7.28.2014

Summer At The Sea Shore: July 26th, 2014

Adventure Pier

I was back down at the folks once again this past weekend. Saturday night after dinner and drinks the missus and I ventured up to the boardwalk for a late evening stroll and ride. While we did hit up Mariners Landing, we avoided the Sea Serpent & didn't even work our way down to Surfside Pier for the Great Nor'easter, even though I was itching to the ride their Atmosfear drop ride to compare it to my recent Zumanjaro experience. 

 The Great White first drop and 2nd turnaround

The closest pier is Adventure Pier, home to Wildwood's modest yet amazing woodie, The Great White. I've always been partial to steel coasters but this thing is running so well this year I can't gush about it enough. Like me, most Philadelphians spend their summer vacations in Wildwood, so just about anyone who has mentioned they were headed down has had to deal with me demanding they ride The Great White while in town. 

 Carousel on Adventure Pier

Me and the missus arrived on the boardwalk at around 10pm and jumped right on for a nice night time roll in the back seat. She hesitated to ride in the back as she hasn't been on any coasters since Great Adventure opening day, but the smile on her face on the brake run said it all. When you sit in the back you get such great airtime over the drop and some nice pops on the bunnyhills toward the end. They must have re-tracked this baby over the off season as she's running so smooth, there is only some shuffle on the turnaround before the bunnyhills. 


Mariner's Landing

We then made our way down to Mariners Landing for their new Riptide ride that replaced their old Sea Dragon that had an accident a few years ago. This one seemed to go way higher and the operator let it run for a really long time. We sat on the end for maximum airtime. 

A crappy shot of Riptide

I don't like most flats as I can't do spinning stuff but the missus prodded me to go on the Tilt-A-Whirl so we did. Fun but woozy, I made it out alive. We wandered for a bit and jumped in the weirdo 3D Pirates Of Wildwood boat ride for a mellow laugh, where we found a lone scare actor inside staring at us. If he was trying to be creepy it worked. 

 Wave Swinger & Giant Wheel

Of course we made a quick stop at Macks Pizza just as they were closing and got our favorite slices (me: pepperoni, her: green pepper). Delish, as always!


 

We slowly strolled back toward Adventure Pier to head home as it was after midnight and most shops and the rides were beginning to shut down, but The Great White was still running! Down the pier we hustled and walked on to the front row. It was an empty train save for another couple in the back row and not as fun as our first ride earlier as this train crawled and lacked the airtime we got in the back earlier. After exiting the missus asked me for one more ride, so we walked around and did the back row again and it delivered. We had a few more folks on this ride so we were hauling ass. Just as we were exiting the platform the pier announced on the loudspeaker they were closing. Perfect ending to a nice summer Saturday night on the Wildwood boardwalk. 

Ride Count:

The Great White x3
Riptide x1

Tilt-A-Whirl x1
Pirates of Wildwood x1

7.17.2014

Let's Play Hooky & Ride Coasters: July 16th, 2014


My buddy Art and I planned a hooky day to go up to Great Adventure for a full day and get on as much as we could. All year leading up to now I've been thinking of taking a day off mid-week, in mid-summer, hopefully getting low crowds, and just going nuts in the park. We both took vacation days so that we were both getting paid to ride coasters. Sweet!

 On the road again

Art is not nearly as into coasters as I, but is an up-for-anything type most of the time. I did in fact get him on Kingda Ka last summer, but out of nowhere today a new, random 'fear of heights' issue began popping up. With the morning rain we both drug our feet and didn't wind up getting up to and into the park until just after noon. This worked in our favor as we didn't have any issues getting passed the gates quickly and efficiently. 


 Once again lucked out with beautiful weather

 Yum Yum Cafe

The parks very old Carousel

As is now the morning ritual, I dragged him right for El Toro for a first ride jolt. When we arrived, the line was into the 2nd set of switchbacks, maybe a 30 minute wait. I had hoped the predicted but never materialized morning rain would keep crowds low but this was a bad sign for a first ride. We want to enjoy ourselves, not stand in line all day. 

Saddle up

I can't decide if my favorite part is the first drop or the 
insane ejector airtime here, over the old Rolling Thunder tracks

We got out of line, walked right back to Flash Pass HQs, and headed right back to The Bull. Our first ride of the day was in the magic seat, and we returned three times throughout the day and rode it here all three times. I love this ride, I think it's my absolute favorite coaster ever. The loading and dispatches were awful early on but on the last ride the crew was moving and dispatching one train before the previous hit the brake run. There were hustling crews all around the park today which is always nice!

 

From here we more or less bounced around the park, letting the shortest wait times on our Flash Pass dictate where we headed. While it definitely helped our cause, it turned out that we really didn't need the it. It did allow us to ride a whole hell of a lot of rides.
 

Bizarro was running great both times we rode it today. We wouldn't have needed Flash Pass at all for this as it was a walk-on both times we rode it. They were even allowing re-rides. 

 

We rode once earlier in the day and in the front, a first for me, and then once later after sunset. All of the fire, mist and lighting effects were running and it makes it such a great ride at night. The floorless aspect is really amplified in the front row as there is nothing in front of or below you but track. Very cool. 


Runaway Mine Train was a walk-on and is always just kinda rough and silly.  I love the few drops at the end over the lake. It's a classic ride. You have to give some love to the oldest coaster in the park from time to time.

  
 Choo-choo!


Art: Wow, this ride smells really clean!
Me: Like fresh Lysol clean?
Art (confused): Um... yeah, I guess!
Me (laughing): Like someone puked and they wiped down the train with Lysol?
Art (horrified/disappointed): Awwwwww maaaaan, yeah.
Me (hysterical): At least you know its clean!! 

 


We did the Saw Mill Log Flume because it got pretty warm in the afternoon. They ops squeezed the two of us in the back half of a log with a family of 3 in the front. 


 For a 40 year old flume its held up well over the years


This tight squeeze made for a ridiculous but funny ride. The combined weight made our log heavier so we got pretty soaked coming down the last drop. This ride is where the Flash Pass worked in our favor, the line was looooong.
 



We stopped for some relaxing beer and people watching at Best of the West.


 
Beautiful day, beautiful park

Sitting on the side closer to the park is nice as you can see the drop on the log flume well and sitting on the side away from the park allows you to enjoy all the beautiful greenery that makes this park so great. 
 

The park is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year. No huge fanfare, but they did set up a Great Adventure History Museum that we checked out. They had part of Rolling Thunders train on display, lots of old photos, buttons, maps, ride control panels, and more. This was really cool to check out during its limited time. 

Rolling Thunder train

Busted control panel

Old Safari map
 
Since we were close by I got Art on Superman: Ultimate Flight for his first time, which he loved. I think most people, myself included, are a bit bugged out about the idea of hanging on your stomach under the track, but the restraints are pretty cozy on this thing. 

 A Superman train entering the pretzel loop

I've said it before and I'll say it again - this ride is all about the pretzel loop. The general feeling of flying throughout the ride is great but there is nothing like the sensation of flipping head first into an inversion. We came back and did this again later. 



Last year when he visited he also didn't try Green Lantern and it's right next  to Superman. I want to like this coaster but I can't help but get beat up by it. It's uncomfortable to stand and the shoulder harnesses box my ears after the first vertical loop and through the rest of the ride. I've even attempted to try different sections of the train - the back, the front, right side, left side, it doesn't matter.

 Green Lantern's lift

 Green Lantern on the break run

I would LOVE this ride with seated trains, it has a great course. I especially love the wobbly turn around before the drop, the drop itself is nice and swooping, and the first vertical loop feels insanely high. And then it becomes a 100% defensive ride. 

Green Lantern POV by DeathByIllusion

I also dragged Art into Houdini's Great Escape as its a great ride to take someone into that has no idea what to expect. The intro is cheesy but the ride part is interesting in the least if not a little fun. He liked it, but upon exiting he said "I could see how someone could throw up on that ride".

 Houdini's is a fun mid-day distraction

 How have I had such great weather almost every time I've been to a park this year? 


Over on the other side of the park we gave Batman a shot, once in the back row and this was awesome. I think this ride may even rival El Toro in its intensity. Its such a wild/tight course, it does require some defensive riding. I wish we got back on later. I didn't like this ride last year but I have really come around to it over the summer. It really packs a punch and can be great if you go into it expecting that.

Batman POV by DeathByIllusion

Of course we had to pop over to Skull Mountain which had really slow, one train operations today but it's always a fun ride. I love that its pitch black dark, I love the airtime over the first tiny drop, I love the death metal blaring over the soundsystem, I love the cheap Halloween decorations scattered throughout, I love the lame strobe lights at the end. This is just sort of ridiculous and always a good time. 

 Nitro with trains on the lift and break run

We rode Nitro twice today, both rides in the back, and I loved it both times. I always do. It still gets me even after riding it as many times as I have. A perfect coaster, not a moment wasted. Our last ride of the night was on Nitro, and we snagged the on-ride photo. Nitro night rides are my favorite!


This trip was the first time I had been to the park since their newest drop ride, the 415ft Zumanjaro, has been open. I was even here during a commercial shoot for the new ride a few weeks ago but this is the first time I'd have a chance to ride it. 

Kingda Ka & Zumanjaro viewed from Green Lantern
 
For a long time I really hated drop rides, but after essentially watching them build this sucker on the face of Kingda Ka all spring, I have an itch to scratch. This is where our Flash Pass truly came in handy. The line for this was the longest I saw for anything all day, and understandably so as it's the parks enormous, flashy new ride. 

  Zumanjaro's 415 foot summit

All day I had been teasing Art about how we were going to ride it but he was adamant that he was not. During our lunch break of Wawa hoagies in the parking lot, I had reserved the ride without telling him and led him over to the entrance in hopes he would go on once he saw I was serious. No dice. He waited there while I was able to walk right on the ride with my Flash Pass reservation. Half of me was terrified, especially without the moral support of knowing Art was doing it with me, and the other half of me was on a mission to do something crazy. I wandered through the rides' never ending queue when the surrounding brush cleared and I was looking directly up the side of the tower...


If not for the Flash Pass I would not have ridden as I would not have waited. But I'm glad I rode. I tried very hard all day to not over think it and psych myself out of doing it. The thing is literally hawking over my shoulder the entire day at the park. The ascent was not particularly scary, and seemed to happen very fast. I don't have fear of heights, maybe because my eyesight is terrible and I won't wear my prescription glasses on rides. During the ascent I concentrated on how the entire park looked so small, especially what behemoths like Nitro and El Toro look like from up there. 



Once we stopped at the top I felt what seemed like a few fake out bounces before the actual plunge. The drop itself was not as forceful as the yank, say, over El Toro's first drop, it was somehow more floaty than that. But the drop is less than ten seconds, so blink and you'll miss it. I would ride it again, so maybe it has turned me on to drop rides. It was certainly a rush!

With Rolling Thunder gone you can see El Toro from a whole new angle 





Like I said I also rode Kingda Ka, also alone. Even though Art did it last year, he did not want to ride it again. Since I could reserve it on the Flash Pass and not have to wait, I did. Its the tallest coaster on the planet and I've been going hard on these coasters all day why not? For whatever reason I just jumped in the back row, and I'd never ridden in the back before. This ride is INSANE. The drop/twist down the drop was actually more forceful in the back, and there is insane rattle/shuffle during the launch while sitting in the back of the train. I definitely had a brief "what the hell am I doing??" moment during the launch. I don't get off this coaster thinking "that was fun!" or "that was amazing", just "that was insane/crazy/ridiculous".

Kingda Ka footage by ThemeParkReview

Overall it was a great day. For food as I said we tailgated with Wawa hoagies for lunch and for dinner we ate Nathans hot dogs, which were OK. We stopped a few times throughout the day for beer at Main Street Pub and Best of the West



Again the weather was perfect, at times even breezy. Operations were in full summer mode on everything. I love when you get stand up comedians running rides. The guy on El Toro later in the day had a great crew and was hilarious on his microphone. We probably could have skipped the flash passes as lines for the coasters were sometimes non-existent, sometimes insanely long, sometimes middle of the road but as I said we splurged because we wanted to really get the most out of our day. Definitely better than sitting behind a desk.


Ride count:

El Toro x3
Nitro x2
Superman: Ultimate Flight x2
Bizarro x2
Zumanjaro Drop of Doom x1 
Kingda Ka x1 
Batman x1
Green Lantern x1
Saw Mill Log Flume x1
Runaway Mine Train x1
Skull Mountain x1
Houdini's Great Escape x1