My Southern Adventure (7/6 - 7/14)

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Lord Gonchar's avatar
No photos this time. Just some basic points.

7/6 - Drove to Atlanta. Stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites. Newer property, very nice. One exit from the park. Good choice if heading to SFOG.

7/7 - Got to SFOG at 10am. Park was pa-acked. The goal was a lap on Goliath, some photos and get out before noon.

Beelined to Goliath. Estimated a 30 minute wait in my professional opinion. Got in line. Stood there 10 minutes and never moved. Saw the ride down. Got annoyed, left the line. Waited around for a few moments as the line continued to fill. Saw the ride start again. Snagged some pics. Saw it go down again. Began heading out. Saw it run again. Got a couple more photos as we left. We driving away by 11:30am. Made the mistake of breaking rule #1 of amusement parks - don't visit on a Saturday.

No credit for Gonch. (but I'll have pics online soon :) )

On the plus side, none of the employees kicked our asses. ;)

From there we continued to Pensacola to visit the in-laws.

7/7 to 7/9 - In-law hell.

7/10 - Headed out for a rare day without the kids. Spent the day in Orange Beach, AL. Did touristy stuff. Made a quick evening stop at Waterville USA. Took a quick ride on the coaster.

Cannonball Run - Not bad, nothing outstanding. A bit on the short side. Not worth a specific trip out unless you're a waterpark fan - don't go out of your way just for the coaster.

Decided to waste some time in the arcade. Managed to rack up 1106 tickets on $20. A personal record. Redeemed the tickets for crap for the kids.

7/11 - In-law hell

7/12 - Headed out of Pensacola. Stopped at Sam's Fun City in Pensacola. Pretty nice as far as little FEC's go. They have a powered 'coaster' that runs both forward and back. There were also some bumper car looking things on a 'track' for the kids that was down, but looked like it could be fun. They were in the process of making additions to the waterpark which was already fairly substantial.

Continued on to Bessemer, AL. Stayed at the Hampton Inn. Again, good hotel choice. The only Hampton I've seen with a grand, curving staircase in the lobby and the staff was stupid-friendly. It's just one exit (like 3 miles) from Alabama Adventure. Another recommend from Gonch.

7/13 - Got to Alabama Adventure at opening. No intentions on waterparking, so we just got admission for the Magic City side of things. Total cost: $112. Total time in park: less than 3 hours. Ugh.

The park was really nice, actually, but it was much smaller than I expected. We busted out everything we felt like doing (10 rides & the coasters) and left. (note: designated smoking areas haven't made there way to this park...yet)

Mavel Mania - Standard kiddie fare. Always a fun ride with the kids.

Zoomerang - Normally a fan of boomerangs, but this thing was brutal.

Rampage - my daughter summed it up best with the comment, "That wasn't even a temper tantrum, let alone a Rampage" - which I thought was pretty witty for a 9-year old and found pretty acurate. I expected more...a lot more.

We were on the road again before 1pm and on our way to Huntsville and a stop at Southern Adventures.

It's another little FEC-type place. We pulled up a little after three to see signs posted that they'd be closing at 4pm for a private party. Went inside only to be told the rides were down because of the weather. (apparently some rain came through just before we got there)

They had a kiddie coaster and some older flat rides of the kid that generally amuse the enthusiast crowd - including the only Twister I've ever seen outside of Williams Grove's. They also had the usual go-karts, batting cages, arcde compliment that most FEC's offer. We were in and out before the private party began.

On the way out there was another family getting into the car beside our and the guy struck up conversation. Basically he found a brochure for Southern Adventure at his workplace and dragged his family two hours to check it out only to find it closing and all the rides down. He was pissed. He did recommend a restaraunt where the waiters sing in Chattanooga (our next stop) and we wished them luck, thanked them for the info and were on our way.

Since we were so far ahead of schedule, we opted for a stop at the Unclaimed Bagged Center as it was only about a mile off of our route. We had heard about it before (I think we saw it on Letterman when he sent Biff down once) and had to stop by - it's such a great concept.

A little of a letdown. Felt more like an upscale flea market disguised at an outlet store with prices that weren't quite good enough to bite on, but close enough to consider. We picked up a few little things (I couldn't commit to $100 for the wacky Peavey snare drum, but in hindsight I should've) and moved on to Chattanooga.

We checked into the hotel and got some restaraunt suggestions. We headed downtown which smelled like a wet dog's butt (again, my daughter's descriptive and accurate words) and found things a bit too crowded and not quite the crowd we were wanting.

So we cut back across to the Choo-Choo and looked a round a bit before deciding on a late dinner at the Station House. (yes, this was the place the guy back at Southern Adventure told us to check out)

I have to admit it was marginally cool. Your waiter would periodically appear on stage with the live band singing some Rod Stewart song or something. The food was pretty good. The only catch was the addition of a 15% 'entertainment fee' to your bill & it was made quite clear that it was not gratuity. Tip 15% as well and you're tacking 30% onto your bill.

Drinks (Cokes, not 'real' drinks ;) ), an appetizer, 2 entrees and two kids entrees with entertainment fee and tip came to just shy of $100. (and you guys wonder why I can't get pissed at $30 for food in the park :) ), but still it was a neat place and a unique experience. I was glad we stopped.

7/14 - Seeing as how quickly we had blown through the other parks on this trip and knowing our final day consisted of stops at just one more FEC and Lake Winnie, I figured we'd need some more touristy time fillers. We started the day around 10am with visits to Rock City and Ruby Falls. We had a surprisingly good time and I got some terrific photos.

Although again, I had to chuckle at what a great value amusement parks are. The three hours of entertainment provided by both Ruby Falls & Rock City cost over $80 (with coupon) and their souvenir and food prices at the attractions were complete on par with the biggest chain parks in prices, quality and quantity. It's just the price of being on vacation if you ask me.

At any rate, we really enjoyed both places and in typical Gonch fashion, I'd say check them out if you're in the area for the parks and dig that sort of thing.

We left there and grabbed Wendy's and stopped back at the hotel real quick to eat and regroup.

We were off again just before 4pm and stopped by Sir Goony's - yet another FEC with go-karts, mini-golf batting cages and a handful of kiddie rides. No one felt like ponying up the cash to ride (on ride on the kiddie coaster was $3.50) - so the kids played a few arcade games and I snapped some pics. I apparently wigged out a few patrons - which is totally understandable in hindsight - a lone guy walking around a park full of small children taking pictures and the staff actually questioned me. I explained my situation and they were extremely cool. Some really nice people and the fact that they showed concern says a lot.

We left there and arrived at Lake Winnie right around 5pm. I didn't see any kind of reduced late or twilight-type admission on their website and was disappointed when it didn't exist at the park either. $100 for the family seemed kind of steep for the park period, let alone showing up at/after 5pm. No biggie, we're the ones who showed up when we did.

In summary, we circled the entire park three times, rode everything we wanted too (about 15 different rides plus the three coasters) and we ready to leave by 9pm.

Wacky Worm - Same as the others. Thankfully, not as painfully slow as WOF's.

Wild Lightnin' - The trims barely bit and only grabbed once along the course. A pretty 'wide-open' wild mouse ride. Good stuff.

Cannon Ball - Better than expected. Some great air and a smooth-ish ride. Very re-rideable. (also my 300th credit :) )

Also of note were:

Fly-O-Plane - This thing is just sick. I don't spin well, but I had to give it a try. F'n ridiculous.

Castle - I don't think a single stunt worked. Bah!

Boat Chute - Really unique and good fun. Probably the longest line at the park.

Overall we had a good enough time, but after 90+ parks over the past 6 years we've come to the conclusion that we're just not small park people (as if there was any doubt before). I couldn't see spending more than 4 hours at Lake Winnie and the price seemed steep for that very fact. I feel like I get more paying $40 or $50 for a place that I'll struggle to get through (so much to see & do) than paying half that for a park I can effectively 'do' in a couple of hours.

I found it odd that the park was packed with families when we arrived, but by 7pm most were gone and a new crowd seemed to appear - the beer & pick up trucks demographic.

I know some of you seem turned off by the 'urban' element at certain parks for various reasons. I have to admit, I'm more comfortable in that kind of suituation than I was surrounded by the 'rural' element this park seemed to draw as the sun went down. Kind of a touchy thing to say and I hesitated to include the comment, but it's true - that pesky perspective thing again, I suppose. :)

As far as pricing, we didn't eat at the park, but a souvenir cup (you know how I love me some of those) was $5 with $2 refills. If my math is correct (and it is) after 4 refills the price is equal to what we paid at SFStL. Less than 4 and Lake Winnie has a better drink value, more than 4 and you actually pay less per drink at SF. So, as usual, I find myself struggling with the idea that places like this are cheaper or even a better value.

But even still, I'm glad we stopped. It's a cute little place and I know people dig it.

Speaking of that 300th credit, I remember when I first got into the whole enthusiast scene and seeing people talk about track records and such. Riding 300 coasters seemed like such an insane thing. I just couldn't believe there were a good number of people who'd been to so many parks and ridden so many rides.

Fast forward a few years and here I am in that same place. I'm a tool. :)

Here's to 400, I guess. :)

(note: My daughter is up to 219 on her count. The only other kid I know in that age range who has as many or more credits is Craig's [IggyACE] kid...but he's raising credit whores, so that doesn't count ;) )

EDIT - had the dates messed up.

*** Edited 7/16/2007 7:07:02 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

That's a whirlwind of a trip!

You went to SFOG and didn't say hi to their crown jewel, Mindbender? For shame ;)

"Deuling Banjos" over the park PA make ya a lil' nervous?

:) (How many teefs in that smiley?)

I can also envision your in-laws being closet coaster buffs and reading your post. Heh heh.

Lord Gonchar said:

They had a kiddie coaster and some older flat rides of the kid that generally amuse the enthusiast crowd - including the only Twister I've ever seen outside of Williams Grove's.

Oh really? Pssst, pan to the right. ;)

I'm sure they all run together after a while. Good thing you're not one of them hard core enthusiasts. :) Although, I'll give you credit (no, not that kind)... you handled the down rides and overpricing far better than I would.

RatherGoodBear said:

Lord Gonchar said:

They had a kiddie coaster and some older flat rides of the kid that generally amuse the enthusiast crowd - including the only Twister I've ever seen outside of Williams Grove's.

Oh really? Pssst, pan to the right.

than I would.

Hey, Indiana Beach used to have one of those!

Right where Chaos is now, I belive. And man did it suck the breath right outta ya.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm sure they all run together after a while.

Ha! I guess you're right.

Make that the third Twister I've ever seen.

You went to SFOG and didn't say hi to their crown jewel, Mindbender? For shame ;)

Been there, done that. This was all about Goliath. (and the 60-90 minute lines an hour into the operating day didn't help)

"Deuling Banjos" over the park PA make ya a lil' nervous?

As a western PA native I'm generally cool with it, but this seemed like a pretty rough crowd at LW that night. Like they spent the hours before they entered the park sitting in the back of their trucks with a case of Pabst...that kind of crowd.

(and yes, I saw my share of rotted stumps. Missing teeth are one thing, but man... ;) )

And I know my in-laws feel the same way about me. No chance of a surprise reading here - my mother-in-law is one of those people who calls them 'rollie coasters' (roll eyes)

I've never had a bad experience with Hampton Inn. The one time i had what I thought was a legit complaint, within a few days my credit card charge was returned.

(Mother Fluxer likes them too!)

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

Chooch249 said:
"Deuling Banjos" over the park PA make ya a lil' nervous?

Funny T-shirt I saw someone wearing last year at a park: "Paddle FASTER... I hear banjos"

(Considering it was at Camden Park in WEST VIRGINIA, not sure if it was meant to be funny or if it was a PSA)

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
The one thing I've noticed on the whole "urban" vs. "rural" crowds is that while a group of "street tough's" at SFMM or something may be annoying and even scary at times, usually there's not a lot of intent to annoy...they're usually caught up in their own world and just wanna get on the ride (even if that means line jumping), and there's sometimes a good guy in there who's more mellow and who might balance the rest out some, but bottom line is as long as you're not in their way, you're a ghost to them....

But hilljacks seem to be very, very loud and maybe drunk and get bored easily and notice you more (and notice if you're not a hilljack) and have no problem speakin' their mind or giving their (usually stupid and inane) opinion on everything!!

If I had to pick between being in a queue with either types?? I'd probably take SFMM (less headache inducing), but of course, being young also helps...

janfrederick's avatar
Here's a you tube video of twister for anyone interested:

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Reithoffer Shows owns a Twister (first time I'd ever seen it at one of their setups), but it looks older than this one. I rode it back in 03' after getting off from work from SFA. Since I was riding by myself, it just didn't twist that much, while I watched a tub full of people go "nuts."
Disclaimer: the sound you are about to hear is this thread going off onto another tangent. :)

Intamin, the cool thing about the Williams Grove Twister is (was) that it was manually-operated, so the operators could tweak and adjust the speed of the ride to make sure each individual car got to spin as much as its riders could handle. Even riding alone, you'd be spinning.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Any other parks have a permanent Twister?

Seen 3 now but never ridden one.

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