Midwest 2021 Day 3

Silver Dollar City | Photos | Videos


May 31, 2021
Branson MO

This was the day I was most excited about for the entire trip. I’d always wanted to go to Silver Dollar City. Many people say it is better than Dollywood, and I love Dollywood. Since they’re both Herschend properties, I was excited, to say the least. I woke up early and headed to Walmart to buy a tooth brush since I’d forgotten to bring mine, and I was making due with mouth wash, but no more. I also picked up another SD Card, and this one had no issues. But not before I went to a breakfast place in Branson, though not much was opened on Memorial Day. The eggs benedict was good, service was fast, and I was finished quickly.

SDC wasn’t very far from where I stayed. I drove a little through Branson, which felt like if Pigeon Forge & Asheville had a baby, and then over by the park. But I was super early. So I drove around by the lake before going back to the park. Imagine my surprise when I found out parking was free! I parked in an open spot near the exit and headed down to the tram that was soon to leave, all with coasters dotting the background.

I had purchased the Trail Blazer Extra pass that allowed unlimited resides on select popular rides, and one ride on the new rapids ride without waiting long. We arrived at the front plaza an already I loved that it was quaint and felt small and enclosed. I picked up my ticket and lanyard, made a quick restroom stop, and then headed over in to the park. It was very early, but I was able to head over to the rope that would eventually lead me to my first ride. The park was just absolutely beautiful. Very wooded walkways. I loved it.

Once they performed the pledge of allegiance and star spangled banner, the ropes dropped and I headed down the rather large hill towards my first coaster of the day…

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Midwest 2021 Day 2

Worlds of Fun | Photos | Videos


May 30, 2021
Kansas City MO

Whew, last nite was a late nite. I slept in a bit because my drive to Worlds of Fun was one of the shorter drives of the trip. Eventually, though, I did get up, get ready, and get going south once again.

I arrived around 11:30 AM and I could tell it was going to be far busier than I’d have liked. Cars were pouring into the parking lot. And I really didn’t want to spend money on Fast Lane for such a small park. How bad could it be? Well, again, another Cedar Fair park with poor operations. I noticed through out the day, just like the prior day at Vallyefair! that they only allowed one train on a track at a time, were super slow dispatching, and even the smaller coasters with multiple single cars only ran one on the track at a time. This was not conducive to a super fun vacation, but I was determined to make the best of my first post-COVID trip.

So I finally got parked and headed in. I know they rebuilt their entire entrance a few years ago. I didn’t know it was so far away from the car park. And my camera wasn’t cooperating at all at this point. I decided I would use my phone, which is adequate, and then get a cheap new SD card in Branson. I headed in to the already busy park. I wasn’t familiar with the layout, but wanted to ride something fun to start off so I went for the park’s highly recommended GCI wooden coaster. It was in the parks decently well done Africa section.

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Midwest 2021 Day 1

First day of vacation at Valleyfair!

Valleyfair! | Photos | Videos


May 29, 2021
Minneapolis MO

Normally I plan large summer vacation trips months in advance. I know where I’m going, staying, and what I’m doing. But because of the COVID 19 pandemic, I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing or where I’d be going in 2021, but I did have the dates set, as we are required to request our week long vacations in December of the previous year.

Not knowing what the vaccination situation or travel restrictions would be like, I planned to take a week off around Memorial Day just in case. I was upset early in the year when it didn’t look like vaccinations would be going quickly, but I was able to get my second dose near the end of March and even took a weekend trip to Atlanta in April to test my comfort with travel out. In the back of my mind, I had came up with a possible Midwest road trip, and when things started looking up in regards to travel, I chose the parks I’d be going to and started planning and paying for the trip. I would start off by flying in to Minneapolis and heading to the area’s regional amusement park, Valleyfair. This trip would take me to 5 new to me parks, a couple dozen new coasters, and lots and lots of boring farmland driving.

I flew out early on May 29 from CLT to Minneapolis. I’d paid for parking ahead of time at one of the private lots, and it was cheaper than regular long term parking. Going through security and the airport post COVID, all while wearing a mask, was different, but I’m so used to some things that when I see relaxed guidelines, it freaks me out a little at first. My flight boarded on time. I’d had breakfast and sat at the gate in the new terminal at CLT. Very nice upgrade and every seat has access to wired and wireless charging. The flight was on time and actually arrived in Minneapolis quite early. This was my first time in the state.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios 2019

Galaxys Edge.pngDisney’s Hollywood Studios | Photos | Videos


December 28-30, 2019
Orlando Florida

When Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas, I was excited. Super excited. I like what they’d done with Marvel, and they were integrating Marvel properties when and where they could at the parks. And since they already had Star Wars in the parks, I knew we’d get more. And eventually, yes. Disney announced the obvious, that new Star Wars themed lands would be coming in the next few painfully long years to both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland to cover both the east and west coast parks. I’d been excited for the parks to open ever since.

And now here it was. The parks had opened their new lands, and the piece de resistance of the parks, Rise of the Resistance, would open in Florida first. Several of my friends went to the lands soon after they opened, but I’d wanted to wait for Rise before heading to Batuu.

My sister and her family moved to Orlando nearly a decade ago and I’ve visited during December now three years in a row, hitting up parks whilst there. In 2017 I went to SeaWorld & the Fun Spots for the first time. In 2018 I spent two days at Universal as there had been so much added in the nearly 10 years I’d visited. But this year, I only had one park on my agenda. I knew it would be super crowded. Typically I would never think of visiting a Disney World park during one of the busiest times of the year. But since my only goal was to ride the two new Star Wars themed rides and spend time exploring the new land, I wasn’t as concerned about the long waits that I knew would greet me at the park.

I had waffled on whether I wanted to go or not, and in fact a few days before I had planned to leave, I came down with a cold. But on Friday December 27 I was feeling a little better so I left work, packed up, and headed to Savannah GA for the nite after a 4 hour drive with a stop at Culvers in Charlotte for Dinner.  Traffic moved well and eventually I made it to the motel.

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Canada 2019 Day 7

SFDL.PNGSix Flags Darien Lake | Photos | Videos


May 10, 2019
Darien Lake NY

Okay, so this one doesn’t have much Canada in it, but thats where I started out for the day. Friday morning I woke up, packed up, checked out, and headed to the Rainbow Bridge to cross the border back into the US for good on this trip. Crossing the border into the US was always quicker than crossing over in to Canada. I was on my way pretty quick, with a couple of quick stops for pictures, and off through Buffalo and on to Darien Lake for my first visit. The day was cold and rainy, which was fine as I only wanted to spend a short amount of time at SFDL to ride the coasters. This being the first year back fully under the Six Flags Umbrella, my Diamond Elite Membership got me in, with free parking, and lots of other perks I ended up not using or needing on this visit.

The drive to SFDL was quick and easy. I stopped at yet another (the last of the trip) Tim Hortons for breakfast, and before long, I was pulling in, showing my pass, and parking near the gate at Darien Lake. Apparently there was some band competition there, but the park was still very dead. And as I’d never been before, that made me very happy. I had seen Superman running as I drove by the park to the parking lot, so I knew it was up and running, and it would be a milestone coaster for me. So I headed in with my pass and made my way over to the left, walking to my first coaster of the day.

Ride of Steel (400)-FINALLY! I finally hit 400 credits. I’ve ridden the sister clone at Six Flags America, which was my 2nd hyper coaster ever. I’ve loved it for many years. I was glad to see that this ride had updated their trains to the newer restraints. For my first ride I sat in the last row. Before long we were speeding on our way up the lift hill. Getting pulled over the top, the first drop I was very used to from it’s sister in MD. The rest of the ride, though, was very mediocre. It’s cold, early in the season (opening day), and early in the morning. So even though there was airtime, the ride had not warmed up. It was good, mind you. The turn into the first hill, up and over had major floater air. The last 3 hills gave airtime as well. But it wasn’t what this ride is capable of, and that’s okay.

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Canada 2019 Day 6

Banner1Canada’s Wonderland | Photos| Videos


May 9, 2019
Vaughn ON

I’d decided a couple days earlier that since the drive to Toronto was easy and not very long, and since I’d gotten to Niagara early enough to accomplish a lot of what I’d wanted to do on Tuesday, I would go back and finish riding the coasters I’d missed and get some re-rides at Canada’s Wonderland. So on Wednesday morning I woke up fairly early and had breakfast again at Tim Hortons before heading back to Wonderland.

It was around 11:30 when I arrived at Wonderland. As I entered the parking lot, I knew it would be a good day to visit because, even though it was much cooler than Sunday, the parking lot was nearly empty. So I headed in and toyed with riding The Fly first, but instead headed to Leviathan for a front row ride, which ended up being with some local enthusiasts. Leviathan is a solid, fun coaster, but I’m glad we have Fury at Carowinds, because it’s a much better version.

I walked over to The Fly (398) next for my credit. This is the third of the larger Mack Wild Mouse coasters I’ve ridden. I enjoy them, but mice still scare me after all of these years. The top scan wasn’t running, but there were some staff there working on it. I wasn’t upset as we have one at Carowinds, but had this been a few years ago I wouldn’t have been happy to not have ridden as these are fairly rare in the US. So I walked over towards Behemoth and got super excited when I saw that Sledgehammer was up and running! I detoured to the line for it instead.

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Canada 2019 Day 2

CWBanner.pngCanada’s Wonderland | Photos | Videos


May 5, 2019
Vaughn ON

Instead of getting to Canada’s Wonderland early on Sunday morning, which just happened to be the first open operating day of the year, I decided that I’d sleep a bit and then head out. I was already planning on getting a Fast Lane+, so I wasn’t that worried. I could have gotten there an hour early and gotten ERT for passholders, but, again, late nite, vacation, and Fast Lane+. So I arrived in the area around noon instead, and headed to a McDonald’s for a quick bite before heading in.

Canada’s Wonderland is a great park. Beautiful once you’re through the gate. But very obviously packed. I’d purchased Fast Lane online so after a quick restroom (sorry, washroom, because we’re in Canada) stop I traded in my digital voucher and got my wristband. Then it was off to my first destination for the morning, the country’s tallest, fastest coaster, and cousin to a really fun ride just down the road from me. I was excited to see the plaza for the ride because I’d seen pictures of how awesome the sign looked since it was installed. I got in line for the front row and ended up riding with 2 local enthusiasts.

Leviathan (385)-The first drop is very much what Fury’s first drop was inspired by, and very similar. I liked the tunnel at the bottom. Then you hit the first turn, and a couple of great floater airtime hills, then the far turn around, before you hit the next couple of airtime hills, then the over-banked turn before you hop up into the brakes. The ride is fast, with a lot of floating airtime and some flojector air as well. Fury is definitely the next evolution of the ride, and I’m excited to see what the next incarnation of a B&M giga coaster is like.

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Canada 2019 Day 1

19FIBanner.jpgFantasy Island | Photos | Videos


May 4, 2019
Grand Island NY

Over the last several years many people, for many different reasons, have talked up Toronto as being an amazing city to visit. I’d never been to Canada, and Canada’s Wonderland had finally started to add some better coasters to go along with their great collection of flat rides in the last few years. I’d wanted to go to Toronto in 2018 but unfortunately some issues with my old car prevented that. In the meantime, I’d gotten a new car and taken care of some finances so I decided to finally visit the country up north.

I should have planned my trip a couple of weeks later because Canada’s Wonderland & Fantasy Island, 2 of the parks I would be hitting, didn’t start daily operations until a few weeks later. I wasn’t used to this living in the south, where parks open in March. And sadly, Marineland wouldn’t be open at all during this trip. But the dates were set and, ultimately, this wasn’t a coaster-centric trip. I needed some vacation time off with some sleeping in every morning and not having to worry about stuff. On Friday, May 3 I headed north after work to Pittsburg where I’d be staying for the evening.

Then Saturday morning I woke up early and headed in to New York towards the Niagara Falls area to Martin’s. The day was gloomy but after parking I noticed that the main reason I was there was definitely up and running so, after paying to get in, I made my way the long way around to Silver Comet. Fantasy Island was quaint. It was definitely a family park with a few decent flat rides and 3 coasters. The first ride for me was the park’s signature wooden coaster, a 1999 Custom Coasters International installation.

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Copperhead Strike Debut 2019

Copperhead.pngCarowinds | Photos | Videos


March 22-23, 2019
Charlotte NC
Copperhead Strike Debut

I’ve lived in NC for nearly a decade now.In that time, my home park of Carowinds has added 3 major steel coasters, 4 new thrill rides, a slew of new kiddie rides, and have renovated and refurbished nearly the whole park. And they don’t seem to be finished yet. But in 2019 the park followed up their 2015 addition of Fury with Copperhead Strike, a Mack dual launched inverting coaster. I’ve been excited for months to check it out, and finally it was time.

I hate Season Passholder nite. I wanted to get off work early, but that didn’t happen. I knew it would take me at least 90 minutes in Friday evening Charlotte traffic to get from work to Carowinds. Its like that every year. I had flashback to Fury, though, and even though the line was super long, the capacity on a 3 train B&M Giga is pretty good, so the line lasted about 90 minutes or so. That was not to be the case this time.

I arrived at the park around 7 PM. The parking lot was packed. There is a strong Season Pass base in Charlotte. Once I finally got parked in the nearly full parking lot I made my way to the front gate since South Gate wasn’t open. Then I waited in line again to get through security. THEN I finally got into the park and ran to the restroom before heading towards the newly added Blueridge Junction. Coming around the corner I could hear the entertainment and see the entrance to the new area. It flows so nicely from the recent addition of County Fair.

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