La Ronde, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
On-site parking is $12 (the subway is cheaper if you have three or less people). When I arrived, and there were at least 100 cars in the lot already, but if you were like me and willing to to park over mud-puddles, you can pretty close to the park fence. The back-side parking lot was closed today.
It was the first time I went to La Ronde and tried to use my SF Great Escape season pass. La Ronde staff were not quite prepared to handle passes other Six Flags parks. The gate staff directed us to guest services (marked "Resignments" or something like that - no English signage). The individual running the booth was frazzled. She had to operate two windows - one for guests already in the park and one for guests still outside the gates. She did a descent job of dashing back and forth, but she didn't have the materials she though she needed to allow SF pass holders through. She also struggled with English, but she managed to communicate to us that she needed to give us tickets and she couldn't find them, but a manager was coming to help us. A family from New Jersey and I were left standing confused for a couple minutes until a very pleasant manager approached us, asked where we were from, and how our day was going, "I'm glad you came all the way to La Ronde and I hope you have a great day," as he directed us to a turnstile where he told the worker to "check their passes and let them through."
Once through the gate, there were at least six mascots greeting the kids and inviting them to the renovated kids’ area. It was a very nice touch.
I headed straight for Vampire, IMO the best coaster in the park. It's a compact invert (a Batman clone), with lots of tight loops, barrel rolls, and terrain-hugging maneuvers. Even with painfully slow single-train operation, the line never extended past the bottom of the stairs during my three consecutive rides. (It was 5-6 train wait for each ride.) Unlike my past experiences, Vampire was not a giant ash-tray. It was clean and the only person who lit up in the queue (actually on the platform) was some dumb 10-year-old girl. If my wife were with me, she would have kicked that kid’s ass. :)
Vertigo (a Zamperla Hawk) is a really fun flat ride. The line was short, and the staff filled the seats. As a single rider, I was able to snag an open seat in the very front. The program was great, spinning first one direction, then stopping at the very top and hanging 5 seconds before spinning a couple rotations the other way.
Tornade (a Huss Top-Spin) was running well, with no line, but the program seemed short.
Cobra (a stand-up coaster) was closed all day, but they were testing it continuously. Hopefully, they will have the bugs worked out soon.
Pitoune (a 38-year-old log flume) was also running great. When the logs were in the trough, they ran very fast -- the serpentine course was almost more fun than the drop. Some people got random splashes, but no one got really wet.
For lunch, I sampled a Quebec classic - poutine. Every park deserves a signature dish. Poutine rules La Ronde. While I just had the classic poutine (fries, cheese curds, gravy), they had a huge menu of poutine combinations that included bacon, chicken, etc. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
As I ate, I wandered through the kids’ area. There are a lot of new rides and everything is cleaned up and re-themed. There is a new sidewalk fountain near the McDonalds (yes, there is a McDonalds in the kids area). Kids were having a lot of fun playing in the water. Some day, I'm going to be a parent and I'll send my ketchup-covered kids into the fountain to clean up. ;)
I also walked by Splash (an Intamin boat / drop ride). The line was very short, but since I didn't have a change of clothes, I didn't ride. Riders returned drenched, but very happy.
No trip to La Ronde would be complete without a circuit on Monstre. It was only running one track with one train, and the line was long. I was expecting a 45 minute wait. However, after waiting 15 minutes, staff soon stopped operations to add a second train. Once the two-train operation began, I rode within 15 minutes. Staff were working at the second track. It appeared that they were training or getting ready to test it. Another surprise, Monstre’s gum-wall was finally cleaned up!
Have you ever ridden a roller coaster with a mascot? It was a new experience for me. I was a single rider and a big fuzzy chicken jumped in with me. I didn't think mascots would go on a 60 mph coaster with lots of air-time -- I was seriously worried about his head falling off mid-course. But he did it fine. Monstre was running great, smooth with lots of airtime. The only negative was the bugs. They were swarming and you had to keep your mouth closed to avoid protein supplements.
Auto Tamponneusses (bumper cars) were lots of fun and I only had to wait two cycles. It's tricky to steer with the tank-style controls, but I still got my bumps in.
Super Manege (a Vekoma corkscrew) was OK. Nothing unexpected except a short (3 train) line.
Boomerang was a surprise. Actually, the surprise was that it was operating. For some reason the La Ronde installation has significant reliability issues and is frequently closed. Today, it was running fine, almost. The front car was roped off, likely because of restraint problems. Staff were efficiently filling seats on the other six cars and the line moved quickly.
Another closed ride (one of my favorites) was the ride-through haunted house. Hopefully, they're fixing it up for the summer.
I only intended to spend a partial day at La Ronde, so I left the park just after 3:00, even though I didn't ride all the coasters.
As I passed the main entrance, I saw what appeared to be 200 people queued for season pass processing. Outside the gate, all the ticket booths were open, and each had a line at least 20 people deep. It was going to be a busy day. Good for La Ronde.
PS: Was Orbit (S&S) working?
La Ronde 2006!
G O L I A T H
Canadian Dude said:
Was Orbit (S&S) working?
Yes, it was, but I didn't ride it.
Weather was perfect and medium-low crowds. Cobra wasn't working:(, nor was Monster 2, but Monster 1 only had one train. Also, something really strange happened. In line for The Vampire, the ride had to stop for 20 minutes to clean up blood on one of the seats. They had to call a special guy that took forever to come then clean it all up, then test run the one train. Really weird i tell ya!
La Ronde 2006!
G O L I A T H
I heard Cobra would open next weekend. Monstre track 2 didn't look like it operated at all this year. The train is in the station, but the track is all rusty and hasn't seen grease at all. I rode Supermanege in the back car and felt like the harness almost broke my neck when the train tried to enter the turn into the corkscrew. OUCH!
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