June 4, 2010
St Louis MO
I hadn’t really thought about attending Holiwood Nites 2010 when I was planning out my travel for the year. I had no interest in going in 2009, but then I moved AND they were supposed to be getting new trains on Voyage. Let me stop quickly to talk about Voyage: I loved the ride. It highly on my overall coaster count. The reason(s) it isn’t my #1 overall is that I like the type of violent ejector air found on some other coasters, though many people feel it is the best ever made.
Previously Voyage, while great, wasn’t re-ridable for me. I could ride once, rest, then another, rest, then I’d have to go ride the other coasters. So new trains would perhaps change that. Since Matt, Bill, and a bunch of other friends were going, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years I decided to go.
This trip, though, I refused to drive. I was flying out, and letting everyone else make the plans. I went along for the ride, as long as I got picked up at the airport and dropped off at the end of my trip. Again, I have to sidestep and say that I love that I live between 2 airports, one major (CLT) and one smaller regional with decent service (GSO). I decided to fly out of Greensboro because even though it had a layover in Charlotte, Greensboro was about $100 cheaper, AND it was only 20 minutes from work, as opposed to Charlotte at almost 2 hours, since I worked an hour north of my house. This made it easer to leave after work.
I Hotwired a room near GSO and headed out Thursday evening. The drive was about 30 minutes so I got there, checked in, and then went to do some last minute shopping and eating. Sadly, the air in my room, and the hotel for that matter, wasn’t working well, so my room never got nice and cold. I wanted to change rooms, but there were none available, and I was too tired to try another hotel. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well. My flight was at 5:30 AM, and so at 2:00 AM I decided to just get up, pack my stuff up, go clean my car out, and go to the airport. I’m actually kind of happy I did this, because I kept getting lost trying to find the airport as the GPS apps on my iPhone were trying to send me in thru the back service road to the airport. Why?!?
I was informed by US Airways to arrive 2 hours before my flight, so I ended up there about 2 hours and 15 minutes early…only to be greeted by a mostly closed airport. The main terminal was open, and as I arrived the agents for US Air were just getting there to check baggage in but I only had a small carryon. No one from TSA was in security yet so no way to get to the gate. I sat near security and waited as TSA agents came and did their checks and eventually opened up the checkpoint. This one woman pushed her way to the front, and I thought it was hilarious that she was the one that got pulled aside for additional screening.
I went thru security easily, but I’ll know next time that I just need to be there about an hour early if flying out early in the morning. I sat by my gate for a while, listening to my music and checking email. We were off to CLT promptly at 5:30. The flight attendants were great, and very friendly. The flight south was only 20 minutes, though, so I never even got to pull my phone out to listen to music. Once we arrived I got off at the gate and headed to Quiznos and Starbucks for breakfast. I was finished eating and shopping just in time to re-board the plane. I got a good 20 minutes of sleep on the flight to St. Louis. This was the smallest plane I’d ever been in (76 seater), and the flight attendant was joking around and said “Just imagine a 46 seater”. Sadly there wasn’t much in the way of turbulence, and I’d told her I enjoy turbulence.
After getting off the plane I contacted Joe to find out where he was as I was riding with him to Six Flags. He said meet him at baggage, but when I got there his phone died, and he was no where to be found. That’s because he was in a different terminal. Got a text from Rob who had canceled and wasn’t coming saying that he talked to Joe, and Joe’s phone died, and for me to take the shuttle to the Enterprise lot, so I did. Once there, after greeting Joe and Steph, I noticed a guy come up beside me and put his arm around me. Rob had sneaked out to HWN after all. I guess it made sense that he knew Joe’s phone wasn’t working and I should have figured out Rob was with Joe.
In just a few minutes we were off, making calls to meet up with everyone else, and heading out to Six Flags St. Louis. Did I mention it was hot? I mean, really hot? And I only brought one pair of shorts, and wasn’t wearing them. We arrived at the park and hooked up with Wade and Ken and headed to the entrance. The park opened promptly at 10:15 AM with the National Anthem. Sadly they didn’t do an opening ceremony like some other Six Flags do. We were let in to the very nice, very well done front plaza section.
I snapped pictures and we walked around the fountain. Wade and Ken stopped to get water and a pretzel, but the worker told them she wasn’t ready as the pretzels weren’t finished yet. Wade said that was fine, he’ll just take a bottle of water, and the worker said no, that the water wasn’t cold enough yet. It was already very very hot and extremely humid out and he didn’t care if the water wasn’t ice cold. I think he had some persuading to do, but eventually she sold them some water.
We headed left because everyone wanted to try Mr. Freeze or at least be reacquainted if they had previously visited. I must admit, this was THE reason I’d wanted to go to Six Flags St. Louis. Whilst we waited, we finally met up with Matt and Gator Bill, Matt Shoe, and even the Airbears. Everyone headed over as the gates dropped promptly at 10:30, and off we were.
Mr. Freeze–Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously. Wow. I loved the station and moving platform. Matt and I rode in the back of the 4th car and after we were in position, off we were. The launch actually felt kind of weak, but MAN is that top hat awesome! The overbanked turn was smooth and fun, and then the vertical spike was amazing. It really freaks you out when you start to slow down, but the LIMs kicked in and rolled you even higher. That I couldn’t see the end of the track was disconcerting to say the least. Doing it all backwards was just icing on the cake. Why more parks don’t have something like this is beyond me. I really loved it. I wish I’d had time to ride it more, but alas, we only had 4 hours at the park. The queue was really long, but I got some good pictures of the whole ride.
Wade and Ken rode again as I opted for photos. I should have rode again, but oh well. Already, I walked through the park, I felt the needed to come back. Six Flags St. Louis was one of the nicest in the chain. We ended up splitting up, as some rode the Scooby Doo dark ride, and others headed to Evel Knievel, which was my next stop.
Evel Knievel–Okay, I’m so glad I went into this one with no expectations. I was so happy about Freeze and finally getting to ride one that I really wasn’t concerned with Evel. But Wow! I rode in the 3rd car from the back of the train. The first drop was awesome, but after that, it was just amazing! I’d never felt a GCI coaster have that much airtime. Every little hill, all the little pops, the bigger hills and turns, everything felt so right, and it ran so well. I’ve loved nearly every GCI coaster I’d ridden up to this point, and this may have been the best of the bunch.
Evel was so good, we ran back around and I rode in the same seat again. I loved it the 2nd time too! Ken, Wade, Bubba, Steph, and I walked around for a bit in the heat. I had to stop and get a bottle of water and then we all headed over towards Excalibur. We toyed with riding, but passed as I don’t think anyone wanted to throw up, so we went to the next best thing-Tony Hawk’s Big Spin.
Tony Hawk’s Big Spin–This was my first spinning coaster that wasn’t one of the stock spinning mice found in fairs and other parks. I was really excited to ride, and the line wasn’t very long. I rode with Steph and a grandfather/granddaughter, and thankfully we didn’t spin out of control. Fun, family friendly, and it even had some good drops. The first drop and spinning were loads of fun, and the helix was really great. Plus the hops after the mid course gave some nice airtime. I loved it, but I could have done without the excess spinning on the final brake run.
After Big Spin we ran to the restrooms near the entrance to Boss. Thankfully the AC was working overtime in there, so we hung out around the cool air for a few moments before heading on. Then we headed The Boss. And boy does this park like long queues. I saw that it ran G-trains. I don’t know why I always think the worst about G-Trains, because I loved Villain, and to be honest, the re-tracked sections of RWB weren’t bad with them either. I guess I just always think about Hurricane. The ride was running one train, but switched to 2 as we were in the station, causing the line to swell a bit.
The Boss–I had no real expectations. After they got the 2nd train ready we got in and off we went. The first drop was grand, but I didn’t know what to expect with the long stretch of track that followed. I kept waiting for us to go up, and then we dropped! The rest of the layout was great, including the helix and the pops on the hills near the queue in the woods. I was very impressed by Boss. I loved every second of it, and couldn’t believe after everything that I’d heard that anyone would complain. It was very comparable to Villain and I really liked it.
Another coaster I went in with no opinion and came out loving. I really liked the park already, but every coaster I rode was just so much fun. We saw the rest of the group in line behind us and later when we talked to them they agreed it was running well. We walked thru Bugs Bunny National Forest next, the parks very well themed kids area. There were some fun looking rides, but I was surprised they didn’t have a nice kiddy coaster anywhere in sight. Next we found Screamin’ Eagle up the hill. After walking thru a covered games midway, we queued up for Eagle. Again, what is with the terribly long queues at the park?
Screamin’ Eagle–This was a great out and back classic wooden coaster. We rode in the front and got airtime on all the hills. I really enjoyed it. I think it most compared to Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia, and that was close to where I ranked it. The hills all popped, and again I liked that the ride went thru the woods like parts of Boss. The ride was made for airtime, and even if it didn’t have major ejector air, it had nice pops of airtime and floated over the hills.
After all of the great fun we had, I knew eventually we’d have to run into a coaster that wasn’t that great, and the next two left to ride were the mine train and Ninja, neither of which I was looking forward to. We walked back around the drop tower and made our way to the mine train. Thankfully there was no wait.
River King Mine Train–I’m just not a fan of mine trains. But to be honest, this one wasn’t bad. It basically just meandered around a field and thru a helix. It had two lift hills, and some decent laterals. And, hey, the ending was better than Adventure Express at Kings Island, because at least you drop in to the tunnel and then go up to the station.
We headed over towards our last two coasters. The area by Ninja and Batman was kind of nice. I really wasn’t looking forward to Ninja, but we still had time left to do what we wanted, so we queued up. I headed by myself towards the back.
Ninja–I’m just not a fan of the trains or the layout, but to be honest Ninja wasn’t bad. The first drop was quite good, and the parts I thought would be awful, the inversions, weren’t bad at all. After the first two inversions, the 2nd one I wasn’t expecting to not be a loop, you hit a straightish section of track then turn into the corkscrews. Again, the inversions weren’t bad. The helix was shaky, but all in all, the ride wasn’t bad. This was a ride I did have expectations about, and thankfully it was better than I’d imagined.
As we were getting off, Ken and Wade spoke to a ride op. Apparently the roped off section of the train was roped off because of someone throwing up in that seat, and instead of doing a good clean up job they did a quick wipe and closed it off. That’s just poor management. We ran into the rest of the group as they were heading to Ninja. Not everyone wanted to ride, so most of us stayed in the arcade while Matt and Matt got their Ninja on. This was the Gotham City section, and it was actually quite nice. Once everyone was finished riding Ninja we went to the final new coaster of the trip for me, Batman The Ride.
Batman The Ride–Another long queue. We took pix at the entrance, but sadly their Batmobile wasn’t on display and I really wanted a picture of it. I didn’t feel like waiting for the front, so we rode near the rear of the train. This Batman was rather good; I rank it below Over Georgia’s version, and above the other ones. Plus it’s a mirror image so it was a little different than the rest. It was intense, and my legs felt it on the back half of the course.
With all of the coasters out of the way we had a little bit of time for re-rides or other things. I would have liked to have ridden the train and the Ferris wheel, but that didn’t happen. Wade and Ken wanted more Mr. Freeze, and though I wanted to my body wasn’t able as it was too hot. Before they rode Freeze for the last time we did get to ride Scooby Doo and the Scary Swamp. This one was better than the former Scooby rides at the former Paramount Parks. I liked that you saw a beam of light where you were shooting. It was tons of fun, with a nice, cool queue.
We did a quick bit of shopping and loafing and then headed to the front gate. I wanted a turkey leg, but the place at the front selling them didn’t open till 2 PM and I didn’t want to wait 15 minutes just for food, so we all headed to the car and then McDonald’s across the highway. Boy was that McDonald’s packed! The three hour drive to Holiday World wasn’t bad. I got to see the Gateway Arch from a distance, which almost makes up for the fact that I didn’t go back on Sunday and go to the Arch. I must get back to St. Louis soon for more Six Flags, and to experience the city. I had a great time there, though, and I really loved the park. I only went because it was convenient to go on this trip, but now that I’ve been, I actually want to go back for more.