Winter Coaster Solace 4, Part 1

Associated parks:
None

Monday, March 3, 2003 10:51 AM
Winter Coaster SOlace 4
Parks visited: DL & KBF (2/28/03), KBF & DCA (3/1/03), SFMM (3/2/03)
Weather: Unexpectedly nice
Crowds: Awesome everywhere!

Ah, Solace time again! The sun is coming out again after a long, long winter (oh yeah, other than that streak of 90-degree days back in January, he he he!) and the hint of spring is in the air, promising warmer weather, days kicking it by the pool, and trips back east once that crappy white stuff lying around everywhere melts away.

It was wierd going to Solace not knowing what to expect. The first two were such joyous events that I was kind of blindsided by how different the park "felt" during last year's event. All of the ride ops last year seemed to be new, stapling was rampant, and the whole aura of the park (while still notable for their time and generosity) just felt "off". This was followed by the disaster that was Con last year. The reports from that little debacle were shocking to me, but less so than they would have been without the experiences I had at Solace. In the 9 months between the Perilous Plunge death and the Con, Knotts descended from a nation-wide favorite to almost "most-hated" status. It was dismaying to us locals to wonder if the park would ever be the same again.

Following the Con, I ventured back to the park in July and unexpectedly had an awesome night. All the new employees appeared to have settled in a bit, my first rides on the awesome machine that is Xcelerator were staple- and hassle-free, and I was able to enjoy Ghostrider as intended, IE with an inch or two of space between me and Mr. Lapbar. I had two more good visits in the fall and an awesome day in January, where I got out of work early on a 90-degree day and marathoned Xcelerator for 3 hours. I had heard rumors that the park had told all the employees to REALLY work on their customer service, and this was readily apparent in January, as all the ride ops were friendly, courteous, and talkative. This was more like the Knotts I used to know.

Well, following Solace, all I can say is: "Knotts Is Back!". This year's event was almost completely awesome, and the few minor quibbles I had were pretty much out of Knott's control. The park has always been generous with their hospitality, and the Radisson deal was execptional this year. But I'm getting ahead o' myself here...

Day 1 - Thursday, 2/27

I drove down to Knotts and the Radisson the night before, in order to get a nice early start on the weekend. After arriving exactly the same time as Moosh to the parking lot, we went into the hotel and greeted our compadres from Chicago (Chris Baran) and New York City (Dave Frasier, Jim McDonnell, Dan Miron, and Craig Spencer). Adult beverages were enjoyed and it was great to see everyone again.

The East Coasters soon tired out (after all, it was 3 am to them!) and I went off to my room, where Chris and I watched the amazingly stupid contestants on "Street Smarts" prove Charles Darwin wrong (Go ADINA!!).

Day 2 - Friday, 2/28

As Disneyland was offering a great deal for admission into both DL and DCA for $47, all of our east coast friends wanted to get their Disney on fully and completely. I'm kind of jaded about Disneyland...It's hard to see the wonder if you've been going somewhere since you were 3 (and you're now 36!). One way to get that back is to go to DL with people who have never been there, or haven't been there in over 10 years. It's so fun to see someone's eyes bug out after riding Indy or Space Mountain, or watch them enthralled by Pirates/Mansion/Peter Pan/Mr. Toad/etc...it almost brings back those feelings you had as a kid.

The DL resort was, as always, easy to get into. The big parking garage/tram set up is really pretty cool. I'm glad they took the time to interface it with Interstate 5 so well, it really is easy to get into and out of. Moosh and I purchased everyone's tickets, and we were off to see the Kingdom. As we went into Fantasyworld (err, Land) Moosh took all of our tickets and went off Fastpass-prospecting.

Knowing the ins and outs of the system can really make your day easier. Fortunately, none of the lines on this day were bad anyways, so I didn't have to feel bad about jetting past people in a two-hour line, LOL!

We managed to hit Fantasyworld perfectly, walking on to everything and coming out to see that each line we had just walked thru had now doubled or tripled. Riding Peter Pan with sunglasses on is almost hallucinogenic. We continued our good streak thru Toon Town, and we soon had knocked out almost the whole middle of the park in less than 90 minutes. It was now time to use some of those Fastpasses, so we took in Mansion, Pirates, and Indy with about 5 minutes wait between the three. Dave Frasier had really been looking forward to Indy and I don't think he was disapointed with the dark-ride/4 X 4 simulator. I'm always up for this ride and it did not let me down.

Mansion also was in good shape. Pirates was a bit of a bummer though...I hate how they hold boats at the top of the drop! Totally kills the surprise. I guess it allows them to run more boats without a huge backup at the lift at the end, but it suxors none the less.

We were getting hungry at this point but opted to try and bag two more coasters before we ate. Matterhorn was fun and running well after it's long rehab. Just as we were about to board Space Mountain, however, the ops asked us not to board and began cycling trains off of the track. The lights came on in the loading dock, and I believe in the ride chamber as well. After letting us wait 5 minutes, they ordered the queue emptied, and gave us exit passes to come back later. Poor Jim McDonnell had missed Space his last time out in Ca., and made it almost as far as putting his foot in the rocket this time before being shut out again. We all wished good thoughts and proceeded to lunch.

Taking the monorail to Downtown Disney is a nice break from the park. We enjoyed outdoor dining at Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. The food was very good, as was the Akiba Ale. The food was very spicy and quite tasty, and our waiter was a lot of fun...I think he really wanted to sit down and have a brew with us!

Following lunch it was back to the park and Space Mountain. Good luck was on our side this time and we were able to ride. The coaster is definitely missing something without the smashing Dick Dale soundtrack, but this is still a fun ride and I enjoyed hearing Chris Baran giggle his way thru it! It's becoming nostalgic for me everytime I ride this now, as it won't be long before the old track and cars are gone completely, and a new Space Mountain experience will await! I think I'll only be going to DL once more before this Labor Day, and I hope to take full advantage of my last chance to ride this as is.

The last E-ticket left for us (Splash Mountain was down) was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I rode with Jim and he surprised me with an unexpected outbreak of "lateral wars". Got me really good, too! I owe you one, Jim! We all had numerous tasks to accomplish before the evening's festivities, so we left DL and returned to the Radisson. I had been hoping to get a nap but it worked out to about 10 minutes of lay-down time before heading down to the lobby by the time I finally got to the room.

Quibble #1 (see above) arose immediately, as the Radisson somehow misplaced Moosh's packet O'stuff, along with Chris'. Fortunately, Susan Tierney soon came around and made it all better, and we were able to jump on the last shuttle bus to the park, minus only about 10-15 minutes of Xcel ERT time. As we walked to the coaster from the West side gate, I was wondering how it was going to be: more stapling and complaints, and would we get enough rides?

All fears were put to rest by my first ride. The lines were minimal the entire time, and the ride ops were friendly and efficient. The lead Op (Debbie) was just awesome, giving out double rides to any train that made enough noise. Since I like to scream, holler, etc., I was like a pig in feces throughout ERT. Dave Frasier and I even managed to get our train a triple ride, since Debbie lost count of how many times we had gone around. I enjoyed taking Chris Baran's first ride with him, as it stunned him so much he forget to giggle! The session was raucous and the ride is insanely re-rideable, leading to, IMHO, the best ERT session at Knotts since that rainy night on Ghostrider at Solace 1. Knotts also gave us coupons for one free on-ride photo, and my last ride yielded a great shot of Dave and I laughing hysterically at the shower of business cards that had just flown from soneone's pocket. Good times!

The California Scholarship Foundation kids began to invade the park at that time, so we took shelter in the Wilderness Dance Hall for the Banquet/speakers portion of the evening. The cowboy thing was kind of goofy, but I really liked the musical act...I'm not normally a country-music fan, but I enjoyed what they were playing and it set a nice mood for the night. The food was very good (mmmm, ribs!) and the beverage selection at the bar was much appreciated.

Jack Falfas made his yearly address to the crowd, and he dropped a few tidbits...Electroblast was in it's last 10 performances before it goes buh-bye, the "Jack's Gambit" boat would be leaving, and we can look for an announcement from the park about 2004 in May of this year...woo hoo! I think this may tie into the January 2004 hint Jack dropped last year; hopefully there will be another major coaster to ride next Solace! My bet's on an inverted something or other...

When the presentations ended, we went down past Bigfoot Rapids and boarded the train there. The park put on a few cars that aren't normally used, but I didn't make it back to see them as I was one of the last people on board. The train took us around to the Electroblast staging area, where the park had set up coffee and desert tables for us behind the Stagecoach barrier. The coffee was good, but the brownies were OUTSTANDING. I endured the Electroblast show for hopefully the last time. I'm sorry, but the dancing baby graphic is just too David Lynch for my tastes! The show finally ended and we were free to enjoy Knotts from 10 pm til 1 am.

This led to the second and final quibble...there were a hell of a lot of CSF kids in the park! Lines were Saturday-afternoon-long for the major rides. We were pretty tired and most of my crew went back to the hotel after checking a few line lengths out. However, I was able to talk a few people (Dave, Dan, and Chris) into a Timber Mountain Log Ride...Dan was quite impressed with it, declaring it his favorite log ride ever. It's so fun to see the local stuff through the eyes of someone who hasn't done it 5000 times.

Dave and Dan left and Chris and I decided to get a night ride on Ghostrider, no matter how bad the line was. Fortunately, the line had eased up (it was getting pretty late) and we bagged two rides in less than an hour, one back seat and one front. GR was running FABULOUS! I was so happy for Chris to be getting a high-quality night ride. We staggered out at closing and went back to the hotel, where we ran into Chris Murray, Mike Kallay and Steve Gardina. They had a whole hotel luggage cart full of printing supplies and a TV. I helped them get set up for the world premiere of Road To Nowhere 2, their coaster video, which would be taking place after ERT the next night. We turned their room into a printing press/DVD-production facility, cutting up the artwork and then assembling the finished product. I got the first offical assembled one, thanks guys!After about 3:30 I finally hit the wall and barely made it down the hall to my bed.

Next: Solace, Adventures in California, more awesome ERT, and the Road To Nowhere!

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Mike Miller - Harbinger Of Doom - Killer Of Threads - Cheap Rates, Ask About Our Special!

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Monday, March 3, 2003 11:20 AM
Nice TR! DO you know online where I can download a segment from RTN2. Sean Flaharity said it was out there somewhere. A question, what does CSF mean?

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Sean Newman
*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN 3/3/2003 4:29:47 PM ***

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Monday, March 3, 2003 11:28 AM
Sean,

California Scholarship Foundation (or Federation).

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Mike Miller - Harbinger Of Doom - Killer Of Threads - Cheap Rates, Ask About Our Special!

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Monday, March 3, 2003 12:06 PM
Great TR Bass....thanks!

Timber Mtn. is one awesome log flume, it's the "equal, but opposite" version of SFMM's, which has a great ride but no theming...well, except for the skunk (but that's another stoory, LOL). Knott's does do some great work with their desserts, even if the chicken has deteriorated somewhat...

Glad you all had a great time, sorry I couldn't join you...very happy to hear that KBF is on the "road to recovery"...:)

P.S. Inverted, huh? With KBF's limited space, that would normally mean one thing...Impulse...but with Xcel and Monte, that wouldn't make sense. Am I *finally* going to see my eagerly-anticipated Talon clone...;)

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Monday, March 3, 2003 1:08 PM
Great TR Mike! I'm totally surprised that I didn't run into you guys at Disneyland and DCA on Friday. I was there with some cast member buddies of mine from about 11am on. Hmmm, perhaps you saw me and decided to run the other way, as so many of my friends tend to do... ;)

Anyways, it was great seeing you and everyone again. Hopefully it won't be the only time this year, as I hope to get back down to So Cal in the near future. Gotta pick up the Knott's pass I couldn't afford this time around... :)

Justin "Xcelerator Debbie Rules All" Adams

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Never look a gift horse in the mouth, because horses have very bad breath

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Monday, March 3, 2003 8:35 PM
As the the old cliche goes "Great TR". This year's Solace rocked. It was actually kind of wierd that everybody was freindly at Knott's. It seems like Knott's is headed in the right direction.
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Thursday, March 6, 2003 7:10 PM
Short of your vivid description of pigs in feces, it sounds like you had a blast.

But, thanks to the miracle of $29 airfare from JetBlue, I have an unrelated question for you.

$47 Disneyland/DCA tickets. Where? How? When? I remembered seeing it mentioned here, so I thought it couldn't hurt to ask if you have more information about them. I can't find much anything online.

It looks like I'll be visiting on March 30 and 31. Help? :)

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Thursday, March 6, 2003 9:34 PM
Glad to help, Cherna!

From now thru 5/13/03, you can buy a ticket for $47 that is good for one entry into each park.

The catches:

1. You have to use the first 1/2 of the ticket that day.

2. You have to be a So. Cal. resident to buy one.

3. The rules state you can't park hop (IE enter both parks on the same day), but I have heard this is possible. Didn't try it myself.

Hope that helps, and have fun out here!

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Mike Miller - Harbinger Of Doom - Killer Of Threads - Cheap Rates, Ask About Our Special!

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Sunday, March 9, 2003 7:30 AM
Thanks! :)

Save for #2, the catches are not that bad. I'll have to scare up a friend that lives in SoCal and drag them along, or just ask them to buy the tickets for us. . . though I can't imagine why they wouldn't want to spend the day with me :)

This is all very good for me, the poor student.

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