Times Square | Photos |
December 31, 2009-January 1, 2010
New York NY
New York City
Times Square | Photos |
New York City
Carnival Cruises | Atlantis | Photos |
Sunday morning we woke up, got all of our things together and packed into the car, checked out, headed out into the extreme heat, cranked the a.c. in the car up, and headed due east. The ride to Port Canaveral wasn’t very long, but it was very flat and mostly boring until we hit the coast. Upon arrival at Port Canaveral we headed over into town in search of a drug store and breakfast, eventually heading into a BiLo to get supplies. Breakfast was a few moments later at Dunkin’ Doughnuts. Port Canaveral was a very charming little coastal town from what I saw of it, and I’d love to go back and watch a rocket launch some day.
We headed over to port, dropped off our luggage, and parked. It was only around 11 AM and we couldn’t head to our rooms until later, so after checking in we sat on the Lido deck and had lunch and drinks. I had a burger and fries as oldies played over the speaker. Once we could go to the room I headed down and took what few things I had to drop them off. Then I laid around until we got called to our Muster station for the drill.
Once we arrived at our Muster station we received instructions and headed to the life boats. At this point, the boat was moving out of the docking area. I’d left my camera in the room so I wasn’t able to take pictures, but once we were finished, I headed to the room, grabbed the camera, and headed up with my family to the highest point on the front of the ship to watch as we headed out to the open sea. People waved from the beach at Port Canaveral. Once we were out in the open ocean we headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. I had to take a shirt to my parent’s room so that we could use the steamer on it, as I didn’t want to be wrinkly for my first evening.
My mother had booked a cruise for her, my dad, my brother, and myself in September of 2009. This would be their 2nd, mine and my brother’s first. Since we were leaving out of Florida this gave mea chance to visit at least one theme park in Orlando, and since I had a free 7 day 2 park ticket to Universal Studios parks from a Super Bowl promotion, that was the winner for this trip. In fact, this would be my 2nd visit to the parks, and thus far Universal Resort Orlando’s parks still the only theme parks I’ve visited in Orlando. The plan was to drive down to the Savannah area on Friday, dropping my grandmother off in Salisbury NC then head in to Universal early on Saturday morning, visiting the 2 parks during the day before picking my parents up from the airport later that evening.
Sure enough, early Saturday morning I woke up and headed the rest of the way south. I was excited because I really liked the parks the last time I was there, and was anxious to do the attractions that I’d missed last time, as well as the new coaster that just opened at Universal Studios. But once I arrived at the parks I knew it was going to be a hectic day as there were already long lines of cars just waiting to pay to get in and park. Once I did get in to the parking buildings, though, I headed over to Universal Studios first. This was a mistake.
I had to trade my voucher for a ticket, and to do that had to wait in the regular ticket line, which at this point at about 10:30 AM was already about an hour long. I texted someone to see if going over to Islands of Adventure would get me in quicker, and he said it wouldn’t. Having said that, I still kind of wish I would have went to Islands first and finished it up as there were far fewer people there and I could have gotten more done in less time.
Six Flags America | Photos |
September 6, 2009
For 2009 I had gotten a Six Flags season pass, and since I already had a trip planned up north for Labor Day weekend, I decided to take a side trip to Six Flags America. In fact, 2009 was the first year I can ever remember that I went on a coaster trip both Memorial Day weekend to start the summer off, and Labor Day weekend to end the summer. After waking up Sunday morning and having breakfast with friends I headed east to the D.C. metro area. I hadn’t been to Six Flags America since 2007, but since nothing new had been added I had no real plans for how I wanted to hit the park, other than to ride the rides I liked and skip the rides I didn’t while hoping that it wouldn’t be busy all day.
After a little over 2 hours of driving time I finally arrived at the front gate. It took a while to find a parking spot and I ended up in a far away lot I didn’t even know existed. The park looked packed, and people were heading to the front gate in droves. This was not what I wanted to see at all. The ticket booths had long lines, but thankfully all I had to do was present my season pass at the front turnstiles, show my wallet, keys, phone, and camera to security, and head in. I grabbed a park map and headed back to the back of the park.
I snapped pictures all along the way, and there were people everywhere. Once I got into the Gotham City area of the park, which was by far the worst of the themed Gotham Cities I’d seen due to lack of themeing, I noticed that Joker’s Jinx had a very small line. This was great, so I headed there first.
I’d lived in West Virginia all of my life, but in 28 years I’d only visited the state’s one and only amusement park once, sometime between 1985-1986. I really don’t remember much about our evening spent there, but I do remember eating pizza, riding the Haunted House, and getting sick on the Scrambler after riding the Spider. Huntington is about 3 hours away, and because I rarely ever head over to that part of the state I’d put off going to Camden Park for a very long time.
It isn’t that I didn’t want to go to the park, I just wasn’t sure if it would be worth the drive and the cash that I’d have to spend. Granted, most of that thinking was based on what my yearly salary was before the job I had at this point. I could never justify the trip for such a small park that might not even seem worth my time. My original plans for the weekend changed and I had the free time and budgeted cash, I decided to go to Camden. As an added bonus, they recently opened a new Sheetz close to Huntington and since it was on my way I took the opportunity to go and get a much beloved Buffalo Chicken sub.
After sleeping in on Saturday morning (a rare treat), I woke up and got ready, leaving around 1:30 PM. I didn’t want to arrive at the park before 5 PM because after that time it was half price admission, and I really didn’t think I’d need more than a few hours for the small roadside park. I stopped in Beckley at Walmart to get a shirt and some batteries. After getting on the WV Turnpike I stopped at Starbucks for a Frappuccino.
I was kind of bummed that I didn’t get to spend the day in Philly on Monday, but the one park I was looking forward to the most was Great Adventure and that was my game plan for Tuesday. I was nervous because the road to Jackson was a bit confusing and the tolls expensive. My GPS gave me different directions than Matt had, which compounded the confusion as well. So I called Matt a few times to make sure I was at the right place, and in just over an hour I was turning in to the park. This was a huge area, with the water park and wild safari available as well, but I headed in to the parking lot to the theme park, parked, and headed to the gate, season pass in hand.
All of the coasters that I could see were testing except for Kingda Ka, which just happened to be the Tallest, Fastest coaster in the world at the time. But whatever. I wanted to ride it, but I was here for other coasters. The front gate for Great Adventure was nice and well landscaped. I went thru the turnstiles and in to the park. The entry plaza was huge. I knew this park was notorious for getting packed. I was worried because there were already a lot of cars in the lot.
Once inside I headed to the left and made it to the ropes. The park opened at 10:00 AM, but the rides start to open at 10:30. I think they should have had an opening ceremony like Six Flags America. That would have helped pass the time better. Promptly at 10:30, though, the ropes dropped and off the bulls ran. My first stop was Superman.
HERSHEYPARK | Photos |
Because we got back so late from NYC, we decided to sleep later and get to HERSHEYPARK around noon or a little later. On Sunday morning we got up, got ready, and headed 90 minutes to Hershey, PA. I’d actually been thru Hershey once, and drove by the park with my brother, but had never actually been to the park, so I was excited. The drive was longer that I’d have liked, but we stopped for food at Sheetz and then fueled up about 20 miles from Hershey.
It’s interesting to drive along the Pennsylvania countryside and see rolling hills, then see the park and the town in the distance. Hershey is a quaint little town, and I’d love to get the opportunity to go and walk around town in the future. Once we arrived and turned into the park, we drove around a good 15 minutes to try and find parking. The lot was FULL of cars. I know this park has a reputation of always being busy, but would that translate into long waits?
We walked by Chocolate World and Matt said if I wanted to do it we should do it now since it would likely be closed when we left, but I decided against it since I was itching to go into the park and start riding. I wanted to do Chocolate World, but it wasn’t the priority.
New York City | Photos |
Though I had wanted to wake up early and get into the city early, that didn’t happen. But Matt and I did wake up and head out around 9:00 AM to be greeted by gloom, clouds, and precipitation. The drive from Pottstown to Trenton was just over an hour. I was trying to pay attention as I would be driving most of the same roads to Jackson, NJ for Six Flags a few days later, but the roads were very confusing. And expensive with all of the tolls.
We finally arrived at the train stop in Trenton and met up with Bubba and Steff. Once we got our tickets we headed out to the already waiting train, which left at 11:40 AM. I had this totally stereotypical vision of what riding on a train into the city would be like. For some reason, maybe because my last real exposure to NYC was in the early 80’s, I always imagine transportation and such into the city as being straight out of the 80’s. Surprisingly, what I had envisioned in my mind was SO close to what it was actually like. It was scary how close the interior of the train matched what I’d imagined.
But the train ride in was a lot of fun. I hadn’t been on a real train in a long time, and don’t remember the conductor actually coming and collecting tickets the last time I was on Amtrak. After a little more than an hour we arrived at Penn Station. Our first stop was the closest restroom. It was old and run down, and very typical of what I imagined NYC’s public restrooms to be like. I also had my first weird New York moment. I was waiting for a stall to open, and eventually a door opened to a stall beside me and a short middle aged woman came running out and hurried out of the restrooms. There was a line for the Women’s room, but I’m not sure I’d have done that if I were her…
I’d been planning a huge summer coaster trip since the end of 2008. My original plans were too ambitious. Then there were issues with work. Then there were issues with pets. But eventually everything worked out and instead of 10 days up north for coasters and more, my trip was cut down to a more manageable 5 days with three large amusement parks and 2 days spent in 2 different cities. I had a plan, a place to stay, and a mission, to finally hit 200 coasters.
Friday, June 19, 2009 was West Virginia Day and as a state employee I always had the day off with pay, so I left the nite before and headed out to my brother’s place, which was roughly half the distance to my first destination: Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. I had been told that Dorney was not an all day park. I was meeting up with friends on Friday evening at the park, so I didn’t want to arrive too early. Unfortunately, on Friday morning I woke up at about 6:30 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided I’d go ahead and head out.
The drive from Moorefield to Dorney Park was not bad, even if I did take the scenic route. I arrived at the park around 10:00 AM, parked, and headed to the main gate. My first impression after going thru the gate at Dorney was of a mini Cedar Point. The front midway was very reminiscent, and even though Talon was on the right, its right up front like Raptor. And since Talon is right up front, that was my first coaster.
The next morning we woke up, got ready, and headed out to Mammy’s Kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast we headed to Freestyle Music Park, a new park credit for both of us. There was a decent amount of cars there for a slow Sunday morning when almost everyone else was leaving the area. After slathering ourselves up with sunscreen (Matt is very sensitive, and I was burnt from Saturday) we paid for a ticket and headed inside. Only one ride was listed as closed, the Soak’d water coaster.
The park was very nice. I immediately noticed things that were missing from pictures from the previous year by the new owners. We walked thru Myrtle’s Beach first skipping the biggest coaster there, The Time Machine. Both of us were far more interested in Round About. So we headed to the Across The Pond area and got in line for Round About getting a backseat ride.
Round About–This was the coaster that gave the park a lot of problems in it’s inaugural year but we never saw it have any issues all day as it ran very consistently. The Ferris Wheel lift mechanism was novel and kind of unnerving, but in a fun way. Once you’re at the top you head down the first drop, which was rather steep and loads of fun. Sadly, this was mostly a one trick pony roller coaster. The lift and first drop were great, but the rest of the ride, while smooth and gentle, didn’t do very much. Fun, but I’d really like to see what an established park looking for a thrill ride and not a family coaster could do with one of these. Sadly the onboard soundtrack was not working.