The Trip of a Lifetime (Oakwood)(7/20/02)

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“Queue jumper………we have a queue jumper right here!”……..

Getting up at 5:30am was tough this morning. While I didn’t stay up as late as previous night, I also didn’t get much sleep. I got ready and went down to the breakfast area. I talked a bit with Ron Ross as well as Mike and Bob Englander. I hadn’t talked much to them on the tour so I spent a few minutes asking if they were having a good time and what was their favorite part of the trip so far. All three seemed to be in good spirits for such an early morning departure.

At 6:30am, we left the Moat House. As expected, everyone was ready to go at this time. Little did we know that our early departure time would benefit us as soon as we got to the park of the day, Oakwood. This was one of the few times we didn’t have to wait on other coaches and could travel by ourselves. Since every coach stayed at a different hotel, everyone had different departure times. The estimated 2 and a half-hour drive took just under 2 hours. During the drive, Miles Ketchum got onto the microphone and described his ghost story. Most everyone loved to hear about it and it got a good response.

We arrived at the park and no one else was around with the exception of someone from marketing who welcomed us. The other coaches were to arrive 45 minutes later. The man from Oakwood had some questions regarding payment and said he couldn’t let us in until the person taking care of the payment was in person. That person was Tim Baldwin. Nigel made a quick call to the driver of Tim’s coach so we could find out what was going on. After a few minutes, we were allowed to enter the park.

Because we were so early, we were treated to an extra half-hour of ERT. After all the times we were ready to leave early, it finally paid off this morning. The coaster we had ERT on was in the very back of the park so we got to take a nice stroll and see what the park has to offer. We passed the brand new Intamin Hydro super boat ride, as well as a nice looking alpine slide. There were other things in the park we could see in the distance but we wouldn’t be able to check out until later. It was now time to ride!


Here it was. Standing in all its glory. Finally, I was going to get a ride on the famous Megaphobia. Believe it or not, but I was excited about riding this coaster when it was announced in 1995. I remember seeing the artist rendering in ACE News and getting excited because it said we would be able to ride it on the 1996 ACE UK tour. Of course, I didn’t get to go on that trip as expected so I would have to wait for another time. The time was now. I have been hearing so many things about this ride since 1996 that I thought it could be the most intense coaster in the world.

I have ridden the Megaphobia near-clone, Rampage at Visionland many times. Rampage is one of my favorite wooden coasters. While Rampage is slightly larger than Megaphobia, supposedly Megaphobia packs more of a punch. For my first ride, I sat in the front row. The park was kind enough to add two trains for our ERT. With only one coach at the park at this time, we didn’t really have to leave the loading station if we wanted to ride again. All we had to do was hop into an empty seat.

While going up the lift, we could see the sheep that have been featured on Discovery Channel shows while talking about the coaster. The turn at the top prepared us for a severe dive into what looked like a forest. At this moment, I realized this was much different than Rampage. While the layout does have some similarities, the ending is different. There are some nice floats along the course as well as a nice lateral surprise near the end. Once we hit the brakes, I didn’t know what to think. Sure, it was a fun ride but it wasn’t nearly as wicked as I was led to believe. Given that we were getting early morning rides probably didn’t help the matter. We had early evening ERT on this at night and I was certain the coaster would be running much faster, as it was very slow this morning. After a couple more rides, I decided to video tape some footage. By this time the other coaches had showed up and ERT rapidly went by.

The park opened after our ERT ended and everyone went his or her own way. The Alpine Slide looked like it would be a low capacity ride so a large group of ACE members headed that way. Myself included. It has been probably 15 years or so since I had last ridden an Alpine Slide. This was the most unique looking slide I have seen. Riders sit in their own sled just like a typical alpine slide, but once they leave the station, they connect to a very cool cable lift system which takes them to the top of the hill. From then on they are released down the curving layout. The rider is in full control of the speed. Ride operators stand in booths overlooking certain sections of the course and if you are going too fast, they will tell you to slow down. An audible trim brake perhaps?

On my first ride, I trimmed myself a bit just so I could get a feel for the ride if I came back later. The lift section was fun and took a while to get to the top, but it was well worth it. Once Joe Campanella, Alan Conceico, Sean Winder, Ivan Hurtado, Chris Trotter, Larry Scott, Mike Parker, and I were done with the slide, we went over to our next coaster.

===Circus Clown===(#444)

Just as the version found at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, this coaster was a small kiddie complete with a pass through a torn drum. From the sound of it, not everyone found this coaster and didn’t ride. It wasn’t that difficult to find on the map, but if you didn’t have a map, then yes, it would have been difficult to find. We walked back down the large hill in the park and got our first taste at another attraction I have never seen in the states. A true vertical slide. We walked into a garage looking area and asked the lone ride attendant if the slide was open. He had been waiting for people to give it a try so we did.

While the slide only stood 20 feet above the ground, what makes this slide so scary is the first look once you are at the top. It honestly has a 90-degree drop before curving out and sliding back up slightly over a small hill. I will admit. I was honestly nervous my first go at this because you have to jump off the slide yourself while your legs are in a burlap sack. The drop down almost gave me the same sensation as a drop ride. My legs totally weren’t in the sack by the end of the drop so I burned the back of my legs a bit. Nothing to severe, but I decided to sit out for a bit to watch others drop.

Sean Winder was the only one out of the entire group to make it all the way over the second hill and down. Joe tried a few times to throw himself higher in the air before hitting the slide. One time in particular he missed the actual slide until it bottoms out. He landed right on his rear. It looked painful and according to Joe, it was. You should see the footage I shot of it. It turned out great. One of our other coach mates, John Crimlisk went down multiple times without a burlap sack. Of course, he was wearing long pants so he didn’t have to worry about getting friction burns.

Joe wanted to go ride Hydro because he was such a huge fan of Perilous Plunge at Knott’s. Every time I have been to Knott’s, Plunge was closed so this would be my first ride on something like this. I didn’t want to get soaking wet so I purchased a poncho. I used to laugh at those that bought ponchos for water rides but I understand them now. This was the second time I had purchases a poncho on the tour. Looking at the ride though, it didn’t look like a poncho would help considering the HUGE splash the boat makes after that ultra-steep (80-degree) drop.

I asked a ride operator if we were allowed to ride without our shoes and socks. To my amazement, he said yes. We put our shoes off to the side and took our places in the boat. The seats were very similar to those found on Millennium Force, which should be no surprise considering the ride was built by Intamin. We put on our seat belts and lowered our lap bars. I didn’t know what to expect so I became nervous as we crested the top of the lift. Since the ride stand around 120-feet tall, and the fact the park is in the middle of the country, a nice view of surrounding fields was provided. However, that view would be cut short as we were ripped down the first drop. Four or us were sitting in the back row and experienced some major airtime as we went down that drop. Once we hit the water at the bottom of the drop, it kept coming at us like we were in a hurricane. It lasted for a long time. Somehow, thanks to my poncho, I didn’t get a single drop of water on me with the exception of my arms. What a great ride!

We had heard there were a couple of dark rides we should ride so we went and looked for them. Luckily both dark rides were located pretty much next to each other. The first one we rode was themed to look like a haunted mansion. It had about a half hour wait but we decided to wait it out. While we were in line, two small girls asked their friend to join them in line. Their friend line cut everyone and got in line. What made matters worse is they were standing directly in front of us. Joe said something to the girls but they said it wouldn’t happen again. We let it slide this time.

The same girls decided to let another friend enter the line. Once the girl line cut, Joe made a HUGE scene saying to the ride operators,”We have a queue jumper. Right here!” doing so in a bad British accent. The ride operator came over and said there was nothing he could do about it because he didn’t see it. This didn’t set well with us, so we did something about it. All of us decided to cut in front of the girls. At first, they did everything they could to prevent us from getting in front of them but we continued to walk right by them. Normally, this whole incident wouldn’t have been an issue but after drastically being line jumped at Alton Tower, we were all sick and tired of it.

In the process of us going in front of the girls, the last girl that line jumped was divided by the rest of her group. For some reason, this freaked her out and she started to cry, and soon left the line. Her friends weren’t too happy about this and made it quite clear. As it turns out, we had 5 people with us and the ride operator was calling for 4. The three girls that were left in that whole group got to go in front of us anyway. However, the ride operator still asked for a single rider to fill in the single seat considering each car held 4 people. I don’t know what made Joe do it, but he decided to be that single person and hopped into the car with the 3 girls. When they realized he was in their car, they all had a very disappointing look on their faces. To top it all off, they screamed as loud as they on purpose while in the haunted house. Poor Joe. That must have sucked. Too bad we were the ones to tell the girls to scream at Joe. Ha!

The ride was great. Lots of things tried to make us jump. Every once in a while an actual person would jump out from around a corner or from behind and scare us. One scene in particular caught us off guard. There is a scene where a man is cutting the head off a chicken as we went by it. The second his axe hits the head, it squirts water at you, and it’s warm. It was a cheap effect but it worked well. As soon as we exited this dark ride, we went over to the other one. We ran into coach mates Steve Gzesh, Danielle Miller, Matthew Bacoulis Jim Raimar, Brad Haller, and John Fydic, who decided to ride it also.

The second dark ride was more of a train ride through scenes. The whole theme of this attraction was a party for rabbits? Most of the scenes consisted of bunnies getting drunk and dancing around before passing out. A ride operator sitting in the very back row would squirt riders with water thanks to a Super Soaker water gun. It took us a minute or so to realize the water was coming from behind and not from one of the scenes. The ride lasted fairly long also.

By this time, it was time to eat. We walked over to the Mississippi Showboat for our meal. There was quite a long line for food but time was well spent thanks to a Dancing Stage machine (yes, another one) placed right in front of the entrance for the food for some reason. Of course, Joe and I had to play a game. Once inside, we found a table and went to go get food. The food selection wasn’t large, but I managed to eat a few meatless pizza rolls. We had to purchase our own drinks so I only drank one cup of Fanta Orange. The whole room was very dark. There was a stage but no microphone. Tim Baldwin talked for a bit but had to yell thanks to the lack of a microphone, as well as the music from the Dancing Stage machine.

Tim took the time to remind us of the big day starting tomorrow morning, and how crucial it was that we all worked together to make the day go by easy. He also mentioned the closing of The Whizzer at Six Flags Great America, the closing of CCI, and a bizarre story involving Todd Long and a bobcat. We heard later a mention of the bobcat story on CNN out of all places. Since there wasn’t a whole lot to eat, Joe and I went outside to play a few Dancing Stage games before moving on.

===Treetop Roller Coaster===(#445)

The final coaster in the park. This Tivoli coaster has a similar layout to other coasters like it found at Six Flags parks in the US, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at it considering most of the twisted layout is hidden by a forest. This has got to be the most heavily wooden area around a coaster I have seen. The ride wasn’t bad either and provided some nice changes of direction with some lateral thrown in.

Joe and Alan ended up walking around a bit while I decided to give something a ride. I hadn’t seen a ride like this since Wyandot Lake had one. Basically this is a slide where riders sit in sleds and are released down a steep drop. At the bottom of the drop, riders are then let go onto a lane filled with water where they skip to the end of the water. I had to do this. I don’t even remember what it felt like. The walk up the tower was easy due to the fact we didn’t have to carry our sleds. There was a conveyor system for that. Since there were two slides side by side, the ride operator would let two riders race. Every once in a while I would see someone wipeout at the bottom.

Once in my sled, I was released and down I went. The drop looks much steeper when going down than it looks from the ground. I then bounced along the water until I reached a slow down area. I didn’t get very wet either. Joe and Alan wanted to ride also so I waited for them. I also saw Jeff, Sean, Ivan, and Carl Ragan go down also. We did see a girl flip her sled over and land face first into the water. Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy about it. I also met up with Tim Baldwin and Jeffrey Siefert. They were headed to the drop tower and wanted to know if I would join them.

This was the last major ride I wanted to ride in the park. I think Zamperla made this ride but I can’t be mistaken. This looked very similar to an S&S Turbo Drop, but there were brakes at the bottom and top. I saw two different times where riders were suddenly stopped in the brakes at the top. The ride provided a nice view from on top, but the actual drop wasn’t much. It felt more like a fast elevator than an actual free fall or shot down. The ride continues to bounce like an S&S but still has a surprise in store. Just when you think the ride is over, and you are slowly making your way down, when you get about 20 feet from the ground, the seats drop 10 feet or so to provide a nice fake out. This caught me off guard. Joe, Alan, Sean, and Ivan rode after us and they didn’t care much for the first part of the ride, but all were surprised by the final moment.

We had a half hour before the park closed so I went to ride the Alpine Slide with my mother Phyllis Withers (who I hadn’t seen all day). While in line, we met up with Irish ACE member Richard Bannister who was also on the tour. We had a good time talking to him about the US parks. He was coming to the US to hit a few parks and was staying with friends in Dublin, Ohio. This was kind of odd considering Richard lives in Dublin, Ireland. Having a lot of Irish in myself, I told him my desire to once go to Ireland. Heck, I was even excited when we flew over Ireland on the way to London.

My ride on the slide this time was even better than my first. I decided to ride with the handle all the way up so I wouldn’t brake at all. I flew around all the curves with great speed before a ride operator had to tell me to slow down for the ending. After riding this, I would love to see a 5 mile long version or something. While I don’t count these as coasters, I had just as much fun on it.

We made our way back to ERT on Megaphobia as the park was closing. The park decided to stay open an extra half hour so they decided to extend our ERT. We also got to take part in a photo walk-back before ERT. This provided us with some very nice areas to take pictures or shoot video. I thank the park for giving us this chance.

Once ERT started, I rode a few more times. As I had thought, the coaster was running much faster. Add that to the fact that the ride operators were letting people ride with only one click in the lap bar, and you have a great time. While the coaster was running faster, and back seat rides were great, I still didn’t think the coaster was as mean as wicked as others have told me, but it was damn fun. That’s all that matters right?

After our ERT, we left Oakwood and made the 2 hour drive back to our hotel. Once back at the Moat House, Jim Raimar had the idea of doing some sort of tongue-in-cheek ghost hunt. I grabbed my video camera and met with Jim, Steve, Matthew, and Danielle. We walked around the hotel “looking” for any signs of ghosts. Steve made an Ouija board which provided some hilarious moments on video. We went to Miles’s door to see if he wanted to join us but there was a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on his door. Of course, we accidentally made so much noise outside his room, we are sure we disturbed him. Sorry Miles.

We continued our walk and talked to a few people about the ghosts. We had heard everything from a ghost down in the bar area, to a ghost in the basement. There were a couple of people that didn’t even want to talk about it. While walking down a hallway, we did hear a moan of sorts, but we soon found out that it was Nigel playing tricks on us. What a prankster. We also ran into David Hamburger who was certain there was something downstairs. While most of us were having fun doing this, David was more than serious and seemed like he wasn’t having fun. We soon decided that we weren’t going to see any ghosts, demons, or flying midgets, so we all went back to our rooms and fell asleep.

Tomorrow was a day many people were dreading for many different reasons. We named the day, “Hell Day” for various reasons. There weren’t a lot of people looking forward to tomorrow, including myself, yet, we knew we would have as much fun as possible.

Up next……..

Hell Day and a sad time, but yet another highlight in my life.

Thanks for reading,


*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/18/2002. ***

Great Trip Reports Sean...I totally would have joined in the ghost hunt, but I needed sleep! At least my ghost let me sleep, unlike my coach mates.

Looking forward to week 2.


So your driver gets you guys to Oakwood 45 minutes early, and yet you had people complaining about him later in the tour? Poor Nigel...

"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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Tomorrow was a day many people were dreading for many different reasons. We named the day, Hell Day for various reasons. There weren’t a lot of people looking forward to tomorrow, including myself, yet, we knew we would have as much fun as possible.

Personally I couldnt understand why you guys could not have driven to Margate after visiting Oakwood instead of getting up really early the next day and making the really long drive to Margate. If you guys have driven to Margate straight after visiting Oakwood, you would have had more time at the 2 parks.
Obviously I'm guessing it was to cut down on the overall trip cost, because it would have meant staying in another Hotel, but surely it would have still been a better option????

Another Excellent TR as usual, I think I'm getting rather addicted to them, and hurry up with Week 2 ;)

MilesdeSmiles said:
Great Trip Reports Sean...I totally would have joined in the ghost hunt, but I needed sleep! At least my ghost let me sleep, unlike my coach mates.

Looking forward to week 2.

Yaaaa! Miles is reading!

You honestly don't have any idea how your story enhanced our trip Miles. I still tell people about it while at work.


I guess that is how it goes. Too bad as I didn't find anything worth complaining about but that's just me.


I think the main reason we didn't stay in Margate was for hotel reasons. There weren't enough in the area that could hold us all. At least, that is a my guess. I don't know exactly why.


Sean F. said:
They were headed to the drop tower and wanted to know if I would join them.

This was the last major ride I wanted to ride in the park. I think Zamperla made this ride but I can’t be mistaken.

What do you mean, you "can't be mistaken"? :) You are mistaken--it was made by Huss and was called The Bounce, which describes it perfectly because that's about all it did.


Janna said:

Sean F. said:
What do you mean, you "can't be mistaken"? You are mistaken--it was made by Huss and was called The Bounce, which describes it perfectly because that's about all it did.

Woops. Um, yea, that is what I meant. That should have read "If I am not mistaken" which doesn't matter anyway because I was wrong either way you look at it.


Hmmm. It seems we are a bad seed again?


The slide sounds sweet. Do you have any pics of it?


Wow, when I saw Oaks park on the Discovery Channel, they made it sound like it was just Megafobia. I had no idea the park was so built up, I really want to try that Alpine thing out, it's the closest I'll probably ever get to Bobsledding!

Tuesday's Gone With The Wind.
Elijah Rock.
Is it written in the stars?
La Vie Boheme!!!

SFgadvMAN said:
The slide sounds sweet. Do you have any pics of it?


Sorry to say, but I didn't grab any stills of it but I did shoot some video. I can probably grab a couple of stills from the footage if you want to see it.

Matt, do you have any pics of it?


Yes, Oakwood had a lot more to do in it than I was led to believe. I had a great day there. The strange thing is, I found other aspects of the park to be the real star other than Megaphobia.


Ummm... No. I have the same picture as you. (the one looking down the lift hill, but my picture doesnt have Phyllis in it, mine has Raimar! Im sorry I couldnt help you out this time, maybe next though.


Thanks to Jeff Johson, those wanted to see a picture of the vertical slide can click here

-Sean (who didn't know someone took a picture of him on his one and only time on the slide) F.

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