Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
So last weekend, I had to go back to Iowa for a wedding. I've been wanting to get to Worlds of Fun all season to try out the new woodie, despite not really hearing much about it, so I took advantage of the weekend and headed down there on Saturday with my coaster enthusiast mother. 20 years ago when Timber Wolf debuted is when this crazy hobby really took off for the both of us, so Worlds of Fun has always been a special place for us.
We got to the park at about 2pm, and along with some canned goods and my Knott's Platinum Pass, I got Mom in for only $16. The weather was absolutely gorgeous in the upper 70s with a beautiful blue sky full of sun and a nice, gentle breeze. The parking lot was not very full at all. There was a new woodie to ride and some of my local coaster friends were going to be there. It was going to be a great day.
We headed straight for Prowler and were greeted with 2-train operation and about a 10-minute wait. I had low expectations for the ride, as I find most GCI's to be rather tame, but I was really hoping this one would impress me and fill a void left ever since Zambezi Zinger was ripped out. I tend to be a backseat rider and expected that would deliver the most action on this ride, so we took our first ride in the final row. Little tidbit I noticed before the ride even began—Prowler has the only Millennium Flyer trains I know of that have individual seatbelts instead of the usual single belt across both riders on every other set of Millennium Flyer trains I’ve encountered. On to the ride…
Just as I predicted, the first drop kind of sucks. It’s short, drawn out and doesn’t really offer any airtime or lateral kick, but I like the turn at the bottom and you get a nice pop of air going up the second hill, another turn then it really picks up with the drop into the ravine, which is where the camera. After that, the ride is non-stop quick bursts of airtime and laterals and maintained speed. The turnaround is the only part that is kind of slow and that’s only by comparison to the rest of the ride, which is not slow by any means. In fact, the second half is just as good if not better than the first half. The final drop into the ravine followed by the twisting double-up is FANTASTIC and the train maintains good speed and laterals through the s-curve to the smooth magnetic brakes. It’s definitely one of the better endings on any coaster. I liked it a lot, but what about the trees?
Buried in the woods, the coaster is not. They did a better job than I expected of keeping trees, but the “forest” is a little thin and doesn’t really cover the ride the way Zinger was. The turnaround is kind of open to the back parking lot and most of the “out” run is along the railroad tracks which is next to some nice tree coverage, but a thick line of trees between the two would have really helped to give this ride a more woodsy feel. Oh well, the ride is still really good!
So we got right back in line and opted for the front row this time (my mother is a front seat enthusiast to the core). Having seen what it did in the back of the train, I didn’t expect as much craziness in the front. Man, was I wrong! It was just as good, maybe better. The already weak first drop and the two large drops into the ravine weren’t as good obviously, but all of the bunny hops and turns had a little more kick up there. Even in the daylight it was hard to prepare for every little directional change. That second ride really sold it for me. This may be the best GCI ever. I kept thinking about Thunderhead, OzCat and Gwazi as the only contenders, but Prowler just might edge them out.
So Mom took a break and caught a show and I met up with my local enthusiast friends, Chris and Jeanne Hinote from Kansas. We rode Prowler several more times and I was really getting to like it and couldn’t wait for nightfall. The only real negative of the day happened when I walked through the train to put my hat to the side and returned to find two people sitting in my seat. I told them they took my seat and they gave me attitude and said that I had gotten up and it was theirs now. I called a ride-op came over and the pair argued and played the race card. The ride op was asking them to get out, but I spotted an empty seat in the back and said to just forget about it and I rode in the back. Still, I was extremely pissed off about the whole situation and it took quite a while for me to calm down. But the rest of the night was a blast and I got over it.
After all that, we grabbed a ride on Spinning Dragons and Patriot. Our Dragons ride was ok, but certainly not the “spinniest” ever (two people per car is the only way to go for that), but Patriot was running better than ever. I’ve never found it to have much of any intensity, but it seems to have finally broken in and was pulling on my legs all the way. It’s still no Talon, but it’s good enough.
It was time to meet back up with Mom at Mamba, so we headed over there to find it shut down, then we headed back across the park to the coaster that started it all 20 years ago, Timber Wolf. Chris and Jeanne hadn’t ridden it all year as Prowler as they couldn’t pull themselves away from Prowler and the Wolf has certainly seen better days, but we found it be running pretty good this day. I headed for the back while they got in line for the front row. I hopped into an open 11th row seat and took off. The first drop trims were on, but the ride was still running pretty darn good with lots of airtime. The ride certainly wasn’t smooth like it was when it was young, but it wasn’t as bad as it’s been in recent years. All of the work they’ve done on it has helped. After my ride, I took the long walk from the exit to the entrance and hopped in line with Mom for a front seat ride. It was another good ride and certainly smoother, but you lose all of the big drop airtime up there. Mom prefers seeing the track in front of her though.
Next we all headed to Panda Express for dinner and had some very spicy Chinese food. Mmmm. And then it was time to meet up with another coaster friend who was visiting from out of state—Kelly Kraft from Tennessee. We had seen from Timber Wolf that Mamba was back up and running, so we headed back to the Cedar Point section of the park and got in line for Morgan Hyper Coaster #3. I have not cared much for this ride ever since they put the second train on and tightened the midcourse brake its opening year. Ever since the second half has been an absolute bore to me, but it was actually running above par tonight. Mom of course had to sit in the front row, so I reluctantly got in line with her while my friends got in line for the second and third rows along with a couple of Kelly’s friends that showed up, including Jeff Mast. Afterward they gave the whole speech about 1.3 is where it’s at and the front seat is a waste, but I told them that meant nothing to my mother who just loves to be in the front seat of every coaster regardless of the airtime.
It was now about 8pm (park would close at 10) and pretty dark out. We temporarily split up—Mom and I headed back to Timber Wolf to get a night ride while the others went straight to Prowler. Timber Wolf was down to loading only one train and sending the second one empty. They kept explaining to the crowd that, “there aren’t very many people in the station so we’re only filling one train”, despite the lines for each row being four or more people deep. I really wanted to shout out, “what they really mean is we’re lazy and don’t feel like buckling seat belts to empty seats once the line dies down,” but I resisted. Still what should have been a quick night ride took about 15 minutes. Oh well, off to Prowler…
It was close to 8:30 by the time we got back to Prowler and the line had doubled since earlier in the day. The secret was out. While in line I spotted another local Worlds of Fun regular, David (Railblazer is his online alias I believe) and he was very interested in what I had to say about his new ride. I told him I love it and feel it’s the best ride they’ve gotten since Timber Wolf. He told me I needed to write about it and get the word out. He’s right. There just doesn’t seem to be any buzz about this great ride. It’s a shame. Apparently it has been running kind of inconsistently, including during the Coaster Con, so that may be why it hasn’t gotten much praise, but David said he thought it was running really well tonight. Hopefully it continues to break in and they maintain it in top form. I’d love to ride it at the end of next season and see how it compares.
So come 9pm, the ride-op the microphone says it’s time for something special—Prowler in “TOTAL DARKNESS”. The rest of the night, he made a big deal about it as every train was dispatched, shouting at the top of his lungs, “Put your arms in the air ‘cause you’re well harnessed; you’re about to experience TOTAL DARKNESS!” It was kind of cheesy, but fun and nice to see so much enthusiasm in both the staff and the guests. To my eyes, it wasn’t totally dark back there (not even Voyage dark), but it was pretty dark. And the ride was off the hook. If you didn’t close your eyes for the camera flash on the second drop, you’d be blinded for the next 1000 feet or so of crazy trackage. While Voyage is unmatched in power and length, Prowler reminds me of it with rapid-fire elements with even less of a pause between them. Another friend of mine says the ride negatively suffers from ADD in that it doesn’t finish an element before switching to the next one, but I think there are several moments of sustained airtime and I rather like how rapid-fire the pacing is.
We ended up with about 10 laps on Prowler. It was a fantastic day at Worlds of Fun. They finally have a really great coaster again—something that has been lacking for about 10 years IMO. I still mourn the loss of Zambezi Zinger and Orient Express, and the neutering of my Timber Wolf, but Prowler makes it a lot easier to take. I look forward to going back to the park more now than I have in a long, long time. Thanks to my friends for being there and special thanks to the Prowler crew for a really great time. :)
Long live the Big Bad Wolf
Very nice report!
Prowler is an excellent coaster. Worlds of Fun wasn't even on my radar screen until they announced this coaster. WOF is a bigger park sizewise but still manages to feel like a smaller park, and Prowler is definitely their best coaster. I'll stop short of saying it's fantastic (only Voyage gets that nod from me on the wood side), but it's definitely a coaster that any enthusiast needs to ride. It was nice to see GCI do a more out and back style coaster instead of their usual twisters, and they really acquitted themselves nicely. I think Thunderhead is still a tad better than Prowler, but only because Prowler is a little shorter. It's in my top 5 and I'll definitely be back, but here's the thing...
Kansas City isn't really a "destination" for a lot of people. There are some parks that can overcome that because of their size and/or reputation (i.e., Cedar Point/Sandusky), but it would seem as though Kansas City is definitely more of a "locals" park. They're not drawing from the same sized population base as many other parks. Think about Kings Island and how many good size cities are within four hours (Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Lexington, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Toledo) and then think about how many similar sized cities are within four hours of KC (St. Louis, Tulsa, Omaha, Des Moines). Huge difference.
When I did long haul trucking, I remember driving by the place an think to myself, "That's were the heck it is!"
Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!
Great trip report.
Prowler is awesome. It does have one of the better finishes on a roller coaster.
The ride takes all the elements at the perfect speed I think. The laterals on the finish are just right also. Very strong finish and you can still recall the whole ride when it hits the magnetic breaks so it leaves you feeling real ready to jump back on.
Thanks for reporting!
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