We arrived at the park at 5:30, for a 6pm opening, to find the parking lot already jammed. I was surprised by just how many people were actually there. Previous years preview nights have had light attendance, and it’s usually a good night to get on everything. Certainly not the case this year. It felt like a Saturday in July throughout the park.
As we approached the gate, we saw a huge line to get through security. That took us a while. Once inside we noticed the front gate had been completely changed. The ticket booths had all been removed, and a new marquis sign put in. Now when you walk through security, you’re a straight walk to the turnstiles. The ticket sales windows have been moved to the left and right of the turnstiles. All the computers and turnstile operations have been ripped out and replaced with all new components.
Into the park we go, up to the flag, as is our usual practice. When the flag dropped at 6pm, we ran to Italian Job, located in the back of the park, beside the Minebuster. As we approached, I was impressed with the entry design. They squeezed the entry in between the river and Minebuster’s entrance, and it looks great. We ran into the queue which is a long winding stretch past the Minebuster and all the way back to the Italian Job, which is nicely positioned out of site at the back of the park. After a 25 minute wait to ride (mostly because it took them 10 mins or so to get the trains moving) we got on for our inaugural ride of the year!
The train rolls into the station, and the little mini doors pop open. It’s tough getting into the train, but once in, it’s very comfortable. The train begins to move at a slow pace, and then picks up speed into the launch. Most other launched rides I’ve ridden, go from 0 to fast, this one goes from 0 to 5, then to fast. It’s a different feeling, but once you pick up speed, you can really feel the G’s and the launch is much more powerful than I anticipated. The helix-up element is excellent. There is some major air after the over-banked turn and then down the stairs. The train stops at the helicopter scene. Fire’s light, explosions happen and water is splashed around you. You will get a few drops of water on you, but you won’t get wet. Down into the tunnels and then out the billboard, and your stunt drive is done.
Overall the ride is short (less than a minute from launch to breaks, with the stop at the helicopter scene). The cycling was going well with two trains, but even still with only 12 riders per train, it’s poor capacity at best. As we were leaving, the wait time was being quoted as 3 hours, with a full queue and 2 train operation. Overall, an excellent addition to the park.
It was very, very popular with those who got to ride, and was getting great reviews from guests throughout the park. Combined with a crazy deal on Season Passes, Wonderland has set themselves up for a huge year.
Now, on to the rest of the park. We made our way to Vortex (Arrow Suspended) which was running great with excellent cycle times as usual. From there to Shockwave (Mondial Top Scan) where we were thrilled to find a new program running this year. Now the ride has two direction changes that leave you hanging in mid air waiting for the ride to reverse. A great ride made even better. Cycling was pretty good, and we got on pretty fast. Then to the Bat (Vekoma Boomerang) where cycling was terrible (but it is a Boomerang, so what can you do). A ride on Wild Beast (PTC Twister) was rough… it was jack hammering from the time we left the lift until the final turnaround. Thankfully the bunny’s back to the station were as good as ever. We headed to Psychlone (Mondial Revolution – same as a Huss Giant Frisbee). What a great ride, that is unfortunately plagued by slow ride ops and a brutal cycle time. It took a while to get on. We moved from there to Top Gun (Vekoma SLC). We got on twice, and rode the final train of the night.
Overall, the park looks incredible. All the staff have new blue uniforms. While no rides were painted this year (most got that last year) it feels like the whole park got a major spruce up. It was immaculate! The queues had all been painted, new signage was up. The fences and sidewalk stones were all clean and fixed up. The overall impression of the park was excellent.
Food concessions were open with new deals running. If you have a season pass for example, you can get 4 drinks, 4 chicken strip baskets and 4 fries for $19.99. That’s excellent value considering how much park food usually costs. There is a noticeable increase in concession sales locations, with a number of “carts” popping up in places. Also, something I’ve never seen before at any other park, walking food sales. Picture going to a baseball game with people walking up and down the stands yelling “hotdogs, peanuts!” This was happening at Wonderland. Mostly with bottled water in shoulder cooler bags, and cotton candy. The advantage is get a drink right where you are, without have to find a stand, or wait in line. Plus all the pop machines now accept bills! Wonderland wants you to spend money in the park.
Overall impression: Excellent kick off to the year. A great new ride, a clean and impressive park, great staff (for a change) and easier ways to get food and drinks throughout the park. I believe capacity will be an issue this year. The lowest price in years on a pass, a new coaster, and you have a formula for huge gate attendance. I hope we don’t suffer with long lines all summer long. *** Edited 5/1/2005 7:35:48 PM UTC by PCWCoasterBoy***
It's ashame because although it's an excellent park with a superb collection of rides... it's plagued down by long lines & crowds during the busy part of the season.
One reason I wish they'd build another park near Toronto, to help dwindle some of the crowd from PCW elsewhere... it's especially brutal in the summer at the waterpark! Waiting up to an HOUR just to go down one slide is insane!
I hope that when I hit the park during the week in the mid-summer, it'll at least be good for me during the AM hours.
PM is more tolerable as long as we hit the somewhat older rides.
I wonder with Italian Job... if that'll really dwindle down the line for Tomb Raider considering all the negativity it's recieved.
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