Being a season pass holder at PKD sure has it's advantages - working a week and then being off a week has even more advantages. Since PKD is but a two hour drive from my home town of Lynchburg Va, I attend the park at least once every other week and this week was a special one. The re-opening of Hypersonic XLC has been something that i've personally been waiting for since season opener and this week marked not only the re-opening of the ride but the announcement of the new gyro drop. What a great time to head to the park.
My niece, fresh out of middle school, was my ride partner today. Mind you I had this young lady on a coaster at the early age of 3 (first coaster for her was the (defunct) Galaxy at Myrtle Beach Pavillion), so her experience on coasters has been pretty full for a kid her age. She knows a good ride when she sees it, and holds her hands up the whole ride. We both had the pleasure of experiencing Hypersonic last season for about 23 rides with varying seating on each trip, i'm not trying to say i'm an expert on the ride (far from it) but I do know what XLC is capable of delivering. Our trip today was to find out if Hypersonic was still "all that.. and a bag of chips".
We headed out today around 11am for the 2 hour (and some change) trek north to Doswell Va. Much to my suprise we managed to shave off almost 15 minutes due to "proper" flowing traffic - traffic that flows along at 80mph that is. We arrive at the park at 1pm and use one of the few good coupons given to season pass holders for a free parking during a weekday in the month of june. Immediately I noticed that the big white sign that used to say "Hypersonic XLC will not be in operation today" has been turned face down! I quickly scanned the park horizon in hopes of seeing those lovely (now ugly) blue and yellow trains cresting Hypersonics hill that is visible from the parking lot. Nothing. *grrr*.
We hastily lock up the truckster and make a dash to the front ticket center - through the metal detectors - past the annoying people who just "have" to take your picture - down International street - behind the Eiffel tower - halfway down the path and I hear the sound I have been longing to hear all season long. *WHOOOOOOOSH*. We both stop in our tracks and marvel at the newly modified XLC train cresting the hill...... slowly...a small *phhwiiish* sound, the train looks like it almost stops on top, another small *phhwiiish* and the train falls slowly down the backside of the hill and through the turns. My heart sank. What have they done to my ride?!?!?!?.
We head down past the Merry-go-round and head our way towards the entrance of XLC. Coming around the bend to where you begin to see the end of the line, my heart drops further. At a quick glance it looks as if the line for XLC is going to be a 2 1/2 hour + wait. People are lined up past the entryway spilling over into the middle of the turnaround. My mind races for a minute, there looked to be only about 1500 cars in the parking lot, if everyone is in line for this, everything else is vacant. Flight or flee? We continue to walk towards the back of the line when I notice that none of the queue's have people in them, and that the line "starts" at the entranceway. In all there must be only about 50 people in line. NO WAY! Amazed that this is possible I ask a security guard (there were three of them in one spot.. go figure) what the dillio is. I soon find out that since the re-opening they only allow 8 people into the line for each train that goes over the hill (temporary i'm sure). Excitedly we wait in line watching the trains blast off and then *shudder* - brake - at the top of the hill. Ten minutes pass and we're making our way past the golden chains into the station only to find about 75 people already there and waiting. We decide to make the first launch of the year be from the newly redesigned front seat, complete with the new anti-shoulder dislocating gear attatched to the top of the head rests and the new snub nosed front car.
Two trains are running flawlessly for about eight cycles when *bam*, deja vu starts all over again. We're two cycles away from hurling down the tracks at 80mph, when train number two decides to not let John Q Public out of the right rear seat. Ahhhh... memories. Maintenance is called in and John Q is able to get out of the restraints after being confined for only twenty minutes. The XLC crew place the red "please choose another seat" velcro straps around the two rear seats and locks down the bars. Now the cycling of the trains begin. Six cycles later and they begin boarding passengers. Joy! We're on.
Immediately I liked the look and feel of the new front end. Not only do you have a more unobstructed view of the track before you, but you feel more open - almost Intamin style if you will. I purposely leave a two click gap between my flesh and the bars in hopes of getting that wonderful ejector air I have grown to love in the past season. We pull out of the station, hear the spiele about keeping our hands down during the launch while the train is being weighed, and finally we're released to the launch area.
*WHOOOOOOOSH* The blast is just as exhilirating and as powerful as before. Barrelling down the track at 80mph, I glimpse down briefly to the front of the train just to see if the track is a complete blur from going so fast (it is) and quickly raise my head to the skies as we approach that wonderful 165ft tall tower that promises a one way ticket to the heavens. We blast past the roll back brakes and immediately I hear the short blast off air and feel the car slow ever so slightly just as we begin to crest the top. Gone is the wonderful ejector air of last year, in it's place is a "light feeling" that never seems to get your a$$ off of the seat. Now mind you I had a two click gap and my legs barely touched the bars as we crested the top hill. We slowly are let go and we plummet down the backside of the hill and into the turns, and finally back into the (still) loud brake run.
Wow! All I can say is that those who have yet to ride XLC, you missed out on an awesome experience last season. This season, you're going to get a good launch - and that's it. Those of you who got to ride last season will remember hearing the sounds of screams and laughing as each train made it's way up and over the top, now - you see people sitting there with no expression. Riders would still be hootin' and hollerin' last season in the brake run as they looked at each other in amazement about what a great ride it is - this year (or at least today) all was silent. It was almost creepy how quiet it was on the trains.
Hypersonic XLC (front seat) 7.5/10
We worked our way back into the station only to stop about three inches short of the proper position for our lap bars to be released - hence - XLC had broken down again. So there we sat for 25 minutes in the hot sun waiting for the XLC Repair crew to arrive and let us out. Having been in this precarious position quite a few times last year I learned that when they ask you if you need anything while you're stranded on a ride you say "I would like another ride please". The ride-ops were more than welcome to give everyone stranded on each train an extra lap for their patience while things were being worked out. Thirty minutes later and we're offloaded into the front loading station to wait for the train cycling. I took the time stranded aboard the train to enquire about the new head gear applied to the trains and confirm that they were installed to keep peoples arms from dislocating on the launch. Four cycles later and we board the back row for another ride:
Keeping the two click position as before on the lap bars (just for testing purposes mind you), we head out the station and onto the launching area. Whooosh we're off! Same great launch as before. Cresting the hill *phhhish* slow-down *phiish* - and yank! While it's not the ejector air i'd grown to love, the stall on the top allows for the rear trains to get a good yank on the way down resulting in a fair amount of air time. Definately ride the back if you're looking for some negative g's.
Hypersonic XLC (rear) 8.75/10
It's now 2:30 and hunger and heat exhaustion already starts to set in. Planning to skip the coasters and head to the food stand and the water park, my niece throws a kink in the plan and wants to hop a ride on Hurler and Ricochet before we eat and get wet. Both the Hurler and Ricochet were walkons for the front seats. Hurler was only running one train ( a first this season as they seem to usually run two trains even when there's only a few people riding all day long). Having experienced Carowinds' Hurler earlier this season, I leave our front car experience a bit dissapointed at the lack of speed and air time that I had experienced in Charlotte NC. Still a good ride, but not the best. Ricochet was - Ricochet. Fun the first few times you get to ride, and mildly entertaining the rest.
We finally head to the Water Works section of the park and grab some chicken strips and coke (overpriced and bland - that would be the chicken) and head for the changing rooms. Every trip for me to PKD would not be complete without gleefully standing under the water bucket in the playground area of the waterpark while massive amounts of water is dumped on you. A definate must for those who truelly wish to cool off. We catch a ride on one of the tube slides of pikeline peaks and then head to the wave pool for some gratifying motion sickness in the 85 degree wavy water. Joy! Feeling more hot than cool in the wave pool we amble out and back to change into some dry clothage. Exiting the water park we stop to look at the contstruction boards for the new gyro drop in 2003 and we enjoyed the height comparisons on the signs. I immediately plan for the next trip a small poster of Millenium Force to place beside the drop sign (for picture purposes only that is).
We skip Shockwave and decide to take a whirl on triple-spin and enjoy the ride so much we jump back on after the ride is over. *Tip* Sit on the inside of the car and lean your head back as the cars glide upward, you get the sensation of going upside down (sorta). I could only imagine what kind of ride triple-spin would be like if the shocks were removed from each car allowing it to go completely vertical with the arms resulting in massive overbanked (or quite possibly upside down) turns. Joy!
Triple Spin 8/10
Anaconda is skipped for the same reason as Shockwave - simply cuz' they both hurt and suck at the same time. We head for Volcano and notice that Avalanche is running for the first time in five trips. We opt to skip Volcano and catch a whirl in the back car on Avalanche. The mid-course brakes were left off which provided a very nice and speedy latter part of the ride complete with some nice g's in the turns. It's not a hyper or anything, but it's fun for a quick fix.
It's off to Volcano now for my 22nd ride this season and what a pleasant suprise to find only a five minute wait for row two. As always, Volcano delivers a great ride time and time again. And ride after ride I leave the station feeling that the ride needs to continue just a bit longer especially after that nice swooping dive back into the mountain. I personally think that that Volcano needs to blast out of the side where Avalanche is and swoop up into a nice big Cobra Roll or Batwing, into a big helix and THEN into the brakes. Also I think PKD should do something with the inside of the Volcano to make it more "Volcanoie"... maybe some red water or smoke or something in the area where you return to the station. Regardless, it's a great time to whoop and holler that high up.
Any trip to the congo area is not complete without a spin on both Volcano and Flight of Fear. You just can't leave that area until you've ridden both. FOF was almost a walk on, we totally skipped the inside queue's, the flying saucer area, and headed straight for the front seat with only a two car wait. I did notice a new sequence in the modified Outer Limits movie that had some new CG footage of a spiralling time warp in the solar system when "Dick" grabs the cord attatched to the saucer. My first spin on FOF with the new restraints last year I was defiant enough to hold my hands up the whole ride, that is until I rode Jokers Jinx at Six Flags America (the outdoor version of FOF) and noticed just how close my fingers were coming to the poles. Now they're only up the first part. Again I can't say how much of a vast improvement it was to the ride to ditch the OTSR's. Awesome.
Flight of Fear 8/10
Heading out of the Congo area we decided to grab one last trip on XLC and opt to catch a spin on the forwards and backwards Rebel Yell as it's in the walk-on category. We take a spin in reverse first and notice sprinklers running on both sides in the turn around area leaving the stations. The sprinklers are on so hard they're wetting all of the track in the turn around and parts of the exit ramp. My guess is they're trying to make get some grass or some form of plantlife to grow there. We take the very back car for both forwards and reverse and end up enjoying reverse more, I guess it's all about that first yank! Awesome!
Rebel Yell Forwards 6/10
Rebel Yell Backwards 7.5/10
Leaving Rebel Yell we shuffled over to Hypersonic to snag not one, but two rides (both were about a twenty minute wait) just to reconfirm my feelings of how the ride has lost something in the modifications. I bet I won't be able to pull that stunt off again, four rides on Hypersonic in under eight hours that is.
It's now 9:25 and the park is set to close in 35 minutes. We decide to head to ol' faithfull himself, The Grizzly, for a few night rides before the drive home. We arrive in the station to see it completely empty sans a few people in the cars. Only one train is running and we quickly snatch the opportunity to grab the front seat. I'm not sure exactly what has been done to Griz' since opening of the season, but I found that this nights ride in the front seat was almost a smooth as glass. No violent shaking or bounciness at all. Just smooth fast, floaty fun. It's not the Beast or SOB (my two top woodies btw) but it's still a good ride. We pull in the station and begin the musical chairs routine for each trip, slowly working our way towards the back of the train. Around 9:45pm we fill up the train with new riders and begin the nights last few rides. Props goes out to the two guys who made up the Grizzly crew last night, they extended our riding time ten minutes after the park had closed for a total of 11 rides without ever leaving the station. Grizzly is coming up on it's 20 year anniversary in 2004 and i'm starting to wonder if KD is going to have an event similiar to the Beasts' 20 year party. This season they have replaced all of the wood in the beginning part of the queue line and new railing has been placed along the full circuit. It still needs some TLC in the braking part to speed the trains up some after the first drop and into the turn around, but Griz still puts on one helluva blast into the tunnel! Shweeeet!!!
Leaving the station we head out of the park and back home. Another great day at my home park. I would highly recommend anyone that plans to come to PKD to plan your trip during the week! Especially between mon-wed. Arrive around 9:30ish and make your way to the eiffel tower. Depending on what you wish to ride, for Volcano line-up at the gates in front of the Nickelodian tower, for XLC go behind the Eiffel tower to the opening where the Nick Flyers are immediately to your left. PKD does not allow the running of the bulls (especially towards the XLC area) but if you're smart you'll stick to the heels of the guard walking you down. Twice i've been escorted to the front of Hypersonic for the first ride of the morning due to attatching myself to the guard. For those runners out there, the guard who escorts you to Volcano takes the road to the left through the Nick area. The smart riders (and runners) stay straight and head towards the Shockwave. Once the guard makes the left turn, people take OFF! If you're fast you can run down the path, hang a left and make it into the congo area before the guard (who took the left) even sees you. Please try not to tramply any kids and don't fall!! Ground sucks!!
Hope you enjoyed the report and at least learned a tip or two. And please, keep your arms down inside the train at all times-especially during the launch!
Coasters and Games.. Games and Coasters.
*** This post was edited by CoasterBearVa on 6/27/2002. ***
*** This post was edited by CoasterBearVa on 6/27/2002. ***
84 coasters in Track Record!! Hypersonic XLC # 100 in July. Waiting for the 305 foot drop tower in 2003. Thank you PKD.
Those are some of the shortest waits for Volcano and XLC I've ever heard of in a summer TR. That is great!
"What have they done to my ride?!?!?!?."
I don't know what they've done to your ride, but they've fixed mine;), sorta.
Anyhow, next year, XLC a little more differing than last & this, it's the interchangable, ever-changing, multiple differences ride extravaganza that's worth writting to other peoples' homes about.
Next year, just wait until next year;).
Coasters and Games.. Games and Coasters.
BTW, I drive up to PKD from Wilmington, NC, I think you peoples are along the way, not Roanoke, but Roanoke's where the Parkway comes out, right? Near the Natural Bridge:)? EAST COAST!!!!!!!
Anyway, excellent trip report. Reminds me that I miss going to PKD.
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