Wisconsin Parks 2014

14WisconsinBanner.jpgMt. Olympus | Timber Falls | Little A-Merrick-a | Bay Beach
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August 30, 2014
Wisconsin

Boy, how early 7 AM came. But I made it up. Jay had set his alarm too, but his tablet was still on EST so he got up an hour before I did. We both went down for the decent breakfast the hotel offered before we set off. We got in a little construction delay just outside of the city, but just before 10 AM we had made our way to Wisconsin Dells and were pulling in to park at Mt. Olympus Theme Park.

I went in with really, REALLY low expectations, especially for Hades and it’s conversion to Hades 360. I’d heard mostly bad things about the current state of this park for many years and was looking at this as a quick credit stop. It was gloomy with the threat of rain. But as we arrived they were running a special on all day ride bands for $15 (it’s regularly $45). The good thing with the rain was that crowds weren’t horrible. We headed in and then down the hillside first as I needed a quick bathroom break. Then the first ride of the morning was Pegasus.

PegasusThe ride was short. We rode in the back, but it packed a punch. After heading out of the station and up the lift hill you drop down a small curved hill and then up, down, and up another hill, where you turn. Then its a couple of more small hills and turns that go around the infield before you finish with several good bunny hops. I loved the layout and the train was hauling thru the course with lots of pops of airtime. I really enjoyed it, especially because I didn’t know much about it. It reminded me of a tamer Raven, and that was good.

Mt. Olympus 2014

After that we headed over to Cyclops. I was kind of looking forward to it because I’d heard that when it was good, it was really good. Many enthusiasts had said that it was scary in the back seat. Recently one of it’s drop/turns had been rebuilt, retracked, and reprofiled, so I didn’t know what to expect. Jay had been here before, but not since the changes. Jay held the ride in high regard, saying it used to be insane. It also used to run trains with buzz bars, if I recall correctly.

CyclopsI really liked Cyclops. It was aggressive and the drop that was reprofiled, to me, was still REALLY great. Heading out of the station you turn and heat the lift. The first curved drop was great and then you have twisting turns and hops around the course, all filled with airtime. Then you raise, turn, and hit a flat section just before the notorious hill that was reprofiled. After dropping, which was great, you take a large turn to the right by the midway and curve back up and into the final lateral filled hill and turn. It was a lot of fun. At this point, I was 2 for 2 at a notoriously bad park.

The rain had picked up by this point as we headed to Hades 360, the next closest coaster on our list. The line was kind of long, and of course there was only 1 train on each coaster. I will say that operations weren’t terrible as is usually what I’d heard. And I’d heard the worst about Hades, that it started great, but over the years was bad, and that the 360 conversion was still bad, but with a smooth inversion. Still, I was ready to ride.

Mt. Olympus 2014

Hades 360 I actually REALLY loved Hades 360! The pre-lift section consisted of a drop out of the station, followed a double down, turns, and a couple of small hops to the lift hill. It was great. The first drop was really good. This was Gravity Group at their best, even if the park doesn’t usually keep the ride up. Once we were down the amazing drop I couldn’t tell you much about what happened in the dark other than to say there are turns and bunny hops. I thought it was amazing and intense with odd moments of airtime all in the dark, and I loved it. Then you exit the tunnel directly into the inversion, which was really great. Then you fly into the beyond vertical banked turn, hop up, then dive back underground, which, again, blew me away. Then it was back up, hop around, then you’re done. I loved it. I can only imagine it with the PTCs, but with the Timberliners, in the rain, I loved it.

This was my first time riding in Timberliner trains, which were comfy and tracked well. Jay had ridden before the conversion with the PTCs not long after the ride opened. His thoughts were that it was kind of boring now, but not as rough as has been said. My opinion was vastly different. The rain had started to slack off then pick up. We headed to Zeus, where it started to pour just as we were getting on.

ZeusIt wasn’t terrible. The ride was aggressive in a good way and had air time, but I was a little underwhelmed. After dropping and turning out of the station, Zeus has a nice hill before the lift. At the top you turn and drop, which was decent. Zeus is more out and back, so you go on a long stretch of airtime hills before a turn consisting of banked hills, then around, back up, and more straight bunny hills before a final turn into the brake and dropping into the station. The trip out and back in the wooded area had potential, though. Next time I’ll ride in a non-wheel seat.

Jay actually liked Zues but it was a little too rough for me. I think it had more to do with being on a wheel seat. Next we headed down the hill in to the back half of the park by the water park, which still had a decent amount of people in the rain enjoying the slides, and into the indoor ‘park’, which no longer had the spinning Opa coaster, and…really not much else interesting. There were some kids rides and a family Moser tower. But the columns out front were imposing. We were going to ride Hades again but then Jay reminded me that we needed to run over to Timber Falls before we headed out and were on a timetable.

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Timber Falls was just down the street so after we took some pictures and the sky started to kind of clear up we made our way there for one ride. It was $6.50 to ride Avalanche (they confirmed this was the name, even though some places call it Hell Cat). I wanted to ride the log flume too but we didn’t have time.

AvalancheEvery small FEC needs one of these! It was really great, fast, and lots of airtime. The ride goes around the perimeter of the complex. You drop  and go into a rising turn and then a bunny hill, banked turn, airtime hill, and another banked turn before you hit a series of bunny hops and turns. The layout was kind of like an out and back, but it just went around and around, so not really. I loved the layout and it was super smooth. Avalanche was as good, if not better, than everyone said it was.

The Dells was very touristy, although it was some place I felt I needed to get back to some day. Initially I looked at it as a place to get the credits and not go back, but I kind of liked it there. It was like a mix of Myrtle Beach & Pigeon Forge but with more wooden coasters than either. I actually would go back for a weekend if it wasn’t so far. But it was time to go. Even though it was on our way from Chicago to the Dells, we back tracked to Little A-merrick-a, for reasons I’ll get to in a bit. I had to have Jay drive after a while since I was so sleepy. We arrived and just as we paid and entered the park, another downpour came. And lasted maybe 10 minutes. Then it cleared up beautifully for the rest of the day. So first we headed to Mad Mouse. This was the second one of these, though not a clone, that I’d been on in recent years.

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Mad MouseIt was scary because this one felt like it was going to flip over. I still get scared on mice coasters anyhow. They’re good rides, and far more unnerving than more modern mice. I got to ride all by myself on this one, unlike when I was with Matt Scott in Connecticut where we rode a similar coaster together and it was uncomfortable due to our sizes.

The toboggan hadn’t open yet, but the kiddy coaster was and so we rode that. It was fun, and Jay and I were the only riders. I loved Little Amerricka, and wish there were more small family parks like this around. They had some classic rides and everyone was friendly. After taking pictures, we headed to Meteor next.

MeteorThe first of 2 Jr wooden coasters of the trip, Meteor was good. We were in the middle of the train and got 3 rides before getting off. It was cute for what it was, with small amounts of airtime, but more charm, which I really liked. I’m glad the coaster is still going after all these years.

Toboggan was now up and running so we walked over. Jay got on, but had to hunch to fit in the car. I’d never ridden one…and wasn’t meant to ride one this day. I was too tall to fit in the car. Boo. The ride op said that it was mostly due to the new padding, but I didn’t raise a fuss. I’d like to ride one one day, but if I’m too tall, there isn’t much I can do about it.

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Next we hopped on the park’s quaint monorail, which was weird. I’m not sure who manufactured it, but it was fun and I loved it. Next we went thru the park’s odd, kind of scary, unnamed (?) haunted house. It was a neat way to add a haunted house. And a few of the gags got me. After we went through we walked around for a few more pictures, then headed out and north to Green Bay. Little A-merrick-a was only 2 hours from Green Bay, where Bay Beach park was.

The Dells was 3 hours away, and because of drive time and park closing and opening times, we decided to head straight to the Dells and then back track, then head up thru the country in Wisconsin to Green Bay. This was my first time in the state, and we saw quite a bit of it. So we arrived at Bay Beach at 5 PM with a 6 PM closing for the park.

Bay Beach was a successful municipal amusement park owned by the city, and they’d decided to first try and purchase and then, when that wasn’t feasible, built a near replica of the Zippen Pippen using parts of another defunct wooden coaster. The park was nice and apparently very popular. An hour before closing and it was still pretty packed.

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Bay Beach was very nice indeed, with quite a few rides and great prices. And the weather at this point was beautiful with blue skies and 70 degree temperatures. Rides took tickets, with no POP option that I saw. Tickets were only a quarter each, and Zippen Pippen took 4 tickets; we got $10 in tickets to ride the coaster 4 times, and take a ride on the Sea Dragon. They had the sign from the original about how it was Elvis’ favorite ride. And I LOVED the retro sign on the entrance. And it was all lit up. Jay had ridden the original and wanted to compare. I was eager because Bill said it was worth the drive.

Zippen PippinAnd boy was he right! We rode in the front and back. Turning out of the station you head up the lift hill and turn to the first drop. The first drop was great. You drop down and then go up another large hill that turns over the far end. Then you drop again and hit a straight stretch of hills where there was ample airtime. Then you go up and turn at the far end. You drop again and into a banked turn before hitting some bunny hops and into the brakes. The second to last hill had major ejector airtime. It was amazing. Watching the riders from off ride, you could see how powerful it was. On all our rides, it was just as good. 

This ride really delivered and had a great layout. And it’s setting was so nice. I loved it. I doubt I’ll be back to Green Bay soon (though I am kind of a Packers fan), but it was worth the time to go.So we took off and drove back to Chicago, stopping in Milwaukee for dinner at Cheescake Factory but Penny wasn’t working. Milwaukee looked quaint, but I had no real desire to spend time there. But at least I can say I’d driven thru.

Part 3