One Insane Extended Weekend (Part 3 - NVAP and Beech Bend) (5/22/04)

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Sunday, May 30, 2004 11:59 PM
One Insane Extended Weekend. Part 3 – Nashville Valley Amusement Park and Beech Bend (5/21/04)


“I didn’t know this ride had rocking chairs.”


The trip continues…..


Sleeping for over 9 hours is exactly what I needed to cure the 45 hours of being awake the previous two days. This was the final day of the trip and we would start our way back home with a couple of stops off at two parks I have never been to.

Bill Berkey, Chris Trotter, and I left the Chattanooga area around 10:30AM and headed for Nashville. The last time I was in Nashville was on a brief layover a few years ago. I hadn’t been in the actual city for much longer. Probably close to 15 years or so. I wanted to go to Opryland before it closed for good, but that never happened.

The drive to Nashville was pretty uneventful. The scenery was neat, but it wasn’t a real exciting drive. I don’t remember how many large firework stores we passed but it seemed like a lot. Fireworks must be a big thing down in the south.

As we reached our destination in Nashville, Chris mentioned that he could not believe we were going to visit such a small park. He has driven past the park last year but didn’t go in as it was closed. As we approached the Opryland mall and hotel area, all of us commented on how large the hotel was. It was quite impressive to say the least. I was told that the hotel is an attraction in itself but we decided to skip seeing the inside of it as we had a park to go to.

Nashville Valley Amusement Park sits in viewing distance of the large hotel. It is a very small park that looks like it was built on a parking lot. There are two coasters inside among other rides like a Scrambler, a Kite Flyer, and a Ferris wheel, to name a few. We could have purchased an all day wristband but decided against it as we were only going to be here for a few minutes. We instead purchased some tokens to use for riding. Once we were in the wonder that is NVAP, we headed to the larger coaster first.

----The King----(#544)

This coaster looks and rode like a standard Zyklon-type coaster. The crew was very nice and looked as if they were excited to see someone wanting to ride their coaster. There was virtually no one in the park other than a few other people. The coaster was in great condition and ran smooth. I don’t know what it is but the last few types of these I have ridden have been very impressive. We only took one spin on this coaster. It was now time to ride the smaller coaster.

---- Python---(#545)

This small Miler coaster was relocated from a Jeepers in Michigan. If you have ridden any of the Jeepers Miler coasters, you know what to expect. This small layout provided a pretty fun ride. The lone ride operator looked as us like we were crazy for riding, but she was more than happy to give us a ride. At one point during the ride, the train dives under another section. If you look up at that other section, the bottom part of the track is covered in plexiglass to prevent riders from touching the track. It looked like riders had been grabbing the plexiglass as it was smudged with fingerprints.


Once we had ridden the two coasters, we decided to leave. We spent a whole 10 minutes in the park. Believe it or not, that’s not the shortest time I have spent in a park after riding.

As we walked out, we saw the General Manager. Bill and I asked him where The King coaster was located from. He claims it operated in Sweden before being sent to the Nashville park. We thanked him for his time then moved on.

Our next park was a park I had never been to before but have been meaning to get to. We had another long drive to reach it, but it was worth the drive to Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Beech Bend.

The road that leads to the park reminded me of a couple of the roads that lead up to a couple of the parks I went to in England. There was a two lane road divided by a long row of trees. It added a nice touch before reaching the park, which resides in the middle of the country. Once we parked and got tickets, it was time to find the first of two coasters.


---Dragon---(#546)

This was one of the longest Wisdom coasters I have seen. It almost looked as if they spliced two of them together or something. The ride was very strange. It started with a spiral lift hill that tilts the entire train on its side as you get close to the top. You really have no choice other than to hold on as it slides you down to the left side of the train. The rest of the ride contains some curves and a couple of small bunny hops before ending with a helix. One ride consisted of like 6 laps.

We walked over to the other coaster and noticed no one was riding it. At first we thought it was closed but that wasn’t the case.

---Looping Star---

I had ridden this in 1998 at the I-X Center in Cleveland. There was some debate I read on another site a while back as to if the Beech Bend Looping Star was indeed the same one that ran at I-X. After asking a few people and looking at some video I shot, I believe it is. The cars looked to have different logos on them, but I am almost certain it is the same ride. If anyone else has info saying anything different, please let me know.

I have ridden a few Pinfari loopers. I have learned not to ride in the front as a couple of the curves can be pretty brutal. Bill and I rode the front of the back car. Chris rode behind us. We noticed as we were dispatched that the seats had a strange “feel” to them. From looking at the layout as we were going up the lift, we knew it was going to be a bit of a chore to find out how to ride this thing and enjoy ourselves at the same time. Sad to say, the ride was a bit too rough for our liking and one ride was enough. We noticed some kids riding it multiple times after we rode so it has some fans.

We walked over to the small free fall tower next. At IAAPA during the last few years, rides like this are seen all over the place. I rode one exactly like this one at IAAPA last year. The ride vehicle sits riders 3 abreast. The tower itself can’t be more than 50 feet high but that doesn’t matter. Unlike most other drop towers, this one has a trick up its sleeve. First off, if you look up, you can’t see how high up you are as there are metal shields sticking out at an angle. Second of all, there is no delay at the top. Once you are up there, you drop. Just like that. No waiting. No warning. Just down. Now!

The drop itself was great. I actually got some nice stomach sensation out of it. One of my friends in England once said that a drop tower doesn’t need to be 300-feet tall to be thrilling. No matter how short they are, the very quick moment where you drop is felt the same on any tower. This is true but I could also add in that the taller towers bring an increasing fear of heights and more speed, but I do understand what he is talking about. This smaller tower more than proves that.

We found a dark ride to check out. I don’t remember much about it other than it was pretty cheesy. The cheesier, the better IMO. This was a great example of a small park dark ride.

We ended up finding a rare SCAT 2 ride. I hadn’t ridden one of these since I was 10. I didn’t remember much about it other than it was intense. Chris and Bill both decided not to ride when they saw it operate. It ran fast. There were some kids riding it when I walked up to it. When the ride came to an end, a few of the kids were green.

Yea! This looks to be my kind of ride.

I have yet to become sick from a ride. Chris and Bill were worried I would meet my match with this one. As I was boarding the ride, a strange song started playing over the P.A. throughout the park. I don’t remember the name of it but the lyrics went something like, “Spinning around until we were dizzy. Spinning all around.” Chris pointed this out to me as I was getting strapped in. I had to laugh at it.

I was the only one riding and it didn’t look like anyone else was going to ride. The ride operator told me I would get a fairly long ride. For those of you that have never seen a SCAT 2, just imagine two small roundup carriages, tilted on an angle, and each spin by themselves while on a rotating arm that spins pretty fast as well.

The constant positive g’s felt on this ride were much more intense than any other ride I have ridden like it. It was very difficult to move. My face was being pulled back constantly. Chris and Bill thought it looked like I was smiling but it really was the forces doing it to me. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my ride because I did. All I could see was colors whizzing by. I could not see a single thing in the park. After a few more minutes, my ride came to a stop. I wasn’t sick in the least. I just had an incredible buzz.

Bill decided to go into the gift shop to purchase some stuff for his kids while Chris and took another ride on the free fall tower. Once again, the tower amazed us with its surprises. That ended up being the last ride of the day, and the trip.

We hopped back into the Saturn VUE, and started the long journey back to Columbus. To be honest, the drive wasn’t all that bad. It went much faster than I expected it to be.

Another insane trip is now in books. Five parks in 6 states in two days. Not too bad, but not for everyone. I am sure there are going to be more soon. I honestly really love trips like this but it has to take the right group of people to do them. I have done trips like this in the past where mid-trip, a few people have decided this wasn’t for them and decided to never do one again.

I have to thank Chris and Bill for being so cool on this trip. I know Bill has wanted to do a psycho trip for a while but his new family prevented him from doing so. Hey, he has more important priorities now but I am sure he was glad to get away for a couple of days. Chris, as much as he seems to be fading out of traveling to ride coasters, I know he had a good time. I know I had a great time even with the lack of sleep. I am caught up now and eagerly await the next trip, whenever that may be.

Thanks for reading,

-Sean

. *** Edited 5/31/2004 4:14:19 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***

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Tuesday, June 1, 2004 9:05 AM
Wow, did I read all of that... Anyway, nice to hear about these parks as they are the two of the closest ones to my brother-in-law's home in Tennessee. Doesn't seem like I need to rush him to either of these parks any time soon.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2004 10:26 AM
Thanks again Sean! I was thinking about hitting Beech Bend on my way back from the upcoming Pres Con, and didn't even know the Nashville park existed until now. They both sound like they are worth a visit at least. :-D

I agree, I do like crazy trips like that ONLY if you have the right group of peeps. It makes the world of difference.

-Tina

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Tuesday, June 1, 2004 8:06 PM
Tina,

I have had my fair share of bad travel partners. Luckily though, the times I have had with the cool folks far outweigh the bad times. You live and learn I guess.

Ironically, one of the worst times I have had during traveling was with the two friends I traveled with on this last trip. Those two friends were fine. It was someone else that joined us that ruined the whole trip for me. Thankfully, we can all look back at it and laugh now.


Dragonrider,

You may not feel the need to rush but I have no clue how much longer NVAP will be there as it had a kind of temorary feel to it. However, it has been opened for almost a year to the day so it has been around long enough to dismiss it as a carnival.

-Sean

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 8:16 PM
"However, it has been opened for almost a year to the day so it has been around long enough to dismiss it as a carnival."

HAHA. Yeah I kinda feel the same way about NVAP. I guess I should drive the 15 mins. over to the park and actually check out The King before I'm so hasty to knock it. It's just sad we once had a great park like Opryland and now all we have is this micro park to replace it.

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Saturday, June 12, 2004 12:45 AM
thrillerman1,

It is sad that the park sits so close to the old Opryland site. It's kind of like pouring salt into a wound, but I honestly did have fun the few minutes I was at the park. The staff were the friendliest of the trip.

-Sean

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