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.
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.
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.
Saturday morning we woke up and headed north to Kings Dominion. It was much, much easier to get to the park than it was to Busch Gardens the day before. After getting Blake’s pass processed and in to the park the rides started to run. We headed to Volcano first. I knew that this ride would have a ridiculous line later so we went ahead and got in the 20 or so minute line and rode in the front. I still love Volcano. I always think of how much my friend Matthew vocally hated the ride when I’m on it.
Anyways, the launch is really powerful and I love launching back up thru the mountain. I do, however miss the Haunted River, Time Shaft, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. Next was a quick spin on Flight of Fear. Again, the line for this got rather large thru out the day. It was running well. Then we went over to Intimidator 305, again, another amazing ride. I love I305. It has great air and laterals, and speed to die for.
Its actually kind of hard to write a report for Kings Dominion. I don’t know why, but it just feels generic to me. I never used to feel that way, but it does feel that way after a few years of going often. Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot of great rides. But it just doesn’t have an ‘it’ factor for me any more. After I305 we got some Panda Express. Then we went to the top of the Eiffel. I don’t’ know why, usually I have no issues, but today I was terrified of being up there. We didn’t stay long.
One great thing about heading to Holiday World from Kentucky Kingdom is that there is a time zone difference that works in your favor during the summer. Still decked out in our waterpark clothes, and with the time change, it technically only took us about 15 minutes to get to Holiday World (after just over an hours drive)…but we got there as it was starting to sprinkle. We didn’t know if or how that would affect the water park or the rides. We pulled into the parking lot across the street and headed over to the park. The ticket booths were all closed so we had to go to customer service to get our tickets, and off we went to Splashin’ Safari.
After getting a locker we headed over to Mammoth. Both of us got in the single rider line and stood there for a bit. Now, I realize single rider lines may or may not be a way to a shorter wait…but the girl working the lines was sending plenty of rafts out with only a few people in and they weren’t large people, so you know they were way under the weight limit. The single rider line didn’t move for quite a while, but finally a guy came and took over and took full advantage of the single rider line. Granted, our total wait time was maybe 25 minutes, but the the guy was better at filling up rafts while utilizing the single rider line as its intended. Isaac and I got on back to back rafts with different groups, thankfully both of us getting fun families.
Mammoth-The water is not heated. And it was cold. But Mammoth was an amazing ride! Lots of airtime and aggression. I got slapped in the face a few times with water that I wasn’t expecting, and the ending drenched us all, but it was so worth it because the ride was so great.
Next up we headed to Wildebeest and because the wait was so short we got in the regular line. I’d ridden this in it’s first year during Holiwood Night’s Exclusive Ride Time and it was loads of fun.
Then we got in line for the Funnel but the line was soooo…long and the ops didn’t seem to be pushing it thru, so we went over and did the slide racers instead, while hitting up Bahari’s warm water for a bit and then Zambezi Zinger. After that we were done with the water park, so we changed clothes and headed to the dry side of the park.
Once we were dry and ready to ride I took Isaac on his inaugural Voyage ride. We rode in the front seat of the last car. Voyage was still amazing. Yes, they slow you down on the MCBR. Too much if you ask me, and, yes, the triple down is no longer what it used to be. But the ride is still killer. And mayhaps they’ll figure out a way to turn down or turn off the MCBR one day.
I was hungry, so we stopped at the Plymouth Cafe. Isaac has some dietary restrictions and didn’t really seem to be in to anything they had there, so I got a ‘feast’ and sat to eat. This is where I must complain a bit.
This was my first time at Holiday World without it being an event. Honestly, for the most part, operations were slow. People can complain all they want about Six Flags parks, but this was as slow as what those parks are typically known for. And it wasn’t just a one off thing, it was pretty much the entire park. Yes, the park was clean. Yes, the park was nice and fun. But operations were much to be desired. And I will say that many people that I texted confirmed that on any non-event visits it has been the same for them. Bummer.
And another reason for my ranting, with my turkey, which was quite good, I got a gigantic piece of just slimy skin underneath all of the meat. I could and should have taken it back, and I’m sure there wouldn’t have been an issue, but Isaac was hungry and we wanted to ride Thunderbird, so all the way up to Thunderbird we went, which had about a 40 minute wait.
Thunderbird–I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. I like wing coasters, and this is my fourth. We lucked out and got put in the front seat on the right side. The launch was more forceful than I had imagined it to be, and every element was great from the first inversion to the slow roll, the loop, Zero G roll, everything. And the station and queue were very well done and classy. I loved it.
Isaac stopped to get BBQ that smelled really good. But there was a patron in line that caused, or should I say allowed, a very uncomfortable and unfortunate incident to happen, so Isaac decided to get out of line and we headed up to get something at Kringle’s instead.
Next up was a front and back row ride on Raven. I love that coaster and usually end up marathoning it at the end of the night during HWN because it usually has no line and I like sitting in the front in the dark. It was running really well, with great airtime, and when it kicked in to high gear after hill 5, especially in the front, it just takes off until the brakes. I love it.
Afterwards we headed over the Legend to try it out since it’s changes. You can see all of the new wood. I wish I’d taken more pictures. I’d always preferred Legend to Raven, which isn’t saying much since they’re both amazing roller coasters. We rode in the back first. The ride was out of control and as good as my best rides on it. There was more airtime and the differences in the ending are noticeable. I really liked it, as did Isaac, so we went back around and rode in the front. That new ending, with helices and everything was just nuts.
Heading back we were going to go ride Thunderbird then end the night on Voyage, however I suggested Voyage first for a night run, and maybe a possible stop on the way back out of the park. Our night ride on Voyage near the front was great for me. Unfortunately, Isaac got a kidney punch from the divider in the middle of the ride.
We went back up to Thunderbird, but near the entrance we were told it was closed early for fireworks, so instead we headed back towards the gate as Voyage was closing then too.
We didn’t stay for fireworks because we had to get back to Louisville, plus I had to Hotwire a room. That hour of time we gained? Yeah, it kinda sucked losing that. We had a really great day at two good parks, both of which really need to some work on their operations. I wouldn’t mind living in a part of the country that was close to Voyage, Legend, Raven, Storm Chaser, Lightning Run, and Thunder Run. All VERY amazing rides to be close to. And we still had another day on our trip allotted to Kings Island, but would the weather cooperate?
On Friday morning we woke up a little later than planned and headed north to Kings Dominion. This weekend would include 2 new parks for Isaac and a new credit for me. Traffic was a problem for the first part of the weekend, but we finally made it to the park around 1 PM. The park wasn’t very busy and the weather was overcast but the temperature was great. We got in to the park and beelined to Volcano. I wanted to check out the way they re-worked the entrance and station. Sadly, the ride was down. Instead, we headed over to I305 instead.
I think Fury is probably my favorite giga coaster to this point but I305 was very good. It had ejector air, speed, and even though it’s really compact, the ride was a lot of fun and very intense. There was barely a wait to ride. Next I believe we went to Flight of Fear. I have to say, I like that they shortened the queue, but could they please just repaint the queue area, add some lighting, dust it, and make it look less trashy? The ride still ran great. I wish it’d been moved to Carowinds as planned. The Flights of Fear both tend to launch as designed. The Six Flags versions, for the last few times I’d ridden them, did not.
We walked over to Delirium. It looked great, and the ride was a lot of fun. The cycle didn’t seem as long as the 2 Huss Giant Frisbee rides that Cedar Fair operates, but it was still really good, and we got a decent cycle. And the lighting package was great. We went over and had some issues finding the entrance to Grizzly as you have to go thru the Dinos Alive gift shop, which seems like a cluster, and no-one was over by Grizzly. The station seemed like it had gotten some renovations and there was new wood on the ride. I thought it was running as great as ever. I love that ride.
Saturday morning technically came at about 1:20 AM. That’s when the other Matt showed up and disrupted our sleep. His flight was delayed by several hours in Atlanta. I swear, he has the worst luck with flights. Anyways, I didn’t get much sleep after that. But we had to get up early to go pick up the rental car, so 7:30 it was.
After getting ready we headed down to the lobby as the front desk called us a cab. We got in and out of Enterprise pretty quickly with a cute little Hundai. Then we immediately headed to Walmart for supplies and breakfast. Then we headed out to the La Cantera area of San Antonio.
La Cantera is a development that houses some resorts, a large mall, Six Flags, and other things. They took old rock quarries and redeveloped them, and it turned out very nice. Joe and Hannah parked at the mall and rode into the park with me and the Matts since I had national free parking with my season pass. We took the opportunity to take some pictures of the coasters from the top of the cliffs of the quarry that the park sits in.
I woke up early on Saturday morning. It was still very overcast and misty. I left Cleveland going north east, and after less than 90 minutes I was at Waldameer. That Sirius XM had a Daft Punk special on made the drive go by even faster. I got to the park and it immediately reminded me of a nicer Camden Park. It was very quaint. I got there around 11:00 AM, but the park didn’t actually ‘open’ until noon, and then they do the rolling open where rides open in phases through 1 PM. After buying my wrist band the lady at the gate noticed my nifty Gatekeeper jacket and asked how I liked it. I ran in to some other coaster geeks in the park throughout the morning, all very nice.
The first hour I spent wandering around the park, taking some bad photos since the lighting was terrible, and sat down for a bit. The park was very quaint, and the employees were very friendly. I’d love to have a park this size close to me for convenient evening coaster riding. And right at noon, the National Anthem played and some rides opened. My first ride was the Wacky Shack dark ride. It was really a lot of fun. Again, it reminded me a lot of Camden Park There were some decent flat rides, but I didn’t feel like spinning a lot during the day. I rode the chair lift across the park and took more pictures. I wanted to ride the Mega Disc-O, but decided to skip it. Besides, there was one at my next destination, Kennywood, right? (Insert ominous tone here) So after getting back around to the end of the ride I headed to the Comet, the park’s smaller wooden coaster.
Comet–This was a lot of fun. I was in the 2 row. There was nice light floater air over the various hills. You turn and go up the lift hill and the first drop, while not very large, was fun. And there were plenty of hills. Plus the setting is very nice running thru the trees.
I went and got in line for the drop tower next, which was very good. It drops you as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t stop till very near the bottom. Then, finally, I walked over and waited till Ravine Flyer 2’s queue opened. There was about a train’s worth of people in front of me. When I did finally get in the station, I opted for the front.
Ravine Flyer 2–This coaster was really amazing and packed such a punch for a smaller wooden coaster. The first drop had beautiful views of Lake Erie, and then it’s airtime over the bridge, amazing airtime on the turnaround section, more airtime back over the bridge, airtime up and down, then a slower 90 degree turn that was odd, and then you dive back in the ravine, then up and into the brake run. It was non-stop. I immediately got on closer to the back and it was even more insane.
After riding RF2 a couple of times I went over to Steel Dragon. It spins, so I didn’t know how I’d like it. I was in line for a bit, but the park just wasn’t that crowded, so it was ok.
Steel Dragon–I set on one side while 2 smaller adult brothers were on the other side. I went up the hill backwards. The first drop was really amazing. We got some decent spinnage when we hit the release for the car. This was my first of this type of spinner, and it was definitely better than the Gerstlauer spinners and the spinning mice I’d ridden. Highly enjoyable. I’m not sure why more parks, big and small, don’t have one of these.
I went back over to Ravine Flyer 2 for some more backseat rides. This was going to rank highly for me. It was smooth, fast, and chock full of airtime. I toyed with another Comet ride, but I wanted to get to Pittsburgh. I was going to stop by Conneaut on the way, but I didn’t have cell service, so I couldn’t call to see if Blue Streak had opened, as they were re-tracking it. I probably should have just stopped. I did get to my hotel near Pittsburgh around 4:30. Craig and kids were at Kennywood and they said it was packed, Phantom was down, and so I decided to wait till Sunday morning to go instead. I went to bed around 5 PM and didn’t wake up till the next morning. Side note, the Sheraton in Coraopolis was very nice for $53 a nite.
On Sunday I wanted to go to Kennywood a couple of hours and the head home, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. When I went to get gas, my debit card wouldn’t allow me to make any purchases. I had moved money from my checking to my savings. Nothing recognized the savings account. No ATM, no store, no nothing. And the stupid number on the card was all automated and there was no one to talk to.
Eventually, I had to drive all the way to WV, about 70 miles, to a BB&T ATM, as there were none in Pennsylvania, just to get the correct number to call and get it straightened out. Apparently at some point, BB&T didn’t have my savings account attached to my debit card. I toyed with going back to Kennywood, but I was about 90 minutes away at this point, and I was on my way home. And I really needed some quality Phantom time.
So that was that. I arrived home around 7:30 and uploaded my pictures. I missed out on 2 parks during the weekend, but in the end, I still had a great get away.
My first visit to Kings Island was in 1994 on a disastrous school trip that caused me to miss riding both The Beast and Vortex. My 2nd visit was a decade later. While it was much better, I walked away that evening in pain because I’d walked and stood so much. I’d tried to get back to Kings Island a couple of times, once on a trip in which I ended up in the hospital in Columbus due to kidney stones and a bruised kidney (thanks Magnum). Since I was going to Holiwood Nights I figured this would be the closest I’d be to the park for a while, so why not?
Sunday morning I woke up after everyone else and got ready. Since we all drove separately I left 2nd and was about 30 minutes behind Rob. Thankfully Rob called and texted me and the others about parts of I71 North being closed off for construction. I was able to tell him the detour and a couple of hours later we met up at a park and ride near the park, since Rob didn’t have a Platinum Pass and I did, so that no one had to pay for parking.
The parking lot was quite full and people were pouring in by the minute. I asked the gate attendant where season pass parking was and she told me to go left and I would see it. Eventually I saw the preferred parking lot, so I pulled in and asked if my pass covered that and the gentleman at the gate let me in. We were just a few steps from the entrance. I love Platinum Passes, especially the last 2 weeks with Kings Dominion and Kings Island letting me park so close.