Welcome to the latest series of Trip Reports from the Eric and Dave Coaster Trip. This spring we did a spring fling. Parks covered are Geagua Lake, Kennywood, Cedar Point, and Indiana Beach. That said, remain seated with your seatbelt and lapbar properly fastened at all times. You can be sure this is a Wild Twister!
Day 1 - May 12, 2002
It was a rainy morning, not the brightest start to a coaster week, but the rain didn't look that bad. This morning we decided to approach Geauga Lake using the second ramp of 422 (Eastbound) to see if there way any advantage to using that over the first ramp. Distance wise its not much different, about 5 miles from the ramp either way. On a busy day the second ramp may be better based on the fact that it is all right turns, as opposed to being mostly left turns. We approached the park and noted that the WildLife parking area was closed, and we were directed on to the Wild Rides parking area. Upon entering the parking area we noted the rollback that all frequent park goers love to see: the PRICE rollback. It seems that the excessive $9 parking fee has been rolled back to the high $7 parking fee. Upon pulling into our space in the second or third row of the lot we took some time to admire X-flight. X-Flight is painted a real loud green color and looks to be a real twisted pile of steel. But we will discuss X-Flight later on in this trip report, in great detail. Instead let's make our way to the park.
I noted that the installation of X-Flight required re-routing the road that seperates the parking lot from the park. Curious, I thouht I heard this road was being routed around the back of the parking area to eliminate this annoyance. Six Flags does do a fine job of providing a crossing guard and making the best of the situation. Also in the netry plaza, I noticed several flags from foreign nations flying happily in the wind. I forgot to count to see if they numbered 6, but I did notice something strange. When I first saw the foreign flags I thought that Six Flags was subliminally advertising the fact that they are now an international operator by flying the flags of all the nations where you can visit a Six Flags park. Upon closer look at the flags, it appears that they merely picked flags from nations that most people can easily recognize instead of ones that represent lands they have parks in. Make that a relatively inexpensive piece of marketing synergy they missed. We arrived at the gates before they opened, but luckily the park sent a diversion in the form of a Market Research Survey Taker who kept us amused until the park opened. I did note that this staff member used an ancient Palm III, which makes me happy because I still use the Palm III. Soon after the survey was completed the gates were opened and I presented my AAA List ticket. AAA had a promotion with Geauga Lake foir the first two weekends where members could purchase advanced sale tickets for only $17 each.
Geauga Lake, like many parks opens the gate a few minutes before the rest of the park and for the first 15 minutes everybody is confined to the front plaza with all sorts of guest service ammenties and gift shops. Since it was raining we strolled the gift shops, even found what we wanted, but being a bit experienced in the coaster riding hobby decided to wait till the end of the day to get them. Meanwhile it was getting closer to 10am, so we made our way to the yellow plastic chain nearest Mr. Hyde to wait for "the running of the bulls". Shortly before the chain dropped the park offered a patriotic salute as the national anthem was played. Then the rope dropped and we made our way into the 1950's themed area. This area really came out well, especially the games area, buildings, food stands and other theming elements. The "El Dorado" flying carpet ride themed to a 50's car looks especially sharp. We made our way to X-Flight where we found our path blocked by a no-nonsnese looking gate. In fact we didn't see much action at all happening in Rockville. However we had seen the Big Dipper testing, so we headed there.
Big Dipper appears to be open, we entered the windy tiwsty queue, made our way up to the station, the queue gates opened and we made our way for the train. The Big Dipper runs a Genuine Immitation NAD (or two) :) Most toticeable about these NAD's is the overabundance of padding. So much padding that the cars appear to be a cramped fit for two adults. Since there was no line, I jumped in 1.1 and Eric jumped in 1.3. It is so neat and unusual to be able to ride in the center of the bench on a full size coaster. The Dipper is still an ACE Coaster Classic. Classic trains, classic two-stop station, the ride does have a modern operating system, but with a nod to nostalgia the park left the now non-functional "Big Old Brake Levers" in place.
The bars were lowered, the queue gates closed, and the train dispatched from the station (Dave's Track Record - #190). The train makes a turnaround to the lift, then climbs the lift, then does another turnaround before starting into the outward bound portion of this classic Out-and Back. While I was getting hints of airtime in seat 1.1, Eric reported a good ride was to be had in 1.3. This coaster is so nifty in that there is midway on both sides of this out and back, infact the turaround is over the waterpark. Be sure to not take your hands down too soon, that last dip into the brakes is very effective. We made the last turnaround into the brake run, and were advanced into the unload station. Seeing am empty Load station we inquired about rerides. We were informed "No, we shouldn't have let you ride, we're not supposed to be open yet" This was said in a tone that made it evident that they must have gotten a nasty phone call or supervisor visit. We non-chalantly made our way down the exit ramp.
Bewildered, we headed to the dining pavilion underneath the Bel Air monorail platform. "Not supposed to be open Yet? It's after 10AM, Must be a Six Flags thing" After a while of watching NO actiivey in Rockville, we decided to head over to the Vilain end of the park. We made our way down the path between Looney Tunes and the games building where we noticed the removal of Fascination, and got just about where the "That's All Folks" archway stands when "KA_BOOM" Noah-Get-That-Ark-Built-NOW quality rain started. Well at least now the ride closures are explained. We pulled a bench under the marquee for the Palace Theater and waited out the Wave 1 of the storm. Then a clearing opened up, and we made our way further back, closer to the Villain, we just brely made it to the Gold Nugget arcade when Wave 2 hit. DDR fans should note that there is no DDR in the Gold Nuggest Aracde. Another clearing, we made our way back to Gotham City and ducked into the Gotham City Gift Shop to ask a question. "Is the Wild Life Side open" Upon hearing that it was open, we decided to head there because being a former Sea World park, we knew it would have indoor exhibits, a motion simulator and a 4D movie.
You will not fully understand how far these two parks are appart till you see the MASSIVE wooden boardwalk they have contructed connecting the two. The Massively LONG boardwalk, the massively long uncovered boardwalk. We made it about halfway accross the boardwalk when Wave 3 hit. We madea run for Wild Life, not the smartest thing to do on a wooden boardwalk, but neither was being on a boardwalk in a storm over a lake.
Upon fleaing to Wild Life we saw an area with flat rides had been setup, giving the WildLife section an amusement area of sorts. Right now the abandoned doghouse for the Spider looked lke a place to wait out the rest of the wave. When the storm cleared up again we moved to more substantial cover of _____'s Happy Harbor. At the next clearing we decided tot ry to hit the Pirates 4D movie. The theater was in site, we ran to it, onlt ot leanr that the first showing wasn't till 1pm. This folks, is what marks the difference between a world class park, and a run of the mill park. Six Flags failed the test. Knowing that there was precious little to do in the park during the storm, the park made no effort to try to get Pirates 4D operating to afford guests both decent shelter and an attraction they could experience. We ducked next door to Bermuda Triangle, another indoor attraction closed, but I will give them the beneift of the doubt since it was a storm, and Mermuda Triangle is technically a ride.
We then looked next door to Bermuda Triangle and saw the Shark Encounter AND the doors were open! Shark Encounter it is then. I quickly got the impression that even in its Sea World days, this was not an "A List" park in the chain. I mean sure its got just about everything you expect at a Sea World, but it looks cheaper, less elaborate than say Orlando's Sea World. Anyway, Shark Encounter was there, the underwater viewing tunnel in Orlando was replaced with merely a tankside viewing tunnel. The moving sidewalk was non-functional but thats a minor nit-pick. The sharks however were awake and were putting on a show in their tank. The highlight of the visit is when one shark rammed right into another one without even slowing down or saying "Sorry" We stopped to appreciate the heat and the sharks for awhile. We then exited the Shark Encounter and made our way to the Dolphin pool. Forget that fancy Key West themeing, and this dolphin pool has had a rope barrier added that makes petting and feeding of the dolphins off limits. We spent some time admiring the dolphins before moving on. We made our way past a staffed but closed main gate, and headed to the Sea Lion and Seal Pool. What's more? The feeding station was open. For just $3 you too can feed these marine animals. Eric and I each purchased a cone of fish (2/$5) and proceeded to fead them. The Sea Lions have very good aim and mange to get their mouth right under that fish every single time.
After amusing ourselved with the Sea Lions we noted that there was no Dolphin show today, the Sea Lion shows were 1 and 4, and of course the Killer Whale stadium was sitting vacant. We passed the Pearl Diving thing before touring the Penguiin Building. Must be union-penquins as they were the dullest most un-animated group of penquins I had seenin a while. Mut have been sleeping in. But hey the rain stopped! We made our way through the Aquarium and past the Stingray petting pool. When we at last thought it was safe to try to make our way back to Wild Rides, we realized it must just have been the eye of the storm, here comes the next wave. Luckily we were just outside the Tiger Island Stadium, even luckier the granstands are covered, even luckier a show was about to begin. We entered Tiger Island Stadium, and took seats. We honestly did NOT expect them to put on a show as the arena floor was totally exposed to the elements. We were joking "Those tigers will take one step outside and go for the trainer's throat" Surprisingly the show went on as scheduled, and was actually a decent show. It makes me wonder how much, if any, of the former Busch management team still has any influence over this part of the park. We also wondered but did not find out if the Smokehouse retained the Busch secret recipie. We made our way past the Batman stunt spectacular (the water ski show area) back to Happy Harbor. As we were entering Happy Harbor we noted they added a Swampwater Jacks (a SF eatery). We also heard a PA announcement about rides closing temporarily due to weather. DUH! I think they must have played the wrong announcement becuase shortly thereafter the park started coming to life.
We walked back past Pirates to Mission: Bermuda Triange, and found it to be OPEN. We'll take it. There is one flaw with Bermuda Triangle, and it is a flaw that if any other operator built it I would let it slide, but since Busch built it, and Busch is known for a HIGH level of attention to detail I feel it must be mentioned. We entered the 'military installation' where we will board our submersible, never mind that the outtdoor queue looks like a runway. However as you walk back the outdoor queue, you will see a big model submerisble lining the walkway. Pay special note to how it has 5 hatches arranges in a pseudo-stadium seating setup. Those of us who have been around the theme park circuit will recognize these as the cabin based motion simulators that Busch and Disney seem fond of. Or so we thought. We entered the indoor queue and were actually a bit surprised to be led into the preshow chamber with the first group. They then take non-riders into a special non-motion based room, then the preshow starts. There is only one monitor but cleverly a big area right in front of the monitor is diamond plated, with caution striping on the floor. I beleive people keep back off of it not knowing if something is going to happen with it or not. Effective, the power of suggestion is. Preshow movie was the normal plot, your going to be taken down to the ocean floor in a submerisble, another crew member warns that the ship is not really ready. Main narrator laughs this off as being overprotective. then the ususal ride safety film followed. Like I would expect the common 5 row motion chamber was shown. We were then told that the automatic doors would be opening. Looing around I saw only 2 automatic doors, which must mean that there is another chamber before getting to the ride. Through these doors, then a gate, then a thrid sliding door and into a TINY cabin, 4 rows, each door serves 2 rows. Whats more, even though the seats are padded they fold down like normal theater seats, and there was a delay while we fiqured out the seatbelts. Seatbelts, hah, this is the gentlest motion sim I have been on in a long time. No strong bucks, no strong yaws, no interesting forces at all, in fact it is as gentle as the old Wisdom Astroliner. Usual story line, nice peaceful journey turns bad when an earthquake occurs under the sea, you almost get trapped in the ruin of an old boat, but luckily you get rescued just in time.
We exited Bermuda Triangle right onto the midway, where I thought it would empty into a tropical animal exhibit like the Arctic at SWF exits into an artic animals exhbit. Observation of the building reveals that it has 2 or more motion cabins. We exited Bermuda just in time for the Pirated 4D show. We entered into a vastly near empty auditorium and waited. Pirates 4D is another gift inherited from Busch. Its a 4D movie where you get assaulted with such 4D gags as spraying water, ankle ticklers, seat buzzers, fans, etc. The movie itself runs 15 minutes and is very slapstick in nature. Kinda Like Home Alone meets Treasure Island. In that vain I liked when the evil Captain Lucky reached down dead into the treasure chest and found his wrists in shackles then the treasure chest whcih was attached to some kinda prehistoric winch drug the captain all over the island. You can see the Home Alone influence. Fun for the whole family. We exited the theater dropped off our 3D glasses and headed to Happy Harbor. And hey the rides are OPEN. The rain has stopped, like is getting better, then Fun-O-Meter is surging. Right behind Happy Harbor but before you take the hike back to Wild Rides a flat ride area has been setup, actually a pretty competent flat ride area. It contains a Scrambler, Bounty, Spider, Yo-Yo, and a baloon-race style ride with little pirate ships instead of hot air ballons. It also has a pay extra Eurobungy thing, along with the Happy Harbor participatory play structure. In a comical note, according to the park guide Raging Wolf Bobs is in Happy Harbor. See, even Six Flags dislikes the thing so bad they are pretending it is Sea Worlds :). While the Raging Wolf Bobs can been seen from Happy Harbor the entrance ramp is clear around on the Wild Rides side. I guess it works for them.
We dashed accross the Boardwalk, picturing the tune of "Chariots Of Fire" in our head, accompanied by life hill start up sirens. We arrived at Batman's Knight Flight just in time for testing to commence, and to see a bit of a line formed. We decided, lets head to X-Flight now, its in the very front of the park, and most people will be treking back from Wild Life, with the Ferry out of commission. Speaking of the ferry out of commission, would it be THAT difficualt to complete the circle pathway with a path that connect the back of the Wild Life side to the Waterpark. Just an idea. Right now the park has the same problem as American does when its transportation rides aren't open: a long cruel hike.
When we passed Serial Thriller we heard a thunderous round of cheering and applause that usually signifies a coaster opening. Undaunted we, made our way to X-Flight. What a wise decision it was, X-Flight was OPEN and there was nobody in line. I don't quite understand the crane holding up the X-Flight logo in the entrance plaza for the ride, but I didn't stop long to pay it any mind, I ignored the electronic lockers that had been setup for X-Flight, proceeded around the entrance walkway, was delighted to find FastLane out of commission for the day, and entered the queue. X-Flight like most newer rides it seems, has a minimum setting for its adjustable queues. That is there is no adjustable gate to shunt off the last lane of queue before the stairs. When will parks learn that this is asking for injury as guests either jump over or under that final queue rail. I noticed the same phenomenon with Tomb Raider. We mouted the steps to the station nearest the entrance. (The only station that would be open today). X-Flight would see one train operation today, as would all the other Geauga Lake coasters. But why run two trains when they have, at most 500 people in the Wild Rides side of the park. We walked to the very back of the station and found no one in the queue for the last row. The train wa, in fact starting to be loaded, we walked through the open queue gate and took our seats in the back row. It'sa bit confusing as the seats face backwards in the station. Just remember: On X-Flight, the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. I sat down, with a little trepidation, note to Rideman that eyewear was prohibited on X-Flight. Our glasses taken from us, we put one arm under each shoulder belt, yes that appearss to be a 4-point racing harness hiudden under those slabs of plastic, anyway one arm under each belt, then fastened the buckle in the center. The buckle is presumeably of the type that can only be opened when the seats are upright. With the harness fastened down reaching the lapbar is out-of-the-question. This is where the aanti-eyewear goblins get you, then they lower your lapbar. On X-Flight, you want to be stapled. After stapling, they pull on some yellow handles that tighten up the shoulder belts. In oter words you aren't going anywhere. Then all of a sudden the seats tip back and you find yourself lying on your back in the floor of the station looking up at the ceiling and the on-deck guests getting a chucke at you. The train starts moving pushing you out of the station head first, and yiked I bet this is most unpleasnet when there is anykind of sun out. We tiled our heads sideways to avodi the sky and to watch the wheel carriers turn. Yo then make a curve and go up the lift, At the top of the lift you flip over in a mose unusual feeling and start to FLY. Believe me when you feel like you are hanging from the harness, not an unpleasant feeling, but not a very reassuring one either. At least to in-line flips and a vertical loop in the inversion department. Overall a wonderful ride. I really enjoy it, we made our way to the brake run, were brough back around to the station, then the chairs tip up, you fight with the anti-early release seatbelt buckle that sometimes needs to be reminded it is time to release, the lapbar comes up and you exit to the center of the station. (#191)
We proceeded to take numerous rides on X-Flight, mostof them in our favorite back row, though we did do some middles and the front row. Front row is weird because you literally can't see what's coming. The g-forces also seem stronger up front. And a new element "The Vertical Loop On Your Back" what a powerful inversion element that is. We then took a little rding break, and rode X-Flight some more. I really do like it, and think that Vekoma has a winner here.
After our session with X-Flight we decided to try the other coasters in the 50's midway. We headed for Superman's Ultimate Escape. Opted for row 1, (walk on), I hopped up into the seat, pulled the bar down, and could not get the belt fastened. "Sir, try taking off your jacket" I am now contorting myself to remove my jacket while they did not release the shoulder bar. An etenrity later they decided that maybe they should release the bar. The bar was reloweed and the belt went "Click" clear to ride. Superman's Ultimate Esape proved as fun as I remembered it. I love the spiral in the front seat, and also the hang time on the back spike. A real fun ride.
We then headed over to Mind Eraser. Scratch everything I said about Boomerangs with Vekoma trains running smoother. Again another walk on, and one ride was all it took with this baby. Forget rolling back up the first hill to gently be lowered into the station. No try the "Stop on a dime braking as you head backwards through the station". Lurching the riders into the sholder bars with force. I really have no desire to ride a standard Boomerang for a while now.
Hey, the Big Dipper is open again. Again a walk on, we enter the station, Eric goes and tries the back seat, so I hop into the Schmeck Seat. (1.3) Other riders fill in other seats. Still not too many aboard. Ah, but there is some nice airtime on every hill! Not ejector air, but still a pleasant appreicable amount of airtime on eveyr hill. I loved the ride in the Schmeck Seat, eric reported that the back seat was DEAD of interesting forces. We exited the Big Dipper and decided to get our videocameras as the day was starting to look pretty. We also shed jackets and dried to dry off. I notice that they still use real cheap re-entry ink that hardly lasts the walk to the car and back. We re-entered the park, and noted that our camera bags were not searched, though they set off the magnetometers. We videotaped X-Flight, then walked back to Serial Thriller We videotaped Serial Thriller, then got in line for Serial Thriller, we missed a few trains videotaping Serial Thriller and Batman, we finally made our way to the front seat queue. There the operator turned to us from the control panel and informed us to put our videocameras away as there is to be no videotaping of rides. We thought he meant no on-ride video. No, he meant no videotaping of rides, period, the end. "i'll have to have you ejected from the park" He claims that there is a photo embargo agaist any film or video photos being taken of any of Geauga Lakes attractions. We put our camera away, we rode Serial Thriller, though most of the ride was spent bashing how lame that policy is. Shame too, Serial Thriller was running smoother than I EVER remember an SLC running.
Not one to be intimitaded, we next entered the queue for Batman's Knight Flight. Guess what we shot more footage of Serial Thriller (!) and Batman. Again we got up to the station, and this time waited for the back seat (a one cycle wait, can I stand it :) ) Batman employs a recorded spiel, according to the recorded speil "There is to be no film or video pictures taken *WHILE* riding" Emphasis mine, and now thats a rule that makes more sense. Thats a policy I can line with and agree with. We exited Batman, we rode again, this time opting to hold out for the front row. (Okay 2 cycles). I much prefer Batman in the back row, though the front row does have some nice G-forces. I did forget how nice the front row visuals are on a floorless though. I really do like the layout, here the layout makes the ride and it is SO photogenic. Leave station, long lift approch, turn around to lift, climb, turnaorund to drop, drop, loop, circle back around the station, do the cobra roll, back around to the brake run (minor airtime in the back coming off the block) then the corkscrews crammed into that tiny area by RWB before a final helx then the incredibly long trip into the station.
We then walked over to have one of sevral passes by a very aggresive Ham-On-Rye operator tolearn that Raging Wolf Bobs was closed. No big loss there. We headed over past the Texas Tornado and now I know Rideman has some funny ideas about removing shoulder bars but this is rediculous. At least 30 seats were missing their shoulder bars and ball-crushers. The ride was of course, not open but it does lead to speculation.
1) Late to get it assembled for the season
2) Late to start dismantling it
3) MY personal Favorite: Are they replacing the all automatic restraint system that can't be physically checked by the operator that causes guest complaints from male riders, to a system like on their Giant Top Spin where it is a manual shoulder bar, and seatbelt. (Which can be operator checked) Its a wild rumour, but not toally out of the question.
We noted that the Geauga carousel still turns at a high rate of speed, and headed to Roadrunner Express. Roadrunner Express i noted has a minimum but no maximu height. (40" minimum). Again a walk-on and they were giving two circuits per ride. I like how they have placed nice cushy foam padding around a couple shall we say close supports. Its a fun little kids ride, exeppt that the young rider in the car behind me was clearly not enjoying his coaster ride, and was making that known quite well.
Next we headed to the Haybaler. Haybaler is a Flying Bobs. At Haybaler, Serial Thriller and Villain, the operators were in party mode allowing riders to stay on and ride again if they like. Why coulnd't that policy have extened to Superman, X-Flight and Big Dipper. The Haybaler was running at a respectable though not all out speed. I guess the more interesing part is that usually the Flying Bobs ships with a non-locking, lapbar. Geauga has added a seatbelt to the side of the bar which fastenes it to the lower car frame to prevent the bar from coming open midride. Not like the run it backwards anyway, which is where you need the locking bar. Curious looking solution to a problem.
We then headed to the Villain. Villain was having a re-ride party, and so my first ride was a double ride in the back seat. Forget Big Dipper, Villain is where its at. INSANE airtime, INSANE laterals. The not so innocent looking Double out and back delivers the goods to the backseat rider in true CCI style. The same, however, cannot be said for the front seat which is rahter dull. After a few spins on Villian, we confirmed that Double Loop really was closed, but then we heard Raging Wolf Bobs running. So we headed over to Raging Wolf Bobs, it should also be noted that the Serial Thriller operator was the only total camera phobic ride operator we met. Of course no on-ride photos but thats to be expected. We made our way to Raging Wolf Bobs where I noted a slight queue reconfiguration, a very finicky lapbar. But at least it still has the double bars on it and skid braking. It has everything going for it, nice layout and al, excpet for the trains. We grabbed any seat available, and recieved the usual forceless, although hhaky and jerky RWB experience.
From this point we took another spin on Batman before heading to the front of the park where we saw they got the Americana Ferris Wheel running, well two cabins of it wnyway. Nice roomy 6 passenger cabins, a wonderful view, a nice tall wheel, shame the no on-ride photo policy applies to both this and the monorail. Speaking of the monorail we rode it next, and it takes you on a really neat long tour of the front part of the park. A unique ride that is fun.
After riding the monorail we headed to Superman and took a few more rides, we were fine till I decided to try to ride it in the back (without my jacket). Not all seatbelts on S:UE are created equal. The very back seat must have a shorter belt, but nothing that having two ride ops acting as battle rams on the shoulder bar couldn't fix. And Whicked Twister is supposedto be a tighter fit than this, and CP's ops wont act as battering rams? I'm having a very bad feeling about this!
In fact I took another Superman ride up front just to feel better that I can fasten that belt without much pain, or rather the operators can.
We ended the day with a few more spins on X-flight, literally ending our day as the park did an early close at 6pm for the crowds.
One more stop past the Gift Shop - Call me overly patriotic but I felt an instant desire to get the shirt with the rollercoaster done up like the American Flag, with the words "An American Tradition" written under it. (Of course between the American Flag Coaster (which is a dual track coaster so I'm sure ofhter SF parks have this shirt amd the phrase "An American Tradition" it does say "Six Flags Worlds of Adventure"). We hit the gift shop just in time, they literally locked the doors behind us upon entering. It seems that when Geauga Lake closes, the gift shops do NOT stay open for last minute purchases. Another concept that Six Flags fails to grasp, the key times to operate their gift shops.
After we left the park we ate at Rockne's which I only mention becuase I HIGHLY recommend Rockne's Its a sports bar with great food, big portions and reasonable prices. Along with good service. If you walk out of Rockne's hungry there is something severely wrong with you. In fact we even asked the host at Rockne's for his opinion on how to get to Pittsburgh and he came up with a way we hadn't thought of, that seemed quick and easy. (He routed up eastbound on 422 to Warren, jog over 5 to the OH turnpike, to the PA Turnpike to 60 down to Pittsburgh)
Stay Tuned for Part 2: Kennywood!
Good Times!! Good Times!!
For some reason this year WoA has shortened the belts on S:UE so they are about the same as Twister I feel. Still CP ops can't ram you in so I would be weary.
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