Valleyfair!, Shakopee, Minnesota, USA
It's been over two years since our last trip to VF so this visit was long overdue. With record rain over the previous two days we anticipated big crowds but were pleasantly surprised by a relatively empty park.
Twilight (after 5:00) tickets were purchased for $21 each and along with maybe 30 other guests we were through the gates a little before 5:00.
From the parking lot we could see there was no line for Steel Venom so that was the first ride of the day. There was a one cycle wait for the front row and our group of three rode it back to back, with one of us getting a re-ride. The ride op rattled off a spiel at a clip that made an auctioneer sound like Garrison Keilor. The only thing decipherable was the "launching in 3-2-1." SV is always a good time and this round was no exception. This was my first coaster of the year and it actually left me a little disoriented, something I haven't experienced in years. The evening was off to a great start.
The next stop was Extreme Swing but only one side was running. The wait was around 15 minutes in a unshaded queue so we passed and headed over to Wild Thing which like SV was a near walk-on. A 2-train wait later we were boarding the front row. Now I'm not sure what happened but honestly it was the best ride of my life on WT. The mid-course brake was barely on and there was actually noticeable air on the bunny hills. Subsequent rides proved to be not quite as good, but still, there was air time. I repeat, air time, on Wild Thing. Miracles really do happen!
After a few laps on WT it was off to Renegade which I had not been on since the year it opened. Back in 2007 I was one of the first riders and was very disappointed. Kentucky Rumbler which opened in 2006 had set my expectations very high and Renegade just didn't compare. I'm happy to say over the last three years Renegade has broken in really well and is now a fast, airtime filled, and even slightly wild ride.
There were only two problems with Renegade. The first is there was only one train running resulting in approximately a 20 minute wait. Not an unreasonable amount of time but with two trains running on the far less popular Wild Thing it made absolutely no sense. The second issue I had is my own fault of putting on an extra 20 pounds over the last couple of years resulting in the dreaded Millennium Flyer lap-bar belly-flab pinch.
High Roller was next on the list and made the wait for WT seem long in comparison. There was no one in the station. I'm sure most see Renegade as the replacement and with it being so close doesn't help either. HR ran about the same as it has for years, a mellow and somewhat nostalgic, fun ride.
Next stop was Extreme Swing now with a setting sun and much shorter line. Next to Renegade this appears to be the second most popular ride in the park and with good reason. ES is all ear-to-ear smiles, laughter-filled and most importantly fun! There doesn't seem to be one rider who doesn't let loose a "whoooo!" or "whoa!" on the high end swings, it really is a great and much needed addition to the park.
The day finished out with more laps on WT, SV and Renegade. We also checked out the IMax movie on coral reefs which had music by CSN. Overall it was very well done and informative/entertaining.
The only food we sampled were the cheese curds which were just crazy dripping in grease, yet somehow disturbingly tasty. The same booth had deep fried oreos which I don't think were there in 2007. Other noticable new food additions are Cinnabon and Subway. It is interesting how smaller parks like HW, IB and Knoebels can pull off tasty, affordable and unique park food but the chains have to turn to franchises. The offerings at VF are closer to the food court at the mall rather than an amusement park.
Overall it was a fun day and I left surprising exhausted after just 5 hours. Like a lot of people I'm sticking to parks close to home until the economy improves. It is good to know VF is still there and getting better with age.
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