“Amazing what a few storms can do the ride lines”
Today’s visit to PKI was kind of a last minute decision. At 8:40 I was planning on partaking of my normal non-coaster filled Sunday routine, then at 8:45 an email arrived that changed all that. Instead I would go with Dave Althoff to PKI.
Given Dave’s travel time requirements and all that, we arrived at the park at a leisurely 11:30. It was just late enough in the day to get caught in the after-church traffic. The park looked busy as indicated by the fact that we were far out in the North Lot and arrived at the gate with the aid of a parking tram. It should be noted that we purposely parked right next to a tram stop, as it really has the same effect as being parked up close to the gate. While riding the tram to the gate, we witnessed an act of rider stupidity as a tram rider, wanting to suddenly return to their car jumped off the moving tram. We arrived at the gate.
At the front gate I noticed that they have made a couple minor changes to the metal detection area. For one they have painted a yellow line a few feet in front of the detector in an attempt to space out the people entering the gate, and the second change is that a second bank of metal detectors has been setup in front of the old season pass entrance, I see the park is already planning for those heavy crowd days.
As this is my fifth visit to the park this year, and will be my fourth trip report, with the last one issued just over a week ago, I will try to stick to the highpoints.
We soon enter the park, and after a leisurely walk we eventually wind up at the Flying Eagles. You know Eagles? Smooth? Graceful? Soaring? Yeah, Right! We started the day with three Flying Eagles rides.
From the Flying Eagles, we took a walk-on ride on Vortex. I hadn’t taken a front seat ride on Vortex for a while, and after doing so realized why I prefer the back. The back seat has great floater air down the first drop, the front seat you just have a brief sport where you legs float up at the crest of the second hill. Clearly the back seat is the better ride.
From Vortex, we continue our coaster tour heading towards Flight of Fear. We took a shortcut, however, one that involves riding the Zephyr, the parks Wave Swinger. After a breezy trip through the skies of Coney Mall we start to walk to Ft. Cooper. I perform my usual flagpole inspection upon entering Ft. Cooper, and I notice the flags have still not been raised over this faux military base. Given that these are about the only two flagpoles in the park that aren’t flying some kind of flag or banner, I must assume there is a reason behind their non-use.
After we entered Ft. Cooper instead of heading directly to the Press Area we instead took a look over at the flight area, the helipad to be exact. The Sky Team helicopter tours looked interesting, and they did have signs posted about a season pass special, and the skies looked perfect for flying. So perfect we saw a biplane out for a scenic Sunday flight on our way up to the park. While we heard the choppers, we also noted the booking office was closed. The warning sign about not locking the doors seems odd to me though.
We thought we better head to the Press Area. As you may know Flight of Fear is one of PKI’s better attempts at themeing. In this case the idea is you are a press report who is coming to Ft. Cooper to get a report on what appears to be a flying saucer. First you walk through the shaded media area outside, then you walk into the building, and into Hangar 18 where you see the UFO in the center of the enormous room, and a lot of equipment for use in an investigation. Today we noticed the queue was taking the long way through Hangar 18, but was not entirely full. I’d say we got to watch the pre-show in the hangar about 1.5 times.
At the end of the hangar preshow you climb up a short flight of stairs to board the flying saucer. The stairway looks like it is part of the saucer on a bug fold out hatch that bas been lowered. A stairway, that seems odd, as most science fiction movies with Flying Saucers show ramps were the preferred boarding method for flying saucers. We then walked through the flying saucer to come to the loading platform.
A short while later we were getting into seat 5.1, the lap bars went down, the seatbelt buckle was thwacked against something hard a couple times to unjam it, then the seatbelt was fastened. Then the ride launched and we were off on a trip through outer space, all the way to the Outer Limits. Amazingly the craft is able to safely land back in a rather dull looking hallway in Ft. Cooper, where we exited the ride vehicles, walked down a long windy hallway within Ft. Cooper walked out into a retail area and noticed the rain.
What happened to our perfect morning? Soon a large storm brewed up. We played, and lost, Dodge The Rain. First the on-ride photo booth to the tunnel under Racer, then to the games building, then walk along side the games to come to the Arcade. Still no pinball in the arcade. At the exit of the Arcade nearest Monster they have a prize game. Inside the machine is a series if holes arranged in a beehive like pattern. The player has control of what looks like a drill press. You insert your money and are given a limited amount of time to line up the drill bit. Line the bit up properly and it will be able to enter a hole and ‘drill out’ the prize. The was only interesting when I saw the two most popular prizes were Iraqi “Most Wanted” playing cards, and key chain sized laser lights. We hung around the arcade for the rain to lighten up, where we were able to make it from the Arcade to the International Street shops. We proceeded through the shops, out the front gate, through the exit form the secure zone and waited for a tram while standing under the canvas tent covering the metal detector area.
We waited, and we waited, and we waited. We saw trams out in the parking lot doing nothing. Eventually we make a run for it and get totally soaked. Personally, I think it is very rude of a park to discontinue tram service in the middle of the day, particularly at a time when the park is having a mass exodus. What’s more the thunder and lightning hadn’t started yet.
We took a side trip to a local restaurant, had dinner, watched the weather go from bad to good to much worse to a little better. In fact the rain was still coming down aswe left the restaurant and returned to the park. We never did dry off, and when we returned we got a big parking upgrade to the secret super preferred lot. The rain was still coming down as we re-entered the park.
Upon re-entering the park, we were guessing that the two most popular rides would be Flight of Fear and Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle because of the rain. (Most of Tomb Raider’s queue is outdoors, and you can get wet on that ride) We decided that since it was raining, and we were already wet, that we would head to Rivertown and ride the water rides. We looked down the street halfway up International Street and were surprised to see no line hanging out of the Ghastly Manor. We determined Ghastly Manor was receiving visitors and went inside, with the line starting on the drawbridge.
A couple minor changes have occurred in the queue area. In the big anteroom, clear protective coverings have been placed over the Victorian style ‘wallpaper’, and in the secret passage blue lights have been installed. Blue lights have the curious properties of giving off light, while still maintaining the darkness of the secret passage.
After a very quick wait we soon boarded our Mini Mystery Machine. Scooby is a Sally interactive dark ride, and so as soon as the lap bar was closed, we grabbed our Fright Lights and got ready. The first scene has received a few changes. On opening day there was a stretch from the loading area until you reached the first target. This stretch does serve a purpose as the on-ride photo is taken and you hear Shaggy telling you to get ready and to grab your Fright Light. On opening weekend it was a very dull section of the ride. By the second week a directive to “AIM FRIGHTLIGHT HERE” was written on the wall by the camera. My guess is that a review of the on-ride photos, or the sales volume of the on-ride photo sales were not achieving the desired results, due to the guests not having their Fright Lights ready, or making inappropriate poses. The rather plain message has been replaced by an oversized target that says “AIM HERE” that helps by serving double duty as rider instructions.
As I said in my last TR, I will finally start to get the story when I get a busted Fright Light. It is still a series of disjoint scenes in my mind right now, though I thought I heard some audio this time through. It must be that competetive thing. I redeemed my lousy score of last week by getting a 1,660 this week. We exited Ghastly Manor and realized the rain was still dripping.
We heard a Beastie train go by, so that was the next choice. As we approached Beastie however there was an empty train parked on the ready brake. Luckily nothing was wrong, in fact the ride was waiting for riders. Beastie has a nice first drop tunnel headchopper and a nice sport of floater air off the second turnaround, unfortunately a trim brake sucks the life out of it on the third turnaround. We finished our Beastie ride, and noticing how empty Hanna Barbera Land was, we headed to Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster. Ghoster Coaster is an interesting product of Caripro. It’s a junior suspended coaster where you sit in little single seat cars (2 with a small kid), that travels by overhead monorail track over a course in the back reaches of kiddieland. Not only that, but it has a true blue vertical elevator lift.
The ride does have a couple drawbacks, mainly it’s a very low capacity attraction, the other is that the cars can be quite cramped for bigger riders to get into. Male riders need to be extra careful. We noticed what may be the shortest line we would see for it all year, (which was still out and around the service crane, almost back to the end of the storage track). We patiently waited, I crammed myself into one of the real cute Bat cars, I took precautions as the car boarded the elevator (you should see the faces of mail riders who don’t take precautions, or head the operators warnings) took a quick ride to the second floor, and had a graceful ride over HB that was only interrupted by two trim brakes. (Careful on those two, BTW, look for the calipers) At least the final brake into the station is a lot smoother. It’s a once a year novelty ride for me, however I was able to get myself out of the Bat a lot easier than usual. We proceeded towards Reptar.
Due to the weather Reptar was not online, but Wild Thornberries River Adventure came online just as we were passing it. We took a ride on Wild Thornberries, since we were already wet. I noticed the show sensors are placed above trough level, I suppose so the effects will only fire for a loaded log, or so that they can time the effect to hit the poor schmuck up front who tripped off the sensor. All in all very little water damage except for elephant at the very end. The back seat rider claimed to have gotten significantly wetter.
After our ride on Wild Thornberries, I took a ride I haven’t taken for a few seasons now, White Water Canyon. I usually avoid WWC due to the long walk out to it, as well as the fact that you can get a merciless drenching. Today I was already drenched, so what more could it do. After having ridden some of the newer rapids rides parks are installing, this one seems tame in comparison. I noted the highly elastic seatbelt, then we took off for a fast game of Rapids Ride Roulette.
The wheels of aquatic misfortune started spinning, and before the ride was through, Dave A. had scored 2 rapids and a geyser, and Dave B. scored 1 rapids and 1 geyser. We soon took the long walk back to the midway.
We passed by Tomb Raider which had a lot longer line that we were willing to stand in, and headed for Beast. We took a ride on Beast towards the middle of the train, and were rewarded with the smoothest, fastest seeming Beast ride all season. We walked around and headed for the back seat. We then received the usual rough Beast experience. Must be a difference in those two trains. There was a significant delay in the station at the end of the ride as Dave A. had issues with his lap bar not releasing, in the end it took 4 operators, 2 lap bar keys, 5 minutes, and a lot of trial and error to get Dave’s lap bar to release. So trial and error that on one attempt they managed to ratchet down Dave’s lap bar even further, to the point of being painful. They eventually got Dave out, but not without stepping on his lap bar forcefully to get it to open. Darn, I was kind of hoping to see the ride mechanics have to perform a PTC train dissection and take the whole lap bar assembly apart to get Dave out.
After Beast, we had another Flying Eagles Air Show. We came up with some more flight analogies, like testing the rudder before the ride starts is ‘pre-flighting the aircraft”, using your foot at the end of the ride to drag the tub to a halt is “deploying the landing gear” We took a few rides, then realized how late it was getting, and we still had a significant part of the park to see.
Upon review of the coasters we had already ridden, we determined that our best course of action was to head to Racer. We arrived at Racer and took a walk on ride in the back car. While I admire the fact they are actually trying to race the trains this year, the back seamed a bit lacking for airtime. We then headed up to the Schmeck Seat (1.3) and were rewarded with a ride that had traces of airtime.
We continued our tour around the park with a stop at Adventure Express, and took a walk on back car ride. Adventure Express is a consistent performer and a decent mine ride. I have yet to see what sort of improvements were rumored for this ride this year. After riding Adventure Express we realized we forgot the Backwards Racer.
We returned to the Racer, rode in the first car of the backwards train. Not only does the backwards side track a lot better, but the airtime is more impressive. We then headed to the Paramount Action Zone.
We entered the Action Zone, and I noted the Delirium line to be very reasonable. We took a ride on Delirium. Delirium is still a fast, intense crowd pleaser. This visit I noted they have switched from a "Follow your ride operator" system to an assigned seat number system, a tactic that has worked well on Drop Zone. Man, I love this ride.
We then headed to the back corner of Action Zone, and first took a ride on Top Gun. Top Gun is the parks Arrow Suspended that is just way too far out of the way of traffic. A walk on with empty seats going out, we enjoyed a front seat ride on it. Top Gun also wins the award for most energetic platform crew.
From Top Gun, we took a ride on Son of Beast so Dave A. could experience the new lap bars. Almost a walk on, we took a ride in seat 6.2 Big Mistake, while the ride was more tolerable than it was with the old lap bars, it is still pretty brutal. I won't be riding this one again unless something changes, like perhaps the floor design.
After experiencing that worthless pile of bodily excrement, we entered the restroom building near Son of Beast to be nauseated by another worthless pile of bodily excrement. EWWWWW. By PKI standards this restroom building was truly disgusting.
We ran far away from that restroom building and soon found ourselves at Drop Zone. We looked at the line for Drop Zone, and realized it was only a one cycle wait. We boarded, went up, spiraled, noted that Face/Off was a walk on, went up some more, paused, paused, paused, FELL. I have since figured out the method for releasing the new style (Intamin Style) seatbelt buckles and was thus able to exit the ride without delay.
With out new knowledge that Face/Off was a walk on, we rode Face/Off in the midway end seat. A wonderfully smooth intense Vekoma Invertigo. After riding Face/Off we realized we only had one more coaster in the park that we were eligible to ride (Silly Enthusiast, Taxi Jam is for kids!) and thus made our way to Reptar. This time Reptar was open and so we took a front seat ride. When Reptar first opened, it had a unique moment where your feet could touch the lift hill bottom. Not any more. Reptar is a smooth quick junior coaster. With that ride we finished the coaster collection, looked at but did not persue the water maze. WE determined that it is impossible to come out of it dry.
We headed back to Tomb Raider, noted no line at all for the ride, and as we guessed Tomb Raider was closed for the time being. Instead we took a third seat ride on Beast. After our Beast ride we finished up the day with several Flying Eagles rides which took place until the park closed. In fact the ride operators loaded us during the fireworks, let us sit there, and then started the ride. Started the ride with such timing in fact that the ride came to a complete stop just as the grand finale of the fireworks show was ending and the "Parks Closed" PA announcement was starting. Talk about timing! For the curious I timed the Flying Eagles, each session the ride lasts 3 minutes from start to stop, however the motor is cut off after 2 minutes, it takes the ride a full minute to loose momentum and stop. Factor in warm up time, and I'd say you have about 90 seconds of good quality flight time to work with.
After the Flying Eagles marathon, we made our way to the front of the park, walked out to our super close car, and called it a night.
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