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Valleyfair & Nickelodeon Universe Photo Trip Report


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It's been a couple years since I've done a trip report, but I used to love sharing them and figured I may as well take another stab at one. I visited Valleyfair and Nickelodeon Universe for the first time last weekend, spending three days between the two parks. Overall it was a great trip, and both parks have some great rides. I'm not sure I'll make the trip back up anytime soon, but I'm glad I did this visit and finally got to visit another one of Kings Island's sister parks.

I'll split the three days (two at Valleyfair, one at Nickelodeon Universe) into a few parts each. Feel free to comment with any questions or thoughts on the parks or rides!

Friday, June 3 (Part 1)

After waking up 3:20am for an early flight, I took a Lyft from the airport directly to Valleyfair and arrived right at opening. I love how every park's skyline is different, and Valleyfair's had a really fun one visible directly from the parking area.

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The park oddly doesn't have a passenger pick-up or drop-off area, meaning my Lyft driver had to go through the tolls and explain that he was just dropping me off. The attendant waved us through, so it wasn't ultimately an issue, but it was still a strange set-up.

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The park had a standard Cedar Fair entrance. The wait wasn't too bad for security, and I was able to scan my Platinum Pass without issue. First time using it this year!

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The park had this sign placed outside the entrance. It was clear that the park was short-staffed throughout the day, and operations were a little slower than I'd expect at many of the rides. But it's early in the season and nothing was ever too painful.

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The first thing you see upon entry is this adorable fountain of Snoopy and Woodstock. I'd love to see a similar fountain somewhere at Kings Island.

I grabbed a locker for my backpack and a coffee at Caribou Coffee, which I hadn't had since it left the Cincinnati area years ago. Then off to my first ride: Mad Mouse.

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Mad Mouse is one of only four Wild Mouse rides ever built by Arrow Dynamics. Two of the others are also at Cedar Fair parks (Michigan's Adventure and California's Great America), whereas the fourth was at the now-defunct Myrtle Beach Pavilion in South Carolina. I've wanted to ride one of these zany little rides for ages and was excited to finally get my chance. Perhaps I set my expectations a little too high though, as the experience itself was... meh? It was a very standard Wild Mouse, even though Arrow tried some quirky new things, like some zig-zagged track and a bit of banking on some of the curves. By no means was it bad, but it was just a run-of-the-mill Wild Mouse.

I next moved toward Renegade, the park's newest roller coaster. It wasn't open for the day yet and there was a train parked on the lift, so I continued down the midway to Excalibur.

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Getting to Excalibur was weird - it was a very narrow pathway through the waterpark and into a tight underground tunnel. Given that it was still early morning, and how isolated this coaster was, I was able to do Excalibur back-to-back with minimal waiting. The ride was built by Arrow Dynamics in 1989 and feels like an XL version of Adventure Express. It has some really sharp (and jarring) transitions and definitely throws you around. It was a ton of fun though, and I had been wanting to ride this odd ride for years ever since I saw it in a roller coaster book as a kid. Definitely a highlight of the park.

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After Excalibur, I returned to Renegade and was pleasantly surprised to see it had opened. After a short wait, I rode the park's newest coaster (and my 250th... not that I keep track ;)) in the third row.

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My first ride on Renegade was honestly a little underwhelming, but as I rode it more over the next two days (especially in the back) it kept getting better. The curving drop (the only one of its kind on a GCI coaster) is stellar and some of the high-speed, low-to-the-ground transitions are extra thrilling. I don't think the station fly-by really added anything, but it was still a great ride and ultimately was my favorite one at the park.

I next walked back toward the front of the park, passing through Planet Snoopy on the way. Similar to the Snoopy fountain at the front of the park, the Snoopy area was filled with a ton of fun fiberglass figures - I would love to see Kings Island add some of these.

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I swung by Guest Services with some questions and ended up investing in the meal and drink plan, which should be motivation to get up to Kings Island and some other Cedar Fair parks more this summer. I also left with a fun button, courtesy the Guest Service staff.

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Part 2 coming soon; any comments and questions appreciated!

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Thanks for the comments!

Friday, June 3 (Part 2)

Back toward the front of the park, I explored the Route 76 area that Valleyfair overhauled a few years back. It includes their Intamin Impulse (Steel Venom), a few flat rides, a good chunk of the Wild Thing hypercoaster, and Northern Lights. Northern Lights is a Zamperla disk'o coaster, aka the same ride as Kings Island's own Surf Dog. The ride experience was pretty comparable, but this one has LED lights along the track. I didn't have the chance to see the ride at night, but if it's anything like Cedar Point's Pipe Scream, I really wish Kings Island would enhance Surf Dog with a similar lighting package.

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Next door was Delirious, a Larson super loop. I believe this is the only one of its kind at a Cedar Fair park, which I've always found odd - I know that enthusiasts aren't wild about these rides, but the general public seem to enjoy them and they seem like a smart addition. I didn't ultimately ride this one, but I liked how the ride's marquee was in a planter with purple mulch, matching the attraction's color palette.

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I took a break from the rides and walked around the park, enjoying the sights and looking for a place to eat. As mentioned in the first post, Valleyfair was a little understaffed, and the number of closed food stands reflected that. There was an interesting stand named Minnesota Eats that featured local flavor, but it was closed. The park's version of Chicken Shack was also closed. A few of the places that were open had (understandably) long lines. I ultimately settled on Mama Chetta's Pizzeria, which was a very standard theme park pizza place. I think the slice of pizza, bread sticks, and the drink would've rang up around $18 or so, but I was able to use my newly-acquired meal plan for the first time here.

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I had been traveling solo up until this point, but my friend James arrived around here and joined me. We started with a new ride for both of us - Wild Thing, Valleyfair's tallest (207'), longest (5,460'), and fastest (74mph) coaster. The ride was one of only a handful of hyper coasters built by Morgan Manufacturing, which was later purchased by Chance.

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Wild Thing was a quirky ride. It felt reminiscent of an Arrow (which Morgan founder, Dana Morgan, had came from), with its abrupt transitions and long straight sections. It was still a ton of fun though, and there was a wacky tunnel section midride that was a good surprise. I think I'd rank it below the other Morgan hyper coasters I've done (Steel Force at Dorney Park and Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood), but it was still a great ride and one of the park's best.

Up next was High Roller, a classic out-and-back wooden roller coaster from the defunct International Amusement Devices, Inc., which was the successor to National Amusement Device Company. The ride wasn't anything spectacular, but it was enjoyable. It also had a very bright, seemingly recent paint job.

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One weird thing about High Roller was that it was located in the heart of Planet Snoopy. It wasn't too intense and I'm sure a lot of kids love it, but its location was a tad odd. It'd be like if Kings Island put The Racer in its Planet Snoopy.

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We next took a spin on Renegade and then Excalibur, James for the first time on each. We did Renegade in the very back, which is easily the best row for the ride. Excalibur was toward the front, which was comparable to my earlier rides on it.

The school crowds had been crazy all day with endless middle schoolers in all the queue lines, but there weren't too many younger kids in Planet Snoopy. Considering this, there was almost no wait for Snoopy's Rocket Express, which is comparable to Kings Island's Woodstock Whirlybirds. Unlike the KI counterpart though, it featured open-air vehicles. We decided to give the small ride a spin.

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Snoopy's Rocket Express was a good break from the back-to-back roller coaster rides, and it gave some nice views of the Planet Snoopy area. I know Kings Island's area won the Golden Ticket Award for ages, but Valleyfair's was really nice and gave the Kings Island counterpart a run for its money. One big thing that Kings Island has the advantage of though is child-friendly coasters - there's four (including Surf Dog) coasters with 44" or lower height requirements in KI's Snoopy area, whereas Valleyfair only had one.

We followed-up Snoopy's Rocket Express with another slower ride, Ferris Wheel. Valleyfair's was placed near the heart of the amusement park on a small hill and gave a good panoramic view of its surroundings. I don't know if it was for balancing purposes or staffing or what, but they were only loading maybe a third of the cars. This resulted in what was probably the longest wait of the day, but it wasn't too bad and the ride was worth it.

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Adjacent to the Ferris Wheel was Corkscrew, which was also one of only two roller coasters I hadn't ridden yet. We followed-up our ride on Ferris Wheel with a spin on this classic Arrow looper. The ride was really pretty and its placement over the water was great, but the experience itself was about what you expect from an old Arrow. A little rough with some sharp transitions and not-so-great restraints. It was a one-and-done for me.

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We wrapped up our first day at Valleyfair with one last coaster, Steel Venom. I believe this is the last Intamin inverted impulse with a holding brake, which I was excited to try out (I think Possessed at Dorney Park still had its holding brake when I rode it in 2008, but that was so long ago I don't really remember).

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We rode in the very back. The launches and the twisted spike are great, but the holding brake was honestly more painful than fun. No desire to ride this one again.

The park closed at 5pm, right as we were riding Steel Venom. We headed out afterward with plans to return at opening for day two.

Day 2 coming soon; any comments welcomed and appreciated!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was at VF the year their Route 66 area opened up.  I LOVE Renegade.  The first drop was so much fun.  It was my first GCI coaster, so I may have a different memory had I been on Mystic Timbers prior, but man was that fun.

After going to CP this past week, I have a better appreciation for Wild Thing now.  It had been 15 years since i rode Magnum and that was an easy comparision with Magnum clearly better in my mind after my 1st ride on Wild Thing.  After getting on Magnum again this past week, I would 100% flip that thought.  Wild thing has a better 1st drop and better floater air on the 1st hill.  Both suffer from boring mid sections (though Magnums is less boring for sure) while Wild Thing was less painful at the end with all of Magnums ejector hills slamming my legs.

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