Kings Island 2018

KIBannerKings Island | Photos | Videos

May 27, 2018
Cincinnati OH


We woke up and were out just before nine on Sunday morning. Breakfast was had from Duncan Donuts, and because we were in an AirBnB south of Cedar Point, our drive to Kings Island was only around 3 hours. After getting close to the park we stopped at Burger King for Blake and Isaac to get some food. We were all hungry, but I had a meal plan so was planning on getting lunch in the park. I did cheat a bit and get a small hamburger though.

Pulling up to the park I immediately noticed that the parking lot wasn’t really full. This would be my first visit to Kings Island on a holiday weekend and I didn’t know how it would be. This was a good sign. We arrived just around 1pm and headed to the front gate. After getting thru the front gate I suggested we head straight back to Mystic Timbers in case the line was long, so we went straight back. To my delight and surprise, the line was short, maybe about 15 minutes, so after putting our stuff in a locker we got in line.

Mystic TimbersI have to admit, when it was being built, I wasn’t impressed with the ride, but as people started to ride it last year it became clear that Mystic Timbers was a hit. I started to get excited about finding out for myself. And it definitely is a hit. The first drop reminds me of Thunderhead. There is airtime on the hill over the lift. Then the ride really hits its stride as you head out in to the woods with massive amounts of GCI airtime. It isn’t severe ejector air, but it is really good. Then you have the turnaround and tunnel which is also a lot of fun. The return trip is just as insane, and then of course you hit the shed. Now, I knew what was in the shed, obviously, and had heard mostly negative comments about how it just wasn’t what people expected. I honestly thought it was a clever trick for stopping on the brakes at the end of the ride, and wish more rides would do something like that.  Overall, though Mystic Timbers is an amazing creation by GCI.

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Kings Dominion 2018

18KDBanner.jpgKings Dominion | Photos | Videos


March 30, 2018
Richmond VA

Hurler at Kings Dominion had been closed for some time.  Rumors swirled, announcements were made, and in March of 2017 Twisted Timbers, the successor to Hurler opened to the public, an RMC hybrid coaster with the same layout but major re-profiling and 3 new inversions. Over the past few years I’ve spent Easter weekend in Virginia for Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens, but this year, though I had Good Friday off, I had prior plans on Saturday and couldn’t make a weekend of it as I had been. The weather outlook for Friday was not looking good initially and I considered going to Dollywood instead. Friday morning, however, the weather forecast was much better so I left my home just north of Charlotte, NC and headed north to Virginia.

I arrived at Kings Dominion around 1:30 and saw a fairly light crowd of cars in the parking lot. I noticed that Dominator wasn’t open, but lots of other visible rides were up.  Once I was in the park I went to the Burrito place on International Street, but the line was long. So I went to Panda Express. Long line there too. I looked on the KD App to see what restaurants took the all season meal plan and noticed one in Candy Apple Grove. I passed by Chik Fil A (another long line) and headed to Mac Bowl, which was kind of like a Subway for Mac & Cheese. It was decent. Then I headed to the back of the park to see what the wait for Twisted Timbers was like as it wasn’t listed on the app showing wait times though most every other ride in the park was a five or less minute wait.

The line was out near the repurposed store near the ride’s entrance. It didn’t take me long to figure out, though, that the ride was not open. They were sending a train out periodically with 6 people in, but the line was closed. I stood around for a bit and took some pictures, but eventually decided to leave the line. But before that I got a message that some friends of mine were in the park for the ride as well, so I texted Craig. It took a while for him to respond. But in the interim I headed over to Intimidator for a ride.  Sadly, just as I was about to get on, the ride went down. Bummer. So I headed to the next nearby coaster, Flight of Fear. I got in line, but sadly after a bit of standing and not moving, I left and headed to Grizzly.

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Carowinds Opening 2018

18CaroOpenBanner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Videos


March & April 2018
Charlotte NC

Carowinds Season Pass Preview 2018

Carowinds Season Pass Preview 2018

Carowinds Spring 2018

More pics after the cut…

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SeaWorld Orlando 2017

17SWOBannerSeaWorld Orlando | Photos | Videos


December 29, 2017
Orlando FL

After getting to my sister’s home Wednesday nite we took most of Thursday easy.  Later in the evening my sister, nephew, and I went to Disney Springs to hang out for a while since I’d not been after the change over from Downtown Disney. I had Blaze Pizza for dinner and it was good.  Then on Friday morning we headed into Orlando around 11 AM on our way to SeaWorld Orlando. We were fortunate that my nephew was able to get us tickets thru work at no cost. We had to meet him and some of his work mates there, and once we arrived at the park I saw a packed parking lot.

Of course I knew it would be busy, this being one of the busiest times of the year in Orlando. Normally I wouldn’t want to go to a new park on such a busy week, but it worked out pretty well. We got in line for the tram, but that line was massive so we just walked over to the front entrance and met everyone. I’d been texted the previous day that it was around a 45 minute wait just to get tickets and get inside the park, and this was obvious when you got to the gate. We, however, walked over and got in the ten or so minute line to get in the front gate. Our first stop once inside was to Guest Services as my sister wanted to get a Handicapped Pass, since she has some major back issues and other health problems, so standing in line wasn’t really an option for her.

Once we had that in hand we went to the restrooms and started our day. We passed by some pink flamingos, then Manta on our way over to check out Kraken. I wasn’t interested in the VR, neither was my sister. We went to the entrance and, although the park was super packed, the lines were never bad, save for Manta. And the way they handle the handicapped pass is that you give them the sheet for eligible rides and they give you a return time, much like Disney. They basically looked at the wait time and assigned your time based on that. With Kraken being a 30 minute wait we were asked to come back in 30 minutes for our timed ride. As we walked back towards Journey to Atlantis we noticed that it was a walk-on, so we headed there first.

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Japan 2017 Day 14

17Japan14Banner.jpgTokyo Disneyland | Yokohama Cosmoworld | Photos | Videos


September 23, 2017
Tokyo & Yokohama Japan

The next morning we got up early and made our way to Disneyland.  It was our last day in Japan and I knew it was likely to be busy at Tokyo Disneyland, but we pressed on.  The morning was overcast.  We ate breakfast outside of the park at the train station before heading over to Ikspiari and then the front gate.  When you enter there’s no familiar hill with a train station for you to pass under, but immediately you are standing on a covered version of Main Street U.S.A. called World Bazaar (Still not sure why the covered main streets are all the rage in Japan, but it does cover you from the rain).  The castle in the distance, however, is all too familiar.

The park was already quite busy and it was just opening.  We made our way to the right first to their version of Tomorrowland (or, more aptly titled, we-need-to-upgrade-it-all land).  Tokyo’s Tomorrowland has the familiar Space Mountain building as its centerpiece, and we were able to snag a fast pass for Space Mountain for later.  But it also has a version of Star Tours that never seemed busy (I’m not a fan of those types of motion rides so we never bothered), Stitch Encounter (Stitch is pretty big in Japan, but again, I’m not going to wait for 2 hours for a ride I’m not crazy about and have ridden in the states), Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters (which is fun, but had a long wait and no Fast Passes), and a version of the twirling rockets, though they’re being removed soon for their version of New Fantasy Land.  This part of the park is in desperate need of a make over.  It was very dated and it needs at least one new E-Ticket level attraction.

One ride that I’ve heard is nothing short of amazing though, and had yet to reach a 90 minute wait time, was Pooh’s Honey Hunt  So we got in line with 82 minutes to wait.  The queue is very well done, mostly outdoors.  They should incorporate the queue entertainment from the ride at Magic Kingdom.  Having said that…

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Japan 2017 Day 13

17Japan13BannerTokyo DisneySea | Photos | Videos


September 22, 2017
Tokyo, Japan

Because of the weather we had to push the two Disney parks to the end of the trip. This was less than optimal because once the weekend hits, these rather busy parks become extremely busy. But other parks and attractions were affected by weather and Friday & Saturday called for rain, which I knew wouldn’t affect Disney nearly as much.  On Friday morning, we slept a little later than planned.  It was a much needed rest, but eventually we made our way to the Tokyo Disney Resort by around 11am to spend the day at Tokyo DisneySea.  It meant taking a train to Hanieda airport where we had lunch, then a bus directly to the Disneyland resort.

I was afraid since we’d let the morning get away from us, and it was a Friday, that wait times would be unbearable at DisneySea but we actually lucked out for the day.  We headed from Ispiari, their version of a Disneyfied shopping district, to the ticket booth at DisneySea, then into the entry plaza.  Once we passed under Hotel Miracosta, I was just in awe of the entire place.  The entrance was nothing like I’d seen at a Disney park, but once inside everything is just so… amazing.  A high level of detail goes in to everything.  It is absolutely astounding.

Our first destination was Port Discovery as we headed over to our first ride, Aquatopia.  This ride uses RFID pucks to guide water based vehicles around in a very shallow pool (6 inches deep or less) spinning, stopping, and swinging around rocks, waterfalls, and whirlpools.  I anticipated a multi hour long wait, but it was only 25 minutes, so we got in line.  Aquatopia was really a lot of fun!

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Japan 2017 Day 11

17Japan11BannerFujikyu Highland | Photos | Videos


September 20, 2017
Fujiyoshida, Japan

The next morning we had to get to Fuji Q Highland early.  I’ve read nothing but horror stories from both coaster enthusiasts and non enthusiasts, locals and visitors about how terrible the operations at Fuji Q are, and how long the lines are.  During the day, those horror stories would prove to be correct, and they make any poorly run park in the U.S. look like a walk in the park.  So the plan was to get there and be close to the first ones in line.  We woke up from our hotel, headed to the Kawaguchiko station which proved to be quite a walk, stored our luggage, and headed back to the cute Fujikyuko train.  We arrived about an hour before the park opened, and I was shocked (and didn’t quite believe) that we were the first ones in line at the back gate.  There were some Russians staying at our hotel that showed up after a bit, as well as some locals who had internet tickets.

In order to get to do all of the major coasters, we were planning to quickly exchange our tickets then, once the rope dropped, literally running to the middle of the park where the very limited express passes could be purchased for rides. Express Passes are sold at the resort, online (but only on the Japanese site), and a few local convenience stores which means they sell out very quickly on the morning of.  So at 8:20, we were able to exchange our passes and, even though they were letting in resort guests early, we were at the front of the rope for the rope drop. Once the park was opened it was go time.

EVERYONE runs, either to whatever coaster they plan on hitting up first, or towards the middle of the park to buy express passes. We were at the back gate, so you had people at the front gate all heading to the Express Pass booth. Isaac sprinted, and though I tried to keep up, I just couldn’t do it. So I briskly walked as quickly as I could after the first initial burst, and was happy to see Isaac being the second person in line when I rounded the corner. Score!

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Japan 2017 Day 9

17Japan9Banner.jpgTokyo Dome | DECKS Odaiba | Photos | Videos


September 18, 2017
Tokyo, Japan

Monday morning was a late morning, and we needed it.  We grabbed breakfast at a restaurant near the hotel and headed up to Tokyo for some sight seeing and attractions.  First stop:  LaQua.  We went over to Tokyo Dome City and LaQua to see if Thunder Dolphin was running.  The whole area was really nice.  I had considered going to LaQua Onsen while here, but didn’t get a chance.  We walked around the rides section by LaQua and eventually got a ticket for the coaster.

Thunder DolphinYou head up the first hill, drop, pop up on top of a building, dive thru a ‘hole’ in said building, then dive thru and around a hubless Ferris Wheel, then back up on the building for some trick track before dropping down and hitting the brakes.  As far as hyper coasters go, it was what everyone else has said.  A good couple of drops, no major airtime, but a fun coaster, and it looks stunning.  It gives a few good views as well.  The hills really didn’t have much airtime, and the trick track was odd, but I liked it.  I probably wouldn’t pay to ride it again, though.

We walked around the Tokyo Dome, in to a gift shop, and back out onto the plaza where there were a ton of cosplayers all over before heading over to the other rides section.  We were going to ride the parachute drop, but the line was too long, so we had dinner at a burger joint in Tokyo Dome instead. Then we walked back thru the cosplayers, LaQua/Tokyo Dome City, and caught our next train down to the waterfront area to hit up Sega Joypolis.

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Japan 2017 Day 8

17Japan8Banner.jpgNagashima Spa Land | Photos | Videos


September 17, 2017
Nagashima Japan

Sunday was planned as our last non—Tokyo day. Our Japan Rail pass was done after that day, but again we wake up to rain. We talked and talked and decided to take the hour and a half transit trip to Nagashima and hope for the best. We had to take 2 trains and a bus to get to the park. You can see Nagashima Spa Land from a distance. It’s often considered the Cedar Point of Japan, and really, that fits well as a comparison. On a peninsula. You go over a causeway to get to it. You can see the massive rides in the distance.

Nagashima was very much a Cedar Point feeling park. Clean, large midways. Large coasters, new and old. Modern and classic flat rides. Water park. Hotel. Big ole’ Ferris Wheel (which just happen to be everywhere in Japan). We got there and honestly, it was mostly a worst case scenario. The rain subsided, but it was supposed to come back with a vengeance for the day. We didn’t want to pay $50 to go in and not ride anything, but there is a cheaper entrance fee and you can buy tickets. Isaac and I discussed it, asked if Steel Dragon would be open (it wasn’t running), was told it was unlikely, and at the time, the only coaster that was running was Arashi, the new for 2017 S&S 4D Freespin. Then, as we were talking to the gentleman at guest services, Acrobat, the parks newer B&M flying coaster, a clone of Manta in the U.S. opened.

I wasn’t happy, because this was the only chance I’d get at the park on this visit without spending way over budget to come back, and I wasn’t willing to do that. So we eventually decided to try to make the best of it, go in, and maybe get some credits and enjoy what we could of the park. Again, I wasn’t happy, but there’s nothing you can do when the island is getting hit by a typhoon. I wish I had planned for the water park, because it was open and not busy, but I thought it would be closed this time of year, as most waterparks in the country are.

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Japan 2017 Day 5

17Japan5BannerUniversal Studios Japan | Photos | Videos


September 14, 2017
Osaka, Japan

Universal Studios Japan is another busy park where you must arrive before opening to get an Express Pass, otherwise it sells out and the lines can be outrageous. Since you can’t get the Pass online on any English website based in the US, it has to be purchased onsite. So after going to sleep early, we got up early and headed to Osaka once we checked out of Hotel Anteroom (I had accidentally booked one less night than we needed, but we decided just to Hotwire a room in Osaka). Osaka is a very convenient hour or so train ride from Kyoto.

We arrived a good hour before park opening. I’m actually fairly proud of the fact we were able to do this for all of the parks we needed to. After purchasing our tickets and choosing our express passes, we got in the massive line to go in. Thankfully the older lady selling us tickets was very accommodating with our lack of Japanese and helped us pick the correct Express Passes. Then just before 8:30, Woody Woodpecker and his girlfriend came out to greet everyone.  Once the gates opened, everyone rushed into the park. Universal is another Japanese park with a covered ‘main street’. My first impression of the park and CityWalk were that they were definitely modeled after both of the US Universal parks, and that’s great.

At this park, you choose which type of Express Passes you want. You get 4 A level rides at timed slots, then get B level rides (You choose between 2 rides for the 3 slots) you can use at any time. This is a busy park with long lines, so we wanted to maximize our Express Passes and play it smart. Hollywood Dream, the park’s mini B&M Hyper, is running one of its 4 trains backwards and calling it Backdrop. We decided to hit it up first thing since it’s only one of the trains, and they were running 3 forward. The wait was between 20-30 minutes, not bad considering you were waiting for only one of the four trains.

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