June 11, 2018
Great Carolina Fest
May 25 & 26, 2018
If you can’t find a way to go to Cedar Point during dead week, Memorial Day Weekend has proven to be a great time to head to Cedar Point and find moderate attendance and lighter lines. In the past four years I’ve spent 3 Memorial Day weekends at the park, and have had a great time on each visit. Even with the long drive from North Carolina to Sandusky, the trip is worth it to visit America’s Roller Coast, and having followed the transformation of Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance over the last 2 years, I was determined to get to the park this year to ride. My friends Isaac and Blake joined in, and on Friday morning we headed north.
Isaac found a nice AirBnB about 30 minutes south of the park and, after stopping off there to drop off our stuff and freshen up, we made our way onto the peninsula. We parked in the Cedar Point Shores parking lot since the Magnum lot was closed, and headed in to meet up with Bryan Bird. After introductions and salutations, we walked towards Dragster, which was testing after being closed. The line opened as we walked by, so we quickly got into the queue as the wait wouldn’t be this short all weekend most likely.
Dragster is always a great experience, even if it isn’t a great coaster. We waited about 35 minutes or so to ride near the back of the train. Dragster always makes me anxious because of that launch. This was Blake’s first time at the park and first time on anything like this. As always, the launch was super fast and intense and I really still like Dragster as a ride. This was our only ride all weekend because it was being cranky both days.
September 14, 2017
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.
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.