The Trip Of a Lifetime (DL&Rotunda)(7/20/02)

Associated parks:
None

Thursday, September 19, 2002 7:49 PM
Part 10- Dreamland, Rotunda, & The 4 Country Journey and European Fair.

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First off, you may have noticed a change in the date. I somehow managed to screw the dates up so this report is actually for the 20th of July and not the 21st. Don’t worry though, the order of the reports is the same, the dates were the only thing wrong with a few of the last reports. Thanks to Donna Harrison for pointing this out to me.
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“I can’t feel my feet!!”………..


Hell Day was here.


Today was the most important day of the tour so far. We had a LOT of ground to cover in a very short amount of time. There were a lot of people that didn’t think we could pull this day off. I will admit, I expected problems, but I realized that if everyone did what they were supposed to do, then we would get through this day fairly easy. We had another early morning departure time so I got up at 5:45am. After showering, I packed my luggage and met a few others down in the breakfast area for a quick bite to eat.

I hauled my luggage outside and helped Nigel load some of it but Don Tuttle seemed to do most of the work with a few others. Each and every day, Don would be out there early to help Nigel load up. Nigel needed it considering we had a lot of luggage. We were instructed to pack light before the tour but it was obvious that a few people didn’t listen to that request.

By the time 7:00am rolled around, we were all on the coach and ready to leave. I was proud of my coach mates. They hadn’t let me down yet and were always on time. We let the Moat House (and the smiling old ghost) for one of the longest journeys on the tour. Our drive time would be around 5 hours this morning. This is both good and bad. While it was quite a long distance, we were able to stop at a travel plaza to stock up on snacks among other things. However, we would temporarily lose Nigel as regulations dictated all of our coach drivers would need 4 hours off in order to make it through the long day ahead.

At the travel plaza, we welcomed Mike, our new driver. While Mike wasn’t as talkative as Nigel, he did say a few amusing things. I am sure in the short amount of time we spent with him, he still probably thought we were insane for doing this tour in the way we did, but he knows it was all good. We reached our first park a little behind schedule. Today, everything needed to go perfect or it could affect us in many different ways.

We pulled into Dreamland at about 12:15pm. This small park near the beach had an impressive skyline with its relocated Schwarzkopf looping coaster. Once each coach arrived, we all walked to the front gate to receive our wristbands. The cool thing about the wristbands was we could use them at the next park also. This would play a huge factor for us because we had so little time in these parks. How little you ask?

Things changed a bit right before the tour started. As it turns out, due to our crossing over to the mainland, we would only have 1 hour (!) at Dreamland. The park had 4 coasters, but, you have to remember this was a Saturday. Lucky for us though, it didn’t look to be crowded. The park appeared to be very tiny but looks can be deceiving. As people got their wristbands, they rushed for the 4 coasters. Once I got mine, I decided to ride the looping coaster first.

===Looping Star===(#446)

This coaster was relocated from Camelot Park this year. We passed the park earlier in the tour but wasn’t able to stop to visit it. It looked identical to Busch Gardens Tampa’s Scorpion coaster. Sure enough, it rode the same way also. Nothing like a high g ride to start your adrenaline flowing. I looked down at my watch and realized I would have to move fast if I wanted to ride the next 3 coasters.

===Blue Coaster===(#447)

This was an odd one. First off, the coaster had orange rails. I would think it would be called Orange Coaster, but the train was blue so that is where the name came from. I found out later this was an L&T design. I hadn’t quite seen anything like it before. While it looks like a kiddie coaster, I hadn’t seen a kiddie coaster of this design. The layout pretty much consisted of a helix, but with small hills thrown in including one that gave a nice pop of air at the end. Two more coasters to go.

===Scenic Railway===(#448)

My first Scenic Railway. This had the longest wait at around 10 minutes. The coaster looked very mild from outside the parking lot, but I found it to be quite thrilling. Perhaps the brakeman (yes, a real brakeman) who was on the train knew we liked our rides wild and gave us a faster ride? The ride was much longer than I expected. With two lifts and some nice, fun drops, this was a big surprise. I would have ridden it again if I wasn’t so pressed for time. One left.

===Wild Mouse===(#449)

This is a mouse very similar to that found at Flamingoland. It was at this time that now only did I realize I was going to achieve my goal of all 4 coasters, but I had a bit of sadness come over me. More on that in a second. This coaster provided a nice ride with light braking and a few sharp drops. I enjoyed this not only because the ride was good, but the fact that I could now leave knowing I reached my goal. Now, onto why I was getting sad.

You see, this was the last day of the tour for the White Coach. I knew a lot of people on that coach and it was going to be sad to see them go. Since they weren’t going to go over to the mainland, they were to spend extra time at Dreamland. While in line I talked with Greg Legowski, Sue Barry, Rich Yekel, and Stephen Fox. They were on the same flight over to London as I, and I knew I was going to miss seeing them on the tour. Greg did an awesome job putting together an ECO mail list that helped out a lot of people (myself included) will all kinds of tips. The best part was it got people closer together before the tour. Thanks Greg!

After my ride on the mouse, I said my goodbyes to the 4 that I really enjoyed hanging out with on the White Coach. I would have loved to say goodbye to others, but I didn’t see many other people as we were to leave. The four of us gave each other hugs and wished the best of what was to become an ongoing adventure me, and a safe trip back home for them. While they were also going to our second park of the day, they would be arriving the time we were to leave.

As I was walking back to the coaches at around 1:00pm, it hit me that the tour was essentially half way over. This was difficult to realize considering it seemed like we have been on the road for months. I had a feeling the second week was going to fly by, but I wasn’t worried about it. Even though we only spent one hour in Dreamland, it seemed longer due to what we accomplished.

At 1:00pm, we had a one hour drive to Kent. This drive was more than brilliant due to our pass through Dover. The white cliffs of Dover were hovering overhead as we went by a large port where we would be boarding our ferry later. What a sight to see. A few of us had to ask ourselves, once again, “Why are we riding coasters?” It was that mesmerizing.

We reached our next park at 2:00pm. It was here we met back up with Nigel who was more than happy to see us as we were to see him. Thanks to our double duty wristbands, we entered Rotunda with ease.

Rotunda was another small park near the water. They had three coasters but the kiddie coaster was down for the day. Ironically, it looked to be of the same exact design of the Blue Coaster we had just ridden at Dreamland. Two kiddie coasters with a design I had never seen before, located an hour away from each other. I made my way over to milestone coaster for me.

===Runaway Coaster===(#450)

This is a rare coaster. If I heard correctly, this is the only other side friction coaster in the world next to Leap the Dips at Lakemont Park. Because it was only running with one car, the wait was going to be long. Luckily I was on the 3rd dispatch out so I didn’t have to wait long. When I think of side friction coasters, I don’t think of them being very wild. This coaster was an exception. There were some pretty wicked drops on this thing that surprised the heck out of me. There was even a couple of moments if airtime. Kind of scary if you think about it considering there are no up stops on this coaster. I hadn’t known until after the tour it was #450 because I didn’t count something earlier in the tour. Now I know.

With that coaster ridden, we still had an hour to ride the one other working coaster in the park.

===Magic Mouse=== (#451)

This was the third Reverchon spinning mouse on the tour so far. Was I tired of seeing this design? No way. How can you get tired of riding a spinning coaster? While the ride operators would load all 6 cars at one time, they would only let one car be on the layout at one time. There was even a sign in the station that read, “Only one car on the track at all times.” This ended up making the wait well over an hour for some. Luckily, I got on in about 25 minutes. As with every version I have ridden, this was a fun ride. We didn’t get a lot of spinning, but we still had a blast.

As I exited the ride, I looked back at the long line and thought there was no way everyone was going to be able to ride considering we had to leave the park by 3:30pm. To this day, I am not sure if everyone got to ride it or not. I then spent some time walking around the park and getting a bite to eat. I looked in the large arcade for a Dancing Stage machine but didn’t find one. I decided to head out to the coach a bit early. Once I arrived, I talked with Nigel a bit. It seems even he was worried if we were going to be able to pull the rest of this day off. It was very crucial that we needed to leave this park by 3:30pm. We had to catch a 4:15pm ferry and if we didn’t make it, it would seriously screw us up.

At around 12:45pm, everyone else started to show up and quickly took their seats on the coaches. I did a quick head count and gave Tim Baldwin the thumbs up that we had everyone aboard. As we were waiting for a few late folks, we got to see the White Coach pull in. We watched as those folks walked into the park. As we were leaving the area, I saw Greg, Stephen, Rich, and Sue waving goodbye to us from the Magic Mouse line. That was the last I would see of them and it was quite a sad moment to say the least.

We headed back to Dover and once again were amazed by the look of the white cliffs. This would be one of the last sights we would see of England. Our line of coaches pulled into a dock area where we waited to board our ferry. Someone from customs went aboard every coach and asked to see our passports. Someone on the Pink Coach didn’t have their passport handy so they had to go outside and dig through their luggage to find it. It didn’t delay us at all, but it was a tense moment thinking that coach wouldn’t be allowed on the ferry.

At around 4:30pm, we drove onto the ferry. This boat was huge. There were around 20 other coaches or so that were on the ferry also. We were given meal tickets from Nigel for a meal on the ferry. Once we were parked, we were allowed to walk around freely. I wanted to be outside on the deck when we left England so a few of us tried to find the nearest exit. It took some searching but we were soon outside waiting for our departure across the English Channel. Originally we were to take a large hovercraft over, but it left much earlier so we had to take this ferry instead.

Once we left English soil, we started our 75 minute journey across the Channel. Watching the Cliffs of Dover going away was a sight to see, in fact, for the next 10 minutes I watched England going away. I was going to miss England. It actually felt like home for a while. Everyone we met was very nice and the country was very diverse. I knew there had to be a better view while on the ship so I went walking around to find the bridge. While inside, I noticed how cool this boat was. It was almost like a floating food court. There were many places to eat. There was even an arcade (with no Dancing Stage machine). Once I found the upper level, I went outside where I ran into many from the tour. I talked a bit with Dave Sandborg, Dooley Schwartz, and Tim Melago. Tim and Dave both joined me in a trip to the Niagara Falls area in 1999. For some reason, this moment on the ferry brought back those memories. I also talked with Chris Trotter and Mike Parker who seemed just as excited as I.

I walked over to the edge of the ship and met up with Matthew Bacoulis, Danielle Miller, and Jim Raimar. We all just watched as England faded off into the distance while seagulls hovered over our boat in search for food. Watching England fade away was one of those moments in my life where everything seemed to be perfect. I had to ask myself if I was actually in the English Channel, heading to France. I had to ask if I was actually on this tour or if I was dreaming this. I asked many questions because it didn’t seem real to me. It was if I was watching a movie. I could almost hear the soundtrack. If I had brought my MP3 off the bus, I would have probably been listening to some sort of surreal sound track to add to the moment, but that wasn’t needed. I was having the time of my life and sharing it with many cool people.

I went back inside and ran into my mother, Phyllis. We decided to go use our meal tickets but they were only good for one place, and that place had a very long line. We decided to go to a fast food place and see what they had there. Lucky for me, they had veggie burgers so I ended up getting one of those. I didn’t spend too much time eating because I wanted to go back outside and cherish this cool journey. While the actual distance was only 11 miles and 75 minutes away, I wish it was much longer. Moments like this don’t happen very often and when they do, you want them to last forever; I had a few moments like this on the tour already. Could I expect some more in the second week? I would hope so.

Once we reached the shore of France, everyone went back to their coaches and prepared to enter our third country. It didn’t take long before we were on the road heading to yet another country. While we were driving in France, Nigel explained to us that we were on the Autobahn. Now, for some reason, I had this vision of the Autobahn being an 8 lane road, maybe 30 miles long, where people could drive as fast as they wanted. The truth is the Autobahn means motorway. Most motorways in the mainland are called autobahns, so there really isn’t just one autobahn. There was a posted speed limit on the section we were driving but Nigel informed us that later in the trip, that limit would change.

We continued driving through France for an hour or so before we were close to our 4th country of the day, Belgium. As we were about 20 miles or so from the boarder, a large rainbow spanned the motorway as to welcome us. A few minutes later, another rainbow next to the first one appeared. Of course, where there is a rainbow in the sky, there is usually rain. The skies up ahead darkened quickly but the rainbows stood out brightly. As soon as we crossed into Belgium, it started to pour. This was essentially our first heavy rain of the entire trip. It lasted all the way until we reached our destination city, Brussels.

As we drove through the streets in Brussels, we passed a very cool looking fair complete with all kinds of rides. As luck would have it, our hotel was very near by. Once we arrived, we were welcomed by some of the people who were just joining the tour, like, Mike Thompson, Carole Sanderson, and Jonathan Hymes. It was great seeing some new faces. Some of us were very tired by this time, but some of us were ready to go out on the town.

I have always wanted to do a true European fair and someone suggested we walk down to the fair we just passed and check it out. About 8 or us made our way down to the fair. We decided to start on one end of the fair, and walk all the way to the other end, while riding rides in between. As we were walking to one end, we found a clone of a flat ride called a Top Star Tour. I had never seen one before and didn’t get a chance to see it operate before I was soon sitting in the round ride vehicle with Kip Ross, Mike Parker, and Gloria Nakamura.

It is very hard to describe this ride. Just imagine a Huss Frisbee with large arms sticking out from it. It rotates like a Frisbee, but it also flips in all sorts of directions. There was a lot of fog shot out at us mixed with an impressive light show. I couldn’t tell which way was up. Saying this ride was strong is an understatement. I don’t think we would ever see one of these run this way back home. There were moments where it was a bit painful, but that was usually followed by another cool moment.

We then continued our walk down to the other end of the fair before reaching a Fabri Booster. Basically this is a version of s Skyscraper with back to back seating. Jim, Danielle, Matthew, and Mike decided to ride first. Their ride ended up being short and only flipping them once or twice. When the rest of us rode, it was non-stop twirling. It was moving so fast that my feet were hurting. All of us on board were screaming every time we were at the bottom of the loop. The ride lasted over 5 minutes. Honestly, I don’t think I could have gone much longer because my feet went totally numb. I have never been on something so strong. That includes Katanga. We did get a great view of downtown Brussels from on top though.

Danielle told the ride operators that she felt like her group didn’t get a good ride so they let the whole group on again. This time, they got the same ride we did. As expected, their feet were hurting also because of the high gs on the ride. As soon as we were all able to walk, we started to walk to the other end. We didn’t ride many things in between but we found a very cool looking haunted house so we all decided to ride together. We hopped into the cars and went up a spiral lift before heading back outside. We were directly above the loading station when our train stopped. The track started to shake a bit and soon tilted to the side so we were looking down to the ground below. We thought the track had broken or something but this was all part of the ride. This was a very good effect and caught us all off guard. The last part of the ride consisted of a nice drop and hop over a small hill, but there was a large rotating spike that would slap you in the head if you didn’t’ duck. Of course, it was made of something soft but it did catch us off guard as well.

We had hoped we would find a coaster at the fair but we didn’t see one up ahead. A little more walking resulted in us finding a small steel kiddie coaster, but unfortunately, it was closed for the night. We were all bummed about that when we looked up head and could barely make out some steel track buried below a tree. Could it be? We ran over to the area. With each step, we could make out the sight of a Reverchon spinning mouse!

“Yaaaaaaaa!”

We noticed the layout passed under a couple of trees that would actually hit riders, if the coaster had been working. When we got to the coaster, we saw a fire truck pull up. We saw some smoke. The whole transformer for the coaster caught fire and the fire department was putting it out. This crushed our chances of riding it so once again we were bummed. Funny thing is, Chris Trotter, Ivan Hurtado, Sean Winder, and Joe Campanella all got to ride it, while it was smoking. We ran into some other ACE members who were about to ride but were asked to leave.

It was getting late but we wanted to ride at least one more ride. We saw a very wicked looking Top Scan running so we went over to it. The first Top Scan I rode was at Chessington World of Adventures just over a week before. I knew the ride action so I thought I had this ride figured out. Mike suggested I sit on the right outside seats for my ride. I had sat on the inside seats on the Chessington version and had a good ride. Could an outside seat make that much of a difference?

I should have never questioned Mike. He knows his flat rides well. This machine tossed us every which way it could. Once again, we were subjected to some major gs. The ride cycle was around 10 minutes which gave us more than enough time to bond with the shoulder restraints. When it was over, we were all quite buzzed. We decided to call it a night after that. Mike however decided to go ride some more rides. The rest of us walked back to the hotel.

I needed to find an ATM because I didn’t have any cash on me. Add that to the fact that even if I had cash, I would have had to change it over on the ferry because we were now using Euros. Jeff Johnson bought my ride tickets so I needed to get some cash to pay him back. Once back at the hotel, Tim told me where I could find an ATM. I would have to walk 10 minutes to a very cool looking square area, and look around in that area. I walked down the brick streets of Brussels until I reached the impressive square. It wasn’t long before I found an ATM. However, I didn’t get any money out. The PIN number I use for my card is based on a series of letters, and not numbers. This ATM only had numbers so I counted the alphabet onto the numbers to remember what numbers to push for my code. Yea, I know. Pretty pathetic, but even with me doing that, it didn’t work so I had to wait until later to get some cash.

I went back to the hotel and called it a night. Our room was pretty small but I didn’t mind. It was a very nice room and I had no problem going to sleep. Because we were in Belgium, we were in another time zone so we had to adjust our watches and clocks. We lost an hour by crossing into the time zone, and I was out later than I had hoped. I would only be getting 5 hours or so of sleep tonight so I fell asleep rather quickly. I usually watch a bit of TV before going to sleep, but not tonight. Going through 4 different countries in a day can put one to sleep rather quickly. Tomorrow was the official start of Week 2 and we had another big day.


Next up……

A fun day spent at a Six Flags park.


Thanks for reading,

-Sean


*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/20/2002. ***

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Thursday, September 19, 2002 8:36 PM

we found a clone of a flat ride called a Top Star Tour. I had never seen one before and didn’t get a chance to see it operate before I was soon sitting in the round ride vehicle with Kip Ross, Mike Parker, and Gloria Nakamura. It is very hard to describe this ride. Just imagine a Huss Frisbee with large arms sticking out from it. It rotates like a Frisbee, but it also flips in all sorts of directions. There was a lot of fog shot out at us mixed with an impressive light show. I couldn’t tell which way was up. Saying this ride was strong is an understatement. I don’t think we would ever see one of these run this way back home. There were moments where it was a bit painful, but that was usually followed by another cool moment.


Behold!! The Top Fun Spin Ball!! :)

http://wipeout.free.fr/step3/09.htm

It's by far the most bizarre and intense flat ride I've ridden to date, and that's a pretty impressive feat :)


I should have never questioned Mike. He knows his flat rides well.

He spaks the truth :)
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Thursday, September 19, 2002 8:39 PM
Oh yeah, forgot. Excellent TR's. They really are outstandng and capture the feel of the tour. I'm reliving it all over again. :)
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Friday, September 20, 2002 4:03 AM
Great TR Sean! Also nice pics. I'm guessing Six Flags Belgium is next.

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-Sean

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Friday, September 20, 2002 3:48 PM

Mike P. said:
Oh yeah, forgot. Excellent TR's. They really are outstandng and capture the feel of the tour. I'm reliving it all over again.


Mike,

Thanks for sharing the link to that picture. Ahh, the memories. I am glad you like reading these reports. I had a great time hanging out with you on the tour.

Sean,

Thanks again! You are correct. Six Flags Belgium is up next.

-Sean (the other Sean)

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