We were originally going to make this a three-park trip to Busch Gardens Tampa, Six Flags Over Georgia, and Islands of Adventure, but my dad suggested we skip IOA and just head on to SFOG on Tuesday. Well, I decided to give the go-ahead and shorten the trip by a day since we were already going nuts from the Florida heat after being there since Thursday morning anyway (going to the emergency room is another story I should have told before my BGT TR, but we’ll skip that part of my adventure since I was ok…).
Anyways, you can’t help to notice the enormous amount of billboards (now this is an understatement) for Wild Adventures along I-75. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more advertisement like this for a park besides the big themers. I was impressed since I didn’t see any boards for SFOG at all. I convinced my dad to take the exit to WA and just to let us look at what the park looked like. He unenthusiastically said yes and we headed down into one of the most deserted exits for any type of restaurant, gas station, etc. I had seen. Do not get off here if you want gas or food.
As we pulled in front of the parking ticket booth with absolutely no intention of entering the park, what was an enthusiast to do but beg insanely for us to experience this intriguing park? It actually looked a lot better than we had thought it would, so my dad gave in and we entered for two hours of great family fun! Tickets are only $30, so it was easy to convince my dad, who’s had slow work lately, to go in.
We were all fairly impressed with how clean the park was and how creative the design layout for a park was for its size. It really seems a lot bigger than it is if you ride the train and go back through all the corners of the park. There’s really a surprise around every turn if you’re not familiar with the park and are a first-timer, which I love about the little parks you find accidentally pretty much. Remember, this is the park for Vekoma coasters, as they seem to have almost the entire cookie-cutter collection, so there are some people who should beware before I even begin. ;)
My dad, mom, sister, and I turned the corner beyond the entrance and we could definitely tell that the park was still having a lot of minor construction happening all over the place. I think they’re planning a new water park for next year and their list of big stars coming to the park is notable. The set-up is truly well done as you start with the kiddie area at the front and progressively as you move back, the atmosphere and ride selection is more and more for the adults. I like the idea for what they had to work with since families won’t have to go to the very far corners, but the ones who can ride everything can trek through the entire park.
The first section of the park is all about insects and critters with rides centered around the little guys. Our initial stop and earliest ride you’ll come to in the park is:
Ant Farm Express (Vekoma Roller Skater, walk-on, 12 laps!)
If there’s anything I absolutely love about Vekoma, it’s their kiddie and junior coasters! They’re incredibly reridable, have a terrific amount of airtime for height, and the forces are strong enough to stretch the fun factor significantly. If there’s anything I adore about the park, it actually has to be the ride ops. They have gigantic smiles on their faces and they strongly encourage rerides! I had as much enjoyment if not more on Ant Farm Express than several adult coasters. I couldn’t get enough of this ride and my parents had to drag me off of it! 7/10
Bug Out (Maurer Sohne Wild Mouse, walk-on, 1 lap)
I never mind a good mouse and this is another one to add to the long list of mini thrillers. My dad always says that mice are as brutal as any other coaster you can find with their tight hairpin turns and strong laterals. This one seemed to have some pretty good drops and airtime as well, so we all had a good time on this one, which really was running at a good capacity for the day and amount of guests. After the ride, I don’t think I would mind PKI getting one as long as they got 2 for their mega park capacity. A dueling spinner like the mice at Animal Kingdom would be excellent. First-rate rides for the space they take up and thrills they bring. 7/10
Tiger Terror (Wisdom kiddie coaster, walk-on, 4 laps)
Now this is one heck of a midget hellion of a coaster! I’ll give you the entire ride play-by-play: BUMP-BUMP-BUMP! up the twisting lift hill and then a horizontal tilted slight drop into an wild entertaining helix. But that’s not the bad part. This &!^$# coaster decides to tear you out of your seat down a jerky drop into the station and the it rips you up again as you approach the annoying rough lift hill for a second run. It’s really hard to explain what happens, but after the helix, you drop into the station brakes and then hop up again before the lift. It’s wicked and I do mean in a bad way! All the kids wanted to go again and I really dreaded the second time. The helix is really fun though, so I’ll give the ride a 2/10. Otherwise, this is crappola city for the roughness. I can’t take it! Lives up to its name exceptionally.
We headed into the Australian Outback to take a couple rides on the infamous Vekoma:
Boomerang (Vekoma shuttle coaster, walk-on, 2 laps)
I’m still not into bashing boomerangs yet as I’ve had fairly pleasurable rides on all boomers and invertigos and figured this one would be the same. Now knowing the face of evil with Tiger Terror behind me, we took another walk-on ride, which seemed to be another theme at the park throughout the day. The ride was still smooth for the most part and offered a powerful and exciting ride. I’m going to go ahead and say that this would be my favorite ride of the day. Some may not care for the repetitive design, but there are few in this area of the country and I’ve not been on one since 2000, so it was nice to see an old face of coasterhood again. 7.5/10
You can tell that a lot of time was spent to help the park look fascinating to the guests, so I was overwhelmed with the exceptional distinctiveness they used in the park’s design. I almost missed the water ride when exiting Boomerang, but luckily my dad caught a glimpse of:
Tasmanian River Rapids (river rapids ride, walk-on, 1 ride)
River rapids rides are one of my favorite types of non-coaster attractions that parks have to offer, so I was pretty excited that the park had their own twist on this amusement. For most of the beginning and end of this ride, the water was about as flat and slow as a normal log ride, so I was less than enthusiastic at this point to see that not much would happen. We finally arrived at an area of the water adventure that I had never seen on another ride of its type. In the middle was a creepy whirlpool, which even I thought we might sink into and at the end, was one of the better drops I’ve found on one of these rides. It’s twisted and you get absolutely drenched at the bottom. The waterfalls that followed were a nice touch for their budget, but I hope they can get better rapid-making machines later on since it is fairly uneventful. 6/10
Next, we passed by a pair of stunning Bengal tigers, which were amusing to watch and went into African Pridelands to face the fiercest kittie of them all:
Cheetah (CCI twisted out-and-back woodie, walk-on, 2 laps)
Now, this was the coaster I had really been looking forward to at the park and I was trying to save it for last in order to go out with a bang. Well, I did (which will come later), but it wasn’t with Cheetah and it certainly wasn’t particularly favorable in my opinion. The coaster has a layout to rave about with an endless mixture of forces throughout. I began to doubt the ride’s perfection more though when I saw riders coming off holding their neck and stomach, so I was kind of worried. I decided to go ahead and try to avoid both problems by having only two clicks on the lap bar and holding my hands up the whole ride, which helps my entire body sway in order to prevent whiplash on my neck… or so I though.
We turned and headed up the lift hill, which was already decently rough. As I headed down the first drop, I could feel the bumps going and once I reached the top of the next bunny hill, the jerkiness of the airtime made all of us pretty uncomfortable. The worst part of the ride is the strong bouncy laterals down and around the third drop. The other bunny hills were good and had tremendous floaters and the twisted ending probably would have been great at a slower speed as well. The trains are a big problem and I guess the track itself might be pretty rough by what it seems the trains might be doing to them. RideMan might be able to help me on this one. My feelings are really mixed since it was fun, but overall fairly vicious for my tastes even way above the brutality SOB and Mean Streak can force on its riders. I don’t think this wild cat needs to be tamed, but something needs to be done from what I see. Can I have some other opinions on it as well? I may just be crazy. ;) A very confused 6.5/10.
Around the corner from Cheetah, we ran into the Wild West for:
Gold Rush (Chance family coaster, walk-on, 1 lap) Remember Tiger Terror? This is Tiger Terror a little bit smoother and without the hemorrhoid-inducing station drops (not that I’ve had one or know what causes them, but I picture that ride would do so). This is closer to the mix of Ant Farm Express, but not nearly as amusing and I was still kind of bummed from the Cheetah ride. I was expecting a lot more from the ride name than what it delivered and I hope they get a huge quality mine ride in the future, which would fit in completely! This particular ride though is even less than mediocre overall, so it gets a 4/10.
Our final destination for the day would be:
Hangman (Vekoma SLC, walk-on, 1 lap)
I found the SLCs at SFWoA, SFKK, and SFNE all to be fairly tolerable, but the roughness and boredom I felt during the ride was less than entertaining. The inversions and transitions through elements are too slow to provide some fun forces, so you’re pretty much just hanging in some areas. The footchoppers are respectable and I like this particular SLC’s color and location, but I didn’t find it to be as great as the park hypes it up to be. They put a story around “Hangman” which is kind of interesting and a lot of people who go to the park might like it, but this is a true “hang-and-bang”. I wanted to go out with a bang and I did! I can’t complain for my own mistake, but the ride isn’t horrendous. Just not that good. 4.5/10
It seems that a lot of effort has gone and is going into the park all over the place, so it would be good for as many people to come as possible as Wild Adventures is really trying to find where the can give the best experience to the greatest amount of guests coming. Some areas such as the river rapids ride and the carnie haunted house may not look very quality, but it’s a good start and I’m sure they be updated or replaced for much better in the future. For now, come and indulge yourself with the parks clean family atmosphere, delightful ride ops, staff, and keepers, short lines, and individual unique amusements. There’s definitely a lot of character and personality I see coming for the park and it’s a really good stop for a few hours to add to anyone’s schedule who is in the area. The package is tied together very nicely and the show and ride variety illustrates the park is very ambitious to strive. I’m looking forward to see what they’ll be doing and would gladly stop by again.
*** This post was edited by Koaster King on 6/20/2002. ***
Good Times!! Good Times!!
Oh, did I mention we did all this in under 2 hours? Yeah, we were there from about 1:30 until 3:20, so it was all good. I really wanted to try out their enclosed water slide, The Plunge, but this had the longest line in the park and the capacity was pretty low for it as well. They also have an S&S spaceshot, Double Shot, which looked pretty fun and there were tons of spin-and-pukers along to way. The kids attractions are some of the best I've seen and there are definitely a ton of things to do for everyone.
*** This post was edited by Koaster King on 6/20/2002. ***
I rode Cheetah a month ago (and in Decemeber as well) and didn't feel anything you mentioned about roughness. Perhaps it was just a bad day.
The ending finale has some shakiness to it, but doesn't phase me at all.
Whoa that was pretty cool." -- Reaction to first flip over on X-Flight
Anyone else have any thoughts on Cheetah this year, because I really want to know how my experience was different or even how it was compared to last year is fine. I've heard that The Villain was a little bit more rough last year than its first year which would explain that its very possible this one could be bumpier this season as well. I hope the management gets a few complaints about it so they know to either change they trains or do better maintenance, but if I'm wrong, I need someone else to tell me I'm crazy. :)
Even though you though I was nuts going through with only two clicks of the restraint, I guess I got what I deserved. Remember when we went down the first drop with my arms up and at the crest of the second hill, they bounced back down and knocked my restraint way below a normal level. I was crushed that entire ride and you knew I needed a reride to see how the coaster really felt. I would have given the first ride a low number as well, but make sure everyone keeps their restraint loose.
We'll try to ride The Legend again this year since we didn't get to go on ZOOM last time either. I think you'll like that one, especially since you can handle the big two at Kings Island.
I liked BGT and SFoG better overall as well, but with walk-ons and some pretty decent rides, its hard to say we didn't have fun! After a few years, I'm sure we'll both like it a lot more and now that we know what its like, we'll know what to expect. I wasn't disappointed at all though, so I'll have a great experience anyway.
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