Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 12: Canada's Wonderland

Today was the final day of our whirlwind tour of amusement parks. We left the strange little motel we stayed in around 7:30 am and drove non-stop to Toronto and Wonderland. I must say, it felt good to be back in Canada, with our wide highways, decent signage and on-ramps and exits that follow logic more often than not.

We got in to Wonderland about 20 minutes before park opening, got our tickets and were allowed in. This is a change from other parks, as we'd have to line up at the gate and wait before, at Wonderland the main ride sections were simply blocked until 10 on the dot, so you could go at least part of the way to what you want to ride first. Which for us was Behemoth, but due to the high winds and early threats of rain, neither Behemoth or Leviathan were running upon opening. Rather disappointed, we went over to Flight Deck (formerly Top Gun in the Paramount days), an old favourite of our's, and rode it first.
Flight Deck was the first inverted looping coaster in Canada, and has been cloned somewhere near 29 times in other parks around the world. It is the older, lighter track construction with only two-seats side by side per car, same style as Mind Eraser, though the restraints are more robust. Once on, you are brought up the lift hill, dropped in a curving swoop, then a speedy turn that leads into the sidewinder dual inversion. After the sidewinder is a heavily banked swooping turn than rises above a part of the track then down again into a half-loop that corkscrews out. A banked helix leads you to a leg-chopping dual barrel roll through the heart of the coaster layout, and a final banked turn brings you around the the brake run. Very fun coaster, has aged quite well and I still love the thrill of the barrel roll twisting you away from the track seemingly right before it would have taken your legs off. A must-ride.
Next we went over to Vortex, a suspended swinging car roller coaster. Its lift hill brings you up to the summit of Wonder mountain at the end of International Street. You are provided a nice view of the park before you are dropped down towards the lake and helix up over the station. Another drop takes you through a series of swinging turns and a final helix down close to the water's surface. After that you are brought up to the brake run for the somewhat iconic break and swing at the end of the ride. One of the best suspended swinging coasters I've been on, lots of speed and lateral swings, recommended.
Next up we went by Dragon Fire to see how Leviathan was doing. Still closed, so we rode on Dragon Fire. Dragon Fire was one of four original roller coasters that Wonderland opened with back in 1981. It is an old school corkscrew coaster, somewhat less intense than some of the others we have gone on of the same type. After leaving the station you are dropped slightly to a 180 degree turn that goes to the lift hill. After the lift, you are dropped down and through two vertical loops, followed by a banked turn and two corkscrews in a row. You hit a slight brake and then are dropped into an upward helix and the final brakes and station. Fun coaster, a great introduction to looping coasters for the uninitiated, somewhat lackluster for those who have been on the more recent steel twisters, but still recommended.

Next up was the Mighty Canadian Mine Buster, another of the original four coasters of the park. It is a classic wooden coaster, upon leaving the station you are dropped down a bit and turn 180 degrees to the lift hill. After the hill, you go through a 90 degree turn and are dropped and shot along a few air humps under some of the water rides and then up into a banked turn, before dropping down again and then going through some more humps and a head-chopper element under the track. Then you bank into the upward helix and at the halfway point you are thrust into a dark and loud tunnel, before coming out into the light and then hitting the brake run. Classic wooden experience, and a smoother ride than others we have been on. Recommended.

Next we walked back over to Wild Beast, number three of the original four, but after about ten minutes in line with people bailing and no trains running the circuit we saw it was broken down and not going to get going in short order. So we left the line, found some lunch and rode on Flight Deck again. The weather had been improving steadily with the sun finally out, and while on the lift of Flight Deck, I spotted Behemoth running trains for the first time in the day. So we wandered over and got into the line that was rapidly getting bigger.
Behemoth is a B&M hypercoaster, often compared to Diamondback and Nitro. Behemoth has a unique, prototype train, where the first two seats are mounted side by side in the middle of the car, and the back two are set far enough apart to give an unobstructed view to the back row. You leave the station, go right and then climb the 230 foot tall lift hill, where you can actually see the CN Tower in the distance, and are dropped at 75 degrees to reach speeds of 78 mph (125 Km/h) and are instantly shot up a huge camelback hill for some awesome negative g's. After the hill, you go through an overbanked hammerhead turn and back around to another two sweet air-time hills. Another hill takes you up to a brake run that slows you before the 540 degree, tall helix down to the right, followed immediately by an upward 270 degree helix to the left, with one final air-time hill and some slight air on the last hill that leads to the final brake run and station. Totally awesome ride, smooth as can be and so much air-time! World class coaster, a total must-ride!
While in line for Behemoth, we saw that Leviathan was going through its paces too, so we made for it as soon as we got out of the station. The line was almost totally full when we got in, and filled up beyond capacity while we waited. The coaster has a fairly high capacity and the queue was never immobile for long. Leviathan is the tallest and fastest coaster B&M have ever constructed, the equal to either Millenium Force or Intimidator 305 by Intamin and only the third gigacoaster to be built in North America. After leaving the station you go through a 180 degree turn and are brought up the 306-foot tall lift hill by a more traditional chain lift. Upon cresting the top, you are dropped down the hill at 80 degrees and reach speeds of 92 mph (148 km/h) and go through a darkened tunnel themed as the Leviathan's open mouth. You come screaming out of the tunnel and into a 164-foot tall overbanked turn that drops you down into a high speed turn to the left. Then you go hurtling up a huge camelback hill for awesome air-time before hitting a more severe than usual overbanked hammerhead turn that crosses the track instead of sending you back the way you came and leads to a swooping high speed turn. Another, smaller camelback provides some more awesome negative g's and one last overbanked turn brings you around in line with the station and a final dip and hill before the brake run. You must ride this coaster, unbelievably smooth, fast, thrilling ride. Even with a full queue, the wait will not exceed one hour and it is completely worth it to experience this awesome coaster. I had wondered in the start if B&M could pull off what only Intamin has done so far, and the answer is an emphatic "Hell yes!". I never believed Canada would get a ride of this calibre, a total and absolute must-ride!

After another bout on Behemoth, we left the park and concluded the Great American Coaster Tour 2013. What a ride it has been! Over 5000 km traveled through Ontario and 11 states, and seven great parks. If you like roller coasters at all, there is no better way to spend two weeks! Well, except of course hitting more parks! But we had timing issues with the hours and whatnot, so we did the best we could in the time we had. Though, Wonderland (also King's Island and Six Flags New England, to be fair) are in need of some B&M inverters or some Intamin launched/more bizarre rides. Roller coasters are what draws people from all over the world to these parks, and the more quality rides a park has, the more people will think it is worth the journey to get there! No parks on the trip turned out to be disappointing, which I am glad for, but some were definitely a better value than others.

Record holders:
Leviathan, 7th tallest, 8th fastest

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 11: Hersheypark

Today we went on the relatively short jaunt to Hershey Pennsylvania and Hersheypark. I'd actually never heard of Hersheypark before, but it is a cool park with a good amount of coasters, most of the steel ones having been built in the last ten years.
First off we rode on Skyrush, a hypercoaster with a very unique prototype train style. Four seats wide, with two on top of the track in the normal positions, and two set further down and back a bit so it is similar to a wing coaster's train. Pretty cool, sitting in the middle gives a different ride experience to sitting in the wing seats. The ride has an elevator lift that slings you up and over the 218 foot tall lift hill into an 85 degree drop where you reach up to 76 mph, into a high-speed turn before going up to an air-time hill, drops you again into a twist and turn that leads to another air-time hill that wings just under the first hill and gives a cool headchopper effect. Another high-speed turn takes you to another air-time hill, followed by some twists and an overbanked turn above the creek which leads to the final three air-time humps and then the brake run and the station. Awesome coaster, must-ride... twice! Try both sets options, the ride experience differs noticeably on the wing seats, with the greater lateral movement.
Next we walked over to Storm Runner, a launched coaster of a similar vein to Maverick at Cedar Point. You start off on an accelerator track like that of Kingda Ka, and are launched from 0-72 mph in 2 seconds, shot up the 150 foot tall top hat hill for some sweet air-time, then down into the cobra loop, a tall, wide loop-like element that is shaped like the hood of a cobra, then up again into a high barrel roll that runs into a diving loop. Some last twists and turns and a final hill takes you to the brake run and station. The ride is short and sweet, lasting only 36 seconds, but is a blast. Highly recommended.
We then made our way to Fahrenheit, a very cool and twisted coaster. You are brought up a 121 foot tall vertical lift hill and then dropped into a 97 degree, beyond vertical drop. Then you are shot up into a Norwegian loop, where you are twisted at the top upsidedown, down a dive-loop to level out, then back up into an Immelman inversion. The element has the appearance of an upside down vertical loop. After a drop back down you are thrown through a cobra roll, followed by two corkscrews in a row. A banked turn shoots you through the lift hill and into an air-time hump for some nice negative g's, then a final wide turn near the ground brings you around to the brakes and station. Really fun, twisty coaster, a must-ride!
Next up was Great Bear, an inverted coaster. You go up the lift hill, then drop into a helix to the right that bobs you down and back up before the main drop. You are then shot up a tall loop, followed by an Immelman inversion, that drops you down then up again into a zero-g roll. You are then turned around the creek and into a corkscrew. A few more wide turns bring you back to the station. You get a fair amount of speed on this ride, and I don't know of any other inverted coasters that have a helix before the main drop. Recommended.
Next we went on the long, winding walk to Wildcat, a very twisted and rough wooden coaster. Fun enough ride, lots of drops and heavily banked turns, but somewhat hard on the body. If getting beat up by a roller coaster is your thing, this coaster is for you.
Then we went over to Lightning Racer, and relatively new wooden racing coaster, and both trains were actually running (unlike Cedar Point and King's Dominion) and I think that added a lot to the ride experience. The trains load at opposite sides of the station, then peel away at opposite angles and go through a pre-lift shallow drop and bob before the lift hill. The lifts are staggered, so that you are not right beside each other on the hill, but still drop at the same time, down a curving hill and through some humps for air, and some banked turns where the dueling train enters at the opposite side as your train for some good crossing views. A good, twisty coaster, longest dueling one I have ridden, and lots of fun. Highly recommended!

The weather was less than awesome, and dad wanted to get a good ways into New York state for the drive to Canada's Wonderland tomorrow, so we didn't stay for a very long time, but we did give Skyrush one more time and set out on the road.

Hersheypark is a fun place, if you have never heard of it before, are near the area and like cool coasters, it is worth the day trip.

Tomorrow we return to Canada and go to the last park of the trip, Wonderland! Have not been there for a good six years, so have never ridden on Behemoth or Leviathan, and I am looking forward to them!

Record holders:
Fahrenheit, 7th steepest drop (multi-tie)
Storm Runner, 8th tallest inversion 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 10: Six Flags Great Adventure

Today was our day at the world's largest Amusement Park (in overall area), Six Flags Great Adventure! The area around is weird as hell (apparently common in New Jersey) and there were no hotels near the park, so the way in took somewhat longer than it really should have had things been laid out with any sort of sense and logic involved. But what else can you expect from a state that appears to be terrified of people turning left?
But anyway, we got in around ten minutes before non-season pass holders and rushed over to Kingda Ka, and we made good time since we got on the first ride of the day! Kingda Ka is absolutely nuts, 0-128 mph (206 km/h) then straight up 456 feet into some sweet negative g's at the crest of the top hat hill, before you go hurtling back to earth, while doing a 360 degree twist, before hitting the bottom of the main hill and going up another, more gradual hill for a little more air time and then the brake run on the other side of the hill's slope. Since we were on the first run of the day, we got to ride again right away! Great ride, the acceleration is so intense and sudden and just being up 456 feet in the air in an open car is awesome, and it is extra awesome when your butt does not touch the seat for pretty much the entire time you are up there! Total must-ride!
We then wandered over to Bizarro, an extremely twisty floorless coaster. The area had just opened, and it seemed everyone was in line for Kingda Ka, so there was no wait whatsoever and so few people in the area at the time that we rode Bizarro three times in a row! The ride rolls out of the station, dips down then goes into a 180 degree turn that takes you to the lift hill. After reaching the top, you are twisted 180 degrees again on the drop through light-up S-shield rings and into a giant loop. Then you are shot upwards and flipped over into a diving loop with flame effects blasting to either side, then back up again into the sweetest zero-g roll I have ever experienced. Then up into a cobra roll above the ride entrance, and then down into a tight upward helix around and through some ruined building scenery pieces, a slight brake, then interlocking corkscrews with a head-chopping spiked roller scenery piece in the middle of both corkscrews. One last little hump and you are on the final brake run and into the station. I really liked this ride, lots of thrills and inversions! Another must-ride!
Not wanting to waste too much time we could be riding coasters in, we did the short walk to El Toro, one of the tallest and fastest wooden coasters in the world. The ride opened in 2006, making it one of the newest wooden coasters around, and it uses a new style train with rubber wheels for a super smooth ride. You leave the station, do a 180 degree turn then go up the lift at a respectable speed thanks to the cable lift instead of a traditional chain lift. Once you reach 181 feet, you take a leisurely slight slope, followed by another 180 degree turn, then you are dropped down one of the steepest drops in wooden coaster history at 76 degrees. You hit 70 mph (110 km/h) wizzing under a section of track and then shoot up the first camel back air-time hill, followed immediately by a second one, then up into a severely banked 180 degree downward turn, then back up again in another, slightly less banked turn. Up and over another hill for some negative g's. Another turn and a hill hurtles you over Rolling Thunder, the other wooden coaster, then you travel through a series of high-speed turns inside the inner hollow of Rolling Thunder's track. You are then hopped over some s-curve hills before hitting the brake run and returning to the station. I honestly never thought I would be on a wooden coaster that could do the things El Toro does, and do them smoothly. Top class coaster, absolute must-ride.
After we had done the three we felt we had to in the area, we went on the long, meandering way to Nitro. The only way Nitro and El Toro could be farther away was if they really tried. But after a substantial walk, we arrived and there was barely a wait at all to get on.
Nitro is a classic hypercoaster, with its lift hill reaching 230 feet up in the air, and lots of negative g air-time. After the lift hill, you are dropped down nearly to ground level before shooting up a 180 foot tall camelback for some nice air time, then down and up into a second camelback for more air, which then twists you on the descent into a run to an over banked hammerhead turn through and above the woods. You are then popped over another air-time hill, before you hit an s-curve into the tight 540 degree upward helix. Some intense g forces on that one, though doesn't hold a candle to the forces on Intimidator 305's first high speed turn. After the helix you hit a slight brake and then go bouncing across the final three camelback hills for some more air-time before coming to a stop on the brake run and returning to the station. Fantastic ride, lots of negative g's and speed, must-ride.
Keeping with riding efficiently, we rode Batman: The Ride next, being right next to Nitro as it is. Batman is Great Adventure's most ridden roller coaster and the world's first inverted coaster. You are carried up the lift hill, turnes 180 degrees on the drop and then sent around a vertical loop, followed by a barrel roll, then into a second loop. You are then sent around a tight upward helix to the left before a wider right turn and into a corkscrew, another speedy turn and a second corkscrew. One final turn brings you to the brake run and station. Good, speedy ride, thought it has been outclassed by the likes of Raptor and others since, it is still a great ride and has been declared a coaster landmark. Highly recommended.

We grabbed some lunch, some souvenirs for the folks back home, and went to the car to ditch my phone and the stuff we just bought. Then we headed back into the park and went straight for Superman Ultimate Flight.
Unlike Firehawk, Superman sits you down, then tilts you parallel to the track, face down. Way better than laying down on your back, staring into the sun, but still rather uncomfortable to me. After the lift hill, you drop face-first towards the ground before flying up again, and into an oddball pretzelpretzel loop, where you start at the top and the apex of the loop is on the ground. Then you are flung around two 180 degree horseshoe turns and an upward helix before hitting a barrel roll and finally the brakes and station. Fun ride, very smooth compared to other flying coasters, but I find the discomfort of hanging there face down while the other train seems to take an hour to load sort of takes something away from the ride I just experienced. Maybe flying coasters just aren't my thing, I do not particularly like the way the forces act on the body when your back is parallel to the track. Ride if you have time, but do not plan you day around it. Odds are once will be enough.
I rode on Green Lantern alone next, since dad did not think a stand-up coaster would be so kind to his back. You climb a 155 foot lift hill, before dropping around 180 degrees, though a misted, reaching Parralax scenery piece and up a 121.6 foot giant loop and then rises again into a diving loop. Up again and around the station, then the train drops into an inclined loop (a verticle loop placed on a tilt rather than straight up and down), followed by another rise and then the first brake run. You are dropped again, into a corckscrew and then up through the diving loop before making a ground-level turn and a second corkscrew followed by a weaving helix around the inclined loop then another, tighter helix up to the break run and station. Good ride, little more head-banging than I appreciate, but fun overall. Like Superman, ride if you have the time, but I recommend it higher than the flying coaster.

With Green Lantern under my belt I felt we had ridden all the worthwhile coasters and rode Kingda Ka one final time, flowed by another jaunt on Bizarro and finally we tool the cable cars across the park to save the walk and get out of the heat a bit and rode Nitro one final time. All in all, one of the best days of coaster riding on the trip!

Tomorrow we go to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, our last stop before the journey back to Canada and Wonderland.

Record Holders:
Kingda Ka: 1st tallest, 2nd fastest
El Toro: 1st fastest, 3rd tallest, 3rd steepest (wooden)
Bizarro: 3rd most inversions (multi-tie), 9th tallest vertical loop (tie)
Green Lantern: 6th tallest vertical loop

Golden Ticket 2012 Winners:
Nitro: #3 steel
El Toro: #1 wooden

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Days 8 and 9: The day nothing was open, and skirting New Jersey

Well, the past two days have been somewhat less than exciting. But a good recharge. We left Massachusetts early enough, though we could not for the life of us find anything to do that was actually open on the Monday.

So we decided to go down to Bridgeport and eat at the Merritt Canteen, which has been featured on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I had a 1/3rd pound cheeseburger and my dad had a buffalo burger. Was quite good, if you ever find yourself in Bridgeport Massachusetts, stop by! Good local eatery, and compared to Canada, the US seems to be running short on places like these.

We stopped by Sherwood Island State Park, to get some nice cool ocean air, and at least have a nice setting to plan our route around the urban madness of NYC and Newark areas. So we took the long way around, stopping off in Middletown NY and getting a hotel for the night there.

The next day we kept going west until we got to Pennsylvania and far away from urban areas that will charge the crap out of you just to drive slowly through construction. So, having plenty of time to kill, we drove along the boarder of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. On the Pennsylvania side. Taking scenic route 611 for a long ways, we managed to avoid any and all tolls and find a way to Six Flags Great Adventure, with a much better view and a great deal less aggravation than we would have suffered going along the turnpike.

Though, I find it truly bizarre how gas stations rarely have maps, and no one (not even places that really should have then) have postcards anymore. Our GPS has not been doing particularly well with taking us where we want to go in a timely fashion, so yesterday and today were mostly navigated with paper maps, only using the GPS to orient ourselves and find a hotel after we had found the park. A really good dinner at a local diner ended our day, and provided me with the best burger I have had on the trip thus far. Canadian burger, with provolone cheese and nice thick back bacon. So good, tastes like home!

Six Flags Great Adventure tomorrow! Finally time to ride Kingda Ka, El Toro and Nitro! I can hardly wait!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 7: Six Flags New England

We left the hotel around 9:30, intending to use our early park admittance to our coaster riding advantage. Got into the park a good 20 minutes earlier than normal, non-season pass holders, immediately set out for Bizarro.
Six Flags has access to the DC licences, and they make full use of them. Bizarro is unsurprisingly themed after Bizarro Superman, and it does a pretty good job of making the queue somewhat entertaining. It was once Superman, The Ride of Steel, but has since gone to the dark side. The trains have speakers in the headrests that play thematic sound bites and music along to the ride, though during the day they weren't playing. The lift hill takes you up 208 feet before dropping you down 221 feet into a misted tunnel. You then pass over a pretty sweet zero g hump before going into an overbanked turn. You are then sent careening through building scenery pieces and up another two negative g humps before sending you through a series of fogged, light-up S-shield shaped rings. A bunny hop hill twists into a wide upward helix and then another small hill before helixing the other way, then another bunny hop takes you to a diving helix that goes through a misted tunnel under the main walkway, then over two last negative g humps and to the brakes. A very awesome, smooth coaster, tons of fun, thrills and negative g's, a total must-ride!
After Bizarro, we walked over to Mind Eraser. It is a venerable design, with other a dozen exact clones around the world. An inverted coaster, it leaves your legs dangling. After cresting the lift hill, you go down a curved dive into a speedy banked turn that leads into a sidewinder (half-loop, which straightens you out on top, before twisting you back around and down a second half-loop) followed by some banked turns that bring you around to two barrel rolls in a row. A few more twists and you hit the breaks and return to the station. Good coaster, somewhat standard for the type, but still a fun ride. Recommended.
Next up we rode Batman - The Dark Knight, a cool floorless coaster. After the lift hill, you go through a twisted dive back around and up through a giant loop, followed by a diving loop. The train twists around and arcs up through the center of the first loop and dives down, then up again into a zero-g roll. It is similar to a regular zero-g hump, except it twists you upside down at the top. You then go through a corkscrew, followed by a banked 180 degree turn that then flips you through a second, stretched corkscrew. One last turn takes you to the brakes and back to the station. Another good one, must-ride.

Next up we wanted to ride Goliath, a giant inverted Vekoma boomerang, but it was out of service all day. So we wandered over to Cyclone. Cyclone is an old wooden coaster (though not as old as Thunderbolt) and it is quite a rickety, screeching ride at times, the track drops and twists you around like crazy within the supports. Not too much air time, but a fun wooden coaster. If you have the time, I am sure you will enjoy it, but ride some steel first if the park is busy.

Thunderbolt was next on the list, the oldest ride in the park, having opened in 1941 and has been operating since. It has gone through several upgrades to the track, but the design of the ride is the same as it originally was in 1939 and the coaster had been declared an ACE coaster landmark. Thunderbolt actually offers a smoother ride than Cyclone, despite being a good 40 years older, though being able to feel the flexing of the long cars though the seats and sides is a little unnerving. You are taken around and back three times, over humps and bumps and a turn nested directly below the first turn. A good little wooden coaster, you should ride it, if only to say you have ridden a 72-year old coaster.

It was at this point that the weather was starting to take a turn for the worst, so we decided to get a couple more rides on our favourites in. Bizarro again, and Batman, but then the rain started. So we left the park for a late lunch and went back to the hotel to wait out the rain. The rain just got worse though, but it is OK, we rode what we wanted to, and got three rides in on Bizarro all together, the last being the best. I dunno if it was our position on the higher seats in the back of the car, or if it was just more mass to to the train, but we got when more air and speed on our final ride than any other. The same can be said for Batman, though that train was not full the first ride, so it makes sense that the increased mass would send us around even faster.

Tomorrow is a dead day, with very little to do as every park we could get to in time is closed. So we are thinking of going to Boston for entertainment. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jersey isn't open again until Wednesday, but we're going to head over Jersey way on Tuesday to try and avoid the same madness we experienced on the way to New England. After Jersey, we are going to go to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania for a real cheap day of cool coasters before we head back to Canada and Wonderland. Got some good stuff coming up! Really looking forward to the next three parks!

Golden Ticket Top 10 2012:
Bizarro, #2

Day 6, the most brutal ride ever

Well it started out OK, we left Virginia going north on the I-95 and then it all fell apart in New Jersey. The turnpike was OK for a while, but our attempts to get gas and lunch were fouled by a stupid road with nothing we could get to in time thanks to arsehole drivers on the right, and a total inability to turn left to get to all the stuff there. Finally we came to a Wawa that we could actually get into and got gas and hoagies.

Then we had to negotiate the smaller roads back around since there was no logical way to get to the other side of the road we came in on. Then came the hundred miles of construction (that might actually be accurate, hard to tell when you are travelling 2-30 mph on a highway. A toll highway at that). Rubberneckers and people merging randomly probably caused more problems than the actual construction.

Then came the madness of New York City. Driving through the city, even if you never leave the I-95, on Memorial Day weekend it is far more horrible than the worst days of winter at rush hour in Toronto. All the roads were parking lots funneling even more people who cannot merge for a crap into an already stopped highway. A trip that should have taken 20 minutes turned into over an hour. All said, New Jersey and New York added about two and a half hours to an already long trip.

Finally free of the stranglehold New York had on traffic, we made decent time through Connecticut and finally to Springfield Massachusetts. We made our way to Six Flags New England, got our season passes, rode once on Bizarro (will do a proper write-up after day 7) and found a hotel and food.

By all means, avoid the Jersey Turnpike. The endless construction just devastates the traffic flow, usually for no visible reason when you get past the bunch-up, and it is just not worth paying for when you could take back roads and make much better time.

Looking forward to some rest. The park is gonna be nuts tomorrow, at least when we hit Six Flags Great Adventure it will be during the week and should be less insane than it would be this weekend.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 5: Kings Dominion

Today we woke up way earlier than needed, bummed around the hotel a bit, then headed out on the short hop up I-95 to Kings Dominion. Easily the most accessible park we have been to so far, parking lot entrance right after the off ramp.

Getting closer to Memorial Day weekend, so unsurprisingly the park was busier than the others so far. Also they still have their metal detectors in place, unlike Kings Island or Cedar Point. Tons of school trips, including some school choir/band performances that we never heard or saw.

First off, we hit Volcano the Blast Coaster. Very, very cool ride. It is an inverted coaster build around and through a volcano scenery piece, but eschews a traditional lift hill for the magic of linear induction. After you roll out of the station you turn and stop inside a tunnel through the mountain for all of two seconds before the first LIM run launches you out and through a high-speed turn. It helixes up and around into the volcano for a second LIM run that sends you arcing straight up and out the mouth of the volcano into the second highest inversion on any roller coaster. You hurtle around the top of the volcano into three sweet heartline rolls. Unlike regular barrel rolls that twist you around the track, the track twists so that your core remains in the same place. The feeling is very cool, must be something like what fighter pilots experience when they do a barrel roll. A totally awesome coaster, non-stop speed, a must-ride!

Next we wandered over to Intimidator 305. The first thing you notice is that the 305-foot tall lift hill has only two support pylons. It results in a somewhat unnerving, but undeniably cool appearance. The ride is themed after Dale Earnhardt, "The Intimidator", I do not know much about NASCAR, but even I know he was a legend in the sport, who met a tragic end. But his legend lives on, and one incarnation is the most intense roller coaster I have ever ridden on. An elevator style lift hill hurtles you upwards at a speed that I never thought I would go up the first hill at. After cresting the top, you are dropped 85 degrees to speeds up to 90 mph (140 km/h) into an extreme high-speed turn nearly at ground level. And I mean extreme. The g forces on that turn are so intense your vision will blur. Mine actually began to grey at the edges on my second ride, and before they made changes to the track two years ago some people actually would grey or black out. You actually reach over 6 g's of force on that turn. After that turn you go speeding up into a sweet air-tme hump, before hitting some more high speed turns and arcing back around into some more negative g humps, before the final twists and then a unique magnetic downhill breaking system. The speed and intensity of this ride is absolutely insane, loved it. You must ride this coaster, nothing else I have ever ridden really compares to the balls to the walls experience you get on it.

Afterwards we did the short trek to Anaconda, an older steel coaster which has the unique element of a tunnel under the water level on the first drop, before a tall loop. You are then shot up a half-loop that corkscrews out and then helixes you down, before going back up into a brake run. After almost stopping, you are dropped down again and run through two corkscrews in a row. Fun ride, little rough around the edges, but that is to be expected given it's age and design. Recommended.

Then we wandered over to Dominator, only to find it with a train sitting motionless at the bottom of the lift hill. So to kill time we went to Rebel Yell and took a ride on that. You might have noticed that I have not mentioned riding any wooden coasters yet, and that is because we are trying to avoid doing any unnecessary harm to my dad's bad back. But El Toro in Six Flags Great Adventure calls to me, and we figured it would be a good test to see how wooden coasters treat his back. Rebel Yell is an old wooden racing coaster, though only one side of it was running at the time. Fun ride, lots of humps for air time. About as rickety as to be expected for an older wooden one. Though I imagine the ride would be more fun if both trains are racing.

Next up we saw Dominator running, and I decided I really did not like having my phone with me with my useless cargo pockets with buttons spaced too far apart and too loose main pockets for my peace of mind. So we dropped off the phone in the car and got some water. It was then that we noticed Dominator had stopped on the lift hill again. This time with a full load. Right near the top. Being glad that we didn't just go rushing over there, we went back into the park and rode Intimidator again.

We saw the train finally get off the hill after a good 15 to 20 minutes sitting there. Riding Intimidator again apparently gave them enough time to check the hill and get the required test runs in, since Dominator was running when we got there the second time.

Dominator is a floorless coaster, which means you still sit on top of the track, but while at the station the boarding floor falls away and you are left with feet dangling and a clear view of the track below. Once you reach the top of the lift hill you go down a curving hill that turns you around back the way you came and into a giant loop. Then you arc up around the station and into a cobra roll. Through some more turns and a little break run before the cool interlocking corkscrews and then back to the station. Great ride, real smooth and that giant loop is very cool to go through. Must-ride.

We rode on Volcano, Intimidator and Dominator one more time each and called it a day. Doritos Tacos Locos was our supper and they were delicious! Too bad we don't have them in Canada!

Tomorrow we drive out to Six Flags New England, to pick up our season passes and ride a couple rides. Gonna be another long haul, but we should be well rested.

Record holders:
Intimidator, 8th tallest, 9th fastest
Volcano the Blast Coaster, 2nd highest inversion
Dominator, 8th highest inversion, 3rd highest vertical loop