Anyway, I arrived at the entrance to the park about 4:30 pm and I noticed something right away that made me smile BIG!!! The parking lot was full and I'm not talking about a good crowd, I'm talking about jammed pack. Cars and buses all over. I think I even saw a few campers and RVs. They had all lanes open at the parking booths and rightfully so, b/c people were still coming.
The guy, in the lane we went through (whose name leaves me), was very nice and joked as he noticed that my younger daughter was still napping after the short 35-minute drive from Tuscaloosa. He politely took my $8 for parking and we were on our way. I was very fortunate to find a good parking spot near the front entrance b/c some people were now leaving.
My Wife, 2 daughters and I made our way to the front gate to purchase the 1 ticket we needed to enter the park. I know you are saying that doesn't add up, but my wife and I had 2 complimentary tickets, my younger daughter got in free b/c she is 2, so that left us only paying $20.66 for a Junior/Combo/After 4 ticket. Sweet deal huh? If you buy the season passes, you can take advantage of even sweeter deals, especially if you live within a 2-hour radius.
We had a big pink bag with some of our belongings with us, so the nice security guard checked it out to make sure there was no food, drinks, weapons, drinks, or food, lol!
We proceeded through the turnstiles after giving the young lady our tickets. She in return gave us our stubs and the appropiate wrist bands. We didn't get a brochure so I asked a guy about them, thinking to myself that it was a silly question, b/c I knew my way around the park. He didn't have one on his person so he pointed me in the direction of guest relations and I told him we were fine.
The first thing I noticed when we entered the park was one of the many signs throughout the park advertising the 14-Concert Series Lineup, which I hope does even better than its successful run just a year ago.
We continued down Celebration Street toward Splash Beach Water Park for some wet fun. I'm telling you this is the perfect place to be on a hot summer day in Alabama. I was kind of shocked that we were not bombarded by the medi-I mean-the Alabama Adventure photographers. I also didn't see any of the 3 new characters walking along Celebration Street that were advertised in a brochure that I picked up from one of those interstate stops. I did notice that the shop that sells Funnel cakes had a line outside the door. Go figure, those things are good!
We arrived at the entrance to Splash Beach and located the locker rooms. With the amount of people that visit this park, AA really needs to invest in much bigger locker rooms or at least more locker rooms throughout. My wife and children made a pit stop as I waited patiently on the outside. I looked around to see if I noticed anything different or new that stuck out and I noticed the misting fans at the food stands. I thought that was so 'cool' and a definite plus.
After my family came out the locker room, we headed straight toward the old-new small childrens area, now known as Salamander Bay. As we entered, I noticed the little squirting machines that seemed to be quite a nice attention-getter. In Salamander Bay, which is formerly known as Quarry Bay, they have added several new slides and other water features that are all noticable by their bright decorative colors. This is where we spent a great deal of our time, which was fine with me, b/c it was HOT!!! I found 1 available chair under a large umbrella, so I took ownership of that spot. My wife took the first shift of standing guard as my girls feverishly played. By this time, I had to go to the rest room, so I went to the nearest location which was the Men's locker room.
After I left there I decided to take a mini tour of the rest of the Water Park. I walked up to check out Kahuna Waves-the wave pool with real beach sand from Mexico-and people were having a blast. Next, I checked out the older children playing at Castaway Island-the activity pool-as they waited for the huge bucket to fill up so it could dump tons of water atop their heads. Right next to Castaway Island is the Acapulco Drop-the speed slide and Splashdown-the drop bowl slide. I stood next to the runout of Acapulco Drop, which was similar to standing on the deck of a big boat plunge type ride, b/c you were going to get really wet. I took a quick glance at Neptune's Plunge-the enclosed slides and Warrior River-the lazy river-as I made my way back to Salamander Bay.
I took the next shift of watching my girls playing to give my wife a break until it was about an hour and a half of the water park's closing time. We left that area and headed back to the locker rooms to freshen up. My children enjoyed themselves and my wife and I were pleased that they did.
After we left Splash Beach, we headed toward the Theme Park, Magic City USA. At the end of Celebration Street right before you enter the theme park, is the Carousel that my family took for a spin.
After that, we entered the theme park and headed toward Cahaba Falls-the log flume. As we arrived at the ride, I noticed that it had a little theming added to it. It had a series of old-style cannons along the final curve right after the big drop. Too bad they didn't shoot water at you as you rounded the curve--that would be awesome. As we reached the queue line, I noticed they had colored height measuring sticks, which stated 3 things-Red-Not Ok to Ride, Yellow-Ok to Ride with Adult, & Green-Ok to Ride (alone). By the way, these sticks are posted at the entrance of every ride throughout the park. After learning that my children were both ok to ride with us, we stood in line for about 15 minutes. While in line, I saw that this ride had on-ride photography, so we were excited about seeing how our picture would look. The ride itself was just as mild and pleasant as I remember it with the nice big plunge at the end. The trees, between the 2 lifts, lined the curves just enough to disguise what lied ahead. After we exited the ride we headed to the photo booth to check out how funny we looked, but we didn't purchase our shot this time.
Next, it was on to another water ride, Wild River Gorge-a water rafting ride. We past by the massive Giant Wheel and I noticed that there was a new modified entrance to Wild River Gorge. The entrance now begins where they used to have the service road crossing point. They have now covered the road with dirt on one side and on the other side where the ampitheater is, they have planted grass. It is a nice big yard for the concerts they have had and are going to have this summer. I got excited just looking at how good it looked. Of course, the rest of the entrance to the ride is grassy and 'wild' looking as ever. They have night lights everywhere, more tall trees and grass, pesky knats, and I even saw and heard a bird chirping as it landed on a branch. You get plenty of exercise as you navigate toward the loading platform. Our wait was a little longer this time-about 25 minutes. The ride was and is a nice mild version of most rafting rides. They guarantee you will get wet, but not soaked. One of the coolest features of the ride is the geysers that periodically shoot up at unsuspecting guests.
By now, it was time for a rest room break, so we took advantage of the opportunity. Then we headed through one of the most liviest, if not the liviest area of the theme park-the spinning ride section. They are also known as the Spin 'N' Puke Rides. I saw where they were putting in Vertigo-the enterprise-which should be ready by month's end. We bypassed this area as my children had their sights set on having some more fun taylored just for them. By this time, they were thirsty so my wife took them to get something to drink and to enjoy themselves in the 9-ride Marvel City-the kiddie park, while I headed for the major thrills section.
Of course, Rampage, the park's signature wooden coaster was the first item on my must-do list. I was surprised that they were only running one train especially since it was a Saturday night, but I remembered that with 2 trains, the line would be almost none existent and that would put alot of extra work on the team members fastening empty seat belts. I didn't see the other train at all though-not even on the transfer table. I had a decent wait considering the one-train operation, but again it was a little longer wait than the previous attraction at 30-35 minutes. I rode the 2nd from the last seat and enjoyed every minute of the fast, dark, exhilerating experience, bka Rampage. Still the best woodie, I have ridden at night.
Next, Zoomerang-a boomerang triple-looper-was calling my name, so I answered as I headed toward the nicely illuminated coaster. I got dibs on the front and as I boarded the train, I noticed the beautiful paint job of the first car. The automated voice spiel was great and well needed. Keep in mind that this was my first time ever riding this type of coaster at night, so I was blown away by the intensity of my ride experience through the 6 moments of upside-down bliss.
Last, but not least, I headed toward the Space Shot-catapult tower ride-for a finale of the major thrill rides. Again, I enjoyed the pre-ride spiel, which is needed on a few more rides. It was great as always, but I still miss the Turbo Drop.
I headed to Marvel City to meet back up with my family. I noticed that they had an area cleverly deemed as the 'Cool Zone' which was mainly an area to sit down and get mistified by fans. Another thing I noticed throughout the park was the tremendous amount of shaded benches or benches with covering over them. This was a great effort in satisfying the customer's high demand for shade.
After I met back up with my family, we headed over to Marvel Mania-the family coaster with a punch. This little-big coaster proved to be too much for my youngest daughter as one time around its short circuit was enough for her. I took my other daughter to ride one more time on the Barnstormer-the airplanes-as our fun day was drawing to a close.
As we left Magic City, USA and walked along Celebration Street, my older daughter wanted to take one more spin on the Carousel, so I was obliged to take her this time. After our last ride of the night, we headed toward the front gate.
As we were on our way out, I saw a group of people gathered around a basketball game. At first, I thought it was just one of those games where you shoot to win a prize, but I was amazed at what I saw. It was a court that resembled a street ball court, with the lighting and all, but it had the racks like a 3-point shootout contest. And that's what it was-a 3-point Shootout contest with only 3 racks instead of the traditional 5. I was like, man, I got to do this the next time I come back.
Lastly, I noticed on several of the shops, they were advertising 'cool' this and 'cool' that. Several, like the huge arcade/party facility, were even mentioning the air conditioning inside. As I mentioned earlier, I think this is a great move by the park to really make a effort to make this park as accommodating as possible, especially as it relates to the hot & humid weather of the south.
To top off a great day of fun at AA, as we were leaving through the turnstiles, we were thanked for coming and given discount coupons for our next visit. I told my wife that this park is on the right track and they will do very well.
All in all, we had a great day. Everything that we wanted to ride was open. My only knock is that I wish they had more immediate cleaning people and not end of the night ones. I noticed that many people don't care how they leave trash cans, use rest rooms or locker rooms, so if AA had team members to check up on things similar to how attendents check movie theaters, this park would be the tidiest in the world. *** Edited 6/11/2007 12:47:39 AM UTC by Godsentone***
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