KBF 1/3 - The Good, Bad, & Ugly

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Monday, January 6, 2003 12:46 PM

The day started out perfectly. It was an unseasonably warm 75* in Buena Park and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was to be another family affair. On hand was my sister Michelle [34] and her sons Sean [3] and Connor [5]; my other nephew Justin [12]; nieces Stephanie [10] and Ashley [12]; and my folks [aka Grandma and Grandpa - both 66].

A few days earlier I missed taking Connor on his first looping coaster, Revolution, because I was in line for X. Today he would see two more firsts: launching coaster [Montezooma] and woodie [Ghostrider] and I witnessed both first rides.

- Highlights -

The Good [noon – 3pm]

Elf Mountain [aka Timber Mountain Log Flume] – for the past 30 years the park has been retheming the flume for Scary Farm but this was the first year they rethemed it for the holidays, and IMO it’s a huge success. Each scene has been redecorated with elves and is accompanied by its own unique Christmas carol over the sound system. A hit with everyone but little Sean, who thought the music was a little too loud [and it was]. Still, I hope Elf Mountain is a new tradition for the park. I’d even like to see them retheme the Calico Mine Train for the holidays as well.

Xcelerator – 2 trains, walk on at 10:30am except for front car [15 min]. The crew on this ride continues to improve on each of my visits. Dispatches were about 60 seconds or less, the crew is friendly, and lap bars are fitted to be snug but not painful. I was the only seasoned rider in our group; newbies were sister Michelle, her daughter Ashley, my nephew Justin, and Grandpa. Grandpa and Justin were excited about their first ride while Michelle and Stephanie were excited but nervous about the launch. We rode in two groups: Michelle and Justin taking the front seat w/ me behind them, and Grandpa and Ashley taking the front seat of the next train. The coaster was a huge success with them all and we all agreed we’d re-ride later in the day. Had we known how the day would end up we would have taken our second ride immediately, but more on that later.

Jaguar – 2 trains, 30 min wait at 11:00am. Grandma took Sean into nearby Camp Snoopy while the rest of us took a ride on Jaguar. I was surprised by the length of the line and began to worry that this was a sign the park was going to be crowded. I would later learn that there were a lot of families at the park that day. Camp Snoopy was a zoo and that crowd spilled over to the family-friendly Jaguar. Connor & Michelle were the only virgins and Connor loved it, holding his hands up for most of the ride. I sat right in front of Connor and Michelle and as we passed thru Monty’s loop I was shocked to hear Connor ask his mom, “Can I go on that green one?”

Montezooma’s Revenge – 10 min wait at noon. I couldn’t believe Connor wanted to ride Monty. Even though he loved Revolution I didn’t think he fully understood the intensity of the launch and drop off the back spike. As we regrouped I sat him down and explained the experience to him and he still wanted to ride. Grandma and Grandpa [who normally would have ridden] took little Sean back to Camp Snoop to ride the trucks while the rest of us got in line for this Schwarzkopf gem. As Michelle, Justin, Ashley, Stephanie, Connor and I stood in line I realized that I the past 20 years I had accompanied each of them on their very first ride on Monty. As thrilled as I was to be continuing the tradition w/ Connor I was even more thrilled when he stated he wanted to take his first ride with me…IN THE BACK!

With six of us we queued for the last three rows, with Connor and I in the third-to-last row and the rest behind us. As the train was dispatched Connor closed his eyes and kept them closed. He was silent for the entire ride…I couldn’t tell from the look on his face if he was enjoying it or not. But all doubts would be erased as we exited the station and climbed down the stairs: “Hey Mom…can I go again?!?” I was grinning from ear-to-ear.

Ghostown Grill – with the major decline in food quality at Auntie Pasta’s the only place to find excellent food, excellent service, and excellent prices is at Ghostown Grill. Auntie Pasta’s, which used to offer tasty pizzas, pastas, and salads at great prices and friendly table service is now a serve-yourself buffet with stale, warmed-over food including Mac&Cheese that, mysteriously, has absolutely zero flavor what-so-ever.

Camp Snoopy – While the rest of the crew enjoyed taking Connor on reride after reride of Monty I took over babysitting 3-yr-old Sean. We enjoyed the Trucking Company, the Camp Bus, Timberline Twister, the mini steam train, and the uber-fun kiddie whip. Alone he rode the Red Baron. I pointed out the S&S Frog Hopper, Woodstock’s Air Mail, but he didn’t want to ride.

Ghostrider – 2 train op, 40 min wait at 2pm. Yet another crew improvement since my last visit, at least as far as I could tell. Ride ops were friendly and didn’t attempt to staple, although they did push down to check the lap bar rather than pull up. The ride is still performing in top form. The only newbies in our group were Michelle and Connor, and they both loved it. Connor wanted to ride again immediately but we had plans to meet Sean and Grandma in Camp Snoopy, so Grandpa promised Connor he’d take him later in the day but sadly it was not to happen [more below].

FYI we did not ride Boomerang, Perilous Plunge, or Hammerhead. All the other rides we rode were operating normally. The only ride closed was the Gran Slammer [Chance Falling Star].

The Bad & The Ugly [3pm – 7pm park closing]

In the mid-afternoon what started as a perfect day turned into a nightmare. There were three major problems:

1] Inconsistencies in height policy & measuring.

Connor, having just been to the doctor, measures 48.5 inches. Jaguar, Monty, and Ghostrider have a 48” height requirement yet when ride ops measured him at all three attractions he did not measure up to the height indicator the same. Ride ops also measured him at SFMM and was fouind to be just over the 48" requirement. The odd inconsistencies at Knotts did not prevent him from riding until Grandpa took him for a second ride on Ghostrider later in the afternoon while I was w/ Sean in Camp Snoopy. After climbing into seat 1:2 a ride op indicated he needed to measure Connor. He stood him against the sign near the front of the train and he determined he was not tall enough to ride. Connor burst into tears as Grandpa took him down the exit. I realize it is a ride op’s job to enforce the rules and ensure rider safety but earlier I witnessed Connor being measured against the sign near the rear of the train and he was clearly over the required height.

2] Xcelerator continues to experience major downtime.

Stephanie, who didn’t want to ride Xcelerator until she heard the review from her sister, decided she would ride when we got back to the ride just before 3pm. It was about a 20-minute wait for the rear of the train. After waiting for 10 minutes, it was announced that the ride was experiencing technical difficulties. 45 minutes later we finally gave up and left to ride something else until the coaster reopened.

It never did.

I’ve visited Knotts about once per month since Xcelerator opened and the ride has shut down due to computer problems each time. Usually it reopens after about a 30-minute delay but this marked the third occasion that the coaster would remain closed for the rest of the day. According to people I know at the park this is a major ongoing problem…Cedar Point beware!

3] Three other major rides closed, one with riders stranded.

By the we left Xcelerator in search of something else to ride the park’s three water rides had closed: Timber Mountain Log Flume, Bigfoot Rapids, and most seriously Perilous Plunge.

In addition to the harnesses the park now slows the lift to a near stop when the boat reached the top, reducing the speed at which it navigates the U-turn leading up to the drop [as well as the negative g’s as the boat goes over the drop]. Well on Friday the train didn’t have enough speed and stopped on the turn just short of the drop. At 6pm, when we returned to check on Xcelerator, the boat and its passengers were still stranded there.

Even though there was an hour left until closing we decided to call it a day and find a restaurant outside the park for dinner. I had planned on lodging a complaint about the height inconsistencies as we left the park but the Guest Relation’s office was packed with guests. The two employees staffing the office looked overwhelmed, so I decided to write a letter instead.

With Winter Solace less than three months away I was really hoping to report on better conditions. At least conditions at Ghostrider and Xcelerator [when its running] have not deteriorated. I can only hope that the day I experienced was an anomaly. I will be returning to the park later in January and have my finger’s crossed that I’ll find the park in better shape.

Moosh


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Monday, January 6, 2003 2:07 PM

Glad to hear things went well, until 3.

I'm not very happy to hear that Xcelerator went down, only to not reopen.

I'm flying 3000 miles to go to KBF and SFMM in 1½ weeks; i'd hate to see that Xcelerator has these kinds of problems.

Good TR, except for the negative stuff.

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Monday, January 6, 2003 2:17 PM

SFGAdv lover - despite Xcelerator's problems I have been able to ride it on each visit, but the ride has gone down in the mid-afternoon consistently. My suggestion: get to the ride at opening and ride the front seat. Then reride in other seats until your heart is content and move on to other rides. Should it have problems you haven't missed out, and if not you can go back and ride it even more later.

Moosh

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Sig under construction!

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Monday, January 6, 2003 2:24 PM
Height inconsistencies always seem to be a problem when the kids are right around the proper height. I know I have dealt with a lot of them where I work. Sometimes the heights could be a little off or one operator is more strict than the other. But the only consolation I can offer people is that the kids grow and the problem will go away, but it still sucks, especially if they pay adult price for a 48 inch ticket and the operator says they aren't 48 inches tall, those are the worst.

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J.
Rap on a table, it's time to respond, send us a message from somewhere beyond.

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Monday, January 6, 2003 2:28 PM

J - please understand that I was not bashing the ride ops. They have a tough job and rider safety is one of their top concerns. What was irksome to me is that on some of the 48" signs he was at least 1 inch over the line while on others he was at or slightly undert he line.

I wish the park would adopt the Legoland idea: measure the kids at entry and give them a wristband or handstamp color coded to indicate their height.

Moosh

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Monday, January 6, 2003 2:42 PM
Yeah Moosh, that is odd that they dont have a one-time measurement option when you pay to get in. Not only does this offer piece of mind for everyone, it also relieves the ride-ops with having to make a difficult decision if the child is right at the height requirement.

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2 superheroes in Gurnee next season? Oh the humanity. :)

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 6:41 AM

I think Disney now does laser measurements (or one of the parks does) and I'd like to see all parks do this. We had a similar experience this past Saturday at the Magic Kingdom where my Godson has ridden Alien Encounter in the past but was not permitted to ride this time. That can be pretty upsetting to a kid and makes the rest of the day difficult for everyone else.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 7:20 AM

Great report, Moosh... I'm coming to Cali in April for a week of SFMM and KBF. Kinda nice to see a "real world" report on what's going on at the parks as opposed to the official sights where everything is always perfect and the sun is always shining. Being from NY, I have NO IDEA what to expect at these parks other than some amazing coasters. Keep the reports coming, I love reading them...

PS- Just picked up RollerCoasterTycoon2 and I'm already addicted.

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"You think you know me..."

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 2:19 PM

When we went to KBF, 3 Oct, Xcelertor didnt open until after lunch (12:30) but ran fine up to 3pm.

My Brother and I managed to ride ALL seats clocking over a dozen rides (10 min waittime max). The Back is the best by far!

Love your report as Im always keen for good reports on food locations. Too bad about the ride heights, it will be something I will have to consider when we visit during Easter.

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If Lifes a Rollercoaster, I want a Flawless

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 2:37 PM
Another fine Trip Report. And the the fact you knew when to back off the staff at Guest Relations shows a lot of class. A letter will probably be more effective anyway.

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Without the chaindog, you'd never get up the lifthill...

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 3:16 PM

Guest Relations is a JUNGLE in December (there had to have been more than 2 employees in there though, like 5, and managers brought in to help). There is a mob of people who wait in line to get the APs when they're on sale, more people reserving holiday dinners, and shopping passes for the holidays, the line can get all the way to the knotts christmas tree at times. still though, we waited in the humongous line last year, and the employees still treated us very nicely. write a letter, or an e-mail (they will not send you a "real" response via e-mail, just hours and ride operations and things of that matters). I have had much luck with the knotts guest relations. they have responded to every question i have had but one (strangely). i have also heard wonderful stories about the managers feeling sorry for upset visors, and mailing large gifts of knotts berry farm food products to their door. But then they don't do much about the stupid people who claim they only went on 2 rides during an EMPTY night of haunt (we were able to do all the haunt stuff):xcelerator and ghostrider. The couple waited at least 3 hours for each line, knowingly. knotts will make up for their mistakes, but they won't offer much more than "sorry" for their guests mistakes. it sounds like the main problems you had on your visit were knotts fault (but mostly Intamins Lol): stephanie not getting to ride xcelerator because it broke down, 3 other rides breaking down, and measuring inconsistencies from ride to ride. I'm sure they will offer you a very sincere apology, or maybe more.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 4:17 PM
Most parks, including Knott's, I'm sure, will officially measure your child and give them a wristband. This will solve any problem with inconsistencies. Just look for something like Park Operations on the map. I had to sit at entrance a lot this past summer, and I for one can say that children who look over 48 inches are not, and those that look under actually are over. It's really hard to tell sometimes, and if we aren't sure, we're told to not let them ride and to get an official measurement. However I think 90% of the people I told to get an official measurement did not listen to me and just stormed yelling obscenities and the ever popular, "Well she just rode Magnum..."

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Brent Haley
Cedar Point Gemini Crew '02

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 4:40 PM
I guess i was lucky because when we went to Knott's in early Dec. we had few troubles at all. Xcelerator opened a hour lat but ran the rest of the day and was a walk on except for the front row and i got mutiple re-rides, what a great ride!!! The only thing that was bad was that GR only had one train operation and the staff was slow in loading/unloading!!! Other than that everything was great and really enjoyed the x-mas shows they put on and how they decorated Ghost Town for x-mas!!!
Great trip report!!

*** This post was edited by Bob O on 1/7/2003. ***

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Tuesday, January 7, 2003 6:37 PM

My tips to stay happy at disney:

-Don't go expecting another DLR. If you do you can pre read your trip report on mouseplanet.com in the parks general forum. Go with an open mind if you frequent disneyland or disneyworld.

-Don't pay full admission. Use the money for a nice dinner at Amber waves (formerly cucina cucina), the chicken dinner resturant, or the ghost town grill. Look for all the deals on knott's website under whats hot, or call the info line at 714-220-5200 and ask if the recorded voices don't tell you.

-Expect Xcelerator to go down by 11:30am. Ride a few times by then. If it stays open all day you'll be very happy, and you'll have a dozen rides under your belt cause the wait averages 20 minutes on some of the busiest NORMAL non haunt days, when ghostrider is 1 hour, xcelerator is 20.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2003 6:30 PM

SFGAdv lover said:

Glad to hear things went well, until 3.

I'm not very happy to hear that Xcelerator went down, only to not reopen.

I'm flying 3000 miles to go to KBF and SFMM in 1½ weeks; i'd hate to see that Xcelerator has these kinds of problems.

Good TR, except for the negative stuff.



Houston, we have a problem. Xcelerator is going to be down for the semi annual rehab come January (till the very end), along with the rehab of the log ride. After that its Ghostrider's turn for 2-3 weeks, opening a little befire winter coaster solace. I TRIED to post this in the general discussion, but the moderator probably didn't know how many people were headed to So. Cal in coming weeks. I'll post it again, or e-mail u.

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Thursday, January 9, 2003 2:34 PM

Mamoosh said:

1] Inconsistencies in height policy & measuring.

Connor, having just been to the doctor, measures 48.5 inches. Jaguar, Monty, and Ghostrider have a 48” height requirement yet when ride ops measured him at all three attractions he did not measure up to the height indicator the same. Ride ops also measured him at SFMM and was fouind to be just over the 48" requirement. The odd inconsistencies at Knotts did not prevent him from riding until Grandpa took him for a second ride on Ghostrider later in the afternoon while I was w/ Sean in Camp Snoopy. After climbing into seat 1:2 a ride op indicated he needed to measure Connor. He stood him against the sign near the front of the train and he determined he was not tall enough to ride. Connor burst into tears as Grandpa took him down the exit. I realize it is a ride op’s job to enforce the rules and ensure rider safety but earlier I witnessed Connor being measured against the sign near the rear of the train and he was clearly over the required height.

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I had the EXACT problem with my brother at SFDL is right about 48 inches but I had to beg the ride ops everytime to let him on, which most of the time they did except for Superman. I mean if he tilts his head one way hes fine. I taught him ways to get them to let him on.

I know its about safety but 1/4 of an inch won't make a difference.

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If you want to be happy for a few hours play rollercoaster tycoon 2.

If you want to be happy for a day go to Cedar Point.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime help other people.

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