“I thought PKI on a Saturday in July was an evil to be avoided”
Our plan for the day was simple, our main objective was to see the PKI “Nights of Fire” presentation. We also knew it was a Saturday of a holiday weekend, so we went to the park with low expectations as far as getting rides in. In fact I quipped the line from Roller Coaster “It will be three hours before they get on anything” Therefore we did not leave for the park till early afternoon, and took along swimwear in case we would have to seek refuge in the waterpark.
We arrived at the park and were not too surprised to find our parking space was back beyond the bus parking lot. We also happened to just miss the parking tram, so we decided to walk to the front gate. It wasn’t a long walk and we were full of energy.
We spotted a large crowd at the metal detectors, but managers to find short lanes for both the security check and at the front gate. Upon entering the park we decided on a course of action. We first looked at the fake detonator that would be used that night to start the Nights of Fire, we then decided to start with a ride that hardly ever has a line, like Adventure Express.
We walked past Viking Fury where I spotted the usual excessive queue house stand empty. We continued along to Adventure Express where we were able to take a near walk on ride in the second car. Three hours, huh? Adventure Express was running well, but the big chief at the top of the second lift still seems to be out of commission. We exited Adventure Express and noticed a new structure going up, possibly to move the Cyber Sez attraction over out of the way.
I have not been to the park since Bubba Gump’s opened, so we took a quick tour of the restaurant and bar and decided to return later for food. They did a great job on the exterior of Buba Gump’s the service line is now inside, and is more of a cafeteria style operation now. The place still suffers however from not having any indoor climate controlled seating, not even ceiling fans. Around back, Lt. Dan’s Backporch Bar offers a limited selection of cocktails and appetizers.
Continuing into Coney Mall, we skipped Racer eve though it was a walkon, to take a same-cycle wait for Monster. At the same time I am realizing that the midway does not look near as bad as the parking lot suggests.
We headed to Flight of Fear, but it was down mechanical at the time, so we continued out tour, heading directly for the Flying Eagles. It would be no surprise that we would take a couple Flying Eagles rides. Today, however, the cycle time seemed even shorter than the short cycle time they have been running, and the ride never seems to get up to full speed.
From the Flyers, we proceeded to take yet another near walk on ride, this time on Beast. I mean the fact we are getting walk-on rides on the parks star attractions on a Saturday just does not seem right, even though I am in mo way complaining. Beast seemed to be running a tad bit better, though I still think the ride is overrated, except for the helix finale.
After Beast we decided to skip Tomb Raider, which had its usual line, and instead opted for the Train. The train was just arriving, so we took a circle tour of the park. Our narrator for the ride out to Waterworks told the story behind “The Real McCoy”, and we arrived to find Waterworks, but the slide lines did not look long at all, not even backing down the stairways. Where IS everybody. We sat in the Waterworks station for some time, which Rideman figured out was so that both trains could pass the crossing at once to reduce the number of times the walkway would have to be blocked. I also noted the addition of mechanical turnstiles to the Waterworks train station, then we proceeded back to Rivertown.
We headed next to Beastie where another near walk on ride awaited. Beastie could be such a fun kiddie coaster if not for that nasty trim brake on the third turnaround.
After Beastie we waited about 20 minutes to ride Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle. Neither of us had a particularly high scoring ride, but again, Rideman devised a theory that something has been added to the programming to prevent “Rapid Fire Shooting” Several times wew ould aim our Fright Lights at a target, squeeze the trigger, hear the “Ka Pow” sound effect, then the little blue light on the target would merely blink, no animation, no points scored. The blink on the target suggests that a hit was recognized, but perhaps some anti-rapid fire logic tells the ride to disregard the shot unless so many seconds have passed since your last shot. I mean dead-on point blank range shots were not scoring the first time, but if you waited a couple seconds and tried again, it would register. Obviously some more research will be needed on this subject.
We weren’t quite happy with our scores but moved on to the Action zone anyway. Action Zone is of course willed with low capacity rides like Face/Off and Drop Zone. Nothing in Action zone really appealed to us, Delirium being a new ride had a long queue, Top Gun was closed, and Son of Beast is on both of our “Rejected Rides Lists” I did note the Skycoaster has gone from $10/flyer to $15. Then again with 95degrees (according to the thermometer in front of Bubba Gumps) and high humidity, the thought of becoming a human burrito did not sound appealing either. I mean those flight suits can get quite hot.
We decided to take care of the hot with a nice cold beer at Lt. Dan’s We opted for the microbrew which is an ale. A 24oz. Serving runs about $5.50 with the tax. It was a quite a filling beer, which we enjoyed. Rideman realized he forgot a needed item in his car, so we took a tram ride out to visit our car, and also received a relaxing tour of the campground. I had not seen the parks campground before, so it seemed quite nice. The street signs are all named after rides at the park.
Upon our return to the park, our progress towards the rides was halted by a stop at the Funnel Cakes stand. The park has added Fried Twinkies to their menu. As I have had the fried candy bar at a carnival, then the Fried Oreos at Holiday World, I needed to complete the set. Rideman and I split an order with is two Fried Twinkies for $3.75. Having had a nice snack we headed to Coney Mall.
In Coney Mall we took two walk on rides on Racer, so that we could experience both the forwards and backwards sides. The backwards side does seem to run a lot better. We observed the Scrambler for a bit, then moved on to Vortex. Vortex had a minimal wait of about 10-15 minutes, after which we received a back car ride.
Vortex was running its usual self, which is a bit rough, and the mid course brake is a killer. After Vortex we took a spin on Shake, Rattle and Roll (HUSS Troika), and some more spins on Flying Eagles. (Easily the best ride in the park)
As we were waiting for our second Flying Eagles ride of that session, an announcement came on the PA about the weather conditions, a storm that night, and an announcement that basically said “We don’t know what we are going to do” Night of Fire could happen as early at 9PM or as late as 11PM.
We headed down towards Beast where the sign had changed from “This ride will close at 8PM” to “This ride will close at 7:30PM” As the time was 7:45PM,we headed to Hanna Barbera Land so that we would be in a designated viewing area.
We waited a while, though nothing serious to ride Reptar. It’s amazing how fast a line can move with good conversation. After Reptar, we looked around Nickelodeon, found the speaker cluster next to Atom Ant, which seemed to suggest a good viewing area. We walked through the Animation Station, and came out in time to hear an announcement that the storm was ‘scheduled’ for 9PM and the Night of Fire would take place after the storm. Needing to kill time, and with the rides already closing for weather, we decided to get food.
Normally the walk from Taxi Jam to Bubba Gump would not be a bad walk, but Nights of Fire requires closing off the area around the Eiffel Tower. Therefore we had to walk to Gump’s via International Street. To the parks credit they do have ‘walkways’ for those wishing to get from one end of international street to the other without stopping. Then they have another one right before the main gate to help you cross the street. Exiting guests are directed to either the old season pass gate, or through the Admin Parking Lot (which is a designated fireworks viewing area) and out the employee exit. Without too much trouble we got into Oktoberfest. One comment about the walkways, there is no gate or entrance for those entering or exiting the ‘express lane’ at the halfway points on International Street. International Street is prime viewing area which makes navigating it very hard.
We skillfully make it to Gumps, where we find a short food line. Weopt for the Fish and Chips, as the dinners seem like a much better value than the sandwhiches. The $6.69 for 6 pieces of fish, slaw and fries is quite reasonable, the additional $3.00 for a soft drink is ridiculous.
We dine on the back proch of Bubba Gumps but find a sheltered table just in case the storm rolls in. You know some indoor seating would really help. We had just barely finished the fish and had gotten to the point where our Super Duper Extra Salty Fries had gotten disgusting, when an announcement came on the fireworks would start in 10 minutes.
We chucked the rest of the fries, and made a beeline for international street and found a good viewing spot still open next to the lockers, up against but on the correct side of the walkway fence. The next announcement was that a storm was heading our way fast, take cover. The walkway barriers came crashing down as there was a mass exodus to the parking lot, we forcefully worked our way back over the HB side, and walked back to HB using the walkway provided. It was quite evident that HB was clearing out fast. Memories of the tornado like storm the night before surely helped. We hung out near but not in the Animation Station except when the storm got real bad, in fact when the storm was its worst I happened to be in a place where I had my own private cubicle.
We hung out around HB, and why not the area was lightly crowded, and there was nothing else to do with the storm. Nights of Fire started around 10:15, and we returned to our spot by the Atom Ant Airways.
Night of Fire is a half hour long fireworks show set to music,with both aerial fireworks, a lot more low level fireworks than were really needed, but the star piece were fireworks being shot from both the top and the sides of the Eiffel Tower. At time it looked like the whole tower was ablaze. What an awesome sight to see. It was a great fireworks show, though nothing like Riverfest on Labor Day Weekend.
After the fireworks show, we took some more Flying Eagles rides, then a ride on Flight of Fear with about a 20-30 minute wait. Still an awesome thrill packed rollercoaster, then finished the night off with a spin on Delirium.
It was my first night ride on Delirum, and my first ride at 12:05AM on Delirium. Awesome.
We then caught a parking tram and headed home. The park does have an interesting tactic, even though the fireworks show ends at 10:30 the trams do not resume service till 11:30. My hunch is this is to encourage people to wait around some more, or at the very least to prevent a mad stampede for the tram station.
I'm a bit confused as to why Beast was closing at 7:30 when the park was open till midnight? I've only been to the park twice during my mid-west coasterfest, and ran upon Beast being closed early and something about Gold passes?!?! WTF are those?!?
My home park is Kings Dominion and we have no "special" pass system other than a season pass and rides stay open until close, with rides like Volcano and XLC requiring you to be in line about 30 minutes before closing. Anyone care to explain this? TIA!
What was I supposed to put here again?!?!
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