SFKK Greezed Lightnin' Preview/Media night TR... h

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Friday, April 25, 2003 9:22 AM
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom’s “Greezed Lightnin’” media preview recap.

Let’s clarify now that the ride is not named “Greased Lightning” or “Grease Lightning” or even “Greezed Lightning.” The ride name’s first word is spelled with a “Z” and the second word does not end with a “G.” This is important to remember since the ride is now located in Kentucky. I reside locally in Louisville, Kentucky, and after 3 years of living here I feel informed enough to explain that the proper pronunciation of the name, according to the way that all ride ops and SFKK reps were saying it, is “Greeeeeezed Latnan.” LOL

I learned that quickly last evening when SFKK held its preview for the new for 2003 coaster. The media event had originally been scheduled for Wednesday the 16th, but it was postponed due to the ride not being ready to operate last week. Monday the 14th I called the marketing department to RSVP to the preview invitation and was told that the event was being postponed because of the ride’s construction delays. Turns out the coaster did open this past weekend (for an hour Sunday evening) and accepted about 500 guests. (Basically most everyone in the park on Easter Sunday.)

Greezed Lightnin’ is, as most everyone knows, a Schwarzkopf shuttle looper. The ride was originally installed in 1978 at Marriott’s Great America in Gurnee, Illinois where it operated for 13 seasons as “Tidal Wave.” In its time there it survived a Six Flags buyout. It was removed from that park in 1991 for the installation of the park’s current B&M Batman themed invert. The ride was dismantled and placed in storage (as is the fate of countless SF rides over the years) awaiting possible installation elsewhere. Well, it indeed was resurrected in 1995 for Six Flags Over Georgia. The coaster was rebuilt, re-painted, rethemed and redubbed the “Viper.” It spent 6 years at SFOG until it was removed in 2001 for the park’s B&M Superman Flying coaster, which opened in 2002.

Immediately as removal began, rumors began flying about the possibility of it being re-located to yet another SF park. In 2001, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom had tentative and much rumored plans to install an Intamin Impluse coaster in a long, narrow stretch of land next to the infamous road that splits the park. From what I understand, the deal with Intamin fell through when issues arose with other Impulse installations at other SF parks. However, once word was out that SFOG was removing Viper, it quickly became obvious that the ride was headed elsewhere. SFKK was ready for a new coaster installation and Viper would fit the area originally intended for the impulse. So the former Viper and Tidal Wave had found it’s third home.

The park says that the coaster is 722 feet long, reaches a height of just under 142 feet and has a 76-foot vertical loop. It launches riders from what the park claims is 0-60 MPH in 6 seconds via a counterweight cable/pulley system. It is a straight shot down a long stretch of track, into a loop, followed by a climb up a section of track angled 70 degrees skyward. Once gravity takes over, the ride descends the spike backwards, maneuvers the loop in a reverse manner, then flies backwards through the station and up a final rear spike on the opposite station end. At this point, the ride is complete and the train then descends back into the station where it stops. All told it takes about 30 seconds.

Oddly enough, when the ride was located at SFOG, the park claimed that it was 863 feet long, 138 feet tall, and reached a top speed of 57 MPH. I am sure the minor difference in height is related to how it was constructed at SFKK. The speed is probably a number achieved by rounding up from the top speed ever achieved on it. The length, I cannot figure out because the ride is no shorter in track length at SFKK. The ride now sports primary colors of green and blue. Green is the primary color and is used on the track, the loop and a few supports. The large supports and counterweight system is painted blue. The station sits in a remote area behind a re-configured Tin Lizzie’s Antique car ride. For those familiar with SFKK’s layout, you now enter the ride in what was a Euro Bungee trampoline attraction last year. You walk over a solid, concrete path to the attraction. Under the path are two tunnels in which Tin Lizzie’s now traverses. All of this is now back-filled with dirt and the ground is solid underneath. Now as of last night, the antique cars do not appear ready to open. Once the Tin Lizzie’s track was re-configured, it was discovered that a section of guide rail was too “sharp” and cars get stuck. This, I believe, has been modified and the attraction hopes to open again soon… according to the park possibly sometime this weekend.

Once down the path, you reach a set of stairs that lead you up into the station. The station is wooden, and has a very minor racing theme. The wooden station actually looks really good in my opinion, although there isn’t much to it… it is just nice, clean and new. Under the rear spike, the park has placed a red racing stock car on the ground to help round out the minimal theme. I am sure that Nascar fans, and the general Kentucky crowds the park tends to attract, will love it. I simply keep thinking about how awful that shiny, new-looking car will appear in a very short period of time. Thanks to all the inevitable brake dust, grease and vomit it will receive from the train maneuvering the spike right above it, the car will not look to well soon enough.

There is still more to do in, on and around the ride. It was obvious that temporary fencing was up in places and little to no thought had been given to queuing riders that will no doubt line up for the first “major” coaster to be installed at the park in 5 years (unless you count Roadrunner Express…. I don’t.) There is nothing but the path from the midway, the stairs to the station and the limited station area itself to hold the line. If this park and this ride are successful, guests waiting for the coaster will spill into a very small midway area. But honestly, huge crowds at SFKK are few and far between of late so perhaps this is not a long-range concern. Actually, the past few years have been down years for SFKK attendance. The park has high hopes that Greezed Lightnin’ will change that. SF claims the ride can obtain 1300 riders per hour, but given some of the “burps” this ride has had already… there is hardly anyway that capacity will be reached. More about the “burps” will follow later in this TR. One thing worth mentioning, the park is installing an elevator from the ground level up to station level to accept handicapped guests. It is a good move and can be seen in use on several other SF rides at several other SF parks including SFKK. However, it was not completed as of last night… a bad move considering a couple of the special guests last night were wheel-chair-bound Make-A-Wish folks.
The preview/media event itself was pleasant. Oddly, it started at 4 in the afternoon and was scheduled to last until 7. As I arrived in the parking lot, the coaster tested twice. As attendees gathered at the front gate, the ride tested a handful of times. You definitely know when it is testing or launching because there is an extremely loud and obnoxious horn that blares each and every time. A loooooooong blare warns maintenance workers to clear the area. A loooooooong series of short consecutive blares announce the ride is nearing a test launch. An average blare just at the brakes release signals that the train is being launched from the station. Actually, this feature may be the catalyst for SFKK finally obtaining the land from that pesky residential area located behind the park. If I lived there, that horn going off every 5 minutes would be have me packing the moving truck right away.

My hat is off to Amy Riley and the folks at SFKK for doing a fantastic thing. They invited many Make-A-Wish Kids, as well as some underprivileged families to the ceremonies. Make-A-Wish, for those that may be unfamiliar, is an organization that helps raise the spirits of children who are inflicted by disease, most often terminal. They make it possible for these kids to attend the places of their dreams and live out some terrific moments. The Make-A-Wish kids (as well as all attendees) were greeted by every Looney Tunes character imaginable, which the children loved. The MAW children also opened the ride by cutting the ceremonial checkered ribbon. My hat is off to the park for thinking of these precious children and their families. My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

But after the ribbon cutting, things went awry. Greezed Lightnin’ would not run. It would not run at all. Everyone lined up immediately after the ribbon cutting filling in that short pathway I spoke about. (There were maybe 150-200 people in attendance… tops… and the line area was ½ full.) There guests waited…. And waited…. And waited…. And the ride did not open.

Now this was absolutely no-one’s fault. The park handled it very well, inviting everyone (after about 1/2 hour of waiting to no avail) to eat the food the park provided or ride the other attractions they had decided to operate. Road Runner Express, Skycoaster (free) and the kiddie train were all opened for the event. Later in the evening, Hellivator was opened to help appease those that were getting impatient from the lack of something thrilling to do and the coaster’s inability to cooperate. Now, if I had been a park official or marketing person, I would have freaked. I stress out when things don’t go right, and last night things definitely were not going right with Greezed Lightnin’. Again, it was out of everyone’s hands, and I feel awful that their “premier” was met with such embarrassing downtime issues.

The issues lasted until 6:45. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled end of the event, Greezed Lightnin’ finally opened for riders. By this time, most of the guests had left, having given up on it. So basically it was an ERT session. The park kept the coaster running until about 7:20, at which they called it a night. In that time, I managed 12 rides (if I counted right) but missed the first couple cycles due to a separate ERT session. I am sure others scored many more rides than I. You see I was on Hellivator, with a friend I brought to the event, riding over and over with no one else on board. Although the height of Hellivator is silly compared to newer drop towers, Hellivator is one heck of an intense ride and easily has the best stomach-in-your-throat drop/stop sensation of any drop ride I have ridden. But I digress… back to Greezed Lightnin’…

The coaster feels old… it is. It is nearly 30 years old and IMO is an antique. It rides like an antique, it looks like an antique and it even smells like an antique. I love Schwarzkopf coasters, and have been fortunate enough to ride an abundance of them including several shuttle loopers. Actually one of my favorite coasters in the world is the Superdooperlooper at Hersheypark. I also used to adore the King Cobra shuttle formerly at King’s Dominion. I love the feel of them, but also find them very clunky and dated. There is an unmistakable smell of burning brakes in the SFKK Greezed Lightnin’ station, that harkens me back to those days on King Cobra. But it is also reminiscent of that smell you get on the interstate when the 18-wheeler ahead of you burns out his brake pads. It is one of those odd unmistakable “smells” distinct to amusement rides and amusement parks. You know, the smells that people often start threads about in this and other coaster forums.

The train looks terrific. It has obviously seen a major overhaul with a great paint job, wonderful new diamond plate flooring and new headrests complete with the Six Flags logo molded into them. It retains its lap-bar only restraints and last evening ops were NOT stapling. Actually, I stapled myself on purpose quite a few times due to the “pause.” I will discuss more about that in a moment.

Once secured, the ride ops signal to each other, the brakes release, the horn sounds (located on the front spike) and you launch. The launch cannot compare to the speeds of modern LIM and air-powered hydraulic launches, but it is fast and fun. I am holding out hope that the speed will increase by either the ride breaking in, or a mechanics physically increasing the poundage on the counterweight. I kept thinking: “Man this thing must have really cooked in its day”… a feeling I got over and over about the whole ride. In it’s day? Well, it remains a lot of fun, but it also feels like a ride that has been there for years and years. Although I think guests will love it, it is a highly enjoyable coaster; I also fear that SFKK will get the dreaded “Is that all?” or “I wish there was more to it” reactions.

After the initial launch, you approach the loop. Now, there is a visible and obvious bend in the track here. I am curious to find out from those that rode it at Viper or as Tidal Wave if the track included an odd bend to the right at the base of the loop or if that is a result of the ride being re-located. As you sit in the station you can look at the track at the loop entry point. The inversion flips to the right, as with most loops, but at the forwards loop entry point, the track makes a very minor “S” bend to the right. To my untrained eye, it looks like the loop was constructed a mere inch or two out-of alignment and the track was altered to compensate. Perhaps not, but that is the way it seems. Take a look here:

It is really hard to see, but this is a picture from Paul Drabek’s site that sort of shows it:

http://www.negative-g.com/SFKK/SFKK2003/GLMediaDay/SFKK-4-24-03-GL-Launch-From.jpg

This evening I’ll try and post one I took from the rider’s point of view that shows it more clearly.

The loop is smooth and intense, and the jaunt up the spike is fun. The train only reaches a little over ½ way up the spike, and has plenty of more room left to go, but doesn’t have enough energy to reach as high as I have seen others go. As it falls backwards, you get the lovely “falling” feeling, and head back into the loop. However, this is where Greezed Lightnin’ at SFKK shines. Because of the lowered launch speed and because it does not climb that high up the spike, the backwards speed through the loop is dramatically low. This results in a “pause” mid loop, a pause that in certain parts of the train (mostly the middle to front seats) causes riders to rise off their seats. Air in an inversion. Who would have thunk it? This actually intimidated me a bit and was the reasoning for me “stapling” myself until the uneasy feeling wore off. Meanwhile other enthusiasts that were present were reveling in it and citing it as the highlight of the attraction.

The jaunt back into the station is met with HEAVY station brakes and the train only ascends about 1/3 of the way up the rear spike. In the rear car, the back spike gives fun air… but not dramatic air. As I rode I kept thinking about how the Astroworld version I rode 2 years ago blew me away because there is little to no trimming in the station and the reverse spike had extreme air. However, the Astroworld version also required riders ride in pairs, and no single riders were allowed. Thank goodness SFKK has not instituted that silly rule.

After the ride, you exit to the right of the train, down some steps, through a concrete tunnel leading underneath the rear portion of track. This actually allows those interested a great spot for watching the catch wagon appear from the underside of the track. It’s cool to watch it attach itself he rear of the train for the next launch so closely. After passing underneath, exiting guests then walk down the opposite side of the entry path. Now SFKK, has installed a long fence separating the two sides, so that guests who wish to re-ride on low attendance days will have to walk all the way down the path back to the midway entrance then back up the path again. Actually, a gate that can be opened or closed as attendance dictates is desperately needed. Why, even last night I saw guests climbing and hopping the 4 foot fence, which will no doubt eventually result in scraped knees, broken arms etc. etc. etc. But I expect that ride ops located on the platform above will be trained to yell at fence hoppers in typically SFKK fashion. I cite Twisted Twins as a classic example.

Overall, my feelings are mixed about Greezed Lightnin’. Last night on the way home I spent the 20-minute ride trying to sort out my thoughts. I cannot come up with an overall feeling. Rather I have a collection of thoughts such as: I like that SFKK saved a classic ride. I do not think it necessarily stands the test of time thrill-wise. I think the ride suits SFKK well. I have a feeling that SFKK is becoming the Kentucky/Ohio/Indiana/West Virginia/Tenessee equivalent to SF Astroworld. I think it was an extremely wise decision to re-locate a ride there instead of purchasing a new one for basically a “depressed” park. I think it is fun and fills the need for a sit-down looping coaster at the park. I do not think it is enough of a draw to result in many return visits. It looks good and makes terrific use of the space. Because of its age and acting temperamental, I do not like the thought of the downtime this may experience. I prefer the back seat and find it easily provides the most intense rides on this attraction.

But bottom line, I LOVE the fact that its removal at its two prior homes resulted in state-of-the-art B&M gems. Perhaps a decade from now, SFKK may get something like that to replace it. There I go, getting my hopes up again. ;-)

Many thanks go out to the people at SFKK for putting on the event. Although it didn’t turn out quite as well as what they had probably had hoped, I do think people had a good time. I know that people enjoyed the coaster, I sure did. I think SFKK has a great ride on their hands and I wish them much success with it.

Shaggy

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Shaggy

Proud A-lister!

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Friday, April 25, 2003 10:56 AM
Having ridden it as Tidal Wave, I am not so sure I even want to hit it when I arrive at SFKK in late May. The "pause" does intrigue me, though.

Ah..... I'll shut up. I will ride it. I know I will. I just wish it had that Montie intensity.:)
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I don't take offense to idiots. I am an idiot. Hear me roar.

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Friday, April 25, 2003 1:36 PM

Shaggy said:
Air in an inversion. Who would have thunk it?

Ever been on a heavily trimmed Mantis train? There's the sweeeetest floatage at the top of the vertical loop!

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Rich Genthner / PTC99

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Friday, April 25, 2003 2:24 PM
Batman Knight Flight at SFWOA had some of the best floater air in the loop when I went last fall that it almost made me forget it didn't have a zero-G roll.

Excellent TR Shaggy and I can't wait to ride GL in its new home! It really does seem to be a great addition for SFKK, but I hope they get something "bigger" in the future to really attract guests and something more reliable. I haven't heard a lot about The Flying Coaster at SFEG, but it looks like it could be both of the above. Thanks again for reporting!

-Danny

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Friday, April 25, 2003 4:20 PM
I have been on both Batman Knight Flight and Mantis (Is there ever a time when it is not heavily trimmed ?) and although I agree they have great floater time in their loops, the Greezed Lightnin' floater is a bit more pronounced. The open feeling of the lap-bar-only trains also accentuates it.

There are several other coasters that come to my mind that offer floater time in the loops... actually they are all B&Ms..... Wildfire, SFKK's own Chang etc etc etc. However there is something uniquely and intimidatingly different about Greezed Lightnin's.

Shaggy

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Shaggy

Proud A-lister!

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Friday, April 25, 2003 4:25 PM
If you want something fun and reliable, a Zamperla flyer would not be the choice.

Thanks for the report! While the flywheel models are more intense, I still find the weight drops fun.

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Friday, April 25, 2003 6:17 PM
Ah..no exaggeration, but that was my favorite coaster when it was Viper at SFoG. Awesome report ! To anyone who goes to SFKK anytime soon and has a video camera or something, I would love a video of the ride in operation...I love the launch sound! :)

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"Enjoy your record-breaking ride on Millennium Force"

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Friday, April 25, 2003 6:45 PM
i have road greezed lightning at six flags astro world in houston texas and although verticle shuttle loop rides really might not seem as if they are really that spectacular to ride, well in my opinion they are really fun. there are massive negatives gs when falling backwords
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Saturday, April 26, 2003 5:20 AM
I loved your review. Very descriptive. It sounds like a fun ride. Was the 20th a soft opening?

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-Sean Newman

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Saturday, April 26, 2003 9:06 AM

Shaggy said:

After the initial launch, you approach the loop. Now, there is a visible and obvious bend in the track here. I am curious to find out from those that rode it at Viper or as Tidal Wave if the track included an odd bend to the right at the base of the loop or if that is a result of the ride being re-located. As you sit in the station you can look at the track at the loop entry point. The inversion flips to the right, as with most loops, but at the forwards loop entry point, the track makes a very minor “S” bend to the right. To my untrained eye, it looks like the loop was constructed a mere inch or two out-of alignment and the track was altered to compensate. Perhaps not, but that is the way it seems. Take a look here:


At Viper @ SFOG, I also remember there being an odd bend to the right before the loop. You don't feel it though when you travel through the loop. If this bend were do to re-locating the ride, it would fall apart.

Nice TR, and the queue for Greezed Lightnin' will most likely not have overflow problems. On PACKED Saturdays @ SFOG, the line was barely 40 feet long. But for the next few Saturdays @ SFKK, there might be some problems... Hope it doesn't act up too bad...

I really do miss Viper though...

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Saturday, April 26, 2003 6:36 PM
I rode it when it was Viper at SFOG. It was a fun ride w/ very little wait time. The track curved to the right just before entering the loop. I always wandered why because you never feel the shift of the train during the ride.
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Saturday, April 26, 2003 7:06 PM
i rode it as Tidal Wave and i dont recall the bend in the track... but the last time i rode it was WAAAAYYYY back when, easily 10 years ago...

GOD i miss that ride. i really and truly loved it.

and yes, it DID really cook back in its day.

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mela en coiamin Legolas...
it aint the size of the arrow, its what you do with the bow

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Saturday, April 26, 2003 9:00 PM
The bend in the track is really just the track starting to angle so it can navigate a loop and come down next to itself. It had that at SFOG, and I see it on the other shuttles. King Kobra has it too: http://schwarzkopf.coaster.net/ESshuttlelooptyp1GF.htm

Shaggy, thanks for the report! However, I was NOT happy to see my Tidal Wave yanked from it's footers to make way for a B&M. Sure the B&Ms that followed behind were (and are) fantastic and unique rides, but how could that even come to mind when you're at KK? *shakes head. I'll be thinking 2003 when I'm at KK, not 2013! :D

As for the stats, Tidal is indeed 863' long, 137' high, and supposedly hits 57mph (though speed varies due to many variables). Guess SF rounds up for good measure! The Schwarzkopf catalog lists the initial weight drop shuttle (King Kobra) as 722' long and 137' high. And the flywheel models appear to be taller (nearing 150') but still are 722' in length, which makes sense since they don't need as long of a launchway (whether that's actually the case or not I don't know. I've never been able to stretch my tape measure more than 25'!). Physics tells me that a quicker launch requires less track between the station and loop. And according to the diagrams, both had a similar rate of acceleration (no more than 78ft./sec.), which means that you shouldn't feel too much of a difference if you step off Monte and step onto a weight drop. Monte sticks out in our memories because of that great back spike!
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Brad Sherman
Tidal Wave refuses to leave PGA!
Arrowed!

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Sunday, April 27, 2003 4:05 AM
I was at the park yesterday (Saturday) for 3 hours and GL only ran for about 30 minutes. I arrived about quarter after 11 (park opened at 11:00) and it was still testing. By the time I walked over to the queue, they had opened it, but there were five members of the maintenance staff standing around looking at it.

My first ride was in the back seat which has its queue right next to the operator's panel. I noticed they had to keep hitting the "Fault Acknowledge" button after every ride. That made me feel real safe!

I was actually looking forward to the airtime in the backwards loop that Shaggy describes, but it seems that they've been doing some tweaking since Thursday. The launch now sends the train about 3/4th of the way up the first spike, and there really isn't any air to speak of on the backwards trip. The brakes are still hitting on the return trip, but probably not quite as heavy, because the train is going a little over 1/2 way up the rear spike now.

I got a ride in the back and a ride in the front, then noticed how deserted the back half of the park was and went over to get 5 straight re-rides on Thunder Run. By the time I walked back, GL was down and didn't reopen before I left at 2:30pm. The horn sounded several times, but the ride never tested (at least that I saw).


*** This post was edited by Slash 4/27/2003 8:08:01 AM ***

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Monday, April 28, 2003 11:59 AM
It gets on my nerves a little when any type of shuttle only uses 1/2 of it's spike.
Anway I'll be there this Sat. May 3rd, praying this thing is running. Guess if GL is running at park opening time (11:00), I need to get on ASAP before it goes down.
So best ride in the back? I was thinking the front would be good too since it'd go further up the front spike.
Anyone notice how is SFKK doing so far as far as opening all rides at opening time?
*** This post was edited by Raptor Pilot 4/28/2003 4:02:31 PM ***
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Monday, April 28, 2003 1:50 PM
Shaggy - all of Anton's shuttles have that "bend."

Moosh

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Is Shaggy named after this band?

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Monday, April 28, 2003 2:52 PM
Of course there's a bend...

I think what Arrow Guy was getting at is this....if there were no *bend* in the track, then the loop would descend ONTO the track where the loop begins...the BEND allows the track to negoatiate the loop and come down *slightly* askew, so that you complete the loop *next to* the track at the beginning...;)

Otherwise, the loop would *meet*, and you'd have a seriously low capacity ride...Pulverizor Returns....
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"Brian, there's a message in my AlphaBits, it says 'ooooooo'"
"Peter, those are Cheerios"....Family Guy is BACK!!!

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Thursday, May 1, 2003 11:25 AM
Did anyone go to SFKK Sunday 4/27? Was GL running? I'll be there this Sat. 5/3. Hope it's running.
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Thursday, May 1, 2003 3:03 PM
Raptor Pilot, I was there on Saturday 4/26, and Greezed Lightnin' was running for a few hours, I got in two rides and then it shut down for the rest of the day. Other than that, I believe every ride was running that day, although with very limited capacity (i.e. one train on every coaster, half capacity on most flat rides).

I feel that you should be warned, 5/3 is Kentucky Derby day. The heart of the town will be an absolute mess, but hopefully the area around the park is mostly clear. Good luck to you, feel free to ask anything else.

--Ryan

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Friday, May 2, 2003 2:03 PM
Yeah, I know about the derby, but hopefully we'll be getting there (11:00, opening time) way before the derby people, and leaving well after (8:00, park closing). What time does the derby start & end anyway?

Anyone know why GL keeps going down? We're heading straight to GL when we get there so hopefully we'll get at least one ride. I probably won't be back to SFKK for awhile.

BTW, since you offered to answer questions, where are decent places to eat in the area? Aren't there some a few miles east of the park, down 264? There's also a Kroger in that area we'll be hitting in the morning to buy the passes.
*** This post was edited by Raptor Pilot 5/2/2003 6:07:02 PM ***

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