Disney’s Hollywood Studios 2019

Galaxys Edge.pngDisney’s Hollywood Studios | Photos | Videos


December 28-30, 2019
Orlando Florida

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.

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Canada 2019 Day 7

SFDL.PNGSix Flags Darien Lake | Photos | Videos


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.

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Copperhead Strike Debut 2019

Copperhead.pngCarowinds | Photos | Videos


March 22-23, 2019
Charlotte NC
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.

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Islands of Adventure 2018

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Islands of Adventure | Photos | Videos


December 20, 2018
Orlando FL

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.

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Atlanta 2018

ATL18Banner.pngSix Flags over Georgia | Photos | Videos


October 10, 2018
Atlanta GA

I love Atlanta.  It’s one of my favorite cities. I’m thankful that its only a four hour drive from where I live because I can get there pretty easy and pretty often. The previous year I took a group of friends for a fun weekend in Atlanta in October, but because of some issues we felt like we needed a do over. We all had a nice time, but there were some interpersonal issues with someone who didn’t go this year followed up with some expectations not being met.  We decided to head back in 2018 to set it right. Well…

We’d gotten rooms at the Marquis Marriott in Midtown where we stayed in 2017. I like the Marriott and the Hilton across the street because they’re very convenient and easy for Lyft to get to. We didn’t want to drive this weekend. I’d requested off half a day on Friday and planned to pick up a rental car as neither my friend nor I wanted to drive our cars to Atlanta. I’d rented thru Enterprise, thankfully choosing the free cancellation option. That will be important to the story in a second.

On Friday my friend Stefan came to my house where I dropped my car off after work, then we headed to Enterprise. I’d dealt with the guy at the counter once before when I had to rent a car after someone hit mine. He wasn’t very nice then and apparently things hadn’t changed. The quoted price was originally $212 but for some unexplainable reason went to $412 with a $200 deposit. I expected the deposit, but even though my insurance (and credit card) would cover the insurance without having to purchase theirs, he tried to up the price to add insurance for the day, then some other random daily fees.

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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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Fun Spots America 2017

18FunSpotBannerFun Spots America | Photos | Videos


December 30, 2017
Orlando & Kissimmee FL

Saturday was mostly a leisurely day for me. During the afternoon we hung out at my sister’s house. Eventually, though, I was ready to head out and ride some more rides. I asked my niece and nephew if they wanted to join me. My sister and brother-in-law were going to hang out at home and go out for dinner later. So we headed in to Orlando, thru Disney World for a short cut, and then to our first of two Fun Spot parks, Orlando. This was my first time to either park.

The afternoon was sunny and warm, and as we pulled up and found a place to park, we noticed the area was fairly busy. Lots of families bringing their kids to ride rides. I was impressed with the park from the get go. It was very clean, nicely done, and there were plenty of people everywhere. We took some pictures and headed the long way around the small lake in the middle of the park and over to our first stop…the restroom in the park’s arcade. Then we purchased tickets. I got the 4 rides for $30 bracelet as this would be enough riding for me on this visit. Then we walked towards Mine Blower. My nephew had been to the park for the go-karts, but neither of them had been on the coasters there.

Mine BlowerThere was barely a line. Chris and I rode in the front row and Kaitlyn was behind us. I have to say, I really loved the Timberliner trains again on another coaster. You drop out of the station and head up the lift quickly, where you turn and then hit the first drop. And what a drop it was. Right after, you’re up and over the station, all while upside down. The inversion was really well done, with airtime, making it more like a zero G roll. What followed was a twisted mess of track and turns, with over banked turns, airtime hills, laterals. It was very intense, very much like a mini-Voyage. Very Gravity Group. I loved it!

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