PKD Labor Day Trip - Another XLC story

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Monday, September 3, 2001 8:58 PM
Being a crowd avoider that I am, I generally make it a habit to not attend Amusement parks during weekends and/or holidays. The price of admission to stand in line an extra two hours for one ride is absolutely absurd. That said, I was a tad bit leary of going to PKD today (well yesterday now that it's past 12pm) for fear of a massive last chance crowd packing into the park.

Me and a friend headed out today around noonish for the two hour drive up to Richmond. Things were looking good as we pulled into the parking lot and only 1/4 of the lot was spoken for. Nice! From the lot I noticed that Hypersonic was running (amazingly enough) and Volcano was spewing riders out with two trains running. Being a season pass holder spoils you for obvious reasons. You tend to skip rides that you know you can hit next time when the lines are shorter.. but to my amazement, all but two of the rides were walkons. The Grizzly was running only one train (was there Friday as well.. same thing) and a 15 minute wait for the back seat was tolerable. Grizz used to be my favorite woodie, but due to overbraking it has become quite the tamed bear. Shame. After catching in only one ride which was a good one btw, we decided to hit up the Rebel Yell backwards (in the rear of the train of course). Leaving the station I noted that Hypersonic was still running (still amazed!). Myself and Chris had decided to let XLC be the last ride for the night seeing as it had been running for more than an hour and that was a good thing, so we trotted off to hit up Volcano, Flight of Fear and Anaconda. 

FOF was (as always) an excellent ride! It's so nice to see people coming off of the ride with smiles on their faces instead of hands on their necks... truely amazing how a little thing like a restraint can make or break a ride. We hit up the front seat with only a four train wait, each train had to reject a rider for not fitting properly . I did notice that PKD had opted to remove the dog leash clip onto the top of the restraint that they had before, to the seat belt latch onto the clip near the calf of the leg (same as PKI) method.  The new system makes it even tougher for people to fit, a shame in itself.

After a round of FOF we headed to Anaconda for a head banging experience. I tell myself that I'm never going to ride that POS ever again but instead find myself with someone who just "has" to go on it. Oh well... two neck injuries later we headed off to Volcano. 20 minute wait for the front seat. Not bad at all!. Volcano delivered another adrenaline rush on the launch that is still good compared to XLC (which btw was still running at this point), I'm beginning to actually enjoy this coaster more as I continue to ride it. At first I was totally dissappointed at the slow corkscrews and the lack of any type of hills, but i'm beginning to look past it's flaws and enjoy it for what it is.

6:00 and time for some snackage. We headed back over towards XLC and picked up a Roasted Turkey leg and a coke for dinner. The leg was good, but not as tasty as those found at Disneyworld.  We finish eating like cannibals and make our way over to the Hurler which was runnning two trains btw compared to the one train operations of the Grizzly and the Rebel Yell. Go figure. Every other train contained only a handful of people so we took the opportunity to catch in a few rides without leaving the station. The front seat was always a joy to experience as it's the best spot for the air time, but we snagged the rest of the rides in the back seat for optimal roughness. And the Hurler delivered. I was having flashbacks of The Beast on a slow day, seeing the cars rumble.. my ribs smacking the sides of the trains... Good stuff! I took the time to checkout the construction area for Ricochet and progress is moving right along. The concrete supports have been poured, rougly five feet above ground, and the general parameter can be seen from atop the Hurler. On Friday a ride-op for XLC was chatting with us about Ricochet as we waited for XLC to open (*ahem* 2 1/2 hours after park opening).... according to him Ricochet will sport a 125 foot tall climb to drop only 50 feet for the first hill. It's going to be a mouse on steroids.Woohoo!

Ahh.. time to hit up Hypersonic, which at 7:20 was still operating smoothly. Only once did I heard the warning siren of the ride resetting all day.. and there was a train climbing the hill as it made the warning..funny stuff. We hit the line up, which was very very short for once. The cattle rails running alongside the launch was being half used, and the line ended at the bottom of the steps leading into the station. My guesstimate would have put as at only a 20 minute wait... if only the ride had continued to operate. Alas at 7:35 a train leaving the station stopped on the weigher and remained there. The crew rolled the train back in.. reset the ride and ran 10 test passes. Everything looked good, XLC was popping the top of the crest at good speed. At 7:48 a train rolled out with the last car load of people for the day... after reaching the brake run, XLC died for the rest of the night. BUT.. there is a good side to this story. Maintenance was called out to look the ride over, apparently they are having problems in the braking area as it was the same spot maintenance stayed at all day long on Friday (which btw I think ours was the only train to leave the station that day with people on it..gotta love those first rides of the day!). When the crew returned shaking their heads something odd happened. A goateed man (didn't catch his name) crossed the train from the loading side and approached those of us in the station. He apologized that XLC had broken down and would not be back up for the rest of the night. To make up for our inconvenience he gave everyone in the station a complimentary ticket to return to PKD either this year or next year. AMAZING! PKD is my home park and I go just about every other week (sometimes twice a week), so i'm used to seeing XLC broken down. But for them to give out 100+ free passes is really a sign that they care that you came to the park to ride their ride. Kudos to the XLC crew for caring for their riders.

I was told by the ride manager that PKD plans to have four trains running next season along with fast pass. His explination for the constant down time was the fact that the prototype was not designed to run more than one train. Since they upped the amount of trains being run at once, mechanical problems have reared it's ugly head time and time again. The kinks are promised to be worked out by next season. Lets hope so.
Riding the rails from the East Coast to the West Coast

*** This post was edited by CoasterBearVa on 9/4/2001. ***

Monday, September 3, 2001 9:28 PM
I think they are getting more creative with what's wrong with it! IMO, that sounds like a strange reason. PKD got new product, why get something riding that few passengers. Hypersonic and their free pass giving selves are probaly a marketing promotion to reel people back, it's good(j/k). Hypersonic really doesn't break:). Who knows, I want to. It's amazing how something can run like that, AND they know it's not going to do it next year? I want to be on there when it rolls backwards! With that launch, the air would have to be amazing!

I dig Volcano. The two passenger invert gives you more of a free feeling, almost like you're going to fall out. It's short, intense, incredible at night, especially when you get misted just right. Two things to do at PKD, ride Volcano at night with sunglasses, and FOF with sunglasses. Lots of people don't like Volcano I've noticed, I find it addicting. It's kinda odd, I like the squeakiness and it really feels like you're upside down more than you are. Slow corkscrews, I call them my friend. Volcano makes the best sounds.

Anaconda on the other hand, took my breathe out of me. It felt like it was to go fast, but it seemed to bang through the second half. The ride is beautiful, if you can overlook that midcourse and the mess it brings. The only ride I'd found rough before was Ninja at SFoG, and Anaconda didn't bang me up, to say, but it took something out of me. Nobody had warned me. How fast is that ride supposed to go?

Anyways, interesting, Labor Day. We used to go to parks on Labor Day all the time, it's what got me into it all. The memories. PKD gets booted to the top as my choice for reliving my childhood next season:).

*** This post was edited by p_c_r on 9/4/2001. ***

Tuesday, September 4, 2001 7:42 AM
I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like Anaconda that much. If it weren't for those butterfly turns, the ride would be ok. As for Hypersonic, those free coupons have got to be costing them thousands of dollars in lost revenue (that is if people actually use them).

Batwing-Bow Down

Tuesday, September 4, 2001 8:50 AM

Butterfly turns, ouch! That's what that's called, it's kinda nice to look at, but it hurts in a strange way, maybe if it could get through there faster.
Tuesday, September 4, 2001 9:55 AM
As hoped, I was able to talk my wife into one more roadtrip for the family since our trip in June encountered an idle Hypersonic for the day. We arrived at noon on Sunday after the 5½ hour drive.  We warmed up with:

Avalanche- Unique and fun

Anaconda- Back seat, should have waited for the front

Screaming Eagles- I love these rides but Knoebels spoiled me...

Grizzly- Great ride in back with a very generous lap bar!

Hurler- Back, good air, great pace

Rebel Yell- Backwards, last seat, another fun ride

We left to eat and check into the Hotel. Upon returning at 5:30:

Hypersonic- After a 2¼ hour wait, we finally boarded the monster's front seat at dusk. Was a 2 second launch really going to be worth 11 hours of driving, plus the wait? Oh YEAH!!

Volcano- My 1st night flight. The front seat ride was like blasting out of the earth's atmosphere into the stars. Incredible!

We left at 9:30 and returned Monday just minutes before they opened the gates to the main ride areas.  Tip: If Hypersonic is your 1st stop, go to the Waterpark gate.  We got the front seat again on the 14th train of the day!

Shockwave- Had to ride this one so my son could add it to his track record now that he is tall enough.

Flight of Fear- 2 laps with minimal waits. Front seat, then the back.  Both great rides but we preferred the back.

After another terrific lap on Volcano, we took a break for lunch.  My daughter got to call the shots for a while so we spent some time in Nickelodeon Central followed by a show (the original bribe) for my wife.  We ended the day with another spin on the Screaming Eagles and one final lap on Grizzly.  We left at 4:30 since the kids had school the next day.  It was another great trip and an unforgetable season!


Wednesday, September 5, 2001 2:59 PM
Accually I bet it all evens out in the long run for PKD giving out tickets. Factor this in, Seasonpass holders. Now daily visitors probibly aren't going to visit the park agian that season without the free ticket, they will probibly now go again and have to pay to park and probibly for food. So I think PKD accually makes money doing this, see PGA's WOW card.

SFMM line cutters are the braviest in the world.


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