The Trip of a Lifetime (Thorpe Park) (7/13/02)

Associated parks:
None

Thursday, September 12, 2002 8:36 PM

“I really was expecting a very heavy Irish accent”………………..

The morning was here. It was time for the official European Coaster Odyssey to start. While I had a total blast hanging out in London and taking in the sites the day before, today was the day what it was all about. I woke up early and packed my luggage. Once I was ready, I headed down to get some breakfast. I also had another matter to attend.

A couple of months before this trip was to begin, I got an e-mail from Tim Baldwin who put the trip together. Tim asked me if I would be willing to be a coach captain. I didn’t know what the duties of the captain were so he soon sent me a list of a few things the captain would have to do. I wanted to have as much fun as possible on this tour so I decided to adhere to his request and was soon dubbed a coach captain.

When the package with our info and name badges arrived to me before I left for the trip, I laughed hard when I saw my name tag and it read, “Lord Sean Flaharty-Coach Captain” At first I thought this was a joke. Lord? However, I soon found out that all coach captains were either Lords or Ladies. My breakfast was to be more of a meeting with the fellow captains and Tim. Once I met up with coach captains Brain Peters, Maggie and Dave Altman, Tim Baldwin, and, Jason Pytka, I knew this was going to be a great trip. Tim went over the days scheadule, gave us our Thorpe Park admission and meal tickets, and pretty much sent us on our way.

After I ate, I went outside to find many ACE members getting prepared for the tour. The entire luggage was being loaded by the coach drivers as well as a few ACE members. I knew in advance where my coach was so I walked over and looked for the coach driver. I saw a man loading luggage dressed like all the other men that were loading luggage on other coaches. This had to be our driver.

“You must be Nigel?” I said.

“You must be Sean?”

Sure enough, I finally got to meet Nigel Piltz. You see, one week before the trip was to start; I got an e-mail from someone named Nigel. It contained a file attachment as well as a brief message asking if I had any questions. I will be honest here and say that I originally thought it was someone sending me a virus and that my anti-virus protection would be kicking in with a “Warning” message any moment. Once I realized it wasn’t a virus, I opened the file attachement and was amazed to see a photo of a large tour bus.

“This can’t be our bus can it?”

Sure enough, it was. Nigel sent me a picture so I could see what the coach looked like. If there was anything that would get me the least bit excited before the trip, that e-mail was it. Just as the picture showed, I was now standing in front of the same coach talking to the person that sent me that e-mail. We had conversed back and forth a few times after he sent that first e-mail, but it was cool finally getting to meet him. Right from the start I knew we had an ultra-cool driver. He seemed very down to Earth and I could already tell he had a great sense of humor when he made the comment that he thought my mother was my sister. Sorry mom. =^)

It was also cool to run into so many familiar faces that would be a part of the tour. I couldn’t possibly list everyone at this time but I am sure I will be mentioning a lot of them during the rest of these trip reports. Once everyone had their luggage packed, it was time to do a head count. For the first one, I called out everyones names and listned for a “here” from them. Not only was this an easier way for me to make sure everyone was on board, but it gave everyone, including myself, a chance to get to see who was on our coach. We were the Orange Coach. The other coaches were Red, White, Yellow, and Pink. The White Coach would be the only coach staying for week one. Another coach would take its place on the second week.

Once I let Nigel know we had everyone on board, with the exception of someone that decided to back out of the tour the day before it started, and a few people that were to meet us at Thorpe Park, we officially started the tour. As we drove through some of the roads of England, we got our first real taste of what it is to be on the ‘other’ side of the road. It felt very strange. Seeing our driver on the other side of the coach was odd also. There is a small seat near the front door of the coach that coach captains usually sit in so I decided to sit there for the time being. This seat sits much lower to the road than the other seats on the coach. I was able to get a different POV of the road. Of course, this made for some great video opportunities and I took advantage of taping anything I could. Once we were on the road, Nigel said he was expecting me to talk with a very heavy Irish accent because of my Irish name. Sorry to disapoint you Nigel.

The drive to our first destination, Thorpe Park, took about an hour and a half if I remember correctly. It was really neat getting a chance to go from the metropolitian area of London, to a more country-type area that Thorpe sits in. Once we arrived at the park, we were greeted by park personnel as well as the 4 others that were part of the tour but decided to meet up with us at the park. Once I handed out the meal and admission tickets, we were led in a group to our first ERT. I was excited about this because we would be riding the brand new, record breaking, 10 inversion…..

===Colossus=== (#405)

Ok, in case you haven’t noticed, the number next to the name of a coaster when I first mention it is the number of coaster I have ridden. I am doing this as a reference to those that have asked how many coasters I rode on the trip, as well as a reference to me so I can look back on this trip report and see what coaster was which and in what order. Yea, I jolted the numbers down on my PDA, but I also wanted to save them in a different way and this was the different way I choose. Please don’t think I am doing this for bragging of some other reasons because that is not the case. The way I look at, just become someone has ridden 700 coasters doesn’t mean they are more of an enthusiast than someone that has ridden 10.

Ok, back to the tour.

Justin Garvanovic told me that for my first ride on this coaster, to ride the front because the back seats are rougher and will give you a false impression of how this coaster runs. A group of us waited the extra 20 minutes for a front seat ride and I must say it was well worth it. While the coaster isn’t as tall as you would expect a 10 inversion coaster to be, it obviusly is tall enough to get through the entire course with ease. The lift starts out slow then speeds up as the entire train is engaged on it. This is typical of a lot of Intamin rides. On the way up the lift, we got a nice view of most of the park to the right. We could see they had a nice selection of rides likea Fabri drop tower, as well as a large mysterious enclosed pyramid that housed something strange. More on that later.

Once over the top of the lift, we turned to the left and made a swooping dive into the first inversion, a vertical loop. The loop was stronger than it looked and the train went through it with great speed. Next up was a nice floating camelback that dives under a gift shop providing a nice head-chopper effect. This gift shop does a nice job of hiding the next two inversions (cobra roll) well and first time riders are usually surprised to enter the cobra roll. While the train does lose some speed in this element, it makes up for it by diving down to the ground, under a bridge, and into two corkscrews (inversions 4 and 5) taken very quickly. A sharp left turn follows before we enter the highlight (IMO) of the ride. Four inline twists in a row taken counter-clockwise and very slow (inversions 6, 7, 8, and 9).

You want hang time? Here is your ride. With each moment of going upside down, riders are lifted into their shoulder restraints. I didn’t find this to be uncomfortable so I was really enjoying these twists. Just when you think you are done with one, another twist happens. By the time we exited the 4th twist, I was a bit buzzed. It felt great! Another left turn follows the 4th twist. The tenth and last inversion is another inline twist but this one is taken clockwise, and is VERY close to the ground. It looks like it’s only a foot or so from the ground but it is actually like 3 feet or so, which is still close if you think about it. This last inversion not only counteracts the 4 inline twists, but also provides the end of the ride. After the train exits the inversion, magnetic braking brings the riders to a smooth stop while they try and figure out where they are.

I was very impressed with Colossus. On our first ride, Joe Campanella and I counted out every single inversion out loud in numerical order. It was quite fun and we couldn’t wait to ride again so we went around for another ride, this time, in the back seat.

What a difference a few rows can make. As Justin had mentioned earlier, the back was different. Colossus didn’t feel very new in the back row. It wasn’t exactly rough, but it just vibrated a lot and let you know who is boss. The back did seem more intense as far as forces go, but the twists at the end felt pretty much the same all over the train. After a couple more rides, we decided to go check out what else the park had to offer. As expected, the park was going to be crowded today thanks to it being a Saturday. Our next ride was inside that strange pyramid I mentioend before.

===X:/ No Way Out===(#406)

I am really going to try and desribe this coaster, but I am not sure if I can. This has got to be the strangest coaster I have ever ridden. I am being honest. We didn’t really know what to expect before entering so we just walked through the dark quene talking about Colossus. We then walk up to a kind of ‘coat check’ type area where you can check your lose articles with an attendant, receive a plastic keychain type thing with a number on it, and after your ride, you hand your number to an attendant that retrives your stuff. Good concept if you remember to retrieve your stuff at the end of the ride.

The ride itself is kind of like a Jet Star on something similar, on crack. You go up the lift backwards and down a few curving drops. All this is in complete darkness. Then the train enters a block area and stops. Suddenly you are rained on for a second, then the train starts to move forwards a bit, the stops and moves backwards out of the block area and down some more twisting track. Later in the ride you stop once again, but this time instead of being rained on, you are blown dry. The same forward and backward motion happens again and if you look up from this point, you can see another train going through what you just went through with the ‘wet portion’. A couple more curves end the ride before disembarking down the strange lit exit in total confusin of what just happened. That’s honestly the best way I can describe this coaster.

Once we walked out the very long exit quene, Joe realized he had left his belonging with the attendtant and had to go all the way back to retreieve them. We all got a kick out of this and made fun of him for his actions. While we waited for him we looked over and noticed a ring full of riders sitting at the top of the Detonator drop tower. They were up there for quite a while before being released. We were hoping to ride that but we had heard it was closed for a few minutes. Instead, we walked into an arcade and found a Dance Dance Revolution machine. Yaaaa!!

Joe and I (as well as a whole slew of enthusiasts that I know of) are addicted to DDR. We both have the home version but there is something about being in the arcade playing that is so much fun. In England, DDR is called Dancing Stage Euromix. This is bascially a 3rd Mix machine system with some pop songs thrown in that weren’t seen in the US until much later. The machine we played only gave 2 songs for 2 pounds (if I remember correctly). Quite expensive I thought, but after all, this was the first international DDR machine we saw, so Joe and I played a few games. Some people play to show off and freestyle, other play just for fun. I like to play for exercise reasons and it honesty is fun. I doubt you will ever see me doing any freestyle stuff because that just isn’t my thing, but I will play a game any chance I get. Alan Conceico looked at us like we were matians or something once we were done. I don’t think he knew we were into the game. While Alan never played, he said it was entertaining watching us play so he wasn’t totally bored which is good.

Once Joe and I were done, we walked over to Detonator. I had never done a Fabri drop tower before and couldn’t wait. We waited about a half hour to ride this. While we were waiting, we got to check out the construction that is taking place for Nemesis: Inferno, the park’s future B&M inverted for 2003. Part of the station was built as most of the footers. The park is touting it as being “The World’s Greatest Roller Coaster Experience” so we will have to check back at this park in the future to see if lives up to the hype.

The wait for Detonator went by quickly due to us being almost obsessed with the soundtrack the ride provided. First, there is cool boarding music, followed by some dramatic music as the ring of riders lifts to the top of the 100+ foot tall tower.

Once at the top…..

“5……..(folllowed by strange tone that sounds like “tu-tu”)

4 (tone again)………………………

3 (tone again)…………………

2 (you get the idea)…………..

1 (then random computer-type sounds)…….explosion”

…then the ring of riders drop before hitting the magnetic brakes and coming to a very sudden stop before hearing, “Detonation complete!”

We could not get enough of this soundtrack. For the next few days, it would play a huge role in the humor between a lot of us. The ride itself was fantastic. While the shoulder restraints were very bulky, they still provided a lot of room to float on the drop. The unique soundtrack can be heard very clear while sitting at the top before the ring of riders plummet. We would have ridden this again but the line was very long. We didn’t know about the single rider line so we moved on to the next ride.

Walking around a bit more, we noticed a very cool looking flume ride, but it had a long line also. We decided to wait it out and ride the Loggers Leap flume. Once again, Western American theming was the choice here for the theming (the first time we saw it was on the mouse at Chessington) and was enchanced by a rather loud country music soundtrack. Most of us knew the old songs being played but didn’t want to admit it. Alan and I tried to drown out the music by discussing a lot of the heavier bands we both listen to. It was strange talking to someone who knew about the same bands I used to really get into that a lot of people have never heard of.

We decided to split up into 2 groups. We had no idea what to expect of this ride other than it having a double down drop at the end. The starts out as a standard flume where the boat floats around a bit (and doesn’t roll) until we reached a tunnel into a grass hill. Inside this hill is a steep lift followed by a very nice and effective drop, all in complete darkeness. When I mean dark, I mean REALLY dark. You could not see anything at all. We then floated a bit more before coming back into the sunlight and realizing we are pretty far away from the loading station. We came to another lift and prepared for another great drop. This time however, it’s a double dipping drop which provided some airtime and a very powerful splash that drenched us all. We were all pleasantly surprised by the flume and could not wait to sample other flumes on the tour.

As we walked around a bit more checking out the park, we decided to head on over to our eating establishment. There was a bit of confusion on where we were to eat. The back of our meal tickets said one place, but we were told to eat at a diffent place instead as we arrived at the park. We went to the second place to eat and were told to go back to the original place to eat. It wasn’t a problem but it was confusing. Once at our picnic area, we met up with Justin again. Justin sat down with us and we talked about how impressed we were with this park, and the rides. We also met up with ECC member Richard Foster who was really cool to hang out with. I think he was really happy that we enjoyed the park.

After we ate, some of us went over to get our ‘Fast pass’ type tickets for Colossus because it had a 2 hour wait. Getting the tickets wasn’t a problem. We still had 45 minutes until we could use them so we went and rode Vortex next. Vortex is a KMG Afterburner and a damn fine one at that. We waited about 40 mintues for our ride and it was well worth it. However, once we boarded our seats, the shoulder restraiints came down so fast, I got clocked on the top of the head by them as I was jumping up into my seat. This didn’t ruin my ride or anything, but I was rather surprised at how fast they came down. This was a very powerful version of the Afterburner and provided a great visual swinging over the quene line. As the ride came to a halt, the shoulder restraints were lifted quickly, and people jumped off the ride as it was still moving a bit. Needless to say I could tell already how different things are run in England. Everything is much more relaxed there and if you fall off a ride, it’s probably your own fault.

We then noticed it was time to use our tickets for Colossus. One the way, we picked up more tickets for a later time. However, the time stated on the tickets was around the time we were to leave so we didn’t know if we would be able to use them or not.

Our ride this time in the middle was just as good as our last two rides. The coaster seemed to pick up a bit more speed since our morning rides. After our ride we ran into Justin and Richard again who told us we could use our other tickets anytime. Sure enough, the park had no problem honoring our later time tickets so we went for another time. This time we got to stand in line with a couple more ECC members, Marcus Sheen and friend Lucy. It was great getting to put names with faces as I have known a lot of these names while reading First Drop and the ECC mailing list.

After our last ride, it was almost time to head out of the park. We were to leave the park at 4:30pm, so I said goodbye to Justin, Richard, Marcus, and Lucy and headed out to the large coach park and waited for people to board the coach. Everyone was ready to go like clockwork. I was very impressed with how everyone followed the set times. We had about a 5 hour drive to our next location. While this may seem to be a long drive for a lot of people, it flew by because we all were finally getting a chance to know each other. One the way we passed Camelot Park but could not stop. We did however make two required stops and got to pick up something to eat. Before you know it, we reached Blackpool and could easily see the Blackpool Tower and Pepsi Max Big One in the distance.

The place we were staying at for the next 4 nights was to be our most “budgeted” place on the tour. Little did we know what we had in store. We pull into Pontin’s Holiday Camp at around 10:00PM, got our keys and made our way back to our rooms. Here is the thing about Pontin’s. It is a very large facility. This is basically one step up from camping. The rooms were very tiny, had no air, and if you were lucky, you got a remote with your TV. While the rooms may have been cramped among other things, the plus side was we were in walking distance of Blackpool. The facilty even handed out brown bags of food to eveyone. In the bag was a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, chips, and a fruit drink. I passed on the sandwich but ate the apple and drank the boxed drink.

A few of us left Pontin’s and decided to walk down to the Irish Sea. On the way, we walked by a very serious car accident scene. It didn’t look good. One car was hit by another car so violently, it threw the drivers side door unto the other side of the road. The scene was being cleaned up by the time we got there, but we could still see how serious it was. Sad to say, but from the look of it, it looked like someone could have easily been killed in such an accident. We never found out what happened.

High tide hadn’t hit yet so we walked a good distance on the beach before we reached the actual sea. Since this was about the closest I was going to get to actually touching the land in Ireland, I decided to take my shoes off and step into the sea. Joe did the same thing. The water was freezing. Jeff, Joe and I just looked all around absorbing the whole moment. We could see Blackpool Pleasure Beach off in the distance, and lights off the horizon looking into the sea. We also noticed that there was still some sunlight visible, and noted the time. It was 10:30pm and we could still see sunlight.

After chatting a bit more while on the beach, we walked back to our compound, a.k.a Pontins, and tried to get some sleep for another big day. At this time, my throat started to become sore and my nose started to run. Jeff was my roomate for the tour and he arrived in England with a nasty cold. Hopefully I was not getting this cold as I am sure it would spread to everyone on the coach.

Next up….

Great times to be had at Flamingland and a strange introduction to something blooby.

Thanks for reading,

-Sean

*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/14/2002. ***

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Thursday, September 12, 2002 8:39 PM
Sean - there's this thing called a paragraph. Use it, and I'll gladly read your TR. Right now, it makes my eyes hurt.

~me

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Thursday, September 12, 2002 8:52 PM

nelson324 said:
Sean - there's this thing called a paragraph. Use it, and I'll gladly read your TR. Right now, it makes my eyes hurt.

I understand this and was correcting the problem when you responded. For some reason, my pasted info doesn't show up well in my final post so I have to go back and edit all those paragraphs manually.

Also, the links to the photos might not work right now despite my attempts.

-Sean (time to get my @$$ to sleep) F.

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Friday, September 13, 2002 9:54 AM

The serial trip report!

I can't wait to find out what happens next! :)

-----------------
He let the contents of the bottle do the thinking; can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding.

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Friday, September 13, 2002 6:33 PM

Sorry guys but the picture links aren't going to happen thanks to yahoo/geocities's policy of not being able to link files to other sites. I should have paid more attention to the user policy.

Anyone know of a free, easy to set up web service that will allow me to share a few if my pictures, via links?

-Sean

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Friday, September 13, 2002 6:52 PM

www.pbase.com is a truely awesome free site. It has virtually unlimited space which is a major perk. It's where I keep all my pictures. It's absolutely free, and you can directly link to the pics.

I should really thank Jeff for that site though, since he provided that link at GTTP a while back.

Anyway.. this is the exact thing I've been looking for, a complete TR of EuroOd... even if it is just one day at a time.. ;) (not that it matters to me.. adds to the suspense!.. as well as making it feel more *real* than posting them all in a day or 2)

[shamelessplug]

Oh.. BTW.. my pics can be found at www.pbase.com/jamminj

[/shamelessplug]

;)

*** This post was edited by JamminJ on 9/13/2002. ***

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Friday, September 13, 2002 7:44 PM

Jammin,

Dude! Thank you SO much for this site. It worked well and the links are working! Time to go post another segment.

-Sean

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Tuesday, September 17, 2002 6:11 PM

Nice TR Sean! That picture of the twists makes it look strange.

-Sean

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-Sean

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