USA 06/23 – Houston

Over in Houston the coaster situation is a little more relaxed (RIP Six Flags AstroWorld), so first things first we decided to hit up the Space centre for… research purposes.

Day 4 – Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center


The research ended in about 2 seconds. They’ve got a bottom of the barrel motion simulator pod, which was known. It’s in the main hall, also upcharge and wasn’t running, less known. To the next destination!


Nah though, there was stuff to do. We jumped on one of the tram tours first that takes you out to this hangar, complete with rocket. Saw some longhorn cattle along the way – all the culture rolled into one.


As promised, this was inside. Huge.


I enjoyed all the different logos they came up with for each Apollo mission, particularly the 17th century ship in space.


Once done there, the tram dropped us back off outside where this real Boeing 747 carries a fake shuttle, which used to be its job. You can go inside both and explore.


Or you can admire this fan with a donkey on it.


Back inside the main building there’s a man floating.


And you can walk on the moon.

All of this was fine, but then it got a little disappointing. There was a second tram tour out to an astronaut training center, but it required a free reservation and they had already run out.
At no point during the online booking process, scanning of tickets at the entrance, being greeted by a greeter who asked
“Is there anything we would like to know?”
“I don’t know yet, you tell us”
“Have a map”
or walking past and interacting with 5 or 6 staff members at a desk in front of the tram tours, to get to the other tram tour, was anything made abundantly clear that a reservation was required. Which I feel is an oversight. Next.

We drove to Kemah Boardwalk next, wanting to get the more important cred under our belt. Boardwalk Bullet wasn’t in operation however and we enquired at the ticket desk, while getting sunburnt, to be told that a storm was coming, and we best be ready when she does. Maybe.

The internet corroborated this and also revealed that the same could not be said for Galveston, just down the road. Well isn’t that convenient..

Down in Galveston town lies a Rainforest Café that just so happens to contain a dark ride.


River Adventure Ride used to have its own fancy ticket booths, but now it just hides in the corner of the gift shop and you buy admission from in there.


It’s got boats. Moves slowly and magically stops itself every so often.


Animals and stuff too. Temples and fire at the end. Solid.

Galveston Pier


Also in Galveston town is the less important coaster, on an apparently historic pier.


It’s pricey to get in (on), even just for one ride, and so foolishly we opted for a wristband, assuming the Gerstlauer was worth at least a few courtesy laps to get our moneys worth. We like Vertika, I reasoned.


I did not like #1 Iron Shark. Sure, it has lap bars, but that doesn’t help when it rides like arse. Sure it’s compact, but all that leads to is unpleasant brain shaking mixed with positive Gs. Headache material.

We put up with it for a few goes, mostly because the operator was entertaining and we were in no hurry, and then left in a hurry.

Kemah Boardwalk


Back in Kemah the #2 Boardwalk Bullet was back in action. Or for the first time, it probably hadn’t run at all earlier.
Again a wristband was obtained in anticipation of great things and, while the queue line music was just that, the ride was… OK.


I don’t want to keep falling back on this last hurrah thing, because it scares me, but this was the last chance for a wooden coaster by Gravity in the U.S. to impress me. And it failed to do so.

The starting sequence can be all kinds of wild. We soon discovered that exclusively back row, with a large man at the front of the train, was entirely essential for the full effect. A violent drop through the structure into a low pop, a wicked one-two of left-right twists before a big turnaround that, from the station, had some of the most immense flex and sway I’ve ever seen from a woodie. It was marvellous.


After this though the ride just never really gets going again. It’s another victim of ‘look how impressively long this coaster is, we’ve packed so much into a tight space’, while not managing to do a whole lot with it. Corners, corners, corners, hills over other bits of track taken at too slow a pace. Is there any bigger crime than when a ride starts off so excitingly, but by the halfway point you’re just kinda sitting there waiting for it to end?

Yes, but the point stands. Early days Gravity Group simply ain’t my cup of tea.

Day 5

USA 06/23 – Sea World San Antonio
USA 06/23 – Biloxi + Tropic Falls

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