What a long weekend, SRM 2003 Pt1

Associated parks:

Holiday World

Stark Raven Mad

May 30 - 31

Friday, May 30

This is likely the most difficult report I have ever had to write. I really don't know where to start, particularly considering the tragic way in which Stark Raven Mad ended. I have been contemplating for several days now just how I am going to write it, or even if I should write about it at all. I have decided that it is important to write about Tamar Fellner's death, and even offer my own speculation, in light of the most recent news reports. But first, I will start at the beginning of the trip.

My good friend Matt and I have been planning this trip for some time, and very much looking forward to it. While I love coasters, Matt is much more into the water park side of things, and could not pass up an opportunity for ERT (Extended Ride Time) on Holiday World's newest waterslide, Zinga. I, on the other hand, have ridden the coasters of Holiday World, but had not gotten the legendary (pun intended) night rides through the pitch black darkness of Ravenswood, and was looking forward to that.

We set out from Philadelphia at about 3 AM, expecting about a 12 hour drive if we made minimal stops. We took our time, making a few longer stops for breakfast and to stop at Wal-Mart for some last minute items, and made it to the Santa Claus post office at about 3 PM CT. Why the post office? Well, being the procrastinator I am, I had yet to send out my photos for ACE's CoasterCon contest, so I decided to send them on the last day from Santa Claus, IN. We next headed over to the campground, set up in our RV, and grabbed a bit to eat.

At about 5:30 we headed over to the park, got our registration materials, and headed in. Before the park closed we got a quick ride on both the Raven and the Legend, which were running great, and then sat down in the amphitheater, where we were treated to a hoaky but fun opening routine put on by the Holiday World management, which include Pat Koch tap dancing. She was actually pretty good. They next reviewed to rules of the event, explaining that lap bars were allowed to be loose, but were not to be held up by any foreign objects, and that seatbelts must be worn. Finally, the auction proceeded, with several wheels and other assorted Holiday World paraphernalia being auctioned off, including signs for the now defunct Banshee (this auction included a good Cedar Point joke that now eludes me), and a cast with Nick Foaly's (no, I have no idea how to spell it) signature on it, which Mat, who is a huge wrestling fan, won for $55. I tried for a wheel set, but gave it up when a woman who wanted badly dug through her pockets bidding everything she had ($93 and some odd change).

Matt headed for the restroom, I headed for the Hallowswings. The ride is the same as any other wave swing, but these swings have a great look to them, decked out in orange and black, with trick or treaters painted on the sides, they fit right into the Halloween section of the park. The lighting package looks fantastic too.

Meeting up with Matt, we again hit each of the coasters before getting another bit to eat (something Matt likes to do quite a bit). We then hit Legend once again, before Matt called it a night. I was not too far behind, being that I had essentially been up since 4 AM Thursday, but I needed those night rides, I was craving them, and I was not disappointed by them.

I thought the Beast had one heck of a run through the dark, but the Raven is a whole different story. Not only does it have the speed, not only does it have the tunnels and laterals, it has some amazing airtime that the Beast simply cannot match, and it all adds up to an incredible, if not a bit scary, of a night ride. I, for one, was very impressed, and it lived up to all of my expectations.

After a few more rides, I headed back to the RV to find Matt crashed on the couch, put to sleep by the umpteenth remake on the Three Musketeers (this was the Disney version), and I crashed myself.

Saturday, May 31

We were up bright and early for the Splashin' Safari ERT. The temperature was not too inviting, but we were not deterred, have been able to see Zinga the night before from the Legend. Matt, of course wanted to eat as soon as we got down there, so I goaded him into eating quickly and we headed for Zinga.

This is a truly amazing waterslide. You spiral through a dark tube before steeply dropping into the giant funnel, which sloshes you back and forth across rapids created by the ever increasing volume of water. It is a great ride, and I really wish Dorney Park would follow the lead with such innovative slides.

The rest of the ERT went great, the colder temperatures kept many an enthusiast away, so line were non-existent. Matt spent to rest of the day in the water park, but I prefer some drier riding, so I headed out, back to the RV, got changed, got in a little nap, and then back to the park where I hopped on some of the flats.

I also did the photo walk back. It was very interesting to get to see a part of the park people don't general get to see. It also gave me the opportunity to get some great shots I otherwise would not get.

The park was very busy, so I did not take in the rides I was expecting to get during the ERT like Liberty Launch, and instead got on the Rough Riders bumper cars, the Howler, and took a whole bunch of pictures. I also spent plenty of money in the gift shops.

After taking everything back to the RV, I headed back to the picnic area for dinner and to meet up with Matt again. Matt had lost his glasses during a ride on Zinga after he forgot to take them off (easy to do, you kinda forget they are there), so he actually had a little trouble getting to the picnic area (later he would tell me he actually got lost in the campground because he headed in the wrong direction) being that he is almost blind without them, and he had no spare.

Dinner was great, they had quite a spread laid out, chicken, BBQ, hotdogs and hamburgers, and some great cookies for desert. Also, they had a not too bad live cover band playing. We sat down next to the band, behind the speakers, so it was not too loud and we could talk, when the band's power went out.

Pat Koch came to the microphone and thanked everyone for coming, and then gave the startling news, that someone had been ejected from the Raven at about 8 o'clock that night, and that the ERT would be canceled. I have never seen such a large group of people get so quite so quickly. We were dumbfounded. She went on to explain that that person was transported to the hospital, but it did not look good. She said the train had returned to the station with the seat empty and the seatbelt unbuckled. There were many witnesses.

After a prayer, we were solemnly lead to the park exit. It was very surreal, no one really knew what to say. There were many hugs and tearing faces. I am even now started by it just writing about it.

Later we find out the person ejected was Tamar Fellner of New York, who had only just joined ACE. He fiancé was riding next to her in the last seat of the train when she was ejected on the fifth drop. He was also injured.
While tremendously sadden by this, I think that she had unbuckled her safety belt during the ride, and ended up getting the ultimate airtime, the kind no enthusiast wants to get. I also think that this should serve as a reminder to all as to why there are rules when riding. I hope that if there is any good at all to come of this, and I believe that there is a reason for everything, and that good can come of even the most tragic events, that we all look upon how we act in everyday life, and in this case, particularly , how we act at parks. We set the example. We go to parks and people, even subconcisely, look at us for guidance, and it is important that we set the example to live by. We must be polite, courteous, thankful, and must at all times obey the rules. People are watching us, we need them to see to good side.

I enjoy a good one click ride as much as the next guy, but I know I will be thinking twice next time I pull down the lap bar.

Photos of the trip can be found here: http://www.penncoasters.com/tripreports/HolidayWorld/SRM2003/SRM2003.htm

Part 2 of the report, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, coming soon.

"If you make it too smooth, it'll be like sitting in your living room."
-Bill Cobb - Designer, Texas Cyclone

Nice TR. I think it would've been difficult for me to have reported such an incident. It definately makes you reconsider that extra "lapbar airtime" room, especially on rides without seatbelts. While I'm sure many people will reconsider their "one-click" rides, I'm sure many of us (me included) will continue to give ourselves alittle extra room. I've never had more than an extra click of room. No reason to have any more than that.

Anywho, excellent Trip Report, nice read indeed. I hope to get to SRM next year....I hope.

Free Falls on Drop Zone: 10!
Batwing Flights: 7!
Superman: Ride of Steel Airtime-age: 10!

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