As a child, I couldn’t wait to go to the beach every summer. Growing up, Myrtle Beach had it all-Beaches, Amusement Parks, Water Parks, Nite Life, Shows, Food, and more. And nearly every year growing up we spent a week there.
I don’t visit Myrtle Beach as often. They tore out one of my favorite amusement parks, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, leaving a nearly empty plot of land there for nearly 15 years at this point. Then there was a large theme park built, Hard Rock Park. I didn’t get to visit until it’s second and final year, after it had made the switch to Freestyle Music Park, with much of the original theme already removed.
But I had a week off, and my original plans were put on hold due to work obligations, so I decided to travel to the beach. I didn’t plan on doing much. The only amusement park left, the Family Kingdom, would be closed during my visit, and since a hurricane had just came through, this made planning difficult. However, a couple of days after the storm passed I made reservations at the Crown Reef Waterpark & Resort for a few days. The entire city was dead for the first 3 days due to so many cancelling out due to the storm. That was actually nice.
One great thing about heading to Holiday World from Kentucky Kingdom is that there is a time zone difference that works in your favor during the summer. Still decked out in our waterpark clothes, and with the time change, it technically only took us about 15 minutes to get to Holiday World (after just over an hours drive)…but we got there as it was starting to sprinkle. We didn’t know if or how that would affect the water park or the rides. We pulled into the parking lot across the street and headed over to the park. The ticket booths were all closed so we had to go to customer service to get our tickets, and off we went to Splashin’ Safari.
After getting a locker we headed over to Mammoth. Both of us got in the single rider line and stood there for a bit. Now, I realize single rider lines may or may not be a way to a shorter wait…but the girl working the lines was sending plenty of rafts out with only a few people in and they weren’t large people, so you know they were way under the weight limit. The single rider line didn’t move for quite a while, but finally a guy came and took over and took full advantage of the single rider line. Granted, our total wait time was maybe 25 minutes, but the the guy was better at filling up rafts while utilizing the single rider line as its intended. Isaac and I got on back to back rafts with different groups, thankfully both of us getting fun families.
Mammoth-The water is not heated. And it was cold. But Mammoth was an amazing ride! Lots of airtime and aggression. I got slapped in the face a few times with water that I wasn’t expecting, and the ending drenched us all, but it was so worth it because the ride was so great.
Next up we headed to Wildebeest and because the wait was so short we got in the regular line. I’d ridden this in it’s first year during Holiwood Night’s Exclusive Ride Time and it was loads of fun.
Then we got in line for the Funnel but the line was soooo…long and the ops didn’t seem to be pushing it thru, so we went over and did the slide racers instead, while hitting up Bahari’s warm water for a bit and then Zambezi Zinger. After that we were done with the water park, so we changed clothes and headed to the dry side of the park.
Once we were dry and ready to ride I took Isaac on his inaugural Voyage ride. We rode in the front seat of the last car. Voyage was still amazing. Yes, they slow you down on the MCBR. Too much if you ask me, and, yes, the triple down is no longer what it used to be. But the ride is still killer. And mayhaps they’ll figure out a way to turn down or turn off the MCBR one day.
I was hungry, so we stopped at the Plymouth Cafe. Isaac has some dietary restrictions and didn’t really seem to be in to anything they had there, so I got a ‘feast’ and sat to eat. This is where I must complain a bit.
This was my first time at Holiday World without it being an event. Honestly, for the most part, operations were slow. People can complain all they want about Six Flags parks, but this was as slow as what those parks are typically known for. And it wasn’t just a one off thing, it was pretty much the entire park. Yes, the park was clean. Yes, the park was nice and fun. But operations were much to be desired. And I will say that many people that I texted confirmed that on any non-event visits it has been the same for them. Bummer.
And another reason for my ranting, with my turkey, which was quite good, I got a gigantic piece of just slimy skin underneath all of the meat. I could and should have taken it back, and I’m sure there wouldn’t have been an issue, but Isaac was hungry and we wanted to ride Thunderbird, so all the way up to Thunderbird we went, which had about a 40 minute wait.
Thunderbird–I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. I like wing coasters, and this is my fourth. We lucked out and got put in the front seat on the right side. The launch was more forceful than I had imagined it to be, and every element was great from the first inversion to the slow roll, the loop, Zero G roll, everything. And the station and queue were very well done and classy. I loved it.
Isaac stopped to get BBQ that smelled really good. But there was a patron in line that caused, or should I say allowed, a very uncomfortable and unfortunate incident to happen, so Isaac decided to get out of line and we headed up to get something at Kringle’s instead.
Next up was a front and back row ride on Raven. I love that coaster and usually end up marathoning it at the end of the night during HWN because it usually has no line and I like sitting in the front in the dark. It was running really well, with great airtime, and when it kicked in to high gear after hill 5, especially in the front, it just takes off until the brakes. I love it.
Afterwards we headed over the Legend to try it out since it’s changes. You can see all of the new wood. I wish I’d taken more pictures. I’d always preferred Legend to Raven, which isn’t saying much since they’re both amazing roller coasters. We rode in the back first. The ride was out of control and as good as my best rides on it. There was more airtime and the differences in the ending are noticeable. I really liked it, as did Isaac, so we went back around and rode in the front. That new ending, with helices and everything was just nuts.
Heading back we were going to go ride Thunderbird then end the night on Voyage, however I suggested Voyage first for a night run, and maybe a possible stop on the way back out of the park. Our night ride on Voyage near the front was great for me. Unfortunately, Isaac got a kidney punch from the divider in the middle of the ride.
We went back up to Thunderbird, but near the entrance we were told it was closed early for fireworks, so instead we headed back towards the gate as Voyage was closing then too.
We didn’t stay for fireworks because we had to get back to Louisville, plus I had to Hotwire a room. That hour of time we gained? Yeah, it kinda sucked losing that. We had a really great day at two good parks, both of which really need to some work on their operations. I wouldn’t mind living in a part of the country that was close to Voyage, Legend, Raven, Storm Chaser, Lightning Run, and Thunder Run. All VERY amazing rides to be close to. And we still had another day on our trip allotted to Kings Island, but would the weather cooperate?
It really had been a great coaster season for me in 2016. Not only that, but my friend Isaac also likes waterparks so we did hit up Carolina Harbor one Sunday after it opened, and it was great. Then the following weekend, the two of us went to Wet & Wild Emerald Pointe with my friend Stefan for my first time, and it was fun as well. After Memorial Day weekend excursions to Ohio and Pennsylvania it was time for another trip.
Though already planned, after the couple weeks I’d had I needed to get away really bad. Having recently just been in an accident in which my car was totaled (not my fault) and then fighting with the insurance company, I needed to get far, far away.
My friend Isaac and I had planned to hit up Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World, Kings Island, and Stricker’s Grove for July 4 weekend. There were talks of changes because of everything that happened to come up in both our lives, but we pressed on and on Friday evening we were on the way to Kentucky, where we stayed about an hour and a half from Louisville for the nite. We woke up early Saturday morning and headed to Kentucky Kingdom.
My previous trip to Kentucky Kingdom was back in it’s Six Flags days and it was very meh. Faded paint on the coasters and buildings. Rides not open. A nasty looking waterpark. I rode the coasters and the large Shoot the Chutes and called it a day, not to return again until now. I figured we’d be there for a couple of hours and head on to Holiday World. But Kentucky Kingdom of today was much different than Kentucky Kingdom of over a decade ago, and I had an open mind.
There was a special running that if you were from out of state you got in for $30 for 2 days with a free drink wrist band. We weren’t going to be there 2 days in a row but it was still a great deal so, after parking and heading to the crowded gate, we got our tickets and headed directly to Lightning Run, something I’d been looking forward to for the last couple years.
Lightning Run–Okay, so Phantom’s Revenge showed that Morgan can make great coasters from an old Arrow. Lightning Run shows Chance (Morgan) can make a great coaster from scratch and not even hit 200’ tall. In fact, it’s 100’ drop height with a great drop angle that starts the coaster off right. Even though ops weren’t that great (a theme for the weekend), we were in the front row after a 20 minute or so wait. The train, which I’d heard was not comfy for us larger guys, was fine. The first drop was amazing. Then you hit that first ejector hill just before the overbanked curve. After that, the ride is a mess of oddly banked and turned airtime hills, bunny hops, and ejector air. It was so amazing and a lot of fun. Many more parks need this kind of ride. And I’d love to see Chance try their hand at a larger and longer version. Even Phantom falls short in the length department. But Lightning Run is a hit, and landed very high on my ratings.
After that we headed over the bridge and across the park. There is a wooden coaster that is highly underrated, recently retracked, and full of potential. I’m talking about Thunder Run. And while I’m thinking of it, I like that three of the coasters are all weather themed.
Thunder Run–This is the ride I wish both of the Hurler coasters were. And I hope that one day Carowind’s Hurler will follow the lead. The first drop was really great and the next set of hills, including the banked/corkscrew Hill), gave major airtime. The ride was smooth and chock full of wooden airtime. And I had to move it up in my rankings. I loved it. And it looked great.
I have to say the park looked amazing. It’s not a brand new park by any means, but with the closing and reopening, all of the rides and buildings were freshly painted without any looking faded. They’d done a great job of making the park look really nice. There were some parts that could use more sprucing up. But right now, lets talk about 2016’s new addition…
Storm Chaser–Another year, another chance to chase down and ride a new RMC coaster. I’d heard good things about this ride already. Sadly, they were only running one train. But that’s okay as we didn’t wait very long for the front. That lift hill was blazing fast, and then you drop, turn, turn upside down, and drop again. And it is SO sweet. It was great. Hang time straight in to a drop. Then an amazing airtime hill like RMC is known for. Next its up into the overbanked turn, a turn around, airtime, another overbanked turn into a corkscrew, and then bunny hill bliss with a double up. RMC is making great, amazing, hard hitting coasters, and Storm Chaser is another amazing creation. I may end up with a top 10 of just RMC coasters, and that would be okay.
We hit up T3 next. I didn’t think I’d like the all red paint job, but it pops. The new KumbaK trains without OTSRs were fairly comfy. And that’s about all I can say. The ride isn’t so bad without OTSRs, but it was very herky-jerky. You notice how the train jerks and slows and jumps without the OTSRs. It wasn’t terribly bad. It didn’t hurt. But it just wasn’t that fun.
We went out and changed clothes so that we could hit up some water rides. They really did a great job on expanding the waterpark, and it showed that its the park’s bread and butter. We went over and up the 12 (!) flights of steps to the top of Deep Water Dive, the drop floor body slide. It was still a little hard to walk up that many steps after losing part of my lung, but it was worth it. Carowinds added the drop floor style tube slides this year and they’re great. I’d done a 70’ body slide at Wet & Wild Emerald Pointe the previous month and it was scary, so I was excited to try this one. Isaac went first, and then I went. I love the drop floor. And at least this time I knew what to expect with such a tall body slide. A great thrill and a lot of fun.
Next we went over to Kilawaya their Tantrum slide having multiple small funnels throughout the course. The operations on this were horrendous. But the ride was worth it. I liked that in each funnel we got some airtime going up the sides. I just wish the wait wasn’t so long.
We went and got in line for Deluge, the water coaster next, but the line was soooo…long and our time was starting to run short, so after a bit we got out of line and headed over to the Ferris Wheel instead. This was my first time riding since this was my first visit with someone else to the park.
We looked at the line for the Calypso Run, the funnel slide, but decided not to wait for it. Then we looked at the lines for Storm Chaser & Thunder Run which were both too long, and Lightning Run, which was the only one running two trains and had the least wait. We opted for that to be our last ride, riding in the back, and it was amazing again.
After that, we headed out of the park and headed to Holiday World. Even though we didn’t get to ride Kentucky Kingdom’s watercoaster, we would be getting some amazing rides on some others soon enough.
In 2015 Carowinds had their first big Season Pass Preview nite. I say for Carowinds, because 2015 was not only about the new coaster, or the mostly overlooked new slingshot, or the new front gate, or any of that. The weekend was about the reinvention of my home park. And Carowind’s reinvention was poised to be relevant for years to come.
Even before the official announcement, the local geeks had all been foaming at the mouth, myself included. When the rumors that something 300’ was coming as well as other major improvements to the park started to pop up, the speculation was wild. Too wild at many times, and very annoying at other times. But that’s done. This weekend was it.
The park looked great when you get past 2014’s addition of a new toll plaza. Then you get into the parking lot and head to the front gate. It was amazing. A beautiful plaza. It was familiar but different. It was modern and fresh, evoking the newer front gate at Cedar Point. It worked and was far easier to navigate. Once inside I headed to find the line for Fury. It was overcast. Because I’d been on vacation the prior week I wasn’t able to attend media day, so this was my first time in the park this year. And because of Charlotte traffic I was 30 minutes later than I’d wanted to be.
My first visit to Kings Island was in 1994 on a disastrous school trip that caused me to miss riding both The Beast and Vortex. My 2nd visit was a decade later. While it was much better, I walked away that evening in pain because I’d walked and stood so much. I’d tried to get back to Kings Island a couple of times, once on a trip in which I ended up in the hospital in Columbus due to kidney stones and a bruised kidney (thanks Magnum). Since I was going to Holiwood Nights I figured this would be the closest I’d be to the park for a while, so why not?
Sunday morning I woke up after everyone else and got ready. Since we all drove separately I left 2nd and was about 30 minutes behind Rob. Thankfully Rob called and texted me and the others about parts of I71 North being closed off for construction. I was able to tell him the detour and a couple of hours later we met up at a park and ride near the park, since Rob didn’t have a Platinum Pass and I did, so that no one had to pay for parking.
The parking lot was quite full and people were pouring in by the minute. I asked the gate attendant where season pass parking was and she told me to go left and I would see it. Eventually I saw the preferred parking lot, so I pulled in and asked if my pass covered that and the gentleman at the gate let me in. We were just a few steps from the entrance. I love Platinum Passes, especially the last 2 weeks with Kings Dominion and Kings Island letting me park so close.
I tended to go to Holiwood Nites about ever other year. I’d went in 2008 for Timberliners debut, but that obviously never happened. But that’s okay. In fact, it was really okay in 2012. This was the best Holiwood Nites ever! For the 2008 and 2010 events weather was an issue. It was so hot. Miserably hot. In fact so hot that I spent most of the day on Saturday both years in the water park and then taking a nap before dinner. None of that this time, though!
With my job I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go so I never made rooming or flying arrangements since the skilled nursing facility I worked at was in the window for it’s yearly state survey, and I am not allowed to be off during that time. Instead I decided that if I go I would drive, and come up with sleeping arrangements later. The week before the event I messaged Bryan Bird to ask if I could potentially sleep in my car at his cabin and use the shower there, which he was fine with since I knew mostly everyone in the cabin already.
Since there was no survey the week of the event I left from my job on Thursday evening to my parent’s house for the nite. I left later than I had wanted to on Friday morning because I stopped by my old job and was there for quite a bit talking, but when I did leave it was raining outside and I had hoped that this wouldn’t cause me any major delays.
I’d been trying to get to Kings Dominion for I305 since it opened but no such luck. Since I was in the area, though, I couldn’t pass a trip up since I was so close. I got up slightly later than I’d planned, but was hoping for light crowds on a Sunday. After arriving at the park and finding the season pass/preferred lot right near the front gate, I snapped some photos and walked on in. The park was already opened and the rides were running. I hadn’t been to the park since 2007, so I walked around the newer area around Dominator, and thru the Peanuts area, then back to Intimidator 305.
Intimidator 305–The drop was great and the first hill hill was absolutely insane. I greyed out on the first turn. The ride was very intense, and delivered major airtime on the hills. After the second hill there are some very quick turns with major lateral forces in the infield of the ride. The lateral forces were kind of rough with the restraints, but not totally unbearable. Then you hit the 2 bunny hops near the end of the ride. The trim was definitely noticeable, but didn’t kill the end of the ride, which consisted for a couple of more tight turns and a turn/hop up to the final brake run that gave major airtime.
The ride delivered. I didn’t get a chance to re-ride, but I definitely enjoyed my one ride with hopes to ride it again soon. Next up was the closest coaster to me, Flight of Fear. There was no one in the queue inside the building until you got to just outside the station. Continue reading →
I slept better Saturday nite than I had on Friday. I’m not sure about Matt, but I was having allergy/sinus issues, so I snored pretty badly. On Sunday morning we got up and headed out, leaving our room at La Quinta behind. Our first stop of the day was Dunkin’ Doughnuts for breakfast. What is up with New England? They don’t keep chocolate cream filled doughnuts all year round, they’re only seasonal. Whatever.
Breakfast was still good, though, even if I settled for Bavarian cream. Matt learned not to call the cashier a Yankee, even if she tried to take his $10. Then it was thru the back roads of Connecticut and off to Quassy. We arrived at the park after 11 AM and families were already pouring in. My first thought was that it reminded me of a nicer Camden park. Walking around, though, it reminded me more of a smaller Beech Bend.
We walked over by the Mad Mouse but decided first to walk around so I could take some pictures. The park was very nice, and we walked all around snapping pictures. I was going to ride the kiddie coaster, but ended up skipping it. One thing I liked was that they had a ticket machine back by the carousel, so we got 2 tickets and headed back towards the coaster. This would be its last year here, so it was our chance to check a rare ride out.
As I’d started a new job since moving I didn’t have much vacation time, so I was trying to use all of my extra days off that summer, as much as possible, to go on a couple of coaster trips. I had considered Chicago, then Ohio for Labor Day weekend, but then Matt suggested I come up for SFNE & Lake Compounce. That sounded tempting, so after a few weeks of planning I was almost set. I purchased my plane tickets a few weeks prior to the trip, and on Friday afternoon I left work at 4 PM bound for Greensboro for my flight. I was worried that I would get stuck in traffic, but I was in the terminal 25 minutes after I left work, and my flight wasn’t until 5:50 PM.
The flight to Charlotte was quick and easy and my layover in Charlotte was quick as well. Then the flight to Hartford/Springfield was much faster than I’d though it would be. In fact, we were at the airport about 20 minutes early, which was good because Matt was there waiting for me. We made our way to the La Quinta near the airport, which was pretty nice compared to the last La Quinta I’d stayed in. We settled in and I dealt with a stomach ache for the rest of the evening before finally drifting off to sleep after 1 AM.
On Saturday morning we got up and headed down for a quick bite to eat and then we headed out to our first park, a place I’d wanted to visit for a very long time, Six Flags New England. The weather was beautiful, and Weather.com was calling for some clouds and blustery winds, which is what we got and it was fantastic.
I’d been to Carowinds already a lot in 2010. Not that I’m complaining, but with CoasterStock coming, and me having not spent a full day there in a while, I really didn’t know if I’d want to be at the park from before opening to after close, especially since I’m not a morning person.
I slept a bit later than I’d intended, and I missed my exit because I wasn’t paying attention, so I got to the park later than I meant to but it wasn’t a big deal. The only morning ERT I wanted was on Afterburn so after arriving I headed there first. I rode in the 2nd row and it was really good. Once I got off I headed out to find Bill and Jill. I ran into them close to Afterburn, so we went back for 2 rides in the front. The ride is so different front to back, more intense, and I can’t take much of it. This early, and this hot, I wanted nothing to do with the back seat. But I can power ride in the front all day.
We walked over to the Flyers. I can’t remember if they rode that or not, but I knew I wasn’t going to be in the mood for spinning with it this early and this hot out. Once we made it to Intimidator, though, we got in line to wait for the park to open. We were on about the 3rd train of the day, near the front, and the ride was great as usual.