Knotts on 7/26/02 - or Fort Knotts succumbs!!

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Monday, July 29, 2002 11:32 AM
I had two goals for the weekend: finally ride Xcelerator and see a funny movie. I spent Friday afternoon at Knotts and Sunday I saw "Goldmember." So two goals met, right? Well, let's just say I'm still looking for a funny movie.

OK, movie criticisms aside, I had heard horror stories about Knott's operations since the ACE Con attendees had returned home and written their scathing reports. Could the park I loved so much really have gotten as bad as everyone claimed? I had to find out for myself.

[Anyone wishing to skip directly to my report of Xcelerator look for the **]

I arrived at 4pm and hooked up with fellow So Cal enthusiast Tony Milano and Seattle coaster nut Rob "nasai" Leland [nee Jones]. The last member of our par-tay, Mike "Bassistist" Miller, was in traffic but on his way. Since I had promised Bass that our first rides on Xcelerator would be together Rob, Tony, and I headed over to Supreme Scream for a quick ride before Mike showed up. The park looked crowded but it was mostly school groups [we have year-round schools in parts of LA] and summer camp groups, and most of those were heading towards the busses at 4pm.

Up until this point I had not seen Xcelerator in operation. The only movement I'd witnessed was testing of the transfer track just before my SRM trip. After exiting Scream we walked over to the new Intamin to watch a few launches. Man, that thing is VERY fast and VERY quiet. My anticipation grew....

Bass had arrived by 5pm and soon we were in the 20-min line about to "Put the Pedal to the Metal." The queue for Xcelerator allows for excellent views of the launch and the entire layout. Like Ghostrider's station, Knott's was smart in designing Xcelerator's small station. The queue for the front car is quite long, which means the those riding in the rest of the train don't get hung up on a traffic jam [like in the X station, one of the worst-designed I've ever seen].

Despite previous reports that ride ops were assigning rows we decided to take a chance on getting the back [Car 5] for our first ride. We discovered, however, that there was no Nazi Op forcing people where to sit, rather we were free to choose any car we wanted. The crew was efficient and trains were being dispatched about every 2 minutes. There are TV monitors in the station that clearly show the loading procedure and that ride ops would lower the lap bar for you. It even shows a train stalling on the tower and returning to the station, stating that if that were to happen to be calm and that the train would be re-launched, a very nice touch.

Before I knew it I was sitting in 5:1 w/ Bass, with Tony and Rob behind us in 5:2. I buckled my seatbelt and anxiously waited for the ride op to crush the lap bar into my thighs as others have reported. I could see her making her way down to me...closer and closer she came...the theme music from "Jaws" played in my head. The closer she got the more I began to envision the horrible pain I was about to be
victim of. Finally she was standing there, looming over me. The bell was tolling, and it was tolling for me!

She warned me she was going to tug on my seatbelt and then did so with a short tug that removed a little slack but still gave me room to move. Then she said she was going to lower my lap bar and did so gently, stopping when it touched my thighs, secure but not snug. No pain, no stapling, no rudeness, courteous and efficient, and not one
single lap bar in the entire train had to be re-checked.

5…4…3…2…1…and we were off!

**First impression: WOW! This puppy has an intense "HOLY CRAP!" launch that continued to take my breath away on each of my rides that evening. On most launches the acceleration is quite evident. You can feel yourself gaining speed as you hurtle down the track. With Xcelerator I felt as if I was going 80MPH the second I left the station, and the intensity didn't wane at all.

We rode all over the train [5:1, 5:2, 1:1, 3:1, 3:2] and on each ride found a sweet pop of air as the train crests the top hat, ranging from short, sharp and extreme in the front, lighter but more prolonged in the middle, and slight in the back. In fact sitting in the back gives a rather odd sensation: as the train slows and crests the lift it feels as though you're not going to make it over the top!

The lack of major air in the back as the train goes over the tophat is made up for on the intimidating plunge towards terra firma. You experience hang time [and a nice view of La Palma Blvd] in the front but the negative Gs were so intense in the rear end of the train -- as you're quite literally yanked over the top and plunged to earth -- that I was thankful for my lap bar and seatbelt! The two over-banked
turns are fun and fast and the entry into the brake run was not as violent as I had anticipated. All in all, a real winner for the park and I can't stress enough that earlier reports of rude ride-ops and severe stapling must have reached park management as I found the exact opposite.

One of the last rides of the night was on the newly reopened Perilous Plunge. As many of you have heard riders are now secured by a lap bar and harness. Now, I enjoy a harness occasionally but this is ridiculous! I'll be honest it does not diminish the impact of the drop's negative Gs as much as I would have thought and the drop is as
intense [and wet] as ever. I just hope that eventually the park will restore the ride to a lapbar/seatbelt system. I'm sure being a ride-op on Plunge is not a walk in the park. They have to lean over the outside riders to be able to secure the middle two, and I'm sure they hear complaints all day long. Still, those we encountered were friendly, courteous, and efficient.

I'm also happy to report that the four of us [Rob, Tony, Bass, and I] encountered pleasant ride-ops all throughout the park, including at Ghostrider, where none of us was stapled – well, except for Rob, who began to brag about the position of his lapbar and accidentally brought it down a few clicks on the lift.

The night was about as perfect as it gets: AWESOME rides on Xcelerator, Ghostrider, Monty, Supreme Scream, and Plunge; good food at the GhostTown Grill, and a great group of friends, especially new friend Rob Leland. Sometimes you talk to people online and worry that in person they'll be "freakish geeks" who can't talk about anything but coasters and over-analyze each ride. While I can report that Rob is every bit the coaster geek that Bass, Tony, and I are he's not freakish in the least. He's got a great twisted sense of humor, not afraid to let his inhibitions down and have fun, and also an avid movie, TV, and music fan. It was a real pleasure to hang out with him and we all felt as if we'd known him much longer. I only wish he didn't live so far away.

Matthew "mamoosh" Sullivan
Track Record - 289


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"Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog its too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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Monday, July 29, 2002 11:48 AM

Good TR! This makes me even more excited for my first trip to Knotts in late August. I posted a question on which day would be less crowded in general buzz. If you could help me that would be very appreciated.

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Steel: 1)MF, 2)Goliath, 3)Magnum
Wood: 1)Villain, 2)Beast, 3)Roar(SFMW)

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Monday, July 29, 2002 11:59 AM

Glad to hear you guys had such a great night, and the park hasn't "gone to Hell." I really loved Knott's when I visited, and was bummed to hear all the horror stories.

The "Jaws" paragraph was priceless, by the way.

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"Look outside, I know that you'll recognize it's summertime." - The Flaming Lips "It's Summertime (throbbing orange pallbearers)"

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Monday, July 29, 2002 12:06 PM

What do you think about the lap bar design on Xcelerator? One frequent complaint here on the North Coast is that Millennium Force's post will touch your goodies before the bar will touch your stomach or thighs, creating the potential for discomfort. Are the best posts on Xcelerator better?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"Let's stop saying 'don't quote me,' because if no one quotes you, you probably haven't said a thing worth saying." - Dogma, KMFDM

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Monday, July 29, 2002 12:15 PM

hunter11 - as always if you're visiting during the summer, weekdays are always your best bet. However I'll be honest I usually avoid the LA parks in the summer [don't like crowds or heat] so I'm not the best person to ask.

Jeff - I had no problem w/ the Intamin lap bars on either MForce *or* Xcelerator [or any Intamin ride] and I don't believe anyone else in my group did, either [at least no complaints were made formally known]. I'd like to think that's NOT a comment on our "size"...LOL!

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"Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog its too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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Monday, July 29, 2002 12:26 PM

Good TR, Moosh! Like you, I had been somewhat dreading my next visit to the 'Farm, as I had a less than stellar experience at Solace this year and the problems everyone reported from 'Con were not surprising given the way things were trending in March of this year. It was a real relief to see some smiling ride ops and not to be stapled on either Ghostie or Xcelerator. And the Perilous Plunge ops were at least apologetic about all the crap they had to do to fasten me to the boat!

Your review of Xcelerator was spot on. The launch is utterly thrilling. My favorite launches prior to this were Monty and Flight O' Fear, but this one blows them and all others I have experienced out of the water! One minute you're still, the next you're doing 80, with no jerkiness or discomfort. This is an efficient little machine! The rise up is crazy...I can only think of two other rides that climb straight up (Deja Vu and S:UE (sort of)) and this one blows both of those away by not stopping but continuing on over the top.

The drop is just amazing, both frightening and wildly exciting. All 4 rides, I was cursing, screaming, etc., as we went about 10 degrees beyond my comfort level of descent. The visuals are staggering. It's funny, I wanted to ride a vertical drop coaster for so long after Oblivion was introduced. Now, 4 years after that ride's debut, we have three vertical drops in So. Cal. to choose from. For my money, Xcelerator's is the best, because it's taken at speed (unlike Deja) and because you go over the top in the vertical seated position (unlike X, which is in a class by itself). It really is just a freaky, amazing thing.

The rest of the ride is a bit of an anti-climax, as overbanked turns don't do a lot for me. However, these do seem to be a little faster and a little tighter than Millenium Force's, and the last one has a gnarly headchopper with the backside of the vertical drop. I sure do wish the ride had a few bunny hops and a nice helix, but it is what it is.

Ghostrider was also a joyful experience, as the ops were nice, friendly, and did not push down on my bar. The ride was running fast, furious, and smooth, the best ride I have had on it in some time. The pothole on the second drop that made Solace an endurance test was gone, hallelujah. I'm glad Nasai got to enjoy GR at night when it was running well, and he seemed quite pleased also. He made us laugh really hard when, on the lifthill, he was wiggling his lap bar up and down, saying "look how much room I have!"...CLICK! I resisted the urge to turn around and give him a few more, since he was visiting; had he been a local I would have stapled him hard for tempting the airtime gods so callously!

Lastly, we hit Plunge, and, well...those new restraints utterly suck. I couldn't even figure them out. I was totally uncomfortable after I somehow struggled to get into them. A friendly ride op came along and thankfully loosened them so I could breathe. Both times we rode I needed assistance just to get locked down correctly, and the op spent almost 5 minutes on me alone the second time!! I still haven't figured out how the lower restraints work. Ultimately, the restraints don't detract too much, and the ride is still steep and drenching, but I don't see myself riding it again if the line is even out of the station house. I really felt sorry for the poor ops, that has got to be the worse job in the park. I'd rather clean the crappers than lean across people to adjust a tiny little metal thing buried halfway under someone's ass.

So, all in all, it was a great trip to Knott's; it restored some confidence in the operations there. I think that the Con attendees (and probably others of the GP as well) made themselves heard, and the atmosphere there felt better than it has since Target Employee Night. Even better is the fact that the Boardwalk area, which has basically been less than whole ever since the glory days of Corkscrew/Parachute Drop/Soap Box Racers, finally feels whole again, with all the attractions running, and Xcelerator dominating the northwest corner. Here's hoping the Con was an aberation (an aberation that sucked bad for the people that spent money to fly out here!) and that the park can regain the forward motion that it seemed to have lost shortly after Plunge opened. Now let's see what Jack was talking about when he mentioned January 2004 as a date to watch...

P.S. It was great to meet you, Rob, and I will see you in September at Pew-Allup! Thanks for making me laugh hard and often!!

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Mike Miller-On the gravy train to coaster nirvan***

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Monday, July 29, 2002 12:28 PM
That's good to hear. The relaxed all the stapling on Xcelerator about several weeks after opening. It's still safely tight though. BTW, stapling on ghostrider was never common.
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Monday, July 29, 2002 12:42 PM

Speedy [and everyone]- let me make something perfectly clear: you will NOT have room between your thighs and the lapbar unless you can find a way to slouch or extend your gut, but frankly I don't think either of those are necessary for an excellent ride. I was not bothered by the position of the lap bar and was quite happy to feel secured.

Ops lower the bar until it touches your thigh and they do apply a little pressure, but not enough to cause any discomfort and, oddly, not enough to extinguish the airtime over the top hat and vertical drop. How does one get airtime when the lap bar is touching you? I don't know, but it happened to all four of us in all seats, so I know it wasn't just my imagination.

Still, lapbar-on-thigh is many people's definition [narrow, IMHO] of being stapled, and its status quo on Xcelerator, so keep that in mind on your next visit to the farm.

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"Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog its too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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Monday, July 29, 2002 1:52 PM
Well, mammosh, on a ride like Xcelerator with big airtime, I would consider stapling what they did on opening day. I mean if people left their bars open 4 inches the ride would be unsafe. I hear you and feel similarly. I have ridden it on 2 seperate days and know how it has changed. It has gone from sharp pains in your bladder to just touching your thighs. Anyone expecting 3 inches of room should come to reality. I think you totally misread me.
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Monday, July 29, 2002 1:55 PM

Speedy - I didn't misread you. Rather, you provided me with the opportunity to clarify my trip report. I just knew that someone would read it and think "he got airtime, he must have had room" and then be disappointed when they go to the park to find otherwise.

It all goes back to my pet peeve regarding the difference between negative Gs and airtime and how many people confuse the two. But I won't get on that soapbox today ;-)

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"Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog its too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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Monday, July 29, 2002 3:52 PM
Yeah, I couldnt believe all the hate being spewed forth by the ACE'ers toward KBF. The ride wasn't ready, deal with it. I thought giving free tix to the CoasterConer's was quite gracious. They didn't HAVE TO give away anything.

Good to see that you were able to ride Xcelerator and that the stapling was down to bearable levels. Opening day was MURDER! Now I just need to renew my Knott's pass....

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Nothing... NOTHING... can prepare you for... the Fourth Dimension!

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Monday, July 29, 2002 6:38 PM

Awww maaaaannn! (whine)...I totally regret having missed trhis trip....but marriage and money left me out of the loop. Next year guys...Seattle...We are sooo there. ;) Thanks for the invite anyway!

-e

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"If the beats were made of meat then they would have to be me ..." - L.L. Cool J

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Monday, July 29, 2002 6:50 PM
Why do they pull down your lap bar for you. Other coasters like that they don't. Nice TR.

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-Sean
In 2 Days My 100th Coaster will be HyperSonic XLC

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Monday, July 29, 2002 7:15 PM
So they can check/tighten the seatbelt without the lap bar in the way. It doesn't take too long as each ride op only has to check several people (6 attendents for 20 seats).
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Monday, July 29, 2002 9:12 PM
As far as the restraint system on PP, don't count on it being changed back. CA DOSH has the final say on that one, not Knotts.
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Monday, July 29, 2002 9:47 PM
There are rumors from some park employees of Knotts designing a simpler, yet effective new 4 point restraint. Lets hope they do.
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Monday, July 29, 2002 10:09 PM

Thanks for the positive trip report. That is truly the Knotts I know and love. I was getting irritated with all of the negativity from the Con-goers.

I really like how the ops have become effecient on Xcelerator. Their Cedar Point-esque 6 ride ops on the ride is really a great thing for that ride. I wish they would move in that direction with more Knott's rides. As a result of good operation, the ride almost always has a shorter line than Ghostrider. Thats the way it should be! (And I give all credit there to the ride ops)

By the way Mamoosh, I too have always mentioned the difference between airtime and negative G's. Xcelerator and Plunge pull massive Negative G's, yet the airtime is minimal. The antithesis of that is Ghostrider which has tons of airtime brought on by those negative G's.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2002 3:37 PM
Interesting that you bring that up, Jeff. When we rode MF I noticed the lap bars just before getting in and expected some pain but fortunately survived the ride without having anything crunched. But until now I had not seen any comments about that. As a side note, I think Intamin set the standard for lap bars with those on MF. Small and comfortable; I only noticed them during the air time.

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PLEASE READ: This post wasn't meant to offend or anger anyone; I apologize in advance if it does. So please don't post a reply just to rant about it. :)

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Tuesday, July 30, 2002 5:12 PM
By 6 ride ops I mean six attendents. There are at least a dozen people running the ride, including a supervisor at most times (who helps out with storage of items...it's nice to see that KBF managers care). Perilous Plunge takes the cake for the ride with the most ops though. Theres a entrance greeter, a seat assigner, a ride op, 6 ride attendents usually, unload ride op or 2, and 2 on the bridge.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2002 10:21 PM

Speedy: Those "managers" as you call them are much more than that. They are full scale park executives. Knowing that makes me feel more grateful that they work at Knotts!

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