The Quest for the Ultimate Rush - Vegas Style (Part 1) (2/5/04)

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Sunday, February 15, 2004 9:23 PM
The Quest for the Ultimate Rush –Part 1


“Is it, like, negative out?”


Las Vegas.

You either love it or hate it. I love it. That’s kind of a strange comment coming from someone that doesn’t gamble, doesn’t drink, or doesn’t care much for elaborate shows, but you have to look at it from the eyes of a seasonal depraved enthusiast to understand my point of view. Yes, we all know the Vegas area has some kick butt coasters, but there is more to Vegas than riding coasters. A lot more.

I guess I should start this trip report out with a reason on why I wanted to go back to Las Vegas. I mean, I was just there last August for a week. Why would I want to go back so soon? In the last few years, I have tried to go to the Vegas area at least a couple times a year. The coasters are always fun to ride but there is some strange force known as “The West” that keeps me coming back. I am drawn to it. The clear skies. The massive mountains. The seclusion that is just a step away from the neon filled strip.

Ask almost anyone that knows me well from the Los Angeles or Las Vegas area and they will tell you that one of the first things I comment on when I arrive in a town out west is the beautiful mountains. Since we don’t have anything like that here in Ohio, it makes them that more special when I get the chance to stare at them when I am out that way.


---Flashback to January 30th---

I had already booked my flight. I wanted to go out to Las Vegas to escape the nasty weather we were having in Ohio at the time. This trip to Vegas was to be a bit different than usual. I didn’t have any set plan other than one thing. I will elaborate more on that thing in a later part of this trip report. All I wanted to do on this trip was to relax, ride a few rides, have a good time, possibly take a drive to L.A. to hang out with some friends and ride a few more things. I was up for anything at any time.

The weather in Ohio became pretty darned nasty around the last weeks of January. Normally I don’t have a problem with the weather but when a nasty snow storm prevented me from reaching the Nationwide Arena to see Linkin Park, I wasn’t exactly happy. I mean, I was halfway there when the roads became too nasty to deal with. Heck, I even went off the road.

A week or so later, one of my friend’s bands was playing in town. This was the first time I have seen them in seven years. Considering I was still upset with not seeing Linkin Park, there was no chance I was going to miss another concert. The weather wasn’t to be messy on the 30th, but rather very, very cold. I ended up going to the concert then hanging outside with my friend who plays guitar in the band for just a few minutes after the show. I would have loved to stay and chatted for a bit longer but the temperature was -6, and I wasn’t exactly dressed for it considering I wasn’t planning on staying outside very long. I said my goodbye and quickly hurried to my car to get warmed up.


The day after the show I went to work as normal. In the afternoon, my throat started hurting. By the evening, I had a fever. The next day I was pretty sick, but I went to work as normal. The next day I had to call in as it felt as if I had the flu. There is no doubt in my mind that standing outside in that cold weather played a part in me being sick. I was just hoping I would feel better by the time I was to leave for Las Vegas on the 5th.


Well guess what?

I wasn’t in the best shape. I didn’t feel like going to Las Vegas but I know that I would feel better once I got there. Needless to say, the flight to Vegas was not an enjoyable one for me. People have told me for years that flying with a cold can be a bad thing, and they were right. I just kept on thinking about how much fun this trip would be and that helped me get through my first flight of the year.

Once I arrived in Las Vegas, I met up with my good friend Barry Short who would be joining me on this trip. Barry hadn’t been to Las Vegas in a few years so there were some new things for him to check out. Just a couple of days before the trip started, we decided to spend the first couple of days in Vegas, then drive to L.A. for the weekend, then back to Vegas on Sunday. That way, we would avoid the weekend crowds in Vegas. We also decided to split our stay with two different hotels on each end of the strip. I did this last August as well.

We knew we were in for a strange trip right from the start when as we were checking out of the rental car place, a man and woman walked up to the passenger window and knocked. Barry rolled down the window. The couple couldn’t speak English very well but they kept on mentioning something about “The strip.” At first, I thought they were just trying to give us directions but after trying to listen to them for a few more seconds, I could tell they were asking us if we wouldn’t mind if they hopped into our car so we could take them to the strip.

Umm. Yea. Right. Sorry.

We ended up telling them we were picking others up on the way to the strip and wouldn’t have any room. I am not sure they entirely understood but they backed up and left us alone, even if what I said wasn’t exactly true.

For the first night, Barry and I stayed at the Stratosphere. Instead of taking the side roads to our hotel, we decided to drive right down the strip. In no time, we were at out our hotel checking in. Our room faced downtown Vegas. The first thing we wanted to do was throw our luggage in our room then go directly up to the top of the tower and ride. However, the high winds in the area prevented that. Both of us were kind of groggy from our flights so instead a nap was in store. I wasn’t feeling so great to begin with so I had no problem catching up on my sleep.

In a couple of hours, I woke up and hoped the winds had died down enough for the rides to start back up. Barry hadn’t been on Big Shot yet so it was sort of a mission to get him up there to ride it. Plus, there was a brand new ride that both of us wanted to try out, as scary as it looked.

We soon purchased our all-day wristbands, and headed up to the top of the tower. I noticed they are loading the elevators a bit different now. Instead of boarding on the ground floor, you take escalators up to a second floor where you board. Once at the top, we caught our first glimpse of just how insane the new X-Scream ride is. From inside, it looks, well, just sick. I had no idea the ride stuck out THAT far. Sure, I would give it a ride but I have to admit, it looked creepy.

First off. Big Shot. In August, I spent three hours on top of the tower and ended up getting 30 rides back to back. It’s a very reridable ride but at the same time, it gets me every time. It would be neat to see Barry’s reaction. I do believe a night ride is a bit scarier but I was sure our ride was going to be insane considering we were the only people on the tower. Let’s just say Big Shot felt a lot like a Double Shot. We got two insane moments of airtime while looking at the incredible view. Barry liked his ride so much that we decided to go right back around and ride again.

Both of us have ridden High Roller so we passed on giving it a ride this time, plus, it was down for an hour anyway. We had another ride in store.

---X-Scream---

I will admit, I got butterflies as I was walking up to the ride. It looks so damn wrong. No one seemed to be riding it so Barry and I walked up to it as the ride operators were just hanging around waiting. This also afforded us the chance to ride the front row for our first ride. This is the way I was hoping it would happen.

The seats themselves reminded me a bit of Hypersonic XLC’s. They have high headrests and the lap bar also has a lower leg bar attached to it. We pulled down our restraints. The operators hooked in the side seat belts. The access floor lowered to our side.

..and then.

Without warning, we lifted up and were looking down at the end of the track. We zoomed down towards the end and hit the magnetic brakes. You see, even though you know you are going to stop, there is a moment where you really do feel like you aren’t going to stop and you are going to fall. The fins used to slow the train do retract so even if they fail, there is a stopper at the end of the track.

I couldn’t believe how open I felt at the end of that track. The front nose of the car has holes in it so you are basically forced to look down at the road, 900-feet below if you decide not to look off to the sides. I glanced down to the side and couldn’t believe the view. To the left, a large crowd of people were watching us. Even inside, this ride draws a crowd. Down below, I could clearly see tour buses pulling up as well as an IHOP.

The ride wasn’t nearly over. We were then lifted so we could coast back towards the loading station. Once we were near it, we were then sent back down for another heart stopping moment. As we were lifted again, the ride decides to throw a trick at you by dropping like 20 more feet or so. This was the steepest and lowest point of the ride. This was scary enough but there was still a surprise in store.

With one more lift, we coasted back, then the arm decides to switch back down and to the same steep position we were at when we dropped a few seconds ago. The result is you head back down faster and the whole stopping trick really gets you once again. You stay down there for what seems like forever until the arm brings you back up but decides to bounce like mad, giving you some scary airtime.

Both Barry and I said at the same time, “That’s so not cool.” Once the scary gag of giving you airtime 900-feet up is over, the arm raises so the train coasts back to the station. This is easily one of the scariest rides I have ever been on. I did love it but as Barry said, “It is one step away from being scary in a bad way.”

Of course, we rode it again and it still surprised the heck out of us. I ended up riding it a third time while Barry went to go fix his contact lens. After my last ride, I met up with Barry and we headed back down to our room. Barry had a ticket to go see a new show at New York New York so I gave him the keys to our dark blue Sonata and decided to take another nap.

My first day in Vegas was alright, but I know I could have done more. I just didn’t feel up to it. I decided to take some more cold medicine and crash out for the rest of the evening while watching an episode of C.S.I. I have never really given that show a chance but I did enjoy the episode I watched. Perhaps I should start watching or just pick up the DVD box sets?

I was just hoping I would feel better tomorrow as there was one thing I wanted to do, and it required me to be somewhat healthy. I was also to meet up with a couple of friends the next morning so they could join me in this adventure but all I wanted to do at the moment was to sleep. I needed it. Tomorrow was going to be a big day in more ways than one.

Next up…..

A second attempt and a visit to an empty castle?

Thanks for reading,

-Sean *** Edited 2/16/2004 2:37:09 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***

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Sunday, February 15, 2004 9:36 PM
*Claps*

You are crowned by me as the king of C-Buzz TR writers. Congrats!

X-Scream sounds insane. Actually, if I had the opportunity to ride it right now, I'd hesitate. Freaky.

---------------
I guess I'll be the first to say it: Great Trip Report!

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Sunday, February 15, 2004 9:37 PM
Yikes!

I didn't even get to edit the report with the pics before you responded.

Thanks dude!

-Sean

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Sunday, February 15, 2004 9:55 PM
Sean - We definately share the same opinions of the West coast! Everything out there just looks so incredible, even the shoulders on the freeway have foliage. I would totally move back to LA in a heartbeat if it weren't for the high cost of living.

That X-Scream thing looks way too much for me. Of course I'd ride it, but don't know how I'd fare. The stopping on the Sky Skater at IAAPA was abrupt enough, I can only image at 900 feet! Question though - what's so different about airtime at 900 feet versus 420 feet?

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Sunday, February 15, 2004 10:19 PM
I'm not big on gambling, but the drinking and the shows... good times. Granted, my body can't take drinking more than two or three times a year anymore, so I try to restrict it to Vegas, Hawaii and my own parties!

I still don't know if I could get on that thing up there. Oddly enough, Shot and Roller didn't bother me at all. It was standing in the observation deck and feeling it rumble from the rides above that made me nervous. Get me in that damn elevator!

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Monday, February 16, 2004 11:45 AM
Good to see you posting again, Sean! I also am not big on drinking, partying, clubs, staying up all night, etc. (though I do like to gamble)... but that's not what makes me love Vegas. The atmosphere is just unlike anywhere else. The environment is so insanely different, it's like being in a dream.
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Monday, February 16, 2004 12:04 PM
Matt,

The airtime feels way different. It's not really big air, just scary air. I didn't expect it. Just imagine being on the back of a bronco who is trying to throw you off on top of that tower.

Jeff,

I know plenty of others who feel the same way about the tower as you do. Once they spent a hour or so up there, they seemed to be alright, but once that coaster started moving around, they didn't seem like they were having fun.

Three years ago I was at the top waiting in line to go back down when we felt a very mild tremor. At first we didn't know what the heck was happening as it didn't feel anything like when the tower shakes due to the rides, but it was kind of scary. We didn't find out until we got back home from the trip that there was a small earthquake in California that could be felt in Vegas at the same exact time we were up there.

Dennis,

I am a night owl but I don't care much for the standard "night life". I like to walk down the strip at night as it looks amazing. I agree that it is very dream like.

-Sean

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Monday, February 16, 2004 12:59 PM
Great trip report Sean! I had fun reading it, especially since I was just there two weeks ago for Super Bowl Weekend.

Anyways, I love Vegas so much! I enjoy gambling, drinking, shows, clubs, coasters, and simply checking out the sights. I get way too excited when I go. I get that feeling as an adult that I got when I went to Disneyland as a kid! :)

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Monday, February 16, 2004 1:02 PM
Sean, you are definitely the TR king.

I could read paragraphs of you talking about test patterns on TV.

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Monday, February 16, 2004 2:00 PM
I think you've ruined X-Scream for me with all the scary details. It just sounds ridiculous. Did anyone catch the show Las Vegas last Monday? X-Scream sounds not so unlike what happened to Jean Claude Van Damme. I so can't wait to get to Vegas again. Thanks for giving me a little fix. :)
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Monday, February 16, 2004 2:08 PM
I have yet to ride Big Shot or High Roller specifically due to my extreme fear of heights. I'm just now getting better about riding Power Tower.

I remember having to stand back against the wall when on the observation deck, feeling dizzy, and it took a good 30 minutes before I was able to walk around (Gordon and Ian rode Big shot during that time).

I know when we go back, I'm going to be lured into riding Big Shot, and possibly High Roller, but after that description, I can't imagine getting on X-scream without pissing my pants.

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Monday, February 16, 2004 2:14 PM
This confirms it -- I HAVE to get back to Vegas to ride X-Scream. My sister rode and loved it, as well.
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Monday, February 16, 2004 4:26 PM
Great TR - can't wait for the next part.
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Monday, February 16, 2004 5:15 PM
Note to self - do not let hubby read Sean's awesome TR and description of X-Scream. I think I finally got him talked into riding it with me on our trip next month and if he reads this, I fear I'll be riding alone, LOL.

This will be our first trip to Vegas and we're not gamblers either but I'm sure we'll find plenty to keep us busy.

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Monday, February 16, 2004 5:33 PM
A benefit not yet mentioned about Vegas lies in its culinary delights. As casinos compete against one another for your tourist dollars, one way they lure folks in is with food.
You can range from a halfway decent $5 steak dinner at some of the places downtown, to some seriously fine cuisine at the newer mega-hotels on the strip. Best of all, compared to your average city's fare, the overall price is quite a bit lower without sacrificing in quality.

Another one of my favorite past-times in Vegas is simply people watching. Where else are you going to see a shriveled old Japanese guy walking around with a 6'0" tall blonde bombshell in a spray-painted-on leather dress hanging off each arm?

Later,
EV

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Monday, February 16, 2004 6:11 PM
EV- really? Maybe I'm just going to the wrong places, but all of the "nice" meals I've eaten in Vegas have been overpriced and nowhere near the best I've had.
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Monday, February 16, 2004 6:29 PM
Great trip report Sean! I glad that the shot of the view you included from X-Scream included the IHOP that sits below. It reminded me how my wife and I joked while we sat in the front that if we were to somehow fall, we could always "drop" in for pancakes. X-Scream is defnitely a front seat ride. We rode it in the back first and it wasn't very thrilling but had a much inproved ride in the front.
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Monday, February 16, 2004 10:09 PM

Pale Rider said:
my wife and I joked while we sat in the front that if we were to somehow fall, we could always "drop" in for pancakes.

Pancakes. Heheheheh. ;)

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004 12:01 PM
Thanks everyone for checking these out.

Koppman,

I get excited every time I go to Vegas as well. To me, it's like get excited every time I see Cedar Point's skyline from the causeway. I have been going to CP since I was 5 and and that view never ceases to impress me. The same with Las Vegas.

Homey,

You may have to wait a while because I don't have any future plans to talk about television test patterns, although that would be interesting. =:^)

Dawnmarie,

Sorry, I didn't mean to ruin it for you. I haven't seen a full episode of Las Vegas yet so I am not familar with that you are talking about.

CPlady,

Bring a set of Depends. It sounds like you will need them.

Greg,

Yes, you would love it. You need to check it out.

jpb,

The next two parts are posted as or now. Thanks.

Loriu,

Just don't give your husband any time to think about it. Just get him up there quick and get on it. That's what we did. If Barry would have had to wait by watching it run over and over, I am not sure he would have ridden it. We basically didn't even look at it until we walked up to ride it. The pics I took of it in operation were from the second time I went up later in the week.

EV,

To be honest, I didn't eat much when I was in Vegas. I think I went to a couple of pizza places and a Subway but I didn't exactly go out and look for cheap food. I do know places like that exsist though as I have eaten at them before. Oh, and you are right about the freaky types of folks that are walking around. You can see it all in Vegas. One thing that surprised me was the constant advertising we saw of Siegfried and Roy still being at the Palace. What's up with that?

Pale Rider,

Actually, the shot of the view you mentioned is from the inside observation level. The ride crew on X-Scream are very strict about taking any loose articles with you while riding, and with good reason. I decided to try and stand under the ride while inside to try and snap a shot of what it looks like while riding (if you look close, you can see the edge of the window frame). I also commented on the IHOP while riding. I have eaten there before and laughed for some reason when I saw the large IHOP letters down below.

-Sean

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004 12:12 PM

EchoVictor said:

You can range from a halfway decent $5 steak dinner at some of the places downtown...compared to your average city's fare, the overall price is quite a bit lower without sacrificing in quality.

Den: This may be easier to understand when you recall EV is from Wisconsin. :-P

-'Playa

(who couldn't resist) *** Edited 2/17/2004 5:13:31 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

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