December 28-30, 2019
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.
September 8-12, 2019
Myrtle Beach SC
As a child, I couldn’t wait to go to the beach every summer. Growing up, Myrtle Beach had it all-Beaches, Amusement Parks, Water Parks, Nite Life, Shows, Food, and more. And nearly every year growing up we spent a week there.
I don’t visit Myrtle Beach as often. They tore out one of my favorite amusement parks, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, leaving a nearly empty plot of land there for nearly 15 years at this point. Then there was a large theme park built, Hard Rock Park. I didn’t get to visit until it’s second and final year, after it had made the switch to Freestyle Music Park, with much of the original theme already removed.
But I had a week off, and my original plans were put on hold due to work obligations, so I decided to travel to the beach. I didn’t plan on doing much. The only amusement park left, the Family Kingdom, would be closed during my visit, and since a hurricane had just came through, this made planning difficult. However, a couple of days after the storm passed I made reservations at the Crown Reef Waterpark & Resort for a few days. The entire city was dead for the first 3 days due to so many cancelling out due to the storm. That was actually nice.
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.
May 9, 2019
I’d decided a couple days earlier that since the drive to Toronto was easy and not very long, and since I’d gotten to Niagara early enough to accomplish a lot of what I’d wanted to do on Tuesday, I would go back and finish riding the coasters I’d missed and get some re-rides at Canada’s Wonderland. So on Wednesday morning I woke up fairly early and had breakfast again at Tim Hortons before heading back to Wonderland.
It was around 11:30 when I arrived at Wonderland. As I entered the parking lot, I knew it would be a good day to visit because, even though it was much cooler than Sunday, the parking lot was nearly empty. So I headed in and toyed with riding The Fly first, but instead headed to Leviathan for a front row ride, which ended up being with some local enthusiasts. Leviathan is a solid, fun coaster, but I’m glad we have Fury at Carowinds, because it’s a much better version.
I walked over to The Fly (398) next for my credit. This is the third of the larger Mack Wild Mouse coasters I’ve ridden. I enjoy them, but mice still scare me after all of these years. The top scan wasn’t running, but there were some staff there working on it. I wasn’t upset as we have one at Carowinds, but had this been a few years ago I wouldn’t have been happy to not have ridden as these are fairly rare in the US. So I walked over towards Behemoth and got super excited when I saw that Sledgehammer was up and running! I detoured to the line for it instead.
May 7, 2019
Niagara Falls NY & ON
I woke up Wednesday morning to absolutely beautiful weather. The temperature was around 60 degrees, the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds, and I decided to head back down to the falls for some pictures in better weather. The previous afternoon I was looking at the revolving restaurant and the buffet restaurant at the Skylon tower and tried to make reservations online, but it kept timing out, so I called and made reservations for 1pm.
So I headed to the welcome center by the falls and purchased tickets for the Behind the Falls experience at 11am. This was a chance to get up close and personal with the falls, taking an elevator down and first going behind the falls to 2 different shafts that are directly behind, and then to an observation area just beside the falls so that you can get an up close and personal view of them. It was definitely worth the $24 CAD to do, and I was able to get some more fantastic photos of the falls and the gorge.
Around noon I headed back up and walked to the Skylon tower, just up the hill from the welcome center. I found the ticketing office and informed them I had reservations for the buffet, but they informed me that the buffet isn’t open in the off season, and my reservation was for the revolving restaurant instead. So I was sent with my ticket to the elevator and up I headed.
Niagara Falls | Photos | Videos
May 7, 2019
Niagara Falls ON
Tuesday was going to be my last day in Toronto. I’d planned to go to the distillery district on advice from my server the day before at the brewery, but again it wasn’t a priority to wake up early, so I slept in. By the time I got up I’d decided to pack up, check out, and head on out to Niagara Falls. I have to say that the drive from Niagara to Toronto is much nicer when it’s not foggy, as was the case going up on Saturday. Today, however, it was clear and I could see the lake, which was completely blocked by fog on Saturday morning.
I stopped at the wrong hotel once I arrived in Niagara Falls. I was staying on the Canadian side, and they pointed me in the right direction to my actual hotel. Once I arrived I checked in, noticed that it wasn’t very busy due to the off season, and headed to my room. I scored another good hotel from Hotwire and this time at a much better off season/off peak rate of $31. After getting settled in I headed out to find some dinner. Someone had suggested the Flying Saucer, which I’d passed by on my way to Toronto originally, so I headed there. This was a great suggestion. I had a burger and it was super good.
After lunch I headed towards the falls. I parked in a lot near all of the attractions on Clifton Hill and walked down the street with my camera. Of course, the first set of falls you see are the American & Bridal Veil Falls, which are impressive. Although the day was overcast and gloomy, the falls were easily visible. I walked along the ridge of the gorge on the Canadian side, snapping pictures and enjoying the view as I made my way down to the Horseshoe Falls, which are even more amazing, and are the falls most people associate with Niagara.
CN Tower | Photos | Videos
May 6, 2019
I decided that for this vacation, as I was on my own, I wouldn’t bother with making every day an early day. I intended on sleeping in and then taking a more leisurely pace doing whatever I wanted. So on Monday morning I woke up around noon-ish, took my time getting ready, and headed for a very late breakfast at the closest Tim Hortons I could find. This was finally my first Tim Horton’s experience. And it was good.
Admittedly it was a little later in the day than I’d have liked to be getting started, but I needed to sleep in. I headed towards the first thing I’d always wanted to do in Toronto, the CN Tower. Getting in to the city and finding parking near CN Tower was easy enough. Once I was parked I headed out with my back pack and walked to the tower. As I was heading through security I noticed that some of my things had fallen out of the front pocket of my nap sack. I put it back in and was getting ready to go through security when an employee pointed out that the nose spray I’d just put back in the front pocket had fallen out. That’s when I realized I had a hole in my front pocket. Then a sudden wave of worry fell over me, as that was where I tended to keep my wallet and passport. After taking inventory on all of my items, the only thing that I lost without knowing where it was is an extra battery for my camera, but thankfully I had 3 more.
After making my way through security and getting my ticket I headed towards the elevator up the tower. I was the only non-employee on the elevator which, much to my horror, had a glass bottom. I don’t like glass bottoms on tall buildings, usually doing all I can to avoid them. But that wasn’t an option this time. I was glad to step off of the elevator near the top.
May 5, 2019
Instead of getting to Canada’s Wonderland early on Sunday morning, which just happened to be the first open operating day of the year, I decided that I’d sleep a bit and then head out. I was already planning on getting a Fast Lane+, so I wasn’t that worried. I could have gotten there an hour early and gotten ERT for passholders, but, again, late nite, vacation, and Fast Lane+. So I arrived in the area around noon instead, and headed to a McDonald’s for a quick bite before heading in.
Canada’s Wonderland is a great park. Beautiful once you’re through the gate. But very obviously packed. I’d purchased Fast Lane online so after a quick restroom (sorry, washroom, because we’re in Canada) stop I traded in my digital voucher and got my wristband. Then it was off to my first destination for the morning, the country’s tallest, fastest coaster, and cousin to a really fun ride just down the road from me. I was excited to see the plaza for the ride because I’d seen pictures of how awesome the sign looked since it was installed. I got in line for the front row and ended up riding with 2 local enthusiasts.
Leviathan (385)-The first drop is very much what Fury’s first drop was inspired by, and very similar. I liked the tunnel at the bottom. Then you hit the first turn, and a couple of great floater airtime hills, then the far turn around, before you hit the next couple of airtime hills, then the over-banked turn before you hop up into the brakes. The ride is fast, with a lot of floating airtime and some flojector air as well. Fury is definitely the next evolution of the ride, and I’m excited to see what the next incarnation of a B&M giga coaster is like.
May 4, 2019
Grand Island NY
Over the last several years many people, for many different reasons, have talked up Toronto as being an amazing city to visit. I’d never been to Canada, and Canada’s Wonderland had finally started to add some better coasters to go along with their great collection of flat rides in the last few years. I’d wanted to go to Toronto in 2018 but unfortunately some issues with my old car prevented that. In the meantime, I’d gotten a new car and taken care of some finances so I decided to finally visit the country up north.
I should have planned my trip a couple of weeks later because Canada’s Wonderland & Fantasy Island, 2 of the parks I would be hitting, didn’t start daily operations until a few weeks later. I wasn’t used to this living in the south, where parks open in March. And sadly, Marineland wouldn’t be open at all during this trip. But the dates were set and, ultimately, this wasn’t a coaster-centric trip. I needed some vacation time off with some sleeping in every morning and not having to worry about stuff. On Friday, May 3 I headed north after work to Pittsburg where I’d be staying for the evening.
Then Saturday morning I woke up early and headed in to New York towards the Niagara Falls area to Martin’s. The day was gloomy but after parking I noticed that the main reason I was there was definitely up and running so, after paying to get in, I made my way the long way around to Silver Comet. Fantasy Island was quaint. It was definitely a family park with a few decent flat rides and 3 coasters. The first ride for me was the park’s signature wooden coaster, a 1999 Custom Coasters International installation.