This trip turned out NOTHING like I had planned.
Originally, myself and two buddies were to leave Tallahassee, FL today, May 30th. We were going to do The Dells, Holiday World, Kentucky Kingdom and Great America, but when all was said and done, I was going solo.
So the plans changed and I moved the trip up a week to get out of Florida ASAP. I made new plans to drive to Dale, IN and spend two days at Holiday World before leaving for Beech Bend on Friday, May 26th, and then staying that night in Birmingham, AL, where I would proceed to Alabama Adventure on Saturday before heading home.
Voyage changed it all.
I left Tallahassee at 8am on Tuesday, and after a long 11hr drive to Dale, IN, checked in at my hotel, the Motel 6 on 231, about 7 miles from Holiday World. That night wasn’t overly exciting, as I was pretty pooped from making the drive alone, as I only went to HW to take some outside pictures and then I crashed at the hotel. That night was pretty restless as I was greatly anticipating Voyage, as I had been an AVID follower of the construction from day one.
Wednesday, May 24th
I awoke far earlier than I had planned and took a nice, leisurely breakfast across the street at Denny’s. The service was great and the food was awesome, as it’s been years since I’ve eaten at a Denny’s. At about 9:15am, I headed to HW to snap a few more photos and get my two-day tickets. When I arrived at the gate, I was informed that the park had no power and tickets could not be sold. Bummer. So I headed back out to my car and waited. As I was wasting time, to my dismay, about 25 school buses started showing up to the park; not the way that I had envisioned the day going, and it was just beginning.
I was honestly starting to get a little frustrated but I wasn’t going to let that ruin my trip to my favorite park, after all, I did just drive across the country for it. Once I finally got in, I headed to Raven, but the line was quite pronounced and they were only running one train, so I continued onto Legend.
I fell in love with Holiday World in 2000 while riding Legend during Stark Raven Mad. It just completely blew my socks off and its stuck around at Number One since then, and it’s still Number One now (more on that later). During my first ride, I was still awestruck by this coaster, although that could have had something to do with the fact it was the first I’d ridden a coaster in over a year. Looking back now, I’d venture to say that’s exactly what my initial reaction was to. By the way, Legend was also running one train, so I waited about 10min for a back-seat ride.
Now, onto the main course.
I left Legend and made a beeline for Thanksgiving so I could feast on Voyage. And feast I did.
This ride just completely DOMINATES the park, from pretty much any vantage point. It’s just huge, and it can be seen EVERYWHERE. Remembering my initial reaction, I was just completely beside myself. It’s everywhere around you, and it’s just absolutely enormous.
To my disappointment, they were also running just one train on Voyage, and with all of the groups that day, it made for a decent-sized wait. My first ride, I waited it out for the back seat and when all was said and done, I was boarding the train about 50min later.
My God was it worth the drive.
With all of the reports provided already, all I can say is it’s unrelenting. It’s amazing. It’s ridiculous. It’s STUPID. It does not let up, and it certainly does not care about you. With every chance it gets, it slings you all over the place. Ripping you up out of your seat, tossing you this way, throwing you that way, all with an intensity and power that I’ve never felt from a ride before.
And this was at 11:30 in the morning!!!
By the end of the day, the ride was beyond words. Indescribable. Unbelievable.
Before the day was over, I ran into Jeff Peterson, of Chainlift. We’d met before and not realized it til well into the day. Him and his wife, Dawn, were on vacation for their anniversary and were very inviting considering I drove up there by myself. I ended up spending a good portion of my first two days with them, and I thank them for the generosity.
We rode Voyage over and over that day, with the crowds getting considerably smaller as the day went on. I never even rode Raven that day, and I had no remorse about that, either. Voyage rocked my world that much, and we finished off with a double ride at closing.
After the park closed, Jeff, Dawn and I headed to Wendy’s for a bite to eat and then went our separate ways for the evening. I crashed at my hotel soon after that, in anticipation for another day of Holiday World.
Thursday, May 25th
After the beating I’d taken from Voyage the day before, I slept in and got to the park about 10:15am. Jeff and I had exchanged numbers and arranged to meet up for lunch if we hadn’t run into each other by lunch time. I had decided to come into the park in the morning and spend a few hours taking photos, and that’s pretty much what I did.
At first arrival, I grabbed a walk-on ride on Raven in the back, and I must say, this ride was running better than I had ever experienced it. The re-tracking did it so good, that I couldn’t believe this was the same Raven I’d ridden in ‘00/’01. I seriously had it in consideration for taking over Legend, and I had never even thought of that before. Anyway, Raven was running great, and I loved every single ride I took on my trip.
After Raven, I passed on Legend and headed straight for Voyage again for a morning ride.
STILL delivering, this ride is unreal.
After my ride on Voyage, I spent about 2-2.5hr walking all around the park and getting pictures of the coasters from any angle I could get. All-in-all, I ended up with over 350 pictures from the whole trip.
I went to drop my camera off in my car and that’s when I got in touch with Jeff and Dawn. We met at Kringles and had a nice, relaxing lunch. The park wasn’t quite as crowded today as it was Wednesday, but the heat seemed as if it picked up considerably.
Throughout the rest of the day, we logged a few rides on Raven and Legend, but spent the majority of our time out in Thanksgiving, riding Voyage. Once again, as the day went along, the ride picked up considerably.
About 4:45pm, the whole Thanksgiving area of the park lost power, but we decided once the crowds started leaving the station, we would wait it out. It was during this time that a severe thunderstorm warning was issued, and so we headed back to the front of the park. We decided to wait out the storm in Kringles, but while we were kicking back, park employees came in and ushered everyone into the back of the restaurant, citing a Tornado Warning, and we were told we could not leave until it cleared.
When all was said and done, we were kept in Kringle’s until about 7pm, almost 2hr after we got in there, and they let us go once the hail stopped falling.
After a little shopping, we parted ways, and I said goodbye to Holiday World for what I thought was my last day at the park.
As exciting as the past two days were, and as great as Voyage was, nothing could prepare me for what was to happen next. On my way back to the hotel, through a slight drizzle and occasional thunder, my car was sabotaged.
Out of nowhere, about a quarter-mile from the Motel 6, the sky opened up and I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. I opted to pull the car over, but as I did, all I could hear were what sounded like 4 or 5 shotgun blasts right outside my door, so I took initiative and bee-lined for my hotel, where I took cover under the overhang by the front door. As I was frantically pulling in, the power flickered out all around, and I jumped out of my car and hauled ass inside, as shingles and hail flew all around me, and what had to be 80mph winds blew me around.
After about 10minutes waiting around the lobby with some other guests, I ventured outside to find the roof of a house about 200 yards from the hotel ripped off the house and tossed through the hills, across the road and into the fields across the street. A farm in the plot of land was leveled, and there were power poles and lines down as far as the eye could see down US-231. Come to find out a few minutes later, it was a F1 tornado that tore the little house and barn apart.
While I was waiting around for the electricity to come back, I ran into Tom Kelly, Curt Hassinger, Max and Chip who were trying to check into the same hotel, but could not because of the power outage. Curt, Tom and I took a walk down the road to look at damage, and it was at that time that FOX7 out of Evansville interviewed me for their evening newscast. To my dismay, I didn’t make it on the air, but the news woman quoted my words. Yeah!
That night I spent about 2 hours hanging out with those guys before calling it a night. Way too much excitement for me for one night.
Friday, May 26th
I woke up around 9am and checked out of my hotel, as today I’d planned on visiting Beech Bend with Scott Schaffer and Andrew Hartman before heading to Birmingham, AL for the night.
As I arrived at Beech Bend, I got a call from Scott telling me Rumbler had been struck by lightning the night before and would not run at all that day, so we made alternate plans to visit the National Corvette Museum. The day only got better when they offered to let me stay with them at Santa’s Lodge if I wanted to attend HoliWood Nights. I was ecstatic!! Of course I couldn’t turn down the offer, so we headed back to Santa Claus.
Oh, how absolutely happy I am for making that decision.
HoliWood Nights, and the extra two days (Friday and Saturday) I spent at Holiday World ended up probably being one of the most fun 48 hours of my life. We crammed six of us into one room at Santa’s Lodge, including me, Scott, Andrew, Corey Jessup, Kyle Smith and Andrew’s girlfriend Nicole. It would be impossible to describe how much fun we had.
Jumping forward through the night, it’s absolutely incredible how much better Voyage got. It’s really, really stupid. That’s all we could come up with to describe it, that it’s stupid. It makes everything else stupid. And besides, it was really fun to say.
After an ERT-opening ride on Raven, we camped out at Voyage for the whole night, taking many breaks to cool off and rest. It’s that intense. I’ve never gotten OFF a ride shaking like Voyage was doing to me. I’ve been more shaken up before a ride (Millennium Force) but never like this after a ride. It’s really unbelievable.
After the ERT ended, all of us, sans Kyle, made our way to the bar at Santa’s Lodge, where there were plenty of other enthusiasts, as well. They had told us they would close at midnight, but Corey and I didn’t leave until the bartender booted us around 2:45am. It was a great, drunken time.
Saturday, May 27th
Andrew, Nicole and Kyle all opted to take advantage of the breakfast and water park ERT in the morning, but considering how late Corey and I passed out, we took advantage of the time and slept in until around 11:30am. After finally getting ready to go, Scott, myself and Corey headed to Denny’s for breakfast, and then we arrived at the park around 12:30pm.
Scott took off to ride, while Corey and I took a more relaxed approach to this day. We ventured all throughout the park so he could get shots of the rides with his expensive-ass camera, and I was just there to kick back. It was then we decided we needed to find some girls on this trip, but much to our dismay, it seems like there wasn’t too good of a selection in our early/mid-twenties age range. But alas, times moves on.
Around 5pm, and only one ride on Raven and Voyage each, we headed back to the hotel for a nap before the second night of ERT; a night that will easily go down as one of the best nights of my life.
Everything was perfect. The waits weren’t bad at all. It was pitch black. Voyage was running three trains and Raven and Legend were both running two. Waits were no longer than 15-20min for any seat other than the front and back on Voyage, and with Voyage not having one single bad seat on it, that’s amazing considering how many people were wanting to ride.
From the very start of this night’s ERT, it was dark, unlike the night before that started at dusk. That meant 3.5 solid hours of nighttime, in the middle of the woods, can’t see a damn thing in front of you, absolutely out of control ERT.
And my God was Voyage running in overdrive.
Did I mention that it’s STUPID!?
At one point in the night, I spotted Will and walked over to him, shook his hand and said nothing more than, “You’re sick…But thank you,” and walked off.
And when you’re standing out by the lifthill, as far out as you can go where the pathway ends, all you can hear is the chain lift. Then the train falling.
After that, it sounds like a jet engine taking off, and then it’s dead silent as it clears the second hill, only to reappear with a ferocity that was mind-boggling a good minute later.
We ended the night with our whole group on Voyage, and then a triple ride on Legend. An amazing way to end an amazing night, and weekend, and trip.
When we left the park, we headed to the bar again for about 30minutes, but were just too gassed and exhausted to stay up.
When all is said and done, Voyage isn't #1. It's Number Zero. It can't be touched, it's that good. There's Voyage, then there's nothing. Then there's everything else somewhere in another world. It's THAT. GOOD.
I want to thank Holiday World, the Koch’s, Paula Werne, and everyone who helped make this trip so great. It was an AMAZING time and one I won’t forget for the rest of my life. It was incredibly sad making that long, lonely drive back to Florida, but I made it alright.
It was also great running into old friends in Joe Campanella, Cindy Stout, Cory Patrick, Max, Matt Sullivan, Derek Ruth, and many others. I also want to thank Andrew, Scott, Corey, Kyle, Nicole, Jeff, and Dawn for making my, what was supposed to be solo-time, a great time! And it was also great to finally meet Paul Drabek, Heather Watkins, and Ted from CoasterFanatics. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting as my mind it still boggled, but thank all of you for a GREAT time!
Voyage - 38
Raven - 15
Legend - 15
Gobbler - 1
-Steve *** Edited 5/31/2006 1:41:27 AM UTC by gatorchomp83***
Glad you made it home safe, and hopefully we'll see each other at the next HW event, too...whenever that may be (please Sept or Oct!).
Oh yeah, Voyage made that impression! I still can't believe I spent 4 straight days at HW, but man was it worth it. I'm looking at a few different trips, now. I think I'm back in the swing of this coaster thing. I'm sure we'll chill again sometime, I need to get to Orlando. I'm FROM there and haven't been in 4 years! But hey, we got the first night ride on Voyage, and hell if that didn't start a snowball of rides for the rest of the weekend!
Unfortunately Kentucky Rumbler was taken out by lightning the next day *** Edited 5/31/2006 3:29:38 PM UTC by rc-madness***
I reached my upload limit, so I have to wait until tomorrow to upload the rest. If you click on any photo, you can get the option to look at a really big version of each one.
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