Got to the park around 4:30pm, and got to park in the first row past the handicapped parking. I have a season pass and parking permit, so I kinda felt like I was sticking it to the man since I was closer to the gate than the noticably empty premium parking. Anyone who would pay $15 for that crap is a self righteous, pompous ass, or just plain lazy. It's a park, you should plan on doing some walking, including from you car to the gate! Anyway, I digress... I noticed as I walked to the gate that the lines for The Big Kahuna (formerly of SFAW) and Tornado were HUGE in the waterpark. Guess I'll not be trying them out tonight! Getting into the park was no problem, and security was quick about getting me through the metal detectors.
Although everyone hates it, I always give Predator a chance whenever I go to Darien Lake. From reading these boards, I've learned how to ride it. Find a seat not over the wheels, and keep your back off the seat. Well, I hopped into 2-1 after waiting through one cycle, and amazingly I enjoyed my ride! Yeah the sweeping turn was a little rough and there was little airtime to be had, but it was a fast, fun, and relatively smooth ride! Does anyone know what makes these Summers/Dinn coasters run so rough usually? Is it poorly designed trackwork, or is it the stupid trailered trains? Anyway, the red train on Predator was giving a good ride today...
Since the Predator exit dumps out right next to it, I walked over to Superman Ride of Steel next. This was the first time in years that I remember seeing two trains on a weekday!! The line was out the station and down the stairs, but I was in the second seat of the first car in less than 20 minutes. Would've been less had I just filled in somewhere. Now, SFDL's ops aren't the fastest, but they were hitting interval around 80% of the time. I'll take that over the usual single train operation any day!! Well, SRoS is still a fast, fun, airtime filled ride. I still love it, and am thankful to have such a world class ride in my back yard. But why does this thing rattle and shuffle so much through the curves? Lack of maintenance? Millennium Force @ Cedar Point is a whole lot bigger and faster, and only a year newer, but is smooth as glass... What does SF have to do to restore this great coaster to its former glory? Still a great ride, but needs a little TLC and a coat of paint. Superman just isn't so super when his colors are sky blue and pink!!
I'd been in the park a little while and was getting hungry. I hadn't eaten yet today, so I went to the Chicken Ranch Cafe. Lets see, 3 chicken fingers with fries, $7.99. 4 piece fried chicken with fries, $7.99. 10 Buffalo wings, yep you guessed it, $7.99. Even though I'd never be able to eat it all, I got the 4 piece meal with a refillable Superman sports bottle, and a brownie. Total with tax, just under $18!!! WOW! Granted I'd make up for it on the $.99 refills, but that was a little steep. The kid behind the counter was from Turkey. I asked him if he stayed at the park if there was employee housing, he said he had to rent a place in Batavia. That's a good 20 minutes away, I wonder how he got to work and back every day? We talked for a couple minutes while I waited for my food. I paid with a $20, told him to keep the change. Nice guy. Alas, the food was good, and the fries were actually hot. Again, can't remember the last time that happened...
After eating 2 pieces of the chicken and the brownie, and feeding most of the fries to the ducks (never seen fat ducks before...) I headed over to the Giant Wheel to let my stomach settle a bit. I still remember when this was one of the star attractions of Darien Lake, and was touted as the tallest wheel in North America or something like that. Great views, good ride. A side note... I have no problem going to parks by myself. I usually have some interesting conversations with people. But there is no lonelier feeling than riding a ferris wheel alone. I dunno why, it just feels wierd to me...
Next up was the Viper. I remember when I was young, I was terrified of this thing. I wouldn't go on it till I was about 14 or 15 years old. I had nightmares about it before I'd ever been on it, and I still remember that nightmare very vividly even now. If anyone's interested, I'll tell the story later. I think about it every time I walk through the ridiculously long queue to the station. The ride was practically a walk on, but the had 2 trains going anyway. Good job, Six Flags! The first drop into the vertical loop is one of the few moments on any coaster that ALWAYS gets my stomach to float and my eyes to grey a little bit. Fun stuff, a little rough, but its a 24 year old Arrow multilooper, so what would you expect? Still a fun ride, and kinda neat to think that back in the day that this thing was state-of-the art. Wasn't this the first coaster with 5 inversions?
As I walked through the back of the park, I refilled my cup. $.99 for 32oz of lemonade ain't bad, folks, in or out of an amusement park. I headed across the pond over to the token SLC hang-n-bang, Mind Eraser. Why, oh why, are they only running one train on this thing? It makes the line move so SLOW... And yes, everyone in the station knew it. I heard many people asking why they only had one train running. One person asked one of the ride ops, they said "Because the boss said so." Nice. A little less than an hour later, I was in the front seat. Before you say an hour isn't that long, keep in mind that the line didn't even go down the stairs, and that I got to move ahead a good 9 or 10 trains to fill in as a single rider. And no, it wasn't because of an alert ride op. I yelled out to ask if I could fill in. Anyway, this ride isn't terrible, and people seem to enjoy it. I'm guessing they like it because they don't know any better. After riding a few B&M inverts, I don't have too much patience for SLCs. I'll wait for them once a trip, but for the most part thats it. It is what it is. The funniest thing was a little kid asking his dad why the "bottom wheels" (the upstops, I guess you'd call them) weren't touching the track. "That's stupid" he said. Good eye, kid!!
After getting my mind erased, I hit up a few shops. I love the Justice League store. They have a few things that I'll buy probably my next trip in a couple weeks, when I'll have a little more cash. I headed to the front of the park to the customer service office to buy some tickets for upcoming concerts. Poison, Aerosmith/Motley Crue, Tom Petty, John Mayer/Sheryl Crow, and DefLeppard/Journey are all coming to the SFDL PAC between 8/2 and 9/20. 2 tickets to each, all lawn seats granted, cost a hair over $250. Not to bad for 5 shows!! I filled out a comment card on the few things noted above, dropped the tix off in the car, and went back in for a little SRoS marathon.
On my way to SRoS, I wanted to see if my earlier enjoyment of Predator was a fluke or if I'd found that magical combination of the right seat and the right ride technique. Same seat, held myself forward off the seatback the entire ride, and loved it!! Ladies and gentlemen, 2-1 is THE MAGIC SEAT on Predator! I'm sure it's not top 10 material, but at least its FUN!! I could still feel it shuffle in the turns but at least it didn't dislocate my spine like it usually does!
Anyway, back to SRoS. The line was a bit longer since the waterpark had closed, and it was getting dark. I'd hoped to grab 3 rides in less than 90 minutes till closing time. Oh, did I mention that I usually only ride in the front or back car? That could make it a bit tougher. Got in line for the front, took a good 45 minutes... Great ride, back in line. Back seat looks like a bit shorter line, hop in there. On in 20 minutes. Tons of air to be had in the back seat, just don't tell anyone or else the line will be ridiculous there as well!! I ran back around for that final ride figuring I'd have to fill in somewhere. I got to the station and SRoS went down for whatever reason. I have never seen a station clear out that quick!! All of a sudden there was a short line for the front seat!! The ride wasn't down 10 minutes, and they sent the train on its way. After a few cycles, the head op announces there would only be 3 more trains, so fill in or you won't get to ride. Lucky me, I was on the second of those 3 trains!! I love this ride at night, only the 3 big hills are lit, and the rest is dark. Fun, fun, fun!! Great air on that third hill every time!
I got off the ride with 5 minutes till the park closed. I wanted to get a fried dough and a refill for Laserblast to close out the night. Let me say this. When SF says they close at 10pm, they mean it. I was in line for the above mentioned fried dough, and they closed the window!! There were 4 groups waiting in line and they closed down right in our faces!! Now I just wanted a lemonade (I'm trying to kick my Mountain Dew addiction and as a result I'm staying away from all soda) so I started to check all the shops on the way to Laserblast. As I passed the Chicken Ranch Cafe, I noticed the window was open. They said they were closed but the kid from Turkey remembered me from before (that's why you're always friendly to people, and TIP!!) and got me my refill. He said that $2 from before made his day! Glad I could help, kid!
So I had my lemonade and went to watch the laser show. It was new this year with a lot of Looney Tunes stuff and a bit of DC comics thrown in. It was fun, and people really got into it singing along. When they play God Bless The USA at the end, I always stand up, and it was nice to see everyone else do the same. The fireworks and the pyro were awesome, but not overdone. This is a very well done show, and if you're going to SFDL I would reccomend staying for the show at the end of the night...
So I hopped in the Jeep and headed home. I got my concert tickets, rode SRoS a bunch of times, had a little chow, saw a sweet laser light show, and figured out FINALLY how to enjoy Predator. Not bad in 6 hours time, considering the only time I rushed to do anything was the final lap of SRoS... I'm going back on Wed 8/2 for the Poison show, and I'm sure I'll wander into the park for a little bit before the concert starts. Thats the beauty of a season pass, it's okay to go in for an hour or two because you don't have to pay admission! I was impressed with the 2 trains on most rides, the ops were pretty friendly, but the deal at the end of the night with the fried dough kinda irked me. Oh well, I won't let that ruin a fun evening...
Dont feel bad, I dont think I was brave enough to ride the viper until I was like 10 or 11. I was also too scared to ride the Crystal Beach Comet, and Canada's Wonderland's Bat at those ages as well.
Great trip report though!!
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