TR: State Fair of Texas

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Friday, October 16, 2009 5:22 PM

TR: State Fair of Texas

Date: 10-15-09
Weather: Cold and cloudy most of the day, with temps in the upper fifties and lower sixties. A little drizzly.
Crowds: Moderate

This tr is purely academic, as this is the last weekend of the fair. It will end on Sunday, October 18. Rather than give you a blow-by-blow account like I used to do, I’ll give you each ride I rode and my thoughts on it, as well as some observations.

I went with my grandfather as usual, and took my new in-ear microphones and one of my portable recorders. I wasn’t asked about what I had on me one time, even though I had cables sticking out of my pocket and going up to my ears. Prices have gone up this year on a lot of the big-ticket rides, but down on others. The Skyway is now only 12 coupons one-way; I think it was 14 last year. The carnies were awesome as usual and there were a lot of great rides. I was not feeling good yesterday, and I am recovering from a horrible cough I’ve had for the past two weeks. I only rode one ride that flipped as well as spun, even though the Zamperla Backflash and the Kamikaze looked awesome. I love the Backflash (Wind Surf) but I didn’t feel like riding it this year as my stomach was irritating me at the time. Anyway, onto the rides.

Texas Skyway: Doppelmayer Skyway: I rode this twice round-trip. It was a great ride. Even though I’m totally blind, I still ride it. This Skyride is positioned such that you fly over every concession on the midway, and you can literally hear everything, even from a fully enclosed gondola 60 feet up. I rode it first to record the sounds, and then I rode it again later to soak up the atmosphere.

Cliffhanger: Dartron Cliffhanger. This was awesome as usual. I hadn’t ridden one of these in a few years, so it was nice to get on one. This also hasn’t been at the state fair for a few years either.

Carousel: 1914 Dentzel Carousel. This still has a fully functional band organ, which is why I rode it. Nice nostalgic experience. I rode this twice, riding free the second time because I didn’t get a jumping horse the first time.

Zero Gravity: Dartron Zero Gravity. I love this thing. It always provides a good ride. It was strange to see a bay with the strap across it and yet not have anyone in it. Wonder what was wrong with it.

Windsurfer: Wisdom Windsurfer. This is Wisdom’s version of the Flying Scooters, and my first Flyer ride. I got on with high hopes. I’d heard how a lot of you guys snap cables, and I wanted to try it. I thought you did it by making quick movements with the rudder, so I did that. Well, I hardly got anything, not even movement from the wings. These are unsnappable. I did my best too; my arms were sore for a bit afterword. Never again. I need to get out to Knoebel’s Grove some time soon so someone can show me how to snap. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, or this ride is just crap. It moved at a good speed though.

Space Roller: Mondial Top Scan. And now we come to the reason I come to this fair every year. This is my all-time favorite carnival ride, and my favorite flat ride. There is really nothing else quite like it. Sure, Power Surge is a good ride, but it pales in comparison. I always try to ride this twice. The carnie this year was an absolute maniac. I don’t think I have ever ridden this ride when it was run as crazily as it was this day. It was a nonstop assault for at least 5 minutes. I was terrified for my recording equipment. I told the attendants that this was my favorite carnival ride, and they told the op. As we were being lifted to run mode, he said, “See that guy on the end? THis is his favorite ride here.” It was cool. The poor girl on one of the other arms was screaming with terror the whole way through. Hilarious. He offered me a free second ride, but I actually turned him down. I didn’t think I could stand another assault like that. It was that good. I’d love to see how those maniacal German showmen run the Top Scan rides they have. If it is anything like this, well, it’ll be awesome. I didn’t make it back there, even though I told him I would. Until next year, guys. That was the best Top Scan ride I have ever had. Keep up the good work.

Lumalusion: Bill Tracy darkride. I always ride this when I go. It has a special place for me, as back in 1996, I rode it after getting off the Huss Pirat andn I continue to ride it, even though it doesn’t do anything for me, as I can’t see the stunts. The AC wasn’t on in all the rooms this year, which I found odd. But then again I don’t think it was needed.

King’s Circus: This is my favorite funhouse. This is really the best one there is anywhere. It is 4 stories of good clean fun. I just wish that the conveyor belt on the second floor was working. It never is. We had an incident at the end where I got the rolling barrel illusion confused with the actual rolling barrel. I had forgotten that the “hamster wheel” was after the slide and I had bypassed it. I hate those stupid barrels; I always try to bypass them whenever possible.

Skycoaster: a partial ride. I chickened out on this one. This was one of the 180-foot ones, transplanted from Six Flags Fiesta Texas. I have done two different Skycoasters seven different times, and when you’ve done one, you’ve done them all. I feel the novelty has worn off for me somewhat. Plus, they still scare me even though I know what to expect by now. I had forgotten what these things felt like and how scary it was to get suited up. I got suited up and decided to go ahead and go solo. Then I got terrified when I was led up the rolling stairs to meet the cables. He had me hooked up to the hoist cables before I decided to back out. Even though the two pretty girls in front of me offered to let me ride with them, I turned them down. Plus, I didn’t feel safe with that crew, as they did not follow standard Skycoaster protocol. “When you get to the top, you will feel yourself stop. Then we’ll yell at you to pull the ripcord from down here. If you don’t hear us, wait 5 seconds.” No, guys, I’d rather you say “3 2 1 fly” over a loudspeaker like you’re supposed too. That’s it; I’m getting out of here. A small bonus is that I got to touch the cables, which was a neat thing to do. I still have a goal of getting to Old Town one day to ride the 300-foot Skycoaster, though I don’t see how I can ride it if I got scared of this one. Plus, there is to me an extra element of scariness added when you can’t see what’s happening. Luckily, they gave me my coupons back. I have a hearing disability as well, and that’s part of why I freaked out. Being yelled at to pull the ripcord with no amplification is ridiculous. How are people supposed to hear you even if they have all of their hearing? Sure, they tell you to wait 5 seconds, but how do you know they are still doing the final checks? I didn’t like the way this was run at all. At least they were nice about it.

Sparkletts Splash: Arrow log flume. Yes, there is an Arrow log flume on the fairgrounds. And they open it even in cold weather. Luckily, it usually is not a very wet flume. I got wetter than usual this year for some reason. There was no sun out until we were leaving, so I was a little cold after that one. I rode it twice. My mics survived, lucky for me. I got sprayed right in the face with one of the misters, and I got water in the log on the drop, so I got my feet wet. This is still the only log ride I know of where you can get a log to yourself on a slow day. They will also stop the conveyor for you so you can get into a log if they don’t have many riders.

Flying Carpet: Now here’s something one-of-a-kind. This is one of those old little classic funhouses that still has a flying carpet slide at the end. You know, the one where the bench you sit on collapses and you bounce between conveyor belts. I wonder where the state fair got this from, as it is now a permanent ride there.

Indiago: Mondial Supernova. I hadn’t ridden this thing in a few years, so decided to give it a go. I forgot how wild this could get. The sensations are great, and the rotations are unpredictable. I liked it a lot, though it agitated my stomach a bit.

Crazy Mouse: Reverchon Crazy Mouse. Enough said. Standard ride with good spinning.

Zillerator: Pinfari Zyklon. This is Rye Playland’s old Zyklin, now traveling with Butler Amusements. This year it was running above average with only a few jolts. A huge pet peeve I have with this ride is that it has single-position buzz bars, which I don’t think are necessary. Seatbelts seem to be fine for other shows; why can’t these people put seatbelts on this one? It also makes for a tight fit, even for a skinny person like myself.

Mega Drop: Fabbri drop tower. This ride is always great. Great airtime in a small package. And if you ride with your arms and legs straight out, it is even better. One of my mics flew out of my ear on this one. Luckily, the mic cables are connected to each other so there was nothing lost. I have to commend the Sound Professionals for sticking them together. I don’t know where the other one would be otherwise.

Overall, this was a great trip as usual. I always love going to this fair. There were a lot of rides that I chose not to ride, as they will be at a carnival I will be going too in about 3 months. The Fabbri Hard Rock just doesn’t sound appealing to me. I wonder why there were only two ever made. Grandpa kept trying to convince me to ride it, but I chose not too. I didn’t feel like riding the Mondial Shake though I love it. If I was feeling fine, I would have. There was also just too much there for me to ride in one day. I hate Musik Express-style rides, so of course I didn’t do the Love Bugs, Sleighride, or Alpine Bobs. Wind Surf is a good ride, but I didn’t feel like riding it. However, I felt like I got a lot done, and I rode some good rides. I really want to get out to the Florida State Fair some time in the future as that looks like one of the best midways in the country. There was also both a Gravity Works Skyscraper and a Fabbri Booster together on the Thrillway. Capriolo wasn’t there this year, and let’s face it, the Mondial Capriolo is the only good ride in that genre. Once you’ve ridden one of those, you’ll see what I mean. Booster is an abomination. I chose not to ride the Gravity Works one. It was the newer model with the ots restraints. I figured I wasn’t missing anything.

Thanks for reading.

John Moore

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Monday, October 26, 2009 2:07 PM

I think you have your Playlands mixed up. :)


Zillerator should be the old DPV Ride from Playland at the PNE. It is pretty much identical to a Pinfari Zyklon, but the cars are different. When it first started appearing at the fair in '98 or '99 we thought it looked a lot like the ride from the PNE, which had the same name, and then the operator told us it was from Western Canada so we knew it had to be the one from Playland at the PNE. RCDB also confirms that Playland at the PNE's Zillerator was sold to Butler Amusements.

Rye's Zyklon was much older and presumably scrapped.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert, Monday, October 26, 2009 2:09 PM
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