Dollywood 2004

December 11, 2004
Dollywood
Pigeon Forge, TN
Dollywood Photos

Who says the season has to end in October? Earlier in the year I thought about how I wished I had had the chance to go to Dollywood for Thunderhead this summer, as it looked amazing. I checked the Dollywood website to see when they opened up for the season the following year so that I could plan a visit, but I noticed that Dollywood is opened thru December for their Christmas festival, and that the coasters are open unless the temperature drops too low. I thought that maybe it would be a great way to end the season and I told a couple people about it, inviting them along.

Little did I know everyone would take my trip and do all the planning for me. When I mentioned it again, Danny told me that it had been discussed and that we were planning on the 10th of December. This just happened to be the day of another even that I wanted to avoid and since Friday was not good for most people we switched it to the 11th. As with most plans that I make far enough in advance, something drastic comes up and I have to cancel. So I didn’t have my hopes for actually making it to Dollywood but when it came down to it, I was able to go and I talked a friend into going and meeting the 8 others that had committed to the trip.

For most of the week prior I had some slight dread that everything would fall thru, but on Saturday morning around 8:15 am Jamaal and I started to head southwest from our homes in southern WV. I was a a day sleeper during this period of my life due to work and as such I was unable to sleep the night before. Well, I guess the caffeinated Iced Tea I had for dinner/breakfast didn’t help much either. But I decided that I would drive down, that way Jamaal could drive back that evening and I could sleep.

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Family Kingdom 2004

September 20, 2004
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Myrtle Beach, SC

The sun had set, which was great because I haven’t ridden Swamp Fox in almost 10 years and couldn’t remember the last I’d had night rides. A Chance Slingshot, a Log Flume that looked like fun, and another Sally Dark ride had all been aded since I’d been to the park. For those of you unfamiliar with the Family Kingdom, or for those that haven’t been there in a long long time, let me give you a bit of history. What was once known as both the Grand Strand amusement park as well as the Swamp Fox Pavilion has undergone a lot of changes over the years. I don’t even remember the park before it re-opened after Hurricane Hugo, but Hugo did major damage to the Swamp Fox in 1989, and the coaster was rebuilt.

This is a classic John Allen Figure 8 seaside coaster with 2 PTC trains, though one must’ve been hidden for the off-season, as it wasn’t in the station. Even though they have 2 trains, the park only ever runs one. I can still remember my first ride on Swamp Fox. It is a really great wooden coaster. The park has been opened consistently since the early 90s, and has added and switched out some of their other rides. It has mostly all fair style rides, as well as Sally’s first interactive Dark Ride, a nice carousel, and a decent selection of flats. The park used to sit beside what was once known as “The Fun Spot Fun Park”, a very carnie feeling go-cart park that had a couple kiddy flats and a Ferris wheel, but Family Kingdom bought them out and expanded across the little river. This area is now mostly the kids section, with the Chance Slingshot, Pistolero Roundup (the Sally Dark Ride), Go-Carts, and the Log Flume.

I walked in and bought my all day wrist band then headed straight to Swamp Fox. If you’ve never been on this coaster, it has the oddest station. I guess they never get really long lines as there isn’t anywhere for a long line to go. It has a load and unload station, and on this nite, only had one operator running the ride. As I was getting in line for the back there were two twentysomething girls getting off of the ride and telling me that the back was “Just Brutal! The front is nothing compared to the back”. I smiled and said I knew, and then boarded the ride.

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Myrtle Beach & Grand Prix 2004

September 19-22, 2004
Myrtle Beach, SC
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Myrtle Beach 2004

For many years Myrtle Beach was my favorite place to visit for vacation. It had everything I want to do; roller coasters, swimming, restaurants, night life, you name it. As a kid my family went every year. My most recent visit had been in 2002. As it was late in the season, it was much different visit than I was used to but I had a lot of fun. I decided to take some time from my new job and head to the beach with my family. Because of a previous engagement, we would be leaving for Salisbury, North Carolina on Friday, September 17 and staying the nite.

Because of Hurricanes Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Bonnie, and Janeen, I was very afraid we were going to be rained out as it started raining late Thursday evening at home, and continued thru our trip to NC. I was happy, though, to see beautiful blue skies when I woke up Saturday morning. We left Salisbury around 4:30 pm and headed south. It was about a 4 hour trip including our stop at Pizza Hut in South Carolina for dinner, but we made it to the Holiday Inn (now Sea Crest) Hotel we were staying at around 9:00 pm that evening.

After checking in and taking our luggage up to the suite, I promptly changed clothes and headed out for a nite on the town. I hadn’t really been out since moving back home, so I was happy to finally be getting dressed up for a reason. I cruised around downtown for a bit which, though it was the off season, was still fairly active as it was the weekend. I didn’t want to arrive at the club too early, so I cruised some more around Myrtle Beach. Then at around 11:30 pm I headed for Club Kryptonite, the hot new club at Broadway at the Beach. I forgot my flyer to get me in for two bucks, so I ended up paying $10. It was “Coyote Ugly Night” so there were loads of girls on boxes and up on the bar dancing and pouring drinks. The DJ was great, loads of good music, and the crowd fun. Getting back to the room, I took a shower and went to sleep.

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Myrtle Beach Pavilion 2004

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Myrtle Beach Pavilion | Photos | Videos


September 19, 2004
Myrtle Beach SC

Since the park was closing early today I thought I’d better get there around opening, get my arm band, and ride rides. I woke up a little after 1pm, changed into my swimming trunks so I could do the water rides, and headed down town. It wasn’t very crowded and the park was in its usual post-season state of deadness. Everything was up and running with the exception of the Carousel and the Top Spin. This is the way all parks should be ran, however, when it comes to cleanliness. There were more handymen around sweeping and cleaning than there were park goers! And as far as I can remember it’s always been that way.

I love a nice, relaxing day at a sea side park. There was a strong ocean breeze and some of the ops were running the rides like crazy since it was so dead at the park. My first order of business was that big heap of steel and wood that is known as Hurricane Category 5. There are a lot of people that said this is the worst there was when it came to roughness. Yes it is rough, but not roughest by far.

The Pavilion staff does a good job at keeping their rides up and running at capacity for the time they are open, but this was the park’s first wooden coaster in many years, and I think they just don’t know how to maintain it that well. That, and those trains suck.

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Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom 2004

August 4, 2004
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
Louisville, KY
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Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom 2004

The second day of my trip consisted of a first time park for me, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. I had done a good job telling myself that I wish I hadn’t done this park before I got there. I was tired and in pain, but I had already bought my ticket. I got up around 9 am am on Wednesday morning, packed up camp and headed to take a shower. After I was dressed I went to McDonalds for breakfast, and then headed out to Louisville. The sky was overcast and I was hoping that I wouldn’t get rained out of my second day.

The drive was about 2 hours and I arrived at the gate of the park around 11:30, 30 minutes after opening. The parking lot is confusing, and this took up an extra 10 minutes just to find the right lot to be in and the front of the park.

First impressions are lasting, and mine of Kentucky Kingdom were not a good one. It was in a run down looking area of the city. I can see how this is the Midway for a fair because that’s the feeling I got whilst I was there. I got out of my Xterra and went to the front gate. It looked as if it was going to be busy as the line for the turnstiles was long. I then realized I had forgotten my camera, so I went back. When I got back to the gate I got in with no wait and headed to Greezed Lightnin’, going the long way around to view the park.

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Paramount’s Kings Island 2004

August 3, 2004
Paramount’s Kings Island
Cincinatti, OH
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Paramount's Kings Island 2004

My original goal for the summer was to hit at least one theme park every month from May till October. But because of car trouble and an overall lack of funding I had to skip Beast Buzz in June, and my Cedar Point trip in July was pushed back to August in order to spend that day with friends that would be up there the same week. I also ended up skipping past Dollywood in late July. All that aside, I was determined to get to Kings Island at the beginning of August. I hadn’t been to the park since my 8th grade field trip in 1994, so it had been just over a decade since my first and only trip to the park. Since I ended up having a 4 day stretch off of work I decided to use that to my advantage.

I had thought of going to Coney Island Park in Cincinnati the evening before, but had a grueling trip to OH and when I arrived all I wanted to do was sleep set up my tent and sleep. Driving by the park right before it had closed for the evening was cool to see. I was able to watch the fireworks, get a look at Son of Beast, and watch Drop Zone cycle a few times. I had discussed meeting up with Danny from CoasterBuzz and, though we were going to meet that evening, I had to get some sleep. So I went to the Kings Island Campground, got my lot, set up my tent, and went to sleep after my 6 plus hour trip to Kings Mills, OH.

The next morning I couldn’t sleep past 6 am. I took a shower, popped some Ginger pills and Bufferin for the pain and nausea that I didn’t want to have later, and since I was up I figured I’d go over to the McDonalds around the corner and have breakfast. After that I went back to my tent to lie down & make a few phone calls before I walked over to the park. I could have waited for the shuttles to start running but I figured I could use a morning walk to get me going.
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Paramount’s Carowinds 2004

May 14, 2004
Paramount’s Carowinds
Charlotte, NC
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I had known for months that I would be able to hit Carowinds in May as I was going to be in N.C. for the weekend of the 14 so I made plans with my good friend (and then roommate) Jon to go with me again like we did last year.  Months of planning (and finding out they would finally be getting a Star Trek themed coaster) came to a head, though, in May, as plans changed fairly drastically. The origional plan called for Jon to head out to N.C. and spend the week with friends, and he and his friends would be meeting me on Friday at the park, after which he’d head back to Salisbury, N.C. with me for the weekend.

As the beginning of May rolled around, though, Jon realized that he lacked the funding to travel to N.C. for a  day, much less a week, so I was without a riding partner as all my other friends weren’t going to be able to make it till Friday evening. That same week Andy messaged me on CoasterBuzz to let me know that he too would be hitting Carowinds on the 14th, and wanted to know if I wanted to meet up for some rides, and of course I said yes. We spent the 2 weeks before making plans over instant messenger and phone. Finally it was the day before the trip. I called and made final plans to meet Andy at the front gate. We were to meet at the park, but if one of us got there signifigantly early, that person was to get in line for BORG, and we’d meet up after we both rode.

The morning came, and promptly at 4 am I woke up, got ready, went to town to gas up, and at 5 am headed out from the tiny town in WV where I reluctantly called home for the North Carolina sun. I had planned to stop at 6am for breakfast in WV, but the place I had wanted to get biscuits from hadn’t opened yet. I put off breakfast for a while, and decided to head for the interstate.

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