We went to our right and walked through Camp Snoopy on our way to Xcelerator. We weren't sure it was running as we hadn't seen it go since we'd gotten to the park. As we finally got to the coaster we realized why - there was next to nobody waiting to ride. I'm not sure of Knott's policy on sending partially empty trains but on this day ride-ops seemed to be taking their time in hopes of filling trains before letting them go. We walked the empty queue and right up to the empty loading platform and right on to the last two empty seats in the next to last row. I'm liking this. The first thing we noticed were the older (more mature, perhaps?) ride-ops. On top of this they were some of the friendliest ride-ops I've ever encountered. I'm not sure if the two are related but I've seen too many teenagers who look bored to be running a coaster and do little more than grunt at you as they check your lapbar and this was a very welcomed change. The "christmas tree" lit up and in seconds we were blasted out of the station (forget that comment about being jaded by launches in the Vegas TR) and up over that top hat getting some crazy visuals and even crazier air down the other side and into the large, high banked turns (great speed) and hiting the brakes (harder than I expected) all in what seemed like seconds. This has to be the roller coaster equivalent of crack - I immedately wanted more. We exited (there were a few people waiting now) and walked right back around, through the empty queue and onto the almost empty platform and got the second row on the next train. The ride-op even commented something to the effect of "everyone has to try it twice" as he checked us the second time. Second ride was every bit as good as the first. This is one great coaster and one that would probably make my top 10.
With the lack of crowds, we decided to chance an Xcelerator breakdown and explore the park a bit and find some lunch. We walked over by Perilous Plunge and saw slow dispatches with a few people waiting. Neither of us wanted to get wet even though it was quite warm and decided just to watch a bit. Boomerang wasn't open yet so we continued past that area and into the whole western themed area (whatever it's called) and looked around a bit. We made our way to Ghostrider where an employee informed us that the ride was not open but would be opening later in the day. We backtracked a little to grab a bite to eat.
From there we decided to catch rides on Jaguar and Montezooma's Revenge - however en route to those coasters my wife's cell phone rang and "real life" entered the picture with alarming speed. Since she was tied up with work and looked to be for a while, I ran back to the car and grabbed the camera. I took some pics - and found my wife (now finished with the calls) and we headed back towards Xcelerator. I got to take photos of one run when I heard the announcement - the ride was down and hopefully would be running again before the end of the day. We finished circling the park again and I ran the camera back to the car.
I met my wife at the front gate and we headed for Ghostrider which was now running. As we made our way to the loading platform we noticed the line. Sure the park was empty, but it looked as if every single person in the park was waiting to ride. One train running meant a little longer wait. It took about 30 minutes before we were on. I should mention now that when it comes to wooden coasters, I'm indifferent and my wife prefers steel. With that said, she found it a bit too rough for her to give it a total thumbs up and my thoughts were that for it's size and what it sets out to accomplish it's a very good ride. A bit rough in spots, but some cool airtime moments and decent laterals. I've ridden better wood overall, but Ghostrider didn't disappoint.
We headed back for Montezooma's Revenge. My wife didn't know what it was about but as soon as I compared it to Laser Loop at Kennywood (yes, we grew up in western PA) she knew. I had ridden Laser Loop in the mid 80's as a kid but it was my only Schwarzkopf shuttle and my wife never got the chance to ride one. When you consider the age of these rides, they're actually quite amazing. A zero to 55 launch in under 5 seconds is still comparable to many of the launched coasters of recent years. We walked on to this one too (middle of the train) and waited as some slower stragglers made their way into the remaining empty seats. Not much to describe - it's a shuttle loop. The launch was fun, it has a different "feel" than the LIM launches we've become accustomed to and we both enjoyed the ride. Not something we felt we needed to try again, but a good ride.
Next was Jaguar. Liked the pyramid, but wondered why the queue was as long as it was. It felt like a low rent version of the Dueling Dragons castle queue. What's funny about that is I was thinking it, but didn't say anything to my wife. About two seconds later she says - "It reminds me of Dueling Dragons, it even has the skulls". I guess it's true. One train running and we stood in the spot for the third car. Soon enough we were squished into the car and the ride-op commented on how he dug my stupid haircut (stupid is my adjective, not his) and told me how he had very long hair but buzzed it to work at Knott's. He then checked the rest of the train and we were off. Jaguar is exactly the type of ride most dismiss as lame (and it is to a degree) but it's also exactly the goofy little type of ride we tend to get giddy over. A great sprawling layout, a meandering slower paced ride and we were into it all the way. Plus the trains looked great - any detail is good detail.
It was now getting late in the day and I insisted on doing Boomerang (yes, I like them) and Knott's boomerang became my 7th Vekoma Boomerang. Just as fun as the rest (clones tend to be similar ;) ) - the ride-ops here were friendly and fun too, cracking jokes, being silly and just having fun while waiting for the train to fill. This really adds to the experience and is one of the variables that can make a good park great.
At this point the sun was very low in the sky and the park was getting close to closing. We still wanted to head out to Santa Monica (specifically the pier) so we decided for one last run on Xcelerator. I'm not sure when it began running again, but the line was still as short as before. We contemplated a ride on Supreme Scream, but have done so many S&S towers that we decided a final run on Xcelerator would be the best end to the day. We walked right up to the platform and opted for a 1 train wait for the back seat. Best ride of the day. Everything you could expect this coaster to deliver. Love that launch, airtime from the crest of the top hat all the way to the bottom and those great speed turns. Perfect end to our visit.
Overall Knott's was smaller than I expected, but was definitely a place I'd spend a lot of time at if I lived in the area - especially this time of year with the low crowds. We found the staff to be very friendly, the park was as clean as it gets and the atmosphere and size were perfect for a short day visit. It'd have been hard to go wrong with this one.
Did you get to try the Timber Mtn. Log Ride or Calico Mine Ride? I'm not sure if you are into dark rides or flumes, but both are fun if you have the time.
Xcelerator- Put the Pedal to the Metal!
This was about taking it easy and enjoying the park. Some trips are full blown "pump out all you can" sessions but this one was just the opposite.
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