PKD 8/9/05 Employee shortages and no water park

Associated parks:
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005 7:29 PM
Do you want to go to Kings Dominion on Tuesday? That’s how the conversation started with my friend Matt. Absolutely. This would the first year in a while that I’ll have made two trips to PKD. Matt’s friend John wanted to go and my sister Cindy wasn’t working either, so it was nice to have an even group of people. Both Matt and I looked at the weather the night before and determined that it would be bad. You always hope for the best with these trips. Driving down to Doswell we certainly hit many bad patches of rain. My internal worry became external the closer we got to the park, as I was hoping they wouldn’t throw in the towel. This happened to me at SFA one day, and it was a wise move on their part.

So, luckily we pull into the parking lot and there are plenty of other parked cars. The first sign I saw at the ticket booths said that Waterworks was closed. Now, we had already discussed that we weren’t going to the waterpark today, but obviously this would affect lines elsewhere. The first thing going through my mind is “A waterpark closed on a Tuesday in August?” How bizzare. So we all had either raincoats or ponchos and entered the park.

With absolutely no line, we knocked out Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Mansion. I did ok, but it’s really confusing when you have four people all pointing their lasers in the same space. Maybe they could come up with different color lasers for the front and back rows. Next we headed for Congo and Tomb Raider Firefall. I was surprised a little bit that it didn’t look much different from opening day in March. The cauldrons were finished, but only the left side was working. They did take out the second security fence and we did think that the flames were a little bit lower, but otherwise the ride program and effects were the same. One thing that did scare me though was in the 4/5-flip sequence at the end. I started to feel my shoes start to loosen from the forces. I pushed my toes out to keep them tight. I don’t know if I was really in any danger of loosing my shoes, but it sure felt like it. I believe we attemped a re-ride, but the people after us got as far as the platform going down.

We then knocked out the four other major rides in the area–Avalanche, Volcano, Flight of Fear, and Anaconda. Somewhere in this time period, it changed from rainy to overcast. Cindy was inquesitive about what rides she had missed since her last visit, which would be five, and we were headed right towards one of them–Richochet. But first we decided to try to talk Cindy and John into riding Drop Zone who we thought we’d have a hard time with. But what was weird is they followed us into the line and seemed ok. We’re next to get loaded and the ring goes up and stops for much longer than the seven seconds at the top. Both Matt and I knew this wasn’t good. After what seemed like a much longer time than it probably was (maybe a minute?), the ring did drop, but we knew it was a bad sign. We waited quite a while and bailed since they weren’t testing. Finally, as we were leaving, they did go around to check the seats, but we moved on anyway.

Matt just about peed his pants when he saw Hypersonic running. He was under the impression that it didn’t run once it gets wet from a past experience. It didn’t take too long to get on and I turned to my sister right before the launch and said “Have I ever told you how much I hate this ride?” I kept my head back against the headrest and somewhere in the launch my head went forward and then slammed back against the headrest. Luckily, it’s padded, but still. My sister had a similar experience and we were both glad to move onto something more placid like Richochet.

So finally Cindy gets to ride her first wild mouse. I think she found Richochet to be fun, and we rode it two other times throughout the day, including a re-ride. Our stomachs all growling, we decided we’d ride two more rides, and then grab something to eat. We went back to pick up Drop Zone, which was now only loading half the seats. Cindy and John both seemed fine afterwards. Cindys’ method was to not look down. We also rode Grizzly since we were admiring all the new wood bracing on the station turnaround from Hypersonic. We all rode near the back and wow was it bad. I actually came off going “That was terrible.”

We all decided to get pizza, and we got two pies. The pizza was rather thick, and I had five slices. It did not settle well, and almost did me in for the day. I asked to do some calm rides afterwards so we first hit Triple Spin, which lasted a little bit too long for me. I suggested the log flume next, and Matt wanted to hit the Flyers. Still not feeling well, I waited it out, but in the meantime watched a kid blast through DDR Extreme with a ton of sixteenth-note snare fills.

We got in line for the log flume and we noticed a) they’re only loading one side and b) there’s a log stuck at the bottom of the first lift with people onboard. We’ll come back later. Whitewater Canyon was thrown out as an option, and I seriously thought we should do it since we had raingear, but Matt thought the line was way too long. We walked down towards the observation area, and I tried to point out to him how many boats were out on the course (I counted eight in the load/unload area alone), but he could not be swayed. So we went to ride the Sponge Bob Squarepants in 3-D movie instead, all except for John who already didn’t like it from Great Adventure. Unfortunately, we picked out the wrong seats–all the way to the right in the first row. We still got some of the major 3-D effects, but the rest of the time I was seeing Sponge Bob with three eyes.

We took in the view from the Eiffel Tower next and I noted there’s a large plot of land to the right that’s not been developed, and then I corrected myself when I realized it’s where the antique cars run. But, seeing as they removed the ones at PKI, I wouldn’t count this area out as being safe from future development. The Italian Job worksite also looks quite large from up there. Still needing rides with a “less than 5” rating, we rode the Chance Aviator where I closed my eyes for a while. It was very relaxing. The sun started to emerge sometime around this time period. We knocked off Scooby-Doo’s Ghoster Coaster, which surprisingly had no line. We then hit another coaster with no line–Shockwave.

Cindy and I rode in the front row and I was scared due to the speed and the airtime. I kept bracing for impact, but the only part that got me was the helix. I think Cindy took it a little bit worse. Matt and John rode after us, and faired better. One thing I must point out is that there was an employee wearing a “lifeguard” t-shirt instead of a uniform. I believe the two employees at Sponge Bob were lifeguards as well. That says to me that there must have been an employee shortage.

We finally hit the last three woodies. We rode in the front of the front facing Rebel Yell first, and it was still as good as it was in March. Matt jumped back on in one of the backrows, and said it’s still pretty bumpy. We then changed sides and rode in the last car of the backwards train, and suprisingly it was just as good as the forwards side. Matt and I both let a “Whoa” out going up the hill into the turnaround.

An unpleasant task was left and that was to ride Hurler. Here’s where an interesting and incredibly annoying phenomonon first happpened to me. We go down the first drop into the turnaround and right as we hit the first bunny hill, my lapbar staples me. It made a sucky ride even suckier. This would not be the last time for this to happen. We decided to take a break at the Happy Days diner. I thought about getting the milkshake, but then remembered I was in the south and could get a Mellow Yellow instead. I was dying and needed the caffeine, but I think it made things a lot worse as far as my stomach went and my head was also feeling awful. My sister was also feeling bad. I told Matt that I was seriously contemplating leaving the park soon, but they were welcome to stay and ride until the end of the night. Matt asks if it’s cool if he and John rode Hypersonic again, and Cindy and I said “Sure, no problem.” This is what we call a big waste of time.

While I tried to get myself back together by just chilling outside the diner, I had that bad sensation. You know the one where you are painfully aware that a train hasn’t launched in several minutes, but you keep your mouth shut, because you don’t want anyone else to know that you’re concerned. It didn’t take Cindy too much longer to pick up on it either, not with a ride as loud as this. They finally started sending empty trains out for cycling. Finally, I got annoyed as I figure it’s been at least a half-an-hour and I walked up the exit ramp to find out where Matt and John were. They’re waiting for the front row and will be next in line. Matt is confident that they will reopen, but tells me to go re-ride Drop Zone with my sister. We still kept watching empty train after empty train go over the top from the DZ line. Finally, when we were about to board Drop Zone, we heard screams coming from the other direction, and sure enough when we got off Matt and John wandered over. We took one final spin on Richochet and headed back towards the log flume. Matt had to stop at the flyers again on the way.

To finish up the night, we went back and hit Tomb Raider, Volcano, and Avalanche again. Our final destination was the traditional end of the night ride–Grizzly. We rode up front this time and things were much better, except for one problem. Going around the inside of the first turnaround, my lapbar stapled me again. Since there was no one in our row, we went around again, and the stapling happened much sooner–I believe it was at the bottom of the first drop. Something tells me that the springs on the lapbars of Hurler and Grizzly are being set too light. It definitely detracted from the ride.

So once I got home, I checked the official website, and Waterworks should’ve been open. Judging by the amount of food stands that were closed, and some of the late posted times for opening of rides, you have to wonder what’s going on. Some coasters had skeleton crews, with just two people operating them, and I believe that Scooby-Doo only had one person. Seeing the large number of guys who were wearing swim trunks, I’m sure Waterworks would’ve done very well, even with the bad weather in the morning. Another thing that I found to be unusual was that the promotions for the Italian Job were only on a few signs advertising 2006 season passes, and the graphic was quite small.

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