9.28.2014

Road Trip to Dorney Park: September 27th, 2014


Once again my brother-in-law Tom and I got together for another road trip to a different park. This time we took the PA Turnpike up to the Allentown area to check out Dorney Park. After living fairly close to this park all my life I was really stoked to make my first visit. Tom is one of my favorite people to go riding with as he has stamina and absolutely no fear/limits when it comes to rides. 

 On the road to Dorney are cornfields...

 fall foliage...

 and delicious burgers... and theme parks!

 We see you Dorney.

Since he had to work a half day on Saturday so we didn't get on the road until almost 4pm, arrived at the park around 5pm and stayed until a little before midnight. 


Overall I really liked the park, it definitely exceeded my expectations. It is well kept, decent to good theme-ing, the crowds were lots of teens, but a bit more reigned in that the types you get at a SF park. 

We have arrived


The road into the park teasing us


All year I keep getting lucky with nice weather


The park felt pretty crowded while walking around, but the lines for rides were minimal. I guess most people were there for the parks 'Haunt' attractions, none of which we did. We encountered some scare actors while walking around after dark but our mission was strictly coasters and some flats. 

 Talon

First up was Talon, which wound up my favorite overall. We walked right on to the back seat, then walked around to try the front. 




This is definitely a front seat ride! We came back to this area a few more times later just to ride this. My only other B&M invert is Batman @ Great Adventure, and I liked this more as its just a hair less intense and has a few moments where you can catch your breath before things get crazy again. 

Take a front seat ride on Talon. Video by Theme Park Review

This was great late at night as they had a haunt between the ride and the water park so walking through the queue in the dark fog and then while on the ride itself, especially the sections furthest away from the park entrance, you couldnt see much of anything. Didn't wait longer than 5 mins for this, even for the front row.


From here we wandered over to Thunderhawk, the parks oldest coaster and only woodie. I'd heard how poorly maintained this ride is and it lived up to it's reputation!


Coaster History

I am glad we did this early and got it out of the way. Ironically, this was one of the longer waits of the day. They were running one train and the station wait was 10 minutes.

 Hunk-a-junk

What an awful ride. The first drop was underwhelming, the train just shuffled around the track, I got zero airtime, even on the two bunny hops before the breaks. This thing is riding on square wheels and makes me miss El Toro

Steel Force drop & Thunderhawk lift hill

Since we were in the area we checked out the parks Morgan hyper-coaster Steel Force, which also had one of the longer waits, but no more than 20 minutes. 


At this point it was still daylight and we just went for the back car as the wait was less. After this ride I was calling it "Herky Jerky". For a hypercoaster, the drop doesn't even feel that high. I got almost no air on the bunny hills coming back. 

Steel Force's 208 foot lift

We did come back to ride this later after dark and waited a little more for the 2nd row. We had two tiny little girls in front so we had a good view. What a HUGE difference in airtime when sitting in the front. A night ride always increases the intensity, but overall it has absolutely nothing on the other two hyper-coaster I've ridden, Nitro and Superman:Ride Of Steel. Coming up the lift in the dark and looking over at the lit up, fog filled park gave me chills and was a highlight of the entire evening.  


Next up we tried out Possessed, the parks only Intamin and only launch coaster. I didn't really have any expectations but this one blew me away. Hard to say if I like it as much as Talon but its up there. This was Tom's favorite of the day.


Possesseds back spike

 Possessed loading

Intamin wheel assembly porn

I hadn't done one of these Intamin twisted launchers before and it really wowed me. On each launch the operator would fake us out with half of a countdown, or sometimes no countdown at all. The anticipation on any launch coaster intensifies the experience and this was no exception.

Possessed POV provided by FrontSeatCoasters

We tried this a few times - both in the back and the front and it's a great ride either way, but the back might have the edge simply because of these crazy high G forces as you launch backwards up into the straight spike. Also, you are higher in the back looking down from that back spike. I also really dug how they hold the train back there for a second. The longest wait was 10 minutes for the front. We were HYPED riding this thing. 

We wandered through the park and came across the parks oldest ride, The Whip. I was informed this was one of the better installations of these very rare Whip rides, so we hopped in line. 


 I hadn't ridden one of these in a long, long time and it definitely delivered. 

Tom getting whipped 

After dark they turn off the lights on The Whip and turn on a few strobes during the cycle. We didn't make it back to ride it again, sadly. After The Whip we stopped over to ride the park's 200ft S&S tower, Dominator


This is a tower with three supports, two of them being used - one side shoots you from the ground upwards at around 50 mph, while the other side pulls you up slowly and drops you straight down. Before this year I was not a fan of drop towers, but after conquering my fear with Zumanjaro (ironically the tallest on the planet) I have been riding every drop tower at every park we've been to this summer. That said, this was the first tower I rode that shot you up from the ground, so we tried that first. It was quite a ride, but when we walked around to try the drop side, we were both blown away. Definitely the biggest "Oh shit!" moment of our entire night.


Since we were in the area we also tried one of the parks classic flats Apollo and while Tom thought I was crazy, I was blown away by how great this ride was. As I've mentioned here I don't do well with rides that spin, but I LOVED this ride. Very forceful, great lighting package, and the spinning didn't bother me at all. 


Check out this cool off-ride footage of Apollo and Dominator to wicked D&B soundtrack!

We only stopped riding to sit down for beers and crab fries at the Chickies & Petes stand across from the Sea Dragon, just as it started to get dark. From our table I could watch Possessed running, and calling me back over to it. Our grub was, as expected, excellent.




After eating we wandered to the back of the park. It was after dark now and the scare zones were open. In order to get to the parks B&M floorless coaster, Hydra the Revenge we had to make our way through the Carn*Evil area, filled with demented clowns lurking in the fog and shadows. None of them encountered us directly but lots of screams coming from teenage girls all around us. Feels like Halloween!



Once we got on Hydra we went for the back row in hopes of getting some airtime over the drop, which we did, but nothing special. This coaster has a corkscrew that the train goes through slowly, right out of the station, which I completely forgot about. As this was not long after dinner, I had a moment where I thought my crab fries and Blue Moon might make a reappearance, and I still had to make it through 6 more inversions! But I soldiered on, and Hydra is a good night ride since its pretty dark in that area. We came back later for a second ride and were able to walk right onto the front row, and it was a more enjoyable ride. Nothing earth shattering, but a solid floorless coaster. If I'm comparing, I prefer Bizarro @ Great Adventure.

As it got later we bounced around re-riding whatever we wanted to, making lots of stops back @ Talon and Possessed. At one point we passed the parks very standard Wild Mouse coaster and jumped on as there was zero wait. I would seriously kill myself if I had to work this ride, the station music is pure audio hell. Just your standard Wild Mouse, didn't kill us, nothing to report. 

the elusive Enterprise

We also made it a point to get on the park's old school Enterprise ride. I used to ride the one in Wildwood all the time as a kid, and it was easily my favorite flat for years. This one was hard to find in the park, we wound up riding really late right before we left. It had a totally creepy Chester the Molester ride operator, it also doesn't go completely vertical (wtf?), but overall was still as good a ride as I remembered, even though it made me just a tiny bit dizzy.



Most of their flat rides were of the classic variety and each had nice simple lighting packages that invoked an old school carnival feel. As it got darker we noticed the park replaced all of their pathway lighting with black lights, and cranked up an insane amount of strategically placed smoke machines, further enhancing the Haunt vibes. 

Monster looked great, but we did not ride. 

What we enjoyed most is how the park seemed crowded but there were basically no waits for any of the coasters. This was especially appreciated on a Saturday night during Haunt. Everything were station waits, or walk-ons, we waited no longer than 20 minutes for anything. Most coasters had 4 ops and were all hustling and keeping trains on the move. A few waits on the stairs but on every coaster they have someone holding people back at the station entrance so it doesn't turn into a shitshow in the station (I'm looking at you El Toro). We had a really good time re-riding what we liked and just bouncing around all over.

My only big regret is we forgot completely about Demon Drop, the parks first generation Intamin drop tower! We just never made it back to that area. Also, Meteor, which I really wanted to ride, was not running as they had a Haunt show in front of it, and their Screaming Swing was down all day. Bummer as I love the one in Wildwood

Overall Dorney is a charming park, with a really nice collection of classic flats to balance out their half decent coaster line up. It felt pretty small, and was mostly easy to get from one area to another - though I never had any idea how hilly this park is. Some of those pathways are really steep! My legs are definitely feeling those climbs today. On to some pix.

Ride count:

Talon 5x
Possessed 4x
Steel Force 2x

Hydra the Revenge 2x
Thunderhawk 1x
Wild Mouse 1x
Dominator 2x
Apollo 1x
The Whip 1x
Enterprise 1x

9.21.2014

Closing Out The Operating Season in Wildwood: Sept 20th, 2014


This past Saturday night after an awesome dinner and drinks, I made it back up to the boardwalk with my mom and my aunt. Their goal was custard, I wanted to get a final ride in on The Great White, as it closes for the season after this weekend.

To my surprise, when I asked them to wait for me while I rode, my mom, who I haven't ridden with in a decade, maybe longer, decided to join me! I could only spot them running the blue train as we walked up, but to my delight, by the time we made it up to the station we saw they were transferring out the blue for the red train. Its like they knew I was coming!


We got a great night ride in with a packed train. I really hope they re-track the turn before those hills because while its the only rough spot, its pretty bad. From the station and more easily the top of the lift, you could see Surfside Pier was completely dark and closed for the season. 


Afterward I hopped on my favorite flat, the Screaming Swing, and then we got our custard (chocolate with chocolate jimmies!) and headed back home.  Starting to feel like the end of the season now.


Ride Count:
The Great White x1
Screamin Swing x1

9.15.2014

Road Trip to Six Flags America: Sept 14th, 2014


During our trip to Six Flags Great Adventure earlier this summer, my bro-in-law Tom and I decided that before the end of the season, we would try to make it to Six Flags America, which is about 20 miles north of Washington, DC. With our season passes we get into any of the 13 Six Flags parks free of charge. Tom is a mild enthusiast, and always up for anything so I was looking forward to doing this trip with him.

Six Flags America is a straight shot down 95

It surely helped going into this trip to have very, very low expectations based on the parks reputation. Most of this report is going to compare to Great Adventure, as its my home park and as you know I'm there all the time. Whenever I've brought up to friends that we did this park, everyone assumes that since it is a Six Flags park, it has all the same rides, which is not true at all. They have a completely different coaster line-up, and it is why we made the trek.

 On the road bright and early

Tom was coming from Levittown, PA, and picked me up in Philly bright and early, right on time at 7:30am as we aimed to get to the park at opening, and we had to make a quick stop off 95 to snatch Tom's brother Matt who lives just outside of Baltimore. We also brought a cooler and hit up Wawa to snag some hoagies for lunch to avoid paying park prices - an important pro-tip for any Six Flags visitor.

 Yet again, beautiful weather!




Traffic was light and easy the entire seemingly quick ride down to Upper Marlboro, Maryland. We pulled into the lot exactly @ 10:30am, with no issues using our season passes for parking and entry, and the lot was surprisingly empty. 


 Good morning unfamiliar park!

We parked very close to the gate, and were in the park in a flash. Being a Great Adventure regular, I could get used to this!

 Hurricane Harbor, but we're not here for that

One thing that struck me as we parked was how Six Flags America has absolutely no coaster skyline. I love that when you pull into the lot at Great Adventure all you can see on the horizon are coasters in every direction. Here, we could only see the park entrance, and the waterpark off to the side, but we're not here for that. I don't think it was even open this late in the season. 


Walking up to the gate I had a brief moment of panic thinking we misread the schedule and they were closed or opening later than we planned for. Thought we might have to get all Clark Griswold on some security dude.

 The park is much nicer than I'd been led to believe

Main street was fairly quiet this early in the day

We knew of a sports apparel promo the park was running (wear DC or B-more sports team gear, get in for $19.99) and thought we might have to cave on some Flash Passes, but I don't think we could have gotten them if we tried. The place was empty. Maybe its just early and it hasn't filled in? Lucky for us, that never really happened.




The park itself I thought was very nice! Its no Disney but it could give Great Adventure a run for its money with a nicer parking lot, some decent landscaping, and the pathways were in much better shape here at SFA



 The parks Tea Cups, completely wrapped in cobwebs

We saw the park had put up lots of Fright Fest decorations up all over the place. I did not once feel like the park looked run down. It was much nicer than I expected. And very small! To get from one area to another takes 5 minutes, where at GAdv I feel like its a half hour walk across the park from Zumanjaro to Nitro. I know in terms of acreage GAdv is a huge park but in comparison this place felt tiny. 

 "Roller Coaster" lol

Since the park never got really crowded, we were able to get a TON of riding in. Not since I was a kid in the 80s doing Morey's all day w/ a bracelet have I done so many freaking rides in one day. 98% of rides we went on were walkons or a one cycle wait. 

 They have an old GCI woodie (Roar), and a relocated stand-up B&M (Apocalypse)

Which we skipped for now to hit up the good stuff

Our first ride of the day was to be the parks Intamin hyper coaster, Superman: Ride Of Steel. Yes, similar theme to Great Adventure's Superman: Ultimate Flight, but a completely different ride. 

208ft first drop on Superman: Ride Of Steel


Unfortunately we arrived as they were still doing a morning test run, so we backtracked to the parks' Premier launch coaster: Joker's Jinx

This was my first Premier launcher, and I loved this ride. You go from sitting in the station to 60 mph in just 3 seconds. For whatever reason I would just giggle uncontrollably every time we rode. We actually went to ride this only 3 times throughout the day but on each of those we got a re-ride as no one was waiting for our row so we rode it a total of 6 times. 

Place to ourselves

While I loved riding a looper with no over-the-shoulder-restraints, my favorite part of this ride is how the operators would fake us out with each launch. One  ride the op started to tell us the history of the ride and in mid-sentence launched us. Another time we got half a countdown before the launch. After a while we expected this and just had to brace ourselves once we were locked in for fear they would launch us without warning. And they did... over and over... :)
 
Note the girl in the second row having second thoughts!

The spaghetti bowl of track it launches into seems like it would be enough to induce vertigo but it did not bother me, I started to know it well by the last of our rides.


I like that the ride started off strong and forceful, kind of settles down a bit for the mid section and then really picks up speed for the low-to-the-ground section at the end.


The final corkscrew right before the break run was brutally awesome, and I say this as someone who is not a huge fan of corkscrews. Made for a great finish. Really dug this one. Great, funny, good time operators working it.  


After our first rides on this, we overheard Superman: Ride Of Steel was up and running and we headed back in that direction. 


Nothing like a station wait for the parks biggest ride. And a great ride it is! I know its not considered the best Intamin hyper among enthusiasts, but it was my first and now I'm dying to ride the others. 

Superman: Ride Of Steel on Travel Channel

My first ride was in the front row (bros were behind me) sitting next to an old crotchety ACEr that liked my Six Flags shirt. He asked me if I was an enthusiast and then proceeded to complain the entire way up the lift that the park only gets Great America's leftovers and that I should go to Canada cause they have great coasters (!?). He was nice but a little out there.

The first of Superman's final amazing airtime pops

Anyways, incredible first drop and that first turn low to the ground is breathtaking. The two big airtime hills are really nice in the front or back of the train but in the middle you don't get much air. The first helix is cool but I wish they ripped these out and put in a bunch of airtime hills. It kinda sucks the energy out of the ride, you are really slowing down in the 2nd helix. But those three airtime hills right at the end are an amazing finish! (Pro-tip: if you're sitting in the back, prepare to have your gut smashed into the lap bar right at the bottom of the last bunny hop when the breaks hit HARD).

Hands up!

So nice to not have to wait in lines today, especially for this ride. I was able to do this coaster 12 times all day, the last 4-5 rides back to back right before we left the park, without even leaving the station. Most of our rides were in the back car, but we tried it all over the train. The back is best, though I am a backseat rider on most coasters. This is currently my #2 steel coaster that I have ridden, after SFGAdv's Nitro.

OK then I guess we will try back.

Wandering through Gotham City aka "Ghost Town"

French Quarter Flyers

We made our way back toward the front of the park when I spotted one of the parks new-for-2014 rides, the French Quarter Flyers located in the new Mardi Gras section of the park. I'd never ridden one of these flyers before and I had a blast. They ran a nice long cycle. I typically hate spinning rides but with the swinging high and low of the flyers it didn't bother me. 


I did a pretty good job of snapping the cables once and actually kind of scared myself for a second but still loved this. Essentially, you can use the rudder in the front to control how high/low your vehicle swings. If you can anticipate the direction of the wind, you can cause yourself to swing really high or low, sometimes creating slack on the cables which causes a loud snapping sound and a feeling of total weightlessness. Its kind of scary intense but fun as hell! I did it once and that was enough!


This is a great, classic style family ride and I am stoked that Wildwood is getting one of these for 2015. We wanted to get back on later but the line had gotten a little too long for us.


Also in the Mardi Gras section is the parks 140ft tall Voodoo Drop tower, so to continue my summer long quest of tackling drop towers, we checked it out.

 That's not how this works, sir.


A year ago you couldn't have gotten me anywhere near a drop ride, but Zumanjaro @ GAdv has changed that. Unfortunately any ride that is not Zumanjaro is just not going to compare. This has a nice, intense drop but just feels so short. But it was good enough to go for a second ride later in the day!

 Whooooshh

From here we stopped over at the parks 97 year old wooden coaster The Wild One and I was blown away by this thing! Who knew an almost 100 year old coaster could be great!? Airtime like whoa! 
 
 


Zydeco Zinger (left) Wild One's lift and return (right)


Its especially surprising as from the ground it doesn't look like anything special but this is an amazing roller coaster. We sat in the back on all three rides we took this day. And the helix of death (what we dubbed it) at the end is NUTS! What a great powerful finish!

Place to ourselves! 

 Hold on at all times? Pffft!

The two airtime pops where the track turns a bit at the tops of the hills and THROWS you into the side of the train were deliciously painful and I was certain I'd have a nasty bruise on my hip that actually never materialized. I would have liked to have ridden more if we had more time and Superman:Ride Of Steel wasn't so great.

Tom waiting for the back

I don't have a particularly high credit count for woodies but this is surely close to the top. Great, great ride (but no El Toro).

Most definitely! 


We considered the Big Easy Speedway (go karts), but between an up-charge and the fact the cars didn't seem to have much oompf, we skipped them.

Zydeco Zinger (foreground), Wild One (background) entering the helix of death

Across from Voodoo Drop was Zydeco Zinger. Growing up we had a similar ride @ Morey's Piers so we gave this one a shot. This was the biggest dud of the day for us. Slow, forceless, really short cycle. Boooriiing.
 
I don't do Skycoasters, but I love how you can't see the cable in this picture.

 We couldn't figure this one out so we didn't get on it. 
Supposedly like a water slide in rapids type boat

 What's next?

A few more spins on Jokers Jinx

Photogenic coaster and has a nice roar while running


Since we were back in the area, we once again attempted Batwing, the parks Vekoma flyer. The queue for the ride is long but peppered with pretty cool themeing. 


 
 

The only other flyer Ive done is Ultimate Flight and I love that ride. I hated this thing. The restraints are totally sketchy, I did not feel comfortable in the flimsy vest with essentially a lapbar and ankle restraints holding me in. 


You also go up the lift on your back which is so weird and having your head that close to the track makes the anti-rollbacks so loud. Right before you drop the train flips over into the flying position and all of your weight slams into the lapbar and flimsy, loose vest. One of those moments where I was truly fearful for my safety. 

Looks pretty, but its a death machine

The coaster itself even felt like a Vekoma, filled with weird transitions, strange forces and a generally uncomfortable ride. And what is a flyer without a pretzel loop? Tom and Matt went back later for a 2nd ride while I took some solo laps on Superman: Ride Of Steel. In addition to being a crappy experience, the loading on Batwing is excruciatingly slow. In the time it took them to do BW once, I did S:ROS three more times.


"The Heavy Petters"

While walking through Batwing's queue I was snapping random pictures, only later did I realize I accidentally captured this couple. Since the park was so empty, we crossed paths with these two all day long. The first time we saw them he had her pushed against a wall making out intensely. We probably saw them 10 more times, and everytime, without fail, they would start making out and feeling each other up. Once we sat three rows behind them on S:ROS and they sucked face the entire ascent up the lift. Tom said loud enough for most on the train to hear "Keep your hands, legs, and heavy petting inside the car at all times and enjoy your heavy petting on Superman Ride Of Steel!" We dubbed them "The Heavy Petters".

 You can get some nice views of Superman's lift

 and drop from Batwing's queue

 Airtime!

 Hands up!

 Out to the lot for lunch!

Fright Fest weirdness


Upon re-entering we headed left to the section of the park we hadn't hit up yet and our first stop was Mind Eraser. The coaster is a Vekoma SLC (Suspended Looping Coaster), and is identical to The Great Nor'easter in Wildwood so I knew exactly what to expect. 


The only difference is the paint job and the fact that its in the woods as opposed to the beach. The newer trains/restraints on the Nor'easter give it the advantage but this wasn't that bad of a ride. 


SLC's are a back seat ride for me and knowing the course allowed me to ride defensively and resulted in no headbanging and zero mind erasing. But this was a one and done. In fact, we never came back to this area the rest of the day.

 
We explored this area for a bit but it was a literal ghost town
 
Wouldn't be a Six Flags park without Turkey Legs

There's a joke in here somewhere


We found ROAR, the parks other wooden coaster. I'd heard this was beyond rough but I felt like if I had ridden it a bunch and knew the layout I would have enjoyed it. 


It wasn't a terrible ride but very twisty and just a bit jarring into some of the turns, which I guess is more or less the entire ride. It has some nice airtime pops right before the break run. Another one and done.

At least we didn't have to wait long.
 
Beautiful weather, nice park. Where is everyone?

 One photo, three coasters: Roar (foreground), 
Apocalypse (orange track), Wild One (red train)


 Fright Fest decorations

Next door to ROAR is Apocalypse the parks sole B&M coaster and it's a stand-up, and one of the worst rides in the entire park. 


Seriously is there a such thing as a good stand-up coaster? This is gimmick that doesn't work and companies should stop making them. Just let me sit! 

 

I have to say they did go all out with the themeing on this, and the paint scheme is nice, but the drop was underwhelming, the course was lame and I got a nice clock to my right ear really good on this one. Could not wait to get off this thing. One and done.

 



At least there was no wait


Since when do Pirates Fly? Oh, Six Flags!


 Back into Gotham City for Superman: Ride of Steel a few more times



From here we headed back to the parks newer Mardi Gras area, as we had one last coaster to hit. It's the parks newest coasters, its a junior coaster, and its the one I'd been dreading all day long: Ragin Cajun. A spinning Wild Mouse



My first spinning wild mouse. Ironically this had the longest wait of the day, about 15 minutes. Whoever thought up a spinning coaster was a drunk piece of shit. The three of us hate spinning rides but its a coaster so we had purposely saved this for later so it wouldn't ruin us for the rest of the day. 


Its like taking a teacup ride and putting it on a coaster track. And its spins so much faster/intensely than any of us expected. I got serious whiplash and we all felt nauseous after getting off. 

 
 Check out footage of the Ragin Cajun death machine and the amazing French Quarter Flyers!

So of course we went to have drinks at Hurricanes, the parks new pub!



 
It's a great little place.

With some stiff drinks

 Cozy

After our drinks the park was getting close to closing so we hit up the Voodoo Drop once again and then hopped back to the back of the park for our final rides on Superman: Ride Of Steel. While I'm glad I tried a lot of rides around the park I was stupid to not have ridden this all day. Amazing ride! 

 

Our last ride of the day


Overall it was a great day, it felt like we had the place to ourselves. My one main gripe, its hardly worth mentioning but every ride was one train operations. Now, it wasn't at all warranted to have all trains running as the whole park was dead, but still lame to have to wait a whole cycle when there are perfectly good trains sitting there unused. I know, its a silly, selfish complaint but happy to say its one of the only things that bothered me. My personal ride count for the day: THIRTY RIDES. Keep in mind park was open from 10:30-6pm, so we did this all in just 7.5 hours.
Ride Count: 
Superman: Ride Of Steel 12x
Jokers Jinx 6x
Wild One 3x
Voodoo Drop x2
French Quarter Flyers 1x
Batwing x1
Roar 1x
Apocalypse x1
Mind Eraser 1x
Ragin Cajun 1x
Zydeco Zinger x1