Our next day was dedicated to a full 12 (13) hours at the beast that is Kings Island. I had got it into my head over the various years of planning that this might be a tricky one to complete, there’s always a bit of trepidation when you’re staring down 15-odd creds and thinking anything could go wrong at any time.
Day 2 – Kings Island
We arrived nice and early in order to deal with some business, namely picking up our ‘2020’ cedar fair platinum passes that they had kindly offered to honour in 2022 instead. Brandishing various emails and the original tickets, we confused a friendly and helpful member of staff and, miraculously, ended up with exactly what we wanted, parking refund and all.
Even though the park wasn’t officially open yet, they do let you wander in to wherever you like without any form of batching or rope drop and so we opted to camp out the entrance to #1 Mystic Timbers. It was a rather joyous spectacle, the simplicity of watching several test trains running, a staff member appearing at the entrance at 09:55, getting a phonecall at 09:58 and opening the queue. Just like clockwork, seems rare to find many parks with a performance record like that.
So at precisely 10:00 we were seated on the first train of the day and ready to find out what’s in that bloody shed. I do have to give credit to the marketing of this ride, that phrase has stuck with me like very little else in the industry and it feels like I’ve been saying it for a lifetime already.
Before you get there however, there’s some track to negotiate, a surprisingly awesome layout full of high speed, relentless, bumpy, twisty goodness. GCI are back on top form and I can’t emphasise enough how much I’ve missed this. As you hit the brake run hot, some creepy warnings are played over the speaker system warning you not to go in the shed. The announcement breaks up, losing clarity as you head inside. The first half is standard GCI storage shed, but the second half is themed. We were right at the back so couldn’t actually see what was going on, nor hear the little radio that plays one of several old pop songs so it was a little confusing when the rest of the train were seemingly clapping along for no reason. After much suspense, one of several sequences takes place, themed to one of the rides in the park and you’re scared straight back into the station.
All in all I absolutely adored Mystic Timbers. Not only is it amongst the most standout pieces of hardware that the manufacturer has ever pieced together, it has bags of character and charm and I couldn’t really have asked for more. Except maybe fire.
Headed round to the #2 Beast next to continue on the woodie streak. It was an honour to finally get on this legendary ride and I had no idea what to expect. It’s a laugh. The freshly reprofiled first drop actually felt quite good but it doesn’t really do a whole lot of significance over the remaining 7000ft. But, over that length, it’s just an all round fun time ‘being’ on an old wooden rollercoaster that isn’t overtly offensive. The trims make me chuckle when they hit in all the places that might have otherwise looked exciting, but I think my favourite moment of the whole thing is the timing of the trains – they blaze past each other at a very specific moment that marks the beginning and end of the ride for each respective group of guests and it’s such an on-board spectacle.
After thinking a nearby ugly building was Flight of Fear and then discovering that it was just an ugly building, we doubled back to #3 Diamondback. The longer, stadium seated trains on B&M hypers have grown to concern me as I had until this point found them to be unfailingly inferior to the standard design. I think Diamondback managed to buck that trend somewhat, but by no means did I find it spectacular. It’s average, run of the mill at what it does best. Floaty drops, meek airtime, trims that make me chuckle just when it looks like it’s about to get exciting. Slow it down there, you’re having too much fun.
And so to speed things up, #4 Orion was the obvious next choice. An old technique was reborn on this ride, one that takes me back to the days of the disappointments of X2. ‘Sunglasses on, not caring.’ It will be coming up a lot over the next couple of weeks.
It ain’t no Fury 325, but I still prefer it your average B&M hyper simply for breaking that formula. I’m not big on the sensation of speed as a whole, but at least it feels fast paced and fun, until that same old trim in the same old place on the first airtime hill at least. Just. Design it better. Oh and the brake run being taller than most coasters is a rather facepalm moment too.
The one thing these do have going for them is that they’ve really nailed the giga drop. It both feels huge and it kicks your ass, where other manufacturers have somehow failed.
Continuing on the theme of failings, #5 Banshee, what the hell was that? One of the last hopes in the world for me to fall back in love with the B&M invert again and it just goes upside down 7 times with a similar sustained force throughout. Sunglasses on, not caring.
The one thing the vest design has going for it is that the seats feel wider and you don’t have to rub sweaty elbows with strangers.
Having made excellent time on what we considered to be the ‘big 5’, it was time to start operation mop-up.
The Bat was spiting. Abandoned, with one train parked on the lift hill. That’s going to stop me having the set of Arrow Suspended coasters at some point (unless they just close it) and I’m significantly bothered by that fact.
#6 Adventure Express was a thing. The quirky themed lift hill at the end of the layout was an unexpected highlight that led to absolutely nothing.
#7 Racer was very enjoyable. It felt more powerful and significant than the Kings Dominion equivalent and that endless line of sequential hills is always fun. Suffers from the same issue of you not actually knowing who wins because the trains finish apart from each other, divided by painted walls, but the sheer length of the pre-brake run track with everyone just wobbling in a straight line for 15 unchanging seconds had me in stitches. Of course we immediately went round again for the #8 other track.
#9 Flight of Fear was awful. There’s more to see in the queue than the KD counterpart but it went on forever and then the ride was running really, really poorly. Ruined the reputation of this attraction for me, as is the job of a good clone.
All the other queues for stuff we needed, but didn’t really want, were starting to look bad now. Grabbed a snack and headed into #10 Backlot Stunt Coaster. It’s more nicely presented than the KD equivalent (that’s 3 now) but the special effects part still didn’t work, nor did it have the comedy of someone in the train reacting to that fact.
What else have they got? I’m struggling to rattle them off in my head now.
#11 Woodstock Express. It was a bonus just to be able to get on it, and for it to not have the 90 minute queue that was stated on the app (trying to scare us off I feel).
#12 Invertigo. Worldwide set complete, now let’s never speak of it again.
The Eiffel Tower was open, unlike the KD equivalent (4). I did have to laugh when the lift operator said it’s an exact replica of the real thing. Despite the fact it’s a different colour, size and shape.
Good views though.
And we saved the worst til last. #13 Flying Ace Aerial Chase was a total travesty in every conceivable way. Sunburn, heat exhaustion, terrible capacity, medics were called to the station, a ridiculous safety announcement that tells you ‘not to stand up’ on a suspended coaster and an awful ride that manages to bang your head at under 10Mph. I was lined up to see a perfect shot of a small child taking the restraint directly to the jaw on one particular transition. Sign of a quality product.
Chores successfully completed, back to the good stuff.
Mystic Timbers had developed a fairly hefty queue, but it was worth the wait of course.
Orion’s queue had also got a little larger, this time we got to queue through the theming, which was nice to see.
Couldn’t be bothered to queue for anything else, so gave the shed one more go as the sun was going down. This time the wait had some great comedy in the form of a bunch of teens deciding to alter the distribution of large quantities of small rocks within the queueline. PASS IT BACK, PASS IT BACK, PASS IT BACK! Everyone got involved. Who needs queueline TVs.
Night had fallen and the ride was hauling so hard it made a noise I’ve never heard GCIs make before. The wheels (either sidestop, upstop, or both) were literally screeching with force and excitement, what an incredible ride. Also 3 different laps, 3 different monsters.
But of course night falling can mean only one thing in this park. Even the op box says it on a sticker. The legendary Beast night ride. We sprinted into the queue just before park close, having only just discovered that there was in fact a firework and drone show on that night (and every night with a 10pm close, to celebrate their 50th anniversary). This meant the only way to ride it involved having to watch the spectacle while standing in the queue, at which point the ride was temporarily shut down for the display.
Some technical faff later, the ride suddenly starting chewing through the queue at an extremely impressive rate. We ended up amongst the last few trains and were treated to a fantastic atmosphere with cries of BEAST, BEAST, BEAST, BEAST! on all sides.
It’s not going to be making any waves, but I get it, it’s just one those things you have to do some time. The tunnels and laterals felt all the more brutal in the darkness and another train of ghostly figures screaming down the first drop towards us as it all came to an end was quite the moment.
Kings Island then, what a park. I’ve never felt particularly positive or negative about a Cedar Fair establishment before. Things have changed.
After not enough sleep I awoke to both blinding sunlight and the deafening roar of a thousand trucks clattering past outside. Fortunately the car hadn’t been towed away overnight and it was with slightly fresher eyes that we discovered the envelope had contained detailed instructions on how to find the hotel room! Oops. After a quick glimpse at Skyrush and a tactical stock up from Walmart, we hit the road to Pittsburgh, again. Day 1 – Kennywood
The view as we picked a prime spot in the free parking area, at the top of an outdoor escalator, was a sight for sore eyes. The freshly painted phantom was gleaming and the curtain, which seems to spend more time down than it does operating was chugging up the lift hill in a welcoming fashion. Everything was back on track.
Sadly the first thing we came across on park is that the Old Mill was spiting for the day, I had been looking forward to checking out the umpteenth iteration of this classic dark ride.
But there were more pressing matters just around the corner and we took our spot in a slow and steady 30 minute queue (it’s back to one train operation already) for the unique stylings of #1 Steel Curtain.
First impression was that the lift hill is extremely loud, especially when on board, pretty much the only factor that would hurt the rerideability of this thing, which I loved. An excellent kick off to the trip.
There’s nothing life changing going on here, but it’s a very refreshing, modern take on the multi-loopers of old and so much more enjoyable for it. It rides very well with decent forces in all the right places and the inversions are interesting and varied. The layout tries to throw a couple of good airtime moments into the mix but they don’t really land and that’s probably the main thing that holds the ride back for me. It may have a silly football theme but I did enjoy the stylised announcements that come with it and visually it’s a pretty stunning coaster, particularly when you catch certain elements at some angles.
Headed straight over to #2 Phantom’s Revenge from there, which was another instant winner. Those trains are like riding in an armchair, strangely comfortable while leaving you in a very exposed and comprimised position for once things get going.
And oh, how it gets going. That second, terrained drop is insane. It’s not the most spectacular in the sensation department due to the profiling, but it picks up a ton of speed from this into a very forceful pullout and turnaround, which is unnervingly smooth. Things only get more exciting from there as you hurtle up a weird kink in a tunnel that always shifted me out of position, left me pinned there for the entirety of the following corner and then the magic happens.
The ridiculous airtime moments that are awkwardly crammed into the final section are frighteningly good, especially sitting in that armchair stance at the back of the train. There’s just so much character to this ride, it’s a total legend.
I did slightly fall in love with this area that it sits in as well. The interaction between Phantom, Thunderbolt and the terrain here is just one of those magic spots in a park that gets me all giddy thinking about all the visual moments it can deliver.
Talking of #3 Thunderbolt, that was a silly bit of fun. I couldn’t work out at all what was going on with the layout from the station, there’s a perfect bit of framing that makes it look like you won’t even make it up the first hill. It’s not overly violent but the crazy laterals that cause them to enforce having 2 people in every row, no singles, are the highlight, along with the very landscape driven layout.
From here we hit the parks only operating dark ride, Ghostwood Estate. The preshow is a little on the nose, in that Mr. Ghostwood both sets the scene from a storytelling perspective, but also rattles off all the safety instructions completely out of character. It’s a fairly standard fare, early style target shooter with spooky scenes, the type that makes me regret playing the game on a single lap because I miss most of what’s actually going on visually. We experienced a short break down, so got to stare at this one particular part for a good while though.
While queueing for that one we had begun to grow uneasy about the hotel situation again, the uncertainty was gnawing at the back of our minds. We took a brief interlude from the park at this point to make some phonecalls. The first one was to the hotel for that night, who were simply unable to accommodate our request to change the details due to a combination of being useless and rude. Seeing how that might have ended up being the case for a further 20-odd establishments, I decided to give the booking company a call instead. I explained the situation to a guy who clearly didn’t know what he was doing – we’re on holiday, all of the bookings appear to have the wrong card details, I’ve updated them on your site (as instructed) but it hasn’t worked, can you do something about it? The answer was no, with the only offer being to cancel all of the rooms for me, then go through rebooking every single one over the phone with him again at that very moment, while none of the original prices I had spent countless hours going out of my way to obtain would be honoured. I was in the middle of arguing that last point when the guy simply hung up on me. Thanks for being a loyal member eh? It was clear we would have to take matters into our own hands and after one more failed attempt with the next hotel, we decided to ditch that one and book something else on the spot, hoping that the rest would be at least somewhat helpful when the time came. For now, that was too much time spent not on park, back in we go.
To add to our troubles, Sky Rocket appeared to have gone down on our way out and had not returned to operation as we passed it again. So it was time for the #4 Jack Rabbit.
I’ve heard the tales of the legendary double down on this ride and even got a play by play of it from the row behind us while on board. “Here comes the double dip. Airtime. Hoho!” While yes, that part is admittedly rather good, it’s very much a coaster defined by a single moment amongst several left turns.
We went back to check on #5 Sky Rocket again and all was well. The prototype is pretty decent to be fair and I much prefer it to the version 2s, not least because they hadn’t yet invented the various awful restraint systems that come with it. Aside from comfort levels, the layout just has more going on obviously and flows much better than straight lines. Both the top hat and hold before the vertical drop are quirky and the rest rides with a similar charm to a lap bar Eurofighter, so, passable.
#6 Racer was now needed to complete the woodie set for the park and the queue was a lot less stewy than it had looked earlier. I rode a ridiculous 49 woodies on this trip, upping the wood count by over 60% and I can see myself struggling to come up with much to say about a fair few of them as they all begin to blend into one. S’alright.
While in the vicinity we took the opportunity for a reride on Steel Curtain and made it as far as sitting in the seats with the lap bar down before being evacuated back behind the air gates due to a restraint issue. Having queued an almost identical 30 minutes and come so close to riding, there was no real option other than to stick it out and watch the comedy unfold. The restraint system makes a very characteristic fast sequence of clicks as it gets activated and deactivated at the push of a button the console. The operator must have spammed it a good hundred times over the course of the next half hour, we believe more for effect than to be of use. An engineer had to come and replace one of the retrofitted seatbelt locking mechanisms on the train in order to fix the issue, and dropping his spanner down under the station didn’t help matters. After many more shrugs from the operator and “I’m just pushing buttons”, we were back in action. More points for Steel Curtain as far as I’m concerned, it became a running joke of the trip to keep pressing the car unlock and lock button in an attempt to replicate the noise.
Time was running a little short now and we still had two creds to get. Well, one, as the Lil’ Phantom was spiting, though I don’t know if it’s one they would have let us on anyway.
Last up was #7 Exterminator, the oddly themed indoor Reverchon spinner which actually made it reasonably interesting, span well too.
Satisfied with the achievements, we spent the final hour of the evening on Phantom’s Revenge, a suitably spectacular way to end the day. The staff were really good fun, the ride was kicking all sorts of ass and I really did love Kennywood by the time we left. It could well be my favourite park of the trip. Which is worrying.
You’d think 2 and a half years of preparation for a trip would make things run smoother. It did not.
This was the life changing, Cedar Pointing, US Beast of a Voyage that I once had planned out for 2020 and that was, of course, cancelled later that same year, giving birth to the epic Eurodemption #1. Our determination to make it happen at all costs saw it re-booked and re-cancelled a further three times throughout 2021 while the indecision over entry requirements remained firmly in place, leading to the excessive Eurodemption #2. By the time 2022 rolled around I had gone over this route plan in so many iterations that it was now firmly etched onto my retinas – there will be no Ange-Michels this time I can assure you, this was Ameridemption and it was going to be amazing. Once the flood gates had been opened once more, the trip finally happened, and immediately went wrong.
Day 0 – Travel
After arriving at Heathrow earlier than ever before, we took our then mandatory covid test and proceeded to check in the bags at a very comfortable time frame. I had noticed during this process that a few of the escalators were closed off, only to assume they were broken. This was in fact to filter everyone down to a single entry point for access up to the next floor where security takes place. On this floor were cattlepen queues as far as the eye could see which, although they looked grim, flowed rather well. After a reasonable 40 minutes or so, by no means the shortest wait of the trip and definitely not the longest, we arrived at the scan your boarding pass barrier. The barrier said no.
According to differing stories from various parties this was either an outright system fault, or an arbitrary feature that (incorrectly) determines ‘whether you’ll make the plane or not from this point’, even though we still had well over an hour at this moment in time. Regardless, the staff at these barriers have no power to override the system and were unable to help in any way. We were scooted to one side by some other airport staff into a small group of other travellers with the same issue. Apparently they were going to ask our airline to grant permission for a visual check in order for us to bypass the barriers. American Airlines said no.
The airport staff then suggested that we all head back downstairs to the airline check in desk to sort this issue out with them ourselves. We did so, only to find that the desks were entirely abandoned and there were no airline staff available to assist. After being shouted at, and subsequently ignoring another airport staff member who was insisting that we had to go through the queue again, we found the upstairs staff once more and relayed the fact that the airline were MIA. This confused them, as they had supposedly just spoken to them and they were now at a loss as to what to do. As were we all.
Suddenly the very man who had checked our bags in appeared at speed and began to argue our case with the barrier staff, who suddenly looked terrified at the sight of our group determinedly pouring straight towards them. We were manually let through with the ‘visual check’ and assured by the airline staff member that “once you’re confirmed to be past this barrier on the system, you will make your plane”, which I can only assume meant we would soon get those announcements over the speakers saying hurry up Mr. Slow, we’re holding up this flight for you.
Security itself with all the trays and scanners was actually operating at the highest capacity I’ve ever seen it, which is strange considering the queues are so bad right now. The sudden increase in demand must be insane. We made it through there very quickly to then see the sign that gave us the good news that our gate was as far away as it could physically be, at what was suggested to be a 30 minute walk. Those barriers clearly underestimate our speed as, along with a few of the others, we sprinted it in under 5. Only to arrive at the gate and see one of the same staff members already there shrugging and saying the gate’s closed mate.
To this day I don’t fully understand how the time sink happened or how seemingly most of the rest of the passengers ever made the plane in the first place, unless 90% of those were from connecting flights. Our little group of stragglers from the barrier incident had all felt that they were way ahead of schedule at every step of the process until the mishap occurred and now here we were looking at a plane that was fully prepared to leave without us. All forms of protest were in vain and a high up member of staff approached us to diffuse the situation. “Guys, there’s nothing we can do to get you on this plane, but don’t worry. We have hundreds of flights leaving for the US today and we will get you on one of them, 110%. Go to our ticket rebooking desk right now and they’ll sort you out” Fearing a repeat of the check in desk incident from earlier, we pressed further and specifically asked if anyone was actually at that desk and whether they were aware that we would be coming. The answer was yes.
Once we had manouevred through the various back alleys of the airport that led us to said desk, during which we managed to lose at least half the group, we arrived to see two staff members who had no idea that we were coming. One was under training and the other was seconds away from leaving for the day. A strongly worded phonecall was made, presumably back to the guy we had just spoken to, to the tune of why have you done this? and I need to go home now. All credit to her though, she stayed on and helped us in our time of need.
The options were nowhere near as vast as had been promised, particularly as it was supposedly now our fault that the airport was useless and the airline shouldn’t have to compensate for that. Option one was the April Orlando special – come back 24 hours later for the same flight to Philadelphia, oh and we won’t pay for a hotel. a) we aren’t losing a day of our holiday and b) we live here. Option two was an 18-hour overnight flight with a layover in Los Angeles (so the complete opposite end of the country). A simple “no” was sufficient to shoot that one down and arouse a long overdue smattering of laughter amongst our fellow passengers.
I was straight with her about our own situation at this point – we’re driving to Pittsburgh tonight so you can dump us anywhere in the Eastern US TODAY and we’ll be out of your hair. (Fun aside, we would have been flying straight to Pittsburgh had this been 2020 and they hadn’t cancelled that route since covid). A plane leaving for New York in 3 hours soon had our name on it, but it was in a different terminal and we’d have to queue for security again. We took a bus to T5 and once more found ourselves in a massive line that this time had various artistic murals of empty water bottles seemingly set up in protest throughout all the temporary barriers that held everyone in place. During this wait we had to make an urgent phonecall in order to rebook our car hire, seeing as we were now going to be arriving into a different city.
Fair play to BA this time, as we had a flight + car booking and they could already see on their system that we had been rerouted, they were happy to oblige, no fuss. We were given an email address and the personal mobile number of an agent in an office in Crawley and instructed to explain our situation via email and text in order to get the quickest response possible. By the time we made it to the gate, which hadn’t been closed in our face, we received a call back from an extremely helpful person who moved our car hire, no questions asked, and delivered the wonderful news that it was now in fact £500 cheaper for us. Ordeal = profit, apparently.
The flight itself passed without much event. I won Who Wants to be a Millionaire (a tradition on planes which I’ve now managed to keep since January 2020), watched a Korean action film and tolerated what some would call food. Soon we found ourselves at JFK, which turned out to be ridiculously quiet, ready for a fight with Avis, the very car hire company that had tried to scam us just a couple of months ago. Though media has tried to teach me things about New Yorkers, they were totally solid and the whole process was so much better than it had been in Miami. Just like 3 years prior we were given El Toro: the car (a Kia Soul), though sadly not in the correct colour this time.
Thankfully JFK isn’t how I pictured it either and doesn’t dump you into 6 lanes of yellow cabs honking their horns and not moving, so we managed to escape the clutches of the city in no time at all and begin the, more arduous than initially intended, first long drive of the trip.
Our estimated arrival time was well past 2am at this point and that was without factoring in a stop for food. Having been stung in the past by American hotels who arbitrarily decide (just like those barriers) that you’re too late and not going to arrive after a certain time in the evening, lie about trying to contact you and then kindly cancel your room without notice, we called ahead to the establishment in order to let them know how late we were running. We’re not out of the woods yet.
The guy we spoke to said that it was fine for us to turn up at whatever time, however he had already cancelled our room without notice because they had checked the credit card details earlier and they weren’t valid. Oh and he lied about trying to contact us. So here was the situation – I had booked almost every hotel on this road trip back in January for the sake of forward planning and cost saving. The credit card which I had used expired at the end of April and both of the systems I used for the bookings had a method for updating your card details against each one. When my new card sprang into action at the beginning of May, I went online and updated these details accordingly. Clearly this didn’t work and now not only did we not have a hotel for the first night, we potentially didn’t have one for any of the rest of the trip because we had to assume they will all be this useless and silently bail on us at any given moment.
It was at this point we stopped for both food and a minor mental breakdown about why nothing works any more. There was no point in pressing on to what would now likely be a 3am arrival at a hotel that had already spited us, for a worse deal than originally planned. We could just continue the long drive in the morning. I instead managed to find what looked like a last minute steal on a 2 bedroom suite that just so happened to border Hersheypark. A phonecall was made in order to make sure they could accommodate us arriving late. We were assured that the receptionist would be there waiting for us.
They weren’t, but an envelope and key with my name on it was waiting on the desk when we got there. I can only look back and laugh at how gone we were by this point as I recall simply standing in the road in the middle of the night for a good 10 minutes and staring at a sign with what appeared to be a ‘no parking’ symbol above where I had parked the car, in what was a clearly marked parking space. I suppose they can’t crush our car into a cube, it already is one. The room key was marked with a number 2, but the hotel was comprised of several different buildings, so we then spent a further 10 minutes wandering up and down in a daze, trying all the wrong rooms also marked 2, at great personal risk. Finally finding where we supposed to be, up a rickety outdoor wooden staircase, I discovered our actual quarters also had a door down to a basement pulled straight out of a horror movie. I smiled to myself briefly, thinking of all the things that could still go wrong at this point, up to and including death by phantom, locked the door again and promptly passed out.
Well we weren’t due there for at least another two weeks, but at least we could look at rollercoasters from the window in the morning, how many can you spot? Oh right, rollercoasters. Well that will just have to wait until next time.
Time to bring this one to a close then. Not been looking forward to reliving the ending through ranty ramblings. Our final day was allocated to mopping up whatever might have been necessary before sadly departing from Florida. It all seemed over in a flash, as with all good holidays. A flash of lightning you might say.
Day 10 – Fun Spot America
With no major cred catastrophes to amend, all that was really needed was the other Fun Spot. The more popular (conveniently located) but less good one.
Their Kiddie Coaster actually has a name to go with the cute train face, so that’s a plus for #1 Sea Serpent.
Feels like I’ve ridden more than 4 of these 395m models by now and #2 Freedom Flyer just became moving for the sake of motion, but at least they have lap bars. The 453m is where it’s at. Looking forward to the 550m being built, especially because it’s supposedly 569m.
The fact that I keep dropping the word lightning may sound like I’m bigging up #3 White Lightning, but I’m really not. Having ridden Heidi mere weeks ago and spent more time than necessary with the Polish equivalent, this is also nothing more than a +1. S’alright.
Not the most thrilling note to end on in the end, all business really. In and out in ten minutes, leaving time for a lazy afternoon of shopping and trudging to the airport with hours to spare.
And then it all went wrong.
We dropped the car off with barely any acknowledgment (which would later come back to bite us) and headed in for the usual rigmarole. Check in, bag drop, food, security. While we were milling around at one point, we noticed the weather looked a bit rough through the glass ceiling. Big rain and a single flash of lightning. The terminal roof was actually leaking in certain places. Thought nothing of it.
As soon as security was cleared we had to head to the little train that takes you to the gate. The departure board here suddenly said there was a 3 hour delay on our flight. That’s nice.
3 hours of abject boredom and post trip blues at a gate later, we hadn’t been given a gate, we each received an email from the airline saying sorry mate, your flight has been cancelled, try again tomorrow. Very nice.
It wasn’t nice that there was zero presence of airline staff at this gate part of the airport to offer any assistance at this point, but I was surprisingly chill about it all. We left the area and took the little train back again, assuming that the only real point of contact with the airline was the check-in desk again. It was.
Having seemingly beaten most of the other poor displaced souls, we queued for a while before being told to stand to one side while they prioritised checking in the flight to London Heathrow (we were London Gatwick) so that they could ‘deal with us later’. I suppose putting us on that one would be too much to ask. It was.
Once they were all sorted, the airline man began to address the small crowd (it was meant to be a nice, quiet flight) with the dreaded ‘nothing they can do’ spiel. Apparently they had tried to rebook us on the Heathrow flight but had been overruled by some big dogs in corporate. Come back tomorrow at the same time for the same flight. Good luck getting a hotel, we can’t help, the airline might pay you back. Goodbye.
Because half of America had just had flights cancelled due to bad weather, the hotel sitatuation was pretty dire. I dived onto booking.com and nabbed the first thing I could find within a 20 mile radius that wasn’t several hundred pounds, but still more than I’ve ever paid for a night’s stay in my life.
Suddenly we had a day to spare, albeit not much of a useful one, so we considered whether it was worth re-hiring a car. Half an hour not moving in a queue of several thousand people eventually said no, everyone else was having the same idea. Eventually we caved and paid well over the odds for an uber (£50 for 20 mins), finally crashing at the hotel exhausted, yet having done nothing.
Something had seemed familiar in the name of the place I had booked, perhaps it was a subconscious reaction from my inner coaster fan.
Day 11?! – Fun Spot America
So the hotel just happened to be literally on-site at the good Fun Spot.
Which meant a cheeky morning lap on Mine Blower, to turn the mental pain into physical pain for just one glorious minute.
The ordeal wasn’t quite over yet as, upon our dejavu arrival at the airport, two of the three of us were unable to check in. The system had gone wrong and the airline staff were virtually powerless to do anything about it.
Two and a half hours later, after doing nothing but standing at the check in desk in total despair at how much faff it was for at least a dozen staff to put two people on a plane they were already supposed to be booked on, our patience prevailed. And now we have to run for said plane.
Wait, no we don’t, it’s delayed for two hours again.
Well, at least we’re taxiing now.
Wait, no we’re not, apparently there are two bags in the hold that are unaccounted for.
God damn BA.
Total states – 1 New creds – 40 New dark rides – 37 New parks – 11 New wacky worms – 0 Best coaster – Iron Gwazi Best dark ride – Rise of the Resistance Best park – umm… Distance travelled – not much Spites – 2 we knew, otherwise 0/40 (0%)!
Against our better judgment we allocated time and money to yet another Legoland property for this trip. I’ve skipped past several others in the world by this point but Florida has just the one trick up its sleeve that meant I simply couldn’t resist the hit of extra coasters for the count.
Mercifully rain was in the air, so the crowding at opening seemed very light and manageable. Let’s get this done as quickly as possible so we can move on to better things.
Unmercifully, we walked straight up the queue for the Dragon first, only to be told that it wasn’t ready yet.
Masters of Flight, the flying theatre attraction was just around the corner and already being operated hideously slowly, so it seemed like the best time to get that done. It was nice to see a fresh theme and video on this, giving the park a tiny bit more individuality. I don’t particularly get on with Lego Movie stuff and this was basically flying a sofa around different Lego scenes while Chris Pratt used words. What stood out for me the most was the clever use of scent. The cloud land smelled like sweets, the Minecraft land smelled like a forest and even the sea had a satisfying freshness to it.
#1 Coastersaurus was the main draw for me of course as I feel like I’m on some sort of vendetta now when it comes to wooden coasters. Having basically completed Europe for them, I get the slightest sense that riding the full collection some day isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. It’s good to have at least one unhealthy goal to aim for.
And so even though this one really isn’t up to much, it was a satisfying lap. Barely gets above walking speed and none of the hills have any feeling to them. I know it’s for kids, but the Woodstock Expresses are far better for starters.
In fact the coaster selection here is just poor all round. These Vekoma SFCs with shoulder restraints are awful, somehow still managing to cause grief without even trying. #2 Flying School couldn’t be further from the simulation of flight.
Got to lay eyes on our old friend Jungle Coaster again. What a life it had in Windsor with those terrible scream shield greenhouse pods that folded over the cars. No +1 to be had here sadly.
While I’m on a roll, I think this was the worst Miniland I’ve ever seen. It’s distinctly smaller than average, all chucked in under a canopy. There’s not a huge range of stuff to look at, nothing in the way of a world showcase, just a few American bits and bobs. Some nice little details here and there, but nothing on the scale of any of the others. Doesn’t quite have the heart somehow.
We circled back to the Dragon which now had the staff at the entrance turning people away, backed up by a couple of entertainers with swords attempting to diffuse the mild disappointment. Don’t let us be spited by the stupidest part of the trip.
Short of things to do in the meantime, took a quick lap on the interactive dark ride Lost Kingdom Adventure. Believe this is also the Windsor layout which at least means it isn’t the oval one.
Tried to take a lap on Ninjago, but it broke down as we got to the station. The staff, as with many other rides we had observed throughout the morning, didn’t seem to know a whole lot about what they were doing while handling the breakdown announcement and it was decided we really don’t need to stick around for another one of these.
The app was still saying Dragon was down and things were getting desperately dull, so we headed over to guest services to see if they had any better intel than ‘I really can’t say if it will open.’
To our surprise, they said it was open. But your app and the queue boards say… well that was bad timing.
+1. It was rather novel to have the #3 Dragon dark ride experience bolted onto yet another Vekoma Junior for the trip. A clever mod at the very least.
With that we walked over to Peppa Pig land to see if they had any deals going on entry tickets for Legoland visitors. We had actually booked our park tickets online before the announcement and eventual opening of the second gate (if you can call it that) and, not through lack of trying, were unable to upgrade to the combo version afterwards. Nope, nothing doing, full price at 30 quid on the door or go home. Even I have my limits.
Could actually be riding something good right now.
Though we had completed the park very successfully on the first visit, our business here wasn’t done just yet.
God damn Iron Gwazi was of course the main draw in that, perhaps the only one if I’m really honest.
Here’s an angle I’m sure you’ve not seen yet.
We whiled away the afternoon getting as acquainted with it as we dared, only pausing to break things up a bit with some courtesy laps. Nothing in the park had any queue at all, so that made things somewhat easier to digest.
Montu didn’t really benefit from a second go. Still left me feeling jaded at best.
Kumba was worse from a second go. Not as refined in the outside seats.
I already knew enough about Sheikra.
Cheetah Hunt earned that second go, I kinda like it.
As did Cobra’s Curse, at least it’s something a little different.
As the night with Gwazi wore on, it began to break down a lot as with everything new in Florida right now and operations ground to a halt again. It was a little frustrating given that we had been walking straight onto it mere moments before. We had a chance encounter with Rollercoaster David, who happened to be directly behind us in the queue before the final lap of the night and was in the midst of a much more adventurous trip than we were – clearly I’ve got to step my game up. As a season pass holder, he very kindly offered up a sizeable discount on a t-shirt one of us had been eyeing up, have to say thanks again for that!
As for the ride itself, it quite clearly stood out as the highlight of the state upon return. I had pretty much figured that out anyway, but you never quite know how these things are going to behave from one day to the next. It’s fast, intense, out of control, wonderful, insane and a whole other bunch of superlatives.
Competition is terrifyingly tight at the top though and it hit that ceiling for me where I didn’t quite get emotionally attached to the thing. Technically brilliant, I can’t even begin to fault it. My head says top ten, but my heart says no, that’s not possible any more because it’s only my third favourite RMC. Better than Zadra. I prefer Hakugei. and Twisted Colossus.
Tonight’s story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction.
Day 8 – Hollywood Studios
Of course we couldn’t miss out on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, even with our faillings of the previous visit. It was once again running at half capacity and therefore the queue was moving particularly slowly. In a very RollerCoaster Tycoon moment, the park had deployed an entertainer to the line, by the name of Goofy. I hear that as long as he’s within a few tiles of you, you’ll be happy to queue forever.
It was undoubtedly worth the wait, for me these attractions are amongst the best ever. What makes Florida even more special is that the ride system is even more complex and insane. It’s so weird when those doors open and your lift starts shuffling forwards through a dark ride section and out into the actual elevator shaft.
The drop sequence was glorious yet again, which makes 3 out of the 4 in the world an absolute smash hit. That raw stop start lurching with nothing but a seatbelt over the lap is killer.
Couldn’t say no to another crack at Rise of the Resistance after that, even with another multiple hour wait on the cards. What if all the effects are working this time?
Well we got one out of the three back in action. The lightsaber came through the roof of the elevator this time, though it wasn’t quite the enhancement I had hoped for. It looks a little too much like a shop bought plastic one to strike any real fear into the hearts of the resistance. Sadly that means the main showpiece was again broken, but there’s so much other amazing stuff going on that this thing simply is in a league of it’s own, regardless.
Opted for a courtesy lap on Star Tours, which is incoherently located well outside the rest of the Star Wars stuff, having come first of course. It looked really neat and fresh inside, which was nice to see – I suppose they spruced it up again once they knew all the fans would be flocking.
I do like the rerideability factor on these with so many combinations of video sequences up for grabs. Kylo clearly wasn’t done with us yet as he was the one who rocked up to try and kill us on this occastion. We also got a surprise visit from hologram old man Lando, which was technology I hadn’t seen on the ride before. Sadly we then joined the battle on Exegol with our well equipped Star Tours cruiser; you know that storm cloud place where the head on a stick, who came back and ruined the franchise, lifted a million star destroyers out of the ground with a flick of the wrist, spoiling so much film history.
So then I got mad at Star Wars and we left for our early shuttle bus.
That’s it for Disney for the trip, so I’ll do a little summary of the parks as I found them.
Magic Kingdom – really lacks a standout attraction to me. I loved the fresh experiences of the fun, old Tomorrowland stuff but they’re likely only things you need once in your life. The rest does fall foul of having visited other resorts and I think it’s far from the best overall selection at a castle park, particularly when you’ll most likely have to deal with much heavier crowding than you would elsewhere.
Hollywood Studios – contains the three clear standout attractions of the entire resort for me. Any combination of Rise, Tower and Mickey on their own would make WDW worth my time and having all of them in one park is rather intoxicating. I can only imagine how high emotions would have been running had Fantasmic been back in action. This comes at a price however, as there aren’t enough other attractions to spread the load, even with Toy Story, Aerosmith and lesser Star Wars things trying their hardest to suck up the queues. It results in a very long and draining day with a pitifully low ride count in the grand scheme of things, but I feel like the quality is just about justified. As it stands they’ll have to get something pretty special to shift enough people to another park.
Animal Kingdom – easily the nicest park to exist in. You could hardly tell it was Disney, outside of the visual wow moment of Pandora, with the rest being sprawling pathways, a lush green vibe and a big, posh zoo feel. I really liked it, but the lack of Everest was pretty crippling and let’s not talk about the fairground area. Pandora was a faff, with one ride being far better than I was expecting and the other somehow managing to be worse, so even with the Yeti back in action I’d boil it down to to very few worthwhile attractions. This is noticeably far less than any of the other parks and then only leaves you with a zoo which, to me at least, feels like time wasted on your Disney dollars. We have zoos at home and they didn’t bring enough to the game to make it any better than one of those.
Epcot – was good, I guess. Much like Tomorrowland I loved how many unique ride experiences there were, though I do worry about the ability of most of them to remain exciting in future. If you’re not really swept up in the wonder of it, there’s a lot of one and dones. Even for my favourite, Mission Space, I don’t know if I’d want to do it again knowing as much as I know now. Their most popular rides aren’t quite deserving of that status on a world stage and it will be interesting to see how Guardians upsets the balance. Which then only leaves you with some replicas of stuff around the world which, to me at least, feels like time wasted on your Disney dollars. We have the Eiffel Tower at home.
10/10 would recommend though. Don’t worry about the fear-mongering around planning, it can be as stress free as you want to make it.
Islands of Adventure
The real reason we left was to go and spend another evening with Hagrid and dinosaurs. The preshow was fixed this time, which was cool. I did wonder what could go wrong with just a screen (what is this, Wicker Man?), but there’s a lot of fun physical effects that happen too during the calamity that unfolds on screen. Got a bit wet to say the least.
Had a go in the sidecar to mix things up a bit, though my assumption that the bike seat was better turned out to be entirely correct. It was even more magical of an experience in the almost dark, but then the illusion of storytelling wonder was shattered by the ride ceasing operation immediately after the drop track dropped.
This led to other wonders of geeking out about how stupidly complicated this ride is, but then a fellow rider started having a panic attack and her companion was showing alarming concern that another train might come careering off the exposed track above our heads and kill us all. A fair assessment in an emotional state, though we then did our best to explain in simple terms why we were perfectly safe.
It was a little unfortunate that there was no communication via staff announcement to diffuse the situation or back us up, I assume they thought it was a quick fix even though it went on for several minutes. Eventually we saw the train from the adjacent drop section (yes omg there’s two) drop and hit the launch in front of us. Hey, watch that little switch track now, it’s going to change so that we can start moving again. Sure enough it did and we made it back to the station in one piece, but with many a tear flowing.
In other news, Velocicoaster was being hideously unreliable too. With plans to get much more acquainted with the ride, we still only managed another hat trick of laps in total due to several untimely breakdowns, the same as a day jam packed full of completing the park.
We got to try a few more different seats at least and it was a suitably special experience once again. Didn’t sway any opinions though, just settled in comfortably as one of the best in the world.
Free parking – now there’s a novelty. And with it we finally had the flexibility to be fluid with the itinerary for the day. Which worked a treat on this particular occasion.
Day 7 – Sea World
Looks like someone else is in the lighthouse game.
Geographically #1 Manta was the first thing we stumbled across. I really liked the queue for this one, the fact that no one was in it being an obvious bonus. It set a nice precedent to have those rock tunnels and aquarium exhibits in what would otherwise be a stewing waiting area. It’s a shame no other attraction in the park came close to this level of effort on queueline presentation.
As for the coaster I was, of course, completely unphased. Any air of excitement or intrigue had long ago been quashed, and all at the hands of Nagashima Spa Land. I like the layout, I love the pretzel, +1. One more plus point for this version is that the leg rest things were the older, less-sharp version, very much a mercy when it’s shorts weather.
The lack of penguin dark ride on the website suggested that luck wasn’t on our side, but the ambiguous nature of the remaining signage for this attraction gave the impression that there might still be hope.
Alas, though the queue and preshow remain, they do indeed just lead to viewing penguins by leg. The ride system is, for now, eerily dusty and abandoned.
Here’s half a dark ride though, and one that had only just reopened in time. I had already been spited by one #2 Journey to Atlantis and would have been rather disappointed to see it happen a second time.
The presentation and two-half nature of the layout is quite clever, with the way it tries to hide what’s really going on and the first indoor bit is decent. Other than that, standard water coaster business.
With how unenamoured I had become with all these recent B&M sit-downs, #3 Kraken was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Yes it’s 90% the same layout idea and yes 90% of it looks real ugly amongst such barren surroundings, but there must at least be some magic in the trains which elevated it to ‘good little ride, that’ status by the brake run. High praise for standard floorless coaster business.
Standard sealion business.
Standard B&M hyper business? I’ve seen a lot of good things said about #4 Mako over the years and I was rooting for it to be a mould breaker, not being the biggest fan of this style of ride generally. Initial impressions were that it doesn’t change the formula in the slightest, it wasn’t some glorious B&M breakthrough, the likes of which we’ve never seen and so such notions were quickly tempered.
However, with much persistence, I did grow to love this ride for what it is and there’s no denying that it does do what it does very well indeed. It’s ridiculously well crafted, with each hill giving you that soft, suggestive lift out of the seat and holding you there for stupid amounts of time, yet all in different ways. I also found that it’s much better towards the front of the train.
The weird straight section in the pull out of the first drop gives it a bit of quirky character as it doesn’t feel quite right. That first big hill just keeps on coming and when it’s finally over you land back in your seat with a little welcoming thump, which I couldn’t help but adore. Other highlights include the trim hill, which gives a really odd sensation of both slowing and throwing. It’s not a buzz kill moment and I can’t fault it, unlike with certain brethren. Also the speed hill is rather sweet, and it doesn’t completely nope out of being a ride after the block brakes, unlike certain brethren.
Had a bit of PTSD while boarding what would hopefully be the last rapids of the trip. Infinity Falls was pretty wet, yet totally justified in fun factor. It does things, silly things that these probably shouldn’t do. There’s hills, in water, I don’t really understand how but they’re there. The first one comes as a surprise as you lurch under a bridge and then get lost in a wave. Later on it just goes full blown bunny hop. The one major downside I found is that the ‘biggest drop ever’ felt rather tame in comparison to certain Hafema legends.
#5 Super Grover’s Box Car Derby, eh? Thought we were done with him.
#6 Ice Breaker really didn’t want me to like it. I can’t emphasise enough how stupid those restraints are and with the hassle they appear to be causing, I hope that becomes evident and Premier can just get back to being sensible again. It’s such an undignified, unceremonious entrance to a coaster train that just doesn’t correlate with fun.
But then it got worse. I’d been having such a care free time with glasses for the whole trip that I’d almost forgotten how stupidly inconsistent and downright asinine policies can be. Here I am on the stepping stone coaster of the park, the warm up, the ice breaker and I’m being told it’s too dangerous to wear them on my face. 99.834% of the time I’m totally cool with this (an accurate figure, I only remember one other major coaster on which this particular instruction happened). Stuff happens, things get lost, guests make a scene, ride systems are delicate, you name it, rules are rules. Even on Kleine bloody Zar.
There’s no offer of being able to put them anywhere however, instead the only apparent course of action is to insist that I hold them in my hand for the duration of the ride. Clearly much more secure.
They’ve ridden Manta today, they did Falcon’s Fury before that. Have you heard of a little ride called X2? I often daydream of whipping out a book to showcase the things they’ve survived over the years, though of course it’s not fair to expect anyone to assess my experience with rides and glasses on the spot. But by the same measure there’s no way they can assess my inexperience with rides and glasses on the spot and there’s now a whole host of extra potential scenarios in which I could simply drop them into the launch fins or on someone’s head. I’m dying to one day learn the logic behind it.
Honestly it took me several goes to even look past all that and actually focus on enjoying the ride itself, aside from bracing against the greasy collars with minimal points of contact and having to worry about a loose and rather essential item in my sweaty palm.
It’s fine. The silly double ups and downs off of the triple launch give some clunky, lurchy forces and then that top hat is actualy quite intense once you make it over. There’s another decent airtime moment shortly after that before it’s just a few twists and turns into the brake run. It really feels over in a flash once the faff of the launch is out the way and the trains do detract from the experience somewhat. So whilst it’s actually quite good for what it is, it also feels like Premier have gone backwards in 10 years and I can’t say I’m too fond of it.
More fond of that thing.
After bemoaning the location of Disney Springs, again, we took the opportunity to go and enjoy an amazing sandwich 2 mins away in order to clear that mess from the head. It also came with the bonus of back stage views of Mako. We did originally intend to do a cheeky jaywalk over the road for a closer look but no sooner had we stepped out onto the path, two gardeners appeared in the central reservation like sentry guards and then as if by magic the whole area turned into a sprinkler show. Scuppered.
Fun Spot Kissimmee
Today seemed like the best day to polish off at least one of the Fun Spots and with plenty of time to spare we opted for the better one, the one worth wristbanding.
Not for #7 Galaxy Spin, although the host did say we were blessed after finding a couple of pennies on the seat.
Not for #8 Kiddie Coaster, although I do love that train.
For #9 Mine Blower (#1200) of course. This was all perfectly planned so that I could finally catch a milestone on a Gravity. My fave.
This ride kicks so much ass, it’s incredible. I’m regularly astounded by the amount of fun and energy they manage to get out of 40ft lift hills. Mine Blower is only a teenager at 80ft, but the ferocity and intensity is up there with the best of them. I can see why people say it’s ‘rough’, except I think that’s a real shame because for me that level of shakiness is right on the edge of wooden coaster perfection. It’s noticeably worse in the front, so I’d recommend avoiding that, regardless of the fact that the back is the place to be for all the best bits anyway.
The first drop is of course a killer in the back and that inversion is actually good, it has both force and whip and far surpasses the corkscrews on some layouts which are just ‘there’. The overbanks are wild, but most importantly it has one of those sections which are just Gravity at their absolute finest. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, out of control twisty goodness that keeps on hitting. It blows through more of the layout with a surprising amount of steam, managing to gain another powerful drop out of almost nothing before turning back round once more into the only real weak spot of the ride. One hill saps an excessive amount of momentum from the train, though it’s likely an entirely essential crossing point due to the compact nature of what’s being squeezed in here. A brief pause for reflection comes crashing down into yet more violence right up until the brakes. Love it.
We took an interlude from our many laps to dust off the final cred of the park, #10 Hurricane. Never done a big boy E.F.Miler before and it’s surprisingly quirky. That large drop doesn’t know what to do with itself and it’s banking and then the shaping of the weird little wild mouse 180s with a flat spot in between is just bizarre and comical. It’ll try to hurt you, but it’ll reward you with a good time If you manage to tame it.
Rather than bore the staff with our faces too much, we tore ourselves away from Mine Blower and headed back for a bit of an evening Mako marathon.
Highlights of which were seeing Sea World double down on their questionable policies by forcibly ejecting a man from the station for attempting to put a small rucksack in the loose article containers on the exit platform gates. The reason? Money. Power. They have paid lockers somewhere outside the ride and even though they were sending out mostly empty trains, no one was in the station, they had absolutely tons of allocated space to store other items and were happy to do so for many guests throughout the night with anything from hats and shoes (so no sensible evac policy) to carrier bags containing merchandise and even a giant plush Pikachu. I don’t know why, they just started a random vendetta on this one guy and simply wouldn’t play ball with his bag. He stood up for himself and they subsequently ruined his day. For $2.
Ok actual highlights were the front row dusk rides on the masterful machine that is Mako. Alright, I’m sold, it could well be the best B&M hyper yet.
Who wants dusk rides when you can have night rides though. Couldn’t resist putting those wristbands to good use and heading back one more time for extra laps on the masterful menace that is Mine Blower. I didn’t need to be sold on these, I’m selling. Although I’m not sure I can sell it as well as the guy who stole the back row from us on our final lap of the day. His complete silence throughout the entire ride was brutally broken as we tore into the brake run with “JESUS CHRIST ON A CRACKER.”
The following day began much the same, except that we turned right instead of left and headed for the big blue ball.
First point of interest was #1 Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. I’d always been intrigued by this thing, it’s so strange to see mainstream Maurer and, Sky Loops and G-Force aside, I’ve had some good times with this hardware.
One of the obvious selling points is the onboard music, which I had preplanned in my head well in advance. After the usual locker hassle, it was confirmed to me on queueline screens how the whole song thing worked and we sat down on the ride, only to discover the list had changed. I spent 10 seconds or so browsing through a generally unimpressive selection with nothing jumping out at me when, inevitablty, the continuously moving train reached the end of the station.
And so the lap was complimented with a default track that contained the lyric ‘I guess I didn’t know’ over an unremarkable beat, which undoubtedly added to my amusement.
Have to say I enjoyed the actual coaster far more than I had expected to. It’s not entirely refined in places, particularly when moving at higher speeds, but there were some good out-of-seat moments throughout, beginning with the big first drop. Much like certain other rides, it’s the shaping into and out of the many block sections that give it charm, sandwiching a moment of pure technicality with a fun little kick up the backside. It’s also got a satisfying amount of ride time and plays things a little differently in each section, all in all a solid performance.
The same can’t be said for #2 Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster, yet another Vekoma Junior, but needs must.
E.T. Adventure was just next door, hiding and looking creepy. It was a pleasant surprise to find this to be a dark ride, for some reason, in my head (something about that batch point?), it was another 3D cinema. As such, you get to ride on bikes to go and help save E.T.’s home planet, which is dying. Sure, but we’ve got problems of our own. There’s a cute little interactive aspect in that you give your first name at another batch point, receive an intergalactic passport and then hand it over before boarding. The idea is that an animatronic at the end personally thanks all riders by name for helping him on the quest. Sadly, due to a very unfortunately timed staff announcement about ‘putting phones away’, the magic was lost.
I really wanted to like The Simpsons Ride, what self-respecting fan wouldn’t? On reflection, I believe I enjoyed the clips, specifically the classic ones, on the queueline TVs more than the actual ride experience. There’s a very jarring and obvious clash between old and new Simpsons styles here, with all of the ‘fresh’ humour content for the attraction generally falling very flat, for me at least, along with constant reminders of how good it used to be – I’m one of those people that subscribes to the scientific pinpointing of when exactly the series just stopped being good any more. Of course the underlying storyline and film also harkens from this modern style and was worth a few chuckles at most, when it could have been so much more. I was at least partial to the self-awareness surrounding any of the stuff about theme parks, along with a few nods to the Back to the Future ride it replaced.
The biggest queue of the day, of course, went to Harry Potter land part 2, specifically #3 Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Thankfully the result was another entirely fresh experience and again an attraction I was particularly intrigued by. What is the ride system? Is it really those complicated looking mine car things from the film? Well, no, it’s like if Intamin made cars for The Mummy, which is still cool in my book. Although it reminds me that the real one was closed. I’ll always have the best one.
There was a lot going on in the wait, including elevator rides and a pre-show introducing us to General Hux and some goblin. I had also wondered how the story would tie in, the result being that we were to be innocent bystanders co-existing around the same time as the actual Escape from Gringotts was happening in the usual ‘come and see the sights, oh wait it’s all gone wrong’ kind of way.
And that was the main downfall of the attraction for me. While technically brilliant, I struggled to really get lost in the wonder and spectacle. There were some lovely moments in there, clever tricks with the track and an amazing section of very convincing screen projection on what turns out to be smoke that you then launch through. I’d LOVE to see these types of antics translated over to something else that uses it better.
Ms. Lestrange doing crude, non-harmful lightning spells to our party very early on, much like Spiderman over the road, set the tone off on the wrong foot and then big Voldy turns up out of the blue for pure shock factor, only to be casually be sent packing moments later by Harry himself. That’s just not how it works and it all felt at odds with itself, trying to mash this age old theme park adventure stuff together with existing Harry Potter lore that doesn’t quite fit, while Bill makes the same joke about it being ‘the safest place on earth… right?’ four or five times on the bounce.
Oh, and then there’s the lockers.
But also that dragon on the bank breathes fire and is awesome.
Talking of awesome, Fast and Furious – Supercharged was not. I’m fairly sure that’s well established by now, though I’m not sure it’s all that bad. I thought the actor interaction with the video feeds in the two pre-shows was really slick, different and appropriately styled. The final queue with the buses pulling up is a bit full on, but a good portion of the guests seemed properly into it and you can’t fault that.
It’s more ride than I had anticipated, similar to Kong with actual driving sections, not just immersive tunnel, though far less visually impressive. I didn’t really get what was going on and the animation appeared to get cruder and cruder until they just ran out of footage and it ended really jarringly. Good job guys, let’s head back to base.
This? This was bad, on all levels. It felt like Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon had no substance, powering through the foyer, straight through the lack of queue and into the preshow. In contrast to the above, no one at all seemed interested or on board with what was going on, with just the one ex-staff member in the crowd ironically trying to hype it up a bit.
The ride is poor, they promised us a flying theatre, which I don’t really care for, and it’s actually just another big simulator. The audio was poor; I couldn’t hear the majority of what the guy was saying as he obnoxiously chatted to us like it was an afterthought. What I did hear wasn’t funny, or remotely entertaining. It tries so hard with that ego and appears to fail miserably at just about everything.
After bemoaning the location of Disney Springs, again, we took the opportunity to go and enjoy some late lunch in City Walk in order to clear that mess from the head.
Upon our return, it was time for yet another simulator in front of a big screen, specifically Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. I don’t like the whole minion thing, but the actual characters from the franchise are at least somewhat endearing and I wouldn’t be overly averse to experiencing this again (though not at the cost of the Madagascar Boat Ride, what an awful shame that was for Singapore). It was better than Fallon at just about everything, which of course is not a notable achievement by any means.
Men in Black Alien Attack was the last item of note on the agenda and a breath of fresh air. It’s got that classic vibe that’s just so damn good on it’s own merit as a ride, regardless of subject matter. Yet again I only had my hopes set to ‘3D cinema’ and so shooting dark ride with epic sets, complex scoring systems and fun minigames was right up my street. Also that ending with the neuralyzer and the offload station looking just like nothing happened was genius. I feel like it’s got a real replayability factor to it, though the wait and pre-show faff were just a little too long to capitalise on that.
There was still time however to get reacquainted with an old friend in Transformers the Ride. I’m not sure if this one will ever get old for me, having ridden it countless times on the other side of the world. It’s just so well pitched and paced in both content and hardware. The movements are super violent, there’s a real frantic feel to the sequence and once again that ending with the massive setpiece over your head just, stirs theme park emotions in me. And I don’t like Transformers.
With that, the park was coming to a close, time for a quick parade and a cheeky Re-Ride Rockit. We had gone out of our way to look up the ‘secret song list’ throughout the course of the day and once again perfectly planned what to do with it once on board. The host barely had time to touch the restraint before I was frantically following the steps to make hidden stuff happen. In my panic, as soon as I had unlocked the extra songs I immediately hit the inconveniently placed ‘back’ button and had to start the whole thing over again.
By which time it was too late and I learned the hard way that it always defaults to the same thing.
The only major company left to register our presence with at this stage was obviously Universal Studios. The luxuries of the car and timekeeping over the last few days had reduced shuttle buses to a last resort and it was once again of no particular use to us here. Instead we parked right next to a sign of E.T. looking wistful.
With some teasing sights just off in the distance.
Day 5 – Islands of Adventure
With so many of the Florida greats having simply gone by in a flash over the last few days and leaving less impact than I had imagined, IoA was the first park I really stopped for a moment to think ‘I’ve dreamed of coming here for basically all my life.’
And thus there was a bit of a buzz upon seeing this and the adventure begins sign.
But of course I’m not sure any previous visit would have quite been the same, now that Velociwoci is here, looming over the lake. 2 trains on track at once? That’s a promising start.
Though it looks not too far from here, the decision to power straight to it, past all the other classics along the way was a little excruciating. This was the first properly HOT day and the lack of shade in the crudity of cartoon land was stirring up an early onset of vampire mode. It was also crowded to the point of discomfort in that you could never just walk normally without crashing into something.
Having plunged through most of Jurassic Park land as well, still not sure where we were actually going, it was a relief to find this welcoming sight. For future reference – go the other way round the lake and save yourself a hassle.
#1 Velocicoasteris definitely a spectator friendly attraction. The views from the plaza (if you enter from the right direction), throughout the queue and just generally in and around the surrounding area are rather spectacular. Let us just take a minute to appreciate the lack of nets at this point in time.
The first indoor section of queue is a bit of a mixed bag. I’ve never seen the films, but I have to assume they’ve invented this obnoxious cartoon character made out of blobs to talk on TVs about the loose article policy that has nothing to do with anything. It’s annoying, particularly when the ride inevitably breaks down and he just keeps on talking. This however is interspersed with a really cool trailer or maybe TV advert about the ride. Apparently we wanted more speed, height and teeth at Universal. Well thankfully they’ve got teeth.
From there you get Dr. Wu talking science stuff about how they look after dinosaurs, some really neat moments of seeing an on-ride launch through screens and Velociraptors following it, moving raptor heads in lab restraints and then the inevitable locker and security faff.
The final hype room and queue before the station has a video with the main characters from the film. One of them saying what we’re about to do is a bad idea and the other trying to cover it up. It’s got some great details in it, like vital stats and little HUD maps of the people and creatures in the story, changing in real time. Unlike the first room, the dialogue seems perfectly pitched to match the length of time you spend in the room under normal operation, which I thought was smart (or just luck).
I suppose I’m supposed to be talking about an actual rollercoaster here aren’t I. A quick trundle out of the station leads to the first launch section where, like Slinky, you get a bit of teasing easing backwards motion as stuff goes down. I never fully worked out whether all four cages were meant to have screens with raptors breaking out – it seemed intermittent but very nice when it worked.
The first launch hits this weird element above which is a rather disorientating start as you’re thrust back into sunlight at strange angles. There’s some really tight rockwork here, the kind that makes you really think twice about putting your hands up but then that sort of ends after two moments and you hit a particularly sweet inversion that did all sorts of things in different places.
If I’m honest, the number of laps we got over two visits wasn’t enough to get my head around the layout in the first half, so it will remain a bit of a Taron mystery to me for the foreseeable. Much like Taron in fact I did find it a bit meandering and without powerful purpose in this portion and, perhaps most disappointingly to me, the scenery doesn’t really add to the experience like I imagined it would. There’s a downwards slither between raptors very reminiscent of what even Cheetah Hunt managed to do better the previous day and for at least the first two laps I worringly didn’t even notice they were there.
The entry into the second launch marks a significant change in tempo, with that gorgeous rawness of an Intamin hitting those fins running. The top hat is of course a highlight, trims notwithstanding, with quite an intense entry and twist when seated near the front or a satisfying ‘first drop’ type feeling from the back row.
I didn’t think the stall was all that. Much like Gwazi it was a little too quick to give that wow factor, though I love it’s placement.
The fast turns are packed with some fun airtime of both the sideways and twisted variety, including a little teasing change of direction moment which I particularly warmed to. It’s a little weird to see all these clashes of scenery as you blast around.
This speed hill was a bit hit and miss depending on positioning, but it leads into the only moment I had heard of before riding.
And what a moment that Mosasaurus is. Blue Fire did it first, but they added the water and the all important viewpoint. It’s a great final fling to leave that lasting impression on a layout.
Once again, there are actually other things to do here. Hogsmeade was a right pain to navigate with the dense crowds always found around Harry Potter stuff.
We wanted to check out #2 Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure next, but were somewhat disturbed to find that the queue started all the way out here, in the Lost Continent. Really breaking that immersion today aren’t we.
This ride involves locker faff like no other and the general lack of organisation really bugs me. It’s nothing short of chaos, with staff in random places trying to control people returning from the attraction and people trying to get to the actual attraction either before or after the lockers. In this particular instance it also blocks several other entrances on route, including the train ride and adds an unncecessary stress to the day that has me worked up now even thinking about it.
I just wanna ride the motorbikes.
And, 90 minutes later we did just that. The highlight of the wait was the very first outdoor section where you get to marvel at the number of trains on track at any one time and sadly this is very fleeting. The indoor queue seemed to go on forever and the preshow was broken, but it had some moments of interesting scenery.
Someone must have jumped onto the station conveyor belt too hard because as soon as we boarded we got held up in there for several minutes of nothing but revving. I do love these Intamin bikes, they’ve come such a long way from Mick Doohan.
A really long way, what a ride. It’s just so joyful to behold from start to finish. I couldn’t help but laugh when, during the first scene, Hagrid says that’s enough for the day and tells us to head back when 90% of the ride is yet to come. The onboard commentary is a welcome feature as you swoop about from launch to launch and helped to paint the picture a little more after our lack of preshow. God damn Arthur Weasley was about the gist of it.
Great animatronics, great immersive scenery, an extended backwards! section with a smartly played out of control feeling (while it’s narratively out of control) through multiple uses of yet more launch track. Can’t go wrong with a drop track, I think the only thing that lets it down is the slightly muted final section which feels like the most powerful launch yet and then ends after one corner. Family coasters have been redefined though, everyone really exceeded themselves on this one, what an absolute marvel.
Until the lockers.
We weren’t out of the woods yet however, we needed even more lockers. After being thoroughly unimpressed with the Tokyo edition of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we felt like giving it a second chance here, perhaps just the lack of 3D glasses would be enough to save it.
I’m now even more worried for the state of our health that day in Japan (I did legitimately fall asleep during the Terminator show that day, only to be rudely awakened by the seats dropping) because this one played out so differently to how it was in my head. It was actually paced appropriately, spending all the right amount of time in each scene, enough to understand the screens, enough to appreciate the more impressive set pieces, enough to add tension to the scares. It wasn’t bouncing around at a million miles an hour in an incohesive mess that would make anyone feel ill. And rightly so. Redeemed.
Until the lockers.
Talking of things that were a blur in USJ, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman’s alright, I guess. I’m not sure an increased sense of awareness helped this ride however, I remember being somewhat more impressed by it before. Perhaps it’s my oversaturation with this ride type these days or maybe seeing the most recent Spiderman film actually lent weight to these characters who are now back to being crude caricatures with no substance beyond an evil laugh.
I never expected to love a legend like #3 Incredible Hulk, but these things haven’t aged well, retracked or otherwise. I think it’s best described as it once was to me by a guy from work – that bit where it launches up… and woop… crazy. I’ll give him that, the inversion out of the launch is the clear highlight of the ride. Beyond that, the repetitive sequence of loopings just grinds me down. It also gets surprisingly ugly after that corkscrew over the station. I always pictured some of these veteran Florida attractions to have nailed their respective aesthetics, aircon vents and sand weren’t what I had in mind. Also that indoor queue was just awful.
After bemoaning the location of Disney Springs, we took the opportunity to go and enjoy some ice cream in City Walk in order to clear that mess from the head.
Upon return it was time for the quirks of The Cat in the Hat. This was far more elaborate than I had anticipated and almost makes it worth the entire land it takes up in the park. Fever dream dark rides are always a winner.
As was the welcome return of Poseidon’s Fury. The over-acting of the guide is a bit of an acquired taste and it does drag on a little in those first couple of rooms, but the sheer spectacle of this show attraction cannot be denied. Water, fire, that epic disappearing backdrop moment, bliss! It also pretty much inspired some of the greatest Fantawild attractions to date, so I’ll always have a soft spot for that.
Due to their weather-induced popularity, we had tactically left the water rides until quite late in the day. There was still a bit of a queue for Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, not helped by a breakdown as soon as we entered, but we persisted with nervous anticipation. They’d been cheeky outside and not offered complimentary lockers unlike the rest of the park, so in defiance everything had had to come on board with us. In my head, this ride had a reputation for being extremely wet.
It was a military operation to get in, what with the awkward seating, evil lap bars and our continued attempt to protect the valuables at all costs. Most of the layout was filled with equal parts dread and excitement, having no clue when the worst part was to come or if it was already over. The indoor drop was the worst, but nothing to write home about. One of the effects on the biggest lift hill was unfortunately aimed, but not the end of the world. The big drop was good fun, but it ain’t no Chiapas. We survived, sort of. I got sun cream in my eye and spent several minutes in agony.
It was now dark and our Dudley designated bag protector decided that that was enough wetness for one day. This was a stroke of luck of astronomical proportions, because this meant sitting out Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. The other two of us boldly walked straight onto it, with me at least still having it in my head that what we had just ridden was ‘the wet one.’
Well I never believed it possible, but Valhalla has been bested in the water department. It started out like any other rapids, a few corners through a canyon with some bumpy water and mild peril over who was going to hit that bit backwards and get a bit wet through the side. Then came a shower head. Thick, volumous drops of water straight across the entirety of our seating area, at a slow pace, gave me a thorough soaking akin to stepping into an actual shower for 30 seconds.
Things become a blur from here on out. I believe a similar thing happened soon after, to much surprise, and then we hit a lift hill. I turned round on said lift hill to see what was coming and saw what can only be described as a nightmare. Several powerful jets of water waving up and down but shooting directly into the path of oncoming boats and rides. None of these things are turning off, are they? As I turned my face to shield myself from the worst of it, I was, essentially, waterboarded to the point of both having a sun cream relapse and having to remove my glasses for safety.
The rest of the ride was spent in terrifying blindness and experienced vicariously through having it described to me. I hear there was nothing to see at the top of the lift, some epic drop and tubey section that I would have adored had this been a Hafema, or perhaps if I wasn’t dying. All I could do was hold on and scream while being soaked, to the bone, again and again without mercy. I’ve never been so unwillingly violated by a ride for as long as I can recall. But was it worth it? No. Valhalla has pay off. It earns it’s sadistic tendencies. It is (perhaps was) one of the all time greats as a dark ride. I don’t mind being drowned when I can shout YES, FIRE and have an explosion in my face while subseqeuently swallowing dangerous amounts of chlorine. Popeye is just some rapids ride that took it too far. I dread to think what would have happened if the bag had come on. Full on trip ruined at the very least.
With the copious amounts of water attempting to drag the clothes from my very skin, I declared a medical emergency as we unceremoniously stomped across the platform and out the exit. Never have I needed a theme park toilet more in my life. Frustratingly, never had it been more difficult to find one. Several minutes in some cubicles later, filled with worrying exclamations from the pair of us, I re-emerged as a sodden husk of a person. To my surprise, a man and his son were standing right outside the door, who looked me up and down and said ‘please don’t do that’. To this day, I haven’t managed to fathom what he meant, but it was a welcome moment of comic relief.
After some further vain attempts to dry ourselves with hand dryers and paper towels, we knew it was time to trudge on – the day was not yet complete.
And so most of my time on Skull Island Reign of Kong was spent trying not to inadvertently get people wet. The queue was rather spooky and ominous, feeling darker than your usual Universal style attraction. The on-truck experience was rather impressive on the whole, some of the larger set pieces have an enthralling scale to them.
It goes downhill a bit when things get immersive in a tunnel, feels like I’ve seen this sequence of gorillas punching dinosaurs a hundred times, particularly when it’s the only portion of the film I have accidentally caught on TV. There was an obnoxious amount of screaming going on and I couldn’t tell if it was genuine or not, I feel like this sort of thing was only genuinely scary in the 1930s. The big Kong head at the end made up for it at least, though it was a shame they found a way to build ‘put your 3d glasses on’ into the narrative, yet didn’t do the same for ‘take your 3d glasses off’ in order to benefit this particular moment of wonder.
With that there was time for one night time lap with the raptors, hoping it would dry me off some more. It was a suitable spectacular experience, I’d say the ride only got stronger throughout our first few goes on it and though it certainly warranted more laps, I didn’t feel like it needed much more reflection. It’s better than Taron, not as good as Taiga and will inevitably land somewhere in the lower half of my top 25. Not the list destroyer I had perhaps hoped for, but a world class ride nonetheless.
This was all planned around being cheeky. It worked well on Slinky and it would work well here too. #4 Flight of the Hippogriff had been maintaining an insufferable 90 minute queue all day (while Veloci bottomed out at a mere 30), so we caught the late night ‘show’ thing on Hogwarts that isn’t very good and then slithered into the queue for the last cred of the day moments before it closed.
It was time to take a break from the wonders and queues of Disney and deal with the pressing matter of getting on some of these fancy new coasters that had caused the push for this trip in the first place.
Day 4 – Busch Gardens Tampa
There’s quite the introduction when walking from the car park to the entrance. Hello freshly painted Montu, you’re looking rather yellow.
The actual entrance to the park must have been rather forgettable because my very next picture is this.
They’re clearly making statements about how this day is going to go.
Being at the very front of the park it was the obvious move to quash any anxiety over new ride breakdowns and get straight on this thing.
A man was animatedly shouting into his phone at his family who sounded like they weren’t yet in the park. “We’re in the front of the park, near the… the big Khwazi… the big I-Ron Khwazi. On the tables? God damn! What are you doing out there?! Get inside the park!” I’m so glad I caught this piece of dialogue because it forever redefined the character of this coaster. God damn I-Ron Khwazi!
And it’s fully justified, because #1 Iron Gwazi is an absolute beast. I was worried when it slowed to a crawl at the crest of the lift as I’m not one for caution on a ride, I like to be flung over the top of these things in a relentless manner. The disappointments of Shambhala are not what you want in your head to begin proceedings.
Once again it’s fully justified, because it’s an absolute beast. That drop still manages to have all the makings of one of the best in the business, though equally importantly the subsequent pull out into the next element is uncharacteristically intense for one of these. I don’t recall ever seeing stars on an RMC before and if you’re not feeling too fresh I can see it easily approaching grey-out status. But fear not, unlike some rides, they don’t dwell on that sensation for long.
I’d have struggled to describe to you how the rest of the ride plays out on only single figure laps and luckily enough we were able to get significantly more than that over the course of the trip and here’s how it goes down. Ish.
Wild, wonky airtime from the first, whatever it is, while you’re still trying to regain focus and composure from that pull out. Hurtling at speed through head choppers and up into that death roll thing. This is exactly the kind of inversion that deserved invention – good name, does cool stuff. It’s like their downwards barrel roll drops but with that extra surprise of rotating more than 360°, an out of control feeling I can only think is most similar to the 540° twist on B&M flyers. You think you’re done, and you’re not, it hits you hard, in this case with some wicked laterals on the exit.
Wild, wonky airtime from the third, whatever it is, while you’re still trying to regain focus and composure from that inversion.
This. The most effective sideways airtime hill I’ve ever encountered. Keeps you pinned for way longer than it has any right too and comes with a great near miss under the lift. A lot of these are just visual spectacles, this one delivers hard.
It enters more familiar territory at this point with some solid pops in different directions before hitting that signature stall just a little too fast to appreciate it fully. Others do this particular moment better.
The final sequence though, as violent as they come, particularly when seated towards the front of the train. RMC sure know how to end things on a bang and these 4 powerful bursts of ejector separated by banked turns don’t look like they should work at all. They really do.
So, as mentioned, it’s hard to catch your breath on this ride and process any of what is going on, which is a true strength of the layout. On my initial laps this contributed towards the ride feeling far too short, but as I grew more familiar with it, I learned to love it even more for the relentless machine that it was. Duration is the only real downside I can come up with at this point, and it’s barely even a downside because anything more might have spoiled the pacing. Perhaps it would have benefitted from one of those funky little pre-lift sections, though it does it’s best to try and remove you just the once, even before the chain begins.
Contrary to what we may have thought at the time, there is other stuff to do here.
From the worst to the best with #2 Air Grover.
These definitely don’t do it for me any more, blame China. It was cool to at least see that signature splash down of #3 SheiKra in person.
It’s hard to imagine a universe in which #4 Tigris is better than Helix, though I have seen that proclaimed. Beyond my usual lack of enthusiasm for the abomination that is the comfort collar, I don’t remember these trains being so obnoxiously hard to get into, it’s like an assault course. Nope, these don’t do it for me either.
Rather watch real tigers.
My standout memory of the Congo River Rapids is getting sunburnt on the final lift hill, some sort of capacity nightmare was going on even though it was a walk on.
I never expected to love a legend like #5 Kumba, but these things haven’t aged well. I sat there appreciating the engineering, but never really enjoying it. That quirky twist and dive into the tunnel was unexpected at least.
Disappointed. Falcon’s Fury has all the makings of a terror machine and is of course legitimately scary, but there’s no physical pay off to dropping on your face, it simply doesn’t do to you what drop towers do best.
Scorpion was broken somehow. What would Anton say?
Which meant that #6 Sand Serpent, a name I thought I’d made up, was vile. Second longest queue of the day for a lazily profiled mouse.
Still not sure what this is.
I wanted #7 Cheetah Hunt to be a bit of an undercat and was rooting for it to entertain me better than is generally proclaimed.
It did and it didn’t. I don’t so much mind the meandering and the stretched out elements, the weird straights that serve to get you a different piece of landscape rather than to enhance the ride. I did mind the restraints, and the falling into them in that dumb slow inversion that just feels completely out of place. Without it, it would have been a solid sit down with multi-launch goodness as there’s two decent airtime moments in the exit of the crow’s nest(?) and the surprisingly profiled return hill after the final launch. I also enjoyed the little slalom between the rocks, good lats there.
Rather watch real cheetahs.
#8 Cobra’s Curse was impressively themed in the queue, I liked the anger in the little preshow. While the big snake himself looks great, I never actually managed to catch what he was saying to us at the top of the elevator lift and do feel that would only have added to the experience. As a ride it’s an interesting take on the spinner and not what I anticipated, controlling you both forwards and backwards for different sections before having a light sequence of chaos. S’alright.
It’s a little bit scary to think about but I don’t believe these do it for me any more either. Whilst I can say #9 Montu was one of the better inverts out there, even with some real ferocity in certain places like that final corkscrew, they’re just so… formulaic and that really stands out when it’s in such close proximity to a ride that breaks all the rules.
Rather watch crocodiles. Wait, no, that’s an alligator.
And so, with the lap of the park complete, it was time to close out the evening with as many goes as possible on the lineup wrecker.
I’ve thought of one other downside in that it’s too difficult get photos of. A spectator coaster this is not, it’s stuck in a weird no-man’s land between service roads and sheds, while somehow being in the centre of the plot. It is glorious at night of course.
A cheeky bonus occurred in that #10 Scorpion re-opened halfway through the night. We took the opportunity for a quick sprint and, with relief, finally declared the park ‘complete’.
As the night drew on, the operations steadily ground to a halt and then God damn Iron Gwazi managed to break down. This kept us in the park nearly an hour longer than expected and it was already getting pretty late. Not good for my already aching bones but obviously worth it.
That’s Busch for now, though we’d be back later in the week for some proper reflection.