Saturday, June 23, 2001 10:27 PM
This has been a stange coaster year for me. Despite my coaster trip to Los Angeles, and going to Stark Raven Mad, I haven't spent much time at my local parks.
I haven't been to Strickers or Coney Island yet this season, though I have been to Americana (where I am sad to report nothing apears to be happening), but apart from that my trip to PKI had been to abbreivated visits. I first went on season pass preview night where it stormed most of the night, and I didn't get much riding done. My second visit was for a Reptar photo shoot, again limited riding got done, but today I was going to have my first full day at my home park this season. Compare to last year where by this time I had been to PKI 5 or 6 times.
As schduled, fellow Coasterbuz member Rideman pciked me up shortly after 9, I gave him a carton of Birch Beer, and soon we were headed to the park enjoying the Rollercoaster soundtrack on CD.
We arrived at the park where I first noticed that the rediculous $7 parking fee, has been replaced by an obnoxious $8 parking fee, an interesting note is that they did not raise the Preffered Parking rate, narrowing the gap, and perhaps causing folks to go for the upgrade since its only $2 more. We entered the parking lot, and dodged all the various "VIP" parking areas (VIP parking, Gold Pass Parking, Preffered Parking, Wheelchair Parking), but with eagle eyes we found a space in the south lot close to the front gate that was not marked as reserved, so we quickly nailed one of the best spaces remaining in the lot.
Quickly proceeding to the front gate we happily noticed no ride closings, no white and red A-frame signs stating that rides were closed, and things looked upbeat. We saw some promo for a Survivor promotion where lucky park guests get to participate in a mini-Survivor game. They should get points for survivng the parks food offerings.
We then entered the park and saw evidence that the park had a heavy vrowd Saturday when the park had no park maps available. Park Map, I don't need no steenking park map! We came outfrom under the front gate, and were ambushed by your favorite keyhole photo people, really dedicated pair. We then went to the ACE brick to wait for the walkback, and while there noticed the park now has two Keyhole photo stands so no matter whcich way you exit the park you run right past one of them. As rideman mentioned in a TR to rec.roller-coaster, the keyhole photo cards claim your photos are available on the web, a quick check right now reveals that,
"We're sorry, while you have entered a valid access code, your photo isn't ready yet" Not ready yet, it's been a WEEK!
At the appointed time, the morning ACE ritual known as the walkback took place. The audience was polled and chose Son of Beast. The SOB walkback includes a behind the scenes tour. While a bit long, it does manage to kill off enough time so that you arrive at the ride at just about opening bell.
Most of the walkback particpants chose the front car, while Rideman and I headed to the rear, I entered the back seat quue and was stunned that Rideman didn't follow me. We took our seats, the bars came down, we crammed our legs in as best we could, and They're Off. The day has officially begun. Rideman up in seat 17, and I in seat 18. Son of Beast was not exactly smooth, it was very bearable and even fun. Maybe, just maybe they have SOB figured out, and everything is fine with it.
We then headed to PKI's major new coaster for 2001. No, not Reptar, I'm talking their other major new coaster for 2001, the Flight of Fear. While Flight of Fear may look similar to the parks old Outer Limits coaster that stood on th same spot, and in fact used the same trackplan, it is not the same ride.
Unfortuantely Flight of Fear was sleeping in on this Sunday morning, forcing us to seek amusement elsewhere.
We felt a slight breeze, so headed to the Flying Skooters. none of this "No Solo Riders" business, My first ride was really a warm up session while I did not have a stellar ride I was starting to figure the ride out. But enough with that, it was time to head down to ride Papa Beast.
Earlier reports this season indicated that PaPa Beast was showing signs of old age, and moving very slowly through its course. However on this ride it was running tolerable, and was even showing a mild hint at airtime on drop 2. (Maybe John Peck was right) What was more noticible is the new metal fencing added above the handrails at certain parts of the ride. I don't know what it is meant to gueard against but it just doesn't look right. Upoin hitting the brakes I noticed the new road to ????? The Ride, that is if ????? is a ride, for all we know it could be a massive new Fun House, or another new Arcade, or a show venue. We headed through Rivertown, and decided to ride the train ride to see if any progress has been made. I also noted that the Gelati stand was closed as it has been every time I have been in Rivertown since that stand started selling Gelati. And of all the frozen treat stands it is the onyl one that sells Frozen Custard, let alone Gelati. I mentioned this to Rideman, and he shrugged amd we entered the empty train station and saw that we just missed the train. We spent the time looking at the rood of the train station and comparing notes with our video cameras. The train arrived and we boarded. "You might be a coaster nut if you demand to sit on the end of the train seat, and you're not a kid" Dave and I pick different rows in the train, and as the train ride starts we take great video footage of ????????? why ???????? looks fun already, I can hardly wait for my first ride on ??????????. Ok, I wake up and realize that I am looking at a big old dirt field that marks the former site of KCKC. I also note that every animated piece of scenery has been removed from the train ride. Only the fort and western town remain, such as they are, to remind one of the themed experience that the train ride used to be. Why kids these days probably don't even know about the gunfight between the indians in the field, and the soldiers in the fort. The train is now strictly a trasnportation ride, it does not even contain a speil anymore. We made our grand circle tour of the train ride, then headed towards Nickeloden Central where the elephant still isnt going full blast but it is clear that the Wild Thornberry's ride is a winner. We decide to not ride while we have video cameras present. We also look at Reptar and videotape Reptar but decide to ride later when the line dies down. We take a quick walk through HB, videotape Scooby's Ghoster Coaster. Rideman may have banned King Cobra from future rides, but I have banned Ghoster Coaster. We overanalyze the kiddie Tumble Bug, and head over to Beastie. Beastie is a fun little junior coaster, and it suffers from brake-itis just like all the parks other wooden coasters. (Yes, Sonny's trim was trimming today). The operators were in Gwazi mode, and checking seatbelts then bars. Seems those seatbelts have caused their fair share of headaches, with the retractors jamming and all. For the historically minded, we ntoed the clipboard holding the rides log said that it was property of the Doo Crew, '78. Scooby Doo that is. Reptar bucks the trend in being the first junior coaster at PKI not to have the word Scooby in its name at some part of its existence.
I recall that last season ended with Fright Feat, and Phantom Theater being changed from a G-rated family ride to a PG-13 rated Scare Ride. Wondering if they got the ride restored to its G-rated self, and wondering if they took the opportunity while it was gutted to redo some of the stunts we took a ride. I am happy to report the ride has been restored to its original state, AND is working very well, with every stunt working.
We then started on Lap 2 of the park, starting with Top Gun. Top Gun is now sponsored my Mach 3 shavers. The cars, signage, and even announcement on the lift hill will remind you of this. Desipte the tacky sponsorship, the ride continues to perform very well, and remins my second favorite Arrow Suspended (second only to Big Bad Wolf) We exited Top Gun, and decided to head towards Adventure Express. Now that I think of it we did a lot of extraneous walking and not really riding the rides on any logical order, but then logic shouldn't reign supreme at an amusement park. We hit Aventure Express an opted to wait the 1 train for the front seat. We noted the Indiana Jones music being played in the loading area, and Dave joked about the Henry expedition and how train 2 which had been missing had returned. But we also noted that another announceent said that Track 2 was impassible and closed indefintely. We then took our places, lowered lapbars, and started off on our Adventure Express ride and Dave eagle eye that he is, spotted the signage by the "Danger Track Closed" sign identifiying it as Track 2, just like the start of so many simulator rides. Adventure Express was giving a competent ride, even a great ride, but the Human Resources crew should council the big guy at the top of lift 2, as we was forgetting his lines all day, not to mentonthe one drummer on the lift who was only beating one of his two drums. :)
From Adventure Express, we headed over to Racer, chose a forwards ride in Seat 13. The air is better up towards the front of Racer, but the small speed hill after the third drop still managed to provide some air. we then rode the Monster, which was running quite well, even spinning wildly. It proved to be a great Monster ride.
We then took a walk through the Arcade and took a look at the latest in redemption. One game was offering a pocket TV if you could manouever the dish holding the key to the displaycase off the rotating platform. Another game is a take off on whacy wire, with you having to guide a metal probe through a rotating maze without touching, Like whacky wire it was an all or nothing shot, even thought eh game listed some 16 checkpoints. Had the prize not been Zippo lighters I may have tried a game. Upon exiting the aracde we noted one of those Electric Chair games, Rideman quipped whats next the "Lie on this table and get your arm pricked by a needle Game"
But enough foolishness, it was time to ride Flight of Fear. We were able to watch the preshow again, and noted the subtle and not so subtle edits that were required, and then videotapped a train launching and an emptry train with lapbars. He this is a great moment for Coaster history. We then sat down in seat 1, and took our first ride. Wow! Ultra smooth, comfortable trains. This coaster has gone from worst in park to best in park. The improvement can't be stated enough. If you banned Outler Mimits becuase of some nasty ride you recieved in 1996, PLEASE trust us and ride it one more time. It is now the best multi element coaster I have ever ridden. We didnt like the look of our on ride photo, and deicded to ride the Zepyhr, a Wave Swinger. I still feel like I'm overweight for these things, but they are fun rides nonetheless. After our Waveswinger ride it was time to take on Vortex. Man after that ultra smooth Flight of Fear ride, Vortex seemed like a headbanger after that fantastic first drop. I may never look at Vortex the same way again.
Neither one of us has seen Smash Factory in h FX Theater, so we entered and despite the signs saying that it was coming soon, (signs confusing some riders, I might add) we tok the right fork ad heaed to see Smash Factory. Unlike most Iwerks movies, Smash Facotry either has no preshow, or PKI has opted not to run it as the audio might interfere with the preshow for 7th Portal showing on the other screen of the PKI multiplex. (not to be confused by the bigger mulitplex acorss the street from the park)
Smash Factory starts off with the infamous "wrong path" scene, and then was really a brainless tour through Test Track meets Robot Wars. I don't care fo this one either, come to think of it, are there any decent Iwerks movies? Visual inspection of the theatre reveals that Smash Factory may be an afterthought, and that they may have planned for 7th Portal to be shown on both screens, as signs indicated not to put on the 3D glasses until seated, and indicating where to return the 3D glasses are present in the theatre showing Smash Factory even though it is no a 3D movie.
We then headed for the Troika, and had a plesant ride on this, then of course, we can't walk past the Flying Skooters without a flight, and what a flight it was. It was apparent that the park was full of experienced Flyers riders, and that just made us show of our best. Rideman and I chose birds such that we would be 90 degrees out of phase, the ride started and both of uus hit Flyer Nirvana. Forget smooth graceful Eagle like flights. The Fight Plan today is the Dive Bomb. You know the ones instead of gracefully flying around the center tower, quickly turn the rudder so that you do a dive bomb near hitting it, then waiting for the cables to catch up with your tub, causing the KERCHUNK sound known and loved by Flyer enthusiasts everywhere. Then peelig out and quickly soaring up to merely Dive BOmb again. Of course it's not that easy, and Flyer Flying can't be taught, it has to come from an inside inspiration, there are no hard and fast rules to getting the pattern started but you have built in Flyer Insticts that take over once you figure out how to get the pattern setup and started that take control of the bird away from your brain. "Don't trust your eyes, they may fool" you and without any thought processing your inner Flyer self takes control of the rudder. With Dave and I both going at it, the ride was like this
Actual ride soundtrack:
Rideman's Bird: KERCHUNK
Coasterville Dave's Bird: KERCHUNK
Rideman's Bird: KERCHUNK
Coasterville Dave's Bird: KERCHUNK
Rideman's Bird: KERCHUNK
Coasterville Dave's Bird: KERCHUNK
Rideman's Bird: KERCHUNK
Coasterville Dave's Bird: KERCHUNK
Rideman's Bird: KERCHUNK
Coasterville Dave's Bird: KERCHUNK
PKI is to be commended for not stepping in and putting an early halt to our Flyer Nirvana.
Then the truly paranormal forces came out, and our birds would dive bomb, then just sit suspended in mid air for entire DECADES, then finally out of Nowhere KERCHUCK!!!!!! Dave massages his back just thinking about it
We then took another Beast ride, same seat # 16, pretty much same results a good ride , but not quite up to par. We passed the Gelati stand in Pivertown, and if I thought I was in Flyer Nirvana, my day was only getting brighter. The Gelati stand, the stand that is kown as "Sorry, this stand is closed" for the previosu 8 visits was OPEN. This was quickly followed by Dave ordering Gelati before this brif phase out of the space time contiunum ended. Dave reports back that his Gelati was excellent, and that he is eager to compare it to real Gelati when he visits Rome, Italy in November. We procceded further around, checking the queue fo Reptar and again putting off the ride for later, and headed through HB where we looked at the kiddie bumper cars. And noticed that Fred was missing. Yes the Fred statue in front of the Bumper Cars that look like Flintstones cars is missing. We quickly headed to Guest Relations. We were headed to the front of the park for a variety of reasons. The primary reason was to take cameras to car, but we stopped by Guest Relations to get the FREE SOB poster that is offered to ACE members. The skies were still shining, and they had posters available. We also stated that we wanted to report a missing person, then proceeded to describe a missing person named Fred, about 4 feet tall, in an orange animal skin shirt with black spots, last seen by Boulder Bumpers. Yes we honestly did report this to Guest Relations with a staight face. We did also make sure the people up at GR knew that we were reffering to the fibergalss statue before we left the counter. Caeras and posters dropped off to cars we re-etered the park where I noted the park maps had been stocked, and that there was still signage advertising Son Of Beast as the parks new attraction. We went to the Action Zone, and spotted a real short wait or Face/Off and proceeded to take a front seat ride. Not much to report here, we were then unloaded from Face/Off, and noted how it just may be better than the standard Bomerang, certainly alot smoother. Then we headed to Son of Beast, found it to be a near walk on. We proceeded to ride up in Seat #2, often quoted as being the Best seat on the ride. Uhm, no. Seat 2 was noticeably rougher than seat 18. So much so that I did not find the ride to be pleasant at all. Ah well, maybe wood coasters weren't meant to go higher than 125' The loop however is easily the smoothest and best part of the ride.
We thought about Drop Zone, but Rideman did not have the required safety strap for his glasses, so we passed, w looked at King Cobra for a tenth of a second, and decided that we did not feel like that sort of abuse. Instead we opted for another Adventure Express ride this time near the back, then went up the other side of Coney Mall, this time riding the Scrambler and the Dodgemes, The Scrambler was running well albeit short, and the Dodgems were running short, and while the ride was alright it was just alright, nothning special. I then desired a glass of ice water, and we stopped at Antique Treats where I noted the guest in front of me ask for Ice Water, and he recieved his courtesy Ice water in what amounted to a plastic Dixie cup, like you may have in your kitchen or bathroom. Thaks fo my free SHOT of ice water. Larger coutresy water was to be found at Tuckers and Rivertown Pizza. the plastic cup from Tuckers noted that it was calibrated to 400ml The 12 oz pop can I am drinking out of now is 355ml, so 15-16oz. maybe, clearly bigger than what Antique Treats offered. We enjoyed our ice Water and took another ride on Flyer Nirvana, more snapping more of that strange delayed reaction snapping where the tub just sort of hungthere in mid air. We then headed over to Nickeloden Central and rode the new for 2001 attraction. Wild Thornberry's was running fast and well, though the cocnuts were not spraying water, and I still think they shoulda put something in the building at the top of lift 1, Rideman noted the tribal drum banging caused by the log quickly moving down the channel, and then we dropped and we survivied with only minimal damage. The elephnat that we though was missing was hitting the logs dead on.
We then rode Reptar, and had a short wait. The only flaw here is the station design which causes traffic jams fror the back seat, while the front seat has a real short line. The station is real narow and reminds me of the station for Dorney's Lazer. Reptar is running well and smoth, and may be the only coaster where even though the lift is mechanical you still get to walk up it. The seats are very accomodating and the OTSR's non offensive. We also noted that most of the younger riders are experiecning OTSR's for the very first time here, and some are understandably unclear on the concept, lowering the bars and having both hands inside between the two vertical bars. It may be the only time I have heard ride ops tell riders to keep their arms OUTSIDE the train at all times. Still Reptar looks to be enjoying a great success, and the whole new Nick area seems to be doing very well for the park. And that's all that really matter, right?
We then took a last coaster tour starting with Flight of Fear, again seat 1, again smoothest ride ever, best coaster in park, we exited the ride, made our way to the on-ride photo booth, intent on purchasing a photo for use on our webpages. We don't need the fancy folder, or the keychain, or even a bag or reciept, we just want a photo. Earlier this season they were selling 2 4x6's for $10. Great Both of us could put up $5 for a photo we could use. Imagine our surpise when we found our photo, found it acceptable, were in the process of ordering it and we told. You can have one(1), 5x7 for $9. Meaning that now one of us could buy a photo for twice what we were planning on spending. When I asked about the 4x6's they said "we are out of them". Despite half hearted attempts at both the line employee and the stand manager about upgrading us to the product they had in stock at the advertised price of the product out of stock. (i.e. out of 4x6's, okay give us two 5x7's for $10 then.) The stand was unwilling to negotiate a deal on what they had in stock since they were unable to fill our origial order, and therefore got $0 from us.
COme to think of it, outisde of my Gelati, the park receivd $0 from us. Something about overprcing everything. We also looked at the pay extra Voyager simulator we had no intentions of riding it, but noted the following oddity on the safety sign
"Children should sit between their parents" Later on down "Children may not sit in the middle seat of the middle row"
One warning makes it sound lke you want the children in the middle, the next makes it sound like you want the children to sit on the sides.
But time is fleeting, though madness had not taken its toll yet, so we took a quick spin on Vortex. Nice halh a paint job, decent ride, then went over to the Flying Skooters, where another smaller kid was sent to my bird to fly with me. Kid got in, and his being in the bird threw my concentraion and I proceedd to hae my worst Flyer ride of the day, I mean I still got some Dive Bombs and snaps, but I swear the extra weight was just to hard to overcome.
We then had 4 minutes to mosey down to Beast to end the day. The atmosphere in the station was electric, like nothing I had seen for the Beast since way before Paramount took over. It was soon out turn to board, and the ride ops said something like "Welcome to the world's best night ride" To which I hollered out "RAVEN!" Still it was the best night ride I was riding that night. I don't know the Beast got it's feelings hurt by Rideman and I's insults, or weather the brakes were on at ridiculosusly high levels, or what went wrong. The scenic railways in the latest issue of Rollercoaster! look a lot more thrilling than this Beast ride rode. I mean we crawled down Drop 1 in Hercules mode, remained firmly panted in our seats on Drop 2, then came to a near stop in the mid course brake shed, then turned the corner and went into tunnel 2, where we remained for a fortnight. I mean we seemed to in that tunnel for a full minute, just lumbering along, then we kinda moseyed our way down the low run to lift 2, where we heard every clank of te anti-rollback and knew the train ws traveling a lot slower then it should be, we saw the lead car mosey its way to lift 2, and lazily start up, but the chain dog is on car two. Car two just barelyt made it, the whole train paused a second or two for the chain dog to engage and fianlly decide to take up up lift 2. The final helix was just as unspectacular with no forces in it at all. We returned to the station where the operators were still all charged and pumped and the riders in the train ALL knew that they had just experienced a lousy beast ride, and the train pulled into the station to the loud drone of booing coming from the train. That is the eight or so riders in the final train. Oh how we wished that second car wouldn't have made it to the lift chain, then we could have finally posted once and for all about how bad the Beast is running. Ridanad I fantasized about that happeneding all the way back to the parking lot, then at Steak and Shake. "I'll have a Bacon Cheese Double, with Bacon and Cheese"
What we fantaized probably should not be repeated but what would have happeed.
Well the Beast cycles all the trains empty to unload the riders, so we would have beens tuck midride, the next train would have refused toc rest lift 1, and thus the last train would have refused to leave the station. Even if the ops were oblivious to what happened, when they couldn't disptach the train that would have cued them. Luckily Lift 2 runs right alongside the new road for ???????, so evacuation would have been easy as there is even a spot close to the bottom of lift 2 with no handrails. Be a mere matter of getting a van out to the site and unloading the cars. How long it would have taken to get a van on site would be the only concern. (Or there is also the Williams GRove solution, have the whole Beast crew go out, and push the train forward to lift 2).
Before you think I'm beeing all negative, I did mention those fantastic Flight of Fear and Flyer rides, didn't I?