The Ups and Downs of May 2005 (Part 2)(Paramount Canada's Wonderland)

Associated parks:
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Monday, June 20, 2005 4:22 AM
“That ride looks terrible. Let’s go ride it!”

I woke up with blurry eyes trying to focus onto a working version of a HUSS Topple Tower that Iain made out of Lego. I had slept on the floor next to it and was glad I didn’t roll over and topple it (pun attended) over as I am sure Iain wouldn’t have been too happy with me. Then again, if I had broken it, I am sure he would have been able to make another version in like 5 minutes flat. The guy is a genius. He showed us one device he made using Lego robotics. He pushed a button and we watched in amazement as this device picked out small blocks of Lego and turned them into tiny duck heads. Crazy stuff I tell ya’. Only Iain.

I felt pretty rested. I knew we had a REALLY long day and there was a good chance that I would be getting anymore sleep until around 24 hours or so. We needed to pace ourselves this day so we didn’t get burnt out quickly. Our plan was fairly simple. We would spend some time at the park then once we got our fill of riding, we would make the 8 hour drive home. Easy.


Aaron, Sara, and I hopped into my car and followed Iain to a nearby McDonalds. On the way we went by a mall and noticed a school bus sitting out front with the words “Hendry” painted on the side of it. I tried to point it out to Iain thinking it was something he would have got a kick out of but I guess the bus has been there for quite a while as he didn’t seem very excited about seeing his last name painted on a bus.


We decided to walk into the McDonald’s, order our food, and then eat on the way. I was kind of bummed they didn’t have egg biscuits at this location so I opted for something else. We didn’t have any Canadian cash on us and were pleased to find out that this establishment accepted US currency. The only downside was the change given back was Canadian. Fair enough….or so we thought. More on that later.


We followed Iain for an hour and a half towards Vaughn where the park is located. When we were within a few miles of the park, we passed a really tiny Smart Car. I hadn’t seen these in the states but remember seeing at least one in Europe in 2002. Iain is going through a Smart Car thing right now and was visibly excited to see one on the road. I believe he said he even posts in a Smart Car forum someplace and recognized the driver we had passed as someone on that forum.


====Paramount Canada’s Wonderland====

We arrived at the park about 40 minutes before it was supposed to open. We wanted to be sure to ride the new coaster first and didn’t feel like waiting over 2 hours to do so. As we pulled up to the park we got a nice glimpse of the new coaster on the other side of a lake. Not surprisingly, the ride looked exactly like its Ohio twin but with a nicer setting IMO. We pulled over to take a couple of quick pictures before heading to the parking lot booths. Aaron said he gets free parking at all Paramount parks because he is an employee. I believe there was even mention of this someplace on his work badge. When he showed the badge to the parking attendant, the attendant told us we still had to pay for parking. Aaron tried to tell him about the parking privilege but the attendant surprised us by saying he didn’t even know Paramount had another park anywhere. We still had to pay for parking which wasn’t the end of the world.

Aaron and Sara had never been to the park so they wanted to ride other things in addition to the new ride. This was my third visit to the park so I wasn’t in any dire need to ride everything but I did tell Aaron I would ride everything he would, even if it was a couple of coasters I really didn’t care for. We just thought it would be better to ride as a group. I had no problem with that logic.


As we walked up to the long line of metal detectors, we could tell the park had decided to open earlier than expected. Going through the detectors was pretty pointless IMO as security wasn’t checking anything that was setting off the alarms, at least in the sections we were walking through. Once through I went to Guest Relations and got a free ticket thanks to my PKI season pass. Aaron and Sara did the same thing with their PKI employee badges.


Once inside the park we headed to the left which is where the new ride is located. As with PKI, there was a large area roped off so we couldn’t get to the new ride for another half hour or so. I didn’t mind. As Iain and I were talking about the ride, a man walked up to us and asked us how we were doing. I recognized the man but didn’t remember his name. The last time I was at this park, Iain introduced me to this man who was the step-father of one of Iain’s friends. He ended up spending a lot of time with us that day last year. Iain hadn’t seen this guy since that last visit and it just so happened he was at the park this day. Small world huh?


Once the ropes were dropped, we walked towards the brand new ride. In just a matter of minutes we were standing in the queue.


----Italian Job: Stunt Track----(#604)

The first thing I noticed when entering the line for the ride was the actual line. There weren’t any switchbacks that I could see. It was all a direct shot to the loading station. As we continued our walk to the station, I could see small differences in this version. Nothing major but things like different colors on some of the large containers near the launch area, as well as white walls on this inside of the final tunnel. The letters that spell “Parking” at the top of the parking garage structure were in a different place and looked more crammed together. Other than those few things, this ride, not surprisingly, looked exactly like PKI’s version.

Aaron hadn’t ridden the PKI version yet so I told him and Sara that I was hoping we could get in the first car as it has a great variety of forces. At least the PKI version does. As luck would have it we were sent to the first car. As we sat in the cars I noticed there was no audio playing. No biggie as the ride is fun without it. The park was also running two trains with a third in the transfer track.

The launch and rest of ride felt exactly the same as the version I was used to. It was kind of eerie actually as I expected to see the PKI Racer coming into view in the background as we hit the top of the helix. It felt that similar. While the coaster portion of the ride felt the same, the effects department was much different. The only effect that was working was the fire effect, and there was more of it than the PKI version. The shooting water and fog effects weren’t on at all. Neither were the headlights or taillights. The tunnel seemed extra dark because of that.

Aaron and Sara really enjoyed their ride. Iain and I had a great ride as well. As we were walking down the exit we checked out our on ride pictures. I was surprised to see how well the pictures turned out. The camera is located in the cop car scene and provides a great angle of the cars and the riders. The camera on the PKI version is located at the very end of the launch. The downside to this is most everyone is looking to the right at the quick turn they are about to enter. I am sure PKI still sells a lot of pictures though.

I decided to stick around with Iain while Aaron and Sara walked around a bit. During this time Iain and I took some pictures of Italian Job. We walked up the exit to get some closer pictures of the trains. I noticed this version has small water sprayers that cool the LIM fins. As far as I know, PKI’s version doesn’t have that. When I pointed those out to Iain, a woman that was standing next to us turned around. She asked us how we knew so much about the ride. When she found out I had come from Ohio to ride it, she introduced herself. Sadly, I have forgotten her name but she is one of the folks that work in marketing. We talked a few minutes before she walked down the exit with us. She was escorting a country music radio station staff around the park so our conversation was brief, but I was glad to meet up with her.

The rest of the day was spent riding a lot of other rides. Some of them were good. Some I could have done without. We took Aaron and Sara over to the two mega-flats, Sledgehammer (a Huss Jump Squared), and Psyclone, a Mondial version of a Giant Frisbee. Sledgehammer is one of those rides that look more insane than it actually is. It’s not a bad ride but it really didn’t feel like I thought it would. Psyclone on the other hand felt more incredible to me than it looked. Iain made sure we were in the sweet seats so we were able to get the most lift out of any section of seats. Thanks again Iain!


--Tomb Raider: The Ride—

Going against my better judgment, I told Aaron I would ride this with him. I have ridden three versions of these Zamperla flying tyrants and have not enjoyed any of them. I was just about to bail out of line as I remembered the ride I had gotten on this last year. Aaron said there was no way it could be as bad as he had heard. I decided to stick it out and ride with him as I wanted to hear him during the ride.

We only had to wait 15 minutes or so for this one. Iain suggested that Aaron and Sara get to stand/lay down in the two middle seats for a “more comfortable” ride. That mean Iain and I would be taking the brunt of the ride. There really isn’t much to say about our ride other than Aaron did make some horrible sounds while riding, and he didn’t care for it that much but did say it wasn’t the worst he has ridden. I on the other hand am officially done with this ride, and probably other versions of it. It’s just not my cup of tea.

---Sky Rider---

Ya! A TOGO stand-up with the same layout as King Cobra. Aaron was excited about this one as he really misses King Cobra. Sky Rider is rougher than I remembered it and the loading is really slow, but I am glad I got to ride it again.


---Top Gun---

Here is another ride I said I wouldn’t ride unless I was with someone that had never ridden it before. Luckily we didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for our ride. On the plus side I was very happy to see crews on all the rides (minus Sky Rider) really pumping people through. We knew it was going to be a crowded day, although it didn’t look to be this early on. Oh, and I doubt I ever ride this coaster again as well. Next to Wildwood’s SLC, this one is the roughest version I have done.


We continued to walk around the rest of the park and check out things. Iain took us to an area where we could get up close shots of Vortex. Out of the other times I have been to the park, I never realized there was a large grassy area where people could walk up to the ride or just sit in the grassy area to relax.

---Vortex---

This Arrow suspended coaster has the same layout as PKI’s Top Gun. It seems so strange to see and ride another suspended coaster like this with a layout I am familiar with. Vortex runs rougher than PKI’s version. Perhaps that is due to the smaller wheel size? There is also pretty nasty pothole located on the second drop. Overall a fun ride.


At this point we decided to take a break and get some lunch. We ate at a pizza place that was located near the front of the park. Aaron had pointed out to Sara that the park had an Orange Julius stand nearby and wanted to pick up a drink before we left. Lunch was nice as we sat near the large waterfall that drops off the mountain. We could feel the cool mist as the breeze would blow it our way. The weather was perfect. I hadn’t experienced a “perfect day” of weather like this for some time. It was in the upper 60’s, clear, and very comfortable.

We decided to walk over to the Skycoaster so Iain could chat with a few of his friends that work on the ride. It appeared that the crew was in training as they were giving rides to employees. Iain made contact with his friends and introductions were made. Before I knew it, Iain’s friends asked us if we wanted to take a free ride on the Skycoaster. I had never passed up free rides in the past and I wasn’t going to let this chance slip by. Aaron, Sara and I were quickly harnessed up. We were climbing up into the sky in a matter of minutes. As we were climbing up I looked down at my feet and I could see the parking lot. It looked a LOT fuller than it was when we arrived. Perhaps today was going to be a busy day after all?

Our ride was fantastic. I really do love these rides. I honestly used to be addicted to them. Back in 1998 and 1999, anytime I was at a park with one of these, I would ride them. I stopped counting them once I reached 26. I don’t ride them as often as I used to but I still like them a lot. Thanks to the crew for the ride! It was great.


We continued to walk around the park checking out lines. By this time it was 3:00 and Iain and I had to take a break from riding so we could meet up with two other friends. Sara and Aaron took this time to walk around and shop. Good friends Dave Sandborg and Janna Rasmussen just happened to be passing through the area and had heard we were going to be at the park this day. We had planned to meet up at the front gate at 3:00. Iain and I were at the front gate sitting near the fountains when a park employee approached us.

“Are you two Iain and Sean?” the employee asked.

Confused, Iain and I asked how he knew this. The employee said he was asked to walk over from the front gate from the direction of two people who could see us. We followed the employee to the front gate and could see Dave and Janna on the other side. Dave said the two of them were not going to go into the park. When we asked why, Dave pointed to the right. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. There was a long, long, long line of people who were standing to purchase tickets. An employee was standing out in front of the line telling people it was over an hour wait. An hour wait? Just to purchase tickets? You have got to be kidding me. I wouldn’t be standing in that line either but I guess Canadians are more patient.

Dave and I had another reason for our meeting. We were to trade DVDs. I had copied him 10 DVDs of all the footage I shot in Europe on the ACE 2002 European Coaster Odyssey. Dave had copied his ECO footage for me, as well as 3 DVDs of Scandinavian footage he shot last year. I followed Dave and Janna to their car, which was basically located in Guam. Once we were at their car, they were nice enough to drive me to mine which was much closer to the front gate. We said our goodbyes and Dave and Janna left. It’s too bad I didn’t get to spend more time with them as I really enjoy their company.

I walked back to the front gate area and was once again shocked to see massive lines, but this time they were for the metal detectors. Luckily there was one detector set up for re-entry so I didn’t have to wait 40 minutes to get back inside the park. Once inside I met up with the rest of the group and we continued riding. I wanted to leave by 6:00 so that would leave us with just under 2 and a half hours or riding. I don’t remember the order in which we rode things, but I will mention the rides we rode.

--Cliffhanger—

This is Mondial’s version of a Top Spin. In case you haven’t seen one, just picture a Top Spin with two rows that spin independent of each other. While we were waiting in line someone lost something on the ride. The ride crew closed the ride down to retrieve whatever the rider had lost. It ended up being an on-ride photo. While I am sure the man was happy to get the photo back, I wasn’t the only one that thought this was a bit over the top. It was at this time that we noticed the ride crews really starting to slack off. They weren’t as fast as they were during the first half of the day. Our ride was very intense and it was worth the wait. Aaron commented that this was the best ride at the park.


---Dragon Fire---

This unique Arrow looper is the only one I know of that has two counter-clockwise corkscrews. The layout is a mirror image of Vekoma’s Big Loop at Heide Park. There was one ride operator who was at the main controls that wouldn’t dispatch the trains unless the train in the station was screaming. It was quite annoying and one guest started yelling for him to shut up. Our ride wasn’t all that rough. The corkscrews do feel strange rotating in the other direction.

---The Fly---

We waited about a half hour before we were on. The ride kept on stacking in different blocks around the course thanks to one operator who was taking her time loading the cars. Basically she would make sure everyone was loaded before starting to talk to riders instead of dispatching. She would go as far as getting on her knees so she could be down to the riders level to chat. It was one of the most bizarre things I have seen a ride operator do. We did get to ride so all was not lost.


---Wild Beast---

Aaron and Sara rode in the very back seat while Iain and I rode in the seat in front of them. Iain and I had an alright ride but we could tell from the groans coming from behind us that Aaron did not care for the ride at all. It wasn’t exactly tracking well and I could only imagine what it would have felt riding over the wheels.


---Mighty Canadian Minebuster---

We had time for one more ride. While Aaron wasn’t able to get on every ride in the park, he chose this coaster for his final ride. While we were standing in line we got some nice pictures of Italian Job in action. It went down shortly after and we never did see it come back up. I told Aaron that I thought Minebuster was the smoother of the two larger wooden coasters at the park. Luckily it was running fairly well this day.

It was now 6:00 and I told Aaron and Sara we had to leave. We made our way to the front of the park. I went into a gift shop to pick up a shirt. Iain went with me while Aaron and Sara decided to go for that Orange Julius drink they mentioned earlier. I purchased my shirt and waited outside the shop for Aaron and Sara. As we were waiting a small dog ran right past us and towards the front gate. Iain and I were baffled as we had never seen a dog in a theme park running around. Luckily the owner had caught up to it and picked it up before walking out the front gate.

After about 20 minutes, Iain said he was going to go find Aaron and Sara. A few minutes later he came back and said I needed to follow him. I didn’t know what was going on. As I arrived at the Orange Julius, Aaron and Sara were standing there with a kind of shocked look on their faces. Aaron explained that when they went to pay for their drinks, the cashier took the money and told them the money was counterfeit. Security was then called and Aaron and Sara were questioned. The money came from the McDonald’s we had gotten breakfast at. The park didn’t accuse Aaron or Sara of being counterfeiters, but they did take the money and didn’t exchange it. They were out $10 or so but they still had some other cash that was legit so everything was cool in the end.

We then left the park and said goodbye to Iain. It was really great hanging out with him once again. We always have a blast doing parks together and I look forward to riding with him again. Thanks for putting us up for the night Iain!


By the time we got on the road it was 7:00. We had an 8 hour drive to look forward to. I tried to psyche myself into thinking the drive was going to be fun. Aaron did the same thing and we soon were glad we were driving home. Just as we were leaving Toronto, my car hit the 50,000 mark. The rest of the drive went by much quicker than I thought it would. It ended up taking around seven and a half hours. Once back in Columbus, Aaron and Sara left. I had to get a few hours sleep before heading to Dayton for the funeral.

While I knew this day was going to be difficult, it ended up being easier for me to get through thanks to the trip. I was able to let some stress go and have some fun in the process. Had I decided to stay in town and sit around and be sad, I would have had a much more difficult time this day. There is no doubt about it. The true power of friends came through for me when I needed it the most. For that, I am very grateful to have the family and friends I have. Thanks guys and gals!

Aaron's pictures are available here.


So this was just one weekend. What could possibly happen next? Read on to find out.


Next up….


Things go back to normal as the somewhat insane side takes over once again.


Thanks for reading,


-Sean

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Monday, June 20, 2005 4:47 AM
You know, Sean, if you don't go to Japan this year, I'm going next year with a friend. It won't be totally a 'coaster' trip, but we will be hitting up a bunch of parks in a short amount of time. You know, the kind of trip you're used to ;).
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Monday, June 20, 2005 8:25 AM
Wow! Counterfeit money? Hour-long wait for tickets? A random dog running through the park?

Only you, Sean. ;-)

I am glad you got to take your trip as I can imagine you needed it. Coasters and the company of good peeps are the best medicine for stress. :-)

I am thrilled to see you had as great a time as Bill and I did in early June. I'm also done with Tomb Raider: Ride of Pain as it KILLED me this time around.

Looking forward to Part 3 of your TR.......

-Tina

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Monday, June 20, 2005 12:28 PM
Yeah... waits like that at the front gate have been like that all year. Over 2 hours during Season Pass sale time, then over an hour to get the pass processed. Insane.

Tip: If visiting PCW without a pass... get web tickets or go to Blockbuster to buy them first. Both tickets are printed with a bar code already, so no waiting at a ticket booth at the park.

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Monday, June 20, 2005 12:46 PM
Great TR, Sean. As if we expected any less...;)

Guess I got *extraordinarily* lucky getting my ticket at PCW.

Most of the coasters were so-so, but there were some coastering highlights for me. Minebuster, the Togo standup, the suspended, the *non-coasting* Thunder Run, and of course, IJ:ST were all highlights for me.

The flat rides, what haven't I already said, LOL. Best. flats. package. EVER! Jump2 may just be *my new Tumbler*, and the Splashover, that just looks TO good - wish it hadn't been set on "drown"...;)

But what *made* PCW, for me, was the maintenance, operations, and staffing. move over Carowinds, I have a new favorite Paramount park! :)

bill, saying the appropriate response to *counterfeit money* is...."and what do you all call THIS stuff, all weird colors, shapes, sizes, and coins for singles....that's just plain LOONY"...:)

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Thursday, June 23, 2005 5:17 AM
Clint,

What do you mean "if" I don't go to Japan this year? There isn't any other option. =:^)

Tina,

I doubt we have seen the last of those Zamperla flying things in the US. I still am not sure I want to ride another unless I go into a super credit whore mode, or unless they improve on the design.

PCWCoasterBoy,

Thanks for the tip. Luckily there wasn't anyone that needed a ticket when we went. We lucked out with short lines at the start of the morning so it might not have been an issue, but if we had arrived later in the day and didn't have passes, it would have been nasty.

Bill,

Thanks!

The operations are weird at that park. Sometimes they are amazing, sometimes they are really bad. We got to see a mix of both on this trip.

-Sean

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Friday, June 24, 2005 10:41 AM
I've always thought Minebuster was the rougher of the two woodies. On Wild Beast, as far as I know, you don't have a choice of whether to sit on wheels or not, as there are only two rows in each car.. wouldn't that mean that you're either sitting on the front or rear wheels?

Minebuster has a gigantic pothole on the drop before the turnaround. Absolutely brutal. THe re-tracking of the hill just before that, as well as most of the hills on the return run have really sucked the fun out of what was once a pretty good coaster.

Since it's my home park, I'm so used to riding corkscrews counter-clockwise that it's weird for me to run them the other way. Funny how things work, huh.

Despite the pothole, I prefer Vortex to Top Gun at PKI. The location I enjoy more. If Top Gun had a better location for the turnaround, and maybe some more variance of ground underneath the ride, I might enjoy that one more. As is, Vortex gets the nod, mainly because of the swinging through the trees, the turnaround over water, and the first drop, which I've always loved.

Good TR!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005 2:01 PM
grind your soul,

With two and three bench PTC trains, riders in the back row are sitting directly above the axle. Riders in the front are not, providing a much smoother ride.

I agree that Vortex has a better location than Top Gun. Top Gun runs smoother, but it really doesn't have the nice views that Vortex has.

-Sean

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