USA 'East Coast' Road Trip 2018

Discussion in 'Your Trip Reports and Plans' started by Rob, 21st Aug 2018.

  1. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    As some of you may know, myself and 5 fellow TSTers have just embarked upon an epic 3 week trip around the USA. This involved riding 138 rollercoasters and 16 different theme parks, visitng 11 different US States.

    Over the coming weeks I am going to attempt to complete a full trip report, although this is likely going to take a while!

    So to start, let's add some more context. The trip started and finished at Newark Liberty Airport and we visited the following parks:
    • Knoebels
    • Conneaut Lake Park
    • Waldameer
    • Cedar Point (2 days)
    • Mt. Olympus
    • Six Flags Great America
    • Silver Dollar City (1 evening and 1 full day)
    • St Flags St. Louis
    • Holiday World
    • Kentucky Kingdom
    • Kings Island
    • Dollywood (2 days)
    • Busch Gardens Williamsburg (2 days)
    • Kings Dominion
    • Hersheypark
    • Six Flags Great Adventure
    A real mix of parks with some of the best coasters in the world included. I'm going to structure this report on a day by day basis, so let's go!

    Day 1 - Travel and Knoebels

    It was an early start with a 9.50am flight from Heathrow to Newark, via Dublin. We flew with Aer Lingus and the main benefit of this is having US pre-clearance checks at Dublin where the queues are much shorter.

    If our flight was on time and we had no traffic delays in the US then we hoped to make it to Knoebels in time to get on the coasters before they closed at 10pm. Things were going well until it took about an hour for all of our luggage to come through but we did eventually make it to Knoebels with just under 90 minutes until ride close.

    The park was much busier than we were expecting, maybe because of closed days previously due to the recent flooding. However the atmosphere was electric and the park looked wonderful at dusk with all of the fairground style lights. We bought our ride tokens and went straight to Impulse, Zierer's take on a Eurofighter. This was surprisingly good fun and smoother than expected; it was great to finally get on a coaster after a long day of travelling!

    Next was Phoenix, a coaster with a lot of hype that I had never really understood. It was dark now, and I was left somewhat underwhelmed by the first part of the ride. But then it got going, and oh my, the airtime was unreal. Thanks to the restraints you fly out of your seat in a way that does not feel like it should be possible. The final hills are mental, and the airtime is unlike anything or any other coaster. Phenomenal.

    Time was starting to run out yet there were still headline rides to get done. We decided to do Flying Turns next seeing as it is so unique. It is such an impressive structure, but due to the complexities of the ride the loading procedure is a bit of a faff with all riders needing to be weighed to determine a seating configuration. The ride starts off slowly but does pick up some pace towards the end, nothing special but wonderfully novel.

    I had heard a lot of good things about the Haunted Mansion here and it did not disappoint. It was in a great condition, featured some good old fashioned haunted house effects and was of a suitable length. Probably the best old school dark ride that I have done!

    Finally we just about managed to get on Twister. Again I had little to no expectations and had not watched a POV of this for a long time. So the ride took me by complete surprised and once again took my breath away, it just felt so crazy and out of control but in a good way! Very different to Phoenix but just as much fun.

    I would love to return to Knoebels to spend more time enjoying the park and its other attractions!

    Next up will be day 2, featuring Conneaut Lake Park and Waldameer.

    :)
     
    Posted 21st Aug 2018
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  2. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Day 2 - Conneaut Lake Park and Waldameer

    After a good night’s sleep at our hotel it was time for our first full day which involved visiting two different parks; Conneaut Lake Park and Waldameer. The former happened to be just off our route, the latter is home to the renowned Ravine Flyer II.

    Conneaut Lake was up first. It feels like it is in the middle of nowhere (as we discovered by almost running out of petrol after leaving) and is unlike any other park that I have visited. I mean it’s pretty awful to be honest but I suppose it does have an unusual charm, you could call it a seriously underdeveloped Knoebels.

    The standout ride is Blue Streak, a wooden coaster built in 1938. Quite often the public have misconceptions that wooden coasters are all old, rickety and generally unsafe. Blue Streak doe a damn good job at fully reinforcing these ideas; it looks seriously run down, doesn’t seem to have enough support structure in various cases and is very rough. Heaven forbid they ever need to do a lift hill evac!

    Another ride here is Devils Den, which for some reason RCDB classes as a rollercoaster. I have no idea why as this is a ghost train ride system like that found in Blackpool, neither of these can possibly be classed as coasters! My main memory of this ride is the sheer amount of chewing gum stuck to the walls and ceiling thanks to a graphic that says “stick it to the devil”. Delightful.

    There are a few old flat rides here and a kids coaster that we were not able to ride. We were done very quickly though, and headed off to Waldameer.

    Like Knoebels and Conneaut Lake before, Waldameer is a park whereby entry is free and you purchase a wristband to get on the rides. It feels much more established however and looked very busy upon our arrival; thankfully the queues were fine.

    The park is located on the edge of the vast Lake Erie and features 4 rollercoasters. The first of these that we did was Comet, a small wooden coaster that opened in 1951. I remember this being fun and inoffensive, so we’re all good there!

    Ravine Flyer II, the headline coaster, was next. This is a 2008 Gravity Group hybrid wooden coaster that has been rated highly since it opened, so needless to say I was looking forward to getting on. It’s certainly a very intense a full on ride experience with some decent pops of airtime along with some relatively lethal turns. You really do have to ride these wooden coasters in a certain way which is something I learnt a hell of a lot as the trip went on. This was probably a much better coaster when it opened in 2008, but is still pretty good!

    Steel Dragon is a standard Maurer spinning coaster, although it doesn’t look to be in the best condition and was making some strange noises. A simple case of ride once and tick off. Then we had a 6 person takeover on the E&F Miler kids coaster, wonderfully embarrassing I must say!

    The park also has a Hopkins log flume which was good fun, an awful fun house and a weird dark ride of which my memories have already faded. It’s not worth going out of your way to get to Waldameer, but if you happen to be in the area then I would recommend popping in to get on Ravine Flyer II, it is a coaster that should be experienced.

    One could argue that the highlight of the day was still to come. We had a drive of about 2 and a half hours to our next hotel, via a meal at Ruby Tuesdays. However this was not any hotel. This was Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point! Arriving at the Point in the dark was quite something, seeing it all beautifully lit up. The drive to the Hotel Breaks goes around the outskirts of the entire park, giving you a great chance to see all of the rides in action. There is so much to look at; it’s unlike arriving at any other theme park. Then hearing the roar of Top Thrill Dragster launch upon exiting the car - wow!

    Now it was time for another night of sleep in preparation to the two most anticipated days of the trip for me at Cedar Point!

    :)
     
    Posted 23rd Aug 2018
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  3. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Days 3 and 4 - Cedar Point

    Cedar Point is huge. There are 16 coasters (17 when counting both sides of Gemini) and countless other rides dotted around the park. There are F&B outlets galore. The range of t shirts in the shops is more what you would expect from a Disney park. Cedar Point is on another level when it comes to this type of theme park!

    We were here for 2 days, and Monday and a Tuesday. We had no Fast Lane for the Monday but had pre-purchased Fast Lane Plus for the Tuesday to ensure that we were able to get on everything that we wanted to. As it happened the park was quite busy on the Monday yet fairy dead on the Tuesday (thanks to a weather forecast of storms all day, storms that never materialised). None the less, a quieter park on Tuesday meant when Fast Lane was needed, there was no Fast Lane queue; this had not been the case on Monday with Maverick's Fast Lane queue of about 30 minutes.

    As we were staying at Hotel Breakers we got one hour of Early Ride Time between 9am and 10am. This was on a large number of rides including Steel Vengeance, Maverick, Millennium Force, Valravn and Gatekeeper. Our tactic was to use it on Steel Vengeance on day 1, and then Valravn and Millenium Force on day 2.

    I'll come on to the coasters shortly, however my first few hours at Cedar Point were actually quiet disappointing. We got on Steel Vengeance fine during ERT, however damp weather (and I'm talking some very light rain here) combined with technical problems meant that many other coasters were down. To say this was frustrating was an understatement! Maverick broke down during ERT just as we were about to enter the station, and as we walked towards the front of the park both Top Thrill Dragster and Magnum XL-200 were down.

    Anyway, that was an annoyance that was soon forgotten! I'm going to pass comment on each of the parks coasters one by one:

    Steel Vengeance - where on earth do I start with this beast!? WOW. **** me. Holy mother of cows. This coaster is mental, crazy, in a league of its own. From the day Cedar Point announced Steel Vengeance there was always the real possibility that it was going to be the best coaster in the world. There has been so much hype both before and after it opened; it had a lot to live up to. I was slightly nervous as to whether it would live up to this hype, but boy it did and then some.

    Most enthusiasts have one thing in common - a love of airtime. And airtime is exactly what Steel Vengeance delivers, however it delivers it like no other coaster does. The airtime is brutal at time and it does hurt your thighs but to be honest you really do not care. The first drop is immense with great ejector airtime at the back of the train, then the first 2 hills provide prolonged airtime with the outer banked second hill a real highlight for me. You're then heading up in to a perfectly smooth and graceful inversion and a turn around featuring more pops of airtime before another inversion back down and a run up to the MCBR.

    The ride maintains some incredible speed after the MCBR and heads back inside of the main ride structure. From here I really could not tell you what the layout does at it is just too crazy to comprehend. However there are a couple more silky smooth inversions along with many pops of violent ejector airtime. The run of bunny hops back to the station are lethal, and come the brake run you are out of breath and full of adrenaline.

    Steel Vengeance was everything I wanted it to be and more. It is a special special coaster and I urge you all to try and get out and ride it!

    Maverick - this is another top class coaster. In fact despite it not being my number 1 I could easily argue that it is the perfect rollercoaster. The combination of speed, acceleration, airtime, inversions, twists and smoothness is superb. It all flows so well and is so so re-rideable. Maverick really does put other multi-launches to shame, I'm just glad I rode Taron before it otherwise Taron would have been a real disappointment for me!

    Millennium Force - a strange coaster from an enthusiasts point of view. Many rate it highly and it has won best coaster in the world before whereas others simply don't. I actually qutie enjoyed it, sure there's not really any airtime but the sense of speed is brilliant and it's a really fun ride. What is not fun however is being stuck 250 feet up the lift hill, on the front row, for 50 minutes because the cable lift decided to pack in. Thankfully an evac was not required and they got it moving again, albeit very slowly. And kudos to Cedar Point for their excellent compensation!

    Gatekeeper - after recently riding and really enjoying Fenix at Toverland I was expecting to really enjoy Gatekeeper. Sadly this was not the case. Sure it's big and has a decent layout but I found it very uncomfortable on the outside seats; it had a rattle that really seemed to throw your insides around (at least that's how it felt to me). Inside seats were better but it was probably the worst B&M at Cedar Point for me.

    Valravn - whilst on the subject of disappointing B&Ms, let's talk about Valravn, currently the world's tallest and longest dive coaster. That's great, and it should be great, I love Griffon! But it's just not great. Again it has a bit of a rattle, but the main disappointment is the totally unnecessary vest restraints that ruin the best part of dive coasters, the floating down the drop. A real shame.

    Raptor - Raptor is a very intense B&M Invert, and it is quite relentless. I actually found it a little too intense to really enjoy, however it is undoubtedly a brilliant coaster. It also makes one heck of a roar as it speeds around the track.

    Rougarou - previously Matis, a B&M Stand Up coaster, Rougarou is now a floorless coaster and it was a nice surprise actually. It's pretty forceful for a floorless and was smoother than expected. The best B&M at the park for me!

    Top Thrill Dragster - I'd ridden Kingda Ka before so knew roughly was to expect from TTD. However the presence of lap bars and the fact that the ride is in and amongst other massive coasters really adds to the overall experience. It is also smoother than Ka. A brilliant ride!

    Magnum XL-200 - if only the Big One was like this. You actually get airtime, even if it is a little jarring at times. Sure it's not the most comfortable but it's one of the better Arrows that I have ridden. It also has a really cool Tomorrowland style station building!

    Gemini - these two racing coasters are very unusual but a lot of fun! And I'm just going to leave it at that, fun!

    Blue Streak - a fairly small wooden coaster that is surprisingly good, fairly smooth and has some airtime! It was so quiet on the second day at the park that 3 of us managed to have a whole train to ourselves, and we went around a few times without getting off.

    Iron Dragon - aka Dragging Iron. This is just boring and bland which is a shame. I can see Cedar Point removing it sometime down the line.

    Wicked Twister - this is certainly not boring and bland! The launches pack a real punch and this is a really thrill fun coaster. Better than I was expecting!

    Corkscrew is an old Arrow loopscrew, not the most comfortable of rides. And Cedar Creek Mine Ride is a pretty forgetable Arrow mine train. Then we have Woodstock Express which is an off the shelf Vekoma Junior Coaster, and Wilderness Run, the first ever Intamin coaster that requires a permission slip for adults to ride (and yes, we went and got one).

    Phew, that's the coasters done. The park is home to 2 large flat rides; maXair which is a Huss Giant Frisbee and Skyhaw which is the world's largest S&S Screamin' Swing. Both are brilliant flat rides!

    Despite it not being overly hot a few of us did brave the rapids, which are fine apart from one section whereby a couple of people on the boat will get soaked to the skin by big ass waterfalls. Thankfully we were okay!

    Cedar Point is just a brilliant park and by far the best in the world for ride hardware alone. However the back of the park does have some nice greenery and theming making it a nice place to be. The Western themed area is even better at night with Westworld music helping to create quite a unique atmosphere. I'd like to see some investment in the front of the park over the coming years; the main midway is basically a mass of concrete and it would be much nicer to see some block paving in these areas. The midway at Kings Island is a good example of what they could try and do.

    Our second day at Cedar Point was one of the best days I have ever had at a theme park. The sheer amount of rides we got on during the day was incredible.

    Cedar Point really is like no other.

    Next up, it's a day of travelling up to Wisconsin Dells before Mt. Olympus!

    :)
     
    Posted 24th Aug 2018
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  4. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Day 5 - Travel to Wisconsin Dells

    This was our first major travel day of the trip, an 8 hour drive from Cedar Point to Wisconsin Dells. The day started with a Denny's breakfast, and we stopped for lunch by Chicago O'Hare Airport. Lunch was at Giordano's for a tradition Chicago deep pan pizza, although these were more like pies than your traditional pizzas! I would highly recommend!

    The plan for when we arrived in Wisconsin Dells was to visit Timber Falls to ride their S&S wooden coaster; Avalanche, which was one of only 4 S&S woodies in the world. However we had found out a number of months ago that Timber Falls had closed the coaster along with their log flume (and maybe some other rides), so there went that plan. Mt. Olympus are doing their best to try and kill of any competition in the area.

    So instead we checked in to our hotel and went out for some food and beers!

    Day 6 - Mt. Olympus

    Sometimes when you visit a theme park you know beforehand that you're just not going to like it. Mt. Olympus was one of these parks. I'd read about poor operations and their coasters being rough. In terms of rides, there really are only the four wooden coasters. Then Trip Advisor reviews all spoke of very poor food.

    But of course, Mt. Olympus is known for one famous rollercoaster - Hades 360. This Gravity Group wooden hybrid coaster first opened in 2005 but in 2013 received new Timberliner trains and a corkscrew inversion. And there is of course this banked corner:

    [​IMG]

    So surely this would be a great coaster? WRONG. Hades is horrific, one of the worst coasters I have ever had to endure. Rough is an understatement, it tries to break your back and then some. Thing is, it's not exactly slow (60mph) and there is nothing you can do to try and combat this roughness. I do not know if it is the trains, poor upkeep or just the nature of these coasters and how they age. Needless to say this was ridden once and then forgotten about.

    The next coaster we rode was Pegasus, the smallest of the parks wooden coasters. Again we only rode this once so I don't have great memories of it, however it was not as bad as Hades. I do remember it being pretty bumpy but not unbareable.

    Cyclops was the parks first coaster and it has an unusual layout with the biggest drop coming towards the end of the ride. Now guess what? This was rough! However that drop towards the end was okay! Probably the best coaster here, although that is not saying much.

    Finally Zues. The long straight sections of track are fine and you do get some airtime on the hills. The turnaround and any other corners on this coaster are horrendous! That's all I have to say on the matter.

    Honestly, Mt. Olympus is appalling. We did the four coasters and left to get lunch elsewhere (Panera Bread FTW)! The staff were miserable and slow, all of the coasters have one train and throughputs are poor. The park is not a nice environment at all. It just looks like whover is in charge does not care.

    After a spot of lunch and a quick look around an outlet mall it was time to drive back towards Chicago, Gurnee to be precise, for Six Flags Great America!

    :)
     
    Posted 28th Aug 2018
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  5. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Day 7 - Six Flags Great America

    After the awful experience of Mt. Olympus it was time for our first Six Flags park of the trip - Great America! This park is home to 4 B&Ms as well as Goliath, a Topper Track RMC. It was a Friday and this park does get busy, so we had pre-ordered Gold level of the Flash Pass which allows you to skip up 50% of the queue time on select rides.

    Our hotel was only a 10 minute walk to the park, so we did what the American don’t and became the first people to ever walk to Six Flags Great America! First up was Whizzer, a Schwarzkopf Extended Jumbo Jet that opened in 1976. To be honest it did not really do a lot however it was quite cool riding what is quite and old and relatively unique steel coaster. It was more fun at the end of the day after the sun had set!

    By now we had collected our Flash Pass and sorted out our Six Flags souvenir drinks bottles (that could be used at all Six Flags parks) and headed over to Raging Bull. I had heard quite a lot of relatively negative things regarding this B&M Hyper Coaster. It was the second one to open, just over a month after Apollo’s Chariot and has a very different layout to all of the others with more turns and twists than airtime hills. This is no bad thing; however it does feel clumsy at times and could do with taking some elements at a higher speed. The main airtime hill is somewhat spoiled by a trim brake on entry. The low twists and turns towards the end of the ride are great, and operations on 3 trains were top notch.

    Now for the first of the parks wooden coasters, on what really was the trip of wooden coasters, Viper. This is a mirror clone of the Coney Island Cyclone and was built in house by Six Flags for the 1995 season. As I say, we did a lot of wooden coasters on this trip and only rode this one once, it was perfectly fine!

    Demon however, a custom Arrow looping coaster, was not perfectly fine. It opened in 1976 and had two vertical loops added for the 1980 season in place of two hills. This rides very badly and the corkscrews hurt. A case of once and never again! The ride does however have some theming and its very own soundtrack.

    Over to X-Flight, which is the last B&M coaster built by Six Flags. Just like The Swarm it opened in 2012 and it has a similar but longer layout. The station building is very open and you have the juxtaposition of themed station announcement and pop music blaring out, which is strange. The ride itself is pretty good and I found it smoother than Gatekeeper. A token attempt has been made with theming and head choppers which is more than can be said for some other Wing Coasters.

    When it opened in 1981, American Eagle was the fastest rollercoaster in the world, had the largest drop of any coaster in the world and was the tallest wooden coaster in the world. It is still the tallest, fastest and longest racing wooden coaster in the world, however it was not racing during our visit. This Intamin woodie was running on the blue side only which is a shame as there was a queue and it was not on the Flash Pass. It was pretty good though, a smooth and fun coaster with a huge 560 degree helix acting as the turnaround.

    The coasters just keep on coming and next was Goliath, the coaster that I was looking forward to riding most at the park. It is much taller than I was expecting, and the lift structure is incredibly impressive. The first drop is awesome with some great airtime at the back of the train, then it is a perfectly smooth turnaround and in to an airtime hill which duly obliges in providing some good airtime. The next turnaround is a dive loop before the iconic zero-g stall, which although taken at a good speed gives some nice hang time. Another turnaround and you are wanting more, yet it is up in to the brakes, and that is the worst part of Goliath, it’s just so short which is a pity as what is there is fantastic! It of course did not help that we were riding this just a few days after Steel Vengeance.

    Vertical Velocity does not need much comment, it is like Wicked Twister but not as fast or as high, and on spike is not twisted. And then Batman is a Batman B&M Invert, however it worth noting that this was the first ever B&M Invert and the one that inspired John Wardley to design Nemesis. Considering that it is the first one, it is silky smooth, more so than Nemesis.

    The newest coaster at the park is Joker, an S&S Free Spin, and it was the first of these rides that I have ridden. I was actually quite apprehensive as the spinning on these rides is random and depends on the weight of the ride vehicles. The first ride on Joker was pretty good fun, weird, but fun. My second ride was mental with what felt like much faster and out of control spinning! The random nature of these coasters does make them very re-rideable.

    The final two coasters here are Superman, a B&M flyer which is a clone of the one I’ve previously ridden at Great Adventure; it is equally as poor. And Dark Knight, an indoor Mack Wild Mouse which is also a clone of the one I’ve previously ridden at Great Adventure; however this one has less theming and no pre-show.

    As for the other rides in the park which I went on, Mardi Gras Hanover is the tallest Larson Loop in the world and is bland with a horrible part of the ride sequence which hangs you upside down for a few seconds. And Yankee Clipper, one of the parks two logs flumes (the other was closed), was a decent Arrow log flume featuring a bizarre constant ‘splash’ of water at the bottom of the drop which ensured the person in the front of the boat got soaked. The Rapids were unfortunately close for the day.

    Oh and I almost forgot Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. I’ve always thought that these dark rides from Sally Corp look impressive and indeed they are! Some nice effects and not something you would expect to find in a Six Flags park. The quality of the screens however was poor, they were not bright enough which made them hard to see.

    The park itself is fairy nice for a Six Flags park although the short and loud pop music playlist didn’t exactly complement this. The worst thing about the park was the long F&B queues and the very expensive cost of food, but Six Flags want to push everyone to their membership scheme whereby you do get discounts.

    It cannot be denied that the park has a great coaster line-up, especially for guests who do not visit a lot of theme parks. However with lots of clones (Batman, Superman, Joker and Dark Knight), Raging Bull being a let-down and Goliath being short, the park does lack a stand out top class coaster. Maybe Maxx Force will be the answer?

    But for now it was back to our hotel, via McDonalds so not to have to pay over the top for more food at the park, and a good nights sleep ready for a very long drive down to Silver Dollar City!

    :)
     
    Alastair, DiogoJ42, Danny and 10 others like this.
    Posted 30th Aug 2018
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  6. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Great reports so far, Rob! Not sure if you mentioned this in your report at all, but what was your favourite ride at Six Flags Great America, out of interest?
     
    Rob likes this.
    Posted 30th Aug 2018
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  7. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Goliath would be my favourite, I just wish it was slightly longer as it enters the brakes with so much momentum left!

    :)
     
    AstroDan and Matt N like this.
    Posted 30th Aug 2018
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  8. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Ah right. Thanks Rob! Goliath always looks like Nemesis to me in that it packs a lot into very little length!
     
    Posted 30th Aug 2018
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  9. ImagineerLM

    ImagineerLM TowersStreet Member

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    Looks like an incredible trip so far!
     
    Alsty and Rob like this.
    Posted 30th Aug 2018
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  10. RicketyCricket

    RicketyCricket TowersStreet Member

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    That's a hell of a coaster trip Rob/chaps.

    Sounds absolutely incredible, looking forward to the rest of the reports.

    Seems ridiculous we don't have an RMC in the UK yet. They're fairly cheap, compact, and all around crowd pleasers amongst enthusiasts and the general public.
     
    Rob likes this.
    Posted 1st Sep 2018
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  11. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Days 8 and 9 - Silver Dollar City

    We didn't actually have 2 full days at Silver Dollar City. Day 8 mostly consisted of a long drive down from Chicago to Branson, Missouri; about 9 hours. It was a Saturday and as a part of their Moonlight Madness event the park was open until 12am, and we were able to get in to the park free with our tickets for the next day, a great offer!

    Silver Dollar City was a park that I was looking forward to, but also was not too sure what to expect. I knew about the park's coasters but not much else. Outlaw Run looked like the stand out coaster, but the main reason for including Silver Dollar in our trip was their new coaster for 2018, Time Traveler, the world's first Mack Xtreme Spinning Coaster.

    So we arrived in Branson at about 8pm and checked in to our hotel which was a couple of minutes drive from the park. We managed to get on park by 9pm, which gave us 3 hours get some rides done in the dark! But first it was time for some food; we opted for one of Silver Dollar City's famous skillets which was delicious.

    We managed to get in 3 rides after this; Wildfire, Powder Keg and Outlaw Run. I will come on to my views on the coasters shortly. The queue for these rides were moderate, and after doing them we headed over to Time Traveler which did have quite a long queue. However after queueing for a little while it went down, and we noticed that a train full of guests was stopped on the first launch. We were allowed to stay in the queue though, which we did in the hope of it re-opening. With every announcement made, more and more people decided to leave and the queue was actually moving despite the ride being down! At 12.10am they made the announcement that the ride would not be re-opening, and everyone left in the queue was given an exit pass that could be used on another day.

    Needless to say we were disappointed, but we hoped to get on it the next day. And that is exactly where we headed first the next morning, however Time Traveler was still closed and we noticed that the train had not moved from its position from the previous evening; hardly encouraging.

    So for now, let's focus on the park's other coasters. Wildfire is a B&M sit down coaster, something you do not see very often. It is not as forceful as Kumba or Dragon Khan but it is still a very enjoyable coaster. The highlight however is the stunning setting and scenery; like all of the park's major coasters Wildfire is on the edge of the park and the views of the surrounding tree covered hills are breathtaking.

    Powder Keg is a ride that has also interested me. It was previously a Premier water coaster named Buzzsaw Falls, but after 5 years of operation the park called in S&S to carry out major modifications to the ride which included removing the water element, adding a launch and extending the layout. It's bizarre though as some of the old Premier track does remain, yet the first portion of the ride is taken on a totally different style of S&S track. The coaster itself is great; a punchy launch in to a hill which gives some nice airtime. What follows is again quite strange, some of the manoeuvres feel almost as if they've not been profiled properly (not in a bad way) which leads to an interesting ride experience. A lift hill followed and then it is one final drop (that of Buzzsaw Falls), a helix and in to the brakes.

    Outlaw Run was RMC's first Topper Track coaster and their first coaster build from the ground up. As I said previously, our first ride on this was on Saturday evening, and it was dark. Now most of the time when you ride a coaster in the dark there is still some light around coming from somewhere. Once you are over the top of the lift on Outlaw Run then it really is pitch black. I think my first ride was on the back row, and although I have watched many a POV of this I really had no idea what was going on. It was impossible to prepare for any of this beasts elements and the adrenaline rush by the end was phenomenal. Probably my best ever experience of riding a coaster in the dark. Outlaw Run was also walk on for the entirety of the Sunday which was a bonus!

    It's not often you go to a park in the US and don't come across an Arrow Mine Train and Silver Dollar City is no exception with Thunderation. This is somewhat of strange coaster though, with the station being situation at the top of a hillside. The ride leaves the station and works its way down the hillside including a long 720 degree downwards helix ending in a tunnel. Another long left hand corner follows before you hit a tall lift hill however all that comes after this is a left hand turn, a drop and some track leading back up to the station; a somewhat disappointing end! Still, this is quite a good coaster!

    FIRE IN THE HOLE! That is the name and catchphrase of another Silver Dollar City coaster. This is a really strange one though, it is more of a powered dark ride with 3 small drops throughout, the final of which has a splash down. There are many nicely themed but dated scenes and it certainly seems to be a fan favourite at the park.

    Now Silver Dollar City has something that I'm not sure any other park does, a huge cave complex - The Marvel Cave! Tours of the cave have been taking place for over 100 years now, and the current tour lasts about an hour, ending with a train on a pulley system to get out. If you visit the park then I do recommend the tour, not least because it is lovely and cool down there which is welcomed on a hot day.

    After being underground for an hour it was about 4pm, and we had learnt that Time Traveler had opened! So we rushed over to it, got out our exit passes from the previous evening and got straight on. My first ride was on the very back row, which is the best for being flung over the vertical drop out of the station, and you real are flung with the car spun to a sideways position by now. I really was not too sure what to expect from the ride, it could have been awful and nauseating or it could have been fantastic. Thankfully, it was the latter! Time Traveler is just so much fun and the spinning makes it very re-rideable.

    The launches are nothing to write home about but it is really cool being launched in a sideways position. Going through a vertical loop whilst spinning slightly is bizarre and the zero-g roll was fantastic, the highlight of the ride for me no matter which direction you are facing at the time. The spinning throughout the whole ride is very controlled so not at all nauseating, and there is a nice mix of fun elements and pops of airtime. The trains are also sublime, probably the best coaster trains I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in! I’d love to see more parks get these Macks. After riding it for the first time we went straight back in to the queue to make sure we would get another go on it in case of a breakdown. Thankfully it did stay open for the rest of the day, which meant we go on in the dark at the end!

    There are two water rides in the park, a rapids and a log flume. The log flume has disappointingly unthemed tunnels but was fine, and the rapids were pretty good fun! A standard Zamperla kids coaster completes the parks coaster line-up, and this is situated in a lovely area themed around world’s fairs and expositions (complete with some of the same music played on Disney’s Main Streets). A Zamperla Disk’o can also be found in this area.

    The park has an S&S Screamin’ Swing that I did not ride due to only one arm operation, and a great S&S shot tower, the smaller ones are always the best! There is also Flooded Mine, a ride we came across somewhat by chance as we were sitting eating some food by the exit door. It’s an interactive dark ride, but utilises boats on water as opposed to a tracked system; like Fire in the Hole it’s rather dated but quite novel.

    Finally the park’s train, which has an exceptionally loud horn, was a nice break from all of the walking and featured an unexpected show scene with actors!

    I really cannot stress enough what a wonderful park Silver Dollar City is, it’s quite simply a delight. The park itself is covered by trees and is full of lots of wooden buildings housing craft shops and the like. The food offerings here are also top notch, I enjoyed some of the best smoked brisket that I have ever had and there are plenty of lovely snack options for between meals. Then the staff who are just so nice and friendly, and it’s not put on, you can tell how genuine they all are. From the lovely old ladies working in the shops to the people serving your food; they’ll be getting my vote for friendliest staff in next year’s Golden Ticket Awards.

    The main downside to Silver Dollar City is that it’s a real pain to get to from anywhere else in the US (in terms of coaster trips). We did have to go out of our way to get there, but it was certainly worth it. If you do have a chance to get here then jump at it, you will not be disappointed.

    After a long day it was back to the hotel for some much needed sleep, before heading onwards to Six Flags St. Louis.

    :)
     
    rob666, AstroDan, Alsty and 11 others like this.
    Posted 3rd Sep 2018
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  12. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Great report, Rob! What was your favourite ride at Silver Dollar City, out of interest?

    Really enjoying these reports; can't wait for the next park!
     
    Rob likes this.
    Posted 3rd Sep 2018
    #12
  13. Mattmash

    Mattmash TowersStreet Member

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    Biggest downside to Silver Dollar is lack of booze in the park and surrounding area!! Lovely park though, and great reports thanks Rob, is bringing it all flooding back :)
     
    DiogoJ42 and Rob like this.
    Posted 3rd Sep 2018
    #13
  14. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Outlaw Run, it is fantastic!

    Oh god yes, I forgot to mention that. It's one of those parks where it would be just lovely to sit down and enjoy a nice cold beer, but you can't.

    :)
     
    Matt N likes this.
    Posted 3rd Sep 2018
    #14
  15. Matt N

    Matt N TowersStreet Member

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    Brilliant stuff! Thanks @Rob; really looking forward to the next park of the trip!
     
    Posted 3rd Sep 2018
    #15
  16. AstroDan

    AstroDan TS Forum Team Team Member

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    SDC is great. I am disappointed you neglected to point out that I rode Time Traveler before you, while you were all poncing around in the caves.

    ;)
     
    Rob and Matt N like this.
    Posted 4th Sep 2018
    #16
  17. Dan

    Dan TS Contributor

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    It was great to go back to SDC after visiting in 2016. Time Traveler is a great addition to their line up and I agree with Rob’s thoughts on the ride. The one minor negative is the ride area is just dirt, it needs to be landscaped. Because of the stop on the launch you really notice how bad the ground level looks. I understand they had plans for the launch to be covered and hope they either cover and theme it next year or at least landscape the area

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
     
    DiogoJ42, Rob, AstroDan and 1 other person like this.
    Posted 4th Sep 2018
    #17
  18. Rob

    Rob TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Day 10 - Six Flags St. Louis

    An early start was in order, we had a 3 and a half hour drive between our hotel in Branson and Six Flags St. Louis. This is a park that you would only really look at visiting if you were passing by, as we were. The standout coaster on paper is The Boss and it is a park that Six Flags have neglected in terms of major CAPEX investment over recent years. However it is only of only 3 parks to be built from scratch by Six Flags (the other 2 are Over Texas and Over Georgia; St. Louis was previously named Over Mid-America).

    We had ordered the basic level of the Flash Pass for today, which meant we would wait as long as the advertised queue length, but not have to wait in the queue. The park was quiet so this was only a real benefit to us on a few rides, however it had been relatively cheap.

    First up was Batman. There's really not much to say, it is a Batman clone that rides like the others; a good solid coaster. This Batman does retain the original all black colour scheme. After Batman was Ninja, a coaster that was initially build for Expo '86 in Vancouver and opened at St. Louis in 1989; not only that but the project was started by Arrow, however they fell in to bankruptcy and Vekoma completed the project. I'm going to be totally honest, we rode this once and I have little to no memory of it, which means it must have been fine and not too rough!

    The above coasters were located in the Studio Backlot area of the park, which is basically a mass of tarmac and a few buildings. River King Mine Train (yes you've guessed it, another Arrow Mine Train) is up from here in the Gateway to the West area, and it is slightly nicer and greener here. This coaster has 3 lifts, and you can tell it was built in 1971 with just how unusal and jerky they layout is. The ride ends with a drop inside a tunnel.

    Boomerang is a Vekoma Boomerang (who'd have thought it), I do not like these rides however the colour scheme is nice. Then at the back of the park is Screamin' Eagle, a PTC woodie which was the last to be designed by the company. It looked harmless enough, one of those older ones that tend to ride pretty well for their age. This one however, oh hell no! Horrendous, utterly horrendous. Not only was it rough, it slammed you on to the rails resulting in bad backs all round. Can someone please send in those bulldozers?

    Pandemonium is a Gerstlauer spinning coaster, something that I have not ridden before. Unlike the Maurer versions, the seats face inwards so riders are looking at each other. It was actually very smooth and felt muich more refined that Maurer's, although I do prefer outward facing seats.

    Now for The Boss, which is a huge CCI wooden coaster which is fairly well renowned despite reports of it becoming rougher in recent years. The Boss, it really is quite the name for a coaster! And it is quite the walk up from the ride's entrance to the station, where you board trains that were build by Gerstlauer and are essentially 6 Gerst Bob cars stuck together to form a train. The ride starts with a slightly outer banked turn in to a large drop, then makes it way back up to a similar height before dropping again, and again coming back up to a similar height where you are met with what is essentially a MCBR. Another drop follows, and once again the coaster climbs to a height not far off that of the previous drop before working its way back down and staying closer to the terrain for the long run back to the station. The final 570 degree helix at the end of the ride has been removed this year and replaced with a simple 180 degree turn. I found The Boss quite good fun, especially on the front row, however it does suffer from too many hills that are too high and ruin the flow of the coaster. It would also benefit from some retracking!

    The park's final woodie is American Thunder, a GCI which opened in 2008. It is not the biggest but it's actually really good fun with some nice pops of airtime throughout. It's a similar thrill level to Wicker Man I'd say, maybe slightly better track and train but Wicker Man is a better all round experience. An added bonus was that it was so quiet we were able to just stay on and keep going round a few times!

    The final coaster at the park is Mr Freeze Reverse Blast; a Premier shuttle loop launch coaster. This was a coaster that I was quite looking forward to, it's always looked qutie unique (I know there is a mirror clone). The coaster now launches riders backwards first, and then you take the return journey facing forwards. This change is a pity, it did used to launch forwards, as it is quite intense and I am not a fan of going backwards on a coaster. I did enjoy the forward part, however once was enough for me.

    In terms of other rides at the park, Justice League is similar to the one at Great America but with one scene missing (I think) and better quality screens. And the Thunder River rapids ride was good fun, thankfully we avoided the worst of the waves! Unfortuatley the parks Intamin drop tower was closed all day; they have been suffering from ongoing maintenance issues around the park for the whole of this season.

    Six Flags St. Louis is a poor park to be honest, there's a few half decent/fun coasters and a B&M Invert is always going to be a great coaster. But when you are coming here straight from Silver Dollar City then it does feel like a big come down. Having said that, I did enjoy some lovely chicken wings and a refreshing beer in the parks new sports bar!

    We did leave the park early, and it was onwards to our hotel in Mt. Vernon and a nice evening meal at Chillis. Next up - Holiday World!

    :)
     
    Rojo, DiogoJ42, Mattmash and 5 others like this.
    Posted 7th Sep 2018
    #18
  19. RicketyCricket

    RicketyCricket TowersStreet Member

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    Always thought Mr Freeze looks an underated coaster!

    Have actually never heard of The Boss until now but ok disappointed to see it's not Bruce Springsteen themed.
     
    DiogoJ42, Mattmash and John_P like this.
    Posted 7th Sep 2018
    #19
  20. John

    John TowersStreet Member

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    The only thing I really remember about Ninja is nearly losing my head on the lift chain return after the sidewinder:
    https://rcdb.com/124.htm#p=10742

    edit:

    I've not done a TR as Rob's pretty much covered everything, but I'm going to add a few of my thoughts on One Flag St Louis.

    Before visiting I'd looked at some of the general photos of the park on rcdb and thought it looked a decent park. Sure it hasn't got the best line up of the six flags parks but there appeared to be a good range of coasters and a few flat rides to pad out the day. Upon arrival, it emerges that basically all of the major flat rides were closed, many of them long term. Pretty much all the rides shown on the rcdb images were SBNO (at least one may have been removed entirely) leaving a big hole in the line up. All of the coasters were still there and there's a new(ish) ride that's the centre of attention, but there's not a lot else of note to do. Hmm, that sounds familiar for some reason.
     
    Last edited: 7th Sep 2018
    Rojo, RussellH, DiogoJ42 and 3 others like this.
    Posted 7th Sep 2018
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