Starting Time: 9:50 AM
Park Hours: Media Day 10AM-2PM
"Unexpected Water Effects"
After several weekends of Technical Rehearsals, The Italian Job: Stunt Track is ready for Media Day!
Arriving at the park, I proceeded up to the front gate where we bypassed the security checkpoint and went in through the exit gates, then through the unattended turnstiles to the registration table located inside the entrance building. Asked for last name and I got my lanyard thing and a timetable, and proceeded into a red carpet line leading into a limo.
*User does double take*
Wait, a limo? Yes, a stretch limo was shuttling people back to the ride from the front gate. I was the last one into this limo, and it took off, driving back to Rivertown to a red carpet in front of the bathroom by Italian Job. Walking down another red carpet with even more greeters, we all gathered around the IJ entrance plaza where I soon met up with Dave Bowers, Dave Althoff and Jerry Dorf as we waited for the festivities to start. Loudspeaker announcements played every so often, timed exactly, counting down toward the start of events at 10:30.
At 10:30, we were directed to look up, and we saw a plane circling overhead. At first I was like "Big deal, a little plane." but then said plane deposited three parachutists out of it, which descended toward us. One with a IJST flag, one with a US flag, and the third, who I think got lost coming down as he took forever to land, carrying a PKI flag. After they landed, a pause, then a Brinks truck sped up, chased by two Mini Coopers. The drivers got out, and opened the back door of the second Mini, and out pops Jeff Siebert, who throws some fake $100 bills around, before going up to the podium.
The introductions of the two stunt drivers (Who were from the Italian Job movie) took place, along with the welcoming of all of us to the event. Jeff talked about the ride, then introduced Mayor Beck of Mason, who read a proclamation and declared May 19 2005 as The Italian Job: Stunt Track Day in Mason.
Jeff then gave the official opening of the ride, and low level pyrotechnics went off. Then, we all began the surge back into the queue area, as media crews videotaped the crowd and the ride test runs beginning.
We entered the queue and when the dust settled, we were just under the yellow queue shade cover in the end of the first switchback. It moved fairly quickly despite only two trains. We boarded, with myself and Mark being in the White car. After our ride we all went around and rode again, this time waiting longer under the shade cover as they mounted a camera on the front car of one of the trains for media shoots.
As we got to the bridge over the splash, rain started. A light rain at first, but it picked up a bit. I commented that I left my poncho in the car, but a couple minutes later, employees came down the line passing free ponchos out. We waited until after our ride to put them on, but when we got off and went toward the photo trailer to get our free photos, it started raining for real, and the ponchos quickly went on. Soon everyone there had turned orange. They were printing mass batches of photos, so we were told they would be taken to the covered areas in Coney Mall, and we all went over to get lunch.
Lunch was an Italian buffet under a tent, and we all served ourselves and took shelter under the Peach Basket game to eat in the dry. Lunch was served on real chine plates with cloth napkins. After eating we braved the rain to get drinks (served in glass wine glasses) and returned to Peach Basket, where we had our drinks, and I played a couple free rounds of Peach Basket.
During the rain, a decently big storm hit, featuring a nice light show including several CLOSE lightning strikes. Surprisingly enough, I heard Italian Job kept running 15 minutes after we left, despite the lightning.
The rain let up a little, so we went to the game joint on the other side of the food tent to look for our photos. Having no luck there, Mark and I walked back over to the IJ ride area to check the photo trailer. Still no luck. After a quick bathroom break, the rain started up again in full force, and we ran for shelter inside Happy Days Diner.
After hanging out in Happy Days for a while, we all wondered back over to the ride area. The rain was letting up a bit, so we hovered around the ride, Mark finally found our onride photo in the stack. They were printing FOUR of every photo! It was alter trimmed to two, but it still was taking forever to print up.
The rain was stopped entirely and the sun was peeking out a bit. Time: 1:45 PM. We receive a "Maybe" answer on whether or not it will reopen. Maybe is better than no!
A few minutes later, we are gathering around the entrance area, and we hear a lovely sound: The ride startup siren, followed by an "All Clear" from the station and a train launching. All Right! I DO wonder why the loud startup siren "Warning, please clear the ride area we are about to launch trains... Warning! The Power is on..." is played at the ride entrance. it's the same siren as FOF, but in Jeff Siebert's voice. A minute later, the queue reopens, and we hurry into the line.
The front seat queue is long due to one of the trains having the front seat blocked off due to the camera mount. So I get in the queue for Red 1. We are informed that the E-Stop from the storm shutdown knocked out the ride's effects, so Tech Services is on the way to reset it.
A couple minutes later, the stunt show starts up, and they start loading the trains. We all ride, walk out, run around, and ride again. Then we are told they are done, so no more rides. or are there?
We are informed that everyone who can get on the next four trains can ride. So we run back into the line and get another ride. Total for me 5 rides on IJ for the day.
The ride shut down again, we all start walking out after making a last attempt at getting more ride photos. I bailed on getting more due to the wait, and walked out behind the others. The limos had quit running, so we walked back out through Rivertown and under the Eiffel Tower to the front gate. During this walk I became the star of a Negative-G photo on the walk back.
Overall, A very good day. Due to my transportation setup this day I was unable to accompany several of the group to Jungle Jims, so I went out to the car and headed home.
PKI really knows how to put on a show. And they handled the rain extremely well, passing out free ponchos to everyone to make the day comfortable.
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