Labor Day Weekend - The Southern Strategy...

Sunday, September 13, 2015 12:33 PM

Parks: Lake WInnie, Dollywood, and Carowinds...first two were "new-to-Jill" parks...

Lake Winnie: High points - waterpark "Soakya" (+1 for rhyming) small but fun, plans for major expansion in the next couple years. Cannonball running great, historic PTC carousel, Sea Warrior, brakeless L&T mouse, and of course, the Boat Chute. Low: HP's Conestoga undergoing rehab, Fly-O-Plane down all day (reportedly due to staffing issues). Also, ran across the park owner, had a brief chat. Wonderful elderly lady.

Dollywood - was hoping for light Sunday morning crowds, considering. Didn't turn out that way, ended up with the Lo-Q after spending over an hour for our first lap on FireChaser. What a steal that turned out to be! My previous visits to DW never had lines for rides, the emphasis was on an older crowd mostly there for the shows. Not so this trip, families with kids were *everywhere*. Jill loved Blazing Fury, noting its incredible similarity to its twin ride at Silver Dollar City. Tennessee Tornado may be better than most other Arrows, but not good enough to warrant a second lap for Jill - check. Wild Eagle was a big surprise, loved the terrain use so much I'm thinking I like it a little better than Gatekeeper. Thunderhead was running really well, totally redeemed itself after the bumpy/lackluster rides from 2011. Mystery Mine - I'll keep saying the same thing....get that ride some lapbars. Ouch, another one-tripper for Jill. But honestly, the star of the park was FireChaser...I can't say enough about how fun the ride was. And the 5-minute waits with Lo-Q made it that much better on a day when the regular line never really got below an hour. Did pick up a kiddie coaster on the strip (a Dragon Wagon in honor of Vater - Jill doesn't credit-whore, so she skipped).

Monday brought an Alpine coaster - Goats on the Roof. The first ride was pretty sweet - no one in front of us meant ZERO braking until the ride controls thought I'd exceeded the pre-set limit. Crazy fun. Tried a re-ride (only $5), but the families in front of us kinda killed the ride. Then came the long and winding drive out of the mountains, a definite precursor to the PPP trip. I don't know why I enjoy those drives so much, but coming downhill on twists and turns with minimal traffic and almost no braking is extremely fun.

Got to Carowinds a little later than we'd hoped, but still had a couple hours before close (thanks MyCokeRewards for the tickets). Did a quick jaunt to Fury just in case the weather broke...clouds everywhere. Fury was pretty much what I expected from watching too much POV but I was still unprepared for the power and speed - on a B&M! I think I still prefer SFoG's Goliath for the relentless airtime hills, but I understand the love for Fury. Then trucked on down to Hurler, and it was surprisingly good. So good in fact that Jill opted for a re-ride. Loved it....but had to move along if we were going to get all the way back around to Fury before closing. Caught a quick ride on Boo Blasters just for the AC, then on to the invert. Remains one of my very favorites, but no time for a re-ride here, moved along to the flying skooters. Unfortunately, there was a long line (really long). Moved on to Intimidator (still great, love the airtime) and the carousel for Jill. Back to skooters, line still too long, but no choice. Figured out what the problem was, there wa sa single op who had authority issues and had to stop during *each and every* load and unload to walk over through the bushes to get to the queue and explain to someone how they weren't behaving properly in line (having their children sit on rails, saving spaces in line for kids, whatever). The guy NEVER stopped stopping. He was early-20s, and probably not a bad person despite socialization issues...but he should never have been left alone on any ride, much less one that already requires such substantial interaction with guests - made worse by the locking seatbelts. Finally got on the ride, and Jill CRUSHED it, deservedly winning the best pilot acclaim. Myself, I was so bad I was almost thankful we had to head back to Fury. I vow to do better next month in Elysburg.

Fury ops wouldn't allow us to queue for the front (getting late, lot of people already waiting up there). Another back row ride, and again, insanely powerful and fast. Big fan of the Fury...still a little sad about the empty hole where Thunder Road stood proudly for so many years.

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Monday, September 14, 2015 10:35 AM

Thank you for posting this. It is interesting that you like SFOG Goliath over Fury, but I can understand your rationale for doing so. I rode both on the same day back in April and they are both top-5 steel coasters IMO.

It's too bad that Carowinds very rarely staffs the flyers with two operators. If you don't ride the flyers in the first 90 minutes the park is open it's pretty likely that you'll be waiting in a 15-minute (or longer) line. Having said that, it's still my favorite flyer ride anywhere - the cycle is nice and long, you can snap the ride with very little effort, and the operators encourage you to do it which is rare in this day and age.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015 11:28 AM

I'm not sure why, but it seems like crossing the 300' barrier means the coaster will focus on speed over airtime. I've ridden most every hyper and giga in N. America (save CW's Behemoth, La Ronde's Goliath, and SFM's Superman). The hypers tend to have more airtime hills whereas the gigas tend to focus on low-to-the-ground twists and turns (MForce, I-305, Fury). Wondering to what extent the layouts are influenced by the cost of building several huge hills that would be warranted if a park really built a 300' airtime machine. SFoG's Goliath really plays to those hills, exceptionally well. My thought is that PRevenge and the Intamin Supermen might be the only other hypers with that much emphasis on air...and that's likely why it's still my favorite B&M.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 11:21 AM

You mentioned you've not ridden Behemoth, so I'm assuming that you've also not ridden Leviathan? I'm pretty much in the same boat as you as I've ridden all of the megas/gigas except for La Ronde's Goliath (which was closed on our visit there) and Darien Lake's Superman. I think B&M took into account what they learned from Leviathan and incorporated that into the design of Fury 325. Leviathan is a great ride, but the major knock against it for me is that after the first big 180' airtime hill that the ride loses a lot of juice. Fury 325 keeps the speed up for a longer period of time because more of the course is low to the ground, and the ride is more exciting because of it. I'm sure that the additional cost of supporting those larger airtime hills comes into play as well, but I would imagine that extra cost is - relatively speaking - not that big of a deal when you're dealing with a $25 million investment or higher.

It'll be interesting to hear your thoughts on the new SeaWorld B&M hyper when it opens next year. I have a feeling that ride is going to be a much bigger success than most realize.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 12:08 PM

I said that in error. I have ridden Behemoth, not Leviathan. It seems like it was so easy to keep them all straight when I was making week-long coaster trips every few months....meh.

More and more, I'm finding that the hills I like most are relatively low to the ground (high speed), but straight and flat (unbanked, non-turning). Thinking specifically of Phoenx's finale and Timbers outward leg, but also SFoG Goliath's return run. Those produce the "uplift force" I find even more enjoyable as time goes on, but don't kill the speed the way very tall hills do. I still enjoy high positive forces that slam my butt into the seat, but on the whole I prefer forceful air.

Mako - understanding that I've only ridden virtually (WINK) - is going to be an enormous hit. Finally getting the true big coaster in FL without inversions (wonder if Univeral wishes they'd waited the extra year for Rock'it to have been a B&M product).. Sea World needed some new and exciting ride to put the Blackfish pseudo-scandal behind them and begin an era of new growth. Mako will certainly throw serious chum in the waters to fish for new customers...

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 1:29 PM

I can't believe no one's asked yet. How was the Dragon Wagon?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 5:54 PM

My new #1!

Honestly though, it was a little weird in that the drop and straightway were all pretty heavily banked. Kept feeling like I'd fall out of the left side....

Thinking the Dragon Wagon should get it's own TR... :~P

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 6:35 PM

Interesting. I once rode an Orient Express at a traveling carnival that felt like it would dump me out the side on the banked helix. Must be a Wisdom thing.

I can't believe I'm seriously discussing the effects of certain ride elements on kiddie coasters.

Carry on.

Last edited by Vater, Wednesday, September 16, 2015 6:35 PM
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:23 PM

I would expect nothing less.

I rode the little Dragon type ride at Beech Bend. While it's generally difficult to feel foolish doing anything at that park, it was a little awkward.
And same thing, I think I was toward the back of the train which made me feel very top heavy in those banks. Maybe it was because 85% of me was above the seat back, ya think?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:01 PM

Jill: "You're not going to ride that, are you?"

Bill: "Heck yeah, it's a credit!"

Jill: "But you stopped counting a few years ago, right?"

Bill: "Yeah, what's your point?"

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 9:48 PM

Shameless RMC porn:

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015 10:39 PM

How phallic of you.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:12 PM

So many footers gong down that hill....that's going to be a super-aggressive quad-drop... ;~P

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