Wasn't really sure if HWN was going to happen this year, but...peer pressure is strong, and the better the peers, the stronger the pressure. Plans were made, flying up to Louisville early Friday morning and out from Columbus Sunday...
Then, I was reminded that it was more than "pushing it" to make the drive from Santa Claus after ERT Saturday night, all the way to Cincy, losing an hour to time zones, and then getting to Columbus airport in time for flying out (nighttime flights on Sundays seem weirdly hard to get). So, moving the flight to Monday AM meant I could stay at KI for (blessed!) night rides...thanks, SWA, for not asking for a limb to change plans. Hard to believe I changed flights a couple weeks before the event, and now SWA owes ME twenty bucks towards my next flight...other carriers can't match that - I <3 SWA!
So, early flight out Fri meant getting to Orlando Thursday night. Sea World generally closes earlier (animals), so we agreed to meet up at Fun Spot Orlando (America, the one by Universal...weird trying to differentiate the Fun Spot parks. Well, the rains came, and if you like wooden coasters, then you love wet wooden coasters...instead of a half-hour at the park just to meet up and get a couple rides, it turned into a virtual marathon on an out-of-control White Lightning. GCIIs with less turning are plain better GCIIs (more on this later - "foreshadowing" says the English major in the house).
Friday morning came early - I'm not really a "morning person" - but MCO-SDF went pretty quickly, nice nap on the plane, and actually got to Louisville a little early. We got picked up at the airport and made the LONG drive across the highway to Kentucky Kingdom (*wink*). Met up with a bunch more friends, and the real party was on. Well, the new for 2017 ride was one of those ubiquitous Larson Loops, Eye of the Storm, but the stars of the park were there last year, and without any doubt merited a return visit. Thunder Run is such a great ride, and it's being kept in really good condition. Storm Chaser (RMC) is probably a little aggressive for most, and I have hurt myself a little on it. Not this time - I hold on now. But the hidden gem in the park for me is definitely the GT-X coaster Lightning Run. I've looked at RCDB and seen the $7M price tag with amazement so many times. Why? Because I find it *incredible* that other small- to-mid-size parks haven't run to the Chance booth at IAAPA with a checkbook in hand. Took in some of the flats (why doesn't the Breakdance run a decent program?) and the flying skooters - and got on the road to Holiwood Nights. A stop by Culver's and a short detour to Butt Drugs in beautiful downtown Corydon (this part was sponsored by the Corydon, IN Chamber of Commerce).
On to Santa Claus, hit the store, liquor store, and campground and got set up because post-ERT, it's time to socialize. Plus it's nice to patronize the local businesses so they're happy about us invading their town every year like some crazed coaster-hungry locusts. Speaking of locusts, Alamo had a new menu, but the food was really quite good. Waterpark ERT included some delicious offerings, and the water rides MORE than provided the ideal evening intro. Big fan of having the waterpark ERT at night (plus, getting up early isn't my forte). Raven and Legend were both running great. I understand those who miss the opening DROP on Legend, but do think the ride intro runs a LOT smoother now. I also LOVE the "tamed" version of Legend's absurd helix - much more re-rideable now...ended Friday with a BUNCH of rides in the back seat....blissful. Campfire nights are some of my very favorites...they'll bring me back even when I'm past riding...
Voyage was temperamental, but ran really well. Firecracker did *definitely* improve from day to night, as the park *cranked* that ride for ERT. Thanks to the gentleman who enjoyed the hand-slaps as much as I did. Ouch...LOL! Ended Saturday night with several rides, and sadly had to say "THANK YOU!" (and see you next year) to the park's amazing staff on the way out...another night with a fire, and fantastic fun.
Sunday didn't start too early, but the drive to Cincy went pretty fast, and Kings Island was as I always remember...crowded, but very enjoyable. Managed the 2 B&Ms (love Banshee), Bat, and all four woodies (Racer wasn't in top form, but Beast ran well and the kiddie was REALLY smooth and pretty fast). The first and daytime ride on Mystic Timbers wasn't all that, but later on in the day (remember that foreshadowing comment earlier)...WOW! Really great night ride, crazy fast, and more of the awesome THRILL rides that GCII can provide. Some hops and bounces to the side, but mostly aggressive straight on airtime. I've said this a couple times today, MT is 2 parts Prowler and 1 part White Lightning....5 stars.
Thanks to all who participated in the festivities, all four parks, and the respective CoCs of Corydon and Santa Claus IN. ;~P
Was just reminded of the infrastructure-related improvement of the trip!
Knoebels had outdated bathrooms,and has been upgrading gradually for a couple years. SFA had no bathrooms out by Batwing, and despite my pleas for over a decade, they never appeared (as of 5-ish years ago at least). BGW is extremely hilly terrain, but has transport rides to get you from place to place (train,skyride). Kentucky Kingdom had a serious flaw in park navigation that anyone who's visited knows...the bridge. The twisting,overly long, crowded,and misdirecting bridge.
Best solution ever - even though there are four traffic lanes (and almost no traffic whatsoever, weird)....they added two crossing guards and the whole bridge issue is magically gone. So easy to get around - for two employees. Ed Hart, you are a genius.
For 2018, I'm seeing people on their FB page talking about a new coaster for KK - the BEST investment the park could make, considering how well Thunder Run runs...is to put the transfer track and shed back....and then add the second PTC train. That ride is awesome, more people should get to enjoy it.
That road is put to busy use during the fair. It's a main entrance (or maybe exit?) to the weird parking areas around the building that houses the state fair. (Which in and of itself is a weird thing.) So, it will be interesting to see how this solution goes then.
Might not keep that walkway open during the fair - I seem to recall ticketing and rides working differently when the fair is on-site. No idea if that continued when KK re-opened under the new (old) ownership...for now, though, SO much easier to get around.
I went to the Nation's Largest Indoor State Fair and KK last summer so I can tell you.
But some history first. Back in the early KK years they adopted the weird practice of including the park as part of the fair's smallish midway. The portables ran a stretch along the parking lot and they'd open the big gate there by Starchaser and Himalaya, serving to combine both midways. All rides could be purchased with regular carnival tickets or wrist bands if they were offered. All regular KK season passes and tickets were suspended during the run of the fair. I think that practice continued right through the Six Flags era.
Since the park has re-opened (well, at least last year anyway) it's been a little different. The state fair portables are still in the same spot, and I believe it's now a different show with a longer midway. The big gate is closed. KK operates on its own and, at least during the week, opens not until late afternoon. The regular entrance is used and the water park is closed.
Tickets for KK are dirt cheap and they heavily promote a really cheap season pass add-on that includes the next year. Coupons are everywhere. (I'm under the impression that the new KK operates under the "get the bodies in and we'll figure out the money later" theory, not unlike a large national chain).
So I went to the weird-as-hell fair during the day and waited impatiently for KK to finally open. It was this enthusiast's dream, but probably KK's nightmare, that there were no bodies. Most times I had the feeling that I had the park to myself and every single ride was a walk on. I rode everything over and over until I was sick of the place. Food and merchandise locations were closed, save for a few drink stands that served free pop. That's probably not only in deference to the many food vendors over the fence at the actual fair but due to staffing issues as well.
The coasters were one train operation but that didn't matter. The only delay I had all evening was at the main entrance where I was behind the Stufflebean family who thought for their ten dollars off coupons they should be entitled to the waterpark too and were raising holy hell. She was swingin her beach bag and the kids were crying.
My question for you, Mr. Gator, is if the bridge has been razed or is it there to reopen if needed during fair weeks? Or is it still open for foot traffic on a daily basis anyway? I agree with you (and everyone) that the bridge, as a solution to access the largest portion of the park, sucks. There were rumors for years that the park would close down the front side and move everything to the back side but that clearly never came to be. But when I left the fair that night I took that road for the first time ever to exit the parking lot and the traffic was backed up there. It was fun to sit on the road and see an amusement park surrounding all sides, but that was the extent of the fun involving the road or the bridge.
The bridge remains, and lots of people use it still (considering it was a pretty slow day). We used it once out of our four "passages"....once we knew there was a better way, we took it!
And...just because I'm here....someone PLEASE buy another GT-X coaster....that thing is INSANE!
Oh, I absolutely agree. And I can't imagine more small-medium sized parks haven't snapped them up.
It's one of those smaller looking, deceptive, kick-your-butt-anyway rides. I held on for dear life every lap.
Interesting tidbit: while at the park (while riding Storm Chaser) I ran into some Chance guys who were along with KK guys and somebody else, maybe Cedar Fair guys. They were touring, observing and riding coasters that afternoon. Being far from shy I stopped a Chance salesman as we were on the exit platform and congratulated him on their successful, awesome installation at the park and encouraged him to please sell more. He smiled, winked, and said "well... we're workin on it...
Yes! GT-X Coatser at Geauga Lake in 2018!
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