TR: North Texas State Fair

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 7:19 PM
TR: North Texas State Fair

Date: 8-19-06
Weather: Over 100 degrees and extremely hot
Crowds: minimal

I heard about a small carnival in Denton, Tx as part of the North Texas State Fair. That was last Thursday. I called my grandfather up and he agreed to go on Sunday, cancelling another commitment he had. I was not expecting much. The web site said that there would be about 20 rides. However, what I was to find out when I got there was that they had some rides I had been wanting to ride ever since I heard about them.

Grandpa picked me up about 3:30 on Sunday. I had just finished recording a summary of the Mesquite Championship Rodeo for my podcast when he came to the door. I will talk about my podcast a little later. It took about an hour and a half to get to Denton. The first thing we did is stop at a Kroger's across from the fairgrounds to get some sunscreen. After we put it on, we headed to find a parking place. We kept being told to go different ways by different people. It seemed that nobody knew where to go to park. Finally, we found a parking place in the preferred lot ($5). The price was very reasonable. We paid the admission fee, which totaled $10 for the two of us, and headed onto the fairgrounds. Grandpa looked at the map which gave no directions on how to get to the midway. We decided just to keep looking at the Chance Giant Wheel that we kept seeing from the road (I found out later when I rode it that it was a Chance model).

When we got there, we took our tradditional walking tour so that I could plan out our day. Let's see, we have the following rides on the outer aisle:
1. Celner Tilt-a-Whirl
2. Chance Wipeout
3. Dartron Zero Gravity or Rubertz Roundup (Sweet!)
4. Rubertz Paratrooper
5. Fabbri Kamikaze I
6. Chance Giant Wheel
7. Mardi Gras glass house
8. Reverchon Bumper Cars
9. Celner Berry-go-Round

Not bad! I knew that Zero Gravity was going to be at the state fair in October, however, due to my training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind that will probably be starting next month, I would probably not get to ride it in October. It was nice to see one and I got really pumped up. Now, all I have to do is find an S&S Screaming Swing to ride to fill in for the one I would not get to ride at the fair (The swing is new this year).

We turned around by the bumper cars and came across:
1. Chance Zipper
2. Larson High Roller (All right!)
3. Funhouse
4. lots of kiddie rides that I did not count

I had to skip the Larson High Roller today, as there were no single riders allowed and Grandpa doesn't like thrill rides. That's a real shame, as I really like the High Roller (See my tr for the Star of Texas Fair that I wrote back in March). I also knew I would have to skip the Zipper, another fantastic ride. BTW, could somebody tell me what the difference is between the newer-style cages on modern Zippers and the older ones? I read a report about the Florida State Fair and there seemed to be a difference between the new and the old.

I had my small digital recorder with me to do audio of each ride. A lot of you do video. Well, I obviously cannot see video, so I capture the rides with a small digital recorder. I take it onto the rides with me and record my experience. Most of the ops don't even realize that I have a recorder; it is so small. It just clips to my shirt and lays flat against my chest. What does happen on some rides (especially Zero Gravity and Kamikaze) is that I have to hold onto the restraint with only one hand so as to keep the recorder from slipping off. I also had my cell phone with me (I was intending to do a podcast by phone from the fair). I never got around to doing a phone post.

Well, enough of that. We headed to purchase me a POP wristband for $20. I probably would not have bothered to come to this midway if they didn't have wristbands. Grandpa also bought several ride tickets for himself.

First, I headed to the Celner Tilt-a-Whirl to start out the day. This one ran for a nice long time and spun reasonably well. It didn't tilt that far back, however. The best ones are the ones where you spin and lean way, way back. Of course, I recorded the whole thing.

Then it was off to the Dartron Zero Gravity! I had read so many good things about this ride thanks to reports that people have posted. I was really looking forward to it. I get walked up the steps, and what's this, I am staying outdoors for this ride. I thought that the drum would be completely enclosed. Then I get up into the cylinder and find a bay. People had said that the padding would go all the way down the drum and that it would be comfortable. I get into position and find that the pad starts at the upper part of my back and my lower body is against hard metal. I also notice grab bars on each side of me. I thought this ride relied on centrifugal force! Gravitrons don't have anything to grab onto; why does this?

I had also been led to believe that the Zero Gravity had a strap as a restraint. The op would put the strap through a peg on one side of the bay, and that would hold you in. Not this one; this one had a chain that went across my legs and fastened on each side of the bay. I felt it later; that's how I found out. I wonder if this is a Rubertz Roundup that they call Zero Gravity?

I thought I would be leaning back against the wall. No no no. Stand straight up and hang on to the grab bars. Then the ride started. Man, does this thing squeal or what! This thing made so much dang noise because of a tire on the outside that I started questioning whether this was the Dartron model. We didn't seem to go that fast. Then we got up to speed, and the boom began to rise. It felt like a Gravitron to me as the boom rose. I mean, we started lening back and it got to the point where I was laying on my back like I would on a Gravitron. Now we have some speed! It seemed to take a while for the boom to rise, maybe about 20 to 25 seconds. I was not pinned completely to the wall. I held on to the recorder with one hand, and I held on to one of the grab bars with the other. It was kind of scary.

Once we got to the top, we spun for a few minutes. I really started to see why so many people like this thing. It has a lot of force and it spins pretty fast. It seemed to spin a little, then stop, then do another revolution. It felt like I was being rocked from side to side with each spin. Even later, when I rode it holding on to both grab bars with no recorder, I still moved a little. Overall, I really enjoyed the ride. It is something I really like, and I hope more carnivals in our region get these things. Or at least, that they get the new ones with the straps. I really liked that there was a ridge on the floor that you stood on. That is also a good marking for blind people to show them where to stand in the bay. That was a nice ride, though it was not as fast as I thought it would be. Gravitron is still the better ride to me. It has more forces and it seems to spin faster.

Next, it was off to ride my first Rubertz Paratrooper as an enthusiast. Grandpa rode with me and he really enjoyed it, as did I. This one didn't go backward. However, I thought that it was a nice ride. It wasn't too fast, but it wasn't too slow either. It is perfect for everyone, whether they be an enthusiast or not.

Now it was off to the funhouse. I have to rant a little here. I got to the funhouse and got ready to go in. I headed into the house and where the heck are the floor tricks? They had shut the power off because I was blind. What we have here is an obvious form of discrimination. We tried to tell them that I had been through funhouses before. However, the carnies were so scared that they just cut the power off. I would have gone to the show office to report it, but we didn't see one. Those carnies should be fired. Just because I'm blind does not mean I have unequal access. They need an education. They had no right to humiliate me like they did by shutting the power off. OK, I'm going to stop ranting now, but you get the point. That is a perfect example of tpm, although here it should be called cm.

Walking through the house with the power off was kind of unique, but I just wanted to get out of there. It was primarily an outdoor funhouse, so the railings were burning my hands. I got through it as fast as I could. It looked like I was missing out on a really good funhouse. There were spinning discs, a buckling bridge that actually moved a little bit, and what should have been a set of moving stairs. However, thanks to the dingbats in charge (I have meaner words to say about them that I will not publish), I had to content myself to walking through with the power shut off. If I knew who was providing the rides for this midway, I would have filed a lawsuit. This is absolutely unacceptable.

After that, it was off to the Fabbri Kamikaze. At first, it looked like I would not be able to ride because of a "no single riders" rule. Actually, there was one. The reason they didn't allow single riders was because there Kamikaze was not bolted to the ground, so it was unstable. They had to pair people up to balance out the ride.

This is the first one I have ridden that was not bolted down. Then, a girl of about 13 or 14 came up and said she would ride with me. So, I hopped into the seat and she got next to me. I pull down the restraint, and what's this, there is no secondary safety bar. Huh? I asked the op about it, and he said that there wasn't a secondary bar like on most of them.

One cool thing about this op was that he was willing to let me decide how I wanted him to run his ride. That was a really cool gesture. The girl next to me had not ridden a Kamikaze before. She had ridden the Intamin Looping Starship that SFOT just opened, which I still need to get out there and ride. So, I told the op to give us 2 spins in each direction. He objected, and we finally settled on 3.

The ride was great, with the flips I asked for. When he came to open the cage door and unlock our restraints, he somehow set off a really loud buzzer on the ride.

Then came the highlight of the day. The other rider invited her friends to join us. I told the op about the Hammerhead, the best-run Kamikaze in existence that is owned by Miller's Spectacular Amusements. Then I got a brilliant idea. Let's see if these GP members have enthusiast cast-iron stomachs. I dared the op to do 10 revolutions in each direction. He ignored the protests of the other riders and headed over to start the ride. What happened then was one of the best rides I have ever had. I screamed out a number every time the op gave us one flip. Ok, we did 10 going forward, time to go backward! I patted the other rider on the back and told her we were only halfway through. She could do it. On the 6th flip, the gondola hit the support structure and made this loud bang that scared all of us. The other riders were absolutely terrified the whole time. Apparently, some of the other riders were starting to get sick by the 13th flip, so we had to stop. I was feeling a little bit queasy myself, but it wasn't too bad. On the final flip, the op held us upside-down for about 7 seconds. That was great. Then he brought it to a stop. I guess the gp members did not have the stomachs to survive. We were so dang close. We were 7 flips away from reaching 20! I heard about a carnival that runs there Kamikaze with 20 revolutions. I need to get out there and try theres.

That was absolutely fantastic. I sat on a bench after that and got a Coke. It was then that the operator of the Hampton combo ride came over to talk to me. We talked for about 15 minutes. The midway was so empty that she didn't have to run her ride. Now for something that I volunteered to help her to do, although I have no idea how I'm going to do it. She wants to switch companies and work for Wade Shows. Does anyone know of anyone at Wade Shows that could contact her? I will give them her cell phone number for them to call. I don't think they have a web site, and I don't want to call her back because I have no idea when she'll answer. Any help would be appreciated. I would rather have someone at Wade contact her directly instead of me giving her the info.

After that, I headed to the Chance Giant Wheel to take two rides. This was just what I needed to relax. I have a soft spot for Ferris wheels; I don't know why. There was a great breeze on this ride too.

Finally, it was off to the Reverchon bumper cars. These things were brutal. They really hit hard and were very fast. The first ride, my car had somehow lost contact with the power supply on the ceiling, so I couldn't move for about 3 minutes. My usual bumper car strategy didn't work on these. Usually, I keep spinning the wheel so that I go in circles around the arena. On these, I couldn't spin the wheel like I usually do. People were trying to tell me not to spin it, but it just wouldn't work. I hit the wall more than I hit people. That was the worst I have ever done on bumper cars. Finally, it was off to take a final spin on the Dartron Zero Gravity before we headed out.

Overall, except for the funhouse situation, this was a very good midway. Most of the ops were very friendly and were happy to let me on to the rides. They had a great selection of rides for thrill seekers and I really enjoyed my time there. If you're in the area this week, head on out to the North Texas State Fair. It runs until Saturday.

One final note: You can now get my recordings from Sunday as a podcast! I-Tunes users cannot subscribe directly because I have I-Tunes turned off. However, to listen to the file, go to www.gcast.com/u/coasterfreak88. The file will be streaming until I get another one uploaded. You can also subscribe to my podcast by e-mail. Enter your e-mail address into the field on the page and you can receive my podcasts that way. John Moore's Audio Blog is what my podcast is called. It is just mostly general chat, however there are several reviews of technology products for the blind up, in addition to the audio tr. If you want to hear how I sound on the rides, go check it out. The file is also available for download. Enjoy the podcast!

Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 8:51 PM
I'm glad you don't let your blindness stand in the way of you enjoying your life! Do you also go to amusement parks? A very nice trip report.

If you get a chance, visit some other state fairs. Ohio always has some nice rides, including some that are being seen in the United States for the first time. This years big ride was a Top Scan, but I didn't ride it because it looked very rough. I did get to ride my first Power Surge and Move It though!

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 9:45 PM
Top Scan is not new. I have been riding it for 2 years. Have you lost your mind? Top Scan is the absolute best. How dare you insult the king of spin rides. I don't mean it harshly. I went to SFOT two months ago, and I might go again.
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