Twelve Park Tour - Part 3 (Mich. Adv.)

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Friday, July 9, 2004 3:35 PM
Part 3 – Michigan’s Adventure

The drive from Logansport to Muskegon was fairly pleasant through Indiana, and even more pleasant in Michigan when at the state border the same US highway changed from 60 mph to 70 mph. I never understood how the exact same highway could have one speed in one state, and a different speed in another. Fortunately throughout most of our 20-day trip we encountered speed limits in the 65–70 mph range. I don’t know how we ever managed to travel back in the seventies when the national speed limit was 55 mph.

We weren’t in that big of a hurry to get to Michigan’s Adventure, we were attending Timbersfest and there was plenty of ERT, and the evening meal didn’t start until 7:00 p.m. so we stopped to check in to our hotel first.

I had only been to MI once in my life and that was during the 1998 ACE Spring Conference the day that Shivering Timbers finally passed inspection by an extremely slow moving state inspector and opened around 3:00 p.m. to a crowd of eagerly awaiting enthusiasts. I had read and heard that Cedar Fair made a lot of improvements to the park since it was purchased in 2001, so I was curious to see how the park looked with new ownership. The park really looked different, you can tell that Cedar Fair has put a lot of money into landscaping, hardscaping and paint. My only criticism was the overuse of plain concrete, decorative concrete really doesn’t cost that much more these days. I also wish they could do something to the concrete walls that line the lake on the sides opposite the coasters. The changes in landscaping really made an improvement, the park looked much better than it did several years ago.

Three coasters here were new to me so we started off with those. Mad Mouse is my first Arrow mouse; the cars are cute, the ride is okay. I can think of at least a dozen other mouse rides that I like better. They had several cars on, but only one or two were on the course at the same time, even though there were several blocks evident. The result is that most cars were stacked at the end of the ride waiting to unload. Why bother putting so many cars on if you are just going to stack them? Throughput was abysmal making for long, slow moving lines. I also found it amusing that in true Cedar Fair fashion the ride ops were required to step back after loading the car, give an all clear signal, then the main operator would say clear—all so the car could advance from the loading platform to the holding brake, a total of about four feet! This was just one of the many Cedar-Fairisms I would encounter on this trip.

Corkscrew was not operating during my last visit. This is a newer model of the standard Arrow Corkscrew as evidenced by the inversions being supported by the track spine. I rode it for the credit. I also took a ride on Big Dipper, a standard Chance kiddie coaster model. Here adults are allowed to ride without children, unlike my home park SFOT. We also took a spin on Zach’s Zoomer the junior woodie. These little woodies are great rides—every park should have one.

I was surprised at the operation of Wolverine Wildcat. They were only letting one trainful at a time onto the platform to line up at the queue gates. The platform had plenty of room, the queue stalls were plenty deep, queue gates kept people away from the moving train, and I saw absolutely no reason for not allowing guests to wait for a particular seat. As it turns out we were forced into the last seat of car three—over the wheels. The ride was not as horrible as I remember it, but there were still some jarring spots on the track. I did not enjoy my ride, and vowed to walk through if I was forced to line up for a wheel seat again. I did ride it a few more times, I think I even waited for the front, but the ride does nothing for me. I understand Roger Jourdan wanted a copy of the Phoenix, and this is what Curtis Summers gave him. Too bad, you can see that all the elements are in the same order, but this is nothing like the Phoenix, not even close. Summers was no Schmeck.

Finally we headed over to Shivering Timbers. As I mentioned I had not ridden this coaster since Day One. I loved it back then, easily placing it in my top five, but I’ve ridden a lot of new coasters since, and I was curious to see if it could still compete with the newer additions. I had also read reports of rough spots developing over the years. Shivering Timbers was everything I remembered, long, fast, powerful, and loaded with airtime. I was sorry that I waited so long to get back here. I was really glad that we were here for an event and many hours of ERT were yet to come. There were a few rough spots at the bottom of the drops, and the trick track was kind of nasty, but nothing I couldn’t handle, even in a wheel seat. I noticed they had an excellent system for storage of personal items. There were two long rows of bins mounted to the wall, one painted blue, the other green to match the colors of the trains. A board was swung up or down by a ride operator to cover the bins holding the personal items of the train on the course. I wish everyone would use a method like this, especially the other Cedar Fair parks. Yes CP does have multiple floor bins on Raptor and Mantis, but delicate items such as cameras and sunglasses tend to get crushed under heavy backpacks. It would be nice to see more parks adopt this very sensible and obvious solution.

Since this was an event there was a meal included. I don’t remember much about it, except there was lots of fruit at the condiments table. I love fruit and was glad to see there were some healthy choices. I think the main dishes were hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken. I wanted a breast but was handed a thigh. Someone else at my table wanted a thigh but was handed a breast so we traded. It started to rain lightly and I was a little worried about the rain interfering with ERT but it didn’t. Camille Jourdan welcomed everyone to the park and to the event. She spoke a little about the park and had a trivia contest and awarded some prizes. At about 7:45 p.m. they let us know the park was ready to begin ERT, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. I rode to my heart’s content, and then rode some more. I don’t remember how long ERT lasted but it didn’t get dark until 10:00 p.m. and sometime around 10:30 p.m. they announced that the parking lot lights would be going off, so this was about as dark as it was ever going to get. Darkness like this could only happen at an event. I wish I could remember the name of the ride op (Chris maybe) that manned the microphone all night. I’m not a big fan of station announcements but this guy was really fun. From his collection of name badges we could tell he’s been working at the park for many years and also a few years at CP. He mixed it up quite a bit, welcoming us back to Alaska or flashing the lights and making sounds like Millennium Force.

ERT started again Saturday morning at 10:00 p.m. I thought the trains were a little sluggish in the morning, but I still enjoyed my rides. Shortly after ERT ended we said our goodbyes (although most people we knew were heading on to Coaster Con). This was our first Timbersfest, and I’m glad to see this event does well for the park, and of course I’m always grateful when a park puts on special events for enthusiasts. We both had a great time; I hope it’s not another six years before we get back to the park. I just completed my Amusement Today poll and listed ST as my number 3.

On our way to Sandusky we stopped in Grand Rapids to view an Alexander Calder sculpture, La Grand Vitesse. Tim and I both enjoy all facets of art, especially big public sculptures, and Calder is one of Tim’s favorite artists.

Photos

Next stop Cedar Point.

*** Edited 7/9/2004 9:23:33 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***

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Friday, July 9, 2004 4:04 PM
Thanks for the TR Jeff.

I visited in 2000 and found ST to be a very good coaster, However 102* Temps and daytime rides only kept it out of my top ten.

I returned in 2001 for Timbersfest and it was good as I remembered it durring the day, Camile was soliciting #1 votes all day LOL and I wasn't ready to give it to ST.

By ERT ST was flying, The airtime increased and so did the latterals, The coaster just kept growing on me and ever since it's been my #1.

Chuck, who hasn't been on Balder but thinks ST is heads and tails above BD.

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Friday, July 9, 2004 10:16 PM
I rode Shivering Timbers last year during a trip and found it fantastic. It currently resides in my #3 spot behind Boulderdash and Cornball Express.

The airtime on that beast is just simply amazing. The layout is fairly simple but all the airtime is just mindboggling. I feel the glorious airtime now..ahh. Oh, thats was me falling out of my chair. ;/

Anywho, I looking forward to returning to MiA whenever I can. Its definately far away but definately worth the trip.

I've also read your other TRs so far and I'm glad you loved Indiana Beach. Its an awesome park and I love it there, especially when you can get massive rerides on Cornball on a Saturday.

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Sunday, July 11, 2004 10:53 AM
Keep em' coming Jeff! I am enjoying your reports.

Shivering Timbers has had many different 'moods' since 1998. I still think those 1998 rides were among the best rides on any coaster I have gotten. Sadly, I thought the coaster was not in great form last year during the event and was one of the reasons I decided not to go this year. I guess I missed a great time and from what I have heard, the coaster is running great now.

-Sean

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