Starting Time: Arrived at park 4:35 PM
Weather: Cold, Cloudy, Chance of rain and storms.
Well, the time has come! Time for The Italian Job: Stunt Track to open for technical rehearsals! Today was a special day for only Gold Passholders. Translation: A lot of rides, no lines, park dead. Today's operating hours are 5PM-10PM, International Street opening at 4PM.
Entering the park, I immediately walked back to the rope near the base of Eiffel Tower, restricting people to International Street until exactly 5PM.
Jeff Siebert and other people including Sadistic Steve of the equally insane BeastBuzz scavenger hunt, came to the ropes and began passing out the Speed Lane tickets for Italian Job. You must have a ticket to ride, and with 2,000 tickets available, these tickets were a hot commodity, everyone on International Street jammed up against the ropes to get their ticket. I got mine and squeezed my way out of the throngs of people and went back to the restroom by the front gate.
After leaving the restroom, I went back up near the ropes to mingle. My ticket for Italian Job was for the time period of 5:45-6:00 PM. Instead of standing around by IJ for 45 minutes, as soon as the rope dropped, I followed the masses around, took a quick video shot of IJ's flame effects going off during a test cycle, and went to start the day with a dose of Vortex/Troika. I also had an ulterior motive: A Vortex/Troika employee I know was bringing me a cable for my camera, and I was supposed to pick it up right at park opening.
I found him at Troika, and hopped up the line, becoming the second person on Troika of the day. Vortex was still shut down, a train parked on the lift. I ran up, got sent to Orange #4, and found the cable - by sitting on it. Embarrassing moment of the day completed, Troika started up, and was the usual fun and relaxing ride.
While on Troika, Vortex's lift startup siren went off, and it began testing. So I ran from Troika's exit, and was the first person on the Vortex line. Ran up to the station, and hopped into the front seat. I was completely alone in the train. Bars checked, "All Clear!" and I was off.
Going up the lift, I looked over and watched Italian Job running cycles, looking pretty good! Over the top, and a fun but slightly bouncy Vortex ride ensued. But bouncing around is normal when it is running a train with only one rider in it. Back to the station, the train stopped, but there was no upbar. Just an announcement about it being Double Ride Fridays, and a bar recheck, before the ride was sent out for another run.
It's 5:15 and I already have three rides in. Not bad! I went back to Troika and rode again, this time having my bar fail to release upon the end of the ride, I sat there racking my brain trying to remember where the manual release was, but the offseason apparently took a toll on my memory of the ride systems. I was let out, and I went back to Vortex.
I rode Vortex in the back seat, 7.2. Ouch! I think I'll decline the second ride, thank you very much, and I walked around and reentered the queue, this time choosing to ride in seat 7.1 with a Tomb Raider: The Ride employee. A much more comfortable ride took place, and this time, me and my seatmate both took the reride.
After the second ride, I answered my cell phone, and was informed that Italian Job was boarding riders as long as they had a ticket, ignoring the assigned ride times. All right! I beelined for IJ's entrance.
Arriving there, my mom took my camera bag and informed me she had already rode. Huh?? This from the person who won't even ride Adventure Express! I'll probably never hear the end of that. Anyways, back to Italian Job...........
Caution! Spoilers ahead. Please, no loose articles. Keep your arms, legs, and hands inside the car at all times!
I entered the queue, parting with my ride ticket. Time: Around 5:30. Walking through one of the switchbacks (the rest were closed off) I walked up onto the bridge and encountered the line. Less than ten minutes later, the ride had eaten all the people on the bridge and I found myself at the SECOND greeter position, where I was sent to Row 6, the back seat of the back car. All right! I took my place in the queue and my seatmate was sent to me. Italian Job is pairing up singles to increase capacity, and it's working! The ride was seriously impressing me with the efficiency of the operation. The stylized Mini Coopers pulled into the Loading position after the previous train launched, doors open. I boarded the car and took my place in the right side seat, I was impressed by the attention to detail in the cars. The onboard sound was functioning, although it was too quiet. I pulled down the Son of Beast style lap bar, noticing it had the foot bar like those on Flight of Fear, but no belts. The trains are very comfortable, and the restraints very accommodating. The bars were checked quickly, and the train was pushed forward by the kicker wheels in the station at 5MPH.
As soon as the front car hit the LIMs that start just after the station, it takes off with a fairly strong launch. Sure, it's not quite as fast as Flight of Fear. But the new-style LIMs pack quite a punch. Flying down the launch track, we quickly banked and started the tight spiral up the parking garage helix. This thing pulls some serious Gs!
Dropping down into the police chase, I noticed that the sirens were not turned on, but the lights worked, and we fishtailed back and forth between the patrol cars.
This thing HAULS ASS through the police car dodge! It flew through there and raced around the 90-degree bank turn. This is a truly interesting element. Dropped down out of it, and flew up and over the hill under the Beverly Hills sign, with a little airtime float over the top. Right turn suddenly, then a STRONG left turn before the subway drop.
The subway drop stairstep effect was not turned on, but it gains good speed out of that drop, and flies up into the helicopter scene, where it stops on the brake.
The stunt show begins. The helicopter sprays gunfire everywhere. ("Not real gunfire, that would be CRAZY!" - PKI IJST TV Commercial) and the flames and exploding barrels did their thing. Streams of water come at you from the gas pumps on the right (Why the heck are we stopping at this dangerious place!) Just as the brake released and the train hits the LIMs, a strong blast of fire goes just above the entrance to the sewer tunnel, hitting the riders with a strong heat wave. Not as good as the old Phantom Theater furnace scene, but I think this is as close to that as we're going to get.
We launched into the tunnel, and sped down the tight banking drop and into a disorienting but really cool twist of trackage in total darkness.
A sudden dip and turn to the left takes us under the launch track, then up through artificial fog and through the LIM booster, which was NOT turned on, it was just cruising through it, and through the splash (No getting wet), over a hop with a little air, and around the turn into the brake.
Overall, I love this ride. it has taken the #1 PKI Coaster spot away from Flight of Fear/Vortex for me. It is an excellent addition to the park, and I will be riding it a lot this season!
I got off, and my mom had gotten me another ride ticket. Awesome! So i got my onride photo of my first ride, got a Mini Cooper souvenir from the Stunt Souvenir Vehicle, and went back into the line, this time cameras in hand to capture the ride in progress while in line.
This time I was sent to row 5, last car, front seat. Another excellent ride, and after I got off, I went back to Troika for another ride, and to start back on the ride circuit again.
Riding Troika in Orange #2 this time, my bar released just fine and I got off, and headed to Flight of Fear.
Entering the Flight of Fear queue, I was greeted by... Nothing! The preshow TVs were on but there was NOBODY in the line within visible range! I walked through the saucer and into the station, where there were only two people in the station for the front seat queue. I went to the back seat and walked straight on as soon as the train came in.
FOF had software upgrades to the LIMs this year, and it is showing! I've never felt the first half of the ride this fast before! In the back seat, it was completely insane.
Getting off, I headed down the exit and back out into Coney Mall. Zephyr was EMPTY so I ran over and got a ride just as two other people were entering the ride area.
Zephyr, I noticed, got new seat padding this year, and is is more comfortable than before. Had a normal ride, and got off, heading over to Racer.
Boarded Racer North and had a lousy ride, as usual. this thing needs work. It took three employees to get me out after the misaligned bar nailed me. I got off and headed over to recaR htuoS.
I boarded recaR and secured my bar where I wanted it. Bars checked, dispatched.
For the first time I can remember, recaR was running very poorly. usually it tracks a lot better than this, but not today. On the jump up tot he turnaround, I got nailed badly. VERY badly. Rest of ride was very painful, and when it pulled in I was expecting it would take a few minutes to get me out. But no, Derrick was working unload on recaR, and he knows the tricks to release the bar. Specifically, instead of shoving, giving the column between lap bar and the locking mechanism a sharp hit, which forced it to release with only a couple hits. Too bad most Racer crew don't use this method...!
Getting off recaR, I walked over and rode the Adventure Express, no wait. Running all three trains, it was stacking trains on the last lift with the greatest of ease. Not a good sign, hopefully the crew will get faster as the season progresses.
Next I walked over to Delirium, and found it is another Double Ride. Boarded and saw Jeff Siebert taking a ride with a couple people I couldn't identify. After their double ride, I boarded in Seat One, directly facing the doghouse. Rode Delirium once, upbar so those who didn't want a reride could get off, and downbar again, and another ride. Running just as god as always, but it is getting kinda cold out!
I figured I would check out Face/Off, considering the rest of the park was dead, so it was my best chance to get a ride on the Invertigo, which is usually hour-plus lines.
I wasn't expecting NO LINES! I figured I'd have a few cycles to wait, but I walked into the station, and my jaw dropped. I walked straight into a corral in the middle of the train, and walked right on. Then I noticed the Double Rides Double Rides sign in the station!
Two rides later, I considered walking around and riding again, but my ears were in too much pain from the Vekoma OTSR to do so. Looking around Action Zone, I decided to vacate the area, and I walked back to Rivertown to escape the Beast and raid some tombs.
I arrived at Beast and entered the line. Boarded toward the back of the train, and had a semi decent ride. I rode again for double ride, then went around and rode twice more. Same old mediocre Beast, it's losing it's rideability fairly quickly.
Seeing that Tomb Raider was closed, I walked over and rode Troika solo. It took a little talking to get the crew to run it solo!
Getting off, I walked next door to Vortex. On my first ride, I noticed it was starting to rain. (I was in the front seat.) Double Ride Fridays so I stayed on for another front seat ride. This time, it started POURING going up the lift.
"When did Vortex become a water ride?"
this ride sucked. Vortex makes a decent water ride though. In the front seat it was like being hit by needles in the face, and by the time the ride was over, I was SOAKED!
Worse: My Transitions lenses were soaked, and fogged up from the layer of fog creeping out of the Beast woods. So I literally felt my way down Coney Mall to Skyline, where I grabbed a Coney dog to tide me over.
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