The Midwest Super Trip

Jimmy Boy's avatar

Took a 6 day vacation from my current Orlando location to participate in an ACE event for the first time ever as well as attend other parks on the way to get some new credits (which rarely happens anymore). The trip was so much fun and there were disappointments as well as some nice surprises.

Day 1 - Dollywood

Dollywood was absolutely packed on a Wednesday in the middle of the week. It was the first time I visited the park. I had a great time but left a little underwhelmed. Here are my attraction reviews:

Thunderhead (7.5/10) - I was really looking forward to this highly regarded GCI coaster. Rode 2 times in the back seat and with single train operations that was enough. The trains were rattling a lot more than I expected and there seemed to be several "pothole moments" on low points that didn't seem to flow with the ride. Overall it is a solid, beautiful coaster that just didn't deliver what I was hoping.

Firechaser Express (6.5/10) -This attraction looks like it is exactly what Dollywood needed. It is not very intense but is a great family ride that actually has solid capacity (ran 3 trains most of the day). The backwards launch is also great (especially the themeing inside). This should be a big hit with families.

Wild Eagle (7.5/10) - I enjoyed Eagle more than X-flight but those locking shoulder restraints just destroy the potential of the ride. I find myself more worried about the restraints than the actual ride which is not good. Eagle has a great first drop though and has several moments that make up for it. I enjoy the faster pacing of this coaster than some of the other wing coasters.

Tennessee Tornado (7.5/10) - I want to rate it higher, but the ride is just not long enough. I enjoyed this state of the art arrow looper (especially the beginning sequences) but it honestly seems like half of a roller coaster. It is insanely smooth for this design of ride. The attendants were also great and enthusiastic which was a nice boost.

Blazing Fury - I'm not even going to rate it because I have no clue what to put it as. I enjoyed the in-house coaster and really enjoyed how cheezy it was. It was great fun.

Mystery Mine (4.5/10) - Ugh. What a horrible ride. One of the most uncomfortable attractions I have ever been on. The transitions were horrible, the effects were barely working, and I think I may still be feeling pain in my neck almost a week after riding. Wow this ride is just bad.

The flat rides were great and varied. We had a fun time hitting them up. I really believe that Dollywood is a show park. The coasters are not very good but they are really nice to watch. The staff is very very nice and helpful and it was a unique park that I'm glad I visited.

Day 2 - Holiday World

Second trip ever to Holiday World. It was an ACE free day so it was well worth it for ERT plus an elaborate backstage tour.

Raven (7.5/10) - I like the Raven, and it was running pretty well but it seemed a little slow with the cold weather. It seems to have gotten a bit rougher than my last rides in 2009. Another coaster that suffers from short track length in my book

Legend (5/10) - It seems to be consensus opinion that Legend is not running very well right now. It squeaked its way at an extremely slow pace throughout its entire course. It really wasn't rough, but it just wasn't really doing anything for me. I'm going to blame the cold weather, the non-filled trains, and the fact it was still early in the operating season.

Voyage (8.5/10) - Talk about not running slow. The Voyage was going pretty crazy and boy was it running a bit rough in spots (especially the pothole on the 2nd incline). Aside from a few notable rough points it was running pretty well but it almost seemed too intense and the little jackhammering was causing my chest to have discomfort which never happens to me on coasters (and definitely didn't happen when I rode back a few years ago). The best seat is still the front row of the back car. I would rate it a 9/10 there and an 8/10 or lower anywhere else.

Day 3 - Beech Bend Park

Kind of like the midwest's smaller Knoebels, we had a great time at Beech Bend with it's bizarre flat ride collection and all of our events that we had. The staff was fantastic.

Kentucky Rumbler (8/10) - What an awesome little GCI coaster. We rode several times with the best ride being a night ride in the back seat. It takes advantage of several small hills that give great airtime moments as well as the most station fly-bys of any coaster I've ever seen. This was one of the nicest surprise coasters on the trip and I am surprised I haven't heard more positive things about it.

We hit the other two smaller coasters and all the flat rides in the park too and even camped out in the park overnight.

Day 4- Kentucky Kingdom

Wow! The park was packed, so we only got two rides in. But it was awesome to be some of the first people in a park closed for so long. I think the general public will be amazed at what the park is now. It looks like it is in great hands.

Lightning Run (9/10) - We waited an hour and a half. The dispatch times were incredibly slow and EVERYONE is stapled on every train. But essentially this is the blend of El Toro and Steel Eel. It was incredible. There is trick track that threw our entire train off. There is ejector airtime everywhere. We got our ride in the backseat and the entire ride (while not very long) was just amazing. There is no dead spot on this ride. It's only negatives are the restraints, the slow loading, and the fact you want it to keep going but it's over in less than a minute.

Thunder Run (8/10) - Thunder Run is the ride that the Hurler clones wanted to be. It may not be the best wooden coaster, but it delivers solid airtime and runs very smooth. Kentucky Kingdom did a great job of bringing this coaster back to life. I believe the general public will be very very happy with this reborn coaster.

Day 4/5 Kings Island

Kings Island is one of my favorite parks and by far my favorite in the Cedar Fair chain for its great collection/variety of coasters. How were they running during my trip though?

Racer (7.5/10) - Racer has nice new painted trains on both sides with new lap bars as well. They looked awesome. The coaster was running pretty well with some airtime moments. The red side seemed to be running much, much slower than the blue side making the racing aspect seem awkward on this visit.

Adventure Express (6/10) - I love this arrow mine train still and it delivers an awesome night ride.

Banshee (8/10) - I had to ride several times on both days to formulate an opinion on this ride. I honestly don't think I really like it very much. It rattles way too much for a new coaster and the outside seats vibrate (but only on the left side of the train) and bounce similar to the wing rider coasters. This ride is definitely a front of the train coaster (which is weird to me because I usually ride inverted coasters in the back). The highlights are the great first drop and the heart-line roll at the end which is just awesome. The rest of the ride is honestly just forgettable and a bit more uncomfortable than you would think for a new coaster.

Diamondback (9.5/10)- Was running fantastic with abundant airtime and smoothness in both the front and back of the train despite the near 40 degree temperatures. This is my second favorite B&M hyper coaster and it continues to deliver great rides especially at night.

Beast (9.5/10) We power lapped the Beast for an hour and a half straight starting at 11pm and riding in the back car. The Beast may not be my best coaster but it is my most fun coaster to ride ( and I only ride at night). It was running nice and fast and out of control with new tracked sections running with incredible smoothness (but I actually prefer the out of control sections over the smooth ones).

Firehawk (6.5/10) - Was running terrible. I usually like flying dutchmans and this ride but it was really rough. It must of had an off day. Good thing we only waited 5 minutes.

Flight of Fear (7/10) Rode two times in an hour in almost the same seat. Had one terrible ride and one great one. The coaster seems to be getting more rough and those brakes are getting more vicious by the year. The complete stop is really unnecessary. But the launch seemed much more powerful on this trip than it had in the past.

Vortex (7/10) - Vortex is my third favorite coaster in the park but it was having an off day on my visit. Rode in my favorite seat (front seat of the back car) and it was way rougher and had way more headbanging than usual. Plus the first drop didn't have that signature floating time that it usually does. Hopefully on my next trip it is a bit better.

Bat (8/10) We power lapped the bat to end the entire trip. 1 hour straight of riding at night. Who knew how awesome of a night ride this coaster gives. It seems to be running even better now since the re-theme. The ride and especially the trains look fabulous. This is honestly one of the most under-rated coasters out there. We had such a wonderful time laughing and riding it in the dark. We skipped over Banshee ERT to keep riding (what does that tell you?)

Well that was my insanely long trip report. We had a great time in the parks. By the end I was just done with parks and got to make my trip back to go back to working at Universal and SeaWorld. Hopefully I get to join another ACE event again. I didn't even mention all the cool events, free food, free items, and bonding experiences that we went through that made the trip so memorable. But I just can't keep typing anymore... I just wonder if anybody else agrees with my ride evaluations.

LostKause's avatar

Kings Island

It's funny how a re-theme made my opinion of The Bat go from great to amazing. I agree that it is a highly underrated ride.

I rode Banshee during the media event and again on opening day, and I thought it was incredible. I hope it's quality is not suffering this early in it's lifespan.

Diamondback is one of my favorites too. A night ride on it rivals The Beast for fun.

Beast is sooo much fun. I can't ride it for an hour-and-a-half like you did though. Maybe three or so laps, and I am done. lol

You like Vortex? I liked it twenty years ago, but nowadays I am likely to just skip it altogether. It's still seems very popular though.

Firehawk? Oh yea, I forgot the park had a flying coaster. lol Not really. It scares the crap out of me every time I ride it. I ride it about every other visit to the park though. I. just. don't. feel. safe. lol

Adventure Express is beginning to show it's age. I used to say it was one of my favorite coasters there, but lately I have not been so excited about it. The arrow tracking seems a lot less smooth than it used to be for some reason.

birdhombre's avatar

Hopefully Banshee was just having an off day... I rode in various rows, inside and outside seats, on media day and only one of them had a bit of that bounce you'd associate with wing riders. I'll be there again this weekend so it'll be good to compare.

Jeff's avatar

Given the design of the new train, I can't think of any reason why an outside seat would feel any different than an inside seat.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Bobbie1951's avatar

What a great trip and great report! I envy you. However, I'm surprised at some of your ride reviews. It's been nearly two years since I went to Dollywood and maybe Thunderhead is somewhat the worse for wear - I noticed that this year it didn't make the top ten in Mitch Hawker's wooden coaster poll - but I thought that it was A-One. I also enjoyed Mystery Mine, which I found to be very innovative and entertaining. A ride op had suggested that I keep my head back and don't move; I followed her advice and as a result the ride didn't seem inordinately rough. Tennesse Tornado is indeed short but much better than anticipated.

As to The Voyage, I never understood why it was ranked above El Toro until a couple of years ago. Apart from the fact that in my opinion Toro is a more aggressive thrill ride, it's also more user friendly than Voyage. I could and have ridden El Toro over and over without feeling any aftereffects, whereas 7 rides on The Voyage nearly did me in. I felt as if I needed a chiropractor.

I guess I picked a bad day to go to Kings Island because this trip turned out to be a disaster. The ride lines were so long that after spending the money to fly to Ohio, I got in only two rides - one on Diamondback and one on The Beast. In hindsight I realize that I should have forked over more money to get Fast Lane in order to justify the trip.


Raven-Phile's avatar

The ride lines were so long that after spending the money to fly to Ohio, I got in only two rides....

Seems to me you don't have the best of luck when it comes to flying to places for coaster rides.

Did you get that ticket refunded too?

LostKause's avatar

It sounds a little far-fetched, but if I traveled that far to a park and only got in a few rides, I'd be pretty disappointed. Come to think of it, Kings Island opening day this year only got me a few rides because of the crowds. The Banshee media event the day before more than made up for it though.

Jimmy Boy's avatar

Banshee's trains are so much wider than traditional inverted coaster trains. The outside seats run on the outsides of track and have substantially more bounce to them. I rode many times in many seats over the 2 day period. The further you move back down the train (specifically on the purple train) you could feel a lot of bouncing on those outside seats and hear a lot of wheel screeching. Everyone we rode with noticed the same thing. I'm just a fan of more compact trains I guess.

Tekwardo's avatar

Barring something totally unforeseen, I don't understand how any enthusiast doesn't understand when to go to a park without it being packed.

Outside of Coastermania (and even at that I took a two hour nap in the car), I haven't been to a park on a day with over an hour wait on the rides in years.

Granted, on a couple of occasions I've gotten line skippers or queue management, but that's rare.

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LostKause's avatar

It has happened to me a few times. I went to Great Adventure on an April Thursday in 2006, if I recall correctly. School was still in for PA and NJ. The crowd was one of the biggest I have ever seen. Where did all the people come from?

Cedar Point last October... I didn't expect a crowd like that on a Friday Halloweekend night, but there it was. I recall when I worked there years ago that Fridays were slow, so that's what I expected. I rode two coasters and went through about half the haunts. I still had a good time though, and it didn't cost me much extra because I had my season pass. My Mom went with me, and she got lucky and somehow got a ticket for $20, so at least it was cheap entertainment.

Now Kennywood a few years back was iffy. I visited on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I hear that sometimes parks are not busy on holidays because people are doing other things. I didn't really know what to expect. We still had a blast, because Kennywood.

Opening day at Kings Island. I have been opening day at that park a few times. They were Saturdays, and the park was busy but bearable. I did not anticipate how excited the world was to ride Banshee. That was the busiest I have ever seen anything, ever.

But other than those snafus, I am pretty good about visiting parks during slower days. My work schedule is not m-f, 9-5, so I have the ability to get to parks on weekdays.

Great Adventure will be graced with my presence in a few weeks. I am going on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, depending on the weather and when I feel like going while on vacation at the beach. I don't expect it to be busy, but just in case, I'll have an extra few hundred bucks in my pocket to bribe the park into letting me cut in front of everyone else if necessary. ;)

Last edited by LostKause,
Tommytheduck's avatar

You'll find me and my son at CP every Friday night in September and October, WX permitting. It's the best time to go.

I'm sure the locals know the trick any other day. Check the Top Thrill Dragster webcam around noon. Look at the parking lot in the background, and make your decision accordingly.

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