Midwest 2021 Day 3

Silver Dollar City | Photos | Videos


May 31, 2021
Branson MO

This was the day I was most excited about for the entire trip. I’d always wanted to go to Silver Dollar City. Many people say it is better than Dollywood, and I love Dollywood. Since they’re both Herschend properties, I was excited, to say the least. I woke up early and headed to Walmart to buy a tooth brush since I’d forgotten to bring mine, and I was making due with mouth wash, but no more. I also picked up another SD Card, and this one had no issues. But not before I went to a breakfast place in Branson, though not much was opened on Memorial Day. The eggs benedict was good, service was fast, and I was finished quickly.

SDC wasn’t very far from where I stayed. I drove a little through Branson, which felt like if Pigeon Forge & Asheville had a baby, and then over by the park. But I was super early. So I drove around by the lake before going back to the park. Imagine my surprise when I found out parking was free! I parked in an open spot near the exit and headed down to the tram that was soon to leave, all with coasters dotting the background.

I had purchased the Trail Blazer Extra pass that allowed unlimited resides on select popular rides, and one ride on the new rapids ride without waiting long. We arrived at the front plaza an already I loved that it was quaint and felt small and enclosed. I picked up my ticket and lanyard, made a quick restroom stop, and then headed over in to the park. It was very early, but I was able to head over to the rope that would eventually lead me to my first ride. The park was just absolutely beautiful. Very wooded walkways. I loved it.

Once they performed the pledge of allegiance and star spangled banner, the ropes dropped and I headed down the rather large hill towards my first coaster of the day…

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Midwest 2021 Day 2

Worlds of Fun | Photos | Videos


May 30, 2021
Kansas City MO

Whew, last nite was a late nite. I slept in a bit because my drive to Worlds of Fun was one of the shorter drives of the trip. Eventually, though, I did get up, get ready, and get going south once again.

I arrived around 11:30 AM and I could tell it was going to be far busier than I’d have liked. Cars were pouring into the parking lot. And I really didn’t want to spend money on Fast Lane for such a small park. How bad could it be? Well, again, another Cedar Fair park with poor operations. I noticed through out the day, just like the prior day at Vallyefair! that they only allowed one train on a track at a time, were super slow dispatching, and even the smaller coasters with multiple single cars only ran one on the track at a time. This was not conducive to a super fun vacation, but I was determined to make the best of my first post-COVID trip.

So I finally got parked and headed in. I know they rebuilt their entire entrance a few years ago. I didn’t know it was so far away from the car park. And my camera wasn’t cooperating at all at this point. I decided I would use my phone, which is adequate, and then get a cheap new SD card in Branson. I headed in to the already busy park. I wasn’t familiar with the layout, but wanted to ride something fun to start off so I went for the park’s highly recommended GCI wooden coaster. It was in the parks decently well done Africa section.

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Cedar Point 2018

CP18Banner.pngCedar Point | Photos | Videos

May 25 & 26, 2018
Sandusky OH


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.

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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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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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