I am back from my annual July road trip. As education employees my wife and I are lucky enough to have every July off together and we usually make the best of it. This year’s trip centered on a week scheduled at Jekyll Island Georgia with my parents and nephew. This was the only firm commitment for the trip. We planned on returning to Las Vegas via the Gulf coast from Panama City to Houston. Unfortunately, the Hurricane ruined our return plans and led to some improvising.
We bought cheap Six Flags passes at Wyandot Lake on a previous Ohio trip in anticipation of a Six Flags New Orleans, Astroworld, and Texas trifecto. Needless to say, this was money wasted. We never went to a Six Flags and I highly doubt I’ll go to SFMM to justify the passes.
Anyhow, we (or I) hit the following parks (in order) for this year’s trip (kiddie parks for my 15 month old are excluded)…
1.Wonderland (Amarillo, TX)
2.Magic Springs and Crystal Falls (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
3.Visionland (Birmingham, AL)
4.Myrtle Beach Pavilion and Amusement Park (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
5.Grand Prix (North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
6.Silver Dollar City (Branson, MO)
7.Bells Amusement Park (Tulsa, OK)
8.Wonderland (Amarillo, TX) my 2nd visit on this vacation
9.Cliff's Amusement Park (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Over the next couple of weeks I will try to describe the parks I visited and give my opinions. In the past I’ve given up describing all the parks, as this is such a daunting task. It gets difficult to remember dates and coaster names. And I really wonder if these reports are worth it given the relative minimal responses generated. But I will do my best to finish all the parks this time.
Generally speaking, the coasters I rode on this trip were under whelming. The best part of my entire trip was a visit to Slide Rock State Park in Sedona Arizona, but I’ll keep my descriptions to the parks as this is a coaster board and I doubt too many people care about the zoos/beaches and other stuff I/we did!
On Tuesday June 28th I left Las Vegas with my trusty 10 and ½ year old lab Clay. Our goal was to reach Birmingham Alabama by Friday to pick up my wife and son who were flying one way to meet me. This gave me a few days to do what I wanted. Not realizing there was a lost hour involved, I concluded shortly after take off that I could conceivably make it to Amarillo’s Wonderland Park that evening to get an elusive credit on the Texas Tornado. The 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm operating hours have never been convenient for my coaster hobby. A grueling 850 mile day drive got me to the park at about 9:15 pm Amarillo time. With the car running in the parking lot (my dog needed air conditioning) I paid the $4 general admission and was on my way.
I knew NOTHING about this park except that the Texas Tornado was considered a g-force machine quite a few years back. I paid for 3 tickets and went to ride the Tornado when I found out the ride was closed and had not run at all this season. Apparently, they needed some wheelwork completed that had to be done at the factory. They were expecting the parts to arrive from the factory on Wednesday. I was again denied in my ever-ending quest to ride the Tornado.
To my surprise, the park had 2 more coasters to offer and a dark ride. This was the perfect opportunity to add to my credit whoring credentials though definitely not worth the drive time I endured.
1. Zyclone---This was a typical mouse ride except it had 3-car trains (12 riders per train). There were next to zero g-forces involved and the trains dragged throughout the course. This is definitely one of the worst mouse rides I have been on.
2. Cyclone---This is one of those “old-school” metal mice with the cliff hanging hairpin curves and the single seat width metal cars. This baby is violent and fun. I’ve been on similar models at Lakeside (CO) and that little kiddie park down the road from Knotts (and probably a few more I’m forgetting)! These types of rides always deliver for me in the fear department. I always come off with a few bruises though…
Overall this was a very clean park that seems misplaced without a seaside setting. It is a small park with only one major walkway flanked by kiddie rides on one end and the Himalaya on the other. Texas Tornado is the attraction that dominates the Midway. They have all the standard midway rides. The food was nothing special. This is just a rare nighttime park in the middle of nowhere. I see no appealing reason to make a special effort to visit this place unless you are credit-whoring or just happen to be in Amarillo at the right time.
This amusement park is actually situated in a city park north of the city, which includes a zoo, baseball fields and a duck pond. There is putter golf located right outside the south end of the park. The dark ride was nothing special…
*** Edited 7/25/2005 4:21:58 PM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***
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