Michigan's Adventure 08/11/13 - Hey! Somebody Else Went There!

Monday, August 12, 2013 12:04 AM

My goal for the year is to ride my 300th coaster. It was supposed to happen this weekend on a trip to another part of the country, but that trip was getting expensive and it was also iffy as to whether I'd make it back home since the flights from that city to Baltimore were all pretty much full. I checked out a few options before deciding on Grand Rapids, to which I was able to catch my airline's inaugural flight.

I left the airport and headed right to the park, where the cars were backed up all the way to the open spaces. I parked mid-parking space and headed on in to the park.

My first stop was the Corkscrew. It was your average everyday Corkscrew. If you've ridden one, you know what that's like. If you haven't, you still probably have a good idea what that's like.

Next up was the Wolverine Wildcat. Meh.

I then rode Shivering Timbers. I grabbed the front row for my first lap on the beast. It had some jolting here and there, but it was a good ride overall with a surprising amount of airtime given the size of the hills and the number of them. Seriously, it seemed like the ride defied all laws of friction and gravity. It was an impressively long coaster, which was a major plus. It was easily the best ride of the day.

It was way past lunch, so I grabbed a cheeseburger and fries. Insert a generic description that wouldn't be nearly as fun to read as a quality one-liner here.

I snagged a lap on the Mad Mouse shortly thereafter. I'm not a raving fan of Wild Mouse-style coasters by any manufacturer, but it wasn't bad. Arrow seemed to nail down the basics of the concept.

It was at that point, and at 298 coasters, that I had to make a decision: to ride or not to ride Zach's Zoomer. I'd ridden Thunderhawk when it was at Geauga Lake, so I knew I wasn't going to get to 300 regardless, but I had to decide if I was going to be that creepy single rider without a son or daughter. Against my better judgment, I rode it. I'm pretty sure it's essentially the same thing as the junior wooden coasters at the ex-Paramount parks, so I have nothing further to add on the subject.

I decided to jump on Thunderhawk as a tribute to my former workplace. I must say that it easily had the SLC crew of the century. They had a few instances where they didn't even stack, which was something I thought impossible on SLCs. It went down briefly while I was in line, but it still made it on fairly quickly. It ran about as well as a SLC could, and I found myself actually enjoying it. I thought those days were long gone, but alas, I was wrong.

Oh, and of the relocated GL coasters, that was the last one I needed to ride at its new home. The cycle is complete and the villagers may rejoice.

I swung back over to the other side of the park for an encore lap on Shivering Timbers. I rode near the middle of the train to get away from some annoying teenagers who were trying to make the lives of their fellow guests miserable while in line. When they started touching this other teenage girl, I moved in between them and her to try and get them to back off. We were just about at the station and we all got away from them, so that was that. I don't understand teenagers. I can't think of another age group where so many of its members intentionally try to act like tools.

The ride was good, though. I don't know if it was the stuff of legends that its ratings make it out to be, but it was a solid ride and worthy of five stars nonetheless. Certainly the best wooden coaster I've ridden in the area (which I'm arbitrarily defining as Ohio and Michigan).

That was it for the riding. It was the last of the Cedar Fair ride parks that I had yet to visit, so that checklist is finally complete. I must say, for all the jokes we make about it, it was actually quite a nice, fairly quiet little park. It was hardly dead, but none of the waits were too terrible. I certainly enjoyed myself and wouldn't mind visiting again, although that may be due to the shockingly high percentage of attractive women in western Michigan. Not a bad day at all.

Ultimately, I wouldn't even call it the worst park in the chain. I can't put my finger on why that is, but it was really a fun place to visit. If you're coming expecting a quality coaster lineup, you'll be disappointed as Shivering Timbers is the only one worth mentioning, but if you're coming for a fun little park that's relaxing to visit, you'd like it there. I recommend checking it out when you get the chance.

Last edited by sirloindude, Monday, August 12, 2013 8:58 AM
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Monday, August 12, 2013 12:15 AM

I get annoyed by other teenagers being jerks to other people at school. It's not right. I can't speak up, though, because I'm the class nerd.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 1:32 PM

Am I missing something or does that post have everything to do about Tyler and nothing to do about the trip report?

Nice TR. I may get to MiA one day. Glad you had a good time. And I'm still really jealous that you work for an airline.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 3:02 PM

I'll second that; good TR and I too am jealous that you work for an airline! I'll never get up to 300 coasters, barring a miracle, because airfares are getting prohibitive. (Cost me $683 to get from Philly to Silver Dollar City to Cedar Point and back to Philly.) Glad you share my enthusiasm for Shivering Timbers; love that coaster. My friends and family thought I was insane to go to Muskegon to ride a roller coaster but I fell in love with this one after seeing a video and simply had to ride it. And yes, the airtime is good; ejector airtime is sufficiently extreme that I had to brace myself hard with my feet in order to ride hands in the air.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 4:54 PM

I liked your trip report Sirloin Dude.

I have been to the park 3 times this year, and have good and not so good rides on Shivering Timbers. Riding in the front will give you the best ride, as it seems to take away some of the roughness. A back side ride can be good as well, if it is having a good day. But, if it is having a bad day, it will slap the crap out of you.

I think it's sad that you think the Wildcat is Meh. Granted it's not a great coaster, but it is the third largest ride in the park. It does have decent hills, but I think if they removed the double up-double down, and replaced it with speed hills, it would make the ride a lot more fun. They could easily have two good sized hills before the turn around. The other thing is that, it is supposed to be one of the parks premium rides. Which is not saying much.

Zach's Zoomer is almost identical to the kid woodies at Kings Island and Canada's Wonderland. It's actually a nice little ride. Though I think the park's Big Dipper and Mad Mouse are, as you said...Meh. The addition of Thunder hawk was probably the best addition Cedar Fair has made. But, don't be fooled, it does get a line. Have waited 50 minutes for it. But, lately, the line has been pretty short.

I'm wondering what you think of some of the other rides in the park? To me, it always feels like it is missing something. They spent a ton of money adding midway games to the park, and have too many of them, as far as I am concerned. Games that nobody ever seems to be playing. A lack of any kind of Thrill ride is my main complaint. Get an Enterprise, or build a Power Tower, even a ride like the Monster would be welcome. A majority of the rides, minus the Gliders, bumper cars, bumper boats, and the swans, are the only rides Cedar Fair has added since 2005. Most of the rides were already there when Cedar Fair bought the park.

They made major improvements to the water park, by adding Funnel of Fear, and few other attractions. And, Rip Cord and Grand Rapids were nice additions. But, it just seems to me they could, and should do more to make the park better. At least the former owners offered entertainment. A multi-billion dollar company offers none.

Also wonder what you felt about them having Fast lane. Other than them making a small amount of extra cash, over the huge amount of money they are already making.

Do you feel it is worth the price of admission? Distance traveled to get there, and prices of parking, food, merchandise and games. Did you find it reasonable? I think it's ok. I'd give it a 3 star rating, that could be a five star rating if they tried.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 6:06 PM

I thought Michigan's Adventure had a great selection of non-coaster rides. I didn't ride any (the train filled up right before I was about to get on and the line for the Gliders was too long), but it seemed like they had a good amount.

What you need to remember is that it's about an hour outside of the nearest major city, and that major city is the still-small Grand Rapids. It's just not going to be a big park until the country grows more and more and the smaller cities become the size of the major ones. Personally, I thought it was one of the more right-sized parks out there with a well-planned attraction list. I admit that Shivering Timbers, while good, seems like a relatively weak choice of a signature coaster in a park with six others, but nonetheless, I thought the place was perfect in terms of magnitude.

Cost-wise, I have a platinum pass, the rental car was cheap, the Hyatt Place I stayed at had a killer rate (and was super-nice, though I admit to being a sucker for the Hyatt Place brand), and the food seemed noticeably cheaper than I'm used to at theme parks. All in all, it was one of the more enjoyable trips I've taken. All the lines were around twenty minutes save for Corkscrew and Zach's Zoomer, so I thought that lended yet more proof to the notion that they're right-sized.

I will say that if, and I do mean if, they added a new coaster, I think they could benefit from another larger one if only to thin crowds out in the other lines on what should have been a pretty slow day, but I say that more from a ride capacity standpoint. Adding a two-train capability to the Wolverine Wildcat seems like it would be a better investment than an entirely new coaster, but I'll acknowledge that a little extra capacity on the coaster front couldn't hurt.

I was pleased that Fastlane was cheap, showing that CF is smart enough to base the price on the size of the park at which they offer it. Call them greedy if you want, though, but very few people were using it yesterday and I thought that those who were were suckers. If you can't wait twenty minutes for something, you need to find something else to do with your time. It had no noticeable impact on the standby lines, if that's what you're asking.

I will say that I could see the park growing down the road, but it's going to be a slow pace. I think of similarly-sized Six Flags parks that just built, built, built with no thought put into creativity or great ride execution, and I greatly prefer the Cedar Fair approach. It's slower, yes, but each ride is a well-planned installation and it's not one that generally involves production models. You just have to give it time.

Oh, and all your comments about hideous people wearing nasty swimsuits were completely bogus. That park (and the whole Grand Rapids area, apparently), was loaded with attractive young ladies around my age. I was tempted to just go chill on a bench in the waterpark for a little while, but that would've been creepy and even more importantly, the women wouldn't have been able to resist my handsomeness and chaos would have ensued. Better to stay on the move than risk a riot. ;)

All in all, I think you need to not look at Michigan's Adventure from the perspective of how it relates size-wise to some of the larger parks in the industry. Look at it for what it is and in the context of where it is. That should make it vastly more enjoyable for you. It's a really nice little park, and I'll definitely go there again...

...but mostly for the ladies. ;)

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Monday, August 12, 2013 7:33 PM

Timber-Rider said:

I think it's sad that you think the Wildcat is Meh. Granted it's not a great coaster, but it is the third largest ride in the park. It does have decent hills, but I think if they removed the double up-double down, and replaced it with speed hills, it would make the ride a lot more fun. They could easily have two good sized hills before the turn around. The other thing is that, it is supposed to be one of the parks premium rides. Which is not saying much.

Zach's Zoomer is almost identical to the kid woodies at Kings Island and Canada's Wonderland. It's actually a nice little ride. Though I think the park's Big Dipper and Mad Mouse are, as you said...Meh. The addition of Thunder hawk was probably the best addition Cedar Fair has made. But, don't be fooled, it does get a line. Have waited 50 minutes for it. But, lately, the line has been pretty short.

Wildcat's problem is that it's made by a company that has only these as their custom rides:

(From Wikipedia site Dinn Corporation)

Georgia Cyclone

Hercules, Closed 2003

Mean Streak

Predator

Psyclone, Closed 2007

Raging Wolf Bobs, Closed 2007

Rocky Mountain Construction in 2011

Thunder Run, SBNO since 2009

Timber Wolf

Wolverine Wildcat

There were problems with each of these rides.

Georgia Cyclone had RMC topper track in some parts of the ride because it was too rough.

Hercules was extremely rough, leading to its removal.

Mean Streak is very rough and boring.

Predator is known for being rough and somewhat unreliable.

In one of the last seasons of its operation, a coaster enthusiast poll of 490 people rated Psyclone 178/179 for wood coasters. It was even ranked below SoB, which was 176th. It had many problems, as I've heard.

Raging Wolf Bobs had a derailing accident in 2007.

Texas Giant wasn't known as an awful ride, but it was transformed into a steel coaster by RMC.

Thunder Run has a very similar layout to the lackluster Hurler rides at KD and Carowinds.

Wolverine Wildcat isn't noteriously rough, but it has awful capacity (700 rph). Also, it isn't very exciting.

As you see, Timber-Rider, Dinn Corporation is essentially the TOGO of woodies. They are notoriously known for their uncomfortable rides, and they usually have some major problem. Wolverine Wildcat is actually one of the smoother Dinn Corporation rides, as I've heard. It is a Phoenix wanna-be as the layout is similar, but Wildcat has barely any air time. I consider Wildcat a meh coaster.

As for Mad Mouse,

I love Mad Mouse, and it is my #3 favorite ride at MA. It has ejector air, and I like the Arrow Mouse rides far more than the Mauer designs. That's just my worthless opinion.

When Thunderhawk opened, I was a bit disappointed. I thought the park had enough room for a smaller B&M invert or something more enthusiast pleasing than a Vekoma SLC.

Last edited by Tyler Boes, Monday, August 12, 2013 7:35 PM
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Monday, August 12, 2013 7:54 PM

Regarding Thunderhawk, I'm sure they do (did) have room for a B&M invert, and I think one would have fit in well there. However, when you've got a SLC laying around doing nothing, why not put it to use?

I admit I would be completely in favor of them booting out Thunderhawk and putting in a nice B&M invert a la Talon, but if they do that, I don't see it happening for quite some time.

It's also possible that they weren't going to get anything, period, though, and that Thunderhawk was just an unexpected bonus from the closure of Geauga Lake.

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Monday, August 12, 2013 11:05 PM

It'd be nice too replace Wildcat, also.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:04 PM

Two things Tyler: You were right about the Wildcat being similar to the Phoenix, and that is because it was what the park wanted. Only Dinn made it into a more twister type ride. If they had made it more identical to Pheonix, I'm sure it would have been a lot better ride, and people would love it. I still think taking out the Double-up/double down would make it a better ride, also, adding another train, would give it shorter lines. The only ride in the park, where Fast lane would be useful.

As for Raging Wolf Bobs. I rode it before and after the reconstruction, and it was absolute crap both times. Before the reconstruction, it was the only ride I have ever been on where I thought I was going to die at any moment. It just felt like it was going to jump the track at every turn, and shook more violently then any other coaster I have ever been on.

You may not know that the Wildcat has been rebuilt. The double down was rebuilt a while back, and the hill leading up into the second turn around was replaced, with a smoother lead into it. At one time the double down was such ruin, that you felt you were just dropped on it like a ton of bricks, and it hurt like hell. If it were me, I would take it out.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 11:06 PM

Don't ever, EVER call the Wolverine Wildcat similar to Phoenix. Wolverine Wildcat was as boring as death. If they wanted to build a better Phoenix, they should have spiced up a couple of the turnarounds and that's it.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 11:22 PM

Dinn actually was the company that rebuilt Phoenix at Knoebels. Michigan Adventures wanted a ride of similar style, so Dinn made an awful version with a similar, but not exact layout. Kind of imagine the difference between Psyclone at SFMM and Cyclone at Coney.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 9:28 PM

Hey Sirloindude, they didn't want to build a better Pheonix, they just wanted to build a ride similar in layout to it. If they had not made the Wildcat into a twisting ride, it would not be that much different then the Pheonix. Watch a POV of both rides, and the amount of drops, and placement of drops is about the same. Only one twists, and the other doesn't.

Actually, in it's first few years of operation, the Wildcat was a very fun, and very fast coaster. I think I rode it 18 times in a row on it's opening day. But, like other coasters, (Mean Streak) it has not aged well. Which is why they have attempted to smooth it out, time and again. Before Cedar Fair, there were times where you could see that the trains were riding over bare wood, and the ride was just terrible.

I have not been on the Pheonix, but I have seen on ride footage of it, and it is obviously a far superior ride. And, if I am not mistaken, the Pheonix was actually at another park, before Knoebels bought it, and rebuilt it. I don't recall the name of the other park. But, it's not like Knoebels can take 100 percent credit for a relocated ride.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 9:40 PM

After its three-year retracking was completed, RWB was smooth as glass and terrific fun.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 9:17 AM

Surprise! Charlie Dinn is also responsible for Tyler's favorite coaster: The Beast.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 11:50 AM

Tyler Boes said:

Kind of imagine the difference between Psyclone at SFMM and Cyclone at Coney.

There was no difference. Both were terrible coasters.

Granted, I haven't ridden the original since the rehab thats been going on, but when they both existed together, there wasn't a real difference.

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