After a very long drive from Chicago, I looked very forward to getting to the hotel. I had posted previously about the deal at the SpringHill Suites package that came with Kennywood tickets and breakfast for around $100. Well, when we got to the hotel Saturday night, they informed us that the hotel was overbooked and they moved us to the Comfort Inn down the street. We got in there and everything was paid for and they even gave us two free tix to Kennywood. How great is that?
We decided to scope out Kennywood when we first arrived to get an idea of main entrance, parking, etc for Sunday morning. I have to say that I fell in love with the park when we first saw it at night all lit up. It is just so pretty nestled in the valley when looking at it from the parking lot. I could not wait until Sunday to go, but we skipped the twilight tix and just headed back to the hotel waiting for the next morning to arrive. Stupid decision!**
One note about traveling to/from Kennywood: I absolutely love the little yellow signs to get to the park, but unfortunately they do not have signs to get you back to your hotel. West Mifflin can be a little confusing to say the least. And the Yahoo! Directions were not quite spectacular either.
We got into the park first thing in the morning, and sadly, Phantom’s Revenge was down. So we went to Exterminator which is pretty close to there, assuming anyway that lines for it would get longer during the day. I absolutely had a blast on it. I have never laughed so hard on a ride in my life. We then hit Aero 360, where there was no line at all. We then headed for the 3 woodies. Thunderbolt is a great coaster, and would love to ride it some more. Racer and Jack Rabbit were fun as well. Also rode the whip and the turtles (and loved both, even though we have had the habit of avoiding the flat rides like the plague…well, no more of that. Too much fun to be had). Finally Phantom’s Revenge opened around noon or so, and we got a few runs in before having to leave for the next park.
**I was so impressed with Kennywood, that we plan on making a full day/night of it next summer.
More freebies. It was father’s day and my husband got into the park for free (even though the cats were at home), and I got a twilight ticket for a whopping $5.95. We did have to pay for parking ($2) since there was baseball game going on next door.
Lakemont is a very strange park. There are old carnival rides and carnival-type folks (mostly older kids) operating all of the rides. The rides are all spaced apart and you have to walk through weedy fields to get to most of them. We of course went for Leap the Dips (circa 1902) that was towards the back of the park. The coaster seemed like it was in good shape after all of the refurbishing that was done to it in the past years. What was shocking though was the scrawny “tween” working the ride, who had to catch the car when it came down towards the station, then push the car through the station to the waiting riders, and then push it back onto the track. I was worried if my husband and I sat together in a row, because the next guy in line was around 300 pounds, and I thought for sure between the three of us, we would give the operator a coronary. Luckily, the next rider decided to wait for his own trip. It was a sweet little ride. Nothing spectacular, but nothing offensive about the ride either. I think every one should go and take a ride on this coaster, just for the historical nature of it.
Toboggan was a little scary to say the least. The glass in the front of the car was all scratched so you could not see, and the ride was so rusty, I thought I would break through the rails on the way down. Skyliner was relatively amusing, and even more fun waving to filled baseball stadium next door. My husband rode Little Leaper, and on the first trip around, it got stuck, but after that, they sent him around the track around 5 times.
Monday June 21st
Six Flags America
More freebies again. Used our season passes to get in, and they even accepted our SFGAm parking sticker so parking was free too.
So we get into the park and find out Batwing is closed, so we decide to check out the other rides in the meanwhile. I had no problem with the test seat on S:ROS, so we rode that a few times. We actually hit every coaster in the park but the Great Chase (kiddy steel). And Batwing opened up around 2 that afternoon, so we got some rides on that as well. I was super impressed with Roar and Wild One. I also loved the theming at that park. I have to say that the park was much nicer and had some very good quality rides compared to those at SFGAm. However, the chance of me ever going back to park is close to never.
SFA has the absolute worst service of any place (theme park or anywhere else) I have ever been to in my life. I was horrified how bad these operators were, and surprised that worse things have not happened at that park. Our restraints were not checked on S:ROS several times. The kids in line were jumping on the railings, and doing flips over them. People were shoving to get into lines and trains. Trains (on almost each ride) would go out almost half empty due to poor line maintenance. Patrons and operators there could/would not understand that if a row in front of you has an opening for a single, and there is a group of 2 in front of you, that it is polite to let someone go ahead of you. That was something not to be accepted at this park. The only decent operator who really seemed to be on the ball was a younger woman at Two-Face. Her spiel was good, and she seemed on the ball…. UNTIL she said that all of the ladies in the line needed to wear a top over their swimsuits because they did not want their chests to fall out during the ride. Keep in mind that I totally toned down this down for this forum. What she said was inappropriate and I found offensive (and I am not easily offended). It was just a little shocking to hear this kind of talk at a family park.
All in all, I am so sad that SFA has some truly amazing rides, great theming, and a nice chunk of land to work with… and I will most likely never return there. I can not believe how bad the staff was, and how miserable I was when I left the park that night. Anyone who says parks are only about rides, try SFA and see how the staff can ruin your day. BTW, the park was relatively empty. What could have been 10 minute lines for any rides turned out to be more like 30 minutes.
June 22nd and 23rd (am)
Paramount’s Kings Dominion
I don’t have that much to say about this park. I mean it was not the best, and not the worst. Some rides were great, others were so-so. But the staff definitely blows SFA out of the water.
The ride ops at Volcano were some of the best I have EVER encountered. The line management was actually very good. And my husband was obsessed with the staff that came around at Volcano with the cart to take your items. He even took a picture of the guy. Volcano was a blast (pun intended). The ride is soooooo smooth, but way too short.
Hypersonic XLC was pretty lame, after having ridden TTD so many times. It’s a great beginning coaster to do before TTD. Avalanche was fun seeing that Disaster Transport was the only toboggan coaster I had ever been on before. Anaconda was a ride to do only once, as was the strange stand-up Shockwave. Scobby-Doo’s Ghoster Coaster should be renamed Scobby-Doo’s Bluest Coaster, but it was a nice little ride. The woodies were just OK. Rebel Yell was fun, Hurler was blah, but Grizzly rocked in the dark. I was happy we waited especially for the darkness until getting on this ride. The walk back to it was beautiful, and it was loads of fun. Ricochet (the wild mouse) seriously looked like it belonged in an IKEA parking lot. But it packed a nice little punch with some of its drops.
Volcano was the best part about this park for me, (oh, and the lemonade I had there too).
We stayed at Kings Quarters Best Western next door to the park, and it was a decent place. I liked the fact the pool was open until midnight each night and it afforded us the opportunity to go swimming after being at the park all day.
June 23rd (pm) and 24th
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Yes it is a beautiful park, Yes it is immaculate. Yes it is expensive (we did the 2 day for $64.95). But the rides really do rock there, and the theming is out of this world. Before I write too much about the rides, in general, I have to say that the rides seem so much longer to me at this park than anywhere else I have been. When you hit the serious trims in the middle of the rides, that’s when most rides at other places typically end. This place, when you hit the trims, the ride is still only half way over (or half-way starting depending on how you look at things J.
I have to say that the Loch Ness Monster and Big Bad Wolf are typically rides that any other park I would only give one chance to, and then move on. Both of these rides were surprisingly very good. On Big Bad Wolf, we waited and rode in the front row for the first time at night and it really was a great ride. I just think about how many times we made fun of Iron Dragon (@ CP) and Top Gun (@ PKI) and always trashed them for being so lame. I was told that Big Bad Wolf was supposed to be the best suspended coaster, and I did not get on the ride having very high hopes since the others were not that great, to say the least. All I can say is WOW! about BBW. It really was a great coaster.
The Loch Ness Monster was a nice ride. It was less rough than I imagined it would be, so that was a major plus. The tunnel on the ride is the best at night.
Alpengeist…I was really looking forward to it. And now I know why. It was a great ride, although I did think it was rough in spots (especially when you get to the trims, and the train is still wobbling). The line for Alpengeist was always half that of Apollo’s Chariot. I think it may have been too much to handle for many. I probably rode Alpengeist 20 times over the course of a day and a half, and loved it each time (except again for the rough spots where my glasses would hit the restraints).
Apollo’s Chariot was nice (my husband hates me for saying that since he is obsessed with the ride). It was smooth and fun and I had a nice time on it. But it was like a fancy Raging Bull (SFGAm) to me. The best thing about the ride, is that if you are not finicky and do not need to sit in the front or back row, at the end of the evening (after 10pm), they allow you to stay on the trains without getting out until all of the peeps waiting in line for the front/last rows are finished their turns. It’s tricky to make sure that you are in the station before 10 and do not jump on a train until after they close down the line queue. After that, just let everyone go in front of you until you have your seats, and you can ride for a good extra half an hour non-stop. And the ride-ops pride themselves in making us happy by telling us each time we could stay on, and insisted that we tell guest relations/services how much they rocked. And we did so.
So all in all, I would have to say the highlights of the trip were all of the freebies, Kennywood (as a park), Exterminator, Thunderbolt, Volcano, Roar, Alpengeist, Busch Garden’s theming and their length of rides. The worst part about the trip, besides it being over, had to be the staff at SFA. Oh, and the Cedar point closed at 10pm on Friday the 25th, since we were passing through Sandusky on the way home to Chicago, we thought we could get a few rides in at 10:15 (thinking they were open til 11).
Oh and I am only at 97 coasters. Maybe I should have rode the kiddy rides this trip too.
You can dis/agree with me, curse me, and write to me. But that’s my wacky trip report.
Thanks for reading if you got this far.
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