PKI Opening Day TR: 4-9-05 *Long*

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, April 10, 2005 9:43 PM
It felt great to get back on the rails. The weather was very nice, sometimes a little hot at times, but very nice none the less. I arrived at the park and entered the gates around 9:15AM and exited for the day around 6:15PM. This trip report is broken into two parts; a Summary and General Thoughts. The summary just lays out my day and general thoughts actually give insights, thoughts, etc. The General Thoughts section is not in any chronological order so you can jump around and read what you would like without having to read beginning to end. But if want to read all of it that’d be great too! Here we go!

SUMMARY

- DAY BEGINS - Entered park at 9:15AM with my girlfriend, brother and cousin. Once in the park, we made a pit stop and headed to Action Zone. The ACE Walkback was gathered at the ACE stone getting ready to go. I was wanting to walkback but since my girlfriend and cousin are not ACErs, we didn’t participate. Everyone must be an ACEr to participate, correct?

- ACTION ZONE - Once at Action Zone, we were surprised to see it open to Gold Passers until 10AM. I hadn’t paid attention to if Gold Passers would get an early entry area for opening day so this was a nice surprise. In Action Zone we all took two rides on Delirium, one on SOB, and my brother and cousin rode Drop Zone once. Face/Off was down and we didn’t get back to Top Gun during the 30 minutes we were in AZ before it opened to everyone at 10AM.

- CONEY MALL - At 10AM, we headed to Coney Mall for two rides on FOF and one on Vortex. It was on our way to FOF when we got our first glimpse of IJ:ST. The Happy Days event was being prepared to begin at 11AM as we made our way to Vortex.

- RIVERTOWN - Following Vortex we headed to my second favorite area of the park, Rivertown. We were en route for TR:TR, wanting to ride it before lines grew. However, it was closed and remained in this state the entire time we were in the park, to our knowledge. So we headed over to The Beast for a ride.

- CONEY MALL/LUNCH - Our next stop was back in Coney Mall for a spin on Racer, both sides. Following Racer we were hungry so we stopped our tour for lunch. We decided on lunch at Skyline Chili and ate it on the Skyline Patio as we always do. And now you get good views of the IJ:ST site.

- IJ:ST/ACTION ZONE - After eating we walked up to the IJ:ST site and admired it for some time before heading to AE. Once our ride on AE was complete, we headed back to AZ to check on the status of Face/Off and for a ride on TG. Face/Off was still down so we rode TG which interestingly enough, ended up being our longest wait of the day (probably about 25-30 minutes).

- INTERNATIONAL STREET - Since we have been in the park we haven’t walked down International Street, my favorite area of the park, so we decided to head there. My brother and cousin wanted mini donuts and slushees from the new shop so we stopped there so they could grab some and got a seat on the north side of International Street, next to the Royal Fountains, as we always do in that area.

- RIVERTOWN - After sitting there enjoying the scenery for about 45 minutes, we headed to Rivertown to check on the status of TR:TR. It was still down when we arrived so we checked out the little “trading post” shop across from the ride. This is one of my favorite places in PKI (second favorite area if you’re keeping score) so we spent some time walking the area and standing near the little stream that flows under one the pathways.

- NICK CENTRAL/HB LAND - Welcome to Nick Central and HB Land! We walked through Nick Central which always bursts with fun en route for Scooby’s Haunted Castle. I always have fun on this ride which was furthered heightened by the fact that I beat my girlfriend (1350 to 860). Not my greatest score but I beat her, haha. She beats me in everything else so this makes me feel good.

- LUNCH, PART II - None of us got full at Skyline and we were all craving La Rosas, so we headed to the La Fierra shop (old school name of their International Street shop) to pick up two slices and head to our favorite seating area. Afterward, I got a dip of mint chocolate chip and a dip of Buckeye Blitz (Go Bucks!) at Graeter’s. We probably ended up spending an hour on International Street this time.

- INTERNATIONAL STREET / SOB - We stopped by the Emporium, my favorite PKI gift shop, to check out this year’s souvenirs before heading back to AZ. We took our second ride of the day on SOB where we noticed the IJ:ST helicopter blades spinning at the top of the lift. We knew exactly where we were going when we got off.

- THE ITALIAN JOB: STUNT TRACK - After SOB, we started heading toward IJ:ST when we noticed Face/Off was running. The line appeared to be longer than we wanted to wait so we passed for our next trip to PKI. And, we wanted to get over to the IJ:ST site. Once there we were standing near the parking garage when we were happy to see a train launch through the triple helix. We walked around to the side near the Skyline Patio for better views. We saw a few more trains negotiate the viewable section of track from this vantage point. The sun was pelting us so we headed to the Happy Days patio for shade and a different vantage point. We stayed for a few more launches and to just look over the area. Our total time in the IJ:ST area was around 45-50 minutes.

- VORTEX/RIVERTOWN - We decided to hang a ride on Vortex following our time drooling over IJ:ST. This turned out to be our last ride of the day. For a final time, we headed to check out TR:TR which remained closed. We wanted to hang a ride on Beast but that was closed as well.

- QUASI DINNER - Funny enough, my brother was hungry yet again. He wanted a shrimp po’boy so we headed to Bubba Gump’s. We ate on the patio there and chilled out. After smelling my brother’s food, my cousin decided to get one for himself. I stole a few of my brother’s “runaway shrimp” and it was very good as always. Both my girlfriend and I wanted to get one but not wanting to gorge ourselves, we settled on a blue Power Ade.

- DAY ENDS - After I watched my brother and cousin eat, we were pretty nuked and decided to head back to Columbus. We walked back to International Street, took a final pit stop, picked up a map for my “archives,” and headed to the parking lot 6:15PM. By the time we got situated and got on I-71, it was 6:25PM. And so ended another opening day at PKI. If any of you saw a tall guy with an OSU jersey on, sunglasses, and a floppy OSU hat on with a girl and two guys that was me! We had a great time and look forward to more trip to our favorite place this season.

GENERAL THOUGHTS

- THE ITALIAN JOB: STUNT TRACK - I have been looking very forward to this attraction since it was announced last summer. As pictures have rolled in by the hundreds over the past several months, this excitement was heightened. But now, after seeing the structure and seeing the coaster negotiate the track in these testing stages, I am VERY excited. I know that certain people have ridden it already and I have heard it as being described as sheer fun; a laugh-out-loud experience. That completely sums up the way the attraction appears.

The attraction takes up more space than I had previously imagined, even after looking at aerial shots of it. However, it sits back from the surrounding pathways in such a way as the atmosphere isn’t dominated by the structure. Though many trees have been removed, many remain and PKI has planted new bushes in places. Outstanding in my book. I completely despise seeing coasters completely decimate an area that once had many trees. And, there is much that you can’t see.

I have read posts where people have said that you can see the entire structure. Unless my X-ray vision is malfunctioning, you cannot see the entire structure at once. As I said previously, I studied the area for about 45-50 minutes and I could not see everything. This was even with the train negotiating the track. The combination of theming structures, scenery, and overall layout (underground sections, curves, etc.) prevent this from happening. And the best part is that you cannot see IJ:ST while on International Street before reaching the Eiffel Tower. The placement of the ride worried me when it was announced as I adore that you virtually cannot see any coaster while on International Street. Sure, you can see a few at times (Vortex is the most prominent), but none of them draw your attention away from International Street.

I am glad that PKI chose to change the track color from yellow to charcoal. All because of the points that I mentioned above. Speaking of theming, the freeway signs are full size. They look very cool. The chopper, as noted, is also full size. While on the site I got to watch it lift into “show position,” move around, and “fire shots.” I could vaguely hear the shots of the chopper, but I did witness fire, from the resulting shots, spring from a structure several times. I wouldn’t say the flames were large (it was just one plume that shot up say 15/20 feet) but it was cool none the less. And there might be more; they might have been testing one part. The train stayed in that area roughly 10 seconds before launching again, following the explosion.

The banking is much more extreme than I could make out in photos. One section in particular, following a high-banked turn and before the subway entrance, looks like great fun- the track banks back and forth in an S-curve fashion, while staying fairly straight in terms of direction. The train was negotiating the track in a slow pace but that’s expected for various reasons from weight to this being a “show coaster.” Flying through the course past all the theming at 65MPH wouldn’t make much sense. Also, while there I watched PKI personnel remove dummies and sand bags from the train that was in operation and one person in the front seat rode once I believe. There appeared to be one train in operation, another on the transfer track, and a red car present from the third train. They continued testing the train empty a few times after that person exited the train.

Overall, I cannot wait for this attraction. I’m sure others might not be a pumped up about this but that’s fine with me. It looks like bunches of fun and it will be a hit by the general public- or I should say non-enthusiasts as I hate that term; we’re all general public. Several people saw me talking about it with my party and engaged in conversation with me about the attraction. I saw others pointing and looking very anxious to ride; this was while the ride the testing as well as not testing. The first day of full season operation cannot come soon enough! Hey belly-achers: Please don’t ride it! That’s one less person in line! ;)

- PKI EMPLOYEES - To those of you at PKI who read the boards, hats off. I was completely blown away by the employees on opening day and will be submitting my opening day experience to Guest Relations. I’ve never had problems with employees at PKI. Sure there are those here or there at times but never widespread, or something that really pisses me off. Everyone I encountered in “front line operations” from food associates to ride ops were very nice. I had a brief but nice conversation with a ride op on FOF. He saw my OSU gear and started talking about UC and how he hates their new logo. We also chatted about IJ:ST. Employees greeted me cheering fully at Graeter’s and seemed very happy I was in the new shop.

The thing that appealed to me the most was seeing so many behind-the-scenes personnel out and about the park. Every one I passed smiled and asked me how my group and I were doing. When I was sitting near the Royal Fountains, a few took time to stop, come over, and say hello. Beyond impressive. This is why PKI is the place for me. I worked at a museum here in Columbus for ten years from the age of 14 to this past October. I completely understand that at times you could be having the worse day of your life. But you never let your guests know that (unless they’re doing something incredibly stupid :) ). You always smile and say hi or ask them how their day is going. Something that takes 10-15 seconds or less out of your day can mean so much to a person. “Cup half empty” people might say “Well, it’s because it’s the beginning of the season and that’s why they’re so nice.” But time and time again, PKI realizes that it’s the people, not the “other stuff,” that brings you back.

- LANDSCAPE, ETC. - Last year for opening day I was really impressed with the landscaping so early in the season. It was the same this year. Flowers in bloom, bushes neatly groomed, trash picked up. The park looked great, especially considering that the weekend before the weather sucked. I cannot wait to see a finished Eiffel Tower. I have a feeling that it will look good. It’s clear to me that Face/Off’s track has been painted as it is very vivid. The supports are all that are left.

- ATMOSPHERE, GENERAL - The last two points combine to create the park’s atmosphere in my eyes. I’ve reads posts before when people have asked if they consider themselves more “park” enthusiasts or “coaster” enthusiasts. I’m totally a park enthusiast. A park could have “the greatest coaster all of time” but if the employees are substandard, the landscapeis terrible and the atmosphere sucks, I want nothing to do with that park. If you read my sections about International Street, you’ll see that I spent a lot of time there. It’s all about the atmosphere for me. The combination of the fountains, food, landscape, and music make that my favorite place to be. It’s all about an escape for me when I go to parks- an escape from the rest of the world. I refuse to take my cell phone in parks; it stays in the parking lot. This is one of the reasons I’m such a Disneyholic. They take the concept of "escape the world" and take it to a whole new level. PKI is one of the few seasonals I’ve been to take can help me escape the world. I’ll go to a new park and end up missing certain coasters or rides because I’ve spent more time finding quiet places to sit and “escape.” Might sound weird but that’s me.

- VORTEX - "My" old Arrow was running very well as it does with new wheels. Transitions “pop” but hey, it’s an Arrow and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

- RACER - Backward ruled as usual. I like forward too, although there was some washboarding on the bunny hops before “the split” and on the camel hump before the turnabout. But nothing extreme and it was riding better this year than last. And as far as I can tell, the entire return on the forward side has all new wood. And, it raced! The only times it got off was when one side was greatly delayed due to a guest. I hope they keep this up all season.

- ADVENTURE EXPRESS - Still a lot of fun. Those turns are pretty violent at times as it has been for years, but a lot of fun. A lot of people are measuring IJ:ST up to AE in terms of track experience. That’s fine by me because AE is fun. And, I scared the hell out of my brother going up the second lift. He was sitting in front of me and right as the train began to crest the lift where it’s nearly pitch black, I grabbed is shoulders and screamed like a girl. He about crapped himself!

- THE BEAST - It was running very well when I rode it. I’m not sure why it was shut down the second time I went to ride it. We completely kicked tail in the helix as it did not slow down as it does at times when coming out of the tunnel, preparing to reenter. We actually seemed to pick up speed. Papa didn’t disappoint!

- SON OF BEAST - Say what you want about SOB. I enjoy the ride. Does this debunk all my opinions and make me less-than-knowledgeable, I dunno. So be it if it does. SOB was running very well. I have ridden before and came off with headaches, soreness, etc. But you can tell that PKI has given the structure some TLC. I can almost always tell if I’ll get a good ride, okay ride, or bad ride from the very beginning. If the train shimmies and washboards from the station drop to the lift, you might want to brace yourself. Both times I rode it, SOB did not. I know that PKI did some retracking to the section of the ride past the loop. The wood in this section appeared new as well.

The jolt at the top of the second hill is almost unnoticeable and it’s not violent at all. Basically, it was a smooth movement to the right both times I rode. The second time I rode there was a little washboarding dropping into the Rose Bowl but it went away right before approaching the bank of the helix. The second half is noticeably better as the helix and cloverleaf were MUCH smoother than last year. The second time I rode there was a small amount of washboarding into the last drop, but nothing extreme or to cause pain. Overall, much improvement with SOB.

Whether you like it or not you have to give PKI respect for not just saying "to hell with it" and letting it rot. Please don’t turn this into a “SOB sucks and so do you for liking it” thread. There are enough of those on this board. I realize that 3.9 out of 4 enthusiasts hate it and that’s fine with me. I happen to like it and I hope that doesn’t come off as wanting to play Devils’ Advocate. “Can’t we all just get along!” ;)

- DELIRIUM - What can I say? I kicks tail. The Gs are incredible!

- TOP GUN - Longest wait of the day due to the fact that they were running one train. I didn’t notice any of the “Hollywood make-over” that was talked about with TG. Fun ride though.

- DROP ZONE - If you noticed above, I said that my brother and cousin rode DZ. My girlfriend has always been terrified of this contraption. You have to basically knock her out to ride it. But for me, as the years go by, I wimp out more and more. When DZ first opened I would ride it like it was nothing. For the past couple years it is scaring the hell out of me to the point that I don’t ride. What the hell? I dunno what my problem is!

- TOMB RAIDER:THE RIDE - I’m not sure why it was down all day. It was opening day so you have to give parks a little break. I hope to catch it next time because I love TR:TR.

- FOOD - Great all around except for Skyline Chili. In another thread there was talk about liking it or not and how it is an acquired taste. The quality was fine but for all of us we weren’t full after eating it. I believe I paid around $9.50 for two cheese coneys, chili cheese fries, and a regular Coke. The coneys seemed even smaller than usual for all of us (they are small usually). Disappointing, especially for the price.

I tried one of my brother’s donut from Hollywood Donuts, the new shop of International Street. It was very good and they come with raspberry dipping sauce. The donuts actually taste like funnel cakes. He also got a cheesecake slushee which sound nasty but was really good. It tasted like a liquefied cheesecake. Actually, that makes it sound nasty, but it really was good! Graeter’s was a good value- two good-sized scoops for about $3.50. Starbucks and the Mexican restaurant were not opened yet. And although we didn’t eat there (just went to the patio to watch IJ:ST), the food at Happy Days looks very good. The hotdogs I saw people eating were large and the shakes looked good. I didn’t catch the average price of everything. Also, theming and music was very nice. There were more people there than I ever saw at Tucker’s.

- DRIVE FROM/TO COLUMBUS - I HATE ODOT! Every freaking year there’s construction in seemingly the same spot on I-71. I believe construction is in the Fayette County vicinity, although I could be slightly off. To hell ODOT! Okay, I feel better.

- PEOPLE - I didn’t see anyone do anything stupid for once. It’s funny how when it gets hot self-consciousness gets goes out of the window for some folks. But hey, it makes people-watching more fun. What’s not fun is seeing 11 year old girls dress in clothes my nearly 24 year old girlfriend wouldn’t be caught dead in. This makes me second-guess wanting a daughter someday...

If you made it this far congratulations! Needless to say, I had a great day at PKI. I wear my PKI pride on my sleeve so if I sound like a fanboy make me president of the club! :) If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them.

- NEXT PKI TRIP - Saturday, May 21, 2005, First Day of Full Season!

- NEXT PARK TRIP - Sunday, May 8 or May 15, 2005 @ Cedar Point. *** Edited 4/11/2005 3:41:50 AM UTC by OHIcOaster***

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Sunday, April 10, 2005 9:49 PM
Oh my god, now THAT is a TR! Great job man! I really hope I can go while in college in the area!
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Sunday, April 10, 2005 10:10 PM
the mole...which College? I go to Wright State...though Im currently participating in the College Program in the Magic Kingdom! (Tomorrowland Attractions)
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Sunday, April 10, 2005 10:17 PM
Wow! Sounds like things are going even better at PKI! I am gonna have to find time amongst my ever-so-busy schedule to get up there this summer!

The Beast is the best ride to ride at night!!!! ;)

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Monday, April 11, 2005 9:53 AM

petie said:
the mole...which College? I go to Wright State...though Im currently participating in the College Program in the Magic Kingdom! (Tomorrowland Attractions)

Either U Dayton or Miami (yes I know about the fire). It's up in the air now, need to see how much money Miami gives me...

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Monday, April 11, 2005 10:00 AM

petie said:
the mole...which College? I go to Wright State...though Im currently participating in the College Program in the Magic Kingdom! (Tomorrowland Attractions)
fire?
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 11:01 AM
Great TR.

We went on sat and sun and the weather was the best that I remember for any opening day at any park. I am glad you had a great time, except the fact that you had an ohio state shirt on.....you should of had a blue and yellow one on.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 12:15 PM

petie said:

petie said:
the mole...which College? I go to Wright State...though Im currently participating in the College Program in the Magic Kingdom! (Tomorrowland Attractions)
fire?

Off-camus house caught on fire, 3 students died. :'(

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 2:42 PM
You sound exaclty like me OHIcOaster. I am also a park enthusiast. I didn't realize this until about five years ago. I use to be so worried about getting on every ride before the park closed, but now I take time to sit, sometimes at International Street, just to watch people have fun and enjoy the atmosphere. I also love TR:TR and SOB. Great trip report.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 4:05 PM
Best. Trip. Report. EVER. Seriously, bold captions, paragraphs, very detailed yet easy to skim... Jeff, can we pin this one? :)

Sounds like you had a great time. Hopefully I'll get to ride Italian Job when visiting friends and family.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 4:14 PM
Thank you everyone for your great comments! If you have the means, get to PKI this year! And take time to relax and soak in the atmosphere.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 7:22 PM

petie said:
I go to Wright State...

Does Cold Beer and Cheeseburger still exist? While I was in college at Wittenberg we made a trip down to Wright State every sunday for some cold beer and cheeseburgers and to watch some sports. Nothing like cold beer to help alleviate those sunday morning hangovers.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005 7:24 PM
Yup, Cold beer and Cheeseburgers is still there near the College Store.
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