Trip of a Lifetime (AT&DM) (7/19/02)

Associated parks:
None

Tuesday, September 17, 2002 7:27 PM
Part 8- Alton Towers (Day 2) & Drayton Manor


“I just saw a ghost!!!!”……….

I woke to the sound of my roommate, Jeff Johnson, talking outside. I got out of bed and looked out the window and saw Jeff smoking, and talking with other smokers. My alarm hadn’t gone off yet but I decided to stay up and get ready. After a quick shower (one that didn’t require me to depress a button every 30 seconds), I walked down in the breakfast area (via the ultra-cool lift) and met up with others. I had a bowl of cereal instead of sampling all the other kinds of food they had available to us. The cereal I ate was simply called Frosties, which had a picture of Tony the Tiger on it. Instead of Frosted Flakes as we are used to in the US, England does it a bit differently.

Our ERT on Air and Nemesis was to begin at 9:00am with other hotel guests. This is something the park offers hotel guests each morning if I am not mistaken. Since ACE pretty much took up most of the rooms in the hotel, only a few non-ACE members were going to do ERT. Most of us decided to walk into the park by way of a heavily wooded trail. Some decided to take the monorail instead. It was during the start of this walk that Greg Legowski informed me of the sad news that Custom Coasters Incorporated was closing their doors. I was more than shocked to hear the news. I had gotten to know some of the CCI crew over the last few years and considered a few of the people there to be great friends. Hearing this news was not the best way to start a morning IMO. Despite a couple of people showing an alternative reaction to the news, Greg and myself talked about this negative news for most of the way to the park.

Once at the park, we were escorted into the area where Nemesis and Air reside. I decided to ride Air a few times. My first ride was in the front. While a front seat ride does provide a slightly better view depending on where you look ahead, anywhere on the train provides a good view. After a few goes on Air, I went over to Nemesis where Greg and I waited for our first front seat ride. Yesterday, after my first ride, I thought Nemesis was fun, but it was missing something. Sitting in the front made me realize what I was missing. That being the amazing visuals this ride provides. While Nemesis is indeed an intense ride, the visuals are what make the ride amazing IMO.

As soon as ERT ended, the park opened to hordes of school kids. Larry Scott, Mile Parker, and I headed right to Oblivion. Since the new ride in the park was Air, we were hoping that there would be a small wait for Oblivion. Sure enough, the wait was under 5 minutes and we rode a few more times. With each ride, I liked it more and more. Mike decided he wanted to ride Black Hole so he left Larry and me while we took advantage of the photo opportunities and shots lots of pictures and video. I also found another Dancing Stage machine and played a few more games before meeting up with Chris Trotter. We met up with Mike soon after.

Chris, Larry, and Mike were all looking for the Haunted House. Since I rode it the day before, I knew where it was and I walked with them to show them. I ended up riding with them. They seemed just as impressed as I was yesterday. After our ride, we ran into Joe Campanella who was with a local enthusiast by the name of Grant. After listening to Grant’s suggestion to ride the powered coaster, we headed that way.

The line for the ride was about 20 minutes or so and we took this time to talk with Grant more about the parks in the area. We also learned that Grant has been to the US 15 times or so to ride coasters in something like 38 states. Joe didn’t like the fact that someone from a different country had been in more states than he and commented on this a few times while standing in line. We also learned that Grant posts on Coasterbuzz sometimes so if you are reading this Grant, thanks for telling us about this ride.

Normally I wouldn’t wait long for a powered coaster unless it was something really special. This was something special. The speed and direction changes on this ride were great. There was a pass through a cave which was also shared by the river rapids ride. I don’t remember how many times we went around, but it was fun every time.


I then broke away from the gang and went back towards Nemesis and Air to grab some more footage. I probably walked around for a good hour getting all the shots I wanted before running into Joe and Grant who were doing the same thing as I. We only had an hour left before we were to meet at the coaches so I decided to start walking to the front of the park. Since the park is so huge, it took me a good half hour or so just to reach the front gate area. I ended up missing the group photo in front of the Alton Castle but I made it out to the coach park well before we were to board. I talked to Nigel a bit who was still raving about his Air rides. After waiting a bit longer than expected due to the group photo, we had everyone on the coaches ready to go at around 12:45pm. We had an hour and a half drive before we reached our second park of the day, Drayton Manor.

The hour and a half drive was made easier thanks to some trivia questions that White Coach Captain Jason Pytka gave me, although the drive must have tired a lot of people out because when we arrived, some were sleeping.

Some small gifts were handed out for those that won including a couple of Pontin's buttons, a couple of pins, and a couple of other things. As we pulled into Drayton Manor, we had to find a contact person to give us our wristbands. This took longer than expected but once the coach captains were given their sheets of wristbands, we proceeded to the coach park where we were once again greeted by many coaches and another sign warning us the park was to be crowded today.

I was given 42 wristbands to hand out. Instead of handing them out one by one and causing those few folks that seemed to be in such a hurray to leave the coach that they upset a few others, I decided to divide the sheet of wristbands into half. I gave one side of the coach one half and the other side the other half. I also instructed to take only one wristband per person. As predicted, there wasn’t a mad dash to get off the coach, but as I started to walk into towards the park, I was stopped by Sean Winder, Ivan Hurtado, and Alan Conceico who didn’t get a wristband.

The 4 or us went back to the coach and searched on the floor and seats to see if 3 wristbands were dropped by mistake. They were no were to be found. I notified Tim and he in return had to purchase 3 more wristbands. Now, perhaps my way of passing the wristbands back did help with the mad rush to get off the bus, but in return it caused a bigger problem. What disturbs me the most is there is evidence that someone, or a few people, decided to keep three wristbands for whatever reason. To me, that’s just low and very immature if indeed that is what happened to those wristbands.

Once we were squared away with that whole issue, we went into the park. We had only a few hours to enjoy the park before ERT so we made the best of it. The park was crowded but it didn’t look nearly as crowded as Alton, plus, it was much cleaner. We had a meal at 3:00pm so we had to ride as much as we could in as little time as possible.

===Super Dragon Coaster===(#440)

This is a coaster very similar to The Beastie found at Alton Towers complete with a tunnel. I believe we waited about 25 minutes to ride this. This would be the only coaster we would ride before our meal was to begin. On the way to the meal hall, we passed a very cool flume ride called Storm Force which I would have loved to ride, but didn’t have time. We also noticed that there were a lot of people standing during the ride. It just wasn’t one boat but many. Perhaps this is a custom thing to do at this park as it seemed quite a lot of people were doing it.

The meal was good. Joe must have thought it was REALLY good considering the amount of food he had on his plate. Honestly, I have never seen food pilled that high. Of course, many people took pictures of his creation. One man even tried to push Joe’s buttons by making a negative comment towards him, but that didn’t phase Joe one bit. We quickly ate before heading back into the park and making the best out of the last couple of hours.

===Klondike Minetrain===(#441)

This coaster type can be found at couple places in the US like Beech Bend Park in KY, and one of the NJ piers if I remember correctly. This Pinfari looping coaster is know to provide a mean ride. The entire coaster is themed to look like a sort of mine ride complete with themed trains. While there were 2 trains operating, there was only one ride operator who would have to dispatch a train, head back to the unload area and unload the passengers, go back up to the operators booth to bring the empty train of riders to the load area, then dispatch the train and start the whole process over. This made for an extended wait but the wait didn’t seem long at all because Sean Ivan and I witnessed something going on nearby.

We saw a teenager getting into the face of another teen. The second teen wasn’t doing anything as far as yelling or anything so we had no idea what the first teen was yelling at him about. The second teen decides to walk away and when he turns around, the first teen clocks him right in the head, very hard. The hit teen continues to walk away as the other teen continues to pester him before it was broke up. It looked bad for the kid that was hit because his ear was bright red and looked swollen. We felt bad enough that we had Joe (who wasn’t in line) go over and tell the kid he did the right thing by not fighting back. Of course, the kid looked at Joe like he was crazy, but at least we got the message to him.

By looking at the ride while we were in line, I thought the easiest place to sit might be in the back. Sean decided to sit in the front while Ivan and I took a back seat ride. The drops were nice in the back. The 28-foot tall loop was very quick. However, those sitting in the front get thrown violently into the turn following the loop. The back car kind of slowly enters the curve. Sean said he got banged around. Ivan and I told him we didn’t have any trouble riding it, although I think once was enough for me considering our time.

We went to the nearby, brand new, Intamin Gyro Swing. The ride cycle was extremely short from what we could tell, but that would mean the line would move quicker. While in line we met a group of girls that were impressed we were from America. They wanted us to say American things. They really got a kick when we showed them our currency. For some reason, we also told them that Chris Trotter was a famous newscaster in the US. He even played along with it. I don’t think they bought it though. By the time we got on the ride, we had them saying, “dude” with ever sentence.

We quickly took our seats and prepared to ride. Basically, this is an outward facing Frisbee with inverted seats like those found on Drop Zone at PKI. I have wanted to ride one of these because, well, it looks fun and I would love to see something similar at a park near me in the near future. =:^)
While the rotation of the seats was slow, we did get some nice airtime at the top of the swing area.

One coaster left, and a few minutes before ERT was to start.

===Shockwave===(#442)

Since it opened in 1996, I have wanted to ride this Intamin stand-up. It isn’t a large coaster, but it features the only inline twist on a stand up. I rode with Don Tuttle and Carol Deeble for my first ride. I believe we waited for the front row. The first drop is kind of like a curving drop, but it straightens out half way down and enters vertical loop. The inline twist follows and provides a nice float, but it seemed a bit rougher than I thought it would. Nothing major though. A small straight section of track prepares riders for two counter clockwise corkscrews. Another turn brings the trains back into the station and into the brakes. Those brakes at the end are very close to the train waiting for dispatch and caught me off guard the first time I rode it.

The ride was pretty brutal, but it is short so it wasn’t all that bad to ride. I can only imagine riding it backwards as some enthusiasts get to do during ERT sessions from time to time. With ERT starting, I made my way to the station and heard that they were going to let us riding backwards!!!

“What? You have GOT to be kidding me?”

Sure enough, it was announced at our meal that we would be allowed to ride standing backwards but only if one of the main men of the park was on the station. Forgive me for not remembering his name. I thought this idea was too good to pass up so I decided I would ride one more time forwards, then my next time around, I would stand backwards. Going forwards I shot some POV from the front row. It turned out a lot better than expected.

It was now time…..

I met up with Tim Melago and Dave Sandborg who were also ready to give this a try. We decided to wait for the back row. We enter our seats facing towards the head rest. We were told that if we rested our faces directly on the headrest, we could break our noses so we had to tilt our faces to the side. I will admit. I have done some wild stuff in my life but this was one of the most unique things I have done period. I actually was having doubts at first but then I realized I would probably never get this chance again so I went for it. I hugged the seat support so I had something to hold onto.

We left the station and made our way up the lift. Already it felt strange to me. From the sound of Tim and Dave, they weren’t sure this was such a good idea. I agreed and said some choice words. As we crested the top of the lift, I became very nervous. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. We shot down the first drop and into the vertical loop. Our necks were going back and forth because of the forces. This resulted in me slamming my face into the side of the shoulder restraint. The inline twist wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but those two corkscrews at the end were very brutal. Phew!!

As soon as I got off the ride, I noticed my lips were numb from me banging my face into the side of the restraint. I didn’t have a very pleasant ride but I am sure that if I did it again, I could figure out a better way to ride, although the ride is designed for riders to sit forward so riding the wrong way will probably always provide a challenge. I am glad I rode it backwards, but once was enough for me, at least this day.

We had ERT on another ride in the park, the Apocalypse free fall tower. We had heard they were going to shut the tower down early so a few of us walked quickly over to the tower. This is the only Intamin Giant Drop that gives riders three choices of how to ride. You can sit like you would normally. You can stand with a floor, or you can ride in a standing position without a floor. For my first ride, I decided to stand with a floor. Having done Acrophobia at SFOG many times this year (thanks again Robert U.!) I was interested to see how this would feel with a floor. The tilting feeling at the top is the same, but the free fall does feel different with the floor. I went back around and rode the floorless side next. Kip Ross and Janna Rasmussen were waiting to ride that side also and asked if I would join them.

Kip had never done Acrophobia so he was probably the most nervous out of the group I was riding with. I have stated before that Acrophobia is the scariest drop ride I have done. The one found at Drayton was equally as scary. The whole sensation of floating while in the standing position is surreal. I wish I would have been able to ride again but ERT was now ending so I didn’t have time for it. I would have also like to ride this during the normal hours of operation as the ride has on ride cameras at the top of the tower facing down so those riders can view themselves at the top of the tower with the entire tower in the shot also. It is very well done and I wish I could have gotten one.

Everyone made their way back to the coaches. We had a 2 hour drive to Cardiff, Wales (our second country on the tour). Most people took this time to rest up a bit while other played cards. Nigel also put in a movie to watch. I believe it was U.S. Marshals. Due to my position in the coach, I couldn’t see much of the screen so I put on my headphones and listened to some music.

Right before we crossed into Wales, Nigel told everyone to pull out their passports. As we crossed into Wales, he told us to go ahead and put them back. This was his way of joking with us the lack of a customs going into Wales. Tonight would be the first night on the tour where each coach would be going to a different hotel. The Orange Coach was to stay at a place in Cardiff called the Moat House. Once we arrived at our destination, we quickly picked up our room keys and headed to our rooms. Jeff and I were on the second floor. The elevator was taking too long to reach us (No, it wasn’t themed) so we took the stairs. As we were opening our door, we saw Miles Ketchum come out of his room two doors down with a very strange look on his face. He walked slowly passed us and said,

“I just saw a ghost.”

He then continued to walk down to the front desk area like nothing happened. Jeff and I looked at each other and thought that Miles had too many rides on Shockwave standing backwards or something because he wasn’t making sense. Now, I will say that I do believe in ghosts. I have seen some things in my life that I can’t explain, but a ghost at our hotel?
I saw Miles walking back to his room so I grabbed my video camera and started to ask him what happened. By this time, Greg Galley, my mother Phyllis Withers, Ivan Hurtado, and myself were all wanting to know what was going on so Miles let us in his room to explain.

According to Miles, he walked into his room and sat his luggage down. He went into the bathroom to wash his hands and noticed someone standing behind him. He looked up and noticed an older man, probably in his 70’s, looking at him in the mirror. Miles looked back down into the sink and realized what he saw. He looked up and the man was still there, smiling, then he moved out of sight into the bedroom. Miles turned around, looked into the bedroom and didn’t’ see the man again. He descried the man as a full face, but with a shadow-type body. I asked him if he could see the man’s teeth when he smiled and he said yes.

Miles them left his room and walked down to the front desk to see if he could find out some info.

Miles: “Excuse me. Has there been any ghost sightings reported here?”

Clerk at front desk: “Yes there have. Did you see one? What room are you in?”

Miles: “107.”

Clerk: “We haven’t had a sighting in that room.”

The funny thing was, since the man was smiling, Miles wasn’t the least bit nervous. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t either. However, for the first time in my life, I got severe chills when ever we would talk about the whole incident. I wasn’t scared talking about it. It just happened, with everyone that was around. Pretty creepy if you ask me. I know Miles wasn’t playing a game or making it up either. He was too genuine. Kind of makes you wonder huh?

With so much excitement for the day, I got tired very quickly after eating a pizza thanks to room service (and it wasn’t expensive). Tomorrow was the start of another early morning so sleep was a must. I had no problems sleeping but getting up at 5:30am came too early.

Next up….

Oakwood fun and a late night ghost hunt.

Thanks for reading,

-Sean

*** This post was edited by Sean F. on 9/18/2002. ***

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Tuesday, September 17, 2002 8:51 PM

That would scare the everloving crap out of me. Smiling or not.

These TR's are great Sean. Just as addictive as the new Tom Clancy Novel.

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All I need is 4.5 million bucks and a half a mile long sliver of land and maybe someone could build me my very own Shivering Timbers. ;)

*** This post was edited by MagnumForce on 9/18/2002. ***

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 3:07 AM
After what you said I thought they turned the trains backwards. That has to be so scary facing the wrong way in the restraint.

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-Sean

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 5:32 AM

Sean, you DO know that when the ghost story got to the other coaches, the general reaction was "Orange bus? Must've been partying too hard..."

I have to admit that I did rather well on Jason's trivia questions, getting 13 of 20 and realizing at least 2 mistakes before he'd announced the results. Got a nice little pin for my effort.

That front seat ride on Nemesis was amazing. Alan and I had a front row on Air that was equally stunning. For both rides, the front seat isn't NECESSARY for a good ride, but it sure does help...

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--Greg
"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 6:51 AM

As always Sean, your TR's are great. I felt like I was next to you, Tim and Dave riding Shockwave. My heart started beating faster when I was reading, remembering how nervous I was to ride backwards for the first time. Some young girls from the trip told me to ride a different way. They told me to look up and hold my neck real steady. It seemed to work, as I didnt get bashed around as much as you!

Here is some more photos. This is because Im too lazy to write my own TR's, I feel like just tagging along with Sean. Think of it like Conan and Andy Richter....But didnt Andy get fired? Dang.

The quite painful Klondike mine ride at Drayton.

Here is the amazing flat ride, Maelstrom.

One last photo of Apocalypse, the Drop tower.

Thanks again Sean! How many more days till Europa Park? Hee Hee

Matt

*** This post was edited by baclueless on 9/18/2002. ***

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 7:11 AM
Matt, that's a GREAT shot of the Maelstrom.

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--Greg
"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
My page

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 12:00 PM

Sure enough, it was announced at our meal that we would be allowed to ride standing backwards but only if one of the main men of the park was on the station. Forgive me for not remembering his name.

That would be Colin Bryan who is Managing Director of the park(So basiclly he's the Top Boss) He is a really great bloke, And your right, The Park only lets Coaster Clubs Ride Shockwave backwards as long as it is supervised by Colin Bryan, so the general public would NEVER be allowed this pleasure.
Seriously though Colin Bryan is an amazing bloke, I remember that when the ECC went to Drayton back in march this year, there was quite a few rides CLOSED all day(this included Apocolypse,Maelstrom,buffalo coaster, the skyride and something else which I cant remember) anyway Colin felt so embrassed when he couldnt give us our proposed ERS's, that he invited all the members that attended that day BACK FOR FREE, of course we were no way expecting this to happen, so it was a really nice touch, and this is just one of many reasons why the club goes there year after year :)
Unfortunutly, I couldnt make the second trip, but true to Colin's word, everyone got invivted back to Drayton for a free day out with Free wristbands for thos who visited the first day, and there was even a discount for any other members that wanted to visit who didnt go on the first day, AMAZING.

Another Excellent TR as usual BTW, and not long now till the Week 2 TR's which is what I am really looking forward to hearing about.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 12:03 PM

MagnumForce said:

That would scare the everloving crap out of me. Smiling or not.

Funny thing is, I was really wanted to see what Miles saw. After we heard his story, the whole place just felt weird. Some people down in the lobby wouldn't even talk about it.

These TR's are great Sean. Just as addictive as the new Tom Clancy Novel.

Ha ha! Thanks! Glad you liked them.

Sean,

It was scary facing the other way. It felt very wrong. Those headrests weren't exactly pillow-like either.

Greg,

That's doesn't surprise me. We had quite a reputation once a particular incident was known. I just with I could have gotten more rides on Nemesis.

Matt,

Thanks for sharing once again. Those picutres are great. Between the pictures you and I are sharing, I think we are showing people how much fun we had rather easily. Of course, sharing all the 550 pictures I took would be overkill in these reports. We still have quite a way to the Europa report. =:^)

Speaking of pictures, I forgot to credit the Shockwave pictures as property of Jeff Johnson. I guess he shared them on RRC also before sending them my way.

-Sean


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Wednesday, September 18, 2002 12:06 PM

PaulD said:
didnt go on the first day, AMAZING.

Another Excellent TR as usual BTW, and not long now till the Week 2 TR's which is what I am really looking forward to hearing about.

Thanks! Yes, it should be up pretty soon. Week 2 was a lot more different than week 1. We had a few moments where we could actually sight see. That made week 2 feel so strange to us for some reason.

-sean


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