Monday, May 14, 2001 7:57 AM
I'd pretty much given up on trying to rank coasters last year, after Villain opened and I got my first rides on Phoenix and Twister.
Holiday World confirms that decision, because I would have NO idea where to place Raven and Legend. They'd blow right into the top 10, and quite possibly Top 5, but I'd be hard-pressed to figure out where. #1 and 2 perhaps? Possibly, but there are other rides that are equally deserving of those spots (CI Cyclone, Phoenix, Twister).
At any rate, this was my first visit to Holiday World, and by extension my first Stark Raven Mad. I had an incredible time. The friendly staff, the free drinks, the food, the incredible rides, everything. Even with the crowds (apparently the most crowded SRM yet), it was just great.
The trip started out on Thursday with the drive from Pittsburgh to Santa's Lodge. I didn't enjoy the traffic through Cincinnati and Louisville, but the drive wasn't too bad (and I'm sure people from those cities would hate Pittsburgh traffic patterns, which I'm used to ;) )
Santa's Lodge is the closest hotel to Holiday World. What a cool little place. The beds aren't the most comfortable I've seen, but they're serviceable, and the hotel is quite reasonable. I ate dinner Thursday night at the lodge, and it was really good. I sat outside in the gazebo, enjoying the INCREDIBLE weather, sipping good fresh-brewed iced tea. I originally ordered the pulled pork, but they were out, so I opted for a filet. I asked for as rare as they would serve it, which tuned out to be what I'd consider medium, but it was juicy and tasty. The baked sweet potato (with lots of butter and brown sugar) and salad were good as well. I'm spending a lot of time on this detail because it was just so darn PLEASANT, a truly excellent way to start off the long weekend.
Then Friday morning it was off to Holiday World. As other trip reports have indicated, this is a GREAT park.
Early on, the park was quite crowded looking, as there were a number of kids running around for some school function (I never did quite grasp what). However, they disbursed before the actual Event had started, resulting in some pretty short lines. (The park would fill back up pretty quickly once the event got under way). The weather held off, staying sunny during the normal park hours. I was glad I'd put some sunscreen on in spite of the forecast ;)
I started the day running into a group of rec.roller-coaster denizens who were only too happy to show me around the park. Dave Sandborg and Tim Melago insisted that my first ride MUST be the back seat of Raven. Excellent choice. The airtime was absolutely incredible. That ride would set the tone for the rest of the day :)
After that it was off to the Legend. Another winner, with lots of VERY strong laterals. Raven and Legend complement each other in much the same way that Knoebel's Phoenix and Twister do -- one is about air, with some laterals, while the other is about laterals with some air.
I have few complaints about the G-trains, but they didn't really bother me even last year with the old bars (although until this year the only G-train-equipped ride I'd been on was Villain).
After that it was time for some of the smaller rides. The RRC takeover on Eagle's Flight (their Flyers) was funny. At least 2 people managed to hit the trees. I tried my best, but couldn't quite get my high points timed right. ;)
Howler is a good little family coaster in the Holidog's Funtown section of the park. Seeing a group of adults take it over got a laugh out of the rideop. A few of the RRC'ers then played in the water fountains for a while, getting quite drenched in the process.
Next we took a spin on the train, the oldest original ride in the park. Cute, but cramped ;)
Then a spin on the bumper boats, which I've never ridden before. I rather enjoyed them, and will need to look for those more often.
After a lunch at The Alamo (decent Mexican food, slow service though) it was back to the hotel to meet up with Jeremy (2Hostyl). He was already there when I got back. After dropping his stuff off in the room, it was back to the park, where I proceeded to introduce him to the coasters in roughly the same way the RRC crowd had introduced me ;)
Then it was time to meet in the theater for the start of Stark Raven Mad itself. Mrs. Koch broke the sad news that she has cancer, but told us that she wasn't going to give up, and we shouldn't let that news ruin our evening. She said she told us because she didn't want it to just become a rumor (obviously Holiday World knows RRC and the various coaster boards). I wish her the best, and hope for a speedy recovery.
Dinner was excellent. The pizza was good, the fudge was incredibly rich and yummy, and of course more soda ;)
Then it was back to the coasters! We stayed until the gates to Raven closed, 1am central time. I ended up with 15 laps for the day on Raven, 12 on Legend (and 2 double-laps on Howler ;) ) During the presentation it had started raining, which made for even wilder rides. Legend was overshooting the final brake run as a result of the speed it still had coming in, resulting in a few apparent setups.
By now people have heard about the Bell incident on Legend. I saw it. We were just coming out of the Pepsi Oasis across from Legend when I heard a crack. I looked up in time to see the bell fall from the tower, slide along the roof for a bit, and then swing down by the cable over the track. Truly a frightening moment. I took a few pictures, but they probably didn't come out real well due to the lighting.
Last ride for the evening was back seat on Raven, with 2 clicks down on the lap bar. The ride op told me "I'm going to let you go, but I want to see where the bar is when you get back..." I took that as a challenge, and made sure the bar didn't move on me at all. I was out of my seat for almost the entire ride. "Air Raven" indeed. :)
Then it was off to bed, for a much-needed rest.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I plan on being back, again and again... :)
*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 5/14/2001. ***