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gad198

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  1. This 100%. My first thought anytime I see a front-of-line option is "does this seem like a good value?" I think $850 is a really good price point. It's way too expensive for the person making a few visits a year and it's a good enough value for anyone who visits 10 times or more. I also agree with you that price hikes for the daily Fast Lane Plus options would be in good order to cut down the numbers of people in the Fast Lane lines, thus increasing the benefits for those who do purchase Fast Lane.
  2. I rode this last Friday. Overall, I'd say that the ride is good. I think the ride is fun and it definitely fills a niche within the park. I respect everyone else's opinions. Having said that, I don't really think that there's anything particularly memorable about this ride. The ride was designed to be a more family-friendly launch coaster and Mack certainly succeeded in that objective. The seats and restraints are comfortable. Load times were a little long and the ride seems to be having some early season hiccups, so hopefully that gets straightened out before too long. Those of you heading down to ride will want to hit this first because of some of the technical issues. I think Kings Island would definitely benefit from a coaster like this at some point, but there is absolutely no way I'd be in favor of getting one of these before a B&M gigacoaster. The possibility of B&M gigacoaster 3.0 interests me WAY more than a third launch coaster at Kings Island. Most of the guests who just got off the ride or were chatting about the ride elsewhere in the park all said pretty much the same thing - that it is a fun coaster for what it is but not something they were dying to get back in line for again quickly. My final grade would be a B-.
  3. Manta and Tatsu - the best B&M flyers in the US - are really, really good rides. Having said that, they aren't what I would consider re-rideable coasters. The forces that those rides exert can be a little uncomfortable given the position you're riding in, and as a result, I very rarely have a desire to immediately re-ride. One of the reasons that a B&M giga is going to work well at Kings Island is because of a high re-rideability factor. I always want to immediately re-ride the best B&M hypers - Diamondback, Fury 325, Mako, etc. The ability for a ride to be both thrilling and re-rideable is a very difficult thing to achieve in a ride, and that's one of the reasons that B&M hypers have been extremely successful for the Cedar Fair chain. They're really fun rides, they move a lot of people through, and they are really tall which makes people talk about them. People of all ages like B&M hypers. I don't really think the same can be said of the B&M flyers, at least not to the same degree. I think Banshee took care of the "adding inversions" to the park's lineup very well for the time being. The park needs a "here's our no-doubt-about-it-we're-putting-this-on-all-our-brochures-and-billboards-and-commercials" signature ride. Cedar Fair is not going to overthink this. Diamondback was the best addition to the park in the last 30 years. Some may debate that, but if you look at the popularity Diamondback has enjoyed these last 10 seasons, the high guest satisfaction, high uptime, ridership numbers and hourly capacity I'm really not sure that there's a case to be made for any other attraction. Adding something that will top Diamondback will make everyone happy, and I look forward to seeing what B&M can do with a giga on the land available to them.
  4. Dueling Dragons had separate load and unload zones. That's the only B&M that's had them to the best of my knowledge. When the KI giga comes, I would hope that the park would opt to have things set up Fury 325 style. The small stretch of track between the station and the lift hill can serve as its own block. Fury can actually have a train on the lift hill while dispatching the train that's in the station. The train simply stops on that section of track and is held until the train ahead of it is at the far turnaround by the front gate. That setup frees up the station to have a train in the station unloading and loading while others are out on the course. That is one of the reasons why the hourly capacity on that coaster is amazing.
  5. SeaWorld San Diego is a nice park. My friend Dave and I were out there a few months ago and we really enjoyed our visit. The biggest issue they have is that the park doesn't have a whole lot to do on the "amusement" side of the park, so this will be a welcome addition. This new B&M dive will fit in very nicely in the park, and it will be the only B&M dive west of the Mississippi. I'm sure they'll get some mileage out of this addition.
  6. Is there a "let me see what 2020 brings" option? With the possibility of B&M hypers/gigas at Kings Island & Hersheypark and an RMC Gwazi, I'm WAY more excited about anything in 2020 than I am for anything next year. Copperhead Strike and Yukon Striker look like the best of the 2019 bunch, but I'd rather take the possibility of anything top-shelf worthy in 2020 than the sure-fire 2019 additions.
  7. I actually am more excited about the area around the coaster than I am the coaster itself. I am definitely not a Steelers fan, but I think the interactive areas look really interesting. If nothing else, a lot of these areas will be accessible and open when the weather is poor. It'll be interesting to see how this ends up looking when everything is complete. Personally, I'm not digging the coaster, like, at all. Aesthetically it's not pleasing to look at. The layout doesn't seem to have a lot of flow to it. It looks like they decided to add a bunch of random elements together with no regard for how everything flows together as a whole. I haven't been to the park since 2011 and this definitely won't be the ride to bring me back.
  8. A KI giga made by anyone other than B&M would be a mistake of epic proportions. RMC coasters would probably bring a more "thrilling" coaster, but you have the following major drawbacks: much lower capacity - 24 seat trains (vs. 32 for a B&M) much slower loading due to the design of the trains and restraints. I've yet to see ANY RMC coaster load and dispatch quickly more guests will be turned away because of the more restrictive restraints way more downtime. I've ridden 8 RMCs thus far and have experienced downtime of some kind at 7 of them. Ask Cedar Point reps how they feel about their RMC right now I'm not even going to discuss the possibility of an Intamin since there's an almost zero percent chance of that happening. They still haven't figured out how to make good restraints! Kings Island is not going to spend $30 million (or more) on a new attraction without knowing EXACTLY what they're getting. Cedar Fair B&M hyper installations have all been fantastic and have been very popular with park guests. More importantly, B&M coasters are good financial investments for the parks. RMC coasters cost as much now as new B&Ms and come with way more headaches. Mack hasn't gone anywhere near 300 feet yet. Kings Island knows that if they're going to install sometime of this magnitude that they absolutely, positively, have to get it right. Kings Island won't overthink this.
  9. I do think there's a very high probability that a giga coaster is coming to Kings Island within the next few seasons. The odds of the giga being anything other than a B&M are close to zero though. Cedar Fair hasn't worked with Intamin in years. Mack has yet to go anywhere near 300'. Cedar Fair isn't going to spend $30 million on a project of this magnitude without knowing exactly what they're getting. Leviathan and Fury 325 and the smaller B&M megas like Diamondback have been enormous hits for their respective parks. A B&M giga at Kings Island would have a strong possibility of being the best ride in the world. There's no other coaster company that provides the combination of reliability, comfortable ride, throughput, and ROI that B&M provides. From the park's perspective you finally get a no-doubt-about-it signature attraction. Mystic Timbers was a brilliant addition - fun, re-rideable, a 48" height attraction...but it didn't break the bank. The Western Row construction project didn't include the expansion of Kings Island Drive without cause. The new parking arrangement is designed to better flow through more cars. It's been nearly 10 years since Diamondback, a ride that completely changed the dynamic of the park. The attendance of the park can more than support a ride of this magnitude. It's time. If it makes financial sense for the park to install a giga, they will. Kings Island has the land. Kings Island has the attendance. It's just a matter of time.
  10. Just got back from the park. I got in line at the Skyline on International Street at 4:15. The line at that time was to the door with the one switchback open. I walked out at 40 minutes later right at 4:55. I apologize if this has already been discussed, but there are two issues with the setup at that particular location: The drink stand setup is abysmal. The drink stand is located between the serving line and the cashier station. In and of itself that's not a big issue, but there were no drink cups at that location. People who want drinks have to go to the cashier station and then go back to the drink station, cutting back behind people in line behind you. There was only one cashier...on a Saturday...at the beginning of prime meal times. Look, I get that it's early in the season and that finding enough people to work until schools are let out is tough. However, it's becoming more and more clear that the biggest bottlenecks at most of the food stands are at the cashier stations. I don't know why the folks responsible for implementing food service simply refuse to take positive steps towards eliminating major bottlenecks at food service locations. There are only a few potential bottlenecks at each particular location; the cashier stations, waffle fries at Chick-Fil-A, etc. If Kings Island food service management refuses to address these issues and address them quickly, there are going to be many people who will simply spend their food dollars elsewhere. I do have a food plan. Having said that, I'm not going to wait 40 minutes again for two cheese coneys, fries and a drink. More and more I realize that my time is way more valuable to any "value" I feel like I need to extract from my meal plan. I would much rather pay double for my meal plan and be able to have quick service. To the folks at Kings Island food service management, something has to be done. You can do what you can to improve the situation or you'll have the situation improved for others as people don't renew their plans. The dining plans offer amazing convenience, and your consumers want to be loyal. Having said that, your consumer base isn't inelastic as far as the demand. Your consumers are only going to buy if there's value - good food AND quick service, and right now we're not getting the latter. KI - it's your move.
  11. Cedar Point has two things that KI doesn't...nearly 100 years of additional history and Lake Erie. It would be hard for any one additional investment at KI to overcome those two items. Having said that, I do agree that KI is a giga coaster away from being in the "best coaster destination in the US" conversation. Building Diamondback really changed everything for the park. Having an extremely popular, tall, high capacity coaster at the park really took the park to another level. With the opening of Mystic Timbers the park will have four world-class coasters - two really good wooden coasters, one of the best inverts in Banshee, and the aforementioned Diamondback. Adding a giga would bring the park a fifth world-class coaster, and more importantly for the park, would give the park a marquee, no-doubt-about-it signature attraction. As I said earlier, I still believe that Kings Island will get a giga sooner rather than later. I think building Mystic Timbers first was smart and will allow Kings Island to have more popular attractions in the lineup to help soak up some of the additional crowds that the giga would bring. All of the changes at Kings Island and the better infrastructure around Kings Island (Western Row/I-71 construction) just feels like something big is coming. In 2008 there was one world-class coaster (Beast). In a few years we might have five. Kings Island is ready to hit the big time.
  12. Yeah, that was my thought too when I saw that all passholders are invited. The last two season pass preview nights were really nice, laid back affairs. Reasonable lines both years even with nice weather. It was one of the nicer nights that Kings Island had through the year. Having said that... You have two things working against that this year: Friday of opening weekend this year is Good Friday. The last two years that was not the case. Mystic Timbers will be open to the public for the first time. With the opening of a big new coaster I'd imagine that Kings Island didn't want their Guest Services department flooded with irate passholders that were denied access just because they didn't renew in the fall. On a positive note, the hour of ERT on Mystic Timbers on Tuesdays in May and June will be great. I am very much looking forward to those evenings.
  13. Overview: My friend Dave and I have been to just about all of the major parks east of the Mississippi River over the course of the past five years. We talked about new places we might be able to go or places we hadn't been to in a while, and the one area that neither of us had been to in the last 20 years was the Disney World complex. We ultimately decided that we were going to do a one-week long blowout trip that included: Dollywood Six Flags Over Georgia all four Disney parks both Universal parks Busch Gardens Tampa Sea World the two Fun Spot parks in Central Florida To save everyone's sanity I won't cover each park or trip day in detail. This will be written as a highlight report, just covering anything noteworthy. Things that Underwhelmed: The Disney parks except for Animal Kingdom. Dave and I both felt that the Disney parks simply lacked the "magic" we were both expecting. Dave's last visit was in 1985 and mine was in 1993, and we both walked in to our first Disney park - the Magic Kingdom - with extremely high hopes. While we both loved the attention to detail and the great theming in each of the parks, we simply felt that (1) none of the rides at any of the parks there - with the exception of Toy Story Mania and Expedition Everest - were worthy of re-rides, and (2) there wasn't enough at the parks to do that would be worthy of staying at any of the parks for a full day. Disney really needs to install more attractions - particularly at Epcot, the Studios and Animal Kingdom. The Incredible Hulk at Islands of Adventure. I love the layout of the coaster, but even after they rebuilt the coaster from the ground up and have brand new trains on the ride, the ride is still just as rough as it was on our visit five years ago. Universal really needed to install the vest restraints on this coaster, because the headbanging on the old-style OTSRs was constant. It was perhaps the most disappointed I've ever been after getting off of a B&M coaster. Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios. The ride itself is fun and the graphics are really cool. Unfortunately, the ride didn't have a real plot that I could follow, which made it difficult to put the ride into proper perspective. We rode it twice as a walk-on both times and never cared to re-ride it after that even with short waits. They had a hard act to follow with Forbidden Journey, and it just didn't have the same "wow" factor as Forbidden Journey. The food at both Disney and Universal - Mythos excluded. The meal we had at Mythos was very good, but the food we had at the Disney parks and at Universal was incredibly average. We tried everything from burgers to pasta to dessert, and except for Mythos everything else was shockingly forgettable. Very few parks do food well and these two parks aren't part of that group. Things that Surpassed Expectation: Transformers at Universal Studios. Universal Studios 3D rides are all very good, but Transformers was amazingly well done. The scenes there were just action-packed, the storyline made sense, and the graphics were just incredible. If it wasn't for Forbidden Journey it would be the best dark ride in the US. We both absolutely loved the ride. Animal Kingdom as a park. There's not a whole lot to do at Animal Kingdom, but I absolutely loved the feel of the park. It is definitely the most "immersive" of any of the parks in Orlando because of the way the whole park feels like an actual tropical park. I really liked the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, but I'll remember the way that the park immerses you more than the attractions. Toy Story Mania. What a great ride! I thought that the small rope/button combination instead of the normal trigger was a bit odd until the first shot. After the first shot and seeing the clear way the shots were shown on the screen, all I could think of was "why aren't all other interactive dark rides using this technology?" It is the best ride of its type hands down and is way more fun than I ever expected. I absolutely fell in love with this ride. Mako at Sea World. I love the B&M hypers and I went in with high expectations, but I was absolutely shocked by how powerful the airtime on the pre-MCBR section of the coaster is. It has the most powerful airtime of any B&M hyper, particularly if the trim brake is off. The section after the MCBR is just OK, but the first half of the coaster more than makes up for it. I've ridden all but four B&Ms in North America and it's probably my second favorite B&M coaster after Fury. If you're in Central Florida you definitely need to check out Mako. It is fabulous. The Royal Pacific Resort at Universal. The room rates there were high ($185 per night even with a Universal annual pass), but I was extremely impressed with the resort. It's close to the action - about a 10-minute walk to CityWalk and another 5-minutes to the parks - and even have water taxis that you can use to save the walking part. The rooms were very nice and the pool there is just fantastic. The rooms come with the Universal Express line-skip passes for everyone in the room and one hour early entry to one park. Crowds for our trip were really light and didn't really make these perks that helpful for us, but they would both be incredibly helpful on moderate to busy days. I highly recommend a stay there. Just a few other notes: Montu moved ahead of Banshee as my favorite invert. They are really close, but the thing that separates the two for me is the Montu zero-g roll. Banshee's zero-g roll just doesn't have the snap that Montu's does, and Montu rides smoother even though it's 20 years old this year. Both coasters are awesome, but Montu is just a tad better IMO. The Pop Century hotel at Disney is nice. It's categorized as a "value" resort, but it was more than adequate. We got a nice deal (about $100 per night for two nights) and we thought it was a great value for what we got. Disney Transportation is nice, but I was glad that we had our own car. Pop Century has bus transportation from the hotel directly to each park, but honestly, you're probably still better off driving around property with your own car. Your mileage may vary. Lightning Rod at Dollywood is still a great ride. It's definitely a top-5 wooden coaster. It looks like the reliability is improving and they're running two trains more often now, but the load times on the coaster are still making for long waits. Those of you going down over the next month need to get rides first thing in the day, or you're likely looking at wait times of 30 minutes or more even on moderate days. Thanks for reading!
  14. The item I'm posing for discussion is how much effect has the Fast Lane Plus for renewing season pass holders affected wait times on Sundays during the Fall. Fall Sundays always were a good time to go to the park, especially the ones after Columbus Day weekend. Wait times were always extremely manageable even on the nicer weather days. It seems that has changed for the worse over the past couple of seasons, and I think that part of that change is due to the park giving out free Fast Lane Plus bands to renewing season pass holders. I had a desire to go to the park that last couple of Sundays, but decided to pass because of the reports coming in from the park about long wait times. The day it finally hit me was a late season Sunday last year. My friend Cheryl and I came in to the park around 4 and decided to renew our Platinum passes at that time. I mentioned that one of the perks was a free Fast Lane Plus band on Sundays, and she recommended that we might as well use it now. We got the bands, and went over The Beast. We walked up the exit and into the Fast Lane Plus line only to be greeted with a 25-minute long Fast Lane line. The regular line looked to be around an hour. Cheryl turned to me and said "I don't remember lines being this long on Sundays in the past". I couldn't disagree with her, but I'd be interested in hearing others thoughts on the matter.
  15. I had a chance to ride Lightning Rod on Friday. I got three rides in, and I just wanted to share a few thoughts: Because of the way the trains - and more specifically the headrests - are designed the only row that has a clear view throughout is the front row. Even a ride in row 2 didn't provide what I would consider great views. If the staff will allow you to wait for the front row I'd do it, if only so you can see what's going on the whole ride. The trains seem to be the major reason why the ride is having difficulties. I got a chance to speak with a supervisor and a maintenance team member and they all made reference to the trains as the main reason for the inconsistent uptime. I would go in with the expectation that even if the ride is running during your visit there will be probably be downtime at some point. The ride seems to be stuck with one train operation for the time being. Lightning Rod team members said that they have run two trains on occasion, but there haven't been any sustained periods of consistent two-train operation. Dispatch intervals in one-train operation mode are around 5 minutes. That's around a 300 per hour capacity. That's abysmal, but hey, at least the ride is (semi) open! The newer RMC coasters are not big person friendly, nor is this one. Those over 250 lbs. or have large thighs may have a tough time. The pre-drop and first drop have major airtime. The airtime on the ride is there in abundance once you get past the wave turn, and the airtime toes the line perfectly between thrilling and enjoyable. The quad down is as good as advertised. Unlike most of the other RMCs the restraints are relatively unobtrusive when you're on the course. My first ride - in the last row - had a nasty jolt bottom of the first drop, but the other rides did not. The rest of the course was very smooth. Aside from the aforementioned sight issues I don't believe there's a major difference between front of train and back of train rides in terms of ride quality. I was very skeptical when some other enthusiasts were proclaiming this their #1 overall coaster, but I can absolutely see why some might rank it that high after my rides. I can absolutely make the argument that it's the best wooden coaster in the US right now. I still prefer both Boulder Dash and Voyage when each of those coasters is running well, but the way that they're running right now I would take Lightning Rod over each of them. Lightning Rod is definitely not better than Fury 325, but honestly, that might be the only coaster in the US right now that's better. If you can get a ride this year I'd make the effort to do it.
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