Kings Dominion/SF America 9/10-11

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 5:16 PM

Aside from the usual I-95 traffic through Northern and Central Virginia, it was an uneventful, if long, drive down to VA Friday. I did something different this time and stayed in Fredericksburg instead of Ashland. Had a real good burger at Steak and Shake Friday night.

I was gonna be joined Saturday by my friend Debby, her son Zach (12) and husband Danny. They have SP's for KD, although only Zach goes on rides. Debby was able to use her pass to get me a ticket for 29.99. They picked me up at the motel following a dynamite breakfast at Golden Corral. We got to the park at opening, and Zach and I took two excellent-as-always rides on Dominator in the back. I could already tell the day was gonna be hotter than I hoped. Crowd was very light, so that helped. Volcano was posted as down all day, I forgot about Shockwave, and skipped Avalanche due to a longer than expected line, even with the light crowd. The four rides Zach and I got on Intimidator 305 were great, and it remains my #1 steel. That said, that trim on the third hill takes a lot out of the ride. Little gray-out on the turn at the bottom of the drop, but I've had worse. Rebel Yell was running better than in April. Two rides on Hurler were not as bad as usual. My first rides on Grizzly in what seems like ages were good, and the pop of air in the tunnel remains one of my favorite wood coaster moments. I rode Flight of Fear and Anaconda by myself. Took a second seat ride on the former, and it was one of the better rides I've had on it. The latter gets worse every time, and probably is near the end of its useful life. To top it off, it took two attendants to get me out when the OTSR wouldn't give. Since I had not driven, I was not in control this day. I probably would have stayed longer, but Deb and Dan suggested splitting around 4:30, although we got sidetracked watching a carnival style dunk booth near Anaconda. I certainly would have enjoyed the dunking the sitter finally got after many, many misses. I got my last rides on El Dorado, which will be removed to accomodate Windseeker, and the SpongeBob simulator, which will become a movie tied into the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit for next year. I got that info from a park worker named Heather,who also validated the prediction I'd made to Zach earlier..that the dinosaurs will be in the woods around Grizzly. The other side of the Action Theater, opposite where SpongeBob now resides, will become a dino-themed maze, also according to Heather (we had a nice chat.)

Before dropping me back at the Motel 6, we went to Golden Corral for dinner. Awesome. My last experience at GC (in Albany) was disappointing, but not this one. New England chowdah, hush puppies, fried shrimp and freshly pan seared shrimp and scallops were the highlights, but suffice to say I had my fill...and then some. Good finish to a good day.

Sunday (9/11) morning, I went to church in what appeared to be
a converted warehouse/factory, St. Jude's in Fredericksburg, a stone's throw from the motel. I hit the road for about twenty miles and pulled into a Waffle House for a highly anticipated breakfast of my favorite bacon/egg/cheese biscuits. They were slightly under par, though.

I pulled into SF America's parking lot exactly at 10:30 opening. I had planned a random act of kindness of inviting someone to use my Bring-A-Friend To Another Six Flags for Half-Price coupon, but saw no candidates and headed in. For the second time this season, I was NOT charged for parking at SFA. Yet I was charged at Great Escape. Inconsistency Rulz! I headed straight for Superman, and got 8 rides on my #2 steel coaster without leaving the station. Thing was, it didn't feel like it was running as fast as usual, especially on the second hill and second helix. I was gonna chalk it up to being early in the day, but I think it was more the fact that I'd rode Intimidator within the past 24 hours, and Supes just isn't quite at that level of speed and intensity. I left the station after the eighth ride to hike to Batwing, only to find an employee telling potential riders it was down. It had been running with riders while I was on Supes, so I hoped it was a temporary thing. I took four more laps on Superman, then left the area. A ride on Jokers Jinx and Blizzard River were blah. Then I hit the Wild One. I think this coaster needs to move into my Top Ten woodies. I got six rides, leaving the station once. Various spots, very consistent throughout, felt pretty out of control, unexpected airtime. There's even misters at a couple points..that might be new. Later, I hit Roar for two. Middle seat was lousy, front much better. Wild One is by FAR the better of the two woodies.

After going out to my car to get my souvenir cup..again,
it was hotter than hoped for and I needed drinks..I came back in to get the one coaster I had not ever been on, the Great Chase junior coaster. Before I went to the parking lot, I asked four different employees where it was and if it was running. I got a combination of blank stares, "I don't know," and "Here? At Six Flags?" None had a clue, so I stopped at Guest Relations. First woman I asked joins the chorus of the others, and asks her manager. She was finally able to tell me where it was. I asked if it was one I could ride without a kid as long as I fit, and she actually answered in these words: "Yes, you can definitely get the credit." So I guess it can be pretty difficult to hide the fact one is an enthusiast sometimes. Anyhow, I did ride it upon re-entering the park, albeit with an unattached seat belt (wouldn't fit, but the lap bar locked, so the op let me ride anyway.)

Time to see if Batwing had reopened. It had, but was testing again with empty trains as I joined the line, which was at the bottom of the stairs. After about a half-hour in a very strong sun I got on. Some of you may remember, I was removed from the ride in April, due to the restraint not locking properly. I was in, but someone else in my row..larger than me..was removed at the same time, and I've always been convinced it was HIM that prevented us from riding, not me. Yesterday validated that opinion (maybe) as I fit perfectly..very comfortably, actually. I enjoyed my ride, as I much prefer Vekoma flyers to their B&M counterparts.

I knew I wasn't going to stay late, anticipating the long drive home. I also didn't want to run into traffic from the Redskins game nearby. So I decided one last ride on Superman, then I'd split. Glad I did. I swear, I thought my seatbelt was going to snap..that's how far out of my seat I was on the third hill. Best ride of the day..no contest. I had walked as far as Jinx' entrance when I realized I'd forgotten my cup. I walked cack with every intention of riding a 14th time, getting my cup from the rack, and leaving. But just as I would have boarded the incoming train, it got stuck on the brake run, and here came the orange fluorescent vests. I collected my bottle and left.

I made up my mind as I was leaving that if I reached Exit 7A on the Jersey Pike before 7pm (a long shot, considering the way I USUALLY drive) I was gonna stop at GAdv for a couple of Toro/Nitro circuits to finish off my 46th year on the planet, and buy my pass for 2012. I was making excellent time, and reached that area about 6:45. But right at that moment it began raining heavily. Didn't last long, but since the park was closing at 8, I figured if the rides HAD shut down, they might not bother re-opening them before 8. Well, I expect to be there next Sunday...Possible meet with Mike (67440dodge)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:20 PM

Sounds like we may have crossed paths this weekend. The Waffle House was on Rt. 234 (exit 152 off I95), correct? I live less than 5 miles from there.

My wife and I took the kids to Fun Land in Fredericksburg on Saturday, and we ate at the same Steak & Shake that afternoon. Good stuff, I'd never eaten there before (and hadn't really heard much about it until Tek's Texas trip report).

So I guess it can be pretty difficult to hide the fact one is an enthusiast sometimes.

Not if you grab a park map. :)

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:02 AM

You've never had Steak & Shake?!?!?!? Wow. I thought I was the last enthusiast to eat there. ;-)

As for Golden Corral, my parents love it. I'm very meh about it.

And Supes is a lot of fun, but Wild one, on a good day, is outstanding.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:16 AM

The Steak & Shake in Fredericksburg opened last November I believe, and I think it's the only one in VA.

I've only eaten at Golden Corral maybe three times. The first was a good experience in Wilmington, NC. The other times were pretty lousy, so I haven't bothered to try it again in years.

Wild One is a great coaster, but quite tame compared to its former self.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:36 AM

I love Steak & Shake. I eat there on my lunch hour quite often. Why spend the same amount for crappy McDonald's or really crappy Burger King when you can have Steak & Shake for about the same price instead?

The Golden Corral in Huntington WV is really good. If I am planning to go there, I make sure to not eat all day before I go. I like sampling the many different kinds of food there. The secret to enjoying Golden Corral is small portions and many trips to get food, and always get something completely different from last time. Now I am hungry for GC!

I don't "get" Superman like other people do. Last time I rode Wild One, it was amazing. That was about a decade ago. Half of SFA's coasters are mediocre, and the other half are fantastic, imho. I don't love that park.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 8:25 AM

Vater said:
Sounds like we may have crossed paths this weekend. The Waffle House was on Rt. 234 (exit 152 off I95), correct? I live less than 5 miles from there.

My wife and I took the kids to Fun Land in Fredericksburg on Saturday, and we ate at the same Steak & Shake that afternoon. Good stuff, I'd never eaten there before (and hadn't really heard much about it until Tek's Texas trip report).


I'm not sure what the exit number was. I had never been to a Steak and Shake until a Cedar Point visit in '09. Don't like their fries, but the burgers and fresh brewed iced tea are terrific. Haven't had a shake, though.

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Wednesday, September 14, 2011 8:27 AM
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 10:05 AM

The best part of Steak and Shake are the shakes IMO. Gotta love their happy hour when the shakes are half price! My brother is a big fan of the burgers but me, not so much. It seems as though people who like thin burgers like the Steak and Shake offering (and Five Guys and the like), and with all of the coupons they usually offer you can eat there pretty inexpensively.

Nice TR. I-305 in its current form really impressed me. I really didn't care for the first (with the hard OTSRs) or second version (trim on first hill) but the current version is really a lot of fun. It's still not in my top 5 but it's heading in that direction. I'm also glad to see that Superman at SFA is running well.

Mike...I wanted to give you a quick heads up that I'll be up in your neck of the woods here in the next couple of weeks. It's been a VERY busy summer, but things are finally starting to settle down and I'm looking forward to hitting Great Adventure for the first time this year. I'll keep you posted on exactly when I'll be there in the next week.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 10:37 AM

Gary Dowdell said:
Mike...I wanted to give you a quick heads up that I'll be up in your neck of the woods here in the next couple of weeks. It's been a VERY busy summer, but things are finally starting to settle down and I'm looking forward to hitting Great Adventure for the first time this year. I'll keep you posted on exactly when I'll be there in the next week.

Yeah, let me know. Might be able to meet, but nothing definite. I expect to be there this Sunday and Hershey next Saturday...IF they re-open.

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Wednesday, September 14, 2011 12:25 PM
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