Southern Trip: Wild Adventures (6/16/2004)

Associated parks:

Tuesday, June 29, 2004 12:46 PM
Leaving the Savannah GA area sometime in the morning around 10am, we arrived at Valdosta a little after 1:00pm for Park # 5 on our trip.

As soon as I saw the park, my impression of it began to change from what I had expected. From what I have read and from pictures I have seen, I went in expecting a park that was little more than a collection of rides sat down in a manner that resembled more of a traveling fair than an actual park. What we found was a rather well done park… complete with some theming.

We hit the coasters in order of the way we encountered them. First up was Ant Farm Express, a cute little “family” coaster that is more toward the line of Junior coaster than Kiddie coaster that some “family” coasters are.

Next was Bug Out, the park’s Wild Mouse. To me, Wild Mice are either good or bad / boring. This one fell into the later category… more so boring than bad. Lots of breaking, the cars were slowed down practically to a stop several times. Operations were odd too. I forget if they were running 4 or 5 cars, but what they did was stack them all up on the loading platform. Once they were all unloaded, the people who were waiting to ride were allowed to board. Once all of the cars were filled, the first was dispatched. A few moments later the next was dispatched, etc until all cars were on the course. As they returned, they were unloaded one by one until they were all empty, then the next group of people were allowed to board. Not very efficient really. However, considering there was only one operator, I suppose this was needed. I wonder how they run the ride with more than one op?

Anyway, it was a hot day and Michele is not a fan of boomerangs, so she decided to take a break and sit in an air conditioned restaurant (a pizza place near Bug Out) while I headed off for Boomerang. Not much to say about this… typical Vekoma Boomerang coaster. I found out later that while she was waiting, Michele thought I was trying to call her on her walkie-talkie, but when she tried to respond, I did not answer. She then said she heard it sound off again. She then looked out the window at the coaster and figured what was happening… My walkie talkie was in my pocket and the page button was being somehow hit. She said as she watched the train, she saw it in the loop and the inversions of the roll every time the “page” button sounded.

Exiting Boomerang, I hopped a quick ride on Aviator. I never saw a ride like this. It reminds me a little of Flyers with each “car” being attached by two cables to the center part of the ride. Each car is a double “bucket” seat with OTSRS. Between these is a lever that moves the rudders (one on each side of the car) side to side. The ride then spins and lifts off the ground (50 feet maybe?) However, it spins slowly so the rudder movement does little. I gave up trying to move them and just sat back and enjoyed the view for the course of the ride.

Next was Swamp Thing. This is Wild Adventures Family Inverted coaster, basically a “sister” to Crowinds’ Runaway Reptar. Four days earlier I couldn’t ride Reptar because I could not get the restraint closed, but I thought I would give it a try on Swamp thing. To my surprise, the restraint closed with no problem. I doubt I lost weight in that short period of time, so I will credit it to longer belts on Swamp Thing. Anyway, it was a better ride than I thought… for its size, it actually had some force behind it. Nice thing is that like all their Junior / Family / Kiddie coasters, they send the train through though the circuit twice.

I then retrieved Michele and we headed toward the back of the park. On the way we passed Tiger Terror (kiddie) and she sort of “dared” me to ride it. Okay, I have no shame, so I climbed aboard. It’s a kiddie coaster, nothing more to say. Twice through the circuit (like I said, this is standard for Wild Adventures) and we came back to the station. The op said “You all want to go again?” Everyone said yes so she checked the restraints and dispatched the train. We got half way up the lift hill when the train strained and then rolled back into the station. A second attempt was made, but another roll back. After that, several people (myself included) decided to get off… I thought my time could be better spent elsewhere. Leaving the coaster, I saw the op try to send it through a third time. This time it made it up the hill and went about its run. A round of applause went up from on lookers.

In the back of the park sits the two head line coasters… Hang Man (Vekoma SLC) and Cheetah (CCI out and back wood).

I tried Hang Man first (simply because we passed it first). It was an SLC, so I was not expecting much. I was surprised. This was SMOOTH! I mean really smooth… for any coaster… especially for an SLC. I had planned on “one ride for the count”, but decided on a re-ride. Most enjoyable SLC I have been on… even beating out Morey’s Piers Great Nor’Easter which I love. I decided to skip any more rides on this because it looked like a storm was moving in and I wanted to get to Cheetah before it hit.

On the way to Cheetah we spotted the tracks of the little Fiesta Express (kiddie Wild Mouse). As I said, I had no shame this trip, so I hopped a back seat ride on this.

It was not long until we approached Cheetah… a closed Cheetah. It had been running earlier, but now there was a sign saying “Sorry, closed” and maintenance was working on it. I was a little bummed. We decided to wait a little to see if it was only a temporary closure. Standing right next to a simulator ride (Red Rock Coaster or something… a coaster ride through an underground mine), we gave it a ride. It was okay, but nothing grand. When we exited this ride, the rain opened up... Very hard rain. Sidewalks started to flood. I would not be surprised if some of Wild Adventures’ animals started to pair up and look for an ark. Lucky for us, we were still by the simulator with its roofed queues so we waited it out in the dry.

10… 15… 20 minutes we waited. Eventually the rain slowed to simply a light shower. It was also at this time that maintenance removed the “closed” sign from Cheetah. I immediately headed over to this coaster… Michele decided to sit this one out. As I walked past the maintenance man, I asked… “Is it running?” He said it was. “Good,” I said. “I traveled 1,200 miles and I would hate to miss this one.”

Entering the station, I was a bit skeptical seeing Gerstlaurer trains after my experience with Myrtle Beach Pavilion’s Hurricane on Monday. However, I climbed aboard the front seat. Was I ever surprised! After the first drop, it was a fast run. Air on the hills and hops, an intense turn around (but it wasn’t painful) air on the return trip, and a wild figure 8 finish that threw you from side to side. Wow! Much better than I had anticipated.

I went around again and hopped a back seat ride. Again, a great ride, but a bit rougher. I decided I liked the front seat better (I tend to take this seat on out and backs… and let the back seat for twisters). As I walked toward the exit ramp, I asked the op if I could just get in the front seat for another ride instead of going all the way around again. He said “Sure”.

So the train was dispatched with me being the only passenger. Just about at the top of the lift, the train stopped… and then came the message over the speakers “Just remain calm…” I guess I was up there for 15 or so minutes. Now being on a train on the lift is one thing… but when you are the only person there, you are suddenly “the guy stuck on the coaster”.

Anyway, no big deal. Michele was more upset than I was. She was worried, while I was sitting up there looking at the Giraffes, antelopes, and other animals in the fields near the base of the coaster, actually hoping for a possible “walk down”. However, there was bit of a jolt and the coaster then began to move. The ride was so better than the first two. As the train hit the breaks, the maintenance man who I had spoken to (and how Michele had spoken to when I rode the coaster the first two times) was there and said, “Oh man, I couldn’t believe that was you stuck up there.”

When I caught back up with Michele, she was a bit shaken. She said she was worried. I assured her that it was perfectly safe. But we decided to call it a day and headed toward the front of the park. We walked a short distance and passed one area with benches and shade. Chele got a drink and sat down while I excused myself and headed back toward Hang Man and Cheetah again.

Three more rides on Hang Man (5 total). When I walked up to Cheetah, the maintenance crew was sitting on a bench near the exit taking a break. “Back again,” the one maintenance man asked. “Yeah,” I told him, “and I promise not to break your coaster this time.” Three more rides followed (1 back, two front for a total of 6 rides for the day). I will say again how impressed I was with this coaster.

I then rejoined Michele and we headed toward the front of the park. As quick stop in the gift shop near the entrance, and we were then on our way back toward the Georgia sea coast.

As I said, Wild Adventures surprised me. While not a GREAT park, it is a very very good park. I heard horror stories on how dirty it is, and how poor the operations are, but I saw none of that. It was above average in both respects I believe. In a slight way, parts of it remind me of a “low scale” BGT… with its combination of animals and rides. While we did not try any non coasters rather than Aviator, it does have a good balance of coasters and flats. Can’t say anything about park food, except for the fact that the pizza we had was relatively good… for park food that is. And as far as SLC's go, Hangman is one of the best... And Cheetah is certainly an under rated and "unsung" coaster.

Using Wild Adventures as a guide, I have high hopes of what the same management will do with Cyprus Gardens in Florida over the next few years. *** Edited 6/29/2004 4:55:11 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
Tuesday, June 29, 2004 1:25 PM
Glad you enjoyed your visit to WA. If you would have had the time to really look around, There are many things you will find that normally go un noticed. Just little qurks and things. As soon as the trees grow some this will be a spectacular park.

Chuck, who enjoyed Cheetah and his New years eve 2002 visit very much.


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