December 28-30, 2019
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.
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.
May 9, 2019
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.
May 5, 2019
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.
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.
March 22-23, 2019
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.
March 9, 2019
I can remember just a few weeks before opening weekend for Six Flags over Georgia in 2010, having just relocated to North Carolina, that I could attend my first opening weekend of any park while returning after a disastrous visit the previous spring for the annual Spring Fling ACE event. I was excited and made plans to leave after work that Friday, spending the weekend in Atlanta. Nine years later, I would return for opening weekend, though I’ve been to the park several times in the years since.
My plans included leaving work early Friday, for which I’d requested and had approved leave for. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to leave work until 5 PM. This made my arrival closer to 11 PM, and wiped out any chance of dinner plans in the city, and due to my own hurried attitude, caused me to leave my debit card at a Wendy’s in South Carolina, which I didn’t realize until I was checking into my room. Thankfully my room was already paid for and I had credit cards and Apple Pay, so my arrival and check-in at the Westin Peachtree was quick and I was in my room in no time.
I did freshen up and head out for a slight bit to have a drink and try to enjoy the evening, but eventually made my way back to the Westin and my bed for the weekend. On Saturday morning I headed down to find the hotel’s breakfast buffet in the lobby. I’d gotten used to the breakfast buffet at Marriott and had toyed with going there, but as Westin is a Marriott property, and the buffet was $10 cheaper, I decided I would give it a go. It was just as good, and different enough. Afterwards I headed up to the room and got ready to head out to Six Flags.
Universal Orlando Resort | Photos | Videos
December 21, 2018
On Monday morning I woke up, showered, packed up, and headed north, back to the Universal Orlando Resort. Today, though, I’d been spending a few hours at the Studios. Although I’ve been to both parks on a couple of other occasions, this trip was the first time I spent a day at each park, though to say I spent a ‘day’ there is stretching it quite a bit for both parks. I arrived around 11:15 am, parked, and walked over to the Studios. I could tell that the crowd wasn’t terrible, and at only the 60 degrees, I figured it wouldn’t be a very crowded day. As I walked in I headed past Minions, which I rode in Japan, and Shrek, which I don’t like 4D theaters, and headed to the right, looking for what was new. And new I saw, forgetting all about Transformers.
Transformers The Ride 3D-I knew this ride was there, but totally forgot about it, so it ended up being a nice surprise. Another nice surprise was the single rider line, a theme throughout the day I would later discover. I knew it was the same ride system as Spider-Man, and I think I’d read it was the same, or at least very similar, layout, and if there were any changes to the layout, I didn’t notice. It was just as well done as Spider-Man, though my right lens was a little wonky. The physical sets were cool, and overall it was a fun ride with cool effects, just like the Spider-men I’ve ridden, and DarKastle.
Thirty minutes in and I’d already gotten one of the new attractions out of the way. I hadn’t had breakfast so I decided to grab a bit to eat at Mel’s Drive-in. As I left the restaurant, there was a Dora the Explorer float coming around the bend for a kids dance party. I took a gander for a second then made my way around. My next destination was MIB, via Springfield.
December 20, 2018
After arriving in Orlando I picked up my minivan I headed to the resort, checked into my suite, got cleaned up, and headed to Universal Studios Orlando Resort. I picked up some food at Wawa on the way and after about 30 minutes I was heading into the parking garage. I took a photo of the parking row information and walked towards CityWalk.
Although they’re highly manufactured and I’m not exactly into that anymore, CityWalk does have a lot to offer. I quickly headed towards Islands of Adventure. It wasn’t raining at the moment, but it had been. The skies were still cloudy. I didn’t see much of a crowd being at the parks today and I’d never been to a Universal park that wasn’t pretty packed. I went over to the self service kiosk to redeem my ticket. I wish more parks had these, though I understand why not all parks outside of Orlando don’t invest.
It had been nearly a decade since I’d been to Islands of Adventure. I’ve always really liked the park. The last time I was here they were busy constructing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The old HULK coaster was still running, as were the Dragons. I miss the Dragons. They gave an awesome ride and were visually stunning. But change is constant and Islands of Adventure has changed a lot in the last 9 years. My first stop was to the left of the Port of Entry. It’s a new credit for me because they replaced nearly all of the coaster as well as the trains. I liked the original, and I was excited to try the new one out.