June 4-5, 2010
Santa Claus IN
We arrived at the hotel just before 6 PM. Matt Scott, Matt Shoebridge, and Bill were already at the park an hour early and had started riding things but the rest of us went to Joe’s room and settled just a bit before heading over. It was still EXTREMELY hot and uncomfortable. Even though it was so muggy out we eventually pulled together, got in the car, and drove over to the park. The line to pay to get in for Holiwood Nites was rather long, but went swiftly. Thankfully Wade was my ‘sponsor’ since he had a coaster enthusiast club affiliation and I did not.
Once we got in the park we traipsed around and down to the picnic pavilion where everyone else was. We were there probably 30 to 45 minutes and I was able to meet up with a lot of people I’d not seen in a while and some new people I’d not met before. I saw Andy Wong for the first time in 7 years. He’s all growed up now, married, and with a kid (actually, he’s my age, but that’s besides the point).
After a while we were all let loose to go in to the park to get food and ride the coasters and rides. I suggested to Ken & Wade that they ride Raven, then Legend, then Voyage, so we headed to Raven first. I’d never been too impressed with Raven, save for the 5th hill, so I kind of felt like getting it out of the way for the evening so that I could concentrate on Legend and Voyage.
The Raven–We walked right on to the train and sat close to the back. Since one of Raven’s trains were on Voyage there was only a 1 train operation going on, but the ride isn’t long and the waits to ride wouldn’t be either. It wasn’t dark quite yet so I wasn’t even looking forward to the ride. Man was I unprepared! This was the first time I rode Raven and absolutely LOVED it. On my last trip I liked it, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. This time it was out of control. Every hill was full of airtime, and the 5th hill gave major air off the drop. I got back to the station and wanted much more. Raven delivered. Since no one was in line for our seats we ended up riding 2 more times, and every time was just as great. I totally found a new love for Raven.
We headed towards Legend next. Some folks wanted to eat, others wanted to ride. Matt didn’t really want to bother with Legend because he wasn’t much of a fan, but I made him ride. Again, we walked right onto the train, this time the very back seat. It still wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting there.
The Legend–From the first drop, I could tell something was different. I loved Legend on my last visit, but already it seemed even better. Every part of the ride delivered. I loved every second of it and, to me, it seemed better. The laterals were fun, there was airtime where I didn’t really remember it, and the whole ride felt crazy and out of control right from the first twisting drop. Legend was hauling thru the course. I almost felt like I normally do at the half point on Voyage, like I was ready to get off before the final helix up in to the station. It was really intense.
After riding Matt was going on and on about how glad he was to have ridden. He said Legend hadn’t ran that good in the 10 years he’d been going to the park. So I wasn’t crazy. I don’t know what Holiday World did to one of my favorite coasters, but I’m happy they did it! We then headed down to get some pizza and talk with friends. Service as always was fast and friendly. I had like 6 pieces of pizza. Plus it was cool in the restaurant. It was still hot outside, though. Once we finished with food we headed down to The Voyage. This was my only daytime ride of the trip. I really hate walking up and down the hills at this park when it is hot and humid.
The Voyage–Here I was, back again. I didn’t care where I sat, I’m not even sure who I rode with because I rode so much over the weekend. I remembered Voyage being out of control, but not like this. I do know my first ride was in the Red train, and contrary to what some people had claimed, I didn’t notice any difference in the rides I got on the Red or Blue trains. They felt exactly the same to me. But Voyage was running in top form. The first three hills were crazy, but the next 3 hills were absolutely insane. As soon as you hit that 6th hill out in the woods, the ride just kicked up a notch until you hit the mid course, and I can’t help but laugh the entire time. The triple down in the tunnel was crazy by the end, and then after that the ride is in overdrive. But alas, by the 3rd 90° turn, I’m exhausted and want the ride to be over. Ken & Wade felt the same way.
Once we got off of Voyage we hung out a bit and I met up with even more old friends. Ken & Wade agreed that Voyage was a bit much, but they both liked it. I won’t do any more ride breakdowns for the coasters, but once it was dark outside, Voyage was a different beast. Ken, Wade, & Matt Shoe all thought so as well it seemed. I rode Voyage a couple of more times and tried to stay hydrated. We took a look at the front car of the new trains Voyage was supposed to be getting soon(ish). Then I headed with different people to different parts of the park to ride Raven and Legend some more.
By the end of the nite I was with the Matts and we were talking to Mike from the Gravity Group. He was very nice to talk to and we discussed their new trains and why he probably wouldn’t build me a 500’ wooden coaster when I open my own park. When we realized we were the only ones left in the park, and Mike had to go do whatever it was he was doing (not sure if they were testing the trains that nite or not), we headed to the front of the park, did our song and dance with cars and hotel rooms as Matt Scott still had to check in, and then we stopped by Joe & Company’s room so I could pick up my stuff. We hung out for about an hour before we made our way to our room, getting lost on the way, to get some sleep, which came very easily.
The next morning I had a hard time getting up. The Matts were ready, and we planned to ride over with Joe & Steph, but I forgot my ticket, so I had to go back, which meant we had to walk, which put Matt Scott in a bad mood (But boy did he walk fast). We made it in time, though, rented a locker, and followed everyone down to the waterpark for morning ERT. I would have stopped for breakfast, but we didn’t want to have to wait too long to ride Wildebeest, the parks newest water ‘coaster’. Good call, because the line was already long with just enthusiasts waiting.
Wildebeest-This was a lot of fun. I rode in the back of the raft, which had no back support going up the lift hill, but the ride was a lot of fun and very wet. I liked how it used LIMs to launch you over the hills, which really did make the ride different and a lot of fun. We were able to get 2 rides on it.
Heading over to breakfast next, we had our share of muffins, fresh fruit and dip, milk, and juice. It was all pretty good, actually. We splashed around in the Bahari wave pool for a bit, and then headed over to the funnel slide before heading back to the wave pool. Once the park opened we rode the enclosed raft slide, the mat racers, and another single slide before heading over to Pilgrim’s Plunge.
Pilgrim’s Plunge-The line was already quite long when we arrived, but the wait wasn’t bad. Capacity was really good and the line kept moving while we waited. My only ‘problem’ with Pilgrim’s Plunge became apparent after dispatch as there wasn’t any theming or landscaping around the trough that the boat floats in. A few nice cutouts or even just some shrubs and trees would have made it look much nicer. The lift up to the top of the drop was very unnerving. Very. I’m already afraid of heights, but this was a water ride and those usually don’t bother me. Anyways, the drop was a lot of fun and we got even wetter than we already were and then it was over.
We made our way back over to Splashin’ Safari to play around some more before Matt Shoe and I decided to head back to the hotel. He wanted to get his camera and get ready for the photo walk backs, and initially I did too. Thankfully we ran into Eric and his friend on the way out and they were heading to the hotel to get ready to head to Bowling Green to go to the Corvette Museum. I got to the room and passed out, which blew my chances of going for the photo walk back. Eventually Matt Scott and Bill came to change and get ready to go back to the park, but they too were more tired than they realized, and eventually they were as sound asleep as I was. We woke up around 6ish, though, and I showered, changed clothes, and we got ready to head back to the park.
Getting back we ran into Mike, Kyle, and Frank. Our first ride was the Antique Cars, which were quite nice. We found Matt Shoe, and Matt Scott wanted to take him to get his Howler credit. But not before we ran into Beth, Mike C., Kevin, and Emily. Mike A., Bill, and I wanted to ride Liberty Launch, so everyone waited for us. The ride was much better than it used to be, as there was great airtime on the top of the tower. We meant to get a walking taco, but headed over to the Flyers next.
As Kevin, Emily and I watched, Mike A. slammed his flyer tub in to a tree, backwards. It scared everyone on the ground before everyone started hooting and hollering for him including the ride op, who was shocked. He was trying to snap, but slammed into the tree instead. At some point around that time a bunch of us went to ride the dark ride. My gun wasn’t really working, and I couldn’t hit anything, but the dark ride was still fun.
The Matts went over to Holidog’s area as the rest of us went to get me a walking taco, which the park no longer serves, so I had nachos instead. Eventually some went off here and there, Beth and Mike C. went to shop, and by that point since I’d forgotten to charge the camera, I went looking to see if by chance Holiday World carried the Kodak battery I needed. Sadly I didn’t see any, so all of my pix for the rest of the nite were from my iPhone.
We all eventually met up at the picnic pavilions where dinner was to be served. After getting there I hung out with Josh & Brandi and Don & Monica for a bit. I still felt bad about not even recognizing Don the nite before, but oh well. The food was decent, with my only gripe being that there was Miracle Whip, but no Mayonnaise. People, one is not like the other at all! I HATE Miracle Whip. I had BBQ sauce to feed my weekly habit, which had gotten worse since moving to NC.
I sat and chatted with friends while the band played. I didn’t remember them having that in 2008, it was a nice touch. Will Koch even got up and played bass with the band on a Beatles number. There was a question and answer at some point. One of the first questions was some semi-clever attempt to make fun of Shoot the Rapids. Meh, I guess since the Timberliners weren’t ready Holiday World wasn’t in any position to bash on CP…But seriously, the folks at Holiday World put on a feast, and it was a really nice time. Eventually it was time for ERT and off I went.
I honestly don’t remember where I went first, but I think it may have been Raven again, then back to Legend. Both were still running great, and I know I got a few rides here and there on both of them. Then the most amazing thing happened. At some point I went over to ride Voyage. I was in the front seat of the red train, it was dark, and on the return leg, where I normally would want off of the ride at the 3rd 90° turn, I wanted more. I don’t know why my Voyage Tolerance went up, but it did. At the brake run, I wasn’t exhausted. I wanted to run around and ride some more.
I think I rode it about 8 times in a row total, and every time I felt the same way. It was incredible. Another cool thing was getting to ride with and talk to Sean Flaharty. We talked about the online community and his decision to put it behind him. The guy had been everywhere, so we talked about a lot of stuff. Eventually we were standing by the Pepsi Oasis near Voyage when David Hamburger came up and joined in as well. Then everyone in my group started yelling at me because I was neglecting them, so I told Sean that my friends were getting jealous so I had to go. Still, it was nice meeting and hanging with him finally after, oh, a decade.
I did eventually sit in the Timberliner car they had on display. It was comfortable, but they’ll be no mashing into the person next to you, and that can be a lot off un. Matt Scott and I sat side by side and, try as I might, I couldn’t smash into him. By the end of the nite I had had my fill of Voyage. No one in my group wanted to leave Voyage, so I headed over to Legend for a couple of rides. I rode in the front seat ride and it was wonderful.
I ended my nite on Raven, something I wouldn’t have even thought of doing before. I was in the front seat and every time we came to the station there wasn’t anyone there to get on, so I rode 5 times in a row, closing out the nite. Raven really kicked into gear the for 2nd half thru the woods. I couldn’t get over how much better it was on this trip than on my last trip. In fact, all 3 woodies were running better than I’d experienced before.
When the rides stopped running I headed to the front gate to wait on my friends. Paula was standing there talking and dancing, she had to keep awake somehow. Everyone at the park had been more than friendly the last 2 days. Finally the Matts & Bill showed up. Matt Scott finally told Paula that he was the Matt who coined ‘Holiwood Nights’. By this point it was late, so we left…to the hotel for a minute before heading over to the campground to hang out.
The evening went on, and it was still hot. I think the only drink I had was water, I was really thirsty and didn’t feel like drinking any alcohol. I sat inside and talked to some of the younger crowd for a bit, and then outside of the cabin, but it was too hot so I headed back inside. After about 90 minutes or so, Bill took us back over to our rooms at the Lodge.
The next morning we got up, I got my stuff from the Bubba clan, and since I’d changed and flew out of Louisville on Sunday, I wasn’t going back to Six Flags St. Louis or the Arch (Boo!). But I was saving about $120, so yay me. We stopped on the way to Louisville and Matt insisted I try White Castle for the first time, so Bill ordered 3 mini burgers. Okay, but not fantastic. Then we went to Culvers, another first for me, where we had real fast food. T’was good too!
Arriving in Louisville around noonish, we headed to the airport. Sadly we drove right by a closed Kentucky Kingdom. Had it been opened, I’d have had them drop me off there instead of the airport, and then just hopped a cab over to catch my flight. After being dropped off I printed my boarding pass and breezed thru security. I was really happy with my new luggage I’d picked up before the trip too, by the way.
I found my gate, got familiar with it, and sat for a bit catching up on my iPhone. I went to the bar beside my gate and had a drink to pass the time. Then I went over and sat at a free charging station so I would have enough juice on my iPhone to listen to music on the flight. Once the gate started to fill, I looked around and saw numerous iPhones and iPads, the first I’d seen of those in the wild. EVERYONE had something Apple.
The flight back to Charlotte was fine, and shorter than the flight from CLT to STL. Another hour layover in CLT, then to GSO, then I was on my way driving home. I got home around 6:30 that evening. I was tired and sunburn, but in a great mood.
I was saddened by the death of Will Koch a week later. He was a tremendous loss to the amusement park and enthusiast community, and his loss would be felt for quite some time. And even though my original plans for going were made with Timberliners in mind, the Voyage did something amazing Saturday nite in the old trains. I finally got my Voyage tolerance.