“Oh man. Look how tall that sucker is!”
Despite the fact that I only got a few hours of sleep in, I woke up and felt that I got a good nights rest. I got ready and waited for Jeff Johnson to finish up. Iain Hendry was the last to get ready as we needed to be out of his apartment by a certain time so he could make it to work.
I went out onto his balcony and took in the view 17 floors up. Iain lives in a nice building with a great view. Before we left his apartment, he demonstrated what frozen yogurt can do traveling at a high rate of speed. =:^)
Iain walked us down to our car where we said goodbye. I really enjoy hanging out with him. I don’t get the chance to do that very often. As a matter of fact, I usually run into his parents at a park more than I see Iain. Out of all the people I know, Iain is, by far, the most intelligent person I have ever met. The talent he has is immeasurable. I have a good feeling that he is going to go very far with his ride designs. He just needs to proper folks to talk with to get him a start. Once he gets that far, watch out! Seriously.
Jeff I left Iain and headed towards Niagara Falls. We ended up getting to our next park a bit earlier than expected so we decided to park somewhere and walk to the falls. Jeff had never been there before and was anxious to see them in person. We spent about 20 minutes walking around getting pictures and shooting video. We could see a very large S&S tower in the distance. It appeared the ride was being tested so we headed to our next park.
Out of all the parks on our trip, this park has to be the strangest park, well, next to Magic Forest Park. The park itself is huge. It wouldn’t surprise me if the walkways are wide enough to land a plane on. The park has massive amounts of room to expand. There aren’t many rides in the park so walking from ride to ride can be a chore at times, but the good thing about that is the lines are usually short. Jeff needed to get his credit on the two coasters at the park.
This small kiddie coaster has an oval layout with a tire driven lift that kind of resembles a mini-launch. I sat this one out as Jeff rode. Of course, with most of the other kiddie coasters that Jeff rode, I had to take pictures of him riding it.
Before riding the other coaster in the park, we walked up to take a look at the new ride, Sky Screamer. Before walking up the trail leading up to it, we couldn’t help but notice how tall this S&S triple tower was. While the towers themselves are around 300 feet tall, they sit on top of a 150 foot tall hill. Jeff and I knew we had to ride this right away. It looked to cool.
The walk up to the top of the mountain is a long one. Be prepared for it is very steep and winding. By the time Jeff and I made it to the top, our legs were pretty sore. At the top we were kind of shocked to see where the ride sits. Since it is still new, the whole area surrounding it looks like a construction site. We walked across some gravel before reaching a pre-boarding area.
There weren’t a lot of people up here to ride. Heck, it didn’t look like there were a lot of people in the park. The park was only running one tower but another tower wasn’t needed. There isn’t a large operator’s booth. Instead there is a small panel for a lone operator. From that panel the operator can see every seat thanks to a series of mirrors.
For my first ride, I rode facing a large field. These towers are combo towers so we were about to get the best of both worlds. The shot up was pretty powerful as was the airtime at the top. Our seats bounced a few times before slowly raising to the top of the towers. It is here that you really get an idea of how high up you really are. While the bottom of the tower may be 300 feet below, riders are 450 feet above the midways. It is very high up there and I could easily see someone with a few of heights freaking out while waiting to drop.
The drop itself was pretty good. It surprised me as I really wasn’t expecting much. After the drop, our ride came to an end. Jeff and I got in a few more rides. For most rides we faced towards the other coaster in the park and could clearly see most of the layout while on top. For our last ride we asked if we could wait for the side facing the falls.
As we shot up, the falls came into view. From on top of the tower the falls were very visible. As we were shot down, the falls slowly faded from view. It was a neat effect and I encourage anyone riding this ride to try and get the side facing the falls.
We would have loved to stay up at the top of the tower for longer but we had another coaster to ride. Jeff took some pictures before we walked down. The path leading down to the main walkway was much easier to walk going down as expected. Not to sound morbid, but I had visions of someone losing a wheel chair on the way down as it is very steep.
The walk to our next coaster was pretty long, as with most everything in the park.
We walked up to the large cave entrance and continued on down into the very dark loading station. For our first ride we rode in the front. There were only a couple of other people riding at this time.
For those of you not familiar with this coaster, it is one of the most unique Arrow loopers out there. With a double lift up the side of a large, steep hill, riders are then dropped into two loops and then follow the terrain for the rest of the ride. There are two areas where theming never was finished. The first tunnel we went through was pretty short. The second one is much longer and contains a nice drop, but wasn’t as long as I remembered it. There was a neat illusion when exiting the last tunnel. Even though I knew we were dropping, it looked like we were on straight track and being launched towards the exit.
We exited the tunnel and directly into a one-of-a-kind element, similar to a B&M batwing, but the entrance and exit points are facing the same direction. The ride ends with a short cruise to the loading station after the last two inversions. I thought the ride was running alright although I noticed a bit of jarring in a couple of places that I never felt before.
Our second and last ride was taken in the last row. The last two inversions felt much stronger while sitting in the back. We could have ridden a third time but the ride operators were making us walk around each time so we bailed.
Our day at Marineland was complete. On the way out, we stopped and checked out some bears. Jeff bought an ice cream cone and shared half of it with a bear. We watched them for about 20 minutes before leaving the park.
Our next park was only 20 minutes away but we had to go through customs once more. Considering our experience with going into Canada a couple of days before, we were curious to see how difficult it would be to get back over into the states.
We drove next to the falls before crossing over Rainbow Bridge. It looked as if the traffic was moving at a nice pace. We pulled up to a boarder checker booth in no time flat. We were asked a series of questions like we had been asked before. When asked why we were in Canada, Jeff mentioned we were on a coaster trip. The man in the booth looked confused and asked us once again. Déjà vu all over again? I think we knew what was about to happen next.
The man started asking things about coasters and wanted to know if it was true that someone was killed on Top Thrill Dragster. I told him no one was killed. He then asked what parks we had already been to. He seemed to be getting a kick out of our trip. Just as we thought we were ready to go, he asked for Jeff to hand him the car keys and ordered him to pop open the trunk. He did a quick search and noticed the souvenirs that Jeff had bought. When he came back, he said, “You two really are on a coaster trip aren’t you?” He gave us our keys back and told us to continue on with our trip. No more searches. We were back home.
We drove for another 15 minuets or so before reaching Grand Island, New York. Within a few minutes, we were walking up to the gate of our next park.
===Martin’s Fantasy Island===
I was aware that at one time the park offered a discount for ACE members. When I asked a woman at the ticket counter if the park was still offering a discount for members of the American Coaster Enthusiast, she said she wasn’t sure and would check on it. Just as she was getting ready to leave, I asked her if her list of discounts said anything about ACE. Her response was, “Oh, why didn’t you say so? We sure do have a discount for ACE.” The discount was $5 off the normal price for admission.
Jeff and I weren’t planning on staying very long. As we walked through the park, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of people riding. Everything was a walk on including the first coaster we rode.
I first rode this coaster right after it opened in 1999. It impressed me back then. I remember the ending being out of control as was a right turn filled with a massive lateral jolt. I was looking forward to riding again.
Jeff and I rode in the front seat for our first ride. As we were heading up the lift hill, Sky Screamer at Marineland was visible. Damn that ride is tall!
I don’t know if it was because there was no one riding the coaster or if the park hasn’t kept up with taking care of the ride, but it was running sluggish. The hard right turn didn’t have the laterals that I remembered and the ending wasn’t as fast as it was. Then again, it has been a while since I last rode it so perhaps my memory was playing tricks on me. The ride wasn’t rough at all so I know the park is taking at least some good care of it. Jeff commented this was the perfect family wooden coaster as we pulled back into the station. Our second ride was in the back car and provided a pretty similar ride to the front.
Jeff and I then walked to the back of the park to ride our next coaster.
There isn’t much to say about this one other than it was almost identical to the Williams Grove version we rode a few days before, except we didn’t stop before the lift this time. It was running pretty decent.
As we left Wildcat, we passed a very strange looking shot tower. I had never seen one like this before. Later I realized this was a Chance Slingshot. Being a fan of drop and shot towers, I decided to give it a ride. Jeff agreed and we soon took our seats on the tower. We didn’t get to see it operate so we had no clue what it did. After two more people showed up to ride, we lifted off the ground. The ride operators told us to keep our head against the headrest and prepare for our 80 mile per hour launch. 80 miles per hour? Um….yea.
I had my head pressed back as I was instructed. Without a warning, we shot up to the top of the tower. The force of the launch made my neck kink. While it was a pretty short tower, the force we shot up was pretty strong. I still doubt it is 80mph, but whatever it was it didn’t feel all that pleasant. The ride stops at the top before dropping us back down. This is the first type of shot tower that I would consider passing up if I saw another one. Even with my head pressed back it hurt my neck.
Jeff then visited the gift shop while I caught up on voice mails. Since I had no service in Canada, I had to wait until I got back into the States to get my messages. Luckily there were only a few I had to answer.
After a quick lunch at a nearby Pizza Hut, we drove to the Rochester area for our next park.
The last time I was here was in 1999 and I only got to spend an hour or so. While we weren’t planning on staying until close, we did want to stay more than an hour this day. By this time it was very hot and muggy out. A water ride might have been a good idea but we knew there were a nice amount of coasters to ride.
As we walked up to this coaster, we couldn’t believe how twisted the layout was. This was my first Mauer Sohne spinning coaster. After hearing so much about Lagoon’s version, I was looking forward to taking a ride on this one. Over the last two weeks we had ridden two different type of spinning coaster. This was to be our third.
Jeff and I got in line. It only looked to be about a 20 minute wait. Just as we stopped in line, one of the ride operators yelled for two riders. Jeff and I rose up our hands and skipped the entire line. Our first ride we took facing backwards.
As we crested up the fast lift, we had no idea what to expect. The first thing I noticed was how nice the restraints were. They are very natural feeling and holding on felt right due to the placement of the grab bars. On the Gerstlauer version we rode a couple of weeks before, we were facing inwards. This version has outward facing seats.
We crested the lift and flew down a very nice and long curving drop. Already we could tell this was going to be a great ride. We rode up and through a couple of sharp turns where our car was released to spin for the rest of the ride. The system that unlocks the car is neat. Basically a small static bar is in place on one of the curves. As the car rolls past it, the bar comes in contact with a moving bar that holds the car in place so it won’t spin. The static bar pushes onto the moving bar allowing the car to spin freely. In a way, this system reminded me of how the rotation on Six Flags Magic Mountain’s X is done, but only sideways.
The next part of the ride contains a nice drop followed by a rather insane element that looks a bit like an over banked turn, but not quite over banked. We went through the element backwards and rotated around for the exit. What follows next is another small curving drop before going through a very cool curving section with some weird trick track. The ride ends with a couple of more drops and a turn into the brakes.
While the spinning wasn’t as much as we had thought, the actual layout of the ride is great. Lots of people were getting off the ride and smiling and laughing. We knew we had to ride this again so we got back in line. Just like the last time, a ride operator asked for two riders and Jeff and I passed up the line once more. For our second ride we rode facing forward. The large first drop was even more effective facing in that direction.
Once again, we didn’t spin much but we didn’t care. This ride was just too much fun with what it does. We got back in line again and the same think happened. We passed the line and rode once more before going to ride other things. What a cool ride. I would love to see one of these closer to my house.
This strange coaster used to be a small wooden coaster but the park retrofitted it to make it a steel coaster. At least that is how the story goes. Since the last time I rode this, it appears the ride has gotten a more modern system for operation. I love unique rides like this one. It may not be the largest thrill but it still is fun to ride.
Jeff was surprised to see this coaster running Morgan trains, or PTC California style trains as they now call them. The out section of the ride was fairly tame but the nice tunnel drop was nice and surprised me once again.
Jeff decided to skip Bear Trax as it required to be ridden with a kid. We walked over to the Moser drop tower and gave it a ride. Once again we were caught off guard with how much sensation this small ride produces. The only other one we rode on this trip was at Del Grosso’s. We also took a few minutes to take a ride on the Flying Scooters. Due to the slow nature of this version, snapping wasn’t going to happen but we made the best out of what we could do.
There was a nearby arcade so I went in to see if they had a Dance Dance Revolution machine. Sure enough, there was. The people that were playing it were having a blast. It looked to me that this game is new to the people in the area as they were all still trying to figure it out. I ended up playing a game with someone. I let him pick the songs. He picked songs I have never heard before but were awesome to play. It’s too bad I forgot what they were called or I would have played them on my next game, whenever that may be.
We ended our day at Seabreeze with another ride on Whirlwind before heading out. At this point in the trip we could have easily gone to Six Flags Darien Lake. It was part of the original schedule but neither of us felt like going to another Six Flags park. Especially after witnessing the operations at La Ronde a couple of days before.
We were done with parks for the day. We still had to drive to Erie this night. We would be staying at a very exclusive place. From what we were told, you can only stay at this place by recommendation. Our good friend Robert Ulrich recommended Jeff and I to the owners and we were given permission to stay there.
It wasn’t long before we were driving down a dirt road in Erie and pulling up to the location where we would be staying for the night.
We arrived at Butternut Knoll!
The owner of Butternut Knoll walked out to greet us. We hadn’t seen Kathy Lyons in some time. It was great to see her once again. Kathy’s house is a nice two story house that sits in the front of a forest. It was very quiet outside. Jeff and I both could tell we were in for quite a treat staying here.
Once we walked inside, we met up with her son Bret. We also met her husband. We sat around talking about our trip and other things. Bret walked into the room with his pet rat Gizmo. This was the first time I have gotten to hold a rat. It was pretty cool actually.
We spent another hour or so just chatting before getting ready for sleep. Seeing Kathy and her family was the perfect way to end our day. The next morning we would be able to sleep in for once. Kathy had to go to work for a couple of hours but Bret would be around to entertain us until she got back. Tomorrow was also the last day of the trip.
An explosive start to our day and ending the tour on top.
Thanks for reading,
. *** Edited 9/27/2004 2:38:23 AM UTC by Sean Flaharty***
I noticed what you said about your first time on a Chance Slingshot Drop tower. I just rode my first one last week in Myrtle Beach(second part of the TR will be up this week for it), and must say that it quickly became one of my favorites. The first time I rode by myself, and the other time with a few on board. The launch wasn't uncomfortable at all, not any pressure on my neck. They didn't even give us the "Keep your head against the head rest" part of the announcement.
I actaually enjoyed it almost as much as Power Tower! If you're in Myrtle any time soon, check it out down there. Maybe the one you were on was just having a bad day?
It's funny you mention the tower at Mytle Beach. I was there a few weeks ago and was standing in line for it when I realized it was the same make and model of the one at Martin's.
I was with the park with three other friends. All three of them suggested I don't ride it as they have ridden it before. I watched it operate. While it didn't look as severe as the one at Martin's, I did pass on it.
That same morning we left Atlanta for Mytle Beach. While we were passing through Augusta, we decided to go to a FEC right off the Interstate and try and ride the Wacky Worm they had. We made it to the place but it wasn't open yet and we didn't feel like waiting. The place closed at 10:00pm so we knew our luck of getting back to ride it before it closed was very slim.
Now, had I ridden that Slingshot at Family Kingdom, we would have made it back to that FEC just as they closing if the driving portion would have gone as planned. As it turns out, we did make it to the FEC 5 minutes before closing and got to ride the coaster.
Funny how things work out sometimes.
-Sean (gisecin) Flaharty
Silver Comet was sluggish at times and at other times very forceful. I remember our first ride of the day being, That wasn't so good and then followed by That was cool over and over. Its a combination twister/out and back that some might not get but it was fun. We visited the first seasonal day and finished our day with about 20 backseat rides by ourselves and exited the park as the last patrons at 7:30 followed by the rest of the parks employees. BTW, Closing time was 8pm lol.
Jack Rabbit was fun at SB a front car ride on this coaster was the surprise of our trip along with Bobsled and Whirlwind. Your right, Whirlwind is just too much fun to complain about anything. We thought it was going to be a hour wait but the ride has great capasity. At least the way they operate it.
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