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ziplock's 2012 Amusement Park Tour

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Hello KIC,

Here is my trip report for four of the parks that I visited this summer in one giant tour. I've decided to break it up into parts by each park visit to spare you the many headaches that my drawn out writing style may bring you.

Part 1- Introduction and Cedar Point-Visit 1

July 21st was the big day. This was the day that I worked ever so hard for. This was the day that I had deserved by receiving a 4.0 grade point average in last year’s second semester. This was the start of a trip that I had been planning and anticipating since last year’s trip had ended. This was my summer 2012 amusement park extravaganza.

On this day, my dad and I finally departed our small, boring city in south-central Wisconsin to visit several cities in many different states to go to conventions and install equipment for my dad’s company; Foundational Fitness. But as much as I would have loved to travel with my dad only to help him with his business, this was not the reason that I accompanied him. Our plan was to hit four different amusement parks near the places we would be going anyway for Foundational Fitness.

But plans changed. As a result of a last second call requesting my dad to spend two more days installing equipment in New York, the order in which we were to visit the parks was altered from my original plan.

Our first stop on our nearly three-week journey was now to be West Babylon, New York. This city is about 18 hours away from our home city of Middleton, Wisconsin, and we knew we were going to stop at about halfway for some rest and complete the trip the next day. Without my knowing, my dad had already booked the hotel at this halfway point. And to my surprise, it was in a little city in northern Ohio called “Sandusky”.

We arrived at the hotel to check in at about 10 PM. And by about 10:30 PM, we were scanning our Platinum Passes at the front gate of the world’s greatest amusement park, Cedar Point. Since it was a Saturday and we only had an hour and a half until the park closed, we knew we would probably only get on one ride. For that one ride, we choose Top Thrill Dragster.

After about a one hour and twenty minute long wait, we were onboard the front row with our arms down, heads back, and oh yes, we held on. All I can say is wow. No matter how many times I go on this ride, it always manages to freak me out and give me the rush of a lifetime. And front row at nighttime just adds to the experience and gives the illusion you are cruising even faster before you behold that breathtaking view of a lit-up Cedar Point at the top. It was the perfect way to end the day, and even though we had time to make it to another ride afterwards, we just decided to go to the hotel and rest up for my dad’s next surprise, morning ERT. 10/10.

At 8:30 AM, we were back out the door of our hotel room and on our way back to that beautiful peninsula known as Cedar Point for our Platinum Pass holder early ride time. We headed directly toward my, at that time, third favorite coaster, Millennium Force. We waited about 10 minutes before we were in the back row listening to the techno station music as we departed from the station that looks strangely similar to a toaster oven. The first drop on this ride is breathtaking and only sets the table for the rest of the layout filled with floater-airtime goodness, high speed perfection, and bundles of high g force, overbanked turns. It was a brilliant ride and just about the best way to wake up in the morning. 10/10

After that astounding ride on Millennium force, we ventured through Frontier Trail for a ride on Maverick. We waited about 30 minutes and we were in row one all ready for dispatch. Let me just say, in all my rides on Maverick (all in front row of course), I have never had a bad ride on this astounding coaster. From the fast lift hill to the insane ejector airtime, twisty turns and inversions, and surprisingly forceful launch mid-ride, Maverick never has a dull moment. This ride is just crazily fast paced from start to end and is probably the most exciting coaster I’ve been on besides El Toro. Maverick is so amazing that I could just ride it all day long. 10/10

We then decided to race to the sky on one last ride on Top Thrill Dragster before we headed out. Even though it was just barely still early ride time, we waited about an hour for another front row ride. It was another spectacular experience on Top Thrill Dragster that left both of us breathless. Not many rides can do that after you’ve already ridden them about 10 times! 10/10 as stated earlier.

Since we had gotten to ride our three favorites in the park already and it was almost 11, we decided to hit the road and spent about 10 hours in the car that day before arriving in West Babylon. We spent Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday installing fitness equipment into several different schools and teaching other teachers how to use the equipment. On Wednesday at about 4 PM we left New York to make our way to the next great adventure on our tour, Jackson New Jersey.

To be continued in Part 2. I'll write and post it as soon as possible.

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Thank you! My dad and I have had great times on these trips and have made countless wonderful memories. We have visited at least two new parks every year since 2009, and I am very grateful that we are able to go together.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all I'd like to apologize for the delay in writing this second part. I've been very busy lately, but finally found a few hours to sit down at my computer and type.

Part 2- Six Flags Great Adventure

After about three more hours in the car traveling from West Babylon, New York, we were in the shadow of the magnificent, towering structure known as Kingda Ka in the parking lot at Six Flags Great Adventure. Since it was nearly 7:30 by the time we entered the park, we only had two and a half hours left until closing and we wanted to make the most of our “night ride” time, because we did not intend on staying until sundown on the next day. We decided to use the same strategy as we did at Cedar Point, and try to ride our three favorites with this limited time. We also attempted to make them all night rides, but that attempt did not succeed.

First up was the gigantic B&M hyper coaster that looms over guests that take an immediate right upon entering the park, Nitro. At the point that we were at in the line, there was a sign that said the wait was 30 minutes from that point, but I knew that it would be no longer than 15 minutes since they were running three trains. I was right, for within the next 10 minutes we were boarding the back row and all clear for dispatch. Nitro is truly an excellent ride full of all the floater airtime one can imagine. The first drop and rolling bunny hills after the mid course brake run are my highlights of the ride, simply because during those parts you rarely contact your seat! The overall experience is just so smooth and enjoyable that I could just ride it over and over again. (And I would do that the next day) 10/10

After all that floater airtime, we felt like we needed some ejector air to balance it out a little bit. In order to get our fair share of that and more, we headed to my favorite coaster at the park, El Toro. We waited about 20 minutes outside of the station before the employee let us proceed and choose our row. There’s just one thing that confuses me: all the guests seem to overwhelmingly crowd the front of half of the station and leave the back half practically empty! The ride op had to announce several times for people to use the whole station but it continued to happen for the remainder of my visit. Having ridden this coaster in both the front and back half of the train several times, I enjoy the back a lot more than the front. I’m fine with it I though. Less waiting for me! Anyways, we choose the very back row and waited one ride cycle before we were speeding up that cable lift hill. El Toro is simply amazing. The ejector airtime is the most intense I have experienced from the first drop to the brake run, and it is the most exciting ride I have ever been on. Seriously, this thing just relentlessly throws you out of your seat on every high-speed hill in the most extreme way imaginable. I’ve been on the ride before, but I cannot stop describing its magnificence. After this trip, El Toro moved ahead of Millennium Force and Maverick to take the place of my number three rollercoaster. I’ve never been on The Voyage, but I have an awful hard time believing that it can match the airtime, speed, and smoothness of El Toro. 10/10 with no doubt in my mind.

Next on our “to ride” list was the tallest coaster in the world, Kingda Ka. It was dusk at the point that we got in line, but after the hour and a half long queue, we were about to get our front row night ride in on this massive steel beast. Now don’t get me wrong this thing is just as crazy of a rush as Top Thrill dragster, but I just don’t like Ka as much as Top Thrill. The restraints on Top Thrill are a lot more comfortable and open in my opinion, and Ka has too much vibration in the track and just lacks the hype and excitement that the theming on Dragster gives the ride. It is still a great ride, but not the best of its kind. 9/10

After rocketing to the sky on Kingda Ka, we decided to get our night ride on El Toro. Since we only waited about 10 minutes to get into the station on this ride, we thought we were going to have enough time to hurry over to Nitro for a last night ride before the park closed. But it was not to be. Because of the tight restraints on this ride, many people have troubles getting them to lock and need the assistance of an employee. This significantly slows down the operations of the ride, and it was past closing by the time it was our turn to ride. However, this disappointment was quickly forgiven after a spectacular night ride on this beast. At night, the ride seems to fly even faster and more out of control over each and every hill than it does in the day. It was a truly fantastic way to end the night at the park before heading to the hotel to recharge for a whole new day of thrills.

At about 11:00 AM the following day, we had already scanned our Six Flags season passes and were on our way to the Flash Pass booth. Yes, I am aware many of you are against these expensive devices that allow you to bypass most of the regular line, but in some cases, they are necessary. On the rare occasion that I get to make the journey to this excellent New Jersey amusement park, the last thing I want to do is waste my time in the same kind of hour and a half lines in the heat of the day that I had waited in the previous night. We also did not plan on spending the whole day at the park, and wanted to make the most of the precious time we had. We chose the Gold level Flash Pass, and dashed to the same ride to start our day with that same ride that we had ended the last with last night, El Toro. We were directed right into the station and waited about 10 minutes before a back row ride that is sure to fully wake you up in the morning.

After that breathtaking ride on El Toro, we headed next door to Bizarro and waited one train to ride front row on this floorless coaster. This ride has always been my favorite floorless because of its X2-like fire effects, audio soundtrack, and mist effects on various parts of the track. The ride itself is fantastic also with a large drop cobra roll, and many other wonderful elements like a zero g roll. Bizarro is also very smooth, making the overall experience very enjoyable at the same time as thrilling. 8/10

Next we headed to Kingda Ka to experience yet another exhilarating ride before making our way right back the path we came to get another ride on El Toro, and finally another ride on Kingda Ka before exploring some other rides that the park has to offer. While we were in the area, I considered riding Rolling Thunder just for The Interpreter, but since my dad doesn’t ride most old, wooden coasters, I decided against it. First up was their parachute drop ride because it was on our way to the rest of the park from El Toro. We had never been on a ride like this, and actually enjoyed it. It is a nice way to view the park while not flying over the hills of a roller coaster or anticipating the drop of a Drop Tower ride. 5/10 because well… it’s a parachute ride

Since we were in the same general area, we decided to check out the newest coaster addition to the park, Green Lantern. Now going into this ride, I had low expectations because I strongly dislike standup coasters in general. But I tried to keep an open mind because of some of the positive reviews I’ve read of Chang. Nope, it was the same as every other standup coaster I’ve ridden if not worse. The sharp pain in my lower legs just got worse and worse as the ride goes on. I know some of you are probably thinking right now that I’m not riding it correctly. But I paid very close attention to the instructions this time and rode just as I always have; with my legs straight and not sitting on the small bicycle seat. Upon exiting the ride I tried to remember anything positive throughout the ride whatsoever, but it was made difficult by the leg pain that persisted throughout the remainder of the day. 2/10 because the drop was less painful than the remainder of the ride

Next we skipped a long regular line for the surprisingly popular Superman: Ultimate Flight. Looking back at it, I’m pretty sure we just rode it because it was right next to Green Lantern and we didn’t have to wait in line for it, because there is really nothing special about the ride. The layout of this cloned ride is simply uninteresting and feels weak and slow after flying at the speed of fear on Tatsu. 6/10 because it is relatively smooth, has a decent pretzel loop, and after all, it is a flying coaster

We then decided to check out Great adventure’s new swing ride, SkyScremer. We used our Flash Passes and waited one ride cycle before boarding our seats. If the spinning and towering height isn’t enough to make you nervous, the unsecure-looking restraint system is. I personally liked the ride and like how it goes all the way up, down a little, then all the way back up to the top before it’s final descent. This increases the ride time and at the same time is more exciting than staying at the very top. You also get considerably more wind on SkyScreamer than WindSeeker because of its faster maximum spin speed. 6/10: A slightly more exciting way to view the park than the parachute ride.

After SkyScreamer, we decided to get our ride on the airtime monster known as Nitro. Since the Flash Pass path led us to the back half of the station and there were two open seats in back row, we waited all of about 45 seconds from the time we entered the queue to dispatch. It was every bit as fantastic as it was the previous night, so we decided to ride it three more times in a row with about a 2 minute wait each.

Since we were already in the area, we decided to get a quick ride on Batman: The Ride. We waited an extra 10 minutes to ride front row, as we always do on inverted and floorless coasters. We’ve always thought these compact little clones are pretty fun. All the different elements and inversions are packed so close together that there is never a dull moment. Because the track is so close to each other, it also feels like you’re traveling even faster through that twisted, smooth mass of steel than you really are. It is by no means my favorite inverted coaster, but it is great for a ride that I have been on at four different parks. 7/10

By this time, it was the hottest part of the day and we were looking for some way to escape the heat so we went to the Dark Knight Coaster since we were already in the area. For this ride, the Flash Pass users enter the line before you get into the building, and most of the queue is actually inside the building so we couldn’t skip much of a line. Immediately upon entering the building, we knew the wait was too long for the quality of the ride, so we just left to go ride Nitro a few last times. After those three amazing rides on Nitro with very little waiting, we headed over to El Toro to balance the ejector and floater airtime a little better. After that superb ride El Toro, it was about 4:30 and we were hoping on leaving soon so we headed over to the Golden Kingdom for a last ride on Kingda Ka

Approaching the entrance of Kingda Ka, we saw a kid being cared for in a first aid golf cart with a large crowd around it. Thinking nothing of it, we continued through the Flash Pass entrance and into the station. Some of the employee’s started cleaning one of the cars, and announced on the loudspeaker that the ride will be temporarily closed due to natural causes. Thinking that we knew what they meant by “natural causes”, we decided we didn’t have enough time to wait for it to reopen and took off to get a last ride on El Toro. While exiting we overheard a couple of ride ops talking about what happened, so I decided to ask and find out. They replied that a kid got hit with a bird at the bottom of the drop before the brake run. The boy thankfully only suffered a nosebleed and a couple of cuts on the face, while the bird however died and had to be cleaned out of the train; thus the delay.

After hearing of this bizarre incident, we continued over to El Toro to get one final on this insane coaster before taking off. Part of the reason why we took off so early is because we hadn’t eaten since we arrived at the park. But the real reason is because we had a two and a half hour drive to get to a sweet amusement park in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

I hope to have part 3 posted more quickly than I had part 2 posted, but I can't make any promises with school starting soon. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for part 3!

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Sounds like a great adventure has been saved by Flash Pass! Each of these systems have their flaws, but they do serve excellent purposes. Glad you could implement it on your relatively short stay!

Glad you and your father had a Six Flags day, and I, too, await your Hershey installment. :)

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