My basketball team had traveled from South Florida to Orlando for a basketball tournament. After our final game on Saturday, the team decided to spend the remainder of the evening at Old Town. I had never been there, so I was very excited. My family usually only goes to the big parks (IOA, WDW, etc.) when we drive the 3.5 hours to the area.
The first thing you notice as you drive up to Old Town is the enormous 300-foot Kissimmee Skycoaster towering over its surroundings. Of course, most of the people on our bus went from saying "oh my God, I have to do that" as we drove up, to "Did you see how fast they went? There's no way I'm doing that" once we were actually under it. Out of 35 people on our bus, 9 of us ended up going.
After buying the tickets (at 27 bucks apiece), we made our way to the loading platform. It was at this point that I realized what I was about to do. I would soon be pulled up 300 feet by what looked, from this vantage point, to be a series of strings. I became very nervous, and then overly excited. By the way, it was 35 degrees (F) outside, very cold for Florida.
There was a one-group wait to get on. It was soon decided that I would pull the chord because it was my idea to come to the Skycoaster first (no one else wanted to pull it). Once strapped into our harnesses, we began the walk across the bridge to where you get on. I was shaking from both the cold and the anticipation. There was now no turning back. We were attached to the very simple looking mechanism that would take us up to the top of the ride.
The floor was then pulled out from under us and we were dangling, with our arms locked to one another. Slowly we began our ascent. This is by far the scariest part of any ride, including coasters, that I have experienced. You feel like you will be released at any moment. But of course, we continue to climb...and climb... and climb. Finally, we have made our way to the top. The wind was blowing hard and the temperature was now below freezing. I heard the ride-op say something, but my mind would not allow me to interpret it. The only thing left to do was pull the chord.
The first few moments are total freefall. Our bodies were totally perpendicular to the ground. This creates the affect that we are no longer attached to any rope, but are instead plummeting toward the lake the ride is built over. Then the rope catches and we were soaring directly at our original departure point. Before we realized it, we had passed this point and were rising toward the sky, with our arms out like we were flying.
The swings became lower and lower until we grabbed a pole the ride-op held out for us. Filled with adrenaline, we left the platform and took off all the equipment. We then realized we were freezing cold and could no longer feel anything that was exposed during the fall. Oh well, it was all good. They have a booth where we watched a video of our experience, very cool. It was the most exhilarating ride I've been on. Anyone in the Orlando area should definitely make a stop at Old Town just to ride this monster.
After watching the other members of our group ride, we ate at Checkers. This was probably a bad idea because it is the only restaurant without indoor seating. Next we walked through the Old Town shops, stopping occasionally to get out of the cold. One of these stops was a pretty cool, but not-so-scary haunted house.
The rides section of Old Town has the appearance and feel of a local fair. A ride-all-you-want ticket can be bought for $15. The stand out attraction is Windstorm, a compact coaster from Zamperla. It begins with a drop to the left that doesn't quite reach the ground, and the small airtime hill and a large turnaround. I'm not sure about the rest of the layout, but the best part is an overbanked dive to the right with several headchopper effects. Also included are two tight helixes. I rode several times with no wait and one-train-operation. The front is the best seat.
We were now out of time and out of money. Also at Old Town are a Slingshot ($25), Skyscraper ($10), and an Inverter. I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip there and would like to return when it is not so cold.
Dania Beach Hurricane - Tuesday, 12/30
My dad, my brother, and I decided to go buy fireworks at a large outlet 30 minutes from our house. It is located 5 minutes from the DBH and Boomers, but I didn't want to ask to go there because we would already be spending $100 in fireworks. I hadn't ridden the ride in over a year, but would have to be content glaring at it from the highway.
After leaving the fireworks place, my dad, also an enthusiast, says that we underspent by 30 bucks. This amount was conveniently the cost of three all-day passes at DBH. My stomach went up into my throat just thinking of the airtime I would soon experience. As we pulled into the extremely crowded Boomers parking lot at 7:00, my heart was racing in anticipation of riding one of my favorite woodies. On the way past the Boomers attractions, my legs wanted to break into a sprint, but I knew my dad would not want to run. Once in front of the ride, I was happy to see a one-train wait station with one-train operation. We purchased wristbands and were on our way.
We chose row one because I believe that is the best seat on this ride. The three-bench, six-car, blue PTC train pulled into the station. The gates opened and I jumped into the left seat while my dad took the right. Neither one of us was stapled, but didn't give ourselves too much room either. The train departed with a descending 180 degree curve to the left. The feelings I had going up the lift and looking at the beautiful structure of the ride made me realize why I am a coaster enthusiast.
Before we knew it, we were at the top and had passed the hurricane warning signs. A slight dip to the right and small pop of air prepared us for what was to come. Down the first drop, and up into the next hill we went. Here is the first moment of floater air. A 180 degree turn brings us to the next drop followed by another moment of floater air and a larger drop, this time nearer to the ground. Looking at the next perfectly shaped hill, one can only imagine how it will feel. Up and over we go, with some of the best ejector on the ride. Another 180 degree turn to the left followed by a slightly banked drop is where the on ride photo is located. The next banked hill has some nice floater air. Another good pop is felt right before the next 180 degree turn to the left, taken at good speed right through the structure.
This sets up one of the greatest finales on a wood coater. A drop near to the ground leads to a hill that provides as much ejector air as any other camelback I've been on. The next one is stand-up air. A turn to the left brings us to the final brake run. The Hurricane was running faster and smoother than ever, and the added bonus of darkness made it the best ride I had experiences yet on this coaster. To me, it is a ride only equaled by the Beast and several CCI creations.
I ended up riding 10 times, with waits ranging from one to four trains. I looked under the station and saw what appeared to be the red train in pieces. It didn't look like maintenance, so I'm not sure if it will ever be used again. They rarely needed it anyway.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year! *** Edited 12/31/2003 7:04:12 PM UTC by jpcoaster***
Happy New year to you too.
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