SF America/KingsDominion 4/20-21 (Part 1)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:54 PM

Back on March 23rd, I opened my coaster season at SF America in MD, Opening Day. After my friends and I made the decision not to go to GrAdv that day, it seemed like a reasonable alternative. I didn't do a trip report from that day due to my comp being on the fritz. But, aside from the company ...and a few terrific rides on Wild One...the day was pretty disastrous. The ride down took over 6 hours (normally about 4.5) due to major construction and lane merging on Rt. 95 in Delaware. I got there at 11:15, met my friends Judy and Paul, and hopped on Roar as my first of the season. It's a headache-inducer, although not quite as much so as Apocalypse and Mind Eraser. Hated both of those (those were my first laps on Apocalypse in its new home.) Superman..which as some of you know is my #2 steel coaster..never opened, testing with water dummies all day. Batwing, which I like, was mostly down all day, coming alive at times, but not while the three of us were waiting on the platform. I left at 5-ish feeling like I wasted the entire day..again, except for hanging with good people and the Wild One rides.

Happily, this past Saturday was much better. The ride down was easier, taking an hour less than last time, and this included a long-ish stop for breakfast (Dennys..Caramel Bacon Stuffed French Toast, part of their Baconalia! event.) I called Paul from the Dennys lot before I left. He was at the car dealer, and we made plans to meet at noon-ish by Superman's entrance. When I arrived about 11:15, my phone had lost its charge and I couldn't call him. So I figured I'd head in and walked to Superman. No sign of Paul yet. So I went on Supes. It was pretty much a walk-on. But at SFA that means a ten minute wait with the slow dispatches and wanna-be-DJ ride ops. I had no trouble fitting in the next-to-last seat. I barely recognized my old friend. The drop felt like nothing and felt a hundred feet shorter. I got no airtime, and the ride felt sluggish almost all the way through the course. I was ready to drop it to #3 or 4 on my list. But I had to try my accustomed (i.e, back) seat. The difference was night and day. Crazy air, especially late, felt out of control, only sluggishness was on the back end of the second helix. Superman retains its spot for me.

Still no Paul, so I walked over to Jokers Jinx and took a ride. I've come to like it a little more than I did. It's one of those few rides where you FEEL like you're going faster at the end than earlier. It's also relatively smooth for its type.

When I walked back over to Superman, Paul was on a bench. He wasn't gonna try to get on Superman , and Batwing wasn't up. Paul said his senses of sight and smell told him Batwing was being painted.

We walked to Wild one and got three laps, all excellent..running as well as ever. I was loath to ride Apocalypse, and I did not. Didn't even go near Mind Eraser. Skipped Roar. Walked back to Batwing, which Paul had seen in motion. But the maintenance crews were hanging around the station, they loaded and unloaded once or twice, cycled a few times, and all the while Paul wants to sing his "Crapwing" song that he tortured us with Opening Day. I wasn't letting him. Because of people leaving the line, we got on as soon as it re-opened, in the back. I enjoyed it, which is par for the course after my initial ride, which I've described on here in the past. It's still very disorienting to me, and I don't feel as safe on it as I do on B&M's Supermen, but that's part of what I like. It doesn't feel cookie-cutter to me, and I get a kick out of it. I allowed Paul to do ONE rendition of his song...but only after we were off the train.

Didn't get to ride Jinx with Paul, as it went down and was cycling empties anytime we did see it moving.

It was a short stay, which was always my intent. It was good to hang with Paul again, even if for a short time. He walked with me to the gate, but he was gonna stay for a time. I left around 3. I had reservations at Motel 6 in Fredericksburg, and had a thought of going to Mass at 5pm Saturday instead of Sunday morning. The church is a converted warehouse less than a 5 minute drive from the Motel 6.

I got to the motel a bit after 4. Gave my name and said I had a reservation. They found my reservation, "But we don't have a room for you." Excuse me? Paul had told me a pretty severe storm came through the area Friday night. The front desk clerk informed me that the roof had collapsed in several places, was unstable in others, and water was leaking into many rooms. So what to do, what to do? I went to a fleabag motel across the road, and that looked (and smelled)really bad. So I went to church, then stopped at a coupla nicer motels (Days Inn, Super 8, Comfort Inn) in the same neighborhood. They all wanted more than I was willing to spend...minimum $70 per night, and I needed it for Saturday AND Sunday) So I hit 95 and stopped at a couple more motels at succeeding exits. I was trying to stay close to 95 and to Fredericksburg so, A, my friend Debbie could still pick me up Sunday and B, we could still go to Golden Corral after the park Sunday as is our habit. But the prices were still not what I could do. So I made the trek South to Ashland, where I always used to stay at a Motel 6 and got a room there. I had a late supper at Captain D's, then called Debbie. I told her of my travails, and we were both disappointed we wouldn't be able go to the Corral. However, she was willing to drive the extra few miles to pick me up there.

More to come...stay tooned!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 8:06 AM

Mmmm Golden Corral. Love them.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:55 AM

Mike, since you didn't get to hit the Corral on your trip, I will tell you the Lehigh Valley just got one right by the mall. On your next trip to Dorney, you just need to go about 10 minutes away, and you will find it. I'm horrible with directions or I'd be a little more specific.

I found it amusing that Paul made the comments about the paint job on Batwing. I wonder when that will happen.

I didn't ride Superman in the back last time, so I didn't really get the airtime that you described. However, I was amazed by the one hill on that ride; about 3/4 of the way through, there is a hill that looks like it is straight up and down, and it doesn't look like there is a chance in hell that you'll ever make it up to the top of it. I was absolutely enthralled by that.

Joker's Jinx DOES feel like it just gets faster and faster as it goes along. I really enjoyed it, though I get nervous about the lapbar only restraints. I know it is silly. Do you find that unnerving as well?

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:04 AM

Mmmm Golden Corral. Love them.

-Said no one ever, except for Grant. :)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:20 AM

I respectfully disagree, sir. Golden Corral is delicious.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:26 AM

bunky666 said:Joker's Jinx DOES feel like it just gets faster and faster as it goes along. I really enjoyed it, though I get nervous about the lapbar only restraints. I know it is silly. Do you find that unnerving as well?

I will admit that Joker's Jinx unnerved me a little when I rode it. There was one point when I was sitting toward the outside of the car as we came around the bend and I remember feeling a little too wide open and free.

I guess I will also admit that I don't like Wild Mouse coasters for the same reason. On the one at Hershey I have to sit in the back on the left (if I ride it at all) where I am the furthest from the outside on the sharp bends that extend out over the open.

I guess I just have a weird thing about the sensation of falling out of the car. ;-)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:52 AM

Bunky, you're right about that hill on Supes. It;s after the straightaway out of the first helix. The air there is usually insane.

Thanks for the tip on Golden Corral. That would actually..believe it or not..be closer to me than any of the few in Jersey. I'll get the location on-line. Is it near 78? Maybe after CFK..Lord know I'll be voraciously hungry after 70 some-odd laps on Steel Force (if that's the ride..Dorney STILL hasn't announced their details.)

Carrie, that outside seat on Wild Mice bothered me as a kid. I'm like, "Where did the track go??!!"

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:00 AM

Carrie, it is rare that I will ride a Wild Mouse for the same reasons. I am certain that there are other tight-turn maneuvers on other coasters that are almost as severe, but I wouldn't know because I probably haven't ridden them! I don't even remember the Hershey Wild Mouse. Think I blocked it out because I know I've ridden it.

Mike, where on Mind Eraser did you sit? On every Vekoma hang n bang, I sat in the back. I'm wondering if there are ANY seats that make these rides more tolerable.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:24 AM

Well, bunky, as you may have noticed, I didn't ride it Saturday. I've never found any seat to be noticeably better than others..on that or any of its type. I remember Hangman in Georgia being not quite as bad, but have no idea where I sat.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:48 PM

Actually, I missed the part where you said you didn't go near Mind Eraser on this trip but rode it your last trip instead. Sorry about that.

The GC in the Lehigh Valley is sort of near 78. If you take 78 to 22E and go to the second MacArthur Road exit (you will know you got the right exit if you get spit out right in front of the mall). The Golden Corral is in the back of the Lehigh Valley mall, cata corner (sp?) to Macy's.

I wish Vekoma could figure out their issues with roughness. I truly enjoy their drops and very forceful feeling rides, but the roughness ruins the enjoyment of the above. I feel they could be much more of a force in the industry if the issues were taken care of.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:59 PM

Mike Gallagher said:
I remember Hangman in Georgia being not quite as bad, but have no idea where I sat.

Even when WA was under Kent B., Hangman was one of the "best" of the SLCs in terms of smoothness. In general, when I am silly enough to hop on an SLC, I try to stay near the front....seems like the vibration/rattling gets worse near the back of the train. And then there was Gauntlet at Magic Springs, which was supposed to feature a smoother ride (it didn't).

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:49 PM

I feel they could be much more of a force in the industry if the issues were taken care of.

While I do agree with the roughness comments, which they seem to finally be taking care of, Vekoma has more coaster built than any other company by a decent amount so I'd say that's a pretty decent force in the industry.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:51 PM
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Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:20 AM

Tek, actually, I didn't know that about Vekoma. Come to think of it, the amount of Boomerangs alone would indicate Vekoma was once very popular. Do they get commissioned to do a lot now though? I thought Disney was one of the last ones who actually still used them?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:58 AM

8 of the 10 Vekomas opening this year are brand new. I'd say they're still a significant force in the industry.

Last edited by Vater, Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:59 AM
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Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:46 AM

Vekoma has two big problems in their business:

  1. No golden ticket top ten coasters.
  2. Only 2 or 3 unique steel coasters in the US.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:12 AM

Vekoma has the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, though, and that's good enough for me.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:39 AM

@Tyler: Neither of the "issues" you mention seems to be having a negative impact on sales. First, I don't think Gerstlauer has a top-10 ride in the GTs, and they're doing just fine as well. Second, the US market is pretty much saturated, and the it seems that the real money in building new coasters is mostly in Asia right now (and to a lesser degeree, Europe).

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:50 AM

And, well, we all know that if a coaster has never won a Golden Ticket Award, it must suck.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:04 PM

I'm actually surprised that they're still selling the way they are. Really didn't know. Would you guys say it is because they are cheaper, because they worked out some of their roughness issues, because other popular firms are all booked up, or something else? None of the above? I guess I'm wondering so much because if they've worked out a lot of kinks, I'm curious as to see whether they'd work on fixing some issues with their US coasters. Mind Eraser could end up a brilliant ride!

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 12:25 PM

Intamin and B&M are so much better, though.

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