theme, I wound up gathering a great shot of the skyride behind them. We took a left, being the credit whore i am, I wanted to snag a quick ride on Serial Thriller, their new for 1999 Vekoma SLC. On the way to the coaster, we passed through the Nottingham games area, the Medieval themeing was beautiful, I knew they had re-done a few of these games a couple years back, and had to appreciate them.
SERIAL THRILLER is of course an SLC, which i have been on many. as I crossed the RR tracks to the queue, I remarked to Mark (joking, of course) of how this would have been such a great spot for an Arrow Mine Train. I guess he didn't find that funny. What a shame that Excalibur was removed for THIS. It's too bad they didn't play the SLC in with the Medieval theme, the could have named it the "TOURTURE DEVICE" With two trains running, one empty, we waited a couple circuts. As the train accended up the lift I thought of how Mark had warned me that it wa s pretty bad. "Okay", I thought, "here we go". Down the curve...BAMM... over the bank...WHACK..... through the horseshoe...GRUNT... around to the corkscrews.... GGGRRRIINNNDDDD.... I don't think that other than T2, have I ever been on a worse SLC. I really like SLC's, but the thing tracked horribly, it rattled through the corks, and just made me unhappy. Thats done!
Mark suggested we take a loop on the Arrow Flume ride, The Bamboo Shoot. Im glad he did. This was a great Flume ride. Great scenery, good splash, the three of us squeezed into these little logs and had a great old time. Guess this great ride will be no more :(
Next was the MYAN MINDBENDER, a lush, jungle-themed queue in front of Myan ruin held a Wonderful Family Vekoma coaster inside. With similar trains as Disneyworlds Space Mountain, we rolled through the dark on a high speed, high banked adventure. Kinda like a Bayern Curve and Jet Star all wrapped into one. Plus, its in the dark!
By now the lights began to come on, and our next ride, The SERPENT was our next aventure. this was my first Arrow Mini Mine Train, so I was looking forward to it. I sure wish there were more of these around. Wonderful, roomy trains, simple lap bars, a great ride through the rocks and trees. the green spotlights really gave an eerie look, especially during this Fright Fest. I snapped a picture of Mark and Carrie from the lift on our second time around, What a great starter coaster!
Funny, just five minutes ago it had seemed so much lighter out, I guess the sun sets faster in Texas. I had to noticed the multi-colored string lights going acrossed the midways... what A nice touch! I would see this lighting effect at my other stops on this trip, but we don't have them in Ohio. I grabbed a pict of the non-operating SWAT with a Graveyard in front of it. I wasen't worried about not hitting this ride, I have a feeling it will be in New Jersy next year, anyway.
We next headed towards on of the more anticipated ride for me, the VIPER. It ain't pretty, could use a coat of paint, but Oh Boy did it run like a dream! From the curving first drop and WHOOSSSHHH through the tunnel, to the breaks at the end, I couldn't stop laughing! Whooooooo! I haven't had THAT much fun on a coaster in a long time. Very intense (but not painful), high speed, well-placed loop, and helixes galore! Man, Id take this home if I could. I was about to jump back in line for it... But... We had so much more to do... like the....
1984 Suspended Arrow Coaster, XLR-8. I always thought "Accelerator" would be a better name for it until i rode Iron Dragon, then I just figured XLR-8 would be just a similar-speed an d bumpy ride as ID. Boy, was i wrong. At about this time, i noticed the lines were starting to get a bit longer, so I figured I'd take a frontward ride on it. (Most of you know, this is the only Arrow suspended to have it tubs facing forward and backward) Mark suggested that I don't even bother trying it backwards, since it has made him ill before, and with that advice I wanted to try it frontwards, first. A slow approch onto the first lift, allowed me to get a good view of the park, but once we cleared that top, the damn thing wouldn't stop. Swaying left...right...left... right... the thing had so much power. Power like Top Gun. The second lift gave us a quick breather, and we were off again. Swoop in, swoop out, nearly making a colliosion with the columns, this was one of the better suspendeds I had ever been on! What A rush!
With darkness in almost full-force (about 7:15pm) we headed towards Greased Lightning, another ride I had been really looking forward to riding. Unfortuntaly it was closed, due to a very recent breakdown. Mark said, "don't worry, Im sure He'll be open again soon."
So, the coaster is refered to as "He".... Hmmmmm... perhaps it's a Texas thing, but I have always refered to coasters a Females, as well as cars... except the General Lee, KITT and the A-Team Van!
Going completely past the kiddie area, which I NEVER did see, we past Batman, which was also closed... GRRRRR... and Past the magnificant Carousel. Mark showed me the rarest piece on this mechanical work of art, a dragon-like fish thing. Very wierd, but cool. We both fear that this Carousel will be sold piece by piece, and never remain intact, I sure hope it does, it was phenominal. As I get older, I have found a new appreciation in Carousels.
Next was the T.O.G.O. (Try Once, Get Off) ULTRA TWISTER. I had heard good things about this as well, and after a 35 minute wait, the longest so far that night, we were aboard. Since Im tall, I had a bit of trouble fastening the seatbelt, but I finally got it. Mark sat behind us, pointing on neat things like the location of the old vertical lift, and proper places to brace yourself on the ride. (No, not the crotch). During our wait, he told me about the Alpine Sleighs that made the mountain next door to the ULTRA TWISTER it's home for so many years, that also sounded like a neat ride. U. T. is a neat ride, not incredibally comfortibale, mind you, but neat. With a cool near-vertical first drop, and the twists forward and backward, it is one of the more unusual rides I have ever been on.
Mark mentioned that he saw GREASED LIGHTING running again, but we had other fish to fry for right now....
It was now off to the TEXAS CYCLONE: THRILLS & CHILLS. We passed an Intiman Inverting Ship that was actually RUNNING... but I wouldn't ride it anyways... An incredibly expressive sign similar to those used at the Old New York Coney Island made the CYCLONE's entrance very visable, but after entering the queue, and taking one good look, Mark said, "One train, thats a hour wait" EEkkkk!
It was about this time that Mark would part ways with us, since he had to meet up with someone else. We thought that this would be a good time to not stand in line, but to grab some food from the car, and for Carrie to drop her camera, since it wouldn't take night pictures....
I had said to Mark a few times that night, "I Can't believe that this won't be here next year" I'm sure that annoyed him, but it was kinda weird, too. He had grown up with the park, this was his home away from home, and it was going to be gone.. soon.
I really feel for you, buddy.
40 minutes later... we were back in line for the Cyclone....
55 Minutes later, i was trying to get my bar down all the way. I had always had problems with Morgan trains, but with the ratcheting lap bar, I was able to fit all well and secure. Then we were off. Up, up, up the lift, I couldn't wait. The TEXAS CYCLONE is a great ride. quick first drop, wonderful curves, pretty reasonable laterals, and a non-stop ride. Wish it had PTC's. It moved so fast, and with a blur of head-chopper beams, I couldn't tell you what it really did... but WOW!!!!
Okay.. with Batman closed, It wa time to head back to GREASED LIGHTNING.
We went to make our ways towards the shuttle, but I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere so I was facing the entrance to BATMAN... which ironically had just opened... and only a handful of people knew about.... A quick trip on this interesting stand-up would give me a headache for the remainder of the night. The restraints on the ride are neat because the OTSR's are seperated. One side stays down, snd you put your arms through it, and the other part of the bar folds down towrds you, like all the other OSTR's. But still, after you leave the lift top, and finish the vertical loop, you are in for a curvey, painful ride. Im not a Stand-up fan anyway. The 15 minute wait was tolerabe, but Im not going to make an effort to ride this again.
Then it was on to GREASED LIGHTNING. As it was pitch black, we took a couple wrong turns, Iwasen't able to see much since it was dark, but we eventually hopped onto GREASED LIGHTNING, which I consider the best Anton Shuttle.... a powerful launch, tunnel, and NO braking on the reverse... PLUS a Smooth stop.... all great qualities of a great ride. What a great LAST ride of this park. GREASED LIGHTNING would be my 427th coaster to date.
The only rides I wanted to ride, but didn't were the Skyride and Train
We had to go. We had an hour at least to our hotel, the Next Day we were doing SFoT, and wanted an early start. I quietly said my goodbyes to a wonderful park, with wonderful rides and VERY GOOD, CARING employees. Yes, we had a very good experience there. Sure, CYCLONE could have had another train on, but oh well. I never did get a souveinier other than a bunch of park maps.... but I do have something that NO-ONE will ever take away....
Very Fond Memories of a Very Wonderful Park.
So thank you Sweet, Beautiful Astroworld, may your light shine in the Hearts of many and may the memories be held dear for years to come.
October 24th, 2005
*** Edited 10/25/2005 4:41:39 AM UTC by john peck***
Nothing you said made me bitter or sad! Don't even think that! I am glad you had a chance to see the park for yourself. I am gald to have met you! Maybe you can give me the Cedar tour one day!
Will you be there all weekend?
There is nothing better than hanging out at theme park with good people!
I have never been to the Texas parks (yet). Hopefully some of those rides and coasters will make their way back east. :-)
I have decided to not post any other trip reports on my Texas trip, though, I felt this one would be stand-out of the rest of the parks. (SFoT, SW, and SFFT) I just don't have the time.
A quick report of the following would be:
SFFT: B+ (Great Park, great day to be there... no lines)
Sea World: A- Very Nice Park. Whale Show could have been 5 minutes longer.
SFoT (In RCT lingo) :
"The scenery is nice here"
"I can't find the Entrance to Titan"
"Its too crowded here"
"Im not paying that much for a drink from Drink Stall 1"
"The music is nice here"
If I had done an extensive 4-Park Trip Report, it would have been called "Eighteen Flags and a Fish"
I guess they ran okay, I just never liked them!
I was very surprised of how well XLR8 ran... just one intense ride all the way that thing is...
Sorry about the Astroway, I was also disappointed how they ultimately only operated one day - Saturday the 29th.
Regarding the bridge. Yes that was a privately built bridge by Judge Hofheinz for the park. For the first twenty five years Astroworld had trams that shuttle you from the parking lot to the front gate, hence the large circular driveway by the front fountain.
As for SWAT, it's looking like if you want to ride that in North America you'll need to visit New England, not New Jersey next year.
Anyway, I really wanted to ride XLR8 backwards, but I thought that I should try it frontwards first, and then come back to it.
By the time we were ready for repeat rides that night, the place was packed and we were going on 21 hours without sleep and jet lag, so I was just happy to see what I could.
It was a poor day to go since it was only open a short time and with only an hour of daylight, but it was the best financial way. I guess I could have missed SFoT... and now I kinda wish I had, (considering how busy it was and how little we rode) to do a full-day at Astroworld, but at least I was there! What a great park!
Okay... so SWAT goes to Mass... I need to get back up there again, anyway.
There is something I regret, and always will.... We hit AW on a Friday night, as you can see, and it was dark within 2 hours of getting there. There are many things I didn't see nor couldn't see, and also while being a long day, we were totally tired.
With a trip to SFOT on Saturday. which was horribly crowded, it would have been so much better to do Astroworld a second day. I mean, I know I had no idea, but I feel bad I didn't get more rides on stuff.
Something else has been bothering me....
When Astroworld was open, there were negative trip reports upon negative trip reports. Many people here really seemed to hate the park. Now that it's gone, Im just hearing whine whine whine.
I mean, perhaps some of you should have treasured it more when it was open. True?
Seriously, most of Astroworlds problems weren't unique and the negative experiences were due to conditions common througout the Six Flags chain during this period. Things were also genuinely improving right up till the announcement the park would close.
At least you rode XLR8 period, that's looking like one of the rides headed to the scrap heap now. Greezed Lightnin' however seems to have scored a reprieve and is moving to Lubbock.
It's too bad there were negatives (but which park doesn't) I never saw anything bad when I was there.
I have been keeping up with the message boards on your site, FP. I was thrilled to see GL getting another chance.
Fierce Pancake said:
There's not another major park within 200 miles of Houston now, so it really smarts down here.
Er... spare a thought for those of us who have to travel to another country to find a park with more than one family coaster in it...
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