Tuesday, August 10, 2004 5:23 PM
Sorry, but this is a long-winded TR.

This trip was unlike my normal trips, which are just me and the wife playing theme-park commando. I organized a group from Ottawa to go to Paramount Canada's Wonderland on Saturday, August 7. I didn't make much of a plan beyond an initial meeting place and handing out lists of everyone’s cell phone numbers. Because of long distance and varying travel preferences and cash flow issues, about half the group spent Friday night in or near Toronto while the other half left Ottawa shortly after 6:00 am Saturday morning.

The individuals that stayed in TO were there for gate open and rode at least 6 major coasters before meeting up at 11:30. The lines started short, but quickly grew long. I left from Ottawa Saturday morning, arriving at the park at 11:30. Straight away, we waited 30 minutes to ride Vortex, then 90 minutes to ride Top Gun.

Top Gun was operating normally until we rode. With 7 people, we didn't try and ride on the same train, but rather filtered through the platform lines, ending up on two different trains. On the same train as our last group members, another guest’s restraint unlocked during the ride. 8O The over-the-shoulder harness was secured only by the seat belt safety latch (the backup restraint). Restraint failure is a major issue, and PCW treated it that way. Top Gun was shut down and I'm not certain it reopened that day.

While waiting to ride Top Gun, we watched Tomb Raider carefully. I had heard that it was a head-banger and not very comfortable to ride. It also seemed to load quite slowly, so we decided to ride it at the end of the day, hopefully when the crowds were gone.

We were a large group with some diverse tastes. We had a toddler who was well taken care of while the 9 big kids (ages 28-35) rode the coasters. It wasn't the smoothest theme park day, but we all got along and had fun.

First thing, the mom and auntie took the toddler to Hanna Barbara Land and tried to wear him out. That didn't work, but they had a lot of fun trying.

The remaining big kids rode Psyclone (awesome, but I wish the seats faced in so we could see eath other) and Sledgehammer (scarier than it looks -- you're pushed off your seat when it drops).

The group split up again around 3:00, some stopping to eat lunch while others rode Jet Scream. They had lots of fun, but their ride was delayed when another guest had a severe panic attack on the ride. (Hello people! Don't force your friends to do something they can't handle!)

Next, we rode The Mighty Canadian Minebuster, which had a very fast line. As always, it was a great ride.

The mom, auntie and kiddo returned to the group exhausted, but ready for big-kid rides.

My wife and I freaked out our friends by dragging them on the Sponge Bob 3-D experience. We know all the characters and theme song lyrics but don't have any kids of our own. The 3-D ride was lots of fun for the adults, and the motionless seats for kiddo and Mom were nice. Kiddo didn't experience the same ride we did -- he wouldn't keep his glasses on. :)

Supper was challenging. Our group included an individual who is allergic to wheat flour, which makes theme park food very challenging. (It's not just no buns or pasta, but also things like no fries if breaded chicken fingers were cooked in the same fryer, no hot dogs that might contain filler, and no ice cream cones...) We ended up dining at a Tex-mex kiosk joint near the front entrance, but even there, staff could not assure us that the tortillas or tacos contained only corn flour and no wheat flour. Chicken, lettuce, onions and green peppers makes for a simple, yet desperate supper for the poor famished one. :(

After supper, we split up briefly while three of us headed for the Whitewater Canyon. At Whitewater Canyon, there was less than 20 people in the queue - unheard of on a Saturday! One of us got soaked, I got drenched on one side, and the third member of our group was only just splashed. It wasn't as cold as it was in the morning -- we mostly dried before leaving the park at 10:30 pm.

All lineups dropped dramatically after supper. We waited only 15 minutes to ride The Fly, and about the same for The Bat. Wild Beast had virtually no line, as did Dragon Fire. It was lots of fun!

At 8:30, we headed back for a final ride on Vortex before lining up for the infamous Tomb Raider The Ride.

There are signs all over Tomb Raider saying that carry on bags are prohibited -- one of our friends left the line because of his backpack. PCW fails because they never mentioned that at the loading / unloading area, there is a shelf for bags, just like all other PCW coasters. :(

Tomb Raider broke down when our group was just 20 people from the loading platform - not sure why. The reset procedure is very complex -- they had to call in maintenance, then let riders out who had just loaded, then back up all the cars and unload the riders at the base of the corkscrew lift. Staff managed to restart the ride after 15 minutes without any apparent issues. After the ride, our group decided unanimously that it was the least remarkable coaster in the park. Flying coasters might be fun with dives and gentle curves, but the quick barrel rolls and tight turns in Tomb Raider are a real pain.

It was a long ride home to Ottawa. Most people arrived home between 2:45 am and 4:00 am. But it was a great day. Can't wait to go again. :)

Summary (and my personal ratings): Vortex (4/5), Top Gun (4.5/5, but what's with the broken restraint?), Psyclone (3.5/5), Sledgehammer (4/5), The Mighty Canadian Minebuster (4/5), Sponge Bob Squarepants 3-D (3.5/5 for SB fans, 2.5/5 for 'normal people'), The Fly (4/5), The Bat (3.5/5), Wild Beast (4/5), Dragon Fire (3.5/5), Tomb Raider, The Ride (1/5 -- lying down and banging your head around -- what's the point?)

*** Edited 8/10/2004 9:25:16 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth*** *** Edited 8/10/2004 9:26:16 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth***

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004 10:00 PM
Yikes, broken restraints don't sound good. I didn't even think it was possible for it to fully open in motion with only the seatbelt, but then I guess anything is... Is this a pretty good SLC in general though?
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 9:40 AM
In general, it's a good inverted coaster - the ride is great. However, the trains are only 2-seats-wide, rather than the 4-seat-wide arrangement like most of its peers. This means that Top Gun as a theoretical capacity of 1,040 riders per hour -- pathetic compared to Raptor at CP or Vampire at La Ronde. PCW attracts large crowds and it shows in the Top Gun line.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 10:30 AM
Abbreviation Alert!!!!

Gotta be some better way to abbreviate Paramount's Canada's Wonderland and Paramount's Carowinds. I've seen both appreviated as PCW

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004 6:46 PM
Yeah, I've been on one like Top Gun at Marine World (Kong) and SF New England (Mind Eraser). You are right that the capacity is very bad. I do like the ride except for the jerkiness in the trains. You Canadians have some great flat rides in that park. I really want to ride that Sledgehammer and the other ones.
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Friday, August 13, 2004 11:01 PM
SLFAKE...The abbreviations used to confuse me too. However, this is how I've seen the 2 parks commonly abbreviated:

PCW = Paramounts Canada's Wonderland

PCar = Paramounts Carowinds

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