USA 04/19 – Six Flags America

And here we are. Final bit of fun before the airport.

Day 12 – Six Flags America

Visually another place that blows Six Flags Great Adventure out of the water. Lets see what the fuss is about.

#1 Great Chase

Started strong on yet another Great Chase, yet another Zamperla 80STD. There had been a tornado overnight (we had just missed it on the last couple of days which was a shame as I wanted to add it to my extreme weather event collection), so the staff guy was nice enough to clean up the seats that were full of leaves before letting us on.

#2 Ragin’ Cajun

This ride is good for the name alone. People that hate on this park name it as one of the worst rollercoasters in the world, but it’s just a completely standard spinner. People are wrong.

Wild One was being spiteful, but the staff guy was amusing, standing under a deafening speaker playing mardi gras music and seeming physically terrified of anyone who came and asked about it. More on that later.

Spitebird was being spiteful of course, undergoing a refurb.

New for 2019. Toilets.

#3 Joker’s Jinx

Outdoor Flight of Fear wasn’t as disorientating, but seeing the tangled mess of supports whizzing by was quite a sight to behold.

Glad everything was walk on, queues looked grim.
The ride closed for wind just after we got on it. Good.

#4 Superman – Ride of Steel

On to this hilarious piece of steel. I believe this is my last in the set of unique Intamin Mega/Hyper layouts and what a layout!

The sequence of events still makes me laugh now. It starts by presenting you with what a hill looks like. Then a glorious straight line and a giant helix. A giant, rattling, speed losing, pointless helix.
Another glorious straight line.
Another hill that does nothing.
Another giant helix, this time in the upwards direction.
It just leaves you sitting there watching what’s going on around you and not really ‘riding’ anything in the true sense, thinking what the hell were they thinking?

A couple of hills happen at the end of mild significance. Intamin at their finest.

Is this the one that had Virtual Reality? I can see how there wasn’t any real danger of losing headsets mid-ride.

Batwing was on staggered openings, so we went to Roar, which broke down in front of our face due to wind.

#5 Mind Eraser

Leaving us with the SLC. Looks pretty good for what it is. Rides alright. Middle of the road.

#6 Roar

Roar had then fixed itself. Like Hurler, it was interesting to ride something which resembled what RMC Joker used to be, spotting what they’d done with it, remembering better times.
The ride itself? Meh. GCI again. Old style of trains made it a change of pace at least.

#7 Batwing

Back to Batwing. Longest queue of the day @ 10 minutes.

This thing fixed everything that was wrong with the original.
The putting you on your back mechanism was smooth and sophisticated.
They changed the shape of the final inversions so they dont physically assault you.
They added a bonus helix!
It only ran one train so you didn’t lie on the brakes at the end.
Quite liked it to be honest. Solidified the experience as more forceful and interesting than Air.

This ride also closed for wind just after we got it. We’ve done well.

All that was left was Wild One. Went back to our guy to get the same old lack of information. Saw some activity over in the distance.

The reason it was closed was that the wind had blown down this stupid Snickers banner from the side of the ride. Entertained ourselves by watching them slowly climb around the supports and remove it.
It took down a piece of wood with it, who knows whether it was structural or not. We didn’t care at this point. Just run the thing so we can ride it and leave. And they did.

Back over to our guy, still getting nervous and still not opening. Another man stuck his head out of the station and shouted down to him.
“You can go on your lunch now.”
“Is the ride open?”
“No. You can go to lunch now.”
Quote of the day – “Someone NEEDS to be here.”

Then he went to lunch. The very second he left, 50 guests turned up out of nowhere and instantly powered into the closed queue, fulfilling his prophecy that someone needed to be there. Still laughing, we followed them in.

The station staff showed no resistance at this point, sending the ride for another test with us standing there. Then it opened. Success.

#8 Wild One

Best ride in the park, not that it was hard to achieve. A decent enough older woodie with the right level of shake, rattle and roll, plus a bonus helix.

And that was that. Don’t see the problem with this place at all. The lineup is lacking by Six Flags standards of course, but the park itself is perfectly pleasant and a good little half day out.

Goodbye America.


New creds – 96
Total parks – 10
RMCs – 4
Miles travelled – 3200
Current savings on car parking costs – $401
Best coaster – Skyrush
Best park – Dollywood
Spites – 4/100 (4.0%)

USA 04/19 – 2 Gigas, 1 Day

This day was free to cover a lot of things going wrong in other parts of the trip, but we had done very well on getting everything major, so the regular plan was just revisits on route back to the starting point for fun.
You know what would be cool?
Riding 2 giga coasters in a day.
So we did.

Day 11 – Carowinds

Back here again for opening time, knowing the procedure like the back of our hand, it feels like home already.

Copperhead Strike

Couple of Copperheads.


An Afterburn. Still good.

#1 Kiddy Hawk

A bonus cred! The Vekoma SFC opened for us. Park complete.

Fury 325

Couple of Furys. Hit the road.

It was another long old drive to be doing in the middle of a park day, but we were spurred on by the prospect of re-rides on our favourite RMC of the trip. Arrived there late afternoon without any particular hitches.

Kings Dominion

Intimidator 305

Couple of Intimidators. Mission complete.


A Dominator. Still not good.

#2 Racer 75 (South)

A bonus cred! The other side of the racing woodie opened for us. Park complete.

Twisted Timbers

Twisted Timbers til we bleed. Almost.
Coulda gone more, but my cred counting companion was evidently battered by this stage of the trip (lightweight) and then some undesirables soured the experience – weird old people clearly on drugs started causing a scene in the queue while the staff didn’t know how to handle it.

I did get an insane ride in the rain and another couple of nighttime laps though. It reconfirmed the doubts that it wasn’t just the first RMC of the trip getting us back in the game and feeling better than the rest, it actually was better.

One more park to go. Everyone’s favourite.

Day 12

USA 04/19 – Six Flags Over Georgia

Day 10 – Six Flags Over Georgia

This place already looks a lot better than Great Adventure on the outside. The arrival underneath a B&M hyper with nice landscaping, the sight of a fresh RMC, a new looking entrance, another beautifully re-painted B&M. All good signs.
The bad sign was that we arrived to a slightly busy looking car park. It was back to being a weekend again and there was some sort of cheerleading competition going on(?) with tons of small children around, dressed in a disturbing fashion and their many families in tow.

We powered in to assess, first walking past the Georgia Spiter. Apparently it’s our own fault.

From here we could see that Dare Devil Dive queue was terrible, as predicted. We would have hit it first, but hadn’t quite arrived for opening time so it wouldn’t have worked well. Plan B was to join the queue for Goliath instead, which happened to move particularly swiftly.

#1 Goliath

Had a vague idea that this was meant to be one of the better ones of these. It wasn’t really. Might have been underwhelming after Fury or after riding so many other B&M hypers in quick succession.

Though the layout leaving the park was rather nice, it was the same old story of underwhelming hills and a helix.

Of particular note, the bottom of the last couple of hills had a bit of an unpleasant crunch to them, rather like El Toro was doing, but completely unjustified in this case and uncharacteristic of the ride type.

The final assessment was to head round to something else with a reasonable capacity and judge.
Mind Bender has a 90 minute queue. Right. This trip hadn’t really conditioned us for queues, so we weren’t particularly willing to put up with risking this park the hard way at this stage.

It was time to put a Flash Pass to the test. It’s a reasonable enough price if you ever think you really need it to get things done, particularly when you’re getting into all the parks for free with a season pass. It runs that system where you get to virtually queue for something while you do something else, which I’ve always enjoyed playing with on the odd occasion. It also seems to be the next generation of this, using a wristband with a touch screen rather than the Tamagotchi egg thing.

Our wristband was behaving weirdly to start with, working wonderfully in our favour, with most things seemingly not up to date and sitting on weird timings like a ‘4 minute queue’.

So each of the first few rides were ready by the time we walked to it.

#2 Mindbender

Always had Mindbender down as one of those big names that’s a bit of a classic, almost one of the star attractions here. Was a bit of a let down really.
It was just some run of the mill loops and stuff, with a bit of nice (for Six Flags) landscaping.

#3 Batman The Ride

Another Batman layout that didn’t quite perform at its best.

#4 Dare Devil Dive

Flash Pass was definitely broke for Dare Devil Dive with it being another walk on for us. A seething queue of what looked to be at least 2 hours were watching 2 out of every 6 seats on a car get filled by those with passes, while the remaining 4 seats were receiving poorly batched groups of inappropriate sizes. Then it broke down as we left. The system works.

It was nice to have lap bars and a bit of a different layout on one of these. It’s not fantastic, but enjoyable enough with an interesting mixture of awkward forces. Rides ok.

I was still counting down (or up) to my 800th coaster at this stage, working out how many more we needed to hit before the main event. Suddenly the pass seemed to get a hold of its senses and showed queue times that ended in 0s and 5s. The RMC was now 90 and remained that way for the rest of the day. Better book it then.

Did some actual queues while that was being eaten away, starting with this weird Chance ride.

#5 Joker Funhouse Coaster

What an odd layout. Lift hill a quarter of the height of the ride, a drop, a corner, a tunnel, a kicker wheel cos it’s already too slow, a corner, and now we need some more tyre lift to get back into the station. That’ll do lads.

Got lost on the way to the mine train, which took the prize for the most unpleasant queue of the day. Seemed short walking in, but the station is huge with air gate queues of about 20 people each, all rammed in and sweating.

#6 Dahlonega Mine Train

Ride was bad too, more dumb layouts. Diablo had comedy with its lift hill that leads to nothing, but this was just moving through leaves at 5Mph for several sections in a row until the tunnel at the end that was weirdly rough. Served its purpose, taking me to #799.

It’s time.

#7 Twisted Cyclone (#800 total)

Another RMC I know nothing about. It’s got a cool little pre-lift section, I’ve missed these. The first drop is amazing as always, then you get Wicked Cyclone’s uphill inversion into Twisted Timber’s downhill inversion. Clearly the trio aren’t just linked in name alone.

There’s a few more punches of ridiculous airtime in there, in between more funky elements, keeping it varied again, but then it ends very suddenly by hitting the brakes at what feels like full speed.

So I love what it does, but it’s done a Lightning Rod again and left me wanting more. Weird that both the other ones in the aforementioned trio get so much more out of their extra 10ft of height. Is this a conversion limitation?

In quest for completion, headed over to the final section of the park, forgetting what half the creds actually were. Superman was down, Blue Hawk had a sign up about having only 1 train and looked awfully grim. Decided to book that and have some food while waiting.

#8 Blue Hawk

Thought it was another flyer, but it ended up almost as bad being a Vekoma looper. It looks deceptively new having been relocated and repainted, but it’s basically blue Goudurix and it rides worse. At least it’s a somewhat rare breed.

It lost the claim to worst ride in the park to GASM immediately afterwards though, which also claimed worst ride of the trip for me. Not good.

#9 Great American Scream Machine

When woodies catch me the wrong way they really suck hard, and this just didn’t want me to enjoy it. I may struggle to describe what it was doing, but it’s like when some trains (often SLCs) do a weird forwards and backwards pumping motion, independent of the intended forces of the ride, but not in a funny way and in my case a certain rythym only affects my internal organs and not the rest of mybody. It wasn’t career endingly bad like Nash, but it’s another ride I would never risk again, particularly when it had no redeeming features anyway.

Superman remained broke, even though it tested, so that was the best we could do with this place. At least it looked 100x nicer offride than the previous one.

Did the Monster Mansion cos it’s old and cool. Didn’t quite understand it, sailing through a flooded mansion to be told not to go to the swamp. Going to the swamp. Monsters. Getting out of the swamp by someone firing a cannon? Hilarious noise. End.
What a charmer, Six Flags should have more stuff like this to break up the monotony of concrete and rides.

As the overall ride lineup wasn’t all that fantastic, we were now left in a position of having to wait out any more flash pass stuff by just sitting elsewhere in the park and not standing suffering in the actual queues. Queue times didn’t show any signs of improving so we just settled for the magic 3 laps on the wrong TC and left early to take some pics from the outside.

Got approached by a security guard for photographing the ride from an unsigned service road who thought we were up to something dodgy. It took us explaining where we were from and trying to convince him that we had basically come to this part of the world for
“THAT RIDE?! Why is that so special…”
“Did you ride it as the old one?”
before he made us leave anyway. Odd.

On paper this was the nicest Six Flags yet, as nothing particularly went wrong. Just a shame the queues were big, the rides weren’t the strongest and 2 of the B&Ms spited. I still don’t really like any of their parks then.

Up next: a mission of madness.

Day 11

USA 04/19 – Carowinds

One of the contributing factors to the route plan for this trip other than park opening dates was the fact I had my heart set on riding the newly opened Copperhead Strike. I completed the Mack Launch coaster set in January only to have it taken away from me very soon afterwards. Gotta keep on top of it now.

So obviously next our stop was ‘where the Carolinas meet’. We had affectionately named it ‘concrete and riiides’ over the past couple of days, imagining it to be back to the same old US tradition after the beauty of Dollywood.
It was also raining and a weekday, so could the man’s prophecy continue for no liiines?
Let’s see.

Day 9 – Carowinds

#1 Copperhead Strike

Only thing that did get lines was the new boy, so it was good to hit it first.

Queue looks rather nice, other than the fact they’ve padded it out with tons and tons of extra temporary cattle pen well beyond the signposted 2 hour start point of the actual queue. I assume it got that busy for opening day, but would be nice to put those away now.

Station is typically bare, but has the cool TV screen up showing restraint status and dispatch times and I’m enjoying seeing this pop up everywhere now.

Train looks weird to me with it’s frontage and the DC Rivals seatbelts that clip into the top of the restraint at an awkward angle, but it’s still very homely once you’re sat in it.

And what a start. Ridiculously slow roll out of the station that instantly gets the fun and laughter going.
What’s in the shed? Nothing that explains much. Some old woman on a screen shouting about intruders while loud bangs and screeching tyres go off. All the practical scenery looks really quirky and good in here though.

World’s slowest launch, comically so due to the fact I think they published the stats trying hype it up like it was a big deal. 0-42Mph in 6 seconds springs to mind. But it doesn’t matter, it’s not the focus, it gets things going.

The first loop is as ridiculous as the start. Redefined hangtime for me in that you completely flop downwards into the restraint and out of your seat at the top. Love this, very different.

There’s a good hill straight after, followed by the first twisty section which is decent but nothing special. The pacing gets really weird and slightly off here as it doesn’t feel long before you hit the second silly slow launch, which unusually takes place over a gentle hill.

Again, I love how different this is, but it feels a little clumsy and awkward in how it’s pulled off.

A couple more solid inversions and another good hill follows before it hits the second twisty section which unfortunately feels weaker than the first, so it doesn’t build particularly well.

There’s a really good kick right on the last hill and then you’re on the brakes. Hmm.

I like it. It’s a lot of fun and a very mixed bag of forces. It was never going to be the next Helix, but it’s about as good as ones of this size get, so that’s all I really wanted from it.

The aforementioned rain was coming and going so we were a little anxious about proceedings, deciding to prioritise the big rides next.

#2 Flying Cobras

Almost. Get this Boomerang out of the way, first one of the trip that’s actually open. Eww.

#3 Vortex

And this B&M standup. At least it was short. Eww.
I imagine this is what Patriot was like before train conversion and it would be another terribly boring one if they did it to this too. Don’t bother.

#4 Carolina Goldrusher

And this Arrow mine train. We aren’t sticking to the plan are we?
It sucked, but quote of the day – “I think this one just goes round bro”.

#5 Fury 325

Time for the supposed world’s best ride as of 2 years ago. They’re still actually saying it with audio in the station too. Bold.

I take slight issue with this, because it’s a long way from it. I really enjoyed it, it’s a ton of fun, but world beater it ain’t.

The best way I can describe it is that it does to B&M hypers what Valkyria did to B&M dives. It moves with a ton of purpose and shows that they can give you something to really think about if they put their mind to it.

I’ll start off by giving the ‘300ft earned’ prize to this ride, the drop actually felt giga big in the way that it sustained its sensation, unlike the rest I’ve ridden.

Then some corners happen. Fast, mildly enjoyable corners out to the other end.

Next highlight is the peak of the treble clef (which as an offride visual I absolutely adore) with some occasional sideways airtime. Mmm, just look at it.

The most entertaining part of the ride is the track support over a massive corner that hangs so low it looks like you’re gonna hit it. This made me almost cry with laughter on the very first ride in the way that I saw it coming, then saw my friend completely duck out of the way like it was a serious threat. I couldn’t really control myself until the brakes and my loss of control made the experience pretty special over the subsequent hills.

There’s only 3 hills of significance and the 1st one is intensely trimmed, also to the point of comedy. They still provide a very sustained but gentle lift out of your seat, pretty much what the B&M hypers fail to do on many occasions.

I also love the way it looks with that two-tone back of the track effect.

It has character and I have a soft spot for it, but I didn’t properly fall for it like I wanted to.

#6 Nighthawk

2 hours for this? Can’t think of anything worse.

These Vekoma Flying coasters have always looked really unpleasant to me with the whole lying on your back concept. The worst part of the worst B&M flyer is when it decides to chuck you onto your back for 10-15 seconds and its just uncomfortable and dumb. These have that in the station and on the brake run.

The moment it puts you on your back for the first time creates more screams of terror out of large men than Flying Dinosaur does from Japanese schoolgirls.
Then there’s people coming back into the station in either tears or severe pain or both. Good.

When the moment came for us, it jerked its way backwards unnervingly. Once flat on your back – yes, this is unpleasant.

Kinda liked the lift hill. Not fully lying down at that angle. Bit of a 4D coaster fear moment going backwards up it, looking out on the world, not knowing when the terror will begin.

Kinda liked the ride? Kinda. Until the end.

Most of it was like a more forceful Air. Trying to scrape the ground a lot and simulate flying in a reasonably respectable manner. The loop is cool and intense, like something from a good bit of the better B&Ms.

Then the abomination that is the final 2 inversions happened and a bearable ride suddenly tries to kill you by violently jerking its way round these and throwing you about. Nope.

It hit the brakes and it was 2 train operations, so we’re stranded on our back for several minutes, leaning slightly downhill towards our heads as well to make it even more unpleasant. Neither putting your head back and relaxing or lifting it up to look around and stop the blood flowing that way is a comfortable thing to do. Please end.

#7 Intimidator

The other Intrimidator was just across the way. Didn’t know it had the staggered seating trains that some B&M hypers have, but it makes sense being in the same park as the other lad.

This was weak. Trims and sluggish and Shambhala all over again – literally doing nothing after the mid course. It hasn’t even got the aesthetic to back it up, just car theme and car park.
Oh well.

Afterburn was the last thing of importance in our minds so headed over to that.

#8 Afterburn

After a few B&M inverts that hadn’t quite hit the mark, this was back to what they’re supposed to be. Snappy and intense.

Haven’t done a batwing on one before, that was fun. The mince over the station adds character before kicking your arse in a corkscrew.

Very good ride, I approve.

I’m liking the overall look of this park more than I thought. Time to finish off the +1s.

#9 Woodstock Express

It started to rain heavily as we hit this ride. Didn’t really see what happened on the layout but it was similar to the previous wooden one, bit of a laugh with some surprising airtime.

#10 Hurler

We’re now getting stupidly wet, but they’re still running things. Who fancies Hurler?

I believe this is the layout that became Twisted Timbers, so it was very interesting to see this in person and compare notes (from what we could see through the rain). The ride? Meh. Nothing bad, nothing special.

The mouse was down, so we went for Carolina Cyclone. Mopping this stuff up, both us and the park undeterred by the rain. We got as far as sitting down in the train with the restraints locked. Then they unlocked and cleared the ride due to weather. Nooooooooooooo. Never been that close and missed out before.

Weren’t sure why it had happened as we left, as the rain level seemed to have died down a bit. We walked towards the entrance to get some food and dwell on it as Valhalla levels of water suddenly hit us. Guess that’s why. Everyone ran for the nearest shelter and we ended up in the Cinnabon shop with about 200 other people wet and sweating. This day has taken a turn.

Queued about an hour for subpar food with nothing better to do, then went to the car to assess options as everything was now closed.

All credit to Carowinds, 30 minutes after a torrential storm had died down, Fury began testing again. This is now my favourite Cedar Fair park.

#11 Carolina Cyclone

Back to Carolina Cyclone for some unfinished business. Can’t be dealing with a spite like that.
We got it. It was a thing.

#12 Ricochet

A few people had gathered outside the Wild Mouse like it had signs of opening for the first time that day. A few cars tested while they repeatedly announced for us to go away and do something else. Then a man came round and told us it wouldn’t open today, go away and do something else. Fair enough.

It did open later, so he was cool. Again, credit to them for bothering to do this with only 2-3 hours left in the day.
The only coaster that didn’t open in the end was the Vekoma SFC. No big loss, but so close to completing the largest lineup of the trip.

Decent park in the end, got the makings of a very solid lineup (needs 1 more killer, but don’t RMC Hurler into a clone) and is run pretty damn well from what we saw.

Spent some time on the good stuff again before hitting the road and making enemies with the I-85.

Day 10

USA 04/19 – Pigeon Forge

Didn’t really look into +1s for this trip as it was so densely packed and it seemed almost rude to be considering it, but the temptation was a little too much to resist on this mostly free day.

Day 8 – Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

#1 Alpine Coaster

Started off by knocking on the door at opening time for this contraption. I believe it was the first to be built in the area, starting a trend that is making them crop up next to every other building in the town at the moment.

My experience with these is quite limited, having only done a small one in a field. The lift hill alone on this was probably longer, it just kept going and going, winding its way up into the mountains and trees. This was quite cool, with the relatively exposed feeling you get sitting on a tea tray and it got all quiet and peaceful for a few minutes.

The downhill portion also just kept going and going and got reasonably intense at parts, aided by the fact I didn’t have particularly good pockets and kept having to adjust them with one hand while keeping the speed control lever pinned down in the other.
There was still the same old issue with alpines in that you’re attached to the rails and don’t get the same feeling of this could crash, unlike a tubey one.

Island in Pigeon Forge

#2 Spinning Parrot

Next on the list was this little thing in town. A quick and easy in and out job. Free parking, $4 ride, part of a bigger resort type area.
It played amusing music and we got some good looks from passersby for riding it. Next.

Nascar Speedpark

Got to the ticket desk for this place and asked if the coaster was open. It wasn’t going to open all day. Got some good looks from passersby for powering out again. Next.

Rocky Top Mountain Coaster

#3 Rocky Top Mountain Coaster

This one is directly opposite Dollywood’s car park, a prime spot to pick up trade.
We weren’t sure whether to bother doing more than 1 of these in succession, but it turned out that this ride was a significantly different experience to the previous one, which made it worthwhile.

Instead of one long up and down, it has several lifts and several downwards sections with some odd attempts at theming along the way.
There were people actively working on construction within one part of it, then there’s some sheds with old tools in, some tunnels, a bloke in a watchtower asking how your day is going and speaker announcements saying the bear is coming to get you.
It wasn’t as good a ride with all the stopping, but fun and different nonetheless.

That’s enough of that.


Had another fulfilling day at this wonderful park. Mostly the same itinerary, here’s some photo highlights:

FireChaser Express
Mystery Mine
Wild Eagle
Lightning Rod

Rode the train which was awesome. It’s driven by a full size engine that proper smokes up the Smoky Mountains and comes with audio warnings at the start of the adventure about getting hot cinders in your eyes. Jeopardy on a gentle ride.
Lots of good commentary from the staff before it plays amazingly appropriate country songs including one about the devil driving a long black train.

Mmmm construction. Also spite.

Any time I go away on a trip, I shall now put this sign up.

Glorious day. Was sad leaving Tennessee that night.

Day 9

USA 04/19 – Dollywood

Day 6 – Travel

No parks today and probably for the best. We had left options open en route, but nothing surfaced in the end.
Of note:
– That American Dream Mall would have been on the cards, clearly not happening yet. We did happen to drive right past it between SFGAdv and SFNE, seeing a spooky shadow of some Gerstlauer track through the glass. That was cool.
– Also saw Dorney Park in passing on this drive. Still kicking our ass, but closed.

Everything else reasonably (and unreasonably) within reach of us was also closed so it was just a leisurely 12 hour drive that all went surprisingly smoothly really, stopping off for my favourite meal in the world – Quiznos, along the way.

Which then left us with 2 full days to enjoy this magnificence of a park. Good.

Day 7 – Dollywood

Pulled into what was soon proclaimed by us to be the world’s best car park. A quaint setting between the hills with gorgeous views and a couple of teasing glimpses of 2 of the main coasters testing.
The world’s friendliest tram staff pick you up from cutely named stops (C for Cotton Candy) and take you to the entrance, telling you everything you need to know and more, including the fact that there’s a phone number to call if you have minor car issues when leaving and that the park will send someone to come and help you out. How awesome is that?

Didn’t know anything (or care) about the logistics of navigating this park other than thinking Lightning Rod is in an area with some buildings and breaks down a lot.

#1 Lightning Rod

Straight to the Rod then.

We were fortunate enough to catch this ride on 2 consecutive days of zero down time and zero queue, racking up about (who am I kidding?) exactly 20 laps in total. And what a ride.

I had extremely high expectations for this thing, not particularly down to its mostly universal praise and being the ‘best thing ever’ circa 0BS (Before SteVe), but more from the fact that I saw some construction bits about it (specifically concept art for the quad down) when I was much more novice at this game and it stirred a reaction in me that I haven’t really been able to replicate since.

Construction doesn’t generally excite me much, the concept of following things being built with great interest, then not bothering to ride them or care about what happens next is alien to me.
Lightning Rod was the rare exception. I saw an image of the famous quad down element and my jaw hit the floor. It made me shout “I need this in my life”, but due to various circumstances I always ended up somewhere else.

Until now.

So that’s expectation context set up. I didn’t really know anything else about it other than launched lift and quad down.


It’s a lot shorter than I thought it would be.

For something that gamechanging I expected it to be repeatedly kicking your arse for a good while. But just as it properly gets going, it ends. And that left me wanting a little more.

The launch is insane, and stupid, and hilarious, and I love it. That’s aside from the fact that it has those weird handles on the restraints that you can grab onto and make things even funnier while you’re “peelin’ out on the world’s fastest wooden rollercoaster.”
Then it slows down at the top. Aww. The opening humps are good, but not amazing.
The pothole is there at the bottom of the main drop. It amuses me.
Then it does those 2 big sideways elements that are good, but not amazing. It may be because I’ve done enough similar things already that they didn’t particularly blow me away like they should have.
Then it gets good. Stupidly good.

A vicious wonky hill that often punched me in the side and/or back if I was being complacent about the intensity.
I believe they call the next element the twist and shout, but it was more like the shout and shout. Cos here come those leg wounds again.
And then it’s 4 shouts in a row of ferocity. No, 5. The little speed hill under the brake structure is sublime.
The train whips into the brakes and arghhhhhh no, keep going. This ride will give you blue balls.

It’s really, really good. But not the best thing ever.
It’s the ultimate death of Wildfire, I’ll give it that title.
It actually feels like you’re riding on wood and is a much, much better ride to go along with that.

Anyway, there are other rides here.

Stumbled onto a rapids next, which was a nice little sit down with some good water based entertainment.

Then stumbled on a log flume, which was a nice little sit down with some more water based entertainment. I like the synchronised splash effect here. Reminds me of trying to make them in ORCT.

#2 Blazing Fury

Blazing Fury was coaster number 2, which was a nice little sit down with some good dark ride based entertainment. Love the ol’ trick on the drop and the worryingly intense ejector in the back.
Learnt a little park history along the way. This park was the previous Silver Dollar City and all that.

#3 Tennessee Tornado

The Arrow looper was having teething troubles in the morning, but opened in front of our faces as we reached it.

Quote of the day from someone behind us in the train as it hit the brakes, paralleling my thoughts on Lightning Rod – “That was IT? WTF”.
It’s decent for what it is. Forceful and smooth. Spent some time dreaming of what more wonderful hardware they could put in its place.

#4 Wild Eagle

Wiiiild Eagle. Wiiiild Eagle. It has a song, love it.

It’s at this part of the park you notice the ride operators have a weird obsession of being overly specific with figures in their announcements, telling you the length of the ride to the second (See you in 2:22) as the train dispatches. It’s a good quirk.

Straight drop B&M wing, always on to more of a winner. Had a bit of roughness to it in the outside, but that’s probably good on these because it seems inherent with any strong force going on, so it means it’s actually doing something.
Pretty standard stuff as sensations go on one of these, but with amazing scenery. I found the seating alone more interesting than the other B&M rides that had been boring me recently, particularly in the front when it looks like you’re kicking track supports.

#5 FireChaser Express

FireChaser Express in it’s queueline claimed forces of 0.01 negative Gs with even more precision.

This trip is becoming king of the family thrill coaster. Another amazing ride that should really set the mark for what parks should be getting as their intermediate coasters.
And once again proves what Gerstlauer are best at.

Lovely airtime, fun effects, interesting, varied and good looking. The whole package – great stuff.

From here we discovered what may be my favourite thing about the park:

Rocking chairs. It might seem trivial, but that’s now a sign of a quality park for me.
I hadn’t previously been a big believer in the notion of ‘parks can be a good place to be, with or without the rides’ until I sat in a rocking chair at Dollywood and thought ‘Yes, I could sit here all day. I get it now’.

It needs the other factors of course, the place is beautiful and clean, there’s relaxing country music playing, it’s quiet, it’s hot, there’s a man with a banjo whose job is to chat to guests all day long.
Never mind the coasters, have I got a new favourite park?

We also had a view of Mystery Mine from our chairs and it looks SO BAD offride to the point of laughter. Jerking it’s way round awkward manoeuvres that would make Pinfari blush. How have they gone from that to what we just rode?

#6 Mystery Mine

Let’s do it then.
It rides as bad as it looks, for the first half anyway, but at least it’s funny.

The indoor parts set it apart. The first indoor bit is like Saw but less obnoxious and more fun. The second lift and following section is everything Novgorod should have been with its hilarious practical scenery canary death, fire at the top and cool inversions that make the preceding drop worthwhile.
Easily one of the best of its type and a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Talking of guilty pleasures, look, it’s the singing vulture from Portaventura.

The drop tower next door is amazing. More reasons for me to love the park in the fact that one of the attendants decided to jump on the ride with us as they were doing restraint checks and then casually chatted away to guests about the park while 200ft in the air. Amazing views, punchy drop. Love these ones. Better than Zumanjaro any day.

#7 Whistle Punk Chaser

Zamperla 80STD #3 of the trip. A pretty +1.

#8 Thunderhead

Thunderhead was a slight let down, though GCIs are a let down to me as standard these days anyway. I believe in the process of riding it we learnt it was a clone of some other reasonably big named woodie in America so that’s one less thing to look forward to in life.

It was alright, a couple of surprises here and there, a bit too much roughness. I think they quoted the main features of the ride as 100ft large sweeping drop and TWENTY TWO corners, both of which you know my feelings on by now. Eh.

But that ride completed the park, and what a joy it had been. Let’s do it all again.

We had some of their famous cinnamon bread with that dangerous apple butter and it was a messy but worthwhile challenge to finish.

We found Barnstormer after somehow missing it earlier. I like that.
It’s got Rush levels of short cycle, but a nice theme and interaction.

We sat in some more rocking chairs.

We rode the rod til we bled.


Easily one of the best days I’ve had at a park. There’s definitely something to be said for allowing extra time for something special.
Thank you to the other parks of America for not bothering to open yet.

Day 8

USA 04/19 – Six Flags New England

Day 5 – Six Flags New England

Continuing on from things not being how they were expected, this park is in a very unassuming location in a field past some houses. Reminded me of a more European setup.
Similar to Busch, it was raining on arrival and we joined about 10 other cars in a mostly empty car park.
A tram took us from there up to the bridge over to the entrance. A local man on board made the statement – “Monday, rain, no liiiiines.”

Narrowly avoided taking a guest survey, got a warm welcome and headed into the park. Didn’t seem to be any need to rush, so decided to use the hit things as they physically appear in front of you approach.

#1 Great Chase

Started strong on the smallest ride with a confused but friendly operator. Probably his only customers all day.

#2 Pandemonium

Pandemonium was decent, if a little wet. Finally found a Gerstlauer spinner that actually knows how to spin. Taken me long enough.

#3 Wicked Cyclone

From there we hit the main event, after the usual locker faff.

Wicked Cyclone was stupidly good. Again I hadn’t really entertained the notion of any of these RMCs having themes, but it was nice to see some Strom Chasing equipment in the queue and hear the station audio talking about weather reports.

The ride itself felt like a really strong mixed bag of elements. After an amazing first drop, inversions and intense air time hit you almost alternately in parts while it hauls its way through the structure, so you’re never quite sure what’s coming next. Many of the hills have a lot of variation in banking which make for a great deal of fun and it has that double hump element they do very well which fools you every time.

We were allowed to stay on in the back seats for 3 rides in a row before moving on, as the station was completely empty. Loved it.

Boomerang was down all day. What a pity, never mind.

Giant Inverted Boomerang was also down all day. Seems to be missing a train. That’s 1/3 success I’ve had on these beasts.

#4 Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt went down as we entered the air gates. This again.
Turns out it was nervous new staff who had seen some sparks on the ride and called a friendly engineer who watched it go round again to reassure them that nothing was actually wrong before reopening.

It rode alright, it did a few things. Very forgettable though.

#5 Superman the Ride

Time for the supposed world’s best coaster as of 20 years ago.

Didn’t know it had weird trains with stadium seating, these ain’t the T-bars I know and love.
Didn’t know some of these Intamin Hypers were chain lift, this ain’t the cable I know and love.

It had some airtime, but not a patch on something like Expedition Geforce. The layout is even more drawn out with extra corners and very large manoeuvres that don’t really do much and the last 2 hills feel like a bit of a bonus rather than the focus of what the ride is trying to do, so it doesn’t quite fit into their category of ‘airtime machine’. Which suits some people I guess, just not me.

Wasn’t anything special to me unfortunately. Wouldn’t call it any more significant than the B&M hypers of the previous few days. I’d try and make excuses for the ride about the fact that it was cold, wet and had empty trains but, you know, Wicked Cyclone.

#6 Catwoman’s Whip

The wild mouse nearby wasn’t ready for us so we hit the 2nd of these Tivolis in 2 days. +1.

#7 Joker

Followed by the 2nd of these S&S Freespins in 2 days. This one was even less intense again, pretty much failing to flip at all, resulting in an altogether different experience that was a lot more comfortable and still quite fun.

#8 Batman – The Dark Knight

Another forgettable B&M floorless. Shorter and more to the point, but nothing different or particularly exciting about it.

Looks nice though.

#9 Riddler Revenge

SLC with vest restraints. Could have been worse. Noticed some guests taking rerides of it. Good on them.

#10 Gotham City Gauntlet Escape from Arkham Asylum

The mouse was open by the time we got back round to it, so park complete for what was running. All taken at a rather leisurely pace.

Went for some lunch, at which point we heard a parkwide announcement. “Due to poor weather conditions, we will be closing the rides at 16:00 today” (instead of the scheduled 19:00).
That’s not ideal, but fair enough we thought. It’s been quiet enough for us to get everything done with time to spare, and probably the same for everyone else in the park. Still got time for a picture lap and an hour with the RMC to close the day off nicely.

So we almost liked a Six Flags park.

Took some pictures as planned and headed over to Wicked Cyclone at 15:15. Paid for a locker before running round to the entrance, just out of pure excitement of what was to come. A member of staff was there, with the entrance chained off.
“The ride’s closed lads.”
“But, why? It was meant to be 4pm.”
“Yeah well…” Quote of the day – “gotta clear the area.”

Went back to the lockers and promptly left the park.

This was such a disappointing move by the park/him and completely soured the whole day and park experience. The ‘area’ was completely deserted other than in the station, and the ride continued to run with a small group of people on it for the entire time we were walking out of the park, getting into the car and driving away (so until 4pm like they claimed).
We could have been on that train enjoying the ride as well, but were denied 45 minutes (+3 hours) earlier than advertised. That’s what I like to call ‘pulling a Phantasialand.’
There’s just no decent explanation for it other than it being a written rule that Six Flags have to be a dick to you at some point during your day, otherwise they aren’t doing their job properly.

It was a shame that the survey people weren’t still at the entrance to receive the good news as we left the park, but we did get one to fill out by email a few days later. That was fun.

Oh well, better parks to come.

Day 6

USA 04/19 – Six Flags Great Adventure

Day 4 – Six Flags Great Adventure

Wow. For what I imagined to be the 2nd most significant park in the chain after Magic Mountain, this place wasn’t… well presented. Fading clones and relocated rides in a derelict looking car park. Six Flags.

It didn’t get much better as we entered a lengthy queue for security. Queues were out the door for season passes with a sign detailing all the nearby (closed) highlights you can do. Six Flags Darien Lake. Six Flags La Ronde. Never mind the ‘local’ ones, I’ve done you one better.

Straight in and straight to the bull, no time for messing. Locker up lads.

So the ugly looking promotional wrapping paper they put on one of their trains is currently advertising the Kia Soul, specifically in red. I can now finally reveal what our hire car was for the trip.
The Kia Soul, specifically in red.
We’ve been driving the bull. This made us happy.

#1 El Toro

And away we go. Set complete and it’s the best of the Intamin prefabs. I assumed as much going in, but tried not to set my expectations too high. The first drop and two hills already double what made T Express the standout to me and then it doesn’t turn into a clone. It does, you know, cool stuff.

That Rolling Thunder(?) hill is amazing and kicks your ass at the bottom with a weird crunch, then the forceful turns of the following bucking bronco element are a fresh and welcome change to the usual unremarkable cornering on these rides. As with Skyrush, a light moment of pause for contemplation brings you into the brakes, but what a fantastic ride. Intamin you’re finally doing me proud.

Limped away from that, with the wounds from yesterday already re-opened after a single lap.

#2 Kingda Ka

Casually walked on to the tallest rollercoaster in the world. Again not what I expected from this park. They don’t make a big deal out of this record breaking piece of engineering, it’s just plonked out the back alongside more car park and a field with no particular fuss made over it. The queue has bamboo and they’re playing disco beats on the sound system throughout. The station is boring other than being dual loading again (and not using it again).

Sitting on the launch track waiting for the drop tower to finish its cycle with absolutely no suspense built is dumb. We ended up having a conversation on the ride, unphased, and other guests were doing the same.
And away we go.

I’ve heard it’s a three stage launch, steadily getting rougher with each. Then you’re up 400ft. Ears popped. Felt like it had trim brakes over the top hat so I start laughing, and then you’re back down to earth being presented with the second and last hill in visual form only, no feeling.

Casually walked on to the tallest drop tower in the world from there. I say casually, but it’s a stupidly long walk through unthemed fence and fields along the entire length of Ka. Ugh.
Again, not what I imagined. No fuss is made by the park about this ride either.

A sign proclaims I might get a lubrication substance on my shirt from the ride. View of the park is decent. Three stages of roughness in a reasonably weak drop. I did get lube on my shirt.

We’ve turned this into a fun game now, how many creds can you hit before your locker expires without having your phone and knowing the actual time?

#3 Superman – Ultimate Flight

Superman added to the suspense by breaking down as we entered the air gates. This is happening a lot. Security came and looked in a bin, then engineers at the train. And then it ran again.

Crystal Wings was a weak B&M flyer with amazing theming. This was a weak B&M flyer in a field, some car park and some desolate earth between. Cool.

#4 Green Lantern

Green Lantern man… I thought I’d worked out how to handle the B&M standup, but this was just awful even in the front row, middle seats. Car park, desolation and being punched in the ears.
Probably the only B&M in the world I would need serious persuasion to ride again. They’re meant to be one of the most infallible manufacturers out there. Not cool.

That was it for round 1 of locker time. Stopped for a bite to eat. Not quite the quote of the day, but the facial expression of the day happened here with a waiter walking round some tables:
“I’m looking for a number 5.”
One woman pipes up:
“I’m 26…”
If he could have had his head in his hands, he would have.

#5 Runaway Mine Train

Did the mine train next, after almost walking onto the sky buckets by mistake. It was better than the previous day’s, with a bit more to look at and a bit of an airtime hill (pictured). Then a girl sitting behind us started screaming at the top of her lungs about a wasp on the brake run. Please let me off this ride now.
Escape was difficult as the exit path was filled with people too large for the path all making weird comments and noises. It was a strange end to the experience.

#6 Bizarro

Mirrored Scream. Shortest locker hire ever, not coming here again.

Was surprised to see it run 3 trains. +1.

Actually wanted the buckets now for a trip over to Skull Mountain.

#7 Skull Mountain

What a legendary ride. Back row didn’t disappoint for the first drop and then it was a bit of general indoor fun. The face out front amuses me, so I was always going to like this.

#8 Nitro

Nitro was cool. Felt like it moved with a bit more purpose than most B&M Hypers and had a bit more kick in some of the hills. The helix was quite intense and different and it still had the signature mid-course fun.

You’re alright Nitro, you’re alright.

#9 Batman The Ride

Batman was a thing. Was nice to walk straight through the empty queue after spending 90 minutes in the identical looking one at the last Six Flags.
Still never gets better than La Fuga somehow, the rest of the clones all fail to replicate that unyielding intensity throughout the second loop and all the way through the following corner that makes you want to scream and rip your feet off. And that saddens me.

#10 Dark Knight

Joined the apparent longest queue of the day for the indoor wild mouse. Then it broke down. Sounds familiar?
Stuck it out this time and eventually ended up in the elaborate preshow room. Thought the story was going to be about Batman but it turns out Joker has command of 2 rides here.
The cars on this thing look weird with their subway theming and there’s a couple of bits of scenery going on indoors that make a welcome change from the mediocrity of the model. S’alright.

Joined the actual longest queue of the day for actual Joker. Then it broke down. Ugh.

#11 Joker

Still had a proper fear (but the good kind) for this thing going in, due to Arashi trying to kill me several times in the past.
It’s true that they don’t ride the same over here for whatever reason. It wasn’t even close in the intensity department, but did introduce a little unpleasantness into the mix by failing to flip and then rocking back and forth with a bit of a nasty head sensation. Nah.
Best compliment I could come up with was “I wouldn’t be averse to riding another.” For the cred.

Time was running a little low now, though we weren’t particularly sure how. This place seemed to have a way of sucking time out of nowhere. Still had 2 creds left to hit before an evening with the Bull.

Hit #12 Road Runner Railway, the 2nd Zamperla 80STD in 2 days first while the queue faded for the Zierer Tivoli. This wasn’t listed as an attraction on the map, so finding it and subsequently getting on it was a bit of a bonus.

#13 Harley Quinn Crazy Train

The Tivoli. +1.

Unfortunately the evening didn’t turn out to be quite as magical as the previous. They had taken a train off of El Toro and there was a general contempt in the air from other guests about how terrible the ride operations were.
The station was a complete scrum following 10-15 minutes of outside cattlepen and many people were getting to the top of the stairs just to instantly bail after seeing the state of it.
Quote of the day here from a man who had Flash Passed his way to the top of the stairs only to walk away again, his voice cracking under the emotion – “It used to be my… favourite ride”.
I love the idea of poor operations being a deal breaker for something you regard that highly.

Managed just 2 more rides in the last hour, but at least it got properly dark for the final lap. Rode about the same as the morning so – amazing stuff.
Shame it’s Six Flags.
Up next – Six Flags.

Day 5

USA 04/19 – Hersheypark

Day 3 – Hersheypark

The tour of coaster legends continues as Skyrush looms into view over the construction site that is the current entrance.

#1 Skyrush

Let’s get right to it then. A small queue had formed outside the entrance while the ride wasn’t quite ready.
Took advantage of the free lockers nearby and joined.
It wasn’t long before we headed up the stairs and into the back row. Quote of the day here from a fellow rider. Apparently ‘Dorney is kicking our (Hershey’s) ass’.
I’m no local expert, but by it’s reputation I would imagine it isn’t. It’s also closed at this time of year, so we wouldn’t be able to verify.

First impressions of the ride? Not great to be honest. Not the mind blowing machine it was meant to be but don’t worry, the Flying Aces style fairytale will resume later.
You’ll just have to read the rest now.

#2 Sooperdooperlooper

Cred time. Weird little layout that doesn’t do a whole lot. Discount Revolution.

#3 Comet was properly good. Old school woodie with minimal restraints that rides very well. Hilarious laterals and moments of standing airtime. Great stuff.

#4 Great Bear

The B&M invert was alright. The helix at the start is a welcome change.

It has some fun moments like the straight over some mud.

And the part where they must have realised ‘oops we’ve got to get this layout back to the station, chuck in a long drawn out s-bend.’ Reminded me of the middle of Flight Deck.

Doing so well with a surprising lack of queues again, we foolishly headed off into the rest of the park blindly at this point, somewhat forgetting about our 2 hour locker limit.

Did #5 Trailblazer, the Arrow mine train. It was a thing. Ain’t no Diablo.

#6 Wild Mouse


#7 Wildcat

Now properly worrying about locker time and not knowing the actual time, but unable to resist the draw of things nearby, gave Wildcat a bash.
Just as we reached the air gates, already nervous about being late, they decided to add another train. Good for them and fun to watch, but such a tense moment.

Quoting myself previously: ‘They seem to have developed an obsession for large swooping drops which do absolutely nothing.’
I’m going to have to retract this statement about GCI. This was their very first build, so it’s been in them all along. And it sums up the ride perfectly.

A brisk power walk back to the lockers, getting lost along the way. I believe we had 2 minutes to spare. Good to add a bit of drama.

During our travels it had been noticed that neither Fahrenspite, nor Storm not-Running were open. Suppose the odds of missing out are high with this many Intamins in one park.
Planned our next move over a bit of lunch.

#8 Cocoa Cruiser

Which was Cocoa Cruiser of course. The first of too many Zamperla 80STDs on this trip.

And then time to suck up the Laff Track queue (only queue in the park) next. A short way into the queue, it broke down and we all cleared out again.

#9 Lightning Racer (Thunder) + #10 Lightning Racer (Lightning)

Lightning Racer it is.

First side (right?) was a bit underwhelming. I liked the staggered lift idea. Thought they were gonna do a Dauling Dragon at the top and cross over, but it was just a large swooping drop of course. It rattled around some more corners for a while and we lost the race.

Other side seemed to be behaving a bit better. It was winning every single lap without fail, even with a couple of rows closed off to guests. It managed to accentuate a few good moments in there – a bit of a speed hill through a shed and the odd moment of surprise airtime. All these mid-tier ones are really fading on me now – nothing amazing, but decent enough.

#11 Laff Trakk

Laff Trakk was back up and running. Suffered the queue a while longer, had a laugh in the hall of mirrors, hopped aboard.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – these Maurer spinner off-the-shelf models suck. They only come into their own when they get a little creative, otherwise its just a lack of spinning and a lack of interest. Indoors.

That was creds complete for what was available (forgot to mention Spitewinder, the Boomerang was also closed – what a pity, never mind).

Jumped on a ferris wheel and contemplated the park. We’re missing out on 2 of the big boys and at present, don’t particularly feel like staying ‘til close. Hmmm.
Ran through some of the usual crazy options while sitting on the wheel, including £60 for half an hour of Oscar’s Whack-off Taxi if we leave in the next 2 minutes (and I thought Sea World was badly priced).
Just then, Storm Runner saved the day by suddenly testing. That’s that question answered.

Joined a reasonable queue of dedicated guests outside the entrance and watched them continue to test for another hour or so. Didn’t know it was dual station. They’re only running 1 train, but still, that’s cool.

Our patience paid off and we got on. Here’s a mine train picture from the queue of Storm Runner that I didn’t insert earlier for dramatic effect.

#12 Storm Runner

I really liked this thing. It’s taken me far too long to come across the Intamin hydraulic launchers that are actually good, so I hope the remaining ones live up to it.

There’s a brilliant mix of forces over and out of the top hat and into the dive loop that actually took the air from my lungs – properly pretzel loop intense. The restraints are the tighter vesty ones like ol’ 305 had, which may have something to do with that, but it was a great moment.

The flying snake dive is a unique and really cool element, followed by a super snappy slither up into the brake run. A layout actually worth its launch.

Upon leaving the ride we asked a staff member, who we noticed had been carrying around the beginner’s guide to working on Hershey’s rides for the last hour, about our chances with Fahrenspite. The response was amusing. Fantawild levels of amusing:
“It was too cold to run.”
(Current weather was 18°C and we had just got sunburnt while waiting for that last ride).

Shame. Interesting looking thing. Also wanted to complete the Norwegian Loop set.

Did the tower. Windows and sun placement was bad for pictures. Rerode some stuff.

Had some surprisingly nice park food opposite the Bear and let the sun go down. I like the lighting packages on the GCIs.

Then settled in for an hour of Skyrush.

No wait, forgot to reride Comet (and to take a decent picture). Comet was awesome again. Staff were really enthusiastic and were doing quizzes about the park to entertain the queue. Beats those GCIs any day.

Then settled in for 55 minutes of Skyrush.

What is it about these Intawings? They leave me cold by day and then totally blow my mind by night.

It was absolutely incredible. The more you ride it, the more it just does things to you that weren’t happening before. The sensations that only a ride of this type can provide due to the seating position. Pure, vicious, sideways assaults in moments that don’t even make sense.

My favourite seat was back left. The same seat that felt like nothing special on a first ride – just another decent airtime machine.
The same seat that went savage on me – making the ride a world beater. It induces proper screams of pain, terror and joy in the same moment, every moment. Every straight hill. Every twist. And the unassuming entrance to a corner that makes you instinctively grab for the restraint no matter how hard you try and keep those hands up.
The final corner is a welcome moment of relief before you hit the brakes both laughing and crying. This thing shouldn’t be legal. But we’ll take 9 laps back to back.
Nope, they’re letting us stay on again for the last train of the night. We’ll take 10. What a glorious night of hobbying.

I’ll weigh in on the age old restraint discussion for this ride while I’m gushing. It took me one lap to get used to it. I sat normally, the bar was directly on the thigh and during the twists, one leg would unevenly take the strain. It wasn’t particularly comfortable.
After this, I slouched a little each time I got in. The bar was coming down into the hip joint. There was no more uneven strain and it was uncomfortable no more. It ached my legs after a few goes, just like all good airtime machines do, but it was perfectly manageable and oh so worth it.

I love Skyrush. It’s making me grin stupidly just sitting here writing about it. That’s what you want from a ride.

Didn’t feel in a position to drive to the hotel after that session, but somehow managed it even with the thought of those leg wounds being opened up all over again tomorrow.

Day 4

USA 04/19 – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Day 2 – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

A rainy day keeps the crowds at bay. We were directed to the ‘preferred’ car park by default due to a distinct lack of customers. This should be easy then.

Not what I want to see when entering a park.

#1 Grover’s Alpine Express

Creds though, that’s a different story. Stumbled onto this one first by mistake due to some staggered openings times of certain areas of the park.
Upon arrival at the station, half a train full of kids that were already seated shouted some warm greetings and told us to board while the staff completely blanked us. Ok then.

I forgave the British flags when this sight came into view. Several coasters + a train in one shot = a win. For some reason I never imagined the rides here to be in such close proximity, in my head picturing them all set apart in their own trees.

Old Nessie was next. Foolishly went for the front row as it was walk on and got a face full of rain, but it made things funnier.

#2 Loch Ness Monster

The legendary loops are cool, but the rest of the layout was laugh out loud comedy, much like Anaconda the previous day. 1080 degree helix with wonky corners into a small hump and an almost pointless second lift hill being the highlight. Oh Arrow… you make me very happy.

Did Battle for Eire next to escape the rain briefly. Didn’t take a picture it seems, so have some eagles. Beasts.

This attraction was Virtual Reality done rather well, I’m afraid to admit. You get given a weird helmet before entering a preshow with plenty of time to set it up comfortably on your head while waiting.
The preshows are really nicely done, with good theming, attention to detail and humour, particularly in the safety instruction video.
Upon boarding the simulator, all you have to do is take a phone out of a cup to the side of your seat and it snaps neatly into place within your helmet with a satisfying magnetic click – eliminating that pace killing experience of taking several minutes to get a clunky headset on your face properly before resuming a story. No names mentioned.
The actual ride was alright, if a little forgettable. A bit of swaying around scenes, dragons, and then the feature where you get to physically aim your face at something to shoot it near the end, which I always enjoy.

#3 Griffon

Draken’s American brother. Bit of a +1 to be honest.

They’re fun rides, with 2 significant drops being the only real highlight in sensations. Ridden both in the rain now. It got grease on my jeans.

#4 Invadr

This looked like a bit of fun too. Hopefully a Wicker dude killer.

Well yes it’s better, even if it isn’t particularly pretty on ride. It contains more of the signature GCI unexpected forces that come from the weird shaping into corners that I’ve been missing a lot recently.

#5 Alpengeist

This legendary invert was a bit of a let down. It was riding poorly in the back, about as poorly as I’ve experienced on any of its type with a bit of an off-putting vibration.

A front row ride redeemed it slightly. It has some good moments, but it’s not properly forceful from start to finish. And then that ending… barely doing 10Mph through several corners of fake snow. More laugh out loud layouts.

I did appreciate the little details:
The ski lift themed supports.
The skis on the sides of the trains.
The way each of the wheel covers gets more and more snowy as you head towards the back of the train.
The huts during the ride that have skis crashed into them.

Spite of Darkastle. A dark ride that closed forever before we made it here.

#6 Verbolten

Talking of little details. Y’all be droppin’, Bridge out and Big Bad Wolf number plates on these trains. Yes.

And this quaint little queue.

This ride is so good. The launch into the building is surprisingly powerful and provides some amazing airtime in the dark, which is followed by some fast turns about as forceful as ol’ 305.
I can’t really choose between the Zierers and the Intamin at the moment on track drop sections. There’s more overall punch in the former, but the teasing double drop of Thirteen gets me just as good.
I’m hoping Golden Horse will settle the dispute.

The Gerstlauer style small drop into a launch is a tad awkward and the ride does suffer from some pacing issues, using the multi launch element only to instantly lose all its speed again up into the bridge feature.

But it’s a very different experience and a ton of fun. I like you Verbolten.

#7 Tempesto

Oh good, a Premier Sky Rocket. Oh good, comfort collars. +1.

#8 Apollo’s Chariot

Which just leaves the Chariot. The first of many B&M hypers on the trip. It was good to finally sink my teeth into what they’re all about, having only ridden a rather disparate bunch previously.

So what are they about? Not a huge amount really. A battle of how interesting can we keep things between hills.
This one had character. The bonus straights between hills to fit the landscape. The best airtime being the kick out of the mid course. The couple of wonky hills. Most of the other hills were also decent enough. Solid stuff.
Better than Shamebhala, that’s all I really wanted.

Spite from Pompeii.

So surprisingly BGW was finished in about 2.5 hours in the rain and we sat down for a slightly too big meal to contemplate.
It’s a really nice park, above average on the ‘pleasant to be in’ scale and run very well as far as I can tell. Just a bit of a shame with so many big name rides and an insanely well rounded lineup with basically no filler (unlike everywhere else around here) that none of the rides are truly outstanding. Hopefully they’ll fix that soon enough. I want a reason to come back.

Took a tour on the sky buckets before some rerides.

Y’all love a construction pic don’t you.

We were contented by mid afternoon and decided to hit the road early with the intention of a couple more evening hours at Kings Dominion (on Twisted Timbers) which we would have been driving past that night anyway. Got as far as the car park entrance to see a big display saying they had closed several hours early due to rain.
Not such a good sign of things to come.

Day 3