Short weekend trip to Gulf Shores, AL...

Monday, August 1, 2011 2:24 PM

Having a wooden coaster within driving distance and NOT having been on it...unacceptable. Having it in a waterpark...explains it somewhat. But it's hot out, crazy hot, being summertime on the Gulf Coast. So, plans were made to make our way to Waterville, USA this past weekend.

Drove to Pensacola Saturday afternoon/evening, and Jill and I found some decent Chinese food across from the hotel (note to self, book summertime Sat nights early or get whatever is left over for lodging). Got up Sunday morning, made our way another hour west crossing into LA (lower Alabama), found beach traffic unbearable. Made our way to the surprisingly-empty lot, and parked. While getting sunscreened, etc., took some pics of Cannonball Run while it sat idle in the station. Jill expressed some concern that it might be broken down. That would be immensely unsatisfactory if true...6 hours' drive isn't something I wanted to do *again* this season, but CR is one of the 2 remaining Stateside CCIs I've yet to ride. Going in to the arcade/ticket center, the young lady behind the counter informed us that amusement rides opened at noon - huge sigh of relief.

Caught some pics of the so-called amusement park (basically the coaster and a single go-kart track, very much a "Mt. Olympus light" kind of place. Got in a few water rides and .waited in the wave pool for the coaster to open up. Surprisingly fun and smooth little coaster considering its age and appearance. Got in a few rides while Jill finally got some waves...certainly no Poseidon's Rage, LOL. We got some refreshments and then a go-kart ride (I got a decent kart, but a mom-and-kid combo decided to have some fun and cut RIGHT in front of me, and ew had quite the nice T-bone crash). The ops said nothing to me, and I ended up having a fun little run. Jill got a "dud" kart and had fun but not enough for her to want another lap considering the line had gotten quite long with only six karts on-course. The ops did manage to get another set running as we were getting off, but Jill was more interested in the waterpark, and the coaster had already gotten my attention.

Got Jill to try the coaster before more water slides (and the fairly-long lazy river). She was impressed after a back-seat and front-seat ride, and we'd get more later despite the abundance of stairs needed to get on and off the ride (flatlanders HATE stairs). The lazy river was pretty sparse, with not too much shade. One big plus was that the mid-ride waterfall had a really-sweet place to hang out under the *pounding* falls. Finally tried out a Flowrider, did PRETTY good for a 44yo first-timer with some extra pounds around the middle. Would like to try those some more now that I've got some confidence. The op at the top did a really good job of explaining how to get about the ride (and the signage was helpful too). Did a couple body slides, a couple tube slides with really aggressive landings in the plunge-pool at the end, and then a few more laps on Cannonball Run before getting a few more pics (with riders makes for nicer pics), and hitting the road for the long drive home thru the occasional torrential downpour. Those are more fun in the lazy river than they are on the interstate. ;)

Overall, a good short weekend....Cannonball Run is one of those under-rated "beachside" coasters - you can only see the Gulf from the lifthill as the park is about a half-mile from the shore. An L-shaped out-n-back, felt like a John Allen kind of ride with a little bit of punch to it. There's a nice double-up coming off the initial drop, and a couple sweet pops of air....finishes off with some fairly-intense laterals and a small drop coming into the brake run.

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Monday, August 1, 2011 3:46 PM

Great report, Gator! So that makes only one US woodie to go?

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Monday, August 1, 2011 4:28 PM

^Three more, Billy - one "pre-existing" in NM Rattler, scheduled for next weekend in Albuquerque. The two new-for-2011 rides are still on the docket for later this season (late Aug for Green Bay, early Oct for Quassy). Like Pokemons, gotta get 'em all... ;)

The down-side of this crazed adventure is fairly considerable: the rides I missed when they closed before I got there (like Whalom and Joyland in Wichita), the ones I saw standing but never got to ride (CI's T-Bolt, Clementon's original JackRabbit, and Bell's Zingo), and the loss of some truly fantastic rides like Screechin' Eagle and Big Dipper - which I at least got to experience before their demise.

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