Visions of Visionland: My First Visit (with photos)

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Sunday, June 26, 2005 11:57 PM
Yesterday, I went to Visionland for the first time. I’m a lifelong resident of Birmingham, and even though I’ve been eager to ride Rampage ever since the park opened in 1998, especially after hearing and reading so many rave reviews about this coaster, I felt that the rest of the park wouldn’t be much better than a state fair and, therefore, not worth the price of admission. Besides, Six Flags Over Georgia with its 9 coasters and better assortment of flat rides is only 2 hours away and has been my adopted "home park" ever since I was a kid (I’m 36 now), so I’ve just come to expect a lot more from a theme park. I decided that I would hold out on going to Visionland at least until they added one more coaster. Well, a second coaster (Zoomerang) was finally added to Visionland’s lineup this year, and then I won two tickets from a local radio station, so at last it was time to take my first trip to Visionland.

My wife, 4-year-old son, and sister-in-law also made their first trip to Visionland along with me. We took our son to Universal Studios in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa 3 years ago, but he was too young to remember going there and too short to ride anything but a few kiddie rides, so this would be his first time to truly experience (and remember) the fun and thrills of visiting an amusement park. The past week has been really hot and humid here in Birmingham, but I heard (incorrectly) that the weather would be a little more pleasant on Saturday. I decided against taking my new Canon Digital Rebel XT and opted instead to take my old, pocket-size Olympus D-520Z, so the photos in this report won’t be of the highest quality. I will try to take my Digital Rebel XT on a future visit to get some better photos.

We arrived at 9:45 am, and the parking lot was already half full. I wouldn’t discover until later in the day that most of those visiting that day would be heading over to the Splash Beach water park (but I expected this from reports I had read about the park). Here are photos of the park’s entrance and of Celebration Street:

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The pavilion containing the bumper cars with the Giant Wheel (ferris wheel) in the background:

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Next, we headed over to Marvel City so my son could enjoy some kiddie rides while I rode the coasters. I wasn’t able to get many decent close-up shots of the coasters because I was battling haze and direct sunlight in the morning, and when we returned to that side of the park later in the afternoon, rain clouds were hiding the sun, although it only sprinkled a little while we were there. As you approach Marvel City, there is a good view of Rampage and Zoomerang on the hillside in the background:

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Our first stop was Visionland’s kiddie coaster, Marvel Mania. This would be my son’s first roller coaster ride and, unfortunately, the only coaster he was tall enough to ride at Visionland. As expected, he was hooked and was begging to ride the bigger coasters, but his wish won’t come true until next weekend when he visits Six Flags Over Georgia for the first time--a trip we already had planned before I won the tickets to Visionland last week. He just passed the 42-inch mark and is now tall enough to ride the Great American Scream Machine (GASM), Mindbender, and Dahlonega Mine Train at SFOG.

Here we are getting ready for our second ride on Marvel Mania:

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A shot featuring all 3 coasters at Visionland:

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Since I was the only one in the group wanting to ride the bigger coasters (other than my son who was too short to accompany me), I split off from the others and headed towards Zoomerang. The line was very short, so I only had to wait a couple of minutes to ride. Most people headed towards the back of the train, so I rode in the front car. It was an enjoyable ride--a step above the old Viper at SFOG but not quite as thrilling as Déjà Vu. And the uneven weight distribution (with more people in the back than in the front) caused the train to pass rather slowly through the vertical loop (thankfully, it didn’t get stuck). This would be my only opportunity to ride Zoomerang that day because it was closed by the time I returned to that side of the park later in the day (presumably because of the threat of thunderstorms but possibly for mechanical reasons...I’m not sure).

Here are some shots of Zoomerang:

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View of Rampage from Zoomerang:

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I met up with the rest of the gang back at Marvel City where my son was fulfilling his dream of being a train engineer followed by a NASCAR race (LOL):

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I then split off from the others again and headed over to Rampage for my first and long-awaited ride on this awesome wooden coaster.

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The line was a little longer than Zoomerang’s had been as the crowd was steadily growing at the park, and only one train was in operation at this time (they didn’t start running the second train until later in the day). After a 10-15 minute wait, I was strapped into my seat in the front car and ready to go. WOW! Rampage definitely lived up to its reputation and exceeded my expectations--a very intense ride that doesn’t let up after the first drop and offers plenty of air time. It has now replaced the Georgia Cyclone as my favorite wooden coaster.

Now for some photos of Rampage:

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I could have ridden Rampage all day, but there was still a lot more of the park to explore. I met up with the others who had just finished riding the ferris wheel:

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Our next stop was the Cahaba Falls log flume ride:

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My son got soaked:

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Then we rode the Pirate ship (the most intense ride my son was able to enjoy at Visionland...he’ll have more options at SFOG next weekend):

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Another view of Rampage:

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Next stop--Wild River Gorge. Here are photos of and from this attraction:

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After lunch, we headed over to Splash Beach to cool off for a few hours. Splash Beach is a great water park, but it is also VERY crowded. My only complaint is that there are no changing rooms (I had to wait more than five minutes for a stall to become available in the men’s restroom in order to change into my swimsuit). Here’s a photo of the wave pool:

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Now back to the rides. I headed back to Rampage for one more ride.

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Meanwhile, my son returned to Marvel City:

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My wife attempted to photograph me coming down the first hill of Rampage but wasn’t quick enough with the shutter release:

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Before leaving the park, my son and I rode Hurricane together:

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I was hoping for one night ride on Rampage, but the others were getting tired, and sunset was still an hour away since the days are so long at the end of June. So, we headed for the exits to close out an excellent first time visit to Visionland.

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http://www.pbase.com/randy4au/image/45306200.jpg *** Edited 6/27/2005 7:22:52 AM UTC by randy4au***

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Monday, June 27, 2005 12:03 AM
BTW, my usually-reliable photo host (pbase) has been having server problems all day, so the photos may take longer than normal to download. Hopefully, this problem will be resolved soon.
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Monday, June 27, 2005 1:14 AM
I'm glad you had a good time and were able to experience the awesomeness of Rampage. It looks like the park is really coming along, because last year there was NOTHING to do, no log flume, no zoomerang, it was rather dull Except for the Top Ten woodie they have there.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005 5:27 PM
Thanks for being the only one to reply (so far), coasterkid16. Visionland still has a long way to go, but I keep reminding myself that SFOG only had the Dahlonega Mine Train when it opened in 1967 and didn't add GASM until 1973. So, hopefully Visionland will blossom into a great park someday. *** Edited 6/28/2005 9:27:58 PM UTC by randy4au***
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