My Michigan Adventure

Associated parks:
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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 6:36 PM
Recently, I had the opportunity to explore Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island, and of course, Michigan's Adventure (which was a last minute addition to the trip itinerary, but was worth it). A brief synopsis of each follows.

The Upper Peninsula: It was cool.

Mackinac Island: It was awesome.

Michigan's Adventure: An excellent park! I have to admit, this small, unpretentious but attractive little park was a pleasant surprise. I knew of Michigan's Adventure only by reputation, thanks in large part to a very large wooden coaster that's been a predominant part of the skyline up there now for five years. I almost didn't hit MIA on my way down from the UP; but I sure was glad I did.

Michigan's Adventure, owned now by Cedar Fair LP for several years, is a smallish amusement park which sits quietly in the middle of a large field, seemingly in the middle of nowhere (and it sort of is). If it weren't for several "generic" street signs pointing the way (i.e., "Amusement Park next right"), one wouldn't even know it's there. There wasn't even much billboard advertisement for the park; and believe me, I was all over Michigan and only saw two or three very understated billboards with Snoopy on them saying "Michigan's Adventure - Just north of Muskegon". Not the sort of advertising I would have expected but then again what do I know.

Driving into Michigan's Adventure was just a little short of a religious experience. Shivering Timbers, sitting not too quietly in the foreground, occupies the newly improved (Cedar Fair) entrance to the park. Far to the left and far to the right I looked, with nothing but beautiful, southern yellow pine as far as the eye could see - and I'm not talking about pine trees. The coaster is absolutely beautiful, with a compact, but very long, out and back design and a classic turnaround featuring a little dive element followed by a straight flat section (very typical of CCI). It's all showcased very well at the front of the park and is impressive for a small park.

The park itself was very tidy, and a moderate crowd was present, much more than expected for an overcast and somewhat cool Tuesday morning. What one first notices is the "lake" in the center of the park, not too attractive by any means, and surrounded by crushed limestone. Not the way I would have designed it, but nonetheless it breaks up the monotone lack of trees (which I understand is due in large part to a severe storm that took out 35+ trees several years ago). The Dodgem cars looked very familiar. Hmmm....I wonder where that came from??? ;) A small collection of unremarkable flat rides is complemented by a large-ish water park at the rear of the park.

The coasters, most of which I rode, are summarized below. I've even assigned a 1-10 rating scale, which is off the top of my head, so use that info as you will:

1.) SHIVERING TIMBERS (1998; Custom Coasters International) Rating: 10/10. Folks, this is what a wooden rollercoaster is all about. It's freaking HUGE, and after my first ride, which I can compare to a two and a half minute orgasm, I can certifiably say that this is a top five rollercoaster for me. I'm still trying to decide whether it's my top wooden coaster, but I'll leave that debate for later. Let me just say that it is the APOLLO'S CHARIOT WOODEN EQUIVALENT IN AIRTIME - I haven't been out of my seat so much since the last time I went to the movies and bought a super-sized Diet Pepsi. It was unbelievable. High points: The front seat (much better than the back), the section of trick track, and the conspicuous lack of braking blocks. Excellent turnaround, and interesting helix at the end, which was a bit rough I thought but nonetheless a great end to the ride. Folks, this is a coaster I WOULD HAVE HITCHHIKED FROM AKRON OHIO TO RIDE in retrospect. A wonderful coaster overall which captured the very essence of what a rollercoaster ride is all about. Did I mention the airtime? Shivering Timbers delivers in every way a wooden coaster (or steel for that matter) should.

2.) WOLVERINE WILDCAT (1988, Curtis Summers/Dinn Corporation) Rating: 7.5/10. I was very pleasantly surprised with the Wildcat, which featured an interesting tunnel, a double-up, double-down section, and several flat sections of interesting banking elements. This double figure-eight coaster looks a bit on the neglected side; with its location right next to the lake, I think a bit more attention should be given to it. I think it would look great with yellow supports and a light blue track (much like Idora Park's Wildcat). Low marks go to only one-train operation (which precluded me from riding a second time) and a sluggish station crew. But overall, a cool coaster, and for a Dinn/Summers, quite enjoyable at that.

3. CORKSCREW (1979, Arrow Dynamics) Rating: 4/10 Okay, I haven't been on an Arrow cookie cutter corkscrew ride since the last time I was at BGT. This one is definitely past its "sell by" date; a disgusting color scheme and provocative "in your face" location at the front of the park makes this coaster the Courtney Love of the Arrow coaster world. What intrigued me about this ride was that there was a very long line for it (it even spilled over onto the midway); moreover, while standing in the line I overheard several people to say they were "nervous" about riding, and people looked with amazement as the coaster train careened through the corkscrew. Come on, people. But then again, I have to keep in mind that these people are from Michigan - what else can you expect? ;) The reactions from the folks in line easily earned this coaster ride a higher rating in my scheme; I gave it another two points just because everyone was so damn entertaining. I did like the good view of the chain lift mechanism which was afforded by the elevated queue right next to the lift hill. But in the end it's a "file it and forget it" coaster, just like so many other Arrows :(.

4.) ZACH'S ZOOMER (1994, Custom Coasters International) Rating: 5/10. This diminutive yet fun family coaster is easily overlooked at MIA; I almost didn't even ride it because I had no children with me and I felt stupid standing in line for it. But there were other adults riding, and after riding I was glad I did. A compact yet intense layout make for a great ride. Recommended if you have the time.

* Note: I skipped Mad Mouse and Big Dipper in the interest of time. I used to be a big "numbers whore" but I really don't care about that anymore - I just want to ride what I want to ride.....

So overall, MIA is definitely worth a look for those who haven't taken the time to do so. It's a great entertainment value, too - when you go, bring your swimsuits - it's all included in the price of admission, which, at $23.00, is quite reasonable for today's standards. The highlight, of course, is the end-all-be-all of wooden coaster existence (i.e., Shivering Timbers), but for the "non-enthusiast" out there, there's plenty to provide for a fun and enjoyable day. As for me, I'll be quietly lurking in the shadows, waiting until Cedar Fair announces their new coaster (whenever that will be), and I'll certainly be back.

---Greg
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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 7:07 PM
You did yourself a diservice by not riding the Mouse. As an arrow there arent very many out there and I consider it the best example of a non spinning mouse out there.

Anyway glad you enjoyed my great state. There is a reason our number one industry is tourism. As for corkscrew creating gasps remember the northern 2/3's of the state is a very long way from any amusement parks.

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If given the choice I'd choose a hamburger over a hotdog anyday of the week.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 7:18 PM
Mad Mouse at MiA being the best example of a non-spinning mouse? What other non-spinners have you ridden?

Joe "I can think of numerous ones I'd consider better than MiA's!"

PS I enjoyed the TR, Greg. But why has it taken you this long to find Shivering Timbers if you live in Akron, Ohio? ;)

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You suck big time.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 7:22 PM
MagnumForce:

Yes, I probably did myself a disservice by not riding the Mouse, but my major objective was riding Shivering Timbers. I was only able to spend about three hours at MIA and had to budget my time wisely. I'll be back, don't worry. Michigan (i.e., not Detroit) was an excellent vacation - I've lived in Ohio now for 29 years and have never been any farther north than Detroit/Windsor until this past weekend. Now that, my friend, is a real disservice....

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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 7:24 PM
The goats over the bridge don't know about all the good stuff in troll country.

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http://said.uc.edu/students/oakleysd/cp/CP.jpg
Now tell me Cedar Point is running out of space.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 7:34 PM
I have ridden Hershey's, Lakemont's, Kentucky Kingdom's, PKD's, Carowind's, BGW's, and MIA's mouses.

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If given the choice I'd choose a hamburger over a hotdog anyday of the week.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 8:07 PM
May I ask why you prefer MiA's over Hershey's mouse?

Joe, who thinks all the mice Brent listed are better than MiA's. :-\

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You suck big time.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 8:24 PM
Overtrimmed, awful cars, an unfinished feeling when compared to the Arrow mice.

The best mouse ride I ever got was on KK's, the best overall mouse I have ever rode was MIA's, and the most fun mouse I have ever rode is Lakemont's.

But when it comes down to it, I love the smoothness, cool transitions, cars, air, and quasi trick track of the Arrow's.

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If given the choice I'd choose a hamburger over a hotdog anyday of the week.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003 8:37 PM
Strange, when I rode Hershey's mouse (1999 and 2000) it was not trimmed ONCE, not even lightly. Are you telling me this has changed?

Also, when I ride the Arrow Mice, why is it that they LOSE SPEED while going downhill? I don't get that, really....on the switchbacks, it's going downhill, and no brakes are applied, but the cars slow down significantly. Must be a lot of friction or something. Either way, that bothered me about them, and one reason I think the Mack mice are FAR superior (Europa's and Hershey's are the best!).

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You suck big time.

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 5:03 AM
Joe: I don't know why it took me so long to make it to MIA. I guess I just don't have your constitution for driving all over the country to ride rollercoasters ;). I used to really get into that - a friend of mine in medical school and myself would make week long (sometimes multi-week long) coaster trips during our vacations. I got to see a lot of parks that way. But Shivering Timbers had a profound effect on me; I can't claim the kind of coaster experience you have but I think I'm at least entitled to say that that was a damn good coaster. Drop me a line sometime and tell me about your Northwest trip. You are a crazy M'F'er.

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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 6:44 AM
Glad to hear you enjoyed Michigan!

Did you have a chance to visit the Porcupine Mts, Bonn Falls, or Tahquamenon Falls?

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 7:25 AM
I've said this before, but I absolutely love Shivering Timbers. I love the speed, lenght, and especially the airtime. It's one of my favorite coasters.

There has been a lot of talk on this site as to whether Michigan's Adventure will be building a new coaster anytime soon. I hope that there is, but unless it is something truly spectacular I doubt I will think it is half as much fun as riding Shivering Timbers.

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:02 AM
Greg

I completely agree with you, Shivering Timbers is my #2 wooden coaster (right behind Legend...well not RIGHT behind it)! I'm just shocked it took you that long to find it after all the praise it has received in the past, that's all. :)

But at least you found it and loved it. Some people don't care for it because it doesn't offer anything else other than airtime. I disagree, I think it has TONS of speed and laterals aplenty on the turnaround and helix finale. But its obvious stand out feature is the incredible, abundant airtime! I think it has something like 15 hills with air! Pretty damn great coaster if you ask me.

Glad you loved it!

Joe, who sadly hasn't been to MA this year :(

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You suck big time.

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:19 AM
I'm always glad to see a positive report on the Timbers. I think I am the only one who likes the back much better than the front. Then again, I have never ridden the front seat when the ride has "warmed up" so I could be wrong. In my experience the back is better for the "out" trip and the front is better for the "back" trip. Please tell me you rode Falling Star!

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"No, it offends me as a comedian."

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:39 AM
I'm just happy to hear that there were long enough lines (on Corkscrew even!!) that you couldn't ride everything in the park in the three hours you were there.

For those of you who haven't been there, the lake in the middle of the park is actually walled on three sides and gravel on one side (the side occupied by Wolverine Wildcat).

To me, Timbers alone is well worth the trip. And Craig, I never leave MiA without a couple of rides on Falling Star. It's become one of my all time favorite flats and is much better than the covered wagon themed one at SFGAm. the only thing that can beat it is a jammed packed, spinning Tilt-a-whirl car.

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I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead
http://www.webtechnik.com/ebony/CPLady.htm

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:48 AM
MagnumForce said:
Overtrimmed, awful cars, an unfinished feeling when compared to the Arrow mice.

Huh? This can't be the same HP Mouse that I remember.

Anywho...Those you listed are all fine and dandy (Except SFKK's. I'm guessing there was a crack pipe involved on that 'best ride.'), but they *all* pale in comparison to the PNE Mouse. Now that's a real mouse if there ever was one. Wicked indeed.

EDIT: Nice TR, BTW. I'm thinking I may need to get back out to MiA this year or next to see how ST's doing. I loved it in 2001, but it didn't do much for me in 2002. I may need to re-evaluate. :)
*** This post was edited by chris 8/14/2003 12:52:21 PM ***

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:50 AM
Strijder: I visited Tahquamenon Falls. It was strangefully serene up there, both the ride up, the visit, and the ride back. There's something about the UP that really made me relax. I've had a lot on my mind lately with various aspects of my life and a trip to the upper pen was all I needed to help me relax. It was great; I highly recommend it to anyone who needs some time to get away from things. I want to go back again some time. I would like to visit the western part of the upper pen and possibly do some camping up there. I understand that you can see the northern lights (aurora borealis) from certain northern cities in the UP.

Craig the Coaster Freak: Nope, didn't ride Falling Star (I couldn't even really tell what the name of that ride was when I first looked at it) - but I did ride something very similar at Dorney Park - it looked a little bit larger than Falling Star. Had I had more time to spend there I probably would have checked it out. Regarding Timbers in the front seat in the morning - I had the front seat the first ride of the day and felt the coaster wasn't "holding anything back" at all.

Joe: I really need to get to HW. I've heard a lot of great things about the Legend (perhaps a few more great things about Raven). I am facing a crisis trying to decide whether or not to rank Shivering Timbers ahead of my long-standing current #1 wood coaster, The Beast. I think it's going to take a while before I can make a decision and "dethrone" one of the really great wooden coasters I have loved for more than ten years. I feel like I'd be cheating on it in a strange way ;). I never thought I would find anything that would compare to it. I don't agree with the nay-sayers either regarding the fact that Timbers only offers airtime. Since when the hell has that been a problem????? The turnaround is absolutely wonderful - I agree, and the flat section of track (where a more classless person would have put in a brake block) offered just enough time to catch one's breath before tackling the return course, which was just as great as the out course.

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"That's DOCTOR Evil. I didn't spend six years in evil medical school to be called 'Mr. Thank You Very Much.'"

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 8:52 AM
Opthodoc,

great TR! It makes me want to get over there just that much more...

MagnumForce said:
Anyway glad you enjoyed my great state. There is a reason our number one industry is tourism.

Umm, aren't you forgetting a little something called the auto industry? Last time I checked, GM and Ford were two of the largest corporations in the world.

Later,
EV
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"Here's the thing about living in the past. If it was so good, then how come it didn't last? If it helps you, I'll put it in a phrase. Those were the times, but these are the days." - The Human League

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Thursday, August 14, 2003 9:12 AM
CPLady, I have also ridden the one at SFGAm and it blows! The one at MiA is fast, long, and filled with monstrous airtime if you give yourself the slightest push.

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"No, it offends me as a comedian."

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Friday, August 15, 2003 8:13 AM
I also like the back on Shivering Timbers.
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