The Trip of a Lifetime (CWoA & London) (7/12/02)

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002 8:04 PM

===This trip report is very long. Please be warned.===

Part 2

“Waiting for the front seats is prohibited due to headbanging?”………….

Away we went. The train system in London is vast superiour to anything I have seen in the US. It is very easy to get around using the train, and cheap as well. We took the “Tube” to a couple of stops and proceeded to the Chessington station. We had a nice mile long walk before we reached our true destination. Along the walk we took in all the sights that we are not used to seeing like, cars driving on the other side of the road, houses that were very old with very small front yards, strange zig-sag markings in the roads used for shoulder markings (at least I think so). The walk didn’t seem to last very long due to the fact that we were acting like children in a candy store pointing out various sights.

----Chessington World of Adventures----

Upon walking up to the front gate, we see a sign that we were dreading we would ever see. A sign explaining that due to the heavy volume of school children in the park, the park would be extremely crowded. The strange thing is the entire front gate plaza was almost void of anyone. Once we purchased our ticked and walked inside, we still didn’t see many people. At first we thought the word crowded meant a different meaning in England because it sure didn’t fit out definition considering we didn’t see many people walking around. We decided to head to the back of the park after looking at a park map.


So THIS is where everyone was? True to the sign, this are of the park was packed with young kids who all looked to be having a great time. We wanted to ride the Vampire coaster first, but we walked up to a ride that Justin Garvanovic told me usually doesn’t accept adults. That ride being Professor (something or other) Bubbleworks. As luck would have it, they were indeed letting adults ride this water/dark ride. We immediately walked inside to find a 20 minute line. We couldn’t help but noticed that most everyone that was exiting the ride was soaked. The inside quene gives you a great look at the loading station. Every small circular boat was wet as were the people getting out of them. At first, a few of us decided that perhaps this wasn’t the smartest choice for a first ride, but we all decided to give it a try.

The ride was very unusual. Three to four people could fit in a boat. We split up into 2 groups. The journey takes riders past scenes demonstrating a very cartoonish way of making gas, ‘ pop’, and various other things that are associated wih ‘gas’. At one point we passed a scene where orange pop is supposed to be made. The strong orange scent filled our precence and we all let out a,” Cool!” Later in the ride, we went up a small lift followed by a small drop. We originally thought this is where everyone was getting wet, but that was not the case with us. We went down the drop and got a bit misted, but not soaked. The next room featured a pass under a long fountain tunnel. It was really cool looking with strobes and different lighting. It appeared that this is where everyone was getting wet. We saw several “locals” reaching up and slapping the water tunnel and drenching everyone in their boat. We decided not to do this and enjoyed the rest of the ride. After our ride we headed on to the major coaster in the park.


This was the main reason we came to Chessington. I have always wanted to ride this coaster since I saw footage of it back in 1996. Face it, there aren’t that many Arrow suspendeds out there and I enjoy riding every one of them. To enhance the ride on Vampire, the park decided to install new ‘floorless’ suspended coaches. Seeing one of them in person is strange. They look just like inverted trains found on coasters like Reptar at PKI, but they swing out as much as the current Arrow suspended trains do on similar coasters. Vekoma supplied the trains for the ‘new’ Vampire.

The only thing that was preventing us from riding was a 90 minute wait. We had a few hours left in the park and decided to wait it out. The wait went pretty quick due to the nature of the ride swooping overhead, and all of us talking about various things, but never losing the topic of being in England. Ninety minutes later, we found ourselves in the very dark loading station. Once board the new trains, we all commented on how different they felt. Actually, they do feel a lot like Reptar trains, but that was about to change.

I couldn’t begin to describe the actual layout of the coaster other than it having a lot of swoops, two lifts, and a tunnel. The actual ride looked a lot tamer from the ground but I was impressed with some of the surprises it gave. Swooping over the front entrance area was neat as was the curve into the tunnle, but watch out for that odd pothole-like section of track before the tunnel. Swining out without a floor beneath you is a very neat feeling. It does feel different than an inverted. According to a employee we talked with in line, the front seats are not being loaded due to excessive headbanging when the trains hit the stabilizer to line them up for the 2nd lift and station. Sure enough, non one was sitting in the front and there was a sign out front stating that the front seats were closed. The employee also said he was going to go to Islands of Adventure soon and wanted to know what our favorite coasters were.

Once we left the ride, we walked around and looked for other rides. We didn’t have a lot of time considering we were supposed to meet others in London soon. We soon found another coaster.

=== The Rattlesnake== (#404)

The wait for this was about 20 minutes and included a walk through a very heavily themed Western mine area. The quene was quite dirty with trash left from earlier in the day but we didn’t’ seem to notice all that much because we were too busy looknig at this incredible looking mouse. This Mack mouse had probably the fastest lift on any mouse I have seen before. Think you have ridden a Mack mouse? Think again. This verison is a mirror image of those found in the US like at BGW and Hershey. Its layout dives through old shacks and includes many surprises. We were surprised at the lack of braking and ultra-peppy ride.

We then walked around the area and found a VERY wet Top Spin, but didn’t ride because riders were getting very soaked. I have seen pictures of this before and wanted to ride it, but it was too wet for us at the time. If we stayed later, I would have probably given it a ride. We also ran into ACE member Ric Turner and friend. Ric was riding the powrered coaster Calamity Mine. Actually, this ride appeared to have two names but I will refer to the one I just listed. The powered course once again took us through a heavily themed area including a mine and a few caves. This is where we got our first taste of a non-US ride as some of the clearnaces would never be allowed in the US. Joe demonstrated this by gently reaching his hand to the side and touching a large tree. He wasn’t trying hard to touch it either. It was just so close. Even the clearnces to the caves were very close and could easily be touched without trying hard if desired.

We still had a few things to check out in the park before leaving so we made our way to an area of the park that could be be descrived as IOA’s Toon Lagoon in Europe. I am not sure which area was made first between IOA and Chessington, but this area in Chessington looked very close to IOA’s area. Everything from the cartoonish music, to the very colorful comic book looks. We passed through this area trying to find a Mondial Top Scan we saw earlier. This was a big mistake because we walked for what seemed like forever, passing all kinds of rides we wouldn’t get to ride. When we finally found the Top Scan, we got in the single riders line and waited for our turn to ride.

I had never seen one of these rides in motion so I did what I sometimes do when approaching a new ride. I didn’t look at it. Even when we were in line I didn’t look up. All I could hear were load screams drowning out a strange motor sound. When it was my time to ride, I took my seat and prepared for the unknown. I found out later that the end seats are the best, but I sat in the far left seat, which was still very good. The ride flipped us all over the place and did so rather smoothly. I was impressed with my first ride on a Top Scan.

By this time we had to leave so we quickly made our way out of the park, and back to the train station where we were to take the train back to downtown London. As we were waiting in the quite Chessington train station, we heard the following quote off in the distance.

“What the F___?”

We look back and see Alan Conceico walking up to us from the other side of the station. I first met Alan at the ACE Spring Con at SFGADv in 2000, but I never really got the time to hang out with him much. This was all about the change. Our trains soon showed up and we boarded. Who else boards but the Reagan Family as well as Justin Garvanovic. We had a nice group of friends on the train now and the journey seemed rather short due to all the conversation we had. The Reagan Family had enough for one day so they decided to go back to their hotel. The rest of us still wanted to go see the 444 ft. tall London Eye Ferris Wheel. Justin offered his assistance in taking us around London by foot.

With his help, we were in downtown in what seemed like 2 minutes. As soon as we popped up from the Tube station, we were greated by a street performer playing the bagpipes across the street. This was a nice touch and actually enhanced our first view of downtown. We walked by many different things including a very large movie house that sometimes premiers big name movies. As we continued to walk, Justin asked if we would be intrested in riding the indoor Giant Drop inside The Pepsi Trocadero entertainment complex.

I had totally forgotten about this ride being in London. Ever since I read about it in First Drop in 1998, I wanted to ride it but dismissed it as one of those things I will never get to do. We walk into the mall-type area and see the loading station for the 125-foot tall drop ride. First thing I notice is the double deck loading of this ride. One row of 4 seats sits above another 4 rows. Why Intamin haven’t used to to increase capacity on their standard towers is a mystery. I believe the cost for a ride was 4 pounds. After we paid, we took our seats and prepared for a truly unique experience.

Since this ride essintially takes you up into the ceiling, a metal leg shield and side arm shield had to be installed so people couldn’t reach out and touch the surrounding edges. Yep, it’s that close. While going up, you really don’t get a reference to how far up you go because there are walls and escalators in front of you. Once at the top though, you are facing a set of escalators while preparing to drop. I remember seeing someone walking in place on the escalator to watch us drop, and drop we did. Since we had no reference, the drop seemed MUCH longer than it looked. Walls and edges that were mere inches away zoomed by in a blur as we plummeted. The braking was very smooth yet sudden as with most Giant Drops. That is what I call a RUSH!!!

Justin then took us around to various areas including a large square where he made fun of a kid feeding the “Flying rats.” Feeling a bit adventourous, we then did a stint of dangerous jay-walking that resulted in most of us running for our lives. (Damn those motorcycles) We walked by a couple of really intresting areas inclucing the famous Downing Street, as well as Big Ben. Seeing Big Ben close up was something I thought I would never see. We also were surprised to learn that Big Ben isn’t the tower, but rather the bells inside. Why I didn’t know that, I don’t know but I am glad I know it now.

We then crossed the main river that runs through London and made our way over to the HUGE London Eye. Originally we were to meet others at 6:00pm at this attraction but we were a half hour late. We quickly purchased our tickets and took our places on the largest ferris wheel I have seen. We ended up having about 10 people in our pod. The ride is so slow that it takes 25 minutes to complete one revolution. I don’t think any of us were complaning about the speed because we were so blown away by seeing London 444 ft. up in the sky. The Eye provides a very nice view of downtown, including Buckingham Pallace in the distance. As we were at the top of the wheel, Joe freaked himself out (I will leave that up to Joe to explain) as well as everyone else.

Once we were nearing the end of our ride, Justin explained that once a pod is emptied, two employees walk inside the pod and look for bombs with the aid of small mirrors on sticks. Sure enough, we got to witness two employees doing this by looking under the bench in the center of a pod, then looking in hard to see areas of the ceiling of the pod. Quite impressive I might add. By the time we were off the wheel, we decided to go get something to eat.

So what would be our first International meal?

What really says London?

I mean, what type of food really will set the mood for what to expect?

How about.......McDonalds????

Yep, we were so hungry that we ended up eating our first International Meal at Micky D’s. I don’t know if that should be a sin or not but we were happy with it considering we were so hungry. After our meal, Justin took us back on the train and took us down to a new station that had a very “B&M’ish look” as Justin said. Sure enough, the station and the entire way down was impressive to look at with its large silver steel colums and supports. By this time, everyone was getting a bit tired so Justin showed us to our correct train, and we parted ways with him after saying many thanks for the wonderful tour he gave us.

Seeing London the way we did was great. I am so glad we had someone walking us around that could show us so many cool things. Thanks Jusitn! You were the perfect guide for us.

Once we reached our Hammersmith exit, we walked up the stairs to the street and noticed a theater nearby. Alan came to the realization that the band Motorhead released a live album that was recorded in Hammersmith, and the theater we were looking at could very well be the same theather where the concert took place. While I was never the largest fan of Motorhead, Alan and I do share a very similar taste for music and we had many discussions about it. Once we arrived back at our hotel, I noticed our coaches sitting out in front of the hotel. Not only did they have the ECO logo in the windsheilds, but I had previously seen our coach thanks to a certain someone named Nigel.

So who is this Nigel?

Read the next part in this series and find out. =:^)

Once I reached my room, my mother and I watched a bit of TV and were getting a kick out of MTV’s The Osbournes. In the UK, the show runs totally uncensored so it was cool seeing it in a different way, without all that annoying beeping. We also watched a bit of a late night talk show and it ran uncensored also complete with some rather colorful comments from actress Sandra Bernhardt. Ahhh, you gotta love raw TV. =:^)

Next up…… The official start of the tour and Thorpe Park!!

Thanks for reading,


*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/12/2002. ***

Wednesday, September 11, 2002 8:44 PM

Ok, see, Sean makes Chessington sound like something I wish I hasn't missed. Other tour members who hit it weren't as impressed.

The London Eye is really damn impressive.

Sean, did you eat at the McDonand's right by the Eye? If so, you guys were a mere escalator ride away from some of the best bumper cars in the world. Sue, care to comment? :)

"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

Thursday, September 12, 2002 3:53 AM
That's got to be a great view from the top. How many pounds does it cost for the London Eye?


Thursday, September 12, 2002 5:06 AM

The eye costs £10.50 for adults. Yes, the view is spectacular.

"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

Thursday, September 12, 2002 5:41 AM
Greg, but now there is a reason to go back!

When I was in London, I stumbled upon the Pepsi Drop. Unfortunately it was closed. :(

Thursday, September 12, 2002 6:43 AM

Keep em coming Sean!

I feel like I am reliving my trip all over again, except for the fact that I didnt get to go to Chessington with any of you! Maybe that is because I didnt know any of you yet! But that didnt last too long... Starting tomorrow Im sure everything will be crystal clear once again. But, I think its time to post the Europa Park TR!HeeeHeee!

P.S. --You forgot to put #405 next to the powered coaster ; )

*** This post was edited by baclueless on 9/12/2002. ***

*** This post was edited by baclueless on 9/12/2002. ***

Thursday, September 12, 2002 7:11 PM

GregLeg said:

Ok, see, Sean makes Chessington sound like something I wish I hasn't missed. Other tour members who hit it weren't as impressed.

I think I was impressed because I had heard it wasn't all that great. I really enjoyed it despite the crowds.

Sean, did you eat at the McDonand's right by the Eye? If so, you guys were a mere escalator ride away from some of the best bumper cars in the world. Sue, care to comment?

Yep, that was the one. I can't believe we missed those. Oh well, maybe next time.


Thursday, September 12, 2002 7:14 PM

baclueless said:

Keep em coming Sean!

Is this the famous MATT? The one that was on tour with Blink 182? Can I have your autograph? =:^)

I feel like I am reliving my trip all over again, except for the fact that I didnt get to go to Chessington with any of you! Maybe that is because I didnt know any of you yet! But that didnt last too long...

It still amazes me that you didn't know anyone at the start of the tour. By the end, you knew everyone and it seemed like it had been that way for years. Funny how trips like that do that huh?

Starting tomorrow Im sure everything will be crystal clear once again. But, I think its time to post the Europa Park TR!HeeeHeee!

Ha! How about in like 15 days or so. LOL.

P.S. --You forgot to put #405 next to the powered coaster ; )

Oh, ok Mr. Voltage!

-Sean (who didn't count the monorail at Alton either)

Friday, September 13, 2002 9:39 AM
CPLady's avatar

That's weird...looking at GregLeg's pictures, a friend of mine who spent 18 months in London shared some pictures from an on-line friend. Both of you have pictures of black ravens (blackbirds?). Are those a tourist attraction? Or is that just coincidence.

I still wish I'd been able to make the trip to London when my friend was there so I could have visited all the coaster parks.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Friday, September 13, 2002 10:25 AM
The Ravens are an attraction at the Tower of London -- they have names, and keepers.

"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
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