Lagoon, Farmington, Utah, USA
Sorry... it came out extremely long, as all my TR's seem to do. I tried to at least keep the paragraphs short... But the TLDR is we had a great time.
Last week we took a vacation to Salt Lake City. Little did we know how hot SLC would be the week we were there. For our 2nd day in SLC, my wife dropped Boogie and I off at Lagoon around 11am before heading off to pursue her hobby of Birding. Right away we noticed that Cannibal, their signature ride, wasn't running, not even testing. I told her to stay close for a minute, as we may have her pick us up and try again tomorrow. The front gate, however, said that there were no plans to have the ride closed today, so we decided to take a chance and purchased our tickets. (As a side note, Lagoon does offer a $16 return within 2 weeks, which seemed like a reasonable backup plan.)
Our first stop, of course, was at Cannibal to find out the story. We were told by a very friendly ride op that they hoped to have it open around 12:30. We decided to hang out on this side of the park, just in case. So our first ride of the day was Jet Star 2. I was excited for this as it's one of only a handful of coasters left with a spiral lift, and that is always a highlight on SFGrAm's Whizzer. This coaster is identical to Tig'rr Coaster at Indiana Beach, except that IB's has a straight chain lift. Boogie and I loved Tig'rr and rode it many times on our IB visit, and needless to say we loved this ride too. It did feel more forceful than Tig'rr on all 3 of the low turns. They also loaded every car with a minimum of 6 people, no Single riders allowed, yet I seem to remember riding Tig'rr just the 2 of us. Am I mistaken? It's been 2 years. Fun coaster and we would end up riding it 3x total through the day.
We next headed over to their Vekoma Jr SLC, The Bat, which was having problems, so we hit the Odyssea across the street. This ride is the same as the One Fish Two Fish ride at IOA, in which you have to control your vehicle up or down to avoid jets of water. Boogie was skeptical at first, but I assured him it would be fun, and we had a blast. To my surprise, he kept us almost completely dry.
Boogie is a Bumper Car enthusiast, and I love snapping Phlyers, so we split up here a few times throughout the day. The Lagoon Flyers dare I say, snap even better than Knoebels. I rode them a few times throughout the day, and on my last ride towards the end of our visit, something happened that I've never seen before. On a massive thud, one of the 2 front cables got hung up on one of the bolts. I did not realize it until the ride slowed and my tub had an upward tilt. I felt terrible, as I did not intend to do this, nor did I even know you could, and they had to shut the ride down. Freak accident and I hope it was only a short delay.
As for the Bumper Cars, nothing special, but we felt that the ride could have benefited with a few less cars, as it was pretty crowded on the floor. Oh well, BC's are always a good time, and we both could ride them all day long.
We headed back to Cannibal to get an update and were told now 2pm. Time to head over to the other side so we took the Sky Ride. These are always fun and enjoyable.
Our first stop on the south side of the park was Colossus, The Fire Dragon. Interesting name for a ride, but we enjoyed the logo, a dragon with 2 loops in it's tail. This is a Schwarzkopf double looper, and let's face it, I don't know a coastertool out there who doesn't like Schwarzkopfs. Great fun, forceful and totally smooth.
Did I mention it was hot? Because it was hot. 105 all week. In my SFNE TR last summer I wrote about how I got nauseous, took a Dramamine, fell asleep on a bench, and skipped many rides. Well I was trying very hard to avoid that, as I knew I had to go the distance in case Cannibal ever opened. One thing that helped is that at Lagoon, if you want ice water, you pay 25 cents, but get a 20 oz Styrofoam cup that they will refill for free. We used many of these throughout the day and considered it the best dollar we ever spent. Hydration is important people!
Next stop was Wicked. Think of a launched version of Impulse at Knoebels. The air over the launched Tophat was insane, but other than that, the ride felt under-engineered and just a bit... off. Much like Impulse.
From there we saw that the Spider (Mauer spinning coaster) was closed for the day. This made me very happy, as these rides tend to make me sick, so I was relieved, but Boogie was disappointed.
Next stop for Boogie was the... uh... I don't know what these are called, but that Ferris Wheel type ride with the spinning cages that you can spin or lock wherever you want. Now... I'll be the first to admit that I love these things. They are so much fun. But... again... the whole nausea thing. I sat out while Boogie took 2 rides. When he got off the ride he 1) bragged about how crazy he spun his cage and how another kid complimented him, 2) complained that he had somewhat of a "not so fresh feeling." Well, what did you expect, huh? I'm sure the heat didn't help. He never got sick or anything, but he did later opt out of the crazy flat rides that he normally loves, including the Top Scan, Double Top Spin, and the Air Race.
Cannibal update: 6PM. Geesh...
I'm getting a little long winded here, and not even to the best part yet, so to save time... Roller Coaster (Woodie) - Meh. Bombora (ART engineering family coaster) - Surprisingly fun! Puff the Little Fire Dragon (kiddie) - I'm a credit whore, Boogie is too cool now at almost 14 years old and sat out... his loss, right? Haha. The Bat (Vekoma Jr SLC) - Sucks! Terror Ride (Indoor Haunted House Dark Ride) Wanted to like it, but it fell really flat for us. The best part was the wisecracking vulture in the queue. Dracula's Castle, the other Dark ride, was far superior, easily the hidden gem of the park, as we didn't even notice it until we were leaving. I'd put it up against Waldameer's Whacky Shack for my favorite old school haunted dark ride. (Sorry Knoebels.)
Now, finally, on to the best part. Around 4 we saw Cannibal testing empty cars. We headed back over for an update and told no new news, but it was looking up. We asked the op if we could pass through her cones and rest at the shaded tables inside of the area that was closed off. She said we could. There were a few others lining up at the cones where the op was, but we were the only ones inside. I was trying to nap with no luck and Boogie was watching the situation. About 15 minutes later, we saw a guy walking towards the girl, heard her exclaim "Finally!" and start to motion to the crowd. We bolted upright, used our closer position to stay ahead of the stampede, which was kind of the plan the whole time, and were the first 2 riders of the day!
What can I say about Cannibal? This ride is the full package. They went pretty detailed in the themeing, as the control booth is in a giant cauldron, and the huge mural of a volcano and flying, flaming skulls on the far side of the station was quite impressive. We grabbed front seat, natch, and waited with anticipation as the curtain lifted and we rolled into the dark building. You probably know that it uses an elevator lift, but you may not know that it's a double lift system just like the one on Holiday World's Pilgrims Plunge. This is an impressive structure, and somewhat intimidating when you look up on your dark ascent. I don't know why, but looking up, seeing the other lift come down past you on the bowed track, adds a lot to the experience. When you reach the top, you are behind yet another curtain, which then opens for you to see just how high up you really are. (208 ft. Watch the POV for an idea, but nothing comes close to the experience.)
After a few second to take in the mountain view, you are rolled slowly to the edge and held for another second or two before being released into a 116 degree drop. Yup... 116 degrees... it's absolutely insane. The airtime, the visual, and the feeling are way more intense than what I'm most familiar with on Maverick. The height has a lot to do with it, because unlike Maverick, there's time to really take in what's happening, and it's wonderful. The drop leads to a tunnel and then 3 different types of large inversions before the midcourse. After the midcourse comes the unique and somewhat awkward slow roll (think Volcano) that stops 3/4 way through and reverses. I thought it would be fun, but it was actually the low point of the ride. From there the ride goes into a left 270 helix followed by a right 450, all downhill and picking up speed, through a tunnel and past a waterfall which gives the front seat riders just the perfect amount of cooling mist. Finally, the ride re-enters the building and comes to a stop.
Needless to say, we were impressed. We got off and hurried around to try and catch another ride before the line built up. The line was increasing, but I don't think we waited more than 10 minutes. After our 2nd ride, again in the front, the line had spilled out of the short queue, but we still only waited 18 minutes for a 3rd ride. As luck almost never has it, we were assigned the front row for a 3rd time, but must have thrown the op off when we asked if we could try the back this time. The back, while still fun, just didn't compare to the front. It felt slightly rougher and just not as polished in the back. In contrast, on Valravn we've had 4 back row and 1 front row ride, and I prefer the back for the forces on the drop.
By now it was after 5, we were hot, tired, and just all around done. While we waited to be picked up was when we did a few repeat rides and found Dracula's Castle on the way out.
Overall... We had a great time. We were speculating that the heat must have kept the crowds low, but even so, we loved the way it was run. Every coaster, save the Vekoma Jr SLC and the kiddie, was running 2 trains, despite the fact that there was no need to. The Schwartzkopf was sending out trains half full, yet still running 2. Who does that? We never waited more than 5 -10 minutes for anything, save that last Cannibal ride, but even that line moved unbelievably fast. We spent our entire visit in the dry rides section of the park, so we did not get to see the "Lagoon" that you'll see in promo photos. In fact, it was pretty much all asphalt. Nor did we get to see it at night, which I'm sure would have been much prettier. I get the feeling it would have a Lakeside, CO feel to it at night. So it wasn't pretty, but it wasn't ugly either. Mostly nondescript, but in a good way. It was clean, the guests were friendly, and the ops all seemed to be in good spirits, despite the heat.
Nice TR! You really got a lot of mileage out of your visit. I too liked Jet Star 2 and thought that it packed a punch. (I had been warned that I would have to find a riding buddy due to Lagoon's no single rider policy.) What I didn't realize until you mentioned it is that spiral lifts are uncommon. Regrettably, I totally overlooked Whizzer when I visited SFGA. I liked Wicked more than you did and Colossus the Fire Dragon less. As to Cannibal, it totally blew me away! Last year I rode only 3 new coasters - Cannibal, Fury 325 and Impulse - and liked Cannibal the best because it's so unique and original. The beyond-vertical drop is indeed insane. Unlike you, however, I really liked the double heartline roll, which I felt to be enhanced by the slow motion. I rode this coaster in all 3 rows and didn't notice an appreciable difference between them, probably b/c the trains are so short. Am dying to get back to Lagoon to re-ride Cannibal but that may not be possible now that US Airways is out of business. Last year I flew nonstop from Philly to SLC on that airline for $303 but American, which took it over, doesn't fly this route nonstop and neither does Frontier. Seems that the only airline flying that route nonstop is Delta and their fares are not cheap.
FWIW, USAir isn't "out of business," it just merged with AA. Most of the routes should still be intact.
We flew into Las Vegas, as the airline I work for doesn't fly into SLC. It was all part of the plan because we had been wanting to get back to LV to visit the Shelby American factory (A must visit if you're into cars!) and clean up Boogie's missed credit list. Even though I'm sick of the place, LV is always... uh... interesting. I didn't do a TR on NYNY and Circus Circus because I just didn't think it would be interesting. I did one on El Loco 2 years ago, maybe I'll add something to that. https://coasterbuzz.com/Forums/Topic/el-loco
We love driving through new to us parts of the country, so the drive from LV to SLC was not a big deal at all. (5.5 hrs.) We even stopped at a great local park in St George, UT and did some climbing0 on and through the red rocks.
What I meant was that US Airways as a separate entity no longer exists. I just took a screenshot of American's schedule and don't see any nonstops. Coincidentally, I was seated next to a former US Airways flight attendant, now working for Frontier, enroute to Charlotte to visit Carowinds last Friday, and we discussed the loss of former routes including the direct one from PHL to SLC. (She was on the aircraft in a supervisory capacity, as the flight attendants were out of Trenton Mercer and unfamiliar with Airbus 321 so needed some guidance.) Am trying to attach screenshot of AA service to SLC but am unable to.
Not sure how I feel about Frontier. I just flew them on my Mexico vacation and while I knew it was no frills - it seems that after every nickel and dime, you wind up paying the same price as a full service airline.
But hey, at least it's not Spirit - and my flights were on time ;-)
I'm actually pretty pleased with Frontier. (Previously flew them to go to Carowinds last year.) Decided to take out The Works, which of course was extra, but the total including airfare, taxes, carry-on bag, prime seat selection and full refundability came to $184 and that wasn't a bad deal. As to Spirit, I flew that airline to Dallas a couple of months ago to visit SFOT and besides being a cheap trip, everything went off without a hitch. I would definitely fly Spirit again despite the fact that they won't even give you a glass of water unless you pay for it.
Frontier at least gave us water, and overall it was a pretty good flight. Being an older plane, the leg room wasn't too bad either.
The problem with traveling to Mexico for 8 days, especially when there's 2 adults and an 11 year old girl - is that carrying on isn't really an option - we only took 2 bags, probably could have taken one - but the 11 year old wanted to wheel her own luggage around.
Now, send me to Boston/Seattle/Orlando for the weekend, and I can toss some stuff in a backpack and be golden
Frontier is basically following in the footsteps of Spirit. The ultra low cost carrier model tends to piss people off. The newer planes have super small seats and the TVs are gone. Their tray tables are about the size of an envelope. Their ownership has been pretty unstable as of late, but apparently they have turned profitable. Frontier was always a favorite of a lot of us in Denver (where they are based), but it seems as time moves on, Southwest is becoming the new fave.
Dave Dragon, go Dave Dragon, and the Star Force Five!
Not sure how I feel about Frontier.... while I knew it was no frills - it seems that after every nickel and dime, you wind up paying the same price as a full service airline.
I'm so excited... This will be my first time using the sacred Coasterbuzz phrase... here goes...
Now Josh (tee hee) I know that flight prices fluctuate a lot and there are tons of variables involved, but in general, if you're paying the same on Spirit as you are on a Legacy Carrier...
THEN YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!
Haha! Well, we went with a group, so the flight was part of the whole vacation, but after the $82 fee to reserve our seats, and whatever the bags cost, it sure feels like it cost more than it did.
I guess it's like an all-inclusive resort to me. I'd rather pay a bit more up front, then not have to get my wallet out again and again.
And that's understandable. Peace of mind is worth a little extra money for sure. As a non-rev, believe me, I know all about that. Non-revving is hard. That's why we bought Wife and Kid actual tickets for this vacation. We don't pay for extras, sure, but name another airline that doesn't charge for bags. Go ahead, I dare you.
OK... fine... but can you name a second?
I usually carry on, so let's name the ones that don't charge for that ;-)
Like I said, didn't really hate Frontier, and will probably try to grab a flight on spirit to Orlando or something for a weekend, but I haven't experienced them yet. That was my first time on anything other than United or Southwest in quite some time
Just be glad Frontier Airlines isn't the same as Frontier Communications. We'd be hearing about delays, system outages, and crashes daily, and yet they'd still be in business somehow.
And they'd constantly spam my snail mail box with junk mail, offers, and promises of a $200 visa gift card for switching to their crappy DSL.
One thing is almost for certain: although Frontier is adding new routes, neither Frontier nor Spirit is likely to fly to small markets such as Hartford, Newport News or Erie. So that leaves me with American. This may be somewhat off topic but I have a difficult decision to make and while I know that no-one can make up my mind for me it helps to put it in writing. Coincidentally, American is offering the exact same fare - $303 - to Hartford (SFNE), Newport News (BGW) and Erie (Waldameer) and as I can afford to go to only one of these parks, it's difficult to decide which would be the best option. SFNE - I've ridden all the coasters in the park except for Wicked Cyclone and Goliath. Wicked Cyclone intrigues me but is it worth the trip? BGW - I love this park and have ridden everything except for Loch Ness Monster, Verbolten and Tempesto (V and T were not there when I visited.) Alpengeist was my 1st invert and I hated it but this was back in the days when I couldn't imagine why anyone would want to be upside down on a coaster or ride below the track. Thanks to Montu, Afterburn and others, I came to adore inverts and would like to ride Alpengeist again, as I would probably love it. Waldameer - I've wanted to ride Ravine Flyer II since I learned of its existence but from what I can see this park doesn't have anything else earthshaking going for it and I doubt that I'd want to ride RF all day. This is a tough one.
I'm going with Busch Gardens for you. I predict you'll enjoy the rides you need for your list and, as you know, overall there's lots to do there.
I like Waldameer for its smallness and its quaintness. I go against the pack when I say RF2 isn't my favorite, but I really enjoy the classic rides, smaller coasters, and the traditional park atmosphere along side Lake Erie. But knowing you and your work, I'd say it's not the best choice.
I left SFNE with a bad taste in my mouth. Cyclone was fun, but getting on it was excruciating and operations sucked. If that and Goliath is all you need I'd say pass.
I wish you drove, your travel life would be a lot easier. :)
Yeah, Waldameer is a nice little place, but it's not worth flying for. It's a very small place, and gets redundant after a few hours. It's definitely a half-day kind of place, or a full day if you're picnicking with friends/family/work and playing games and whatnot in the groves, but it's certainly not a destination like that.
Thanks RCMAC and Raven-Phile for the input. I had sort of been leaning toward Busch Gardens b/c it does have so much to offer and I'd have a fabulous time. (Was actually supposed to go there a couple of months ago with a friend who has a car and a time share in Williamsburg but she had a family emergency so that was cancelled and my $38 Groupon for admission to the park expired on June 26, sigh.) As to SFNE, it's the least hospitable park I've ever visited - some of the staff was actually rude - but Superman f/k/a Bizarro was worth it. Yes, I'd probably get bored with Waldameer before the day was over. And Mac, I wish that I could afford to buy a car, as that would certainly make my travel life a lot easier. I borrow my dad's to go to SFGAD, Dorney and Hershey but asking to borrow it to go as far as western PA might be too much of an inconvenience to him - besides which the longest I ever drove at a stretch is 3 hrs. (last year, to Knoebels) and that just about did me in.
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