Kings Dominion 2017

17KDBannerKings Dominion | Photos | Videos


April 15, 2017
Richmond VA

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.

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg 2017

17BGWBanner.jpgBusch Gardens Williamsburg | Photos | Videos


April 14, 2017
Williamsburg VA

In 2017 easter came in early March, the weekend lots of south eastern parks opened since it was a three day weekend. This year, it was much later in the spring, with parks having had time to open their new attractions and get them ready. Carowinds hadn’t completely done that yet, and I’ve been twice already. Six Flags over Georgia won’t open their new for 2017 attraction till May. But Kings Dominion & Busch Gardens had their new rides open and ready, so again on Easter weekend, we headed north, this time with 2 extra people in tow. There were some hiccups (as there so often are) before the trip, but this time not so much with me. Isaac, Stefan, and eventually Blake made their ways to my house on Thursday nite, and around 8:30 we headed north to Richmond.

Getting up early Friday morning, we got breakfast and headed about an hour east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This was a hot mess. After getting close to the exit, traffic stopped. We went around and tried something else, and eventually found a ‘quicker’ (I use that term very, very loosely) way in, which shaved off…an hour of waiting in traffic. But we still waited in our car. For Two (2!) Hours. Just to park. Right beside the parking lot (I was literally less than 50 yards from the parking lot). Ridiculous. They must not have been in any way prepared for a busy weekend. We could see several failures in directing traffic in the parking lot that were a major cause of the problem. But there was nothing to do.

On the bright side, the park was waiving the parking fee complementary because of the wait. Even at that, I would have had my staff waiting outside of the parking toll booths waiving people thru instead of making them stop to tell them parking was complementary. This itself could have saved a lot of congestion.

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Knoebels Grove 2016

16PPPBannerKnoebels Grove | Photos | Videos


October 8, 2016
Elysburg PA
Phoenix Phall Phunfest

My previous visit to both Knoebels and PPP (also my first) were in 2010. It was a sucky day leading up to getting to the park much later than I’d planned, and it really wasn’t the type of event I thought it was going to be. But I dug Phoenix and Twister, and some of the classic flats, so there was that. I had intended on taking Isaac to PPP in 2015, but then in August I found out after constantly telling my then PCP that I really didn’t think it was bronchitis that part of my lung had indeed collapsed because I had a tumor growing right at the start of the airway leading to the upper lobe of my left lung And even though the first surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for the Thursday before PPP, I really felt I’d be able to make it.

Isaac wisely decided we should wait a year. So here we were. I needed a Knoebels redemption in the worst way because I was not so impressed on my first visit. And it was mostly not Knoebel’s fault. Because we had just gotten back from an amazing trip from SoCal the weekend before and were both trying to have a smaller budget for this trip, we opted to drive. After work on Friday I drove up to meet Isaac an hour away, parked my car at his friend’s place, and then headed up to Pennsylvania. Several hours (and some hotel/hotwire drama) later we had a room and a few hours of sleep. Then we got up the next morning and headed up to Elysburg.

Arrival was around 9:30 AM, but the park opened at 10, the rides at 11. The covered Bridge Festival, however, had already started. And I saw a sight I didn’t like that was very reminiscent of the last time, non-moving cars trying to get in to the park. And the last time it took me almost 2 hours to go a quarter mile to park. We turned around near the entrance of the car park, then realized they had just stopped so they could move some cones and let everyone in. We realized that because the line of cars that had just grown much larger was now making it’s way in, so we headed across to the opposite road, turned around, and headed in, parked, and walked to the park.

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Kings Dominion 2016

16KDBanner.jpgKings Dominion | Photos | Videos


March 25 & 27, 2016
Doswell VA

Day 1

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.

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Carowinds Taste of the Carolinas 2015

15TasteCaroBanner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Videos


CharlotteNC
Taste of the Carolinas
August 16, 2015

So I was kind of tired of Carowinds. Sure, they had the big new amazing Fury 325, and it *is* amazing. But I went so much after the park opened that I’d not went nearly all summer and hadn’t been back. This was actually my first visit during the summer in 2015. My friend Isaac had been in North Carolina a few years and had yet to visit the park so we picked a date, which just happened to be the final day for the Taste of the Carolinas event they were having on the weekends.

We got up early Sunday morning to head down and get there at opening. They seem to have gotten better at using the hand wands for metal detectors, and didn’t have places set up out in front of the beautiful new plaza. I knew that going on a Sunday would afford us a slower day with shorter lines. Thankfully the weather was wonderful too.We got Isaac at ticket. This was actually the first time I’d used the new ticketing booths.  They’re really nice. Mostly I’d just passed them by as I have my season pass. Once we got inside and got situated we headed back to the monster that now dominates the park.

Fury 325Our first ride was in row 4. The ride was running well for just having opened that morning. It still packed a punch and was very intense. I still couldn’t believe this ride was here at Carowinds. Once we finished, I asked Matt what he thought, and he liked it.

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Kennywood 2015

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May 24, 2015
Pittsburgh PA

So we left Conneaut and headed towards our next stop, which, unfortunately it seemed to take longer than anticipated to get to and get started. This was the first time I’d not gotten lost on the way (and the first time I didn’t see any of those darn yellow arrows) to…Kennywood!  It had been ten years since my last visit and the park has changed in many good ways. It was a nice evening, and this was my first time getting the ‘true’ night time Kennywood experience (my only other nite experience at Kennywood was during Fright Nights, so that was much different).

After getting into what I’d forgotten was a beautiful park (and this was I believe my first time seeing the new gate), we headed first to purchase Kennywood’s version of pay to cut. It’s a little different, and I really just wish you could go at whatever time and ride everything without waiting once, because the times really kind of set us back. Then we headed to the Bayern Kurve. Unfortunately it broke down just as we arrived, and both of us were really looking forward to riding the ride, so we knew we’d check back later. Since that was a bust, we went to what was for a very long time my favorite coaster ever, Phantom’s Revenge.

Phantom’s RevengeI was blown away by this ride every other tim I rode it. The only thing I didn’t care for was the first drop, actually. I know they’ve replaced all of the track on the first drop, did some tweaks, undid some tweaks, and added a trim. Would it still be amazing? Our first ride was in the front of the ride, a first for me. That first drop was actually better, and the straight track after had some positive forces I didn’t remember. Then you head up and into roller coaster bliss. That first hop up and into the ravine is magical, as is the rest of the ride. Aggressive, powerful, and chock full of airtime. It’s still as amazing and insane as ever. Phantom still holds up after a ten year absence. It’s just that good.

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Waldameer Park 2015

16WaldameerBanner.jpgWaldameer | Photos | Videos


May 24, 2015
Erie PA

Sunday morning we woke up, quickly got ready, and left the motel in Sandusky as soon as we could. It was really terrible. So we headed off on a trip I felt I’d just made not long before to Waldameer, thru Cleveland and back up to Lake Erie. Waldameer was going thru a transformation, and had a new front gate and they were also beefing up their already quaint looking (and popular, it would seem) water park. The new front entrance was nice. I wish there was something like Waldameer somewhere in North Carolina. It’s charming, it has lots of quirky stuff. It’s affordable family fun, and it’s just a great little park.

Heading over to see what was already open as the park does a rolling opening we rode the drop tower first. I actually like the fact that you drop as soon as you hit the top, and you don’t know when that will be. Plus you get amazing views, and the last time I was there it was gloomy and overcast. After that we went through the haunted house, Wacky Shack. I had done this last time, so I knew what it was all about, but it was neat to see the look on Doug’s face when it was all over. I wasn’t going to miss doing Pirate’s Cove this time, since it came so highly recommended by EVERYBODY last time. I just thought it was a small kiddy funhouse and didn’t bother; it hadn’t opened yet so we went over to our first coaster of the day, Ravine Flyer II.

Ravine Flyer III absolutely love Ravine Flyer and it was moving faster than the last time I was there. I don’t quite know why they weren’t filling both trains, they most definitely had enough in line to do so, but whatever. We rode near the front of the train for the first ride. I love the first drop, and man, those hills over the road kill it for me. They have amazing airtime and I love them. Hopping around on the other side of the road and back is a lot of fun and this time there was sustained speed even thru to the end. This ride really ranks high for me, and I didn’t expect to be back so soon to ride it, but again, I’m so grateful to have been able to make the trip. Over the course of the day we rode at least 2 or 3 more times.

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Cedar Point 2015 Day 2

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May 23, 2015
Sandusky OH

On Saturday we got up early and after some motel issues we were off to the park. After stopping for some breakfast at McDonalds we headed down the causeway. After parking back by Gemini we headed into the park which wasn’t actually open yet except to Platinum Passholders and hotel guests. Walking down a mostly empty Gemini Midway in the early morning was nice. And we had a great day ahead of us with Fast Lane. We headed over to Maverick to see about getting in line once the park opened, but because I had a Platinum Pass, they let us both get in line for the ride.

MaverickThe wait was maybe 15 minutes. I’d never had a front seat ride on Maverick that I could remember, so we got in line for the front. First the obvious, the new restrains were really comfy. My love for Maverick never waivers. That first drop really was great and the airtime was amazing. I felt the ride was running a bit slow on this trip, but that’s okay. I missed the lights in the tunnel launch. But it was still such a well rounded ride and I wish there were more rides like this in the states. It seems like if parks aren’t interested in Intamin that Mack can make something just as good.

Next we were going to keep the magic going by heading to Millennium Force, but it was stuck on the lift for quite a while. We had Fast Lane, so we knew we could come back later so we headed front entrance so that Doug could see the rest of the massive park by way of the Sky Ride. There were tons of school bands in the park performing, which was also nice. We took pictures and then headed out the front gate for more pictures. There was such a shift in people flow now that the front gate had been renovated and it was so much better, and way more photogenic. We headed back in and used Fast Lane for Gatekeeper.

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Cedar Point 2015 Day 1

16CP1Banner.jpgCedar Point | Photos | Videos


May 22, 2015
Sandusky OH

I was just at Cedar Point in 2013 for my first ever Coastermania event. I didn’t expect I’d be going back again so soon as I rarely get to visit one of my favorite parks being that it is such a long drive. When they announced the conversion of Mantis to Rougarou I knew I wanted to get back, because I really hated Mantis. And with Maverick’s new restraints it was just too tempting. Then the stars aligned, I asked another coaster geek if he wanted to go, and since this would be his first visit and I tacked a few other parks on to sweeten the deal, and viola, we had a trip planned. Doug got to my house just before 6 AM on Friday, May 22, and off we were on our 9 hour drive to Sandusky.

This was the first time I’d actually made the drive with someone else, which was nice because I had someone to talk to. Somewhere in West Virginia I stopped and introduced Doug to the amazingness that is Tudor’s Biscuit World. It was so worth it. Then, around 4 PM we finally arrived in Sandusky. We had to make a few stops as I needed a new battery for my camera. I’d planned on getting a newer, better camera, but for now, this was what I had so we stopped and I picked up one of Kodak’s stupid proprietary camera batteries for $40 (and they wonder why they went bankrupt).

Then I realized that I forgot to grab a memory card, so we went from the battery store (yes, we went to a battery store) to Target where I picked up a $10 8GB card. Afterwards, we checked in to our motel for the next two nights. Disclaimer: Never stay at the Roadway Inn in Sandusky. Never book below a 3 star room on Hotwire. Even if the reviews are good. Anyway. We headed over to the park. It was a little chilly and honestly I wish I’d packed a hoodie, but I didn’t. Doug, on the other hand, brought his brand new warm hoodie with him. I knew the breeze on the lake would be cold. Oh well. We got to Cedar Point just before 5 PM.

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Carowinds Opening 2015

15FuryBannerCarowinds | Photos | Videos


March 27-28, 2015
Charlotte NC

In 2015 Carowinds had their first big Season Pass Preview nite. I say for Carowinds, because 2015 was not only about the new coaster, or the mostly overlooked new slingshot, or the new front gate, or any of that. The weekend was about the reinvention of my home park. And Carowind’s reinvention was poised to be relevant for years to come.

Even before the official announcement, the local geeks had all been foaming at the mouth, myself included. When the rumors that something 300’ was coming as well as other major improvements to the park started to pop up, the speculation was wild. Too wild at many times, and very annoying at other times. But that’s done. This weekend was it.

The park looked great when you get past 2014’s addition of a new toll plaza. Then you get into the parking lot and head to the front gate. It was amazing. A beautiful plaza. It was familiar but different. It was modern and fresh, evoking the newer front gate at Cedar Point. It worked and was far easier to navigate. Once inside I headed to find the line for Fury. It was overcast. Because I’d been on vacation the prior week I wasn’t able to attend media day, so this was my first time in the park this year. And because of Charlotte traffic I was 30 minutes later than I’d wanted to be.

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