With CAC last month, I began three weekends in a row of cross-country coastering, which also included the Holiday World event and PPP. Unbeknownst to me, these original three weekends of travel would not be the end of my fall coaster adventures. Since those first three events have been well-covered by TR gurus like Nasai and +Danny, I will just say I had an absolute blast at all three weekends and really cherish all of the new friends I have made.
So about two weeks ago, one of my former college roommates, BJ e-mails me out of the blue, saying he’s back in Iowa from a trip to Romania. Now I hadn’t seen BJ in about a year, so it was kind of a shock. He basically said, “Matt let’s go on a coaster trip somewhere. I have a friend in Kansas City, so we could stay there…” Well, I was already planning on going to KC that same weekend for my annual personal time with Timber Wolf and side trip to the rest of Worlds of Fun. So naturally, I had to make things even more interesting and suggest we also drive down to Six Flags St. Louis. BJ was cool with that. “Yes!” Prepare to fast forward…
Friday, October 14
BJ drove down from Ames and picked me up in Des Moines at around 3:00 pm. We threw my stuff in the back of his Saturn VUE and headed south on I-35 for WoF. Stopping along the way for some munchies at Wendy’s, we arrived at the park a little later than expected, around 6:30. BJ’s friend Craig (the guy whose place we were crashing at later4) was golfing and would meet up with us a little later. BJ is a bit of a coaster novice and had never been to WoF (or SFStL), so it was nice for me to play tour guide, as I have sadly become bored with the park since the neutering of Timber Wolf and the removal of Zambezi Zinger and Orient Express. Hopefully Patriot will renew my enthusiasm next year.
Anyhow, BJ wanted to head straight for the biggest, fastest coaster, so that meant Mamba and I figured the quickest way to get there was to go clockwise through Scandinavia, Africa, and then the “Cedar Point” section to Mamba’s entrance. WRONG! We got to the train bridge between Scandinavia and Africa and were met with a rope blocking off the Africa section. Later we would find out the section was roped off in preparation for the Frightzone (Sorry to Swoosh if I got that wrong) haunted area. So we turned around and went back to where we started and tried our luck at a counter-clockwise attack. We passed Spinning Dragons in hopes of a shorter line later on and decided to grab a ride on my once favorite coaster, Timber Wolf. We opted for 1.2. I warned BJ ahead of time that the Wolf is nothing like it once was. And sadly, I wasn’t proved wrong. The brake on the first drop just kills the ride that once was an airtime machine. Sure, we got some floater here and there, but mostly just meandered around the course.
Next we stopped at Detonator. The S&S towers don’t do much for me, but BJ really enjoyed it. Next, we continued down the path to Mamba and were once again met with a roped off section. “Gosh!” We were directed to go past the train station and through the Europa section. We stopped at the bumper cars along the way. Man, after riding the ones at PPP last weekend, these were hard to enjoy--weak. Pressing on, we arrived at the Africa section, which was densely filled with fog. We decided to do the Boomerang, but couldn’t find the entrance, as that area appeared to be roped off for the Frightzone. There was so much fog, we didn’t notice the little opening at first on the far right. After a little searching, we finally found it. We opted for the front seat to get the sweet backward view of the track on the return trip. The whole ride was shrouded in fog, making it the most interesting boomerang experience I’ve ever had. Yeah, that’s saying a lot.
Finally, we made it to the Mamba entrance. “Hooray!” But guess what; it wasn’t open yet. “Doh!” So we waited for a bit and then BJ’s friend Craig called to say he was in the parking lot. We left the Mamba to meet him at the front gate.
Now a group of three, we headed over to Spinning Dragons. The wait wasn’t bad at all; things were looking up indeed. SD is still the only spinning coaster I’ve ridden and I really enjoy it in a Wildcat / Flitzer sort of way. I was hoping with three of us, we’d be unbalanced enough to get some wicked spins in, but it was fairly average. Ohh well, still a fun ride.
We made our way back to Mamba and were greeted with not only an open ride, but a short line. Craig motioned for us to go to the back of the train. I thought to myself, “All right. I like this guy’s thinking.” I soon learned Craig was a coaster enthusiast and like me grew up wanting to be a coaster designer. So that made for some great conversation over the course of the weekend. So while waiting for 6.1 on Mamba, this obnoxious high school-ish girl next to us turns to this high school-ish guy in line behind us and says something to the effect of, “Excuse me; I’m not trying to be mean, but are you gay? Because you have earrings in both ears and you just look gay.” We were just shocked at her stupidity, but Craig stepped in and replied, “Excuse me. Are you a dumbass?” To which obnoxious girls friends replied, “Yeah, she can be.” It was quite a funny moment. Anyhow, we got in our ride and as usual, the first half was pretty sweet, but after the midcourse drop, the return leg was just blah. What’s the point of having a finale full of airtime hills if the ride is slowed down too much to produce any airtime? I’m glad I was fortunate to experience Mamba in its early, early days before the second and third train arrived. The midcourse was hardly used then.
The rest of the night involved haunted attractions, a ride on Viking Voyager, DDR, and re-ides on Mamba and Timber Wolf. I told BJ and Craig that we wouldn’t get wet on Viking Voyager. Well, we were heavy enough that we got wet, so I heard about that the rest of the night. It never fails. J
While in Scandinavia, we wandered into the arcade. Craig asked BJ and I if we had ever done DDR. “Nope.” Well, I can say now I have and it was very fun. I totally get it now. While we were “dancing,” a crowd formed around us. Funny how that seems to always happen when someone gets the courage to try it. I kicked BJ’s ass, but was no match for the veteran, Craig. After we were done, we were treated to watching a DDR master. OMG! This kid was like tap dancing to 16th notes on that thing. Wow!
We did the Haunted Clown thing (Carnival of Carnivorous Clowns I think it’s called) but we called it the Insane Clown Posse or ICP. I hadn’t done a haunted house-type attraction in about 20 years and don’t really enjoy scary movies, so that was interesting, but pretty tame compared to the haunted camp thing in the Africa section. “Zoiks” The fog was THICK! At times, we couldn’t tell where the hell we were going. That was scary enough, let alone all the scare-ers jumping out at us. The rest of the weekend, we couldn’t stop saying, “Rah!” to each other.
After surviving the haunted camp, we made it through the Frightzone, past the elf—“I’m an elf. I’m an elf….”—and on to the Mamba for another backseat ride. Craig then said he was about “Worlds of Funned out,” so we headed for the main gate. Before leaving, Craig and I grabbed a backseat ride on Timber Wolf. “Wow!” The Wolf needs some lovin’ really bad! We were shuffling and bouncing all over the place (in a bad way). We talked about how great this coaster used to be. It was nice Craig had that prior experience as well and could share in my disappointment for the current state of the ride.
Leaving the park around 11:30 and knowing that my favorite “peeza place” (Pizzeria Uno) had a location in the KC Plaza and was open until 1:00 am, I asked if anyone was up for some pizza. They were. “Yes!” I always try to hit the local Uno’s when I’m on a coaster trip. That reminds me; I need to look those up for my Texas trip this weekend. :) So we followed Craig down to the plaza. Now, I’ve been to this particular Uno’s about five times, but I can never remember exactly where it is. I just know it’s near the western edge of the plaza and I always seem to stumble upon it. Along the way, I called Craig on his cell to give him a surprise “Rah!” :) Arriving at the plaza, we found a parking garage at the western edge of the plaza and walked around the corner. Bam! “There it is. Am I good or what?”
Being the Uno’s expert in the group, I suggested a Numero Uno deep-dish pizza. Mmmm! I think it was well received by my now-enlightened friends. Afterward, we followed Craig back to his apartment on the southwest side of town. We ended the night with a couple episodes of Spongebob Squarepants season one. Isn’t it fun to be with a group of like-minded individuals? :) :)
Saturday, October 15
We woke up around 10:30 am and slowly got ready to head down to Six Flags St. Louis. Craig decided to come with us and found a nice downtown hotel for $70 on Hotwire. After watching a little more Spongebob, we finally took off a bit past noon. We made it to Eureka, MO around 4:30pm and stopped at McDonald’s for some reasonably priced pre-park food. By the way, in the McDonald’s were several coaster photos of rides not at that particular Six Flags.
Finally, we made it to the Six Flags main gate around 5:15 pm. We were met with a ginormous crowd of people at the ticket booth. I had my season pass from when I visited the park back in July and BJ had purchased his ticket on line, but we had to wait for Craig to get his ticket. Several of the ticket booths were closed as evident by their window blinds being shut. After waiting about 15 or 20 minutes in one of the many stagnant lines, I noticed that one of the lines lead to two ticket booths that both had their window blinds open. All of the other lines appeared to lead to only one open ticket booth, so I jumped into that line to see if I was right. Soon, it became apparent I had made the right choice for once. After about 10 minutes, we were onto the security checkpoint. Once inside the park, we headed for Batman since BJ had never experienced an inverted coaster. Hoping that the ticket line wasn’t a sign of what was to come, we were greeted with a nearly full queue. About 90 minutes later, we made it onto rows 6 and 7 and had a nice ride. While climbing the lift, I had totally forgotten that this version was a mirror image of the other Batmen, so the first drop caught me off guard and from there on out it was shock and awe, as I couldn’t remember which way we were going to turn next. It made the ride almost new again for me. If only there was always a way to randomize coasters like that.
Next we headed back and up to Screamin’ Eagle. Along the way, we passed River King Mine Train, which had a line out the door. Yikes! Things weren’t looking up. We managed to get on the Eagle in about 40 minutes and rode the last two seats of the red train. SE delivered a great ride through the now dark woods and had some nice airtime off of the big drops. This coaster is running the best I have ever seen it since my first ride back when Batman was new. BJ thought it was incredible and started to see the light that is wooden coaster goodness. Craig thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
Next we headed over to The Boss where the line extended beyond his mighty gate. At least they were running three trains, but it didn’t help as much as it should have since they kept stacking them. Once in a while they would get the station train dispatched before the next train reached the final set of brakes, but soon it would be back to stacking. At one point, the ride shut down and an emergency vehicle showed up. A few park personnel came scurrying by. We were only about half way up the queue, so we couldn’t tell what was going on, but I guess someone was taken away on a stretcher, but it must not have been the coaster’s fault as the ride soon resumed, and after about an hour wait, we made it on for an almost back seat ride. The Boss has really grown on me since its first season. It seems smoother now than when it opened, but it still lacks air on those low profile hills. I would prefer PTC’s on the ride, but the G-Trains don’t really bother me on this one. OMG, did I just say that? So anyway, Craig and BJ really enjoyed this one. Yeah, I think they are hooked on wood now. “Hooray for our side.”. ;)
We finished the Six Flags portion of our night with a ride on Mr. Freeze, which featured yet another 90ish minute wait. I like how Freeze’s queue is situated around the rapids ride. It was cool seeing the river drained and the innards of the trough. Oh yeah, the coaster was good too. My last ride on Freeze was back when Six Flags thought it would be extra fun to have a coaster with unnecessary OTSR’s. Actually, I didn’t have a problem with them when I rode it back then, but not having them now makes it oh so sa-weeter. I love this ride. Easily one of my favorite steelies and one of few that holds a candle to even a mediocre woodie, as I too am a wooden coaster snob. And yeah, Craig and BJ really liked it too. I’m looking forward to the one at SFoT this weekend.
We left the park right around closing time and headed for downtown St. Louis and our hotel for the night. We weren’t quite sure where the hotel was, but it ended up being right next to Busch stadium, just a couple blocks up from the Arch. We even had a view of the Arch from our room, so that was a nice surprise. We headed over to Caleco’s Bar & Grill across the street for a late night dinner. I had eaten at this place back in 2000 and remembered loving the fajitas, so just as I had done with suggesting Uno’s the night before, I selfishly suggested Caleco’s. :) Mmm! The fajitas are just as good as I remember.
After stuffing ourselves—at 1:00 am mind you—we wandered down to the St. Louis Arch. I mentioned to my pals how it was supposed to be just as tall as it is wide, so we were trying to estimate how wide it is to figure out how tall it is. Craig apparently ran track when he was at Iowa State and knew his timing pretty well and is also an engineer, so he suggested I time him running from one end of the Arch to the other. With a time of 30 seconds, he estimated the distance to be about 220 yards. BJ decided we should run it ourselves and took off at a pace much quicker than I would have liked. Shouting a few choice words at him along the way, I was happy to make it in 35 seconds. “Hooray for me. I can still run.” We headed back to the hotel and noticed a sign saying the park (including the Arch) was closed from 11pm to 6:00 am. “Oops!” So once we got back to the hotel, Craig got out his laptop and made use of the hotel’s Internet service. The answer we were looking for turned out to be 210 yards. “Close enough for government work.”
Before heading home on Sunday, we formally visited the Arch and rode the little space capsule elevator thingies up to the top, where I made a few phone calls to friends and family just for kicks.
Despite the long lines at Six Flags, this trip turned out much better than I anticipated. I know I have a great new friend in Craig and if it weren’t for friends to share it with, roller coastering just wouldn’t be the same. I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I enjoyed mine. Thanks for reading. :) *** Edited 10/18/2005 6:06:04 PM UTC by Acoustic Viscosity***
Acoustic Viscosity said:
That reminds me; I need to look those up for my Texas trip this weekend.
The only one I know of is in downtown Fort Worth.
My night was pretty good, especially thanks to The Boss giving us a crazy ride. That one ride made me take back all the things I said about it in the past.
Here are my photos.
Didn't mean to take over your TR AV. ;)
Well, maybe I'll get to those parks in the next life.;)
The waits were definitely longer than I would have liked, but having friends to chat with made the time go by. It's interesting what a Computer Engineer, Mechanical Engineer (me) and an almost Dr. of Geology can come up with to pass the time. Thanks for reading, Robo. Hope to meet you again soon.
Glad you had a great time. I love the Boss, one of my favorites.
Matt! I completely missed your TR until I checked the forum. Your comment was too kind about my reports, but I just fill them with every piece of nonsense nobody wants to hear. Thanks though. =p
Worlds of Fun does seem like a park that would get boring after awhile especially with a couple very interesting coasters out of the line-up. I'm left with being excited for Patriot, Mamba, and Timberwolf as a shadow of its former self.
I can't wait to ride Mr. Freeze and The Boss though. I haven't been to either park, so next time I get back to Silver Dollar City (love this park!), I'll make sure I make the other two stops as well.
Until then, excellent report! It made me feel like I was right there with you, so I can hold myself over until I get there. :)
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