Twelve park tour - Part 1 (WOF)

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Wednesday, July 7, 2004 4:39 PM
My partner Tim Baldwin and I recently completed a road trip that wrapped around the ACE Coaster Con. Our trip took us through 20 states in 20 days. We visited 12 parks and rode over 70 coasters, 13 of which were new to me. We managed to meet up with friends at every park visit. We were very lucky with the weather as only a few of our park visits were interrupted, and none of those interruptions lasted more than a few hours.

I think I will do this park by park, unless a report comes up short in which case I may combine two or more parks.

Part I – Worlds of Fun

We left Texas on Tuesday, June 15. Tim picked me up at work a little after 5:30 P.M. and we headed to our first stop in Edmond, Oklahoma where we visited Tim’s brother and his family. Early the next morning we left for Kansas City to meet up with a friend of ours. After settling into the guest room, we headed over to Worlds of Fun just as it started to pour. We drove into the parking lot at about 3:00 p.m. and it was really raining hard. There was a long line of cars leaving the parking lot. We sat in the car for about a half an hour until we determined the rain was at least light enough to enter the park with umbrellas. Quite a few people were still leaving the park. Once in, we found that nothing was running so we did some souvenir shopping. It didn’t take long for the skies to clear and the rain to let up. It took quite a while for the park to start operating the rides.

Spinning Dragons was new to us, so we watched with anticipation as they sent out a test car and brought it to a complete stop at each of the block brakes. Despite all the rain, it seemed to have no trouble stopping, as one would expect with fin brakes. The attendant at the entrance told us it usually takes a long time to open the ride after a rainstorm, so we decided to check out some of the other coasters.

We hung around Timber Wolf for a while and got in line as soon as it opened. I first rode Timber Wolf back in the early 90’s and was quite enthralled with it then, as most enthusiasts were. When Cedar Fair bought the park in 1995 they promptly installed a trim brake on the first drop taming the Wolf a bit, but it was still fun. Sadly Timber Wolf is not the coaster it used to be. We took a couple of spins in the front seat and the next to back seat. I found it to be really, really rough (and I’m used to rough coasters, I ride the Giant all the time back home). It was not unrideable, but it was close to it. It still has moments of air here and there, but the train shuffles quite a bit and the slow upward helix in the middle of the ride really ruins the pacing. We went back to it a couple of more times before the evening’s end.

We headed back over to Spinning Dragons, but could see they were still running an empty car. (Note the lack of a plural.) So we decided to check out Mamba. This coaster doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. To me it is a top ten steel coaster, probably around number 6 or 7 on my list. Mamba was not open, and they had mechanics working on a train in the station. The attendant said they were trying to get it up and running. We checked several times throughout our visit but unfortunately it never did open. The mechanics stayed almost until closing so I will give them an “A” for effort. This was a big disappointment, but it was early on in our trip and we had many more coasters to look forward to.

On our way from the Mamba station we stopped and looked over the area where Zambezi Zinger used to run, a small portion of which now holds a Vekoma Boomerang. We rode the Boomerang. It’s smooth. What else can I say? I’ve done at least a dozen of these--it’s a boomerang. We have one at our home park.

We headed back to Spinning Dragons, and finally it was running—all of two cars. We asked the attendant why they were running only two cars and he told us it is because the track is wet (it’s now at least an hour and a half after the rain stopped). We got in line and observed what I thought was a peculiar mode of operation. The cars have a load and unload area and they would hold one car in the load area until the other car was just approaching the final brake. Then they would start loading the first car as the other car on the course hit the brakes. The coaster uses a magnetic brake to trim most of the speed, and then I’m not sure if they use the friction brake to bring it to a stop or just rubber tires. The rubber tires then bring the car into the station’s load and unload areas. Now if they were worried about a collision (and WOF is infamous for their collisions), wouldn’t it make more sense to load the car in the station while the other is out on the course and get it onto the lift hill and away from the incoming car? If by some freak of physics the incoming car did manage to blast through a magnetic brake, a fin brake and several rubber tires, it would hit the car in the station WHILE it was being loaded. I saw no logical reason for waiting to load the car until the other one is almost back. It made for a long and frustrating wait—about 40 minutes—quite long for a park that was otherwise dead. There were three of us riding, and we thought an off-balance car would be more likely to spin. Our first ride spun a little, and I felt it was a fun ride, but nothing great. The hairpin turns at the beginning didn’t work they way I thought they would. The wheel assembly turns underneath you but the car generally stays pointed in the same direction. It’s an unusual sensation to go through a hairpin turn and not really turn. We returned later and they had three (of six) cars on, but at least they were loading and unloading as soon as the car reached the appropriate area. The resulting increase in throughput made for a significant improvement in line flow. Our wait was about 20 minutes. We loaded the same three people, but this time we put the two persons on the opposite side. I don’t know if this made the difference or if it was just random chance, but this time we spun quite a bit, and it made for a much more exciting ride. We managed one more ride before the park closed again with three people. To my dismay we again spun very little and to make matters worse I ending up facing backwards for a good portion of the ride. Overall I think the ride is fun, but from my experiences (and observations), the ride can vary tremendously.

We also took a ride on Detonator, the S&S space shot. I’ve ridden mark 1 towers before, but I forgot how intense the airtime is on these models. I was absolutely shocked when we were violently thrust into the shoulder harness. I think these models are almost too violent, and, at least at my age, I find I prefer the later models like our own Superman Tower of Power better.

I would like to have seen a show, but the only one I was interested in was dark on Wednesdays. When we were fairly certain Mamba was not going to come up for the rest of the evening, we headed out of the park for a late dinner. We had an okay time at WOF, we certainly did not have worlds of fun, maybe more like cities of fun.

Photos

Next stop Indiana Beach.

*** Edited 7/10/2004 3:14:31 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***

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