USA 06/23 – Alley Cats, Prairie Playland + Summary

Time to tidy up.

Having seen all there was to see at Six Flags Over Texas we headed out into the city, to a cred that had been spotted by the side of the road the night before. No new discovery or anything exciting, the various internet tools were well aware of its existence (except Captain Coaster), I just hadn’t planned on being done here so early.

Alley Cats

The establishment in question was a beautifully air-conned arcade and bowling alley, but that was besides the point.


Outside, the spirit of the #8 Rattler lives on in an SBF spinner. Unlike our friend Frankie and his mine train, this performed far too many laps and was extremely inefficient given the weather.

With that bonus out of the way, enough was enough. Just the one day to go.

Day 15 – Prairie Playland


A ride we had planned for, to finish up, given no other Texas based disasters. This large outdoor market and camping ground has an amusement section and as of quite recently, the world’s largest coaster from E&F Miler, formally from California. Seemed worth a shot.


They’ve painted the #1 Prairie Screamer green, done up the trains and given it an amusing name and logo. We were knocking on the ticket window for opening and ended up on the first cycle for the day.

I expected clunkiness, it’s the defining feature of the medium ones of these. What I didn’t anticipate, as we approached speeds of 50Mph was that it just isn’t built for that sort of force. The track isn’t straight, so the base of the dips have a prominent set of jolts to them. Being bigger and more drawn out in the hills and turns was also detrimental to the usual wild airtime and laterals, though it still had its highlights in surprise places. Fun, still prefer the Kissimmee one.

With nothing left to do but drive to the airport, we stopped off on route to Austin in the town of Waco, at a far more upmarket market built next to some old magnolia silos.


Apparently it’s famous, has been on TV and stuff. Had some food trucks and did what it says on the tin.




Total states – 15
New creds – 62
New dark rides – 8
New parks – 17
New wacky worms – 2
New RMCs – 5
Best new coaster – ArieForce One
Best coaster – ArieForce One
Best new dark ride – Mystic Mansion
Best dark ride – Monster Mansion
Best new park – Fun Spot America Atlanta
Best park – Dollywood
Distance travelled – 4,518 Miles
Spites – 4/66 (6.06%)

Thanks for reading.

USA 06/23 – Six Flags Over Texas

Six Flags Over Texas

Following on from Frontier City we arrived at Over Texas sometime late in the afternoon and immediately had our Six Flags Day moment. It was something ridiculous like 37 degrees, 150% humidity, there were weather warnings saying don’t go out in the sun, you nutters. In our haste we had chucked an assortment of drinks in the bag, as they were going to be essential for the upcoming exertion. Yet for the first time in my Six Flags history, most of these were removed from our possession during a security check that put Austin airport to shame.


The logic was that they have ‘an alcohol problem’, so one bottle that was already open having been sipped from in the car (subsequently uncapped and sniffed), along with one that was still sealed but had the label torn in order to distinguish whose was whose, all had to go. We were assured that free water was available on park, though the where or how was left entirely to our imagination. Having not gone out of our way to look for it, I can at least say that they weren’t going out of their way to distribute it, though ride staff were giving reminders to stay hydrated.

With nothing but horror and inconvenience out of the way, we had clocked on the way in that #6 La Vibora was operating. In my head this is never running, so this was the first place we headed in order to bag the ‘rare cred’. Sure enough, upon our arrival, it had gone down. The queue was closed off in a confusing manner and they were cycling empty cars. Not wanting to backtrack much, or even move, we opted to wait it out and ensure the win.


Victory came soon enough, I was interested to learn once in the station that the seating is single file, unlike the deceased Dutch counterpart and my only other experience with an Intamin Bob. It rode with a decent vigour, I quite liked the unrefined and out of control feeling it delivers by not being on rails, more so than any Mack really gives you. The uncomfortable clattering sideways into each block section was what defined the experience of Bob for me, this was far less jarring here. You’re alright La Vibora, you’re alright.

Skirting round the 100th Larson Loop of the trip, we headed for RMC’s other catalogue offering. If there was anything that needed to be secured on this preview visit, it was the #7 New Texas Giant.


The sweaty scream shields on the sides of the train were something to behold, it doesn’t quite have the aesthetics of the Rattler. On-board pouchies are a plus, they always amuse me. We settled down towards the back of the train and ended up with two inaugural laps on the bounce as no one came to fill our row in the meantime – no one else was stupid enough to be riding rides in this heat.


Sad to report that this one didn’t quite justify the ambient discomfort. It’s far more clear here that they were onto a new thing, being the first project, and simply hadn’t dialled up the insanity meter. I’ve also ridden it far too late in the day. Maybe the drop was something special, maybe it wasn’t, you know how that’s been going on this trip. For an RMC that’s comprised entirely of corners and airtime hills, I’d expect both to deliver something substantial, yet there are more misses than hits.


I can pinpoint just a single ‘great’ hill in the layout, on the second circuit before the mid course brake fun. The rest are like my impression of a B&M hyper that’s not delivering. When it comes to the turns, sure they look wacky and are a marked improvement on some old nasty woodie, but they reminded me of all the ‘weakest’ moments that punctuate RMCs – overbanks and stuff that don’t really excite. Rattler had them, even Wildcat had that one. Arie didn’t. Oh Arie…


Nevertheless it’s a noticeably long ride, and always at least decent fun throughout. Good visuals, speed, variety, some structural interaction, unpredictable tunnel sections at the end. A fine attraction, one that I’d be happy to sit on all day were it not unbearably hot, but not one that I’d be busting to. On a world stage, you’ve still got yourself a headliner coaster. On an RMC pedestal, it’s probably the worst.

With that successfully figured out, time kept running and the game was on to see what else we could mop up before close. For both geographical and significance reasons, #8 Titan was up next, the other, bigger giant.
As someone who probably likes the other Giovanola hyper more than most, and would take it over other low tier hypers for the sake of variety, it rode exactly like that one, but in 37 degrees.


In other words, it kicked my ass. Two incredibly sustained and intense grey-out sequences that would make Intrimidator 305 blush, and I could barely leave the station due to some sudden wobbly legs. It’s not a criticism in this case, just a warning that this monster goes hard. I really like the first drop, something about that shape manages to draw things out just right and not undersell the 240-odd-ft. The openness of the trains and the rarity of being on something this huge, with thinner track/two-wide seating gives the turnaround a more unnerving and exposed feeling than the comforting arms of a B&M.


The speed over the speed hill always delivers and then it’s time to start your breathing exercises. Exiting the first helix of doom often garnered a range of reactions from surrounding riders, from the primal instincts of punching the seat in front to screaming various expletives about having passed out. A god damn Titan or two.

It stops dead on the mid course, and I’ve often read that as a criticism, but quite frankly it needs to. They’d be taking people away on stretchers if it didn’t, especially in climes like these. It fades in and out of some of the most sustained positive forces in the business while winding back down towards the ground in a long series of nothing but twists and turns before the sweet relief of the final brakes.

Sad to see they didn’t have another shirt in the Six Flags series here. ‘I blacked out on Titan’, with a giant figure curb-stomping a stick person could well have earned a sale in this instance, though I think the snake one still wins.

Given this area is a dead end of the park, we moved as quickly as we dared back towards the middle regions, tactically aiming for known capacity nightmares. The first of these was another #9 Pandemonium, thankfully not breaking down every 5 minutes. Couldn’t find the entrance in our weakened bodily state (seems to be a park-wide phenomenon of poor signage) and ended up brute forcing the fast track stairs because it was quicker, and no one was in any line at all.


Same one as Fiesta Texas but purple and not by a cliff, it happened. I think the 420/4 model remains the most spinningnest of all the Gerstses.


Below it was #10 Aquaman: Power Wave, though I don’t recall a single thing on or around it that bore any relation to the character. It has far less character than Pulsar through both a lack of vibrating walls and not being integrated in a more ‘natural’ environment. The surging of the LSMs was more satisfying than I recall, amongst a sequence of forwards, backwards and a splash in surprisingly comfortable seating. S’alright.


With 10 mins on the clock we intended to close out on yet another Justice League, but it was a waste of a walk as arrival in the station had staff telling us it was broken. Could have done with a sign. It was time to head out, and soon after collapse from heat exhaustion.

Day 14 – Six Flags Over Texas

Right back at it again, we keenly rocked up for opening and opted for the VIP entrance for one last abuse of the system. The tune had already changed from the previous evening here, apparently it didn’t matter whether bottles were open or not, they didn’t want to allow outside drinks at all. But, because they were feeling nice, or maybe the privileges of the season pass saved us, they let us off ‘on this occasion’. Can’t waste that sweet Georgia peach tea.

Heading in the opposite direction to previous we wound up at Spite E. Coyote’s cred. A short trip up the stairs led to us being awkwardly informed that we couldn’t ride because we had no children. Bah.


#1 Judge Roy Scream knew what was up, with the amusing ‘appeal denied’ banner at the crest of the lift. Day 4 of ‘I am on a wooden rollercoaster’ closed out the woodies of the trip. I think we peaked on Switchback. Out, back, hills, rumble. This one has it all and the staff were already soaked in their own sweat, dripping, after their second cycle of the day. Did I mention it was hot?


Too hot for this rubbish, it was time to endure yet another Freespin in the form of #2 Joker. My usual thing about they worry me, how they’ll behave etc. No harm done on this occasion.


Time to endure yet another #3 Batman, this one ran super fast and brought out the old foot sensation. Interesting how it looks far less intimidating than usual, in the shadows of a highway intersection, which I’ve somehow managed to obscure from view here.

#4 Mr. Freeze‘s air-con went down a treat, but then he went down himself. Again, too unpleasant to move, we camped it out in the station while engineers were called and eventually landed the front row for our first non-reverse blast (forwards) experience. This was fast becoming ‘positive Gs: the park’, with yet another assault of speed and heavy heads. Think I preferred the St. Louis one, the dominant sensation here being that the return journey messed up my hair in an unpleasant fashion.


Speaking of unpleasant, the operator announcements on #5 Mini Mine Train were unbearably loud for some reason, and they just never stopped talking. An endless, headache inducing loop of hype package, welcome back riders, and more dumb policies about not leaving articles on the platform of a single train attraction. +1 though.

Unlike its neighbour, the not-mini mine train. Staff were busying about, cleaning the train and the queue and giving a vague indication that it might have opened later. A poorly placed sign outside, however, implied that it was undergoing a refurb until the ‘summer season’. Any news on when summer is going to hit the US in 2023 yet?


A path from there to our next destination had then been inexplicably closed since the night before, taking us the long way round to #6 Shockwave. Not sure why it looks Mindbender green from this angle.

It kicks Mindbender’s ass though, the return of positive-Gs: the park interlaced with wild pops of unexpected Schwarzkopf airtime. Reminded me of the best of Nessie, several times over. Might be my new fave of his loopers.


Towering above it is the Oil Derrick, an elevator leading to observation platform not masquerading as a landmark from France. From here you can see that Shockwave isn’t green, along with its attractive surroundings.


The giants.


And some other filler. Note how Judge Roy is out on its own, separated by a road and a lake. Fun facts.

I believe this only left #7 Runaway Mountain on the to do list, given that the Speelunking pirates dark ride was devastatingly closed for flooding, again.


This squirrel had the right idea.


Somehow the longest queue of the day went to this weird indoor coaster from Premier Rides. I guess for shade reasons. Weird trains, weird restraints, curved station, poor loose article management, it had it all. It didn’t have the character of a Skull Mountain, but had a couple of intense whips in the layout, in the dark. Unique, I guess.

With the park as complete as it could be, it was time to pay a courtesy visit to the two big boys. While they remained decent enough, it soon became quite clear that we didn’t have the drive or even the need to last out the day here. Which, no matter the weather, always brings up the question – any +1s around?

That can wait for next time though.

Day 15

USA 06/23 – Frontier City

Upon arrival in Oklahoma City, the ‘too hot to theme park’ heat had finally caught up with us. It had been ranging from pleasant to bearable thus far but, as is inevitable in this part of the world, with operating calendars only 2 months long, weather reports started announcing record highs and it got more than a little sticky.

Not too concerning for the first item on the agenda though

Day 13 – Frontier City


Again more pleasant than I had imagined, for whatever reason. Something about looking at lacklustre lineups on RCDB sometimes makes you think something else must be lacking too. It all looked green and pleasant from this vantage point at the very least. No concrete and rides here.


Maybe some tarmac. The wrong #1 Diamondback, or Not Revolution, can be found signposted from the gift shop that you enter the park through. The queue winds you upwards in a more merciful manner than the Blackpool counterpart. I don’t mind that one and I didn’t mind this, rides pretty much the same. The lurches in or out of the drops toe the line between exciting and painful depending on where you sit and the loop is… an inversion.


Round the corner is the only dark ride on the bill, Quick Draw.


Interactive of course, and themed to the same as everything in the park. It was perfectly serviceable, had a fun dynamite scene at the end.


Bonus cred? Sadly not, this tease of track appears to be the remains of the Nightmare Mine. It’s gone.

I had a bit of a milestone to check off here, so did a tiny bit of backtracking, though not even entirely sure what I wanted or whether it mattered – there was nothing particularly enthralling on offer.


#2 Silver Bullet was a candidate, but nah, clone. Good thing too because it rode horribly for one of these, a ride where the main redeeming feature is usually coming off thinking ‘rides good for its age, that’. Anton will be rolling in his grave.


Sure as hell wasn’t gonna be #3 Steel Lasso, though I had it in my head as an over the shoulder restraint version so that was a pleasant surprise. The guy in row 4 is definitely sunglasses on, not caring.


Thus, #1500 ended up being the Wildcat. RCDB tells me there are just 62 rollercoasters that have used this exact name, so it will always have to come with the appendix – the one at Frontier City. That bugs me, I wanted Big Bad John.
On the plus side, it has historical significance, is custom and allowed me to make a reference to Wildcat’s Revenge.

It joins the ranks of many a wooden coaster around the world that pays tribute to other wooden coasters around the world. Signs are up in the queue snapshotting a wide variety of what is/was on offer, from local deceased classics such as the Zingo to local revived classics such as El Toro, from nearby early RMCs that shall not be named to far flung Chinese duellers that may be misnamed.


I’m putting off talking about the ride experience again because, simply put, there wasn’t one. Three days back to back of ‘I am on a wooden rollercoaster’ continued in a pleasant romp through some trees and one rather unique turnaround – the elevation changed both up and down rather than just being flat.. I hear they ‘spiced it up’ during a retrack once, maybe that was it.


With the end in sight and the skin beginning to blister, it was time to power on and find #5 Frankie’s Mine Train. This ride might well win the award for our most efficient +1 ever. Walked up the stairs, got in the train, quick dispatch, single lap, left. Perfection.

In fact the overall experience was one of efficiency. I had made a late game prediction about this, but I doubt it took any more than a couple of hours. Good thing it’s free.

As such we had an afternoon to play with and at last made headway back into Texas to mop up one final Six Flags. Another sweet start was now confirmed to be on offer, or more accurately, sweat start. That one can wait though.

Day 14

USA 06/23 – Magic Springs

Having headed back into Mississippi the night before, the next state line took us over into Arkansas. It was the worst drive of the entire trip traffic wise, for some reason. Felt like the middle of nowhere and yet everyone was heading on that road to nowhere. Luckily it didn’t matter too much as there’s only one park here. And what a park.

Day 12 – Magic Springs


The car park looked surprisingly busy for what it was however, including several coaches. This was mostly due to the water park thankfully and didn’t impede our progress in the slightest, though it did cause other inconveniences.


First up was the #1 Arkansas Twister, a relocated woodie from Florida. Much like Rampage the previous day, it provided the perfect sensation of ‘I am on a wooden rollercoaster’, bouncing about on a daily basis and not offering much of anything. It managed to have an even more hilarious wobble over bits like that hill in shot, a rhythmic pulsing that sapped any other force out of the track shaping.

All in all we were simply glad it didn’t murder us, those trains look suspiciously like The Boss trains. What it did do for us was get us wet – all the seats were, because everyone was coming from the water park and riding it. Slimy.


Talking of murder, they have one of these. The recent news of Abismo,the extended version of this model, doing its party trick and getting stuck upside down again didn’t do anything to alleviate my fear of #2 X Coaster, but needs must. An amusing dispatch sequence added to concerns, a conversation between staff that went something like “did you push the button?” “what button?”, going into the control box for 30 seconds looking confused before we set off.

I do hate the upside-down-ness of these, it messes me up. The back passes through fastest in theory, and that helped to alleviate some of the discomfort. From there this particular version does more ‘coasting’, with a full forwards, backwards, forwards swing out of the starting drop. Mercifully most installations I’ve done haven’t even bothered with that much, though the OG at Skyline did it twice, catching and pulling through the top again – evil, but I was new to it then.

Mercifully here, this one was less rough than a number of those with shorter cycles, though not ideal. It got the job done, and with dryer seats.


#3 Big Bad John had wet seats, but could be forgiven both for the name and for being the best ride in the park. As a relocated mine train, it’s unusual at best. 3 lift hills worth of romp through the trees at odd elevations, culminating in a wicked final drop into a tunnel, accentuated by back row of course.


#4 Diamond Mine Run was another of these E&F Miler things, but it ain’t no Kozmo’s Kurves.

The SLC was closed for the foreseeable – what a pity, never mind.

Park complete and with no others in sight, we were at a loss as to what to do for the rest of the day, until realising I had planned for us to do another 5-6 hours of driving, so there was that.


There is a big observation tower around the corner and up a hill in the town of Hot Springs however, so we gave that a flying visit.


There’s the town.


Spot the spite.

After just a few minutes a staff member came up and evacuated us from the platform, as there were storms approaching. This resulted in receiving a full refund, so that was kind of a bonus. With that it was off to Oklahoma.

Day 13

USA 06/23 – Lake Winnepesaukah + Alabama Adventure

Having had all the big hitters back to back for a few days, the pace of the trip inevitably had to change a bit. We had ended up staying just over the border in North Carolina, having learnt on route that Gatlinburg = bad. The only place in America where seemingly all parking is a $20 day rate – no use when you just want to grab some food passing through. And then there’s no civilisation for the next hour of mountain roads.

With a lot of states converging in this vicinity, it was then back through some of Tennessee and then no more than a mile over the line before winding up in Georgia again for

Day 11 – Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park


And here it is. For the ‘summer season’ (someone needs to tell both Sea World and Six Flags) the park gets a little on the pricey side, for what it is, as an additional cost for water park admission becomes included by default. You can save one whole dollar by booking online though!

The most interesting aspect of all entry was that in order to prove your entry, they slather the back of one of your hands with orange paint. This seems a bit much, to the point that the back half of the admissions cabins are covered in the stuff from guests obviously removing and drying as much as possible in passing. Then you must live in fear of touching clothes or any parts of rides with it, because it remained tacky at best for the duration of the visit.


First up was their signature coaster, the #1 Cannon Ball. It’s got all the makings of a classic, simple out and back with plenty of hills, and buzz bars. Rode pretty well for 1967 – nothing overly special, just some solid fun.


Word was that the Wacky Factory was no longer wacky, it was scary. This was true if you’re scared by low budget ghost trains, though thankfully it didn’t fall for the typical trope of obnoxiously loud noises. Should have a POV for you at some point.


Last on the roster of musts was this fellow, a humble #2 Wacky Worm. The never ending variation of faces never ceases to amaze me, there’s something slightly off about this one too, but it delivered exactly what we wanted.

Park complete, we spent a good 10 minutes in the bathroom washing the paint off of our hands before wondering what would happen if we were ‘caught’ between there and the exit for no longer being orange. They’re probably used to it.

After not much more time on the road we were back in Alabama, heading down towards Birmingham of all places. We have one of those.

Alabama Adventure


But it doesn’t have one of these. The car park looked pleasingly quiet as we rocked up for late afternoon. The main street, though more attractive than I was expecting for whatever reason, confirmed an almost ghost town situation.


First up was their signature coaster, the #3 Rampage. It’s got all the makings of a classic CCI and looks suspiciously similar to Megafobia. I’m not familiar enough with the latter to confirm or deny, except for the end bit that leads into a weirdly steep final brake section, like the one at Mt. Olympus. I expect better from a company with Custom in their name and also from the fact that some of their coasters kick ass.


This one did not. It wasn’t bad, had some hilarious wobbly sections at times but otherwise nothing noteworthy going on, the pure definition of what I would call ‘I am on a wooden rollercoaster’. Even the one earlier had more to it. We basically had it to ourselves but the interest wasn’t there.


Next up was obviously that orange thing called #4 Cheddar Chase in the foreground, a Wild Mouse that had made the same journey as us from Lake Winnie at some point in its life. It happened.


As did our second one of these, known here as #5 Centi-SPEED. Now we’re talking.

Park complete, you could tell that not much goes on around here. As we left the establishment, a man with his shirt off requested the re-entry stamp be put on his torso “like a tattoo”, rather than in the traditional spot and this garnered an incredible reaction – staff suddenly looking up from their phones and pouring over from all sides of the plaza repeatedly exclaiming ‘did you just stamp his chest?!’ I’m sure the tale will be told for generations to come.

Day 12

USA 06/23 – Dollywood

Something else opened up recently right?

Yes, a mere 9 hours away by car was our old friend Dollywood, with the added convenience of pointing ourselves back in the direction of Texas. We’ve strayed as far as we dare on this adventure.

Sadly Dolly doesn’t offer any form of sweet start, and in order to have made the most out of a 2-day visit we would have had to have pushed stupidly hard on the journey. Not worth it.

And so, on arrival in Pigeon Forge after yet another long and uneventful drive, the only thing to do was pick up a cred of some, any description. Ideally the cheapest possible.

There’s a wide range of Alpine-based activity on offer, but most are ridiculously priced. Goats on the Roof has always been an entertaining name and, being one of the older of these establishments by now, presented itself as the most stomachable option.

Day 9 – Goats on the Roof


Not quite what I imagined if I’m honest. Turns out they’re building a new dinosaur mini golf in order to try and one-up the local competition. As if having goats on a roof didn’t already do that.


They have goats on a rock too, and the #1 alpine coaster of course, which was par for the course. An old country store, a swinging bench, everything really.

That night as we ate our food in the car, engine on in a now perpetual fear of a dead battery, a strange sound started coming through the speakers. An emergency warning system was kicking in, speaking of storms, high winds, tornados, hailstones the size of golf balls, death, destruction, loss of trailers and RVs. This was all delivered in a robotic voice which named a long list of locations, none of which made much sense to us. Comfort was taken in the fact that a) we didn’t hear ‘Pigeon Forge’ and b) no one else seemed to be doing anything about it.

Headed to the hotel and thought nothing more of it.

Day 10 – Dollywood

It’s been too long. The infectious manner in which the car parking area is described as C for Cotton Candy in a southern accent is enough to take the sting out of the $25 and remind us that, much like Hershey, Dolly’s would have our back if the car should die again. We parked in a comfortably shaded area by a small creek and took in the magnificence of the Smoky Mountains feat. rollercoasters once more. Unlike Silver Dollar City, the tram stops here are conveniently located and have shelter. As such, we got to enjoy the on-board shenanigans of the announcer telling us about our day ahead.


We already had things planned out and headed left at the entrance, straight up to the back of the park where all the newness is.

Not wanting to queue anything at all really for my 8th one of these, though they are good, we hit #1 Dragonflier up first.

At official ride opening time, guests moved forward into the queue as staff were doing their final checks and then a technical delay was announced. Oops. Looking across the plaza, the Big Bear wasn’t ready for us yet either and with most of the queue immediately turning heel and leaving in front of us, it seemed best to stick it out rather than chasing our tails.

Tactics worked, 15 minutes or so later we were beckoned onto the first public train, most importantly skipping ahead of even the reasonably significant fast track queue that had already formed. Ride was alright, I’ve done better examples by this point and there’s better things to do here. Oh and the queue remained hideous and stewing for the remainder of the day.


Over at #2 Big Bear Mountain there was even more stewing going on. The latest and greatest was still down for now, a single train was being tested and parking itself in the wrong place – it was much appreciated how open the staff were about the situation rather than the usual wafty nonsense you get from most places.

The quantity of people in front, that was also slowly dwindling, and the fact that they hadn’t opened the main queue at all meant things again didn’t look too bleak if they did manage to get the ride fixed in a reasonable time. We waited, admiring that big logo, watching test trains fly past, picking up on fun little details like the fact that the entrance board has a fast track logo with ‘coming soon’ already plastered over it. It’s a minor detail, but I can picture so many parks not planning ahead with that type of thing and then having to shoehorn in some signage in future.


Soon a second train was added and both were testing successfully, seems the ride system simply doesn’t like being low capacity. Staff were given a final test lap and then threw some big thumbs up to the crowd. We were in.

By the time we filed through the full queue there was barely any wait time until we were seated. It contained some nice posters and storytelling, from a passing glance, but action came quickly. A Pegase Express style station launch kicks things off with a bang, over a hill and straight into the first actual launch track.


A very lengthy sequence of hills and turns of varying potency (weak to notable) takes you out along a hillside, mostly muddied and with not a huge amount going on. The above water feature and rockwork punctuates an otherwise featureless landscape as you reach the furthest point and head back in the other direction. I swear this thing was supposed to have on-board audio.

Much like Taron, though also nothing like Taron, the amped up final launch is parallel with the other, taking you up into the highest point and back over the ride plaza area.


Again this leads to another lengthy sequence of hills and turns of varying potency (notable to decent), picking up the pace into this final drop under a path where the noise of a bear hits from a speaker and you hit the brakes reasonably hard.

There’s something very modern Vekoma about it all, and not the Fønix type, it feels extremely fine-tuned both to the point of respecting the hell out of it, but with that also comes a lack of excitement. I wasn’t expecting minds to be blown by a family coaster, though I did think from a park with Firechaser Express that I might come away saying it was a very good one of those. Instead it all just sort of happened.

Hardware aside, I think the most glaringly obvious omission is the storytelling. We’re meant to be hunting a bear, but should we really be out in the open over some mud? And then back where we started but over some landscape gardening. The sound effect at the end feels like an afterthought and surely a romp through the forest would have been far more effective. Sure, lots of new creds open up in mud and get better over time, so there’s scope for improvement but is that really what’s going to happen here when there were already trees available, and now the other half sits alongside service roads? I hope so.

Oh well, with the +1s out of the way it was time to enjoy what made the park great in the first place. It was roddin’ time.


They’ve killed Lightning Rod.

It’s gone.

RIP rodness.

Well it was broken upon our arrival, making 3 for 3 on that front. Staff were present, but had recently evacuated a 50-minute queue, then shut up shop and closed the main doors so that they didn’t have to stand there and turn guests away any more. We sat on a bench and waited, cheesing it once again as it re-opened rather promptly and we walked straight onto it. Almost.

A single train was all that was on offer, with the decorated zero car seemingly gone for good now. Water was gushing over the base of the launch at all times, rusting away everything below it and making a mess of the road that runs underneath. Queue line videos continue to play factually incorrect information, such as wood, and the number of seconds of airtime on offer (we’ll get to that, don’t you worry).

The layout of the queue has changed to accommodate a complicated batching procedure where, as promised several days ago, a man with a clipboard who cannot see the station or the air gates assigns guests their rows. Immediately I spotted the problem here, but was interested to see where it was headed.

We ended up in row 1 to start, a double edged sword, and ascended the final stairs into the most atmosphere-less station imaginable. No sound or music, no friendly smiles, staff looking embarrassed by the experience they were about to offer. Amusingly, and as predicted, four guests that had followed us up now had nowhere to sit. The clipboard guy had come too and was getting visibly upset about the mess up – disabled/exit pass guests were on the opposing platform and being assigned to some of the back rows by a separate member of staff.

It’s time to bring back the good old quote of the day I think – I wasn’t made aware of this
Well, obviously…

The air gates opened and no word was spoken. Being the first train after recovering from a breakdown, and with all the bars down, guests (and us) were left unsure as to whether to proceed through them or not. A stalemate occurred, in silence, for a good 10-15 seconds, before one ride host plucked up the courage to timidly invite us on board.

With that debacle out of the way it was time to get excited. It may not be wooden any more, but we were peeling out on a top 25 coaster (with no despatch announcement) – a machine of madness and mayhem.

The launch itself still feels wild, but coming from someone who believes they already had the slightly ‘neutered’ version, the ease off into the humps is now comically prominent. The train barely clears either, with little to no sensation at all and then the first drop felt exactly like the last two pedestrian ones we’ve just had, from a chain lift, so what’s the point?

I’m sure someone will be pleased to hear that the pothole is gone, but the first big turn thing, which is shaped to produce exactly the same effect as those on Wildcat – a pop at the top, was taken at another crawl, leading to weird leaning sideways out of the train feeling while staring at more mud. This bit is actually wood, and the next element rides poor, very poor. So by what measure was this retrack performed exactly?
I was never overly enthralled with the first half of Lightning Rod to begin with, things kicked up to the level of ‘amazing’ at the twist ‘n’ shout for me, though today I wasn’t even sure at what moment this began. Oh, it was… those hills we already did? Ahh, quad down now.

It’s gone.

It’s dead.

Maybe it’s the ArieForce talking, but the quad down was taken at a measured pace that you could count out in a functional fashion. 1. Bit of float. 2. Bit of float. 3 bit more float. 4. Bit more float. 5. That’s a speed hill right? What used to be HAULING into the brakes with what I previously described as the blue ball effect now just plops down some hill and says you’re done mate. Hot rods!

No whooping or hollering in the station, nobody’s pumped. “Welcome back, how was your ride?” met mostly with awkward silence. And it was with exactly that with which we left the ride area.

To get things back on track we had some cinnamon bread, promptly spilling apple butter all over myself while sitting in one of those legendary rocking chairs. Have to suffer for your art.


Barnstormer was walk on, but had a cycle so short it would make Rush blush, and felt a bit underwhelming after the massive Sea World one.


Further up the way is Blazing Fury, a classic for sure, but sad to see it’s been tamed down a bit by removing things like the splash effect. Extending the longevity of these rides at what cost?


Tennessee Tornado was decidedly quiet too. It rides well for what it is, but is over in a flash.

Wild Eagle was a good little sit down, also bagged a good quote from the queue. “I don’t know what it does, I only saw the angle.” Then it was immediately spoiled to them by a queue line video. I hate ones that use POVs.


Firechaser was the most popular of the day, and probably rightly so, so we kept moving to Mystery Mine. I dunno, I feel like they’ve removed a bit of the charm by redoing that little bit of the outdoor portion. It rides so poorly for something barely moving in that section that it’s hilarious. Fire didn’t go off, end is uncomfortable, job done.

Drop Line the Drop Tower is excellent.


Thunderhead rose in my estimation. It’s far from a standout GCI with all them record breaking corners, but it had a lot more gusto in the transitions than I had experienced before so Lightning Racer down, this one up.


Not much left but to suck up the queue for this little gem, thankfully Firechaser Express had quietened a little. The first section has developed some rather amusing roughness to make up for lack Mystery Mine comedy, though it still hits hard where it matters. All the show effects were working perfectly, unlike the rest of the park too. Family fun at its best.


Rode the big black train, which unfortunately did not feature the big black train song. Had some other railroad related stuff that didn’t hit as hard, but the commentary, like the tram ride, is always good and the history of the locomotive is rather impressive. It’s a war veteran don’t you know.


With attractions not at their best, it was the better idea to slow down and soak the place up more. Had to remind myself that that’s what it was all about before, rides are secondary to rocking chairs and country music.


It’s been a negative sounding report for sure, but that’s only because I care about the direction in which the park heads. We still had a fantastic time of it and yes it holds a special place in my heart too. Hurry up and get that Mack launch/Xtreme spinner now.

We wanted to give the Rod its best chance to redeem itself, so wrapped up the day on it, as far back in the train as stupid seating assignment luck would allow. It was a marked improvement though still a shell of its former self. I can no longer recommend this as a world class attraction and that saddens me, as did making it through the day without a single staff member taking note of my Dollywood attire.
Could be worse. Could be Silver Dollar City.

The tram ride out cheered us up, they had great banter and showed interest in what rides people had done that day, encouraging plenty of interaction and keeping the smiles going all the way to the car. It was interesting seeing which ones got the greatest reaction – not the rod and not the bear. The tram itself won hands down of course.

Day 11

USA 06/23 – Hersheypark

ArieForce had of course been a major draw, but we did want just one more thing to sweeten the deal for heading this way. There’s another RMC that just opened, right?

Yes, a mere 11 hours away by car was our old friend Hersheypark. There hasn’t been a road trip without it so far and why break that tradition when they’ve been treating us so well.

The entire day was dedicated to driving there, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being that the park offers a ‘sweet start’ on the night before your main ticket – a 2 hour window in which to preview some of the attractions.

After a comfortable start and a hearty breakfast, there wasn’t a whole lot to it. Driving, lots of driving, some more food, fuel. As the destination grew closer, things got a little tense as an accident up ahead was pushing our arrival time back an inconsiderate amount. Thankfully it had all cleared by the time we reached it and we rolled into the car park (free, as it was so late) with pretty much the perfect amount of time on the clock.

Day 7 – Hersheypark

The obvious move and only clear motive was to get Wildcat’s Revenge under our belt as soon as possible to alleviate any forms of the old cred anxiety. Couldn’t resist a cheeky lap on Skyrush first though as we passed it.


Felt like I was back home in the most terrifying coaster seat on the planet. It was riding with a slightly more pronounced shuffle than ever before, one which managed to take the edge off of that first drop slam (unless that was done by their tinkering up there), but also made the corners and speed more intense than ever. The airtime was brutally sublime and those special sideways moments in my back left seat were as unexpected and hardhitting as ever. This ride can do no wrong.


Enough nostalgia though, time for the main event. #1 Wildcat’s Revenge was so fresh that the locals were all talking about it like it was the hot topic. The brake run sits just above the final stages of the queue line and the ride was garnering many an extreme reaction upon guests hitting it, just like big Arie had the night before, only far more frequent. On 3 trains, this thing hauls pretty well and an almost full queue for the night took us around 40-60 minutes to clear.


Lockers are provided for loose articles just before the station stairs, in a Steve and Twisted Timbers style, only worse. The system they’ve put in place requires guests to memorise not only which of the 4 banks of lockers they selected, but the number of their designated locker. At no point is this made abundantly clear, hence after the ride has blown their mind, most people can’t remember where their stuff is.

No such faff on the way in though, that’s a problem for future us. The station has an ominous rocking soundtrack and murals of 3 big cats on the far wall, mirroring those that can be found on the front of each train, which we inexplicably named Frosty, Gimpy and Blue. We were assigned somewhere towards the middle and soon strapped in, intrigued to notice that the seatbelts are made of a soft plastic for a change, one that you wouldn’t have to worry so much about should it become trapped between your leg and the restraint on such an airtime machine. Also present on the restraints were the Lightning Rod handles, great for peeling out on the ex-world’s fastest wooden rollercoaster, not sure what use they had here, but fun.

And fun is the name of the game, the ride begins with a rather more unorthodox terrain-based pre-lift section that joyously bounces down and down the hill, tactically pushing the beginnings of the lift further left, relative to the station. It’s a steep one, one that catches rather unnervingly and then begins with the slightest of crawls, making sure train 3 has sufficiently cleared the end brakes before letting you ramp up to the top.


I’m almost getting tired of saying it, but the first drop is fine and functional, basically exactly the same thing as the previous day, but no Rattler. The pull out feels a little tighter, up into the yet another world’s largest inversion that has a silly name. It’s interesting that this part of the ride mimics the crest of the original lift hill and curved drop of the old GCI.


Jolly good show as you follow that turnaround and then head into a decent, but not overwhelming, airtime hill. This is followed up by more double up shenanigans into a large overbank with a clever and very defined outwards pop at the top of it. The structure supporting all this is a mess of black tubing at all angles, contrasted by it riding with a very clinical efficiency while a spotlight follows the train around it.

Here comes a stall, we must have a stall. I can’t knock it from the perspective of the average rider, but nor can I praise a very average example of that which I’ve seemingly done countless times by now. Another overbank with another outwards pop follows, in a moment of symmetry back the other way, and then things step up a gear. I’m starting to notice a two act trend here.


What looked like Joker‘s trick airtime hill here, where it flattens out at the top and then kicks up again into the actual drop, has an unbanked slight left turn running through the whole thing. The result is fabulous, lifting you up, pinning you to the side of the train for several seconds while wobbling about, and then lurching back down again.


As the pacing has picked up, another inversion hits with a lot more vigour. There’s a particularly unusual entry into it, which creates an almost airtime moment before flipping you over in a more compromised position. There is time to recover from here however, as it reaches the lowest part at the base of the hill, the least remarkable sequence (of just two small moments) takes you through some turns and a quick overbank that does not much of anything.

One more low roll through the structure leads to moments that you can’t prepare for. Wickedly twisted airtime hills that throw you to one side, then the other, then back again as you peel into the brakes with one final violent whip. It’ll tenderise your sides good and proper in this last section if you give it half a chance, and these final blows are the best at defining the character of the ride for me. God damn Joe Draves.


There was a tough act to follow from the previous day and this thing held its own. It’s firmly mid-pack in terms of global RMCs (read as; a personal top 25), which goes well with its firmly mid-size stature. The strengths are abundant, yet again there were moments that caught me by surprise, things that haven’t been done before, or were simply executed beautifully. While it wasn’t a whirlwind pace of life altering insanity for me, it certainly was for most, if not everyone around us. They ain’t never had anything like this before at the Hersheypark.

We rounded out the sweet start with a final lap as the queue began to die down for the night, and then of course got stuck in that locker nonsense because, when someone forgets their number, a massive line forms behind them all trying to get to the same screen on the same bank while they either:
a) stare into space while trying to recall that which feels like a lifetime ago, or
b) have a staff member hack the back end of the system and go through every locker in turn

The short term solution seems to be drill it into people’s heads. There’s a member of staff that lets you into the pen to put your stuff away, who has the usual spiel about no loose items. Remember your number! Remember your number! should be added to this spiel, along with the screen that gives you the number, maybe a sign or two, station announcements, a sticker in the train, a banner over the crest of the lift…

The long term solution, use pictures of cats like Steve. Better systems are clearly available.

We had problems of our own once we got back to the car. It wouldn’t start. A vicious ticking sound and nothing doing, the most obvious assumption was the battery. A nearby guest kindly offered to help out, but no one had leads, so we headed back to the park entrance to track down a staff member and see if they could assist. The parking and security team at the tram stop are legends and golf buggied us back to the car where we were met by a man with a battery pack and a waiver. The jump start worked, Hersheypark is amazing, but tense moments followed.

Now that we had power, the car also decided to throw up a warning about loss of tyre pressure, oh and in our haste to arrive at the park after all that driving, we had cruised it in with a mere 10 miles left in the tank. Having had a jump start, it’s best to leave the car running for a good half an hour so that you can recharge properly. But we also need the engine off to fuel it.

The staff had recommended a garage just around the corner and we limped along, dealing with the tyres first. The car hire had graced us with a very slow puncture, but balance was temporarily restored, sufficient enough to continue the madness. Then, after leaving it running as long as we dared, and doing a few laps of the forecourt to spook any passers-by, the nerves built. After fuelling, it started again, just. And now we can live in fear of a dodgy battery or a flat tyre at any point in the trip. Good.

Day 8 – Hersheypark


The following morning saw the Hershey’s Chocolate World dark ride I’d always wanted to do, but always been distracted by Skyrush, being open before the main park. A perfect opportunity.


It starts off amazing, with singing farmyard animals.


Then gets very scientific.

I like the whole illusion of what’s real and what’s not running through it and there’s certainly a good length to the attraction. Plus, a gift of chocolate at the end. And it’s free, parking costs aside.


We then hid in some shade while the crowds gathered in front of the main entrance. Picture this, but busy. A DJ was attempting to hype the crowd (and get people to download the app), there were trainee jugglers roaming the path, good times were had by all in the sun.

It’s another revisit of a revisit from here, so I’ll summarise as best I can.

Wildcat’s Revenge kicked ass again.

Lightning Racer has deteriorated horribly, what little excitement there was before is burnt out by the rumbles and rolls of a GCI that wants to be the next Gwazi. Then it broke down, leaving us stuck on the brakes for an age.


Candymonium has improved. Opted for what I’d call the magic Mako seat (row 2) and was very pleasantly surprised with the result. Rather than sunglasses on, not caring, it gave glimmers of the comparisons between the two I’d heard about in the earlier days. The first hill was pretty sweet, the first trim felt non-existent. Far less meandering overall and a solid performance from the big brown.

Comet is still solid, was sad to have missed it last time and it didn’t disappoint on this occasion. Carries so much momentum into the final brakes for something that isn’t very big, is very old, and goes on very long.


Storm Runner has a nicely shaded queue, a welcome respite on the busiest visit we’ve ever had. The ride still packs a punch, but does feel just a little too short of an experience on a day with significant queues.

Skyrush never gets a queue, so it was weird to not be able to immediately walk up the stairs. Worth it regardless, this remains my favourite in the park because it’s just so ridiculous and unlike anything else. Inevitably they’ve just landed themselves the best one-two punch in the world for me, goodbye Energylandia, so the dilemma is now real at Hershey – what do you close out your night on? Head said Wildcat, heart said Skyrush. We went with the head, but started at Skyrush anyway, then ended up cycling a few more times. Just one more go. Just one more go. So hard to resist.

Highlights on this occasion include getting reacquainted with the back right seat because I always go left, and then subsequently taking a nasty friction burn to one leg from the restraint as I slid sideways with ridiculous force. Gotta love it.

The consequences of that addiction left us with only a single lap to finish on the RMC, but walk-ons of the best ride on park probably beat back to back 40-60 minute queues of the second best, plus more locker shenanigans. The heart knows better.

Day 9

USA 06/23 – Six Flags Over Georgia + Fun Spot America Atlanta

“I’ll never go back to Georgia, not at least ‘til I have to.”


Having missed out on two B&Ms during our trip in 2019, taken ownership of Six Flags passes once more and with a little certain something now operating elsewhere within the city limits, a revisit to Atlanta was inevitable.

Day 6 – Six Flags Over Georgia

Turns out the passes were not only processed properly, but gave us access to silly little perks like the VIP entrance at each park. Here, this was a bored man on a chair hiding inside a tiny shelled out building/corridor adjacent to where the masses (and not that many of them) were queuing at the turnstiles. May as well make the most of it.

The above paint job was entirely to blame for the first missing B&M, the excellently named #1 Georgia Scorcher had needed some TLC and it was still looking rather good to be fair to it. No time like the present, time to put our feet to the flame.


Ever since the first had the capacity to box my ears, I always approach B&M standups with trepidation. We were caught off guard anyway, being batched into the back row and then immediately skipping ahead one train and before knowing it, attempting to work out the awkward contraption that is the seating and restraint system.

My tactically chosen inner seat had already been locked in the vertical plane, leaving things somewhat compromised. Thankfully this was rectified when restraint check finally arrived and, feeling relatively comfortable given the circumstances, the train headed up the lift hill.

You’re alright, Georgia Scorcher, you’re alright – my immediate sentiment upon hitting the brakes. Whether the stars were aligned and I had the absolute ideal circumstances, or it really is just running that well for a 24 year old machine of mayhem, no damage was sustained whatsoever. In fact, I found myself rather impressed with what I had just experienced.

Inversions aside, the layout was filled with a stronger than usual mix of forceful, whippy turns, some of which almost rode like GCI transitions. On more than one occasion my feet were popped off of the floor as I hit these directional changes with perfect precision, my head never once colliding with that which was in such ominously close quarters. While not having quite the same exposed feeling, this is exactly what Togo does best for the genre, putting you out of your comfort zone.

Turns out I’ve now ridden them all, ergo, this was the best one.


Following on from that success, we went to check out Goliath again. It was limping along on only a single train and staff were being rather ruthless with the clamshells. I hadn’t been overly smitten with this one before and my feelings were justified once more. Something about that first drop just doesn’t happen, it’s almost like time skips for me. I’m at the top of the lift, and now I’m at the bottom.

Whether there’s some visual trickery going on with the ever heightened valleys over pathways, roads, other rides, terrain, it doesn’t quite have the grace and speed of other counterparts. It rode worse than the B&M below it, there’s still a weird snappy crunch at the end of every hill in the last section, though Steel Eel had taken the sting out of that sensation this time. All in all it’s the perfect attraction to be sunglasses on, not caring.


Which is a shame, because I can’t relate to this one so much.


Something that does stand out in the Georgia park is their old dark ride Monster Mansion. It’s about the most non-corporate thing they own and had recently undergone a bit of TLC itself. Other than one new TV screen showing windows errors, this appears to have done well for the attraction – a characterful romp through a flooded mansion, a cute monster picnic and the marsh we are continuously advised not to enter. Love this thing.


On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the highly cloned Justice League on park, though I do always enjoy an opportunity to experience these too. Though a staple, once again I don’t really feel like I’m at a Six Flags park once on board. A highly impressive interactive experience with a solid blend of physical scenery feels almost out of place within a chain that’ll slap a Freespin down, name it whatever DC character doesn’t have a ride in the park yet, and call it a job well done.

Talking of which, this park had also not yet managed to build their new 10ft coaster for the ‘summer season’. In fact, there wasn’t even evidence of where this one was going. At least Fiesta Texas had hired a digger. Can’t excite you with some construction today.


Nor can I excite myself with one of these any more. The other B&M that eluded us before was this, and it had no excuse for itself. As of riding, I’ve now also done every flyer installation in the world. That could have been a celebration, but, #2 Superman – Ultimate Flight clone. S’alright. +1.


The only other ride we were even remotely interested to get back on was of course the little pocket rocket that is Twisted Cyclone. The contrast to 90 minute queues and a hornet infestation was heavenly, as we managed to simply walk onto it on numerous occasions this time around.

They’ve redone something on the trains it seems, given the sides a bit more detail, changed one from black to blue and fitted some sleeker looking brushed metal restraints on one, while the other has half of its ‘pull up’ straps ripped out at the screws. On board it’s pretty much exactly how I remembered it to be, a low tier RMC that still has the power to blow minds.

Size is its only real shortcoming, though the pre-lift section is great fun and makes the experience feel a little longer. It’s the double inversion sequence up, turn and down that does the least for me and things only amp up through the wave turn, which is ridiculously good, kicking you out of the seat and pinning you there, putting all these other manufacturers ‘sideways hills’ to shame, though they’re all trying to capitalise on the trend.

Powerful airtime moments round out the rest of the sequence, hitting hard and one after another as you bounce around what’s left of the old cyclone wood. It whips into the brakes at an excessive pace, becoming somewhat of a signature move for this trip. Fantastic stuff.


We interluded a small marathon on that by riding the Joker Funhouse Coaster, for some reason. I guess Chance family coasters are hard to come by. It’s an intriguing one, though I don’t remember it crossing every kicker wheel along the route with the grace of a Zamperla Thunderbolt trim brake last time around.

Back to TwiCy once more it was a matter of tactically warming up the thigh bruises with the correct number of laps as opposed to wearing ourselves down too much, for what was to come.

As such our time at Six Flags came to an end. Yes, we missed half the other rides, but they ain’t all that.

Fun Spot Atlanta


And they certainly ain’t this. God damn Iron Gwazi, Jesus Christ on a cracker (R.I.P. Mine Blower), let’s get all of the superlatives out of the way because I’ve just sat here staring at this photo for 5 minutes not knowing how to move my fingers across a keyboard any more.

In fact, let’s get the other creds out of the way, out of sequence. This Fun Spot, as with the other two, was plenty quiet, allowing free reign of pretty much anything at all times.


To the point where the smaller rides were on rotation. We had to make our presence known at Iron Rattler’s young cousin #4 Sea Serpent in order to experience some classic E&F Miler.


And again over at #5 Hurricane Coaster, but bigger. Some kids wanted to do the adjacent slides about 10 times over, while an operator had to supervise before they could run this for us. As you scale up their rides they get pretty wild, the wicked laterals in the wild mouse turns contrasting nicely with clunky airtime. I think we peaked at the Kissimmee one of these though.


Here it is again, and the same can’t be said for the star attraction, #3 ArieForce One. Of course this is now the best Fun Spot, how ridiculous that this RMC even exists here, with no one riding it, by the side of a road in what feels like nowhere, looking like a Colgate advert.

To be fair, there were people riding it. 10-20 at most, and all the same faces, many of which showed off the wide range of enthusiast life. It ran a single train continuously throughout the night, every few minutes or so. There was one particular legend who was on every single one of those laps from the moment we arrived until he bade farewell to the ride staff a couple of cycles before closing, seemingly unphased by the entire experience. In fact you couldn’t tell that he was enjoying it at all, it was purely ritualistic. The moment the restraints unlocked he, having always chosen the seat nearest the exit stairs, performed exactly the same run towards them, out the exit, in the entrance, up the stairs and into the same air gates before they could open them again.

While he was clearly no conversationalist, we got chatting to another guy who had just taken the same route as us, from Six Flags and, with an even more impressive level of dedication, had just come from Wildcat’s Revenge, and was flying out to Carowinds next, this same night. His intense screams of “OH MY GOD!” added a third superlative to proceedings, punctuating many a brake run moment and the word Tylenol was thrown around a lot in that station.

Point is I’m still distracting myself from talking about the ride in an attempt to find the words to describe it, so… theming. The small queue area at the base of the shed has a few props that gear you up to the idea that this is about simulated space flight. In the station there’s some rather cool despatch announcements led by screens to describe that you’re all buckled up and ready to take off. The back of the front of the train looks like an aircraft console. Being somewhat impacted by the experience, the details have faded on me.


So, how was the ride? A sharp drop out of the station precedes a short pre-lift section of straight hops before an ascent up the not overly massive lift hill. This is a medium boy.

As with most RMCs of this nature, the near vertical first drop signifies the start of the layout proper. Almost hugging the floor, the train pulls up into a reasonably high inversion that acts as a change of direction, flipping you round to head back towards the station. This journey is made through a low, speed hill, a zero-g stall alongside the lift structure.


Having now reached the station, a large, outerbanked hill passes you right over the top of it and signifies the beginning of the second out and back sequence.


A double up of hills follows immediately after.


Leading into the first of two high-speed barrel roll-style inversions, which are separated by a single wonky hill and an also high-speed low turnaround.


Having exited the final inversion, the ride is lined up with and concludes by hitting six back to back airtime moments of varying shapes and sizes before coming to a stop on the brake run.

Day 7


Nah, let’s do that again. This thing hurt me from the off. That drop out of the station towards the back of the train was so vicious that, stomach full of Firehouse Sub for at least half of the evening, I could do nothing but groan like I was slowly dying inside. The pumpy little hills after are emphasised to the point of flopping around all over the place like a rag doll before you’ve even begun.

There’s never usually a huge amount to say about a lift hill, but there are very few rides in the world that, when I’m on the lift for the umpteenth time, there’s this inner monologue of screaming, yes yes yes, this is what it’s all about, magical moments and all that. If I had to come up with a visual comparison for this feeling, it would likely be the poster for the film Smile.

The drop is the most pedestrian moment of the whole thing. It’s no slouch by any means, just very par for the course for anyone who’s done, say, 20 RMCs. It’s straight, it’s powerful. It doesn’t have the extra momentum into it like a Wildfire or a Whale, but it’s serviceable.

The pull out felt a little stronger as the day progressed, likely as my body weakened, with some semi-decent positives before flopping up into the, whatever it’s called, it’s got a silly name. This perfectly and gently lifts you out of your seat as the track rotates around you and then drops out from under you in a well-executed manner that any engineer should be proud of. It’s all very ‘jolly good show’ so far.

Speed hill has some punch to it, it’s more impactful than, say, the silly little ones at the base of the drops on Steve or Zadra. This is the first real high speed lurch that, if you have problems with the restraints, is going to start causing some issues. Stall is standard fare, it’s the longest in the U.S. don’t you know, which I’m guessing means something in Europe beats it.

Amusingly the length of it was perfectly demonstrated by some kids in front on one lap who had a little rock, paper, scissors, secret handshake-style manoeuvre, perfectly planned out to take place within the allotted time frame. It has some pop either in, or out, depending on where you sit, but it’s still not an inversion that blows me away like it used to. Let’s blame Intamin for that one.


In my boring rendition, this thing marked the second half. It also marks the point at which lives are changed. If there’s an allotted time frame in the stall, then the sustained ejection on the outer banked hill provides enough time to drink a cup of tea. I struggle to recall anything quite like it. There’s very few rides in the world that give you this moment where you can essentially close your eyes and stop and think about the blissful sensation of being strongly flung outwards towards the sky, held down by nothing but the thigh, as it’s happening. And it’s at some ridiculous angle to boot.


Violence in the first hill, another ridiculous sustain in the second. This brings out the feels of the Twisted Timbers big hills, ones that are probably up there in coming close to what I described above. Lengthy and powerful, the best of both worlds.


The speed of this inversion is ridiculous, it hits so hard that you don’t even really know what hit you. There’s something slightly off-kilter to it, not your average straight line affair as it forms part of a direction change immediately after. If anything this manoeuvre feels like the most accurate portrayal of the ‘theme’ on the ride.

After that is a little off-axis moment which restores some balance to those who got the outside seat on the bliss-hill. A brutal pop that on occasion put me out of sorts into the most positive-heavy moment I’ve encountered on any RMC. It has a silly name that describes the exact force, but it’s certainly a hard hitter, bringing life to what has always appeared to be my least favourite part about rollercoasters – corners. Let us take a moment to appreciate that there’s only one corner on this ride, and it tried to break my neck.

Having not recovered from that, a counter-inversion restores balance to the previous one in an insanely fast whip back in the other direction, also unconventionally shaped and, if possible, even more incomprehensible. The exit simply leaves you thinking ‘whoa, what just happened?’


Or it would do, because, having not recovered from that, the ending sequence of hills is like nothing else. The rate and pace at which they are taken and the fact that no two are the same provides the most out of control sequence I’ve ever experienced on a steel coaster, perhaps any. There simply isn’t time between each one to react to anything, such that any notion of defensive riding goes out the window. Thighs are hammered, stomachs are battered and bruised, the rag doll effect of the start has been amplified by a factor of 10 and before you know it, the brake run finishes you off.

The one thing I knew about this ride beforehand was to brace for the brakes. If you’re in the back of each car, you can push against the seat in front to alleviate some of the force. In the front of each, there’s nothing to be done. You’re going 100-0 through whatever part of your body happens to be caressing the restraint at that time. Such was the chaos, I failed to time the brace properly in the first few laps. In the hysterical laughter and screaming, it was never even clear which was the final moment. Again, there’s nothing else like that out there.

It took just two laps for me to definitively declare that this was my new favourite RMC. It’s been a long time coming. Pain, welcome pain to be specific, had been the deciding factor beforehand and this ride simply destroyed me and everyone else around us (except that one guy who had become one with it). If you don’t like intense RMCs, if you have any issues with the trains and restraints, this is not the one for you.

It’s exactly the one for me. Not only the intensity, but the fact it provided several standout and varied sensations that I simply haven’t found elsewhere before makes it the perfect candidate for a top ten. A top five. A top three.

Do I stop there?

When it’s my day, put me in that clay and remember what I told ya. When I die, bury me in Georgia.

Day 7

USA 06/23 – Biloxi + Tropic Falls

Time to hit the road proper. We passed though many States on our travels the next day and ideally would have liked to pick up a little something from each. Louisiana immediately put a stopper to that plan, as their one ‘significant park’ with a Boomerang had opted only to open their water park in 2023, a narrow escape I’m sure. The only currently operating coaster up for grabs in the entire state runs on weekends only, of which this was not.


Mississippi then. Specifically, Biloxi. A good looking, up and coming seaside resort by the appearance of all things cred related at the very least. First stop here was

Day 5 – Big Play Entertainment Center

They’ve got all sorts going on here, but naturally we just wanted the coasters. Having arrived a little before anything was running we scoped them out and then acquired a piece of plastic from the ticket desk with enough value to score these.


#1 Biloxi Beach Hurricane, a fairly fresh SBF Visa Cyclon, from which the operator asked us to recall the events of Final Destination 3.


And the cold, hard steel of #2 Tornado.

Too easy. Further up the coast is

Paradise Pier Fun Park


Didn’t realise until now that this entire place was brand new this year. It certainly looked fresh.


The draw, if you can call it that, is one of those half-hamster SBF spinners, by the name of #3 Rolling Thunder. I’d not encountered one on this track layout before, which was simply their regular ‘two loop’ but scaled up in all dimensions. The hamster wheels were of course declined. +1

Next along was Alabama, the most significant contributor to the day.

Tropic Falls


A.k.a. the Park at OWA, this place is nestled in a shopping district hub, with other such leisure things on offer. We headed to the main event first, only for it to break down immediately.


And so it was dark ride time. Though generic looking on the outside Mystic Mansion was actually really good.


If you’re familiar with the Boo Blaster rides found elsewhere in the country, this is the self-claimed version 2.0 of those. It runs off of the same Boocifer theme but is enhanced with some impressively neat special effects as well as an amped up ending sequence with intimidating boss battles. A class act all round.


Back outside was #4 Crazy Mouse. It happened.


Then we had another attempt at the second coaster named Rollin’ Thunder of the day. It was only running a single 9-seater car and progress was slow even though the park was mostly empty. It broke down, again.


Meanwhile, dusting off the rest of the park – another classic from the Zamperla catalogue by the name of #5 Southern Express.


Now, broken or otherwise, all that was left to do was camp out my first ever Thunderbolt until it happened. I was intrigued. Eventually, it did.

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the restraint design on #6 Rollin’ Thunder. They’ve combined the collar bone crushing vests of an S&S Free Spin with a bulky lap bar that comes down overhead towards your knees first, and then hinges from that point down the remainder of your thighs.


And that’s where the main issue with the ride lies. It’s the comfort of the trains, rather than the track, which let it down. Not sure why but I was expecting the opposite. It has moments of hilarity, in that the opening vertical drop has a trim on it. The car responds to this in a somewhat awkward car crash fashion, jolting you forward like a bad Skyrush.


It does some cool stuff, I can’t deny the flow of the layout, which is a fun linear mix of inversions and airtime. The former ride rather well, but the latter again are killed by the restraints as you get quite a violent rather than controlled burst of upwards motion through each, taken directly to the knee and clavicle.


I’d even go so far as to say I’m rather taken by the look of it all. That’s a nice piece of track that. On-board it’s mainly comedy however, another trim delivers the most ungracious sensation just after the crest of one of the airtime hills too, one that really makes you think ‘why there?’
Nevertheless there’s an unrefined charm to the ride and it’s comforting to know things can always be worse – I could well have hated it. But I didn’t.

The remainder of our journey skimmed us through the very end of Florida’s panhandle and back up into the depths of Alabama. We had considered going harder and picking up another couple of SBFs down that way that were open until 11pm, but sense got the better of us. There was a much more important day ahead and a time zone border that wasn’t working in our favour. Creds before breads for sure, but creds before beds is getting more questionable over the years.

Day 6

USA 06/23 – Houston

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

Day 4 – Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center


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


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


As promised, this was inside. Huge.


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


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


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


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


And you can walk on the moon.

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Galveston Pier


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


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


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

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

Kemah Boardwalk


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


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

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


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

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

Day 5