Oh, so as to add a bit of "flavor" to an otherwise
vanilla TR, I will and a song title to express my
feelings for the ride.
About a month or so ago, T and I were discussing parks and such and she came to the realization that I have already visited most of the "big name" parks. But she wanted to take me somewhere I've never been. Also, we were planning on going with her family to Myrtle beach sometime in July, but plans fell through so we decided to take a 4th of July trip instead. Basically, my choice came down to Hershey/Knoebels or SFNE/Lake Compounce. Well, by the title of this TR you can guess which we chose. In retrospect, this turned out to be a great decision as Knoebels was closed this particular weekend due to flooding.
So I make plans to stay at a DoubleTree Inn (Hilton
Family) near the Hartford Airport, just north of downtown Hartford, and Mapquest the directions. MQ says the trip will take 6.75 hours. Admittedly, I
rarely drive the speed limit (though I have slowed
considerably from my early 'roaring 20's') so I estimate that I can do the trip in six flat. Leaving
at 8AM, I figure we'll be there by 2:30 at the latest.
It's basically a straight shot up I-95 with just the
detour of taking the Jersey Turnpike (I-295) around
Philly. I've taken this route many times to get up to
SFGreat Adventure, but have actually only gone up my NYC once...late...on a Sunday...before MLK Jr.'s
As you can guess, we hit *quite* a bit of traffic
backed several miles due to the toll plaza on the
George Washington Bridge. NEVER again, will I take
I-95 thru NYC. I will forever take I-287 *around* NYC if I need to go to/from New England. Sure, that adds a bit of time to the trip but anything is better than being stuck in traffic, travelling less than 15miles and that 15 mile trip taking THREE HOURS!!! Ugh, this is not how I wanted to start my vacation!
Anyway, after that fiasco, we checked in about 5:30pm, ordered room service and basically crashed. Woke up rather early the next day, milled around, hit a Denny's for breakfast and then on to the park.
Our hotel was only about 10-15min from the park taking a somewhat winding back road. What I didnt realize was that this area of CT has a real small town feel to it. Something that seems a little out of place compared to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the eastern seaboard. It really *did* remind me of 'Stars Hollow' of "Gilmore Girls" fame.
The first thing we notice as we approach the park are people selling their driveway space as alternative
parking. Sure, the $15 SF parking fee is a bit much,
but are people really that cheap that they'll pay $10
to park on someone's lawn? Well, not me. I pulled
into the official lot (which is actually across Main
St from the park itself), pay the fifteen, get my
big-assed souviener map (and a smaller pocket sized
map/show schedule) hop the tram (which actally takes you to a pedestrian overpass, but not across the street), across the bridge and into the park.
The park opens up into a "Main Street USA" type area that I'm sure you are all familar with now. Also,
they have a pretty large-scale merry-go-round right
there as well . Now, it was threatening
rain that day (weatherman said the showers would come around 3pm) and with this being my first time, I purchased a (standard) Q-bot...er-uh..Flash Pass.
We take a look at the maps to get our bearings and
notice that the Tony Hawk's Boom Boom Huck Jam is
performing in the park that day. We make a note of it then plot a plan of attack...which as you could guess, began with Superman: Ride of Steel. We "flashed" S:ROS and instead queued up for:
POISON IVY'S TANGLED TRAIN (Zierer "Tivoli" family
coaster - 6/10)
As family coasters go, I rather like the "Tivoli"
style just because of the asthetics of the
ridiculously long trains. Unfortunately, the lenght
of the train makes the ride itself have a wierd ebb
and flow to it. This installation was particularly
nice tucked into a little patch of trees/shrubbery (no
Monty Python references please =])
SONG: We are Family - Sister Sledge
We have a few more minutes left so we set up a 2nd
reservation, this time for Batman: The Dark Knight and walked back to catch our ride for:
SUPERMAN: RIDE OF STEEL (Intamin hypercoaster - 10/10)
With great anticipation, we queued up for the front
row. Now, Lady T loves NITRO, but doesn't care much for our S:ROS (SFA) as something about it scares her terribly. Hence, she was a bit nervous about this ride. I have to admit, I cant really describe the layout of the ride, but what I found most fascinating about it was that the ride seemed to go on longer than expected. There was so much variety to what the ride did: bunnies, overbank, tunnels, "non-inverting corkscrew", etc. it just seemed like everything was packed into this ride.
But for this, my first ride, I was a bit underwhelmed.
Oh it was good, definitely top tier, but not "TEH
B3ST COAS+3R ON THE PL@N3T!!!!!11111oneoneone". Call it anticipointment if you will. However, I think that it was just because it was early. Later rides, in the front again and in the back firmly planted this ride as my #1, not only in steel, but overall, even surplanting The Legend. Everytime riding it, when I was sufficiently happy with the ride experience, I realized there was still a significant portion of track left. Even T loved the coaster, not more than NITRO, I think, but if it isnt first in her book, it damn sure aint third. Two Thumbs Up for one sweet ride.
SONG: Bring me to Life - Evenescense
Well, since we took the extra time to wait for the
front, we missed out B:TDK reservation. No worry,
we'd just saunter back over there and either reserve
Mind Eraser and ride B:TDK or vice versa. Since the
direction we walked took us by ME first, I spied that
this line was short so be went to reserve B:TDK. Well q-bot basically gave us an instant ride time (based on the rules that you get a time +/- ten minutes) so we just hopped on:
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT (B&M 'floorless' looper
It pains me to score any B&M ride this low, but when
compared to other loopers, this coaster was really
average. Nothing stood out about the ride other than the lift seemed really steep and really short. There was a bit more vibration in the ride than most B&Ms and I dont remember the "roar" (is this one sand filled?). The ride wasnt *bad* by any stretch of the imagination, but neither was it outstanding.
SONG: Torn - LeToya
Since Q-bot gave us an instant ride on B:TDK, we
wonder if the same thing would happen on ME. Guess what, it did. Instant Ride on:
MIND ERASER (Vekoma SLC 5/10)
I am really getting to the point where I will soon
stop riding these coasters. While I love the ride
from an asthetic standpoint (especially the
heart-shaped 'rollover' thingy) I just dont have fun
constantly bracing myself for the impending beating.
The rides are compact and intense, but there is too
much jerking going on. Maybe I'm getting weak, but I
almost dread these rides. I did, however, finally
teach my wife the proper "defensive riding technique" so neither of us had a headache. But we didnt want a re-ride either.
SONG: Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down - Brand Nubian
We reserve a ride on Thunderbolt and take the down
time to leisurely peruse the park. I should note that
while the theming isnt much different in style from
SFA, everything seemed more vibrant, more alive even, especially in the "North End" area which is home to the Bugs Bunny Land-type area. Ooh look, there is absolutely no line for:
FLASHBACK (Vekoma boomerang 5/10)
Now, I'm not a boomer hater, but I'm not a lover
either. T, OTOH, actually likes boomerangs in
general. Her eyes light up a bit when she sees one,
though I think we agree that HersheyPark's is our
favorite standard boomer. Again, I think I'm getting
a bit weak as boomers are starting to make me see
stars on the backwards vertical loop. But this
coaster its low rank, not just beacuse it's a boomer
but mostly because when the 2nd chain caught the train there was an extraordinaly harsh JOLT. I've never felt one grab that hard. That gave both of us a twinge of back pain.
SONG: Why Ya Wanna - T.I.
Well, a little more exploring and it's time for:
THUNDERBOLT (Drambour Woodie 6.5/10)
There's not much I can say about T-Bolt because,
honestly, I dont remember much about the coaster. I wasnt good, it wasn't bad. It was just there. We
rode near the front and later in the back. Both were
fun, about on par with HP's Comet. It's a good
"tune-up" ride, but I think I have long since passed
what this ride offers on my coaster journey.
SONG: So What - Field Mob
In the distance, we spied Shapiro's baby, the spinning coaster which conicidently had the longest line that we had encountered so far. Q-bot gave us about a 45min wait so instead we rode:
CYCLONE: (Cobb Woodie 7/10)
T headed towards the back of the ride, but based on
previous reports, I figured the ride would be too
brutal in the back so we went towards the front. The ride was quite a bit rickety, but y'all know I dont
mind that at all. Really, this first ride wasnt that
great, certainly no better than the T-Bolt. However,
Cyclone gets the extra point from our later backseat
ride. The ride is indeed more violent in the back and
it lets that be known right from the first drop. the
ride bottomed out so hard that I had a moment of true FEAR. That's worth an extra point to me =].
SONG: Love Hurts - Everly Brothers (and many covers)
We sat around watching the new Catapult (S&S
Skyswatter) cycle as well as the Blizzard River but
declined both. Just awaiting our reservation on:
PANDEMONIUM (Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster 8/10)
I guess I'vee been out of the loop but I didnt realize
that this was much different from the Reverchon
spinning mice. Most noticably is the Face/Off style
seating and the mostly lack of hairpin turns. What
really suprised me was that the tight helixes
(helicies) had quite a bit of "oomph" to them. I can
see why ol' Marky Mark wants to have one of these
everywhere. Not only did we personally find the ride
fun, but the line was packed most of the day. I guess it really is a hit with families.
SONG: Family Affair - Sly and the Family Stone
We next took their short sky ride to the front of the
park. The funny thing about the skyride is that the
cars lok extraordinarly like birdcages. Coincidently,
we flew over a Loony Toons show and Tweety Bird just happened to be on stage (though Slyvester was nowhere to be found).
SONG: The Tweety Song (I'm a sweet little birdie,
within my cage/ Tweety's my name but I dont know my age./ I dont have to worry, and that is that/ I'm safe in here from that old puddy tat.)
At this point, we grabbed a sack of Kettle Korn (T's
confection of choice) and settled down to watch;
TONY HAWK'S BOOM BOOM HUCK JAM (Skateboard/BMX/Moto-X expo 9/10).
The show was really good. I'm not deep into the
skater culture so the only performer I knew by name
was Tony. But these boys were flying everywhere and the crowd was really into it. I still dont get the
ever-present use of the "metal sign" as I know skaters used to be associated with punk not metal, but I'm getting old. It was cute though that many of the youngsters brought their decks to the park to get autographs. The only thing that kept this show from a ten - no female performers. Yes, I know the sports are male-dominated, but I think a female performer would have taken the show to the next level.
SONG: Skater boy - Avril Lavigne
We then ventured into the coyote Creek area and
stumbled into their Opera House which was home to:
HOUDINI'S GREAT ESCAPE (Vekoma Madhouse/Haunted Swing 8/10)
Okay, I just love this ride. I have from the first
moment I rode it in Jersey. I hope Marky Mark wants to bring this ride (or some variant) to all the parks as
this truly an "all ages" attraction. The movement is
mild, but the illusion is terrific. The one thing that made this particular ride funnier was that on a
previous ride, someone dropped some Skittles/M&Ms on the floor so as the ride moved you could hear the
candy rolling around.
SONG: Rock the House - Gorillaz
Even though I was sick of driving based on the trip up there, we took a spin on:
STAGECOACH BUMPER BUGGIES (Zamperla Bumper cars 7/10)
These were your standard bumper cars that, unlike at Holiday World are *not* western themed. In fact, they has some psychadellic paint jobs and, IIRC, there was an (unused) strobe light and the attraction advertised fog (again unused). The ride itself was okay, though T got in the last hit as inertia carried her into me after the power was off (darn). Oh, the one thing that did stick out was that there were no poles on the cars, rather, I guess the floor was electrified.
SONG: Aint Gonna Bump No More (with No Big Fat Woman)- Joe Tex
The other show we saw was:
ILLUSIONQUEST (Magic Show)
It was your standard magic show fare. The highlight
being that the magician asked my wife to assist him in the "disappearing ring" act. Fortunately, her
engagement ring was back safe in our house, but the wedding band is no slouch either. Of course he didnt make it re-appear right away, but knowing they are just tricks, I restrained myself and didnt rough him up. Anyway, he made it reappear on the other side of the stage, inside a gumball machine (not sure how he did it).
SONG: Illusion - Creed
As for my overall impression of the park, it's not my
favorite park overall, nor even my favorite SF park.
But I'd rather have NE than SFA. Now really, SFA has better woodies, a more interesting Batman, and an inproved Boomer. But their S:ROS blows ours away and their theming is much better excuted. Both parks suffer from slow as hades operations. But at least the employees here were smiling and personable to the guests as opposed to SFA where they typically act like the guests are an unavoidable inconvience.
I will note that the park was clean enough that I
didnt notice any overflowing trash though I guess
cause of the heat/humidity some of the stunk to high heaven. The bathrooms i guess were fine because I cant think anything about them. But the biggest of Shaprio's changes that I noticed were the characters. They literally were everywhere. In each of the areas there were toons or heroes
waving/hugging/signing/picture-taking. The crowd
seemed to get into. I was personally happy to see my favorite Looney Toon "Pepe Le Pew", though the really enthusiastic hug I got from the character was a bit "over" enthusiastic. Maybe skunks dont get much love ;).
As to the crowds, I guess the threat of rain mostly
kept them away. The two longest lines were for
Pandemonium and S:ROS of less than an hour and to be honest, I think most of that time was due to slow ops rather than a mass of humanity. So I guess my $30 Flash Pass wasnt really needed.
Overall, I give the park a 7.5/10. Not necessarily a
destination park (aside from S:ROS of course), but a
nice fun day at the park. There was plenty to do for
all ages. The only thing that I really feel they lack
is an indoor full-service restaurant. Just a personal
opinion, but I think all park should have one. Even
if not full service, you *must* have an
air-conditioned eatery, IMHO.
Well that's all folks! Next up Lake Compounce.
2Hostyl said: Are people really that cheap that they'll pay $10 to park on someone's lawn?
Ride of Steal (my heart): "Later rides, in the front again and in the back firmly planted this ride as my #1, not only in steel, but overall, even surplanting The Legend. Everytime riding it, when I was sufficiently happy with the ride experience, I realized there was still a significant portion of track left."
Get your butt back to Holiday World! ;)
Female skater? Easy (on the eyes!).....Fabiola DaSilva :)
PANDEMONIUM: "I can
see why ol' Marky Mark wants to have one of these everywhere. Not only did we personally find the ride fun, but the line was packed most of the day. I guess it really is a hit with families."
Song: "Would I lie to you", Eurythmics....;)
So I've been sayin', spinning coasters are family fun...build the Reverchon-style if you must, but do them in pairs like Disney did (for capacity in bigger parks), orienting them so the cars spin *right up next to each other* going into the hairpins!
(Can we patent that idea? LOL!)
The Gerstlauer/M-S spinners ARE better though.. ;)
*** Edited 7/12/2006 5:07:28 AM UTC by rollergator***
I must say, Cyclone is one of the few coasters that truly scares me. I feel like I'm either going to be throw halfway across the park on that drop, or the whole thing is just going to collapse in on me. Good stuff.
I can't wait to read your thoughts on LC. I'm sure it won't be quite what I'm expecting...;) *** Edited 7/12/2006 6:25:49 AM UTC by DWeaver***
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