May 23 & 24, 2008
Santa Claus IN
After arriving at Holiday World we pulled into the parking lot. I was getting excited at seeing the park for the first time. It was different than I expected, but still familiar in some ways having seen numerous pictures. We needed to enter the park before 5:30 or we would have to wait until the park cleared before we could go in. Thankfully we made it. At the front gate we headed over to the window where we all picked up our event packets with tickets, a schedule, and name card, and stuff. I met Martha for the first time in person. She commented “Oh, you’re the guy that always ends up not making it”, to which I said “Yep, and you got to meet me first!” Then we headed into the park.
Walking along the front part of the park, the second coaster geek we ran into was Nicole. I got a huge hug because she didn’t know I’d actually be there, due to my reputation of never showing up after planning to go to an event or park. We made our way thru the park to the picnic grove where all of the event participants were to meet. After we arrived I was greeted by a couple dozen people I hadn’t seen in a while, and met some people for the first time who didn’t think I actually existed.
The park’s owners and PR lady welcomed us, instructed us, and went over safety protocol. Then, once the park was cleared we were given the go ahead to leave the picnic shelters and head to the coasters. The plan was originally to ride Raven first, then Legend, and then finally Voyage. My crew was going to go with me but Dan, who had been before and really wanted to ride Voyage decided to change plans and head straight there.
The great thing about going to coaster enthusiast events is that there is no shortage of people to hang with, and as a result it is rare that anyone stays in the group they started out with. Since I’d spent the earlier part of the day with my crew at Beech Bend and in the car, I decided to head to the other coasters with a different group who wanted to show me around the park for my first time, and since I wanted to ride with Matt (Moosh) I headed out with everyone in his group. We decided on a different order to ride the coasters. But before we rode anything, we went to the restaurant set up for the first nite’s pizza and veggie buffet. After arriving at the restaurant, we ran into Frank, Kyle, and a couple of other people.
Then we got some pizza and headed outside to the outdoor seats. There were about 500 people registered for the event, and although the midway by the restaurant was fairly busy, the lines for everything were small. I had some pizza, veggies, and great conversation whilst catching up with everyone I hadn’t seen in a few years. Then after we ate, we went for a ride on our first coaster during Exclusive Ride Time. What was it? I was told it would be the ‘tamest’ and ‘most uninspired’ of the bunch. But would I agree?
Legend–My first ride, as would be the tradition of the nite, was in the very back with Moosh. I wasn’t expecting much, so I had hopes only that I wouldn’t hate the ride. After the initial drop, which I loved, I knew my lack of expectations would be far surpassed. I LOVED Legend! It wasn’t an airtime monster by any means, but at over 4000 feet of track the ride was long, had some nice pops of air, felt like it went very fast, interacted with the woods and supports for the water slides that it ducked under, and delivered an unbelievable ride. I was blown away. Legend was a great ride, and an awesome way to start off the nite. The helix had powerful laterals, and came at the moment I thought the ride was over, making the ride seem even longer. This was my 2nd coaster of the day that was barely 100’ or less, and it was by far a much better coaster than I was lead to believe.
After we re-grouped outside of the station, we headed over to Raven. This coaster was legendary, more so than Legend. It had a reputation due to hill #5 and ranked very highly in the polls, being #1 for quite a few years after it was built. How would the Raven treat me?
Raven–When we arrived in the station a train pulled in…completely empty. I looked up at the ride ops and laughed and said that was very eerie. The ride supervisor just smiled. Moosh also made a quick joke, but then decided that due to the coaster’s past, the joke was in poor taste and apologized to the ride ops. I thought it was funny, but oh well. So we boarded the back seat and dispatched. The lift was slow to accommodate 2 train operations, but sped up close to the top. The first drop on Raven was really good and I loved the swooping turn by the lake. The fifth hill was really powerful as well. Raven was a great little coaster with some nice elements. Not my favorite, but definitely fun.
I don’t remember if we rode again immediately afterwards. We may have pulled into the station and went around again but I can’t remember. I do know that in the exit I ran into Brian, who I hadn’t seen in forever, as well as his crew, consisting of Kris and Brad. After Raven, though, it was time for Voyage. There was still plenty of daylight left, so we headed over for my first ride in the backseat with Moosh. This was it. The coaster with the GINORMOUS reputation. Would it live up to all of the extreme over-hype?
Voyage–In the back seat, about half way up, Moosh started doing his maniacal laugh. This was by far the tallest coaster in the park. And once you crest the lift hill you soon realize that this isn’t some ordinary coaster. The 66° first drop on a wooden coaster was really amazing. In the back you’re yanked over, and it was wonderful. The next hill had some really great airtime. Not as forceful as I’d like, but not bad. Then there is the third hill’s airtime, a quick decent into a tunnel, some major airtime as you make your way back to the turn around, and then on the last small hill that dips into the turnaround, the coaster reaches critical mass and just explodes into a mess of 90° banked turns, an oddly banked bunny hop, twists, more turns, small hills, and then into another tunnel just before you ramp up onto the mid course brake run. Then the triple down happens, which was fun at first, but awesome once you hit the 3rd down. After that you’re thrust into fierce laterals, bunny hops, another 90° banked turn, some more twists, a nice hop over the beginning of the lift hill into another tunnel by the queue, out into another bunny hop behind the station, then into another tunnel/helix combo before you’re done. Voyage had no real dead spots , and a track length that makes you think it’s almost about to end before it throws another 3 or 4 major elements your way. Yes, Voyage was a masterpiece.
We hit the brake run and I immediately asked for more. I can’t remember where I rode, or who it was with, but I think I rode it 2 more times, once by myself. After a couple of day rides, I needed a rest. The area by the Voyage station is kind of an unofficial lounge area for everyone who needs a break. I decided to head back over to Legend and Raven for a ride, because while awesome coasters, they provided a much needed break from the Voyage’s intensity. I ran into loads of other people on my way and eventually met back up with my traveling crew.
We went over to Legend for a dusk ride, which was once again great. I definitely realized by this point that I loved Legend. After our Legend ride, we ran into Kelly Kraft and Eric Hann. Kelly and I had a brief talk about some stuff before being introduced to Eric. We were the 2 people many didn’t think existed, so being in the same place together was kind of weird. He immediately pulled out his video camera and started interviewing me as the hilarity ensued. My group tried to get my attention as I started yelling “I’m being INTERVIEWED!” But I quickly left after making a funny comment that was heard by the park’s PR lady and getting faux-chastized.
I ran to catch up to my friends heading towards Raven. Once we arrived the station was almost completely empty. It was dark by this point so I was ready for my first nite ride on Raven. It didn’t disappoint. We rode twice this time as well. Again, my memory of how many rides we got seemed to be slipping away. After we got off of Raven and onto the exit ramp, I saw 2 people from our group talking to a Holiday World employee who had a clipboard. I thought the person was taking a survey or something, so I jokingly said to them “What in the world did you do now?” not thinking anything of it. He turned and said “I’ll tell you later”. The employee gave him a copy of the paper as we waited at the end of the exit, then Rob walked our way. I knew by this point something wasn’t right.
“He wrote me up for having my heel about an inch off of the floor.” What??!! Yeah. Now, granted, they announce to keep your feet flat on the ground. So while my friends were waiting for their restraints to be checked, one of them didn’t realize that his heel was up against the back part of the bottom of the seat, which made it lift about an inch off of the train’s floor. He wasn’t doing it intentionally in any way, he simply didn’t realize he was doing it. He was asked before being dispatched to put his feet flat, and he complied not thinking anything of it. However, once he arrived back at the station, his information was taken, he was written up, then told he would be ejected if it happened again.
Wow. I wonder how many people during the day got wrote up for making the same mistake. Or did they? This would be the first of two such instances of the park acting ridiculous. So after that put a damper on our evening we headed over to Voyage. I needed a break so we stopped on the way by Legend. Then we got something to drink after arriving at Voyage. There was quite a bit of resting and standing around all evening, but by this point I had a headache from riding, and was kind of frustrated at the previous incident.
We stood around and goofed off with friends for a while until I felt a little better. So I got inline for Voyage once more. While standing in line Matt came over and got me as I was inline by myself and sent me to get in line for the front with Nicole. I’d yet ride at nite in the front seat ride. The line was a few trains wait, but it gave me even more time to recover from riding everything else. Once we got on the train and headed out, though, I was recovered and ready. This ride was outstanding. The MCBR lights were off and the back 2/3 of the ride was pitch black. It was amazing. Nicole and I couldn’t stop laughing and screaming thru the turnarounds. It was hysterically funny and very fun. I couldn’t believe how you couldn’t see anything in the woods.
Once we arrived back at the station the line was dwindling, so we got in line immediately for the back. This would end up being the 2nd to last train of the nite and let me tell you, it was an unnaturally amazing experience. The airtime and forces were so much better in the very back. Adding in the darkness and total disorientation and you have a ride that blows most anything else out of the water. After the ERiT was over we all regrouped and made plans. One of the local coaster geeks was hosting an after party at his house fifteen minutes away. I hadn’t planned to attend originally, but Matt wanted to go.
We dropped Rob, Melissa, and Dan off at the hotel, I changed into jeans, and we went to find Nicole and Mike so we could follow their group to the after party. It was kind of hard not having the directions and following others who didn’t quite know where we were going, but we made it to Bruce’s in plenty of time. We gathered around the campfire and talked, got a tour of Bruce’s beautiful log home, ate, drank, and talked some more. Matt and I hadn’t planned to stay but an hour, but around 1:30 AM we were finally ready to leave. I said goodbye to everyone left before we headed back to the hotel, where I showered and crashed. It’d been a long day.