August 11, 2006
I would be spending the weekend with fellow coaster enthusiast, Rideman, as we visited a couple amusement parks and the state fair. My day started off in Cincinnati, OH. I was to get a ride to the bus station at around 12:30, so I figured I could grab lunch at home and that would take care f me till later on in the day. I ventured into Oakley, OH and headed to Baba India for their luncheon buffet. I had timed it so I would arrive at the restaurant right at what I thought was their 11:00 opening. I arrive at the restaurant to find it dark, but a note on the door informed me that luncheon would start at 11:30. Fine, the library is just a block away, I'll duck into there while I wait. No dice as the library opens at noon. I eventually kill time by walking through a new organic/gourmet grocery store that just opened. I then return to the restaurant right at 11:30 and proceed to enjoy a buffet of fine Indian cuisine.
I then return home and find out that my ride to the bus station is running a bit late, but not to worry, I still made it down to the bus station right around 1:00 or so. My eTicket indicated a 2:15 departure with the notice that if checking luggage I must arrive at least 1 hour ahead of departure. I proceed into the newly renovated terminal and proceed directly back to a scary looking line at the ticket counter. Greyhound's eTicket system requires you exchange the web printout for a real ticket at the counter. I am about to get in the long line when I notice a lane off to the side, a lane with nobody in it which was marked "Web Ticket Will Call Only", it even had a blue carpet. I make for the web check in line and then the one person they had behind the ticket counter moved over to the web check in station after she finished with the current customer. Needless to say I was the recipient of lots of dirty looks, scowls and rude comments. Greyhound Bus fills busses on a first come first served basis, so in their mind I was cutting the line, what they can't quite grasp that I joined the virtual queue for the ticket line about four days ago when I used their online ticketing system.
Ok, ticket in hand, luggage placed on scale and then tagged, I returned with my luggage to the main terminal area and proceeded to Gate 4. There is an unwritten rule of etiquette amongst Greyhound riders that says you place your luggage in a line in front of the boarding door, and the line of luggage marks who was where in line. It seems nobody tampers with anybody else's bag, but that doesn't mean I venture anywhere I can't see my bag. I happened to grab the #2 spot. I then venture to the vending machines where I get a Cherry Coke in a 20oz. Bottle for the not quite reasonable price of $1.75. I then camped out till about 2:10pm, when the virtual queue of luggage was beginning to transform into an actual queue of people. The bus arrived a bit late, and then there was a delay in offloading a wheelchair rider, and hey that's neat the way they implemented wheelchair lifts. The lift is on the side of the bus and stows in one of the luggage compartments, then a huge door on the side of the bus opens up. Then those who were already on that same bus are given a chance to reboard before they open the regular line.
So I board the bus, find a seat and realize the legroom just isn't there to do anything productive on the laptop, so I use my Windows based laptop to run Apple software to provide me with musical entertainment for the ride up. Its about 108 miles to Columbus according to my ticket, and at about mile marker 73 I take a call from Rideman inquiring about my progress. I then arrive at the Columbus bus station without incident, claim my luggage and do some activities that most folks do after a 2 hour bus ride, make some phone calls, and head out to Third Street. A bit later Rideman pulls up I load luggage into his car, and we head off to the State Fair.
It's a short drive to the State Fair, and soon we are paying the almost reasonable $5 parking fee and head to row L of the yellow parking field. A short hike brought us to the admission plaza. I had a presale admission ticket in hand ($6), while Rideman did not, but at 5pm the lines for the ticket windows are short and soon Rideman had his $8 admission ticket. We head to the front gate where a new step has been added, the fair has added metal detectors. The way they run them is laughable, they have a metal detector for each admission lane, but there is no one monitoring it, instead they have a few representatives from the Ohio highway patrol overseeing the entire front gate, if a detector goes off they might look over at the person. I don't think I saw them actually intervene. A camera will make the metal detector buzz so I know for a fact they weren't actually doing anything when they buzzed. Something tells me the only reason the metal detectors are there is somebody said they had to be.
So we enter through the Cardinal gate and proceed up a main street that is lined with food joints and vendors of various products. Wait, its gone, for as long as anybody can remember there has been a vendor of cowboy boots and other western apparel that has operated out of a distinctive block-long booth, that booth seems to have just vanished. We didn't head directly to the midway, instead we headed to the Arts and Crafts building. Before you think we are nuts, there is a figure made out of Legos right outside the door to the Arts and Crafts building, and when we ventured deep enough into the building in one of the exhibition halls was a miniland Columbus that somebody had put together out of legos. You could see the airport, the state fair, downtown, and several other interesting Columbus inspired scenes. There was an incredible level of detail, and Rideman took the opportunity to get photos of it.
We then headed out, and then towards the midway. We turned the corner from the main drag to the path that leads back to the midway. Where the Giant Maze was last year was some sort of animal show, and next to that was a jumbo old time carnival sideshow. This particular sideshow seems to making the rounds as it was at the Florida State Fair, and my friend told me it also appeared at the Minnesota State Fair. Across from the side show is a Batcopter ride concession and a Euro Bungie. The fair seems to have gotten cold feet about booking in an actual bungee tower, or a slingshot ride anymore.
We head into the midway proper and head directly to the booth where we could purchase a pay one price ride wristband for $18. Individual ride tickets are available for $1 each, with rides taking between 1 and 3 tickets. Amusements of America has solved the problem with making you put your wrist through a tiny opening. They just hand you the wristband and a staff member sitting in a folding chair next to the ticket booth actually puts the armband on you. Suitably adorned with our armbands, I make a high speed beeline directly for the Space Roller.
That's not saying much as the Space Roller was anchoring this end of the midway. You may know that Space Roller is one of my favorite carnival amusement rides, and it did not disappoint here. I was able to grab an end seat and soon I was off on a competent round of Mondial Top Scan goodness. Space Roller is very hard to describe, but I'll try for those who have never seen one: Space Roller starts out with a large platform which is tilted at a slight angle so the back of the ride sits higher than the front, in the middle of the platform is a turret/piston thingee that has the power to both lift the bulk of the ride up and down vertically as to provide clearance from the ride platform while in run mode, as well as to spin. Mounted to the top of this raising turret is the main boom. Attached to the long end of the main boom is a windmill looking assembly which has the power to spin like a windmill, coming out from the windmill assembly are a multitude of spokes each spoke being mounted on a swivel assembly such that the blade can rotate around, mounted to the front side of each blade is a row of chairs (5-6 chairs), each chair secures one rider via OTSR. To the rider the individual blade rotation causes the chair to tumble either forwards or backwards. Are you reaching for the puke bucket yet? The ride also has two holding areas, of which the one nearest the operators booth was in use today.
After our ride on Space Roller, we head over to Fireball, which is a KMG Afterburner. As I head up to the ride deck I comment that my ride might be a real short one, as in it might be over before it even begins. We head up and sit down on this popular spinning swinging pendulum ride and the bars lower. My bar fails to lock and the operator gives it a slight push, before he sends both Rideman and I away. Just as I had predicted.
We head along one of the longer arms of the midway. To my left is a row of back end pieces like walk Arabian Daze, German Fun House, Thriller, Mardi Gras, Rainbow Rock, Haunted Castle, Ghost Pirates, and Ghoul City which wins points for having a spiral lift. On the right we pass a Wave Swinger, Flying Bobs, Ring of Fire and Spin Out until we come to the Crazy Mouse. There was a line for the Crazy Mouse but it moved quickly. The crew is good at making sure every car goes out with 4 people in it if at all possible. This is the good kind of Crazy Mouse the kind before Zamperla got their hands on it. We noted that unlike last year, they turned the coaster sideways so that it took up the maximum amount of midway footage. Our first ride we didn't get all that much spin action, I mean it's a fun ride, but we just didn't have a good load. The ride starts out like a wild mouse, you leave the station, turn left go along the front of the ride, turn left, up the lift hill, then you traverse the top layer switchbacks with the car locked to face forwards. , you come out of the switchbacks go down and up a dip, make the turnaround at the front of the ride, then you go down the big drop all the way to the ground, and then up what seems to be an impossibly tall hill, with a funky little double-up section near the top. You then enter the lower switchbacks, and here is where the car gets unlocked and is allowed to free spin. So you hopefully spin your way through the lower switchbacks, and around the next front turnaround. There are a couple speed hills as you head back to the rear of the ride for the final turnaround into the station. I still think it's a fun ride.
From the Crazy Mouse we head back past Belle City's fabulous looking Bertazzon Rock and Roll, it's a 1950's themed Musik ride complete with a 1950's style car sticking out of the sign in the front, and a 1950's style jukebox as the rides centerpiece. It's a great looking ride, but we skipped it for now. We headed past a closed set of Skooters, then passed by a Tilt-a-Whirl, Fun Slide and Trapeze (a Chance Yo-Yo) and headed for the Fabrri Bonzai. Bonzai is one of those rides whose primary goal in life is to take you around and around in vertical loops, and of course perform the obligatory stunt where they hang you upside down at the top for a few seconds. Bonzai featured the open style seating with no cages around the seats and a very minimal floor. It was a tight squeeze to fit into the ride but we did it. Due to the way I was positioned the ride wasn't exactly the most pleasant thing on the midway.
We then went by and noticed they have the Round Up and a Flying Bobs sitting in what just might be the worst locations on the midway. We walked past some food stands and went under the main Amusements of America front gate marquee. The whole main midway is a giant U shape with Space Roller and Fireball in the center of the U in the 'back' of the midway, and rides along the two arms. The arm of the U we had just left is perceived to be the lower traffic area, and we were heading to the higher traffic area. One thing I noticed is there did not seem to be as many game joints this year. Yeah, there was a full line of games, just not as many. Last year one whole side of this side of the midway was all games, this year they had a couple back end pieces mixed in, namely Playstation, Video Fun House, and Monkey Barrel.
This section of the midway is headed by the Merry Go Round, and the Giant Wheel, sitting behind them is a row of rides. We headed for the Hang Ten, which was billed as one of the new rides this year. Hang Ten is sort of like a an Enterprise that never lifts off the ground. You sit in a fairly open car secured with only a lap bar, then the cars go around in a circle along a platform that is higher at the back than it is at the front, but what makes it interesting is the mechanism in the center of the ride which seems to bounce the wheel of cars up and down in a wave pattern. It's a really fun ride, so I give it my nod of approval.
We headed next door to Avalanche and managed to get in line right before the crowd did. Avalanche is a Pinfari Zyklon coaster. It has a layout that is typical for a carnival coaster with a lot of helix like turns and tight clearances. The ride runs several two bench cars and we were grouped with another rider. We noted there were several block brakes along the ride that aren't used to trim so the ride runs pretty fast and all out. They have added magnetic brakes, so the final trim is now magnetic and hits hard, then the final brake run is lined with magnetic brakes. There are no brakes in the unload station, so after the car has been slowed down to a crawl the car is stopped by the manual brake action supplied by the arms of the unload attendants. It seems this coaster gets a new paint job almost every year, so it is really well taken care of.
We headed next door to the Gravitron. Rideman indicated it has some of the improvements which should make it a Starship 2000, but it still goes with the Gravitron signage complete with the panel of lights out front that seem to blink on and off at random, and just happen to spell out the word "THRILLER" every few seconds. The ride vehicle is painted a bright lime green. They have their fencing set up a bit different than most, so instead of one set of stairs to go up, and the other to go down, both sets may be used to load and unload. We boarded the Gravitron and were awarded with one of the bumpiest Gravitron rides ever, I mean you could see the ship bump up and down from the outside, add to that we had an operator who loved to play with the speed control so that the couches went up and down several times. Not quite the Gravitron experience I was hoping for.
Next door to the Gravitron is a blast from the past, its an Eyerly Sidewinder, which is the more modern looking car style for their popular Roll-O-Plane ride. Whereas the Roll-O-Plane emphasized roundness, the Sidewinder tubs are very angular. It was also at this point that Rideman did not ride as many rides. Rideman decided he didn't really need a Sidewinder ride, and as I was in line, they needed a single rider as they don't permit singles to ride, so I was paired with a much smaller rider. This means I got the side of the tub with the door. I was seated, the belt bar was lowered, the door locked and keyed. I then realized they have removed just about all the padding from the cages. Time for a defensive riding position to be assumed. All in all, it wasn't a bad ride, and I would say it was a much more pleasant ride experience than the Bonzai was. It could have been cooler if the ride would have tilted down and gone horizontal the way the one at Knobels does.
From the Sidewinder we next both rode the Orbiter. Here we were introduced to what Rideman has dubbed Mic-Man-In-A-Can. Yep all the announcements were prerecorded and the operator just hit the button for whatever announcement they needed to play. I liked the fake out ending on the Orbiter where they have actually started to bring the ride back down, then they decide to go for a little more, and the ride rises back up for another blast. Its clearly a spin ride where the center spindle raises up then the various arms tilt up, each arm holding three cars, then the until poles start spinning extremely fast. It's another spin ride lovers dream.
Next to the Orbiter sits the Power Surge. Rideman decided to sit Power Surge out as well. I did ride Power Surge. Power Surge is one of those demented spin rides that tosses you around like a rag doll every which way but loose. Even spins you upside down at times, I blame this ride for the sore shoulders I received.
From the Power Surge we headed past an Eli Scrambler and a Wisdom Tornado. Unfortunately the Tornado appeared to be out of service at the current time. We stepped next door to the Fabrri Drop Zone. It's a drop tower ride, and was quite a hit as we had to wait several cycles to ride. It may not be the tallest drop tower ride, but man it has it where it counts, when that ride carriage falls, man does it fall. Short but very effective drop. Oh, and the seats are sized for giants, which I give the ride additional points for.
After drop zone we passed by the smaller version of the Musik Express, where it was pointed out to me there was no music playing. Huh? A quick walk past another Skooters and the Wave Swinger brought our tour of the main midway full circle.
And look, right ahead of us is the Space Roller! Rideman sat the Space Roller ride out but I managed to score another end seat after waiting a few cycles in line. Can't get enough of the Space Roller goodness. At this time we decided we needed a ride break, so we stopped for an ice cream. What's better than ice cream? FREE Ice Cream. Yep, we grabbed some free ice cream from a vendor that was passing out samples that was located next door to Space Roller. While getting our free ice cream we were stopped by some low lifes who wanted to know if we were leaving, and it they could have our ride wristbands. That's a NO and a bigger NO!
We enjoyed our free ice cream as we walked back through the main midway, and then walked over to look at kiddieland. The main attraction in the kids area is the Giant Slide, but I noted the Giant Slide was included in the POP but also had a sizeable line. We looked around at the various kids rides for a bit. I noted they had a Wacky Worm and a Go-Gator coaster, as well as a Rocking Tug and a lot of cool kids rides that make you say "Where were these when I was a kid?"
We headed from the kids area to Schmidt's Sausage Haus for a brief dinner stop. I'll take a Bahama Mama spicy sausage with kraut and a jumbo iced tea from the iced tea booth nearby. Schmidts, it's a Columbus tradition! ($5.50 for the sausage and kraut, but it was a big footlong link, and $2.50 for the Jumbo iced tea. We took a walk along the midway while we let our food digest. If by letting our food digest, you mean rode on some more rides. Next up was the nifty fifty's themed Rock and Roll which is a very fast running Musik Express ride. It's the fairground classic, where an endless chain of cars travels around a circle at high speed while negotiating a series of hills and dips. A cool ride, and they run it both forwards and backwards, for which it gains bonus points.
After the Rock and Roll, I took a ride on the Spin Out. They needed a few riders to fill the claw, so I jumped on. The Spin Out, which already had at least 6 seats, including one whole arm of the claw roped off. Proceeded to cycle. I don't think it was as wild as other Spin Out rides I have received, which was a good thing, as there were a lot of nasty noises coming from the seatback behind me that sounded suspiciously like they were coming from the shoulder bar locking mechanism. After riding the Spin Out I was treated by my host to a Spin Out horror story that may have just ruined the ride for me.
Coming back around to the other end of the midway, time to score Space Roller ride #3. I want one of these things at a park nearest me. "Hello, PKI, I know what would go great in your Coney Mall section".
After the Space Roller ride, I decided to run to the car to fetch my camera, I probably should not have bothered because it was getting dark. But, oh a midway at night. We did stop at the Bricker Building for a convenience stop. I then noted that the booths along the main drag are starting to close. Its just after 9pm when we leave the fair and get our large green Ohio outline hand stamps. Oh wait, its Ohio Lottery day at the fair, and the hand stamp is the Ohio Lottery logo. We make a run to car, get camera, return to fair, make our way back past the useless metal detectors and head back to the midway. Yes we did get back in before the 10pm entrance gate cutoff.
We take a photo safari tour of the midway, and then head to the kids area. Given recent postings about taking photos in a kids area, particularly when you don't have kids, I decided to not take any photos back there. I did stop to get a Hawaiian Shaved Ice in a big flower looking cup. ($3)
After enjoying our shaved ice, we rode the Wacky Worm. I have been on the Wacky Worm style coaster before, but just not this Wacky Worm. We did get two laps around, and yes I was able to get the lap bar locked without too much effort. It's not bad for a kiddie coaster. Up above the coaster credit counter meekly clicks off coaster #261. I was not able to ride the Go-Gator. We did head over to and take a ride on the Rocking Tug. It's not quite Avatar at PKI, buts it's a fun little ride. Rocking Tug has the little doors at the ends of the rows that Avatar really needs so it can lose the 16 or older to ride in aisle seat rule. Oh and Rocking Tug has way more comfortable seats than Avatar.
After Rocking Tug, we go to ride the Giant Slide. It was a climb up "over 100 stairs", mind you these stairs are kiddie sized stairs and were annoying shallow. I dunno the slide needs a good wax job, or they need to use less coarse mats, because there was just too much friction getting in the way. It's not as great as the Giant Slide at LeSourdsville Lake was though it appears to be the same model. We did note the mats were cruder than they used to be, no foot pockets, no handles just a piece of coarse burlap.
We returned to the main midway where we took rides on the Hang Ten, Drop Zone, Tornado (which was running, and unlike Beech Bend no tub brakes) and the Skooter. Skooter is the type of ride I would not ride if this were a pay per ride show. I was given the worlds worst Skooter car , one that had a bad pick up brush, so that it would be traveling along, and then the car would die, then it would get bumped, spring back to life for a few seconds and die again. Not the most fun I have ever had on bumper cars, but hey do use the lap bar equipped cars so that is a plus.
After the bumper cars we head back towards Hang Ten for another spin. Hang Ten is a featured new ride on the midway this year, its sitting in one of the prime spots on the midway, the ride looks great and had an enthusiastic crew, yet they could hardly get people to ride it. Does the ride just not do enough sitting next to other rides, or did it just sort of get hidden between the Giant Wheel and the Avalanche. It just didn't seem to be getting the crowds it should have.
We noted the Giant Wheel line had finally gotten down to something reasonable, so we took a ride on the Giant Wheel so I could get some photos. It was a wheel ride. Not much to report.
WE took one last walk down the back side of the midway. We stopped at the Yo-Yo (Trapeze) for a ride. Yes, I was easily able to fit on the Yo-Yo, and it wins points for having the tilting mechanism working. From the YoYo we headed back to the Crazy Mouse for another ride. This time we got a lot better grouping and we got spun like a top. What made it more fun is we were with a group that clearly did not like being spun like a top.
We made our way to the end of the midway, and I glanced at my watch, which said it was just a few strokes shy of midnight. Midnight, that's when the monsters come out! That's when Cinderalla's carriage turns into a pumpkin, that's when the midway rides close. I had time for one more ride, better make it count. I knew what I had to do, I handed Rideman my camera and headed for a ride on Space Roller. Space Roller ride #4 baby! This ride was better than all the rest because it was the last ride of the night. The ride seemed to run a lot longer than the regular cycle, so long that at one point I looked down at the loading area while spinning upside down, and noted the holding pen to be empty. Ah, they are going to run us out till midnight I see.
After the Space Roller ride, we headed through the darkened fairgrounds back to our car. We then drove to an undisclosed location for the evening, where soon I was getting prepared to surf the web, and then get some sleep.
From Image 1412 (page 5) on is the Fair, before that is Wyandot, from earlier in the day... ;)
Or, you could wait for my full (overfull?) TR...coming....soon-ish. :)
*** Edited 9/11/2006 3:01:37 PM UTC by rollergator***
Dave you and Rideman should have walked thru the horse barns and found me!! :) If I wasn't hanging with my horses I was probably riding in the warm up arena or possibly showing depending on what time you were there! :)
Lifetime Raptor flights: 1158 :)
Chuck, who says this happened about 4 years ago.
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