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JoshC. goes to Great Adventure...but does he have a Six Flags Day? Pt2


Strata Poster
I finally did it: I finally went to America for some creds. Before my trip at the start of June, I'd only done European parks, so it was hugely exciting.

This will be a boring post; lots of waffle and no parks to talk of. A setting the scene sorta dealy.

This trip had been a long time in the works. I set up a thread in March last year asking for advice about a trip going out to Cedar Point and some of the noteworthy parks vaguely nearby too. That trip was to be with a couple of friends, and the long-term planning meant we had the time to save up money, etc. Unfortunately things changed and they pulled out of the trip idea. Undeterred, I thought about doing the trip - or a very similar one - solo...but with rumours of Top Thrill Dragster's future all over the place, and looking at some of the drive times between parks, I decided to leave that trip for another time.

Still wanting to go out to the States for some creds, I looked at other possible ideas. I could do Orlando / California or similar, but not being a big Disney fan, their draws were weak, and I didn't really have a clue where to start with booking that sort of trip. Resorting to the easier-for-me-to-plan road trip, I quickly honed in towards flying to Philadelphia, and then hitting up some of the big parks there. Indeed, I mentioned so here when I booked the flights!

The plan was to fly into Philly, have a day to get accustomed to the country, then do Hersheypark, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Six Flags America, Knoebels and Dorney (in one day) and Six Flags Great Adventure. There were some long journey times between the parks, but heyho, I've done long drives and was fine, so I'm sure this'll be fine.

The build up to the trip was...hectic. The day after I landed, I was moving flat (and I'm moving for a new job, which starts tomorrow!). My mum is also in the process of moving flat, so I'd been helping her out too. I had finished my temp job only a couple of days before flying out too, which didn't give me much time to generally sort out everything in life.

But anyway, I made my way to Heathrow bright and early...and headed to the wrong terminal. My flight was from Terminal 3...I got off the free shuttle bus at Terminal 2. D'oh! Fortunately, it's only a short walk between the terminals, and soon enough I was checked in and in a long security line. Small spoilers: the security queue was one of the longest of the trip! But soon enough, I was on the plane and ready for the 7-8hr flight.

Long haul flying was fine for me. Wasn't quite sure how I'd find it, but my American Airlines flight was comfortable, the food was acceptable, and I was able to pass the time by watching Stranger Things 4. Soon enough, I'd landed in Philadelphia.

And oh boy, it was hot. Midday local time and it was 35C (oops, I'm in America now, that's....95F). I'm not someone who particularly enjoys the heat (another reason why I was unsure about doing a trip to Orlando). But hey, I'd manage, America has aircon in most places, and I'd adjust soon enough...

I collected my hire car no problems. This was actually the first time I'd ever hired a car, and my first time driving on "the other side" of the road. On top of that, it was my first time driving an automatic, and only the third different car I'd ever driven since passing my test 4 years ago. So just a few firsts. I took my time to get used to it before heading off to a nearby-ish Walmart to get some drinks and snacks. This 20 minute drive to Walmart didn't serve me well though. Driving wasn't difficult, but I made the odd little mistake and just didn't feel wholly comfortable whilst driving. I guess that's understandable and to be expected within context, but still, it played on my mind a bit.

I carried on to my first motel of the trip and arrived in one piece. Woo, much success. But I still didn't get that comfortable feeling with driving. My excitement and elation for the trip and parks ahead turned to one of worry. "How on earth will I manage all the driving to come feeling like this?". Of course, I was hot, bothered and tired. And then thoughts came flooding into my head..."If I feel like this now, how will I feel after 8 hours outside at a park, then having to do a 1.5-2hr drive?", "How will I manage that for a week straight?", "I'm not sure if I can do this". I'm, err, not the most confident person, and I think this whole thought process shows that.

I tried to cast these thoughts to one side and had a spot of dinner from a lovely little restaurant just opposite the motel I was at. But these thoughts played on my mind still. I tried looking at all the drives I had for the next couple of days to try and ease my concerns, but that did little to help me. The first two parks were to be Hersheypark and Kings Dominion, and they weren't a short distance apart. Knoebels and Dorney, parks much closer to Hersheypark, were shut the day after my Hershey trip, so I couldn't change the order to do shorter drives before doing longer drives.

In the end, I got inside my head so much that I changed the trip a bit more dramatically. I hadn't booked park tickets due to my lack of organisation. Most of the motels/hotels I booked were free to cancel until 23:59 the day before arrival. So I wasn't going to lose any money.
Gone were Kings Dominion, Busch and SFA, the three parks which were a huge drive away.
The one motel I couldn't cancel was one which was between Dorney and SFGAd.
So the trip changed into:
Hersheypark: 2 days
Free day

It made the trip feel less daunting with the driving. It did take out a big chunk of creds, and I was particularly looking forward to Busch / Pantheon. But ultimately, in the moment, I just didn't feel I could do it. In hindsight, it all feels a bit stupid. I'm sure everything would have been fine. I got more used-to and comfortable with driving quick enough. Maybe I should have planned the trip better to build up to longer drives? Maybe I should tried hiring a car on a smaller like (like my recent Hamburg one, where I changed my mind late on about driving too)? Maybe I should have gotten out of my own head / slept on it? Maybe I should have booked everything earlier to force me to do these things? Whatever I should have done, it's done now.

Anyways, that's part 0 of JoshC. goes to America. Part 1 will come sooner or later, and will involve actual creds!


Donkey in a hat
I totally get it, bruv. On a similar trip back in 2014 me and a mate had planned on doing Dorney Park and/or Hersheypark one day and then driving south to Doswell ready for KD the following day. But when it came to the crunch we were just too daunted by all the driving and we ditched both of them and just headed straight to Doswell. As it turned out, that journey was a bloody long one and took most of the day anyway so I think we were right to not try and cram in a park that day, let alone two!
I can only imagine how daunting that would be with all the additional factors you mentioned - being alone, first time in USA, automatic car etc etc.... so yeah, I get it. But don't worry, when you've gotten used to it a bit more and there's some knobhead to share the driving with, you'll be doing crazy stuff like rattling off Kentucky Kingdom and Kings Island on the same day, on a sunny Saturday, in June. Piece of piss. 😉


Hyper Poster
Yeah its **** scary at first. First time I drove in Florida I was turning left at traffic lights and went straight down the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic 😂

Even now it can still be a bit daunting in built up areas, I really try to avoid driving into cities when abroad. Can imagine Philadelphia being an intimidating starting point.


Roller Poster
I have the same trepidation/angst driving London traffic for the trip I have planned as a first timer. So I was thinking Stansted and driving English country side until got a feel for the differences, then relying on public once it was time for London proper. Just thinking about it kinda makes me anxious, lol


Strata Poster
It's reassuring to hear it's happened to others too in one way or another.
Even now it can still be a bit daunting in built up areas, I really try to avoid driving into cities when abroad. Can imagine Philadelphia being an intimidating starting point.
Philly definitely was an intimidating start point, though I left quite quickly. When returning to the airport, it felt like I was in the busier / more built up areas longer, which wasn't particularly fun.

Anyways, onto Day 1!

It was June 1st, and again it was hot. The drive from my motel to Hersheypark was about an hour, so I set off in good time. I passed Dutch Wonderland en route - a park which was closed on that day, but I made a note that I could possibly do it on my free day if I wanted. The drive to Hershey wasn't without stress, with my phone losing internet connection just before I was due to go on Route 283, making me very nervous I was going the wrong way. Fortunately, I rolled up at 10ish - huzzah, I was finally at my first American park!

I really enjoyed the entrance plaza area: smart and well-presented, with the lovely view of a B&M hyper to boot. Plus, with the shop open, the hour before open flew by.

Whilst waiting for the park to open, I realised I hadn't planned out my day at all. I knew roughly what creds the park had, but didn't know the layout of the park or anything. Candymonium was open for season pass holder ERT and right by the entrance, so that was a no-go. Skyrush is bound to be popular, so maybe not there. After a brain wave, I remembered about a particular ride which gets long queues. So whilst the masses made their way to the park's hypers and whatever else, I made a beeline to...
Laff Trakk! Yep, my first American coaster was an indoor spinner. It was...okay. There's an attempt with theming and all that, but it just comes across as a bit tacky sadly. And the layout didn't really do it for me. So very much a one and done for me.

Carrying on the theme of low-throughput, bog standard coasters, I ticked off the nearby Wild Mouse. It was bog standard. Jesus, I've flown 3500miles for some tacky rubbish I could have gotten at the British seaside...It's time to throw in something better. So it was time for Wildcat. GCI's first coaster - a fact I'd forgotten at the time - does have a decent layout, and is filled with some neat moments. At the same time, it does give off vibes of 'Our first coaster', but you can see what they wanted to do, and how they've refined their coasters with newer models. A decent family-thrill ride for the park.

The park had only been open 15 minutes, and I'd ticked off 3 creds. The temperatures were soaring, so now felt like an appropriate time to ride Celsius.
Wait, no, I'm in America. Let me try that again.
It felt like an appropriate time to ride Fahrenheit.
An Intamin multi inversion coaster with a vertical lift and beyond vertical drop - it's either going to be amazing, or bloody dreadful right?

It was at this point I learnt to not trust the Hersheypark app too much. The app does give queue times for all the rides, but it said Fahrenheit was only 5 minutes, despite it clearly being more. I hesitated a guess at around 20 minutes, and an update came from soon enough advertising 15 minutes. Ended up taking a nice, round 40 minutes. Ooft. Thank goodness for the misters in the queue line though - they were a godsend!

I'll channel my inner MattN now...how was the ride? Well, it wasn't amazing, but it wasn't bloody dreadful. It fell firmly into the "good" category. The layout is surprisingly fun, and the airtime towards the end of the ride took me by surprise. The cobra roll was extremely "vibrate-y", but not in a rough way, which was...odd. I wasn't a fan of the clunky restraints though. So it was definitely good, but this was also something that really needed a reride at some point to determine just how good.
It has a pretty colour scheme too

I then double-backed on myself to go to the park's duelling woodies: Lightning Racer. I hadn't done them earlier as they opened late, but now seemed like a good time to pick them up. And I have to say, I really enjoyed these. Quick-paced, nice interaction with each other and great coasters in their own right. I wasn't a fan of how it seemed like the Thunder side would win every single time; seems like a bit of a flaw there.

Whilst I didn't want to make immediate comparisons, I make it no secret that I love Joris en de Draak at Efteling, so it was hard not to. And to be honest, Lightning Racer definitely feels like an attraction that walked, so Joris could run. Joris sees what Lightning Racer does, learns from its mistakes, and refines what it does well. Hersheypark is filled with "learning GCIs" it seems.
Aside #1: I didn't take photos of Wildcat or LR. Clearly I have something against taking bad photos of GCIs.
Aside #2: The Lightning (right) side of Lightning Racer was my 250th. Yay.

With the creds in that area ticked off, I went a bit more centrally into the park. With stomach grumbling, I decided to pick up a snack. Oooo, finally time to try out some American park food!! A funnel cake standard was nearby, so naturally I gravitated towards there...
It was blooming huge! Is this just American portion sizes? Are they meant to be shared? Did I buy a sharing one? I dunno, but I wasn't going to complain.

After eating a bit more than expected, I decided another cred might not be best straight away, instead opting for the nearby shooting darkride, Reece's Cupmission. I like shooters, and I was intrigued by this. I was taken back a bit by the layout going up and down; thought that was a bit quirky. But the best way to describe this (from a European's standpoint) is like a discount/budget Bazyliszek at Legendia. It has screens as well as 2D props (some move, some don't). But it all feels a little bit on the cheap side, and a little bit lazy. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, and I had fun, but really, for a park of Hershey's size and grandeur, I was expecting something a bit better.

With that done, it was time for another cred. And I opted for hopeful quality over 'just a +1', and went to Great Bear, the park's B&M invert...

Another 40-ish minute wait for this. And I didn't really enjoy waiting for this. Obviously queueing becomes more boring when you're alone, but with no sort of themed music (just generic pop music, which was fine, but meh all the same), and limited views of anything in a painfully dull cattlepen queue, it does drain you a bit. Wasn't helped further by the fact operations were pretty poor, partially due to slow staff, partially due to people being idiots and faffing. Oh well.

Anyways, I was on and sat near the back. What followed was a decent, albeit unremarkable, ride. It very much peters out by the end though. Before this trip, I'd ridden 4 B&M inverts: Oz'Iris, Nemesis, Black Mamba and Nemesis Inferno. These are all fantastic examples of the ride type. Great Bear is an example which shows B&M Inverts are good rides, but can also be incredibly paint-by-numbers. "Let's chuck in a big drop, a vertical loop, a zero-g roll, a corkscrew and something else, boom, there's your B&M Invert". That's possibly a little harsh, but really, that's what it is. It doesn't have the location/terrain of Nemesis and Mamba, It doesn't have the scale and 'extra-ness' of Oz'Iris. The layout isn't as polished as Inferno. It just does every part well.
It'd be interesting to know what my reaction would be if this was my first B&M Invert. Maybe I'd rate it higher. But for me right now, whilst I enjoyed it and don't have anything overly negative to say about it (ending aside), it just doesn't do it for me.

Following the path along, I stumbled across another cred, the comically named Sooperdooperlooper. Obviously the historical nature of the ride shouldn't be ignored, but it very much feels like a ride which was designed to have the loop and nothing else. Literally after the loop, the ride feels like it was designed by RCT's "auto complete" feature, to get the track back to the start in a weird and funky ride.

Next up was the big attraction of Hersheypark, the famous Intamin known by Skyrush.
Since it had a surprisingly short queue (probably about 2-3 trains' worth of wait, if that), I opted for a front row ride. This turned out to not be the smartest idea, since after 3 cycles, it shut down for a bit. I decided to stick it out for a bit, and 10 or so minutes later, it came back up. And shortly enough, I was on.

And WOW. This thing lives up to the hype and is insane. You get lifted / chucked out of your seat every couple of seconds. It's relentless. And yet it remains glass smooth, and even 10 years after opening, hasn't developed an infamous Intamin roughness. Yes, the extreme airtime does kill the thighs - and that does take away from the experience a little bit for me - but that's the point of the ride. Skyrush is clearly a ride designed to try its absolute best to fling you out your seat so you land into the lake, whilst not compromising and things like speed. And it makes a spectacle out of its elements: there's no mini airtime hills that you'd find on a RMC, say. It's loud and proud with what it does. There's no stand out element either, because so many elements are just incredible in their own right. I also liked the mini lapbar release it does whilst on the brake run - much appreciated.

Given the lack of queue, I decided to run round for another ride, and got to do a back row ride. Again, bloody insane - moreso with some of the intense airtime moments too. I just about preferred the front, just for the pure thrill of getting the wind in your face, and it being slightly more comfortable. But damn, it's a bloody good ride.
The lift hill is comically quick too

Hopefully it's clear here that Skyrush is a ride I rate very highly. It's easily a "Top 10%-er", and even a "Top 10-er". For me, it slots nicely into the Top 5 too, slotting above Helix, but below Taron, Taiga and Untamed. Ultimately, the ride comfort is what stops it going above the others, but the craziness of the ride definitely cements its place.

From one hyper to another, it was time to ride Sweetsmonium.
Wait, no, I keep forgetting I'm in America. Let me try that again.
It was time to ride Candymonium.
(I'll stop with these terrible jokes now, promise)

I'd been keeping an eye on the ride's queue time during the day - despite not really trusting the app - and it had seesawed between 20 minutes and 180 minutes. I decided to risk it on a supposed 20 minute wait.
This was my first experience of a "no bags in the queue line" rule, which they were being strict on. Interestingly Skyrush has the same rule, but wasn't being applied. I'm fine with the rule and like the free lockers, but it felt like there weren't enough screens and lockers, and having to wait for a locker was painful.

After about a 30 minute wait in the warm tin shed queue, I was on. Given how slow the operations were, I dread to think what it would be like if bags were allowed in the station. I'm understanding to how hard it is to work on rides in hot conditions, but when you have a coaster running 3 trains and you have the 2 out of the station stacking every single time, something ain't quite right sadly.

Anyways, I'd managed to bag a back row ride for my first go on Candymonium. And this was my first B&M hyper too. I was quite excited for this. Andddddddddd....it didn't live up expectations. To be honest, all I really remember from this first ride is fixating on the two trims that are on the ride. They are extremely noticeable, and it disappointed me quite a bit.

I'll leave my review of Candymonium there for now, but note I will come back to this later!

There was now just over an hour left before the park shut. Despite having agreed with myself I'd be back tomorrow, I wanted to try and get all creds done in one day (just to see if my original plan was possible). So I went over towards Storm Runner - arguably the last major cred in the park. It had been closed all day, but I had noticed a couple of test runs. En route to the Intamin accelerator, I found Trailblazer, the park's Arrow Mine Train, looking very shut, and with fencing blocking off the entrance. Well, there's one spite.

There were staff stood outside Storm Runner too, that was also shut, and they said it probably wouldn't open today. I didn't press for a reason, but I wonder if it was down to the heat - I know the likes of Stealth and Rita struggle in 30C+ heat, and at 33-35C, maybe it was just too much?

To settle that disappoint, I decided instead to ride...
Jolly Rancher Remix
Previously known as Sidewinder, the park's Vekoma Boomerang received a makeover for this. Because of my immeasurable disappointment about missing out on 2 creds, I didn't take any photos of it on this day.
The retheme is nice and vibrant, and the ride gives me 'Speed of Sound at Walibi Holland' vibes: they've taken a Boomerang, added some flashing lights and loud, thumping music. The presentation for it works. The ride itself is an above average Boomerang, which is still a below average ride.

I then ticked off the park's kiddie cred, Cocoa Cruiser, and rode the park's old skool woodie, Comet. Really these were just a quick +2 and nothing more to me, though I guess Comet was pretty neat, and also my first taste of a Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster.

With a bit of time leftover, I rounded Day 1 off with a couple more laps on Skyrush. Still a breathtaking ride.
I possibly could have gotten a couple more goes in, but it broke down again. Intamin, ey?

My hastily arranged motel was only a 15 minute drive from the park, close to shops and restaurants, and was reasonably cheap. Huzzah!

So Day 1 Hersheypark thoughts: I enjoyed the park. It was busier than I expected, and the heat was a bit much at times. It immediately gets points for the amazing Skyrush, and even though there were some rides which didn't live up to expectations, others beat expectations, so swings and roundabouts. I was certainly looking forward to a second day, getting some rerides on the good creds, and trying some of the non-cred things I missed, all in a more relaxed setting.

I have two bugbears about Hersheypark. One is their queue lines: they are all so boring, and the coaster queues don't give you views of the rides. Two is the lack of themed audio. Their newer areas (Chocolate Town and Jolly Rancher Land...not its official name btw) do a good job at creating a cohesive area with some neat audio bits. But really, the atmospheres in and around the stations for the likes of Skyrush, Great Bear, Fahrenheit would all be infinitely better with some loop of special audio. I know it's kinda an American thing, but still.

Anyways, look out for Part 2 soon, featuring re-rides, animals, new creds, more terrible photos...and the dreaded "R" word....


Strata Poster
And so I returned to Hersheypark the next day. It was another hot one, of course, but it was a bit more overcast. I did a strange thing, and arrived at the park even earlier than yesterday though. Why, you ask? Well, to visit Chocolate World of course!

Located outside the park, and I guess extending the exterior of their 'Chocolate Town' area, Hershey's Chocolate World is I guess the American answer to Cadbury World (not that I've ever been there, mind!). There's loads of stuff in there to do: a 4D cinema, create your own chocolate experience, plus tram tours and other things. All of that along with a huge sweet shop and a couple of food outlets. Chocolate World opens at 9am (2 hours before the park). I wasn't bothered by the upcharge stuff, but there is a free attraction:
Hershey's Chocolate Tour is basically a dark ride, taking you through the process of how the chocolate is made. After seeing the quality of the park's dark ride, it was nice to see how well-polished this is: lots of neat effects and animatronics, and all-in a fab little experience, definitely showcasing the place off well. The queue line serves as a walk through too, giving the history of the company. And at the end of the ride, you get a piece of Hershey's chocolate for free.

Resisting the temptation to go round again for the sake of another freebie, I had a look round the shop to kill some time, picked up a Blueberry Muffin KitKat (which, sadly, wasn't all that nice), and then went back outside to get in line before the masses descended to wait for the park to open.

Unlike yesterday, there was entertainment outside the gates. Well, I say entertainment, a single member of staff tried rallying some people up to get them excited, and got some kids to play a game. Or something like that, I don't know: he had a microphone, but it wasn't working. Anyways, at 10.45, he got everyone to do a countdown from 10 to 0, at which point.......nothing happened. A couple of staff behind the gates ran around panicking, wondering what was going on. I don't know what on earth was meant to be happening, seems like no one did. But in any case, this countdown to 0 did nothing, and the park opened bang on 11.

Noting that the park felt a bit quieter, and not being in a rush to get creds, I decided to head to Candymonium first - maybe it's a morning ride? I got a front row ride and...
Damn, that was impressive! Going in knowing a couple of the airtime hills had trims, I didn't fixate on them, and instead was able to just...sit back and enjoy. And it was just great fun: some nice floater airtime, but also some pops of ejector too. It was a class ride, and just really fun from start to finish.

I'd've loved to jump straight back on and see what on earth was up with this hot and cold ride, but everyone was making their way over, so I decided to leave it and make my way to something new...
Storm Runner was storm running (best pun I have, sorry), so made sense to tick it off before it got a potential long queue. This was a ride I was quite looking forward to, and it kind of lived up to the expectations. It was a nice, fast-paced ride which does what it sets out to do. It's short, but doesn't need to be any longer, as it packs in some cool elements. But at the same time, it doesn't quite hit the 'Wow' moments it should have for such a short, punchy ride.

In part, I think it's because coasters have come along quite a bit since this was made, and so there's more modern, quirky elements out there. I can imagine that an RMC-inspired Intamin could make a much more fun Storm Runner today, for example. Also, the restraints are a bit restrictive, and do take away from the experience a bit.

I then returned to another Intamin, Fahrenheit, for my much awaited re-ride. It provided a fun ride again, but was perhaps a bit weaker than my original ride. So it cemented it as a "good, but not great" ride for me, and probably not something I'd bother with again for the day.
The "theme" (if you can call it that?) of Fahrenheit confused me. I get the idea of it being a 97 degree drop and using it as a temperature and angle (that's clever), but I thought the idea was it was also a 'blazing hot' ride? So why would the temperature be falling? And why am I overthinking this so much?

Moving away from coasters, I went to something new and different:
Mix'd Flavoured by Jolly Rancher, to give it its full name (sigh) forms part of the new Jolly Rancher Land, and is a Zamperla NebulaZ - one of these new rides which seem to slowly be becoming all the range. They're pretty neat to look at, and though I don't like spinning, I thought it looked tame enough to give it a go. Ultimately, it wasn't awful, but by the end of the cycle, I did feel queasy. The good thing is, though, is as much of a spectator ride as this is, it's still pretty fun to go on too!

Turning my attention back to coasters, I then went for to take my reride on Great Bear. The big thing that stood out to me was that it had a much shorter queue, and I now realised how much quieter the park was compared to yesterday. Maybe not having to wait 40-ish minutes for the ride in blistering heat would make me more fond of the ride? Nope, not really. In fact, it just cemented my thoughts, and meant it was another ride I could tick off as "Don't need to ride again".

I decided to get a snacky-American-sized lunch:
The bucket of pulled pork chips gets my seal of approval

Still adjusting to American-sized portions (or just eating sharing portions and not realising it), I opted away from creds for a bit. I ticked off the park's log flume, which was good fun - I particularly liked the calm looking section which was actually on a gentle slope, creating a fun few seconds, and the nice camel hump at the bottom of the drop. I then returned to Reece's Cupfusion, the park's dark ride (which I incorrectly called Cupmission in my previous entry, whoops)

I decided to try out a feature with the park's app, HPGO, which you can link up with the ride. Basically, it's a free wristband with a QR code. You can use it to load up photos, Fastpass things and all of that. But you can also scan it just before you board Cupfusion, and it then sends your score and on ride photo to the app for free.
As you can see, I get very focused on shooters, even if their quality is patchy.
Clearly not that good though, ranking 12th of all signed up players of the day, after only a couple of hours of park-opening.

That's enough time without creds, so I went to GCI corner of the park to, well, reride the GCIs (ignoring the bog standard Wild Mouse and tacky spinner). A solid duo/trio of woodies there, and I found myself enjoying the Lightning side of Lightning Racer a bit more than yesterday; a good choice for 250 in the end!
I even took a terrible photo of Lightning Racer, see!

Something I had only learnt the previous day, and that had only truly dawned on me the previous night, is that Hersheypark has a zoo. And whilst it has its own separate ticket, you also get it included for free in your day ticket. So why not have a quick wander through I thought! It's a nice area, not too big, away from the park but not too far away, and a good way to break up the day. Didn't take any photos, but yeah, was nice.

Anyways, it was time for creds again. And I surprised myself with how restrained I was in getting back to the one and only...

Remember how I said yesterday they weren't enforcing the no-bags-in-queue rule? Well today they were. Eurgh, fine. Don't see the need really; the stupid station design means bags vs no bags is a mute discussion in my mind. Anyways, I got a couple more rides in, including at the back again, and it lived up to my memory from the day prior. Absolutely fantastic experience, and well and truly cemented itself as my #4.


Not wanting to completely wreck my thighs one park in though, I left the yellow beast for now to return back to Candymonium, and see what on earth was up with this hot and cold beast. Fortunately it didn't have much of a queue, only 5-10 minutes, and I decided to mimic my ride from the previous day and go for the back row. And you know what? It was fantastic again! It was a ride that was just a ton of fun, and filled with neat airtime moments. Whatever disappointment I had yesterday had dissipated, and I truly liked this sweet ride. I went back round again and bagged another front row ride, which I guess shows my enjoyment of it.

So now for my Candymonium review. It's a really fun ride, with lots of neat airtime moments. It's got good pacing with it too, which is great. And what I realised, most importantly, is that whilst it has trims at two different moments, those trims are needed. You still get some good airtime on them, and if they weren't there, you'd be getting airtime more akin to Skyrush's. That wouldn't be a bad thing for the ride really, but it then means you have two rides offering the exact same experience, which you don't want. The trims help differentiate Candymonium from Skyrush, and give the rides separate identities, whilst not taming down Candymonium. Huzzah!

My one concern about Candymonium - I really enjoyed my rides where I didn't have to queue, but didn't get the same sense of fulfilment when I did queue. That could also be put down to first ride expectations. So whilst I rate Candymonium, would I be willing to queue for it? Honestly, I don't know.
The Kisses fountain is a bit abstract, but I can see what they tried to do.

As the photos show, the clouds had become a bit more ominous-looking after my rides on Candymonium. And sure enough, the dreaded "R" word followed....rain. It wasn't unexpected by me: the forecast did predict a short shower. But checking my weather app, it said this shower would last for a good 1-2 hours now. Bugger. Hersheypark close their big outdoor rides in the rain; certainly anything I wanted to re-ride was down. After a quick snack and think, I decided to do what a good chunk of people had done, and ride one of only two indoor rides on park. Not wanting to bother to trek to the other side of the park, I went for another go on Reece's Cupfusion...
I got another delightful, free mugshot
More importantly though...
I claimed the current high score for the day...BOOM! Guy at the exit said he hadn't seen a score above 300k for a while too - whether he said that as a generic customer servicey comment thing, or if he was genuine, I don't know, but yeah. Take that everyone who visited Hersheypark on June 2nd! (I'm not competitive at all......)

I had hoped the long wait and doing the ride would mean the rain would pass, but it didn't. It was still going strong. I really wasn't interested in doing Laff Trakk again, so I decided to wander over towards Skyrush, find somewhere undercover, and see what happens. For reference, at this point, it was about half 4, and park closed at 6. So I sat, and I waited. Rain still coming down. I don't mind the rain, but with little to do, I didn't see the point in wandering around too much aimlessly. In hindsight, now would have been a good time to do the zoo, and I could have used my earlier zoo time for rides, but oh well.

The rain stopped a little after 5 - woohoo, the clouds have been kind! I didn't know what the rules would be exactly with rides reopening, but I hung back and waited patiently for Skyrush to come back to life. 15 minutes later, still no sign of life. Hmmmm, that's less good. Asked the staff at the entrance whether it would reopen - turns out it wasn't set to reopen for the day. Well bugger. Did it die before the rain? Was it a post-rain thing? No idea. Ah well, back to Candymonium then....
Or not, that was also closed. And there was no committed answer as to whether it would reopen at this point.

Other bigger rides were running around the park. But I didn't have much inclination to go on something like Great Bear or Fahrenheit again. The app listed Storm Runner as shut, though I wasn't wholly convinced. Equally though, whilst it would be nice to get a reride on it, I wasn't that fussed in tracking back and giving it a shot. So I decided to call it a day, with only 20 minutes of park time left.

So though my visit to Hersheypark finished on a bit of a damp downer, it was still a fantastic couple of days. Skyrush and Candymonium are a great one-two punch for the park, and they have a wide variety of "good" rides too. There's obviously a solid selection of flats too, which I didn't really go on, and an included water park, which isn't my thing. So it's super well rounded too. I hope they continue going for the more 'themed area' approach, even if only lightly, as Chocolate Town and Jolly Rancher Land are wonderful, cohesive pieces. I'd also love to see them get another indoor ride - there's definitely scope and potential for something really cool.
Wait no, I'm in Hersheypark.
There's definitely scope and potential for something really sweet. ;)

Coming soon: Knoebels, filled with nice food...and not-so-nice spites...


Strata Poster
And so it's time for the 3rd day of JoshC. in America. But wait! Before we move onto Day 3, let's talk a little more about Day 2.

As mentioned, my original plan for Knoebels was to do it in half a day, with the other half being at Dorney. This meant I had been looking at alternatives to the wristband (which was on the expensive side for my liking). Obviously with the changes to the trip, I wristband could have been something worth exploring, given the savings I had made. But I wasn't that interested in the majority of the rides at the park, despite some of them being quirky/classic/unique.

Whilst staying in Hershey, I found out that a supermarket - Weis - were selling vouchers for Knoebels. Basically you got $20 worth of tokens for $14. I'd thought it through, I realised, that getting the two of those vouchers would work perfectly for me to get everything I wanted and some re-rides, and it worked out cheaper than the wristband.

But that's not really the point of this pre-ramble. I went into the supermarket and asked to buy two of the vouchers for Knoebels.
I got a slightly funny look before the lady at the checkout said "Two of the vouchers for K-noebels? Sure!"
HOLD THE PHONE. It's pronounced "K-noebels"? Not "noebels"? The "K" is NOT silent?? WHAT? When you use cutlery at dinner, you use a "nife" right, not a "k-nife"? What is up with that.
So I successfully handed over some dollars to get my vouchers for K-noebels, and had my mind confused and blown. And that's the moral of this pre-trip report ramble.

Anyways, Day 3 came. No more rain, lots more heat. The park didn't open till 12, so I had a relaxing morning before my hour-ish drive to the park. The park feels like it's in the middle of nowhere; like some weird mix of going to Alton Towers and Plopsa Coo. Indeed, some of the roads round there made driving to Towers look like a doddle.

I arrived a little before 12 and wandered around the park and exchanged my vouchers to tokens easy peasy. I didn't know how busy it would be, but figured I may as well go queue up for and tick off the big draw of K-noebels (I'm forever going to write it like that, sorry) for me, Flying Turns...
Oh screw you K-noebels. First you pronounce your name in a stupid way. And now THIS?! I later learnt too the ride was running a couple of days prior for a ERT for the RCCGB...and the apparent reason it hasn't been opening normally is simply down the staffing issues? Given that most everything else was running, and if that is true, I question the logic there...if you're struggling with staff, why shut down one of your bigger attractions?
Maybe that's just me being blinded by saltiness, but oh well.

With that disappointment not really out of the way but in the process of being accepted, I decided to meander round. Phoenix had a long line of people waiting, so I decided to let that calm down a bit. Instead I made my way to the park's Ghost Train, which isn't actually included in the park's wristband...
I do like a nice ghost train, although most of the ones I've done have been the ones you find at UK seasides which I find are usually either bad or so hilariously bad they end being good.

K-noebels' Ghost Train is neither of those though. It's actually pretty darn good. I will freely admit I jumped a couple of times. It had a really good length and some really clever effects and visuals. There's no extra fancy bells and whistles; it's just a really solid, well-presented classic example of a ghost train. Top marks from me.

I then meandered my way back towards to front of the park for my first cred of the day...Impulse
A Zierer coaster that looks like a Gerstlauer...Okay, that's something. It has a nice colour scheme and "the ride layout looks pretty neat", so hopefully it will ride good was my basic thought process.

Unfortunately, I can't really remember anything about the ride. I've looked at my brief notes I wrote as I went along the trip, and all I have written next to Impulse is "alright". So yeah, it was alright, but totally forgettable. Which is not all that surprising a review.

One thing I was looking forward to at Knoebels was the food, especially the sweeter offerings. Unfortunately I made the mistake of grabbing a slice of pizza for my early lunch, and it looked and tasted very stale...
Costco quality pizza this was not

Disappointing pizza dealt with, I decided to tick off another cred, and realised that Phoenix's queue wasn't that long. Clearly the early crowd had been dealt with quickly. Now this gave me a surprise - it's been ranked #1 Wooden coaster multiple times in the past and...I didn't know that. I didn't know that one of the highest and most loved pure wooden coasters in the world was at this park. Well, no doubt I'd read it at some point or another, but it didn't stick. It even sneaks into CF's Top 25 coasters, so of course I had encountered this fact, but I was still none-the-wiser.

The short queue meant I didn't have long for anticipation and excitement to build, nor have much a chance to research into this. Even waiting for the back row didn't give me much time. So I was going into this blind. When I saw the lapbars didn't have ratchets, and just locked in one position, I was a bit more excited. Even though I'm not a small guy, I still had plenty of room between me and the lapbar. Ooft, this could be amazing and / or brutal.

Then start of the ride in the black tunnel had random Halloween decorations for...reasons. Then you climb up the modesty sized lift hill. And you're off. And out of your seat straight away - damn, where did that airtime come from? How is this tiny little lap bar saving me from flying out? The ride then just goes round, and flings you from your seat time and time again. It's incredible. Looking at the ride, you do expect some airtime, but the amount you get is completely unexpected and almost unexplainable. How does this ride manage it? I don't know. What I do know is I was laughing my head off with joy all the way round! It is a classic, rough and ready woodie, but my god it is a TON of fun!

Still processing what had just happened, I decided to wander around for a bit and find the park's other big wooden coaster, Twister. It was a bit more tucked away in comparison, but I got there:
If you can feel sorry for a ride, then I feel sorry for this ride. I had just done the incredible Phoenix, I entered the deserted station still processing how that ride has so much airtime. Twister, meanwhile, is a very different type of ride, focusing more on speed, laterals and, well, twisting around. And it's a fun ride, but not fully my cup of tea. It serves as a nice juxtaposition to what Phoenix does, and exists very nicely in the K-noebels line up. But equally was completely overshadowed by my experience on Phoenix.

I then ticked off the kiddie cred, and got a judgemental glare from the ride operator as I handed over my tokens for my trouble. The joys of cred counting. It was now time to search for the final cred, an indoor coaster by the name of Black Diamond. I eventually found it...and found it was closed. Well bugger, that's two spites in this park.

So with all in the open creds ticked off, I grabbed myself a Dippin' Dot (my first ever one, it was lush) and explored the park to figure out what else to do. On my travels I saw this delightful sign:
A more accurate version of this sign would read "They told us we could staff it, but we didn't anyway".

Anyways, pettiness aside, after exploring the park, I decided that there wasn't anything that really peaked my curiosity. So I did the inevitable and returned to Phoenix. It had a near-full queue, but even on one train, it went by quickly. I got in a couple of rides, one in row two (front row was a bit too long), and once again in the back. The near-front was pretty insane still; a double up moment also proved much better at the front. The back was noticeable better though, and even more violent - in a good way - than earlier. It still boggles the mind how this ride is so good.

After those two rides, I took a break, grabbed some more food (because why not) and drink and totted up my tokens. I had enough for 3 more goes on Phoenix, or some variation of re-rides on it and doing other stuff. I wasn't really interested in re-riding anything else (except maybe the kiddie cred to see what judgemental look would be thrown my way ;) ), and none of the flats took my fancy. So you better believe I did 3 more back row rides on Phoenix, and bloody loved every second of it.


Thighs sufficiently tenderised, that was the end of my riding at K-noebels.

Phoenix is another ride that quite easily slots into my Top 10%. And after not much deliberation, I decided it slotted nicely in my Top 10, at the #10 slot. Two parks in, two new entries in the Top 10, and Phoenix pushed Nemesis out, meaning I no longer have any coasters from my home country in my Top 10.
Phoenix doesn't quite reach the same levels as Balder for me, so best wooden coaster this is not for me. Best 'traditional' wooden coaster, sure.

As for the rest of K-noebels, it's a neat, classic park. Obviously I'm a bit bitter that Flying Turns, the ride I was most looking forward to at the park, was shut, and to get two spites was a shame. It's also not really my type of park, but I did really enjoy the setting.

I left the park reasonably earlier (I think it was like half 4/5ish), but the drive to my next motel was pleasant and scenic. It also gave me plenty of chance to figure out what to do with my new-found free day. But what did I do? Well, I'll leave that as the most boring cliffhanger ever for now...


Strata Poster
So, Day 4. The mythical free day. My first thought was to try and get some more creds in somewhere: I used everyone's favourite road trip planning resource coast2coaster to figure out where I could go. The only place that really stood out to me was Dutch Wonderland, but that was almost 2 hours away, and $40+tax for entry. 40 dollars, for 3 creds, none of which seemed that good. Plus whatever extortionate fee they charge for parking. So I ruled that out. Instead, I settled on something a bit more basic...

I went to a strip mall (turns out it's not what I thought it was when I was younger...) in the morning, had a nice bit of brekkie and a general mooch around some American shops. I then did a short-ish drive and ended up somewhere familiar...
That's right, Hersheypark!

Those who have been to the park, though, may well note...this is not from inside the park. So let me end this long-winded explanation of what I did...

I decided to stop back in Hershey. As tempting as Skyrush's roar was, I didn't go into the park (didn't feel like spending out the extra again is the honest answer here), but instead opted to explore round the area a little, and pop back into the part of Chocolate Town which is outside the park. Here's a photo dump of some nice views you get of Skyrush and Candymonium outside the park:

A 30 minute walk in the scorching hot sun, and I was back at Chocolate World. The aircon was very nice in here. I opted against doing any of the upcharge stuff, but did do another circuit on the Chocolate Tour, partially to sit down, partially to get another free square of chocolate because I'm a cheapskate at heart.

There was more method to the madness though. I booked a table at Chocolate Town's main restaurant, The Chocolatier
Located in the upper level of the main shop, I believe this opened up last year. It's your standard nice restaurant, but some of the food on offer has a "Hint of chocolate" blended into it.

As you can tell throughout this report, during this trip, I became one of those people who took photos of their food...so you better believe I'm sharing those photos of what I had here...
Being tee-total, I always like a good mocktail. This Jolly Rancher Blue Lemonade concoction was a bit sweet even for my sweet tooth..!

Screw starters - let's get straight to mains. This was Hershey's Cocoa Barbeque Ribs - Cocoa and Ancho Chile ribs, with chips (sorry, America, fries), coleslaw and a chocolate BBQ sauce. Was bloody lovely. The dipping sauce was very weird...the chocolate in it was subtle - a bit too subtle for me - but still nice.

But of course, one couldn't go to Hersheyworld's premium restaurant and not have dessert. The Chocolatier Cake was basically all the chocolate in the world. Suffice to say I felt fuller than full after this...and sick of the sight of chocolate!

The Chocolatier is a nice restaurant. It comes at a premium cost, and for me the food just about manages to justify it. The area itself has some old carousel features repurposed, but aside from that, felt like any other restaurant. It does have an outdoor balcony section overlooking the park-side area of Chocolate Town, which is neat, but was way too hot for me to consider sitting out there. I think they could have done a bit more to make it feel a bit more "Hersheypark", whilst still keeping the classic/classy restaurant feel they were going for. So maybe not a "must do" thing, but definitely worth doing at some point or another.

And that's all I have to say about Day 4 really. No creds, but I nice relaxing day, where I definitely ate way too many calories.

But fear not, people who like reading my rambling thoughts about riding rides at theme parks, as Day 5 follows right now!

Day 5, a nice sunny Sunday, and the perfect day to experience all the fun of the Cedar Fair...it was time for Dorney. It's not a park that was ever high up on my list, but hey, it was conveniently located. Ever see watching one of those old school TV documentaries about roller coasters (anyone remember the name of the show??) which featured one of the Intamin Impulses, I had been super keen to get on one (despite hearing they weren't good rides), so I was looking forward to getting a ride of Possessed.

I'd woken up a bit earlier than planned, clearly eager to get back to creds, and ended up at the park at 10ish, with the park set to open at 11am. I managed to get through security painlessly enough, and joined the healthy, but small, crowd outside the entrance. 10.30 comes and to my surprise, an announcement comes up...'We invite everyone to look up at our Nation's flag for playing of the National Anthem'.
Ohhhhhhh-kay. Had something happened? Did I miss the news? Is it just because this was a Sunday? I later learnt this is apparently a Cedar Fair thing, to just play the national anthem before opening?
It was my first real experience of American pride for country - everyone took it deadly seriously, most people with their hands over the hearts, etc. Felt very surreal. After it finished playing, some staff started a round of applause, and loads of people joined in. Again, bit surreal. And then the gates opened up; sweet.

I didn't quite know where to start my day, but I decided that Demon Drop, the park's Intamin Gen 1 drop tower could be a good shout, given the possible low throughput. But nope, that had a sign saying it was going to open at 12. Instead I opted for Steel Force, the park's hyper. That was testing, and looked good to open. 11am ticks on by, and a staff member comes down and says it won't be opening yet, so come back later. Oh yay, all the stories I'd heard about Cedar Fair operations were coming to fruition.

Having not seen Possessed move either, I went to something I knew was open:
The cute little, 98 year old PTC coaster by the name of Thunderhawk. My experiences of PTC coasters had been "neat" (Comet) to "OMG" (Phoenix). Thunderhawk is more on the "neat" side of that scale: it's a fun ride, with no real weak moments, but definitely on the calmer side of being a family friendly ride.

The park still didn't seem that busy, so I didn't feel the need to rush to get the creds. Instead, I opted to do Thunder Creek Mountain, the park's log flume which was nearby. I went into this completely blind, in part through not researching it, and in part because you can't see the ride. And this was a pleasant, and wet, surprise. It starts off standard enough, before going through a cool 'not a drop, but a fast paced decline', which bought out a nice vigorous side which you don't normally get on log flumes. Then you have the mini drop, which - as is the case with many log flumes - is the wetter one. That's then quickly followed by the main drop, which is incredible long, and has a very low angle of descent, meaning it just goes on and on and on. Then you hit the bottom, and physics launches you forward, whilst the water also splashes. It's enough to say I was not prepared for that, and I dread to think what it would be like with a full boat!

With my body sufficient hydrated, I decided it was time to tick off the first B&M of the day, Hydra - The Revenge
Yes, that joke was horribly forced and not funny. No, I am not sorry.

This is one of those funny creds, where if you're an enthusiast long enough, you hear about this one way or another. Whether it's the roll out the station, the mini pit the ride's in or just getting non-goon friends telling you about 'this awesome looking roller coaster that has no floor'. And despite all that, I didn't really know the layout, or how well it's received, or anything. And, to top it all off, this was my first not-a-Dive-Machine floorless coaster, a pretty insignificant detail in the grand scheme of things.

Fortunately next-to-no queue, so I got a back row ride on it quick enough. Now I've had to consult my notes on this one...and I've written "meh" next to it. The layout was actually pretty near to be fair, but it wasn't the comfiest of rides. It wasn't rough per se, but it did just rattle and rumble around throughout, which felt very weird considering I'm used to most B&Ms being pretty damn smooth. But yeah, it didn't really do it for me. And I didn't really enjoy the slow roll out the station.
I do like the entrance logo though

I decided to move onto the next cred, which ended up being Wild Mouse, which funnily enough, is the park's Wild Mouse. It was at this moment I wondered if I'd royally screwed up, because this had a long ol' queue...40 bloody minutes. It's things like this, and not riding silly kiddie creds and getting glaring, judgemental looks, that make me question what I'm doing with my life sometimes...

To cheer myself up after waiting 40 minutes in a hot, slow-moving queue, I went and got my first ever Cinnabon, which was everything I expected and so much more. It was then time to get some more B&M goodness in my system, in the form of Talon:
Yeah, I liked this simple logos

Operations were decent, and only ended up having to wait like 15 minutes for it, which was nice. The ride itself...was fine. It suffers from B&M Invert Cookie Cutter Syndrome. "We'll stick a vertical loop in here, a zero-g roll, let's be daring and throw in an Immelmann too, oh and a corkscrew, let's treat the riders!" is how I imagine the design process went. Honestly, I didn't even need to ride this, and I could tell you exactly how it would ride, and exactly how I would react to it.

And I guess that's the blessing and the curse of these rides? As a park buying this ride, you know you're getting a reliable ride which riders will enjoy. As a rider, you're going on a ride where you know you're getting a good experience. But there's little excitement in knowing exactly what you're going to get.
Again, I wonder how much this is being spoilt by some of the European B&Ms, which are seemingly superior to many of their standard American cousins. But a shame in any case.

Looking on the app, Steel Force and Possessed were still shut, so I didn't feel like going back to that part of the park yet. Instead I decided to check out the park's other water rides. They have a Shoot-the-Chute water ride, which I tend not to do, owing to the fact "you get too wet too quickly"; as much as I like water rides, I've just never liked the immediate soaking these rides give you. I don't mind getting soaked gradually (in say a River Quest at Phantasialand way) though.

With this in mind, I made my way over to Thunder Canyon, the park's rapids ride. I feel like anyone who's been on this and read the above is either going "Uh oh" or laughing at my expense right now...
Much like with the park's log flume, I went into this blind. I didn't walk to the ride via the park's water park, so saw nothing of the ride, and I hadn't looked it up at all. All I'd see was the station and that there was a lift hill. There wasn't much of a wait for this, but when I saw a shoe box and everyone taking off the shoes - despite it not being a requirement - I begun to wonder what I'd got myself into.

Buckled up, away I went solo in my boat. I went up the lift hill, clueless of what would happen. It started off like a pretty standard rapids;
"This is fine" I thought.
Then I saw a waterfall which was positioned directly over an entire part of the course later down the line.
"Oh bugger, I'm gonna get soaked"
The course turned around. It turned out there were 2 more waterfalls, again directly over the course, to get through before getting to the other waterfall.
"Well, it can't get any worse, can it?"
Well, yes it can...turns out Thunder Canyon has a grand total of 14 of these waterfalls, positioned so that part of the boat is guaranteed to get soaked at each one. And sod's law meant I went underneath every. single. one. So naturally, I was soaked to the bone.
Had I seen these waterfalls beforehand, I might have reconsidered my choices a bit...or at least been a bit more mentally prepared!

Anyways, that's enough time away from creds, so I made my way back to the other side of the park, picking up a +1 on the kiddie cred Woodstock Express along the way. First point of call was Demon Drop.
Oooh, I've cheekily bunged that in with the "creds" crowd here. Honestly, when I was at the park and looking it, and I was asking myself "Is it a cred?", and I was genuinely unsure.
It looks pretty intimidating tbf

I was impressed and pleasantly surprised by the operations - it loads and runs well. The climb up to the top is pretty cool, and inching forward is suitably nerve wracking. The drop is fine, more on the average side, and then facing the sky on a super sunny day is blinding and awkward. But all in, the ride is fine, but nothing to write home about.

More importantly, after riding, I categorically was able to answer my own question: No, it is not a cred. It doesn't feel like one at all; it's a drop tower with extra pomp and faff. I guess having been spited by 3 creds at the previous two parks was making me a bit desperate.

I then wandered back over to Steel Force. Still closed. Still some guy stood out there saying they don't know when it will open. Sounded promising that they weren't categorically say it was closed though. Finally wandered over to Possessed. I hadn't seen it go, I hadn't heard an Intamin launch go, so my expectations were low.
An infamous chain makes its appearance
A shame, because this looks like a pretty wicked twister... ;)

So for those keeping count, 3 parks now, 4 definite spites, with a possible 5th in the means of Steel Force. That's also 2 parks were my most anticipated coaster has thrown a middle finger my way and gone "Nah, not today m8". The joy.

I decided to take the chance to enjoy some of the park's calmer rides, after having a spot of healthy food, followed by an unhealthy ice cream (it was like 31C after all...). This little adventure took me to one of the park's train rides, the Cedar Creek Cannonball. Given the name, I thought the train might go quicker than 0.001mph, but sadly I was wrong. But meh, was a nice way to relax and kill a bit of time.
I also attempted to take a panorama on the train, but didn't quite think it through properly...

That was a long enough time without creds, so let's give Hydra another chance. Maybe it's warmed up quite nicely. Again, only a queue in the station, and I was able to walk straight onto Row 4. Cool, let's see how this goes.
Roll out the station. Still not fun.
Connect onto the lift hill.
"Hang on, this doesn't sound right, and this feels a lot slower than earlier."
Then the train came to a nice gentle stop, roughly half way up the lift hill.
Oh, we're stuck.

Hmm, okay, could be anything at the moment. No announcement, so maybe just something that happens occasionally. Time went by, and things looked less optimistic for the ride starting again. Without a watch on, it was hard to know how much time went pass, but I reckon after about 5-7minutes, we finally got an announcement saying "The ride has stopped due to maintenance, we'll get you guys off as soon as possible"
The Brit in me who's worked at theme parks before found the choice of wording a little odd..."maintenance" is an act that's done when something breaks, or to prevent something from breaking in my books, it's not something which causes a ride to stop. But obviously, different countries, different parks have their own ways of wording these things.

Lots more time went by; it was a nice chance to work on the tan I guess, but it was really rather hot...wish I had more of my water before boarding now! Eventually a manager came up, explained they were going to evacuate us, and to just remain calm. Engineers eventually came along, and grabbed some platforms to be able to assist with the evacuation.
For those curious as to how you evac a floorless coaster on the lift hill: basically there's two platforms which get connected to the train, to create a sturdy base. You then have your restraint manually released, and walk down one side of lift hill; no need for a harness either.

The walk from the lift hill to the station area goes right past the log flume trough, in what I would have called a "ride area"; found that a bit weird, but maybe that's just because I was wearing Brit-based-former-theme-park-worker hat. Anyways, I collected my things, turns out it had been roughly 40-45 minutes between boarding the ride and getting my thing again - and was given two free Fast Lane vouchers for the inconvenience. A nice, simple gesture.
Won't lie, was a little disappointed to not be offered some water or something too, what with being stuck 40ft-odd in air on a 30C day, but is what it is. And I was surprised at the amount of communication (ie I would have expected more).
Didn't really feel like complaining about it, as ultimately everything happened at a reasonable pace and was done safely. But y'know, left a little bit of a sour note.

As a side note, this is the first time I've ever had to properly be evacuated from a ride (excluding the time I was evac'd off a coaster for a staff training exercise whilst working at a park, which doesn't really count in my eyes). So something to have ticked off I guess. I should probably ask @Hixee if an evac counts for League of Goons points... ;)

Here's where the train stopped, for context

Anyways, after all that kerfuffle, I hoped that Steel Force might be open. It was getting later in the day at this point (though still a good 3ish hours before park close). Nope, still shut.
So instead I did the Zephyr, another of the park's train rides, which gave some teasing views of the Possessed, and a nice running commentary of the park's history. Like the Cannonball, it was also a slow train ride, but at least its name lends itself to that...

More importantly, whilst on this nice scenic train ride, Steel Force had started testing again. Naturally it grew a large crowd of people over that way, and by the time I got there, a large line of people had formed. But the queue line had also opened! Huzzah. Seeing the large number of people enter the queue line would have normally been a sight which made me sigh over a long queue, but instead a smug grin formed over my face, for I had a golden ticket or two up my sleeve:
Well I guess that shut down on Hydra did more than redden my skin!

Waltzing through the Fast Lane, I was able to get onto the first train of the day, in the final car. Much like with the rest of the Dorney's rides, I didn't quite know what to expect from this Morgan hyper. For whatever reason, in my head I was expecting this to be a Big One 2.0. But damn, I was surprised. You get some decent airtime on the first couple of hills. And the rest of the ride goes round a solid pace, with no lulls, with some cool airtime moments at the end. This is a classic example of a coaster not doing anything special, but still being a fun and cool ride which leaves you satisfied at the end, and more than happy to go on again.

Knowing that I didn't have anything else really to do, and that Possessed wouldn't open, I went straight round again and used my second Fast Lane voucher to skip through the long-looking queue again, and get another ride near the front. Again, another cool ride with some nice pops of airtime, and just all round good fun. Not much difference between the front or back either.

Very much the best cred at the park, it was hard leaving it to do other things, but its queue was quite long, so I decided to wander around again and squeeze in some rerides. Hydra had since reopened, but I was too superstitious I would try to ride it again and it would break, so I didn't bother (plus, I wasn't that fussed by it). Instead I went back for another ride on Talon, to see if a reride would make me grow fonder of it. The answer is simple: no, it didn't.
A good thing about B&M Invert Cookie Cutter Syndrome is that you know the cred will look nice.

A long day in the sun had started to take its toll, and I was beginning to tire. With a little over an hour left, I decided to call it a day on Dorney, mindful of the fact I had a long drive ahead of me tomorrow. I could have probably grabbed another ride or two on Steel Force, but whilst it was a cool ride, I wasn't fussed enough over it to do so all things considered.

So yeah, that was Dorney. As I said at the start, it wasn't a park I was that fussed by before, and afterwards, I'm equally unfussed by it. It's a neat little park, with what is, to be fair, a well-rounded coaster line up, and a decent line up in general. But it just doesn't have anything particularly interesting to me.
Side note: A lot of their Halloween attractions still had the exteriors set up, and they looked pretty cool (much nicer than I expected for a Cedar Fair park tbh. Are their haunts actually any good? They did look awfully small from the outside...

Fortunately my motel was a 10 minute drive away, and there was a conveniently placed McDonald's just outside the park. I wanted a McFlurry from there, but of course the machine was broken...

And that draws an end to here. The final park was just around the corner now, and it was going to be a Great Adventure...but would I have a Six Flags Day?


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Strata Poster
So, final proper day of the trip, and you can call it anything but a small one: Six Flags Great Adventure. I'd probably been looking forward to this more than Hersheypark, and of the original trip, it was my second-most-anticipated park behind Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Which is kinda funny in some ways, since I usually value theming and storytelling quite highly in parks. But I guess if you present a goon with lots of big creds, it just ticks a lot of boxes.

I had a near 2 hour drive to the park from my motel, and with the park opening at 10, I ended up leaving just after 7, to give plenty of time for traffic, etc and to get there early. The drive was very nice actually, minus going over a narrow bridge whilst crossing the Delaware River into New Jersey. Driving in NJ was not difficult (I'd heard stories it was bad), and I made a bit of time on the journey, arriving just after 9am...
To a shut gate. As in, the entrance to the car park was closed, with a barrier across it. Fortunately there were security guards there, seemingly checking the barrier, so I was able to ask what was up. At this point, I did have a big worry I'd screwed up on the dates and the park was closed or something. Fortunately, that wasn't the case, but a mildly infuriating conversation followed with one of the security team...

"Why are you here?" The guard asked me.
"I'm here for the theme park...I know I'm a bit early."
"It doesn't open till 10"
"Yeah I know, I thought the journey would take me longer"
"Well the park doesn't open till 10"
"Okay, that's fine...is there any chance I can go into the car park and wait there?"
"The car park isn't open yet"
"When does that open?"
"Well the park opens at 10, so the parking lot will open just before 10"
"Ohhh, okay. Well is there anyway I can wait until then? I don't think I reverse back onto the freeway safely?"
After some conversations with the other guard there, they opened up the barrier and said I could wait at the entrance to the ticket barriers to the car park, but wouldn't be allowed in yet. He also had a bit of a moan, telling me I shouldn't arrive so early because they have security checks to do. Jeez, alright, noted.
Is this what a Six Flags Day entails?

I waited patiently by the ticket barriers for them to move the cones and let cars in. A small gathering of cars came along too shortly after, and at about half 9, the magical cones were moved, and I could finally park my car.
Cone says no.

Fortunately, the security team checking bags were much more friendly than the ones I'd encountered, and soon enough, I was at the front, awaiting for the gates to open. Had a nice chat with a few groups of goons who were also having their first Great Adventure visit on this sunny Monday - hi if by chance you read this! - which meant 10am came around very quickly. Yay!

I go to scan my ticket, and the staff member's scanner comes up with a love red X. Huh? What's that about, did I buy a ticket for the wrong date?
"If you can just stand here sir, a Team Leader will be over and will help you out in a minute."
Okay, fair enough. These things happen.
5 minutes later, no Team Leader appears, and seemingly despite no communication with anyone else, the woman then says "Go stand by the green fence over there, the Team Leader will come see you over there"
Oooohhhhhhh-kay. Bit weird. Bit frustrating. But fine, whatever.
10 minutes later, nothing, no one.
I noticed there was a Guest Services centre by this green fence; maybe I mis-heard her and she told me to "Go to Guest Services, which is by the green fence over there"? Cool, I'll join that queue.
One window open, and having only gone through 2 people in a good 10 minutes, and seeing the waves of school kids go in, I thought 'Screw this, I'm going to go to someone at the gates and try and get some help'.
Went to a different one, explained, had my ticket scanned and...it worked. Just....what? Seriously. 25 minutes of hanging around for nothing it felt like.
Is this what a Six Flags day is?

I tried to rinse this off my back; I was naturally frustrated at this point, but having lost 30 minutes of park time, I needed to get my speedy walking shoes on and start hitting up the creds. Knowing people would naturally be drawn to the likes of Ka and El Toro, my plan was to turn right at the park, head to Jersey Devil, Nitro and Batman, then work my way around the park from there. It was risky, as I had no clue what Jersey Devil's throughput or popularity were like, and being the park's newest big cred, that added some extra uncertainty.

In all the faff of the start of the day, I'd forgotten that Six Flags had some strict no-bag policies for their rides. So I sorted out an all day, movable locker for $8. A reasonable price, and it's cool you can move them from location-to-location, but I do sort of begrudge being made to pay for these things given it's a park policy. But heyho, whatever.
Speaking more broadly for a second, I wasn't a fan of:
1. How intimidating some of the security guards at entrances were. I guess they have to be to deal with excitable and annoying school kids. But it does drain a bit of fun away.
2. How few lockers were at some locations. Having to queue for lockers before being able to queue for a ride is crazy!
But y'know, it's all part of the Six Flags Day experience, right?

Anyways, I've done it again, loads of pre-ramble before getting to the good stuff. So, let's get to it: Jersey Devil Coaster. This basically had no queue, which was a relief and a promising start. I was also impressed at how it was running: 4 trains, each with 12 people, continuous moving platform and everything just running really well and smoothly. They've got that down to a tee.

So obviously this was my first single rail coaster, and actually only my second RMC. The seating is a bit weird, what with having your legs pointing outwards slightly, but I didn't find it uncomfortable. My first ride was near the front, and it set off on the reasonably speedy lift hill. I had no idea how this would ride, not having really seen any reviews of it. But it ended up blowing me away. The first drop is stunning; it lifts you out of your seat and drags you back down creating some excellent forces. The following inversion doesn't feel like it flows all that well, but still manages to ride well. The stall inversion is cool, but not as cool as my only other experience of a stall (Taiga's one). The rest of the layout is where the ride comes into its own though.
The turnaround seems to pick up a lot of speed and has a really good whip to it; it really caught me off guard. The zero-g roll is much better than the stall. Then the rest of the layout is fun, well-paced, whippy and filled with pops of airtime. It's just such a fun experience from start to finish, and gets better as the ride goes on.
So far, so good for Six Flags creds.

Next up was Nitro, my second B&M hyper. Again, pretty much walk on. But I experienced a stark difference between this and Jersey Devil. The station was a lot more chaotic. The gates would open up, and there would be a whir of noise. Excitable guest talking loudly. The operator speaking a mile a minute about lord knows what. Hosts shouting for people to pull down their bars, shouting at people for climbing on fences. I'd never seen anything quite like it.

Anyways, the ride itself. It was fun, yet underwhelming at the same time. After having the good memories of Candymonium in my head, my expectations for this were elevated. But whilst it's a solid layout with a good first drop and nice pops of airtime, especially towards the end, it just didn't do it for me. If anything, it made me like Candymonium more. But, I also remembered my first ride on Candymonium, and the deflation I had after that. I'd learnt to not judge these hypers on one ride only. So this firmly belonged in the "Must do again" category.
The ride has a super subtle Snickers sponsorship by its entrance.

Two creds in, and I was realising that having a Six Flags Day could actually be a good thing. I moved onto an indoor cred to see if lightning could possibly strike three times: Skull Mountain. And I was riding blind again; knew nothing about this, and hadn't read anything about it. Another near-walk on (woohoo), and after almost having my row taken by a couple of annoying schoolkids, I went off, excited to see what Great Adventure I was in for this time.
Turns out there's a reason I haven't read reviews about this. It's so bland, boring and forgettable, that people probably fall asleep if they try to write more than a sentence about it. It's just not th-zzzzzzzzzzz
I did think the exterior was really cool. After riding, I realise that the skull is actually crying about how bad the ride is.

So far, the plan to hit up this part of the park first seemed to work in terms of queue times, so let's try my luck with round four and Batman: The Ride. This was a ride at the park I'd heard about, and a lot of good things about at that. But equally, I'd been scorned by only two American Inverts, so I went in with a bit of trepidation. Again, a near-walk on queue (incidentally, I quite liked the theming efforts throughout the queue here; simple but effective). The more enclosed nature of the station here meant it felt the most chaotic. Screaming kids, an operator spurting off facts about the ride and hyping people up further. It was almost surreal. Really feel for the staff having to deal with that 8 hours a day, 5 days a week...

But enough about that, the ride. Yeah, this was a good'un, much more like it's European cousins, but still not quite at the same level. It's a rather intense ride, which is increasingly less my thing (gosh, that's terribly worded isn't it?), but I make an exception for these cracking rides. The wing over / corkscrew things are particularly whippy in the best way possibly, especially at the back which is where I was. I think all in, it's a great ride, but I guess what it misses for me compared to the likes of Oz'Iris/Nemesis/Black Mamba is the landscaping / theming. Those three do a great job at combining the high quality ride of a B&M Invert with great interaction with their surrounding area. Batman misses that here for me.
Dorney would have made this logo look so much cooler; just saying...

I didn't realise the park's indoor Wild Mouse was actually nearby, so I decided to head off towards another part of the park. And after riding Batman (ooh-err), what better idea than to ride his arch nemesis, Joker, the park's Free Spin, I thought. Well, it turns out Joker had a long ol' queue, so maybe not. The nearby Harley Quinn kiddie coaster had no queue, but now wasn't the time for mopping up little creds, so I moved over towards the other side of the park, opting to go for another B&M duo...


Superman: Ultimate Flight was calling, and after having experienced Batman's queue, and seeing the exterior here, I had high expectations for what to see here. Turns out, this wall just hides the huge cattlepens that this queue unfortunately had. Bleurgh. And what's worse, this queue was moving slowly. I don't even know why. People were boarding the train efficiently enough. Staff were working quickly enough. There wasn't many Fast Lane people going in. Everything was fine. It was just so slow. So much slower than Galactica at Alton Towers, even when that runs two trains and one station.

After 40 minutes of queue under a canopy, I was on. The ride itself is rather bland really. It's one of those rides that's been designed solely around one element, in this case, the first ever pretzel loop. The pretzel loop wasn't as horrible as I feared it would be, but I still didn't exactly enjoy it. And then yeah, the rest of the ride kind of meanders around, not really doing anything, or making use of the ride type. So yeah, a swing and a miss with this one.

Next up was the neighbouring Green Lantern. This is a B&M...stand up. "Huh, what, these old ones still exist?" I thought to myself. Having not fully checked out the park's offering, I thought this was a bog standard sit down coaster. Oh well, something to add to the count. The queue was rather long looking, but after Superman, I'd realised this was going to be the theme of the day.

The queue moved slowly. Even slower than Superman. It was painfully slow. With Green Lantern being a ride allowing bags, and in general anything, in the queue line, I checked the queue times on the app to get a feel for how busy the park was. And supposedly the 40 minute queue for Superman I'd just been in was...5 minutes. The eternally slow queue I'd been in for Green Lantern for a good 15-20 minutes already was...5 minutes. In fact, the only ride which supposedly did have a queue was Joker, and that was advertised at a 45 minute queue. Ooft.

It was at this point I got a bit of cred anxiety. From my experiences over on this side of the park, I couldn't trust the park's queue times, and if I would be waiting almost an hour for at least 3 creds, before even touching Kingda Ka and El Toro, things would be very tight. So I did something I've never done before at any park, and looked at the park's Fastrack offering, Flash Pass. The most basic offering was made available for $40, which meant you waited virtually the entire length of the queue before joining the Flash Pass queue.
Lightbulb moment. The park were advertising these long queues at 5 minutes. So I'd be able to get on in basically 5 minutes, right? The Flash Pass queues looked basically empty.

I felt dirty doing it, but it made perfect sense. And if the park create a system which can be easily exploited, then so be it, right? So I bought the Flash Pass on my phone, chose Green Lantern, and my timer begun. By the time I'd waded through all the people in the queue (which had grown even longer at this point) and go to the Flash Lane entrance, it was my time to ride. When I got to the station, I realised that there was a large cattlepen queue I hadn't seen that I still had to go through. The wait for it in total must have been 60-75 minutes based off how it was going. Yeah, I made the right choice.

ANYWAY, how was Green Lantern? That's what you're dying to know at this point, right? Well, it was rubbish. It isn't as nut-crushing as Shockwave at Drayton Manor, my only other Stand Up experience. But it's still not comfortable, very head-bashy and, all-in, a pretty dull ride. How a ride which is so long and does so much can be so dull I don't know, but Green Lantern manages it. I looked back over my notes about this to see what my thoughts were on this..."nah", apparently.
Have a rubbish photo of a rubbish ride

Leaving the rubbish B&M Land of the park, I should have felt much more deflated than I did. Two below-average creds, a lot of wasted time queueing for them, and my bank account was now a, albeit modest, $40 lighter. But I knew that
1. I wouldn't have to go back to that part of the park.
2. I wouldn't have to worry about queueing now (assuming the park didn't start to properly update their app).

A quick bite for lunch and I made my way towards a loud roaring sound...it can only be El Toro.

I only took one terrible photo of it, but I'll forgive you if you think I was trying to photograph Macho Nacho Burritos

I'd booked my 5 minute virtual wait for El Toro, and got there just as that went up. The queue didn't look that long in fairness, maybe like 20 minutes, but that's 15 minutes longer than advertised, and 20 minutes saved frankly.

I went straight to the back for this one. The ride itself is...very mixed. Well actually, no, that's harsh. It's a quality ride. But it's a very mixed experience for me. It has an amazing first drop, followed by some fantastic airtime hills. But then it has an incredibly long "middle third" which focuses on twists, turns and laterals. And though it's great fun and does what it sets out to do well...it just doesn't do it for me. It then picks up again towards the end, but a bit of "too little too late".
Again, that sounds harsh, because it is a great ride. And it's definitely a "Top 10%-er" for me, so I feel like writing this is underselling it. But when compared to other Intamin woodies, it's not the airtime-filled beast that Balder is. And whilst I found Colossos also to have a damp-squid middle third, it's a much shorter damp squid. It means El Toro is the weakest of the ones I've done; it's just up against such good competition.

I don't want to end my El Toro review on a sour note - and I'll come back to it later - so to upturn it a bit: it's a cracking ride, and I can see why it's been rated so highly so consistently. But it's not the sort of ride that will tick all my boxes for it to be up there with the upper-echelons of my ride count.

The plan now had been to do Kingda Ka, which I thought was basically a neighbour to El Toro. But the only route I could find to the entrance involved double-backing on myself, and I knew there were more creds the other way. So instead I decided to follow the path towards the park's mine train and floorless coaster.

But something stopped that from happening. That plan had been tripped up. Without being dramatic, you could say disaster struck.

But what happened, you ask? Well, this TR is long enough for now and needs breaking up. So I'll post the rest of the day in another post, on another day...oooo, the suspense


Roller Poster
When you see any Intamin operating, you run for it before it breaks down. When you said you took the path to Medusa and the mine train it gave me anxiety. Looking forward to part 2. Also, that $35/$50 photo for parking made me laugh. Didn't even notice the cone.

Lori Marie Loud

Giga Poster

Screw starters - let's get straight to mains. This was Hershey's Cocoa Barbeque Ribs - Cocoa and Ancho Chile ribs, with chips (sorry, America, fries), coleslaw and a chocolate BBQ sauce. Was bloody lovely. The dipping sauce was very weird...the chocolate in it was subtle - a bit too subtle for me - but still nice.
I saw this and had the absolutely horrifying thought that they had just dunked the steak in chocolate!

And then, y know, I saw "chocolate BBQ sauce"


Strata Poster
Before I move on, I want to share a super fun (read: very boring) fact. By riding Great Adventure's El Toro, I had successfully managed to ride every coaster in the world called El Toro (spoilers: there's only two...the other being the GCI at Plohn). Yay, go me.

Anyways, let's get down to part 2...

But something stopped that from happening. That plan had been tripped up. Without being dramatic, you could say disaster struck.

But what happened, you ask? Well, this TR is long enough for now and needs breaking up. So I'll post the rest of the day in another post, on another day...oooo, the suspense

So the reason I stopped here was because I was tired. And it turns out that when I'm tired, I get dramatic. Disaster didn't really strike. But something did happen.

I tripped. Literally.

Basically, I was walking along the side of the path, which was a lipped curb. Silly me wasn't paying attention, and tripped over it. I'm sure it was a comical looking fall, but a couple - fortunately the only people nearby - saw and asked if I was alright. I stood up, dusted myself down and said "Yeah, just my pride that's hurt". Not really enjoying my British wit, they then went on their merry way.
A little more was hurt though: I skidded on my left elbow pretty bad, shredded a good couple of layers of skin off in the process. I nice bit of a blood was coming out, so I took a seat and washed my war wound down, and stuck a plaster over it (I always keep a couple on me). The plaster wasn't completely big enough to cover the whole thing, but it did the job.

I took a photo of my bloodied elbow in the evening. I'm sure someone's curious, so here we go (stuck in spoilers 'cos I know some people can be squeamish):
You see, I AM being dramatic...but it did bloody hurt.

At this moment, I probably should have gone to First Aid. But I'm stubborn git, and thought "This little plaster will do, and there's creds to get". So get creds I did.

Before moving on, my elbow is fine. I ended up getting it looked over properly when I got back home because it was a proper good old scrape. Almost 3 weeks later it's almost fully healed. Turns out that having a dodgy elbow is also a big inconvenience when you're moving flat and having to lift multiple heavy items...

But heyho, back to the creds. After taking a few minutes to patch myself up, I went back to the plan, and head over to the creds that were near-ish to El Toro. The first of these was Runaway Mine Train, the park's Arrow...you guessed it, Mine Train. This was a very quiet, I was one of only about 6 people on the ride, and I got a nice back row ride. It's fairly bland...until the ending, which has an airtime hill and turnaround over water which is unexpectedly violent and forceful in all the right ways. Really took me by surprise.

Next up was Medusa, the park's B&M floorless coaster. It is in the process of being rethemed back to Medusa after being called Bizarro for a while, something which really shows with a mix of both 'themes' blended throughout the ride. This was a neat surprise of a ride though; it was smooth and had a well polished and varied layout which flowed really well. It also had a cool fire effect as you go through the cobra roll, which is fun. It's not competing to get into my Top 10% or anything, but it's just a fun ride which I'd happily go on again.

This area also had a log flume which looked very closed, so I left this areas - without taking a photo due to my poor little elbow. I then retraced my steps (steering WELL clear of the curbs) to find my way to the Big One...no not Blackpool's monorail...Kingda Ka:
It's a shame there's no plaza where you can get closer to the top hat structure, but it still is absolutely dominating to look at, anywhere in the park.

I started virtually waiting the "5 minute" queue whilst walking over, meaning I could get straight through. The queue itself didn't look painfully long, maybe 20 minutes or so, but again, 20 minutes saved there. Operations on this were also pretty good: it was only running two trains on 1 station, but it flowed very well. I also liked the music that was playing round here; it was nice to have some 'theme park' atmosphere at the park!

I got a row 3 ride and I have to admit, I was feeling a little bit nervous. It's a feeling I hadn't properly experienced on a coaster in a long time. Rolling out to the launch area was neat. Having no countdown, aside from hearing the operator over a quiet tannoy say that you're ready for launch, builds up the tension. And then the launch starts. And keeps going. And going. Jesus, it's fast. And then you climb up. And up. And up. Jesus, it's high. The view at the top isn't as cool as I thought it would be, but you don't get a chance to appreciate it before twisting back down, going over the airtime hill and hitting the brakes.
It's a full on sensory overload to be honest. And I loved it. It was just something that left me speechless, but with a huge grin on my face. It was silky smooth, and just a joy to ride.

Yeah, alright, it just goes up and down really quick. But that is the basics of what roller coasters are, isn't it? You go up and down, and you go fast. Kingda Ka really just takes that basic idea, and amplifies it to the max, and it's just bloody brilliant as a result.

I had of course wanted to do the wackily named Zumanjaro, but it was closed for the day. And seemingly is still closed to this day, which makes me feel less sad.

Funnily enough, being launched 128mph doesn't help keep a hastily stuck on cheap plaster stay on your elbow, so now I decided to go to first aid, in search of bigger, stickier plasters. Obviously I gave away my British-ness straight away by asking for plasters rather than band aids, but no biggie. I got some big plasters, and some alcohol wipes to give it another clean. Unsurprisingly, the alcohol wipes stung like a 🤬...just for the record.

Let's take stock for a second here. At this point, I'd done 10 of the 14 creds, and had about 3 and a half hours left. That felt like quite a calm and relaxing thing, so I decided to stop with the creds for a second and do something different:

Justic League: Battle for Metropolis is the park's only dark ride. A Six Flags dark ride sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but it did look and sound cool, and it was on the Flash Pass, so I gave it a go. And, uhm, this was actually really good?! I have no care for the Justice League or superheroes or anything, but the story was simple and flowed well. The effects were really cool. The ride system was clever. The shooting/interactive side of things (which I'm of course a sucker for) were fun and engaging. There were no dead spots, and the motion wasn't too sickening. This really just ticked off all the boxes. I still need to put some thought into how it would rank exactly, but I'm pretty sure this could be a Top 10 dark ride for me!
Maybe I'm just a bit over-blown away by it since I was dark ride starved on the trip. But still, I was very impressed.

At this point, I decided it would be worth biting the bullet and virtually queueing the 30 minutes for Joker on the Flash Pass. In that time I walked over to the area and did the neighbouring Harley Quinn Crazy Train, a Zierer bum rattler which had a small queue. It was a +1 really.
Then it was time for Joker:

As someone's who's lost their tolerance for spinning over the years, I wasn't exactly looking forward to this. I've done one Intamin Zac Spin, Kirnu at Linnanmaki, and hated it, so the prospect of a similar ride didn't exactly enthral me. But hey, I'd give it a chance. And the colour scheme was nice.

And frankly, whilst riding it, after riding it and even now, I can't tell if I loved or hated it. It does spin and flip you in very weird ways, and a lot of times. But that out-of-control, not-knowing-what-will-come feeling is exhilarating, and exactly the sort of thing I love in a good thrill ride. So I didn't enjoy the experience of the ride, but equally I loved the ride experience. That doesn't really make sense. Except it kind of does, I guess. You can hate an actual experience, but like how it made you feel after. Maybe like the pain of doing a long run or something, followed by the sense of satisfaction of finishing afterwards? I dunno, maybe I'm talking rubbish here.

I'd have liked to try it again, and get a proper feeling for whether I liked it or hated. But honestly, it did leave me feeling a bit queasy after. And there were others I would rather do at the park.

Next up was the park's indoor Wild Mouse, Dark Knight. Unfortunately my Flash Pass cheating would not help me here, it wasn't running a Flash Pass queue. "Oh well, maybe it's because it doesn't have a long enough queue to bother" I thought. Nope, very much the opposite. 40 minutes later (fortunately indoors) and I was on. It's a +1 really, but there's some cool theming and effects in there too. It's certainly cool, but equally feels a bit like a missed opportunity...like they could have / wanted to do more, but didn't.

I then picked up the final +1, a kiddie cred by the name of Lil' Jersey Devil, and that completed all the creds - woohoo!

With a couple of hours left on park, I decided to just go for re-rides on my favourite coasters at the park. There wasn't much else on park that really interested that was open, except maybe the Rapids. And I could have done them, but decided against it what with my band aid-ed plaster, and not wanting to get rapids water on it.

In terms of favourite rides at the park that I wanted to reride, these were Jersey Devil, Nitro, Batman, El Toro and Ka. From initial rides, the top 2 were between Jersey Devil and El Toro, but I wasn't sure which I preferred out of the two. And annoyingly, they aren't that closed together, so I couldn't just alternative between the two. So yeah, the plan was to tick off those 5, then spend the rest of day riding my favourite of that quintet if there was time. First up was the nearby...
Jersey Devil!

No queue for this now at all, so I bagged a back row seat. This had warmed up really well. It was flying through the course, but not at a silly speed. It was just great fun from start to finish. The first drop wasn't as neat at the back as it was nearer the front, but still pretty awesome.

The back row overlords were shining down on me today, as I got a back seat on Nitro straight after. Yeah, this was much better the second time around. Still nto Candymonium level good, but it was a ton of fun and a real joy of a ride. The Batman reride wasn't as pleasant as the first...I guess in part because it had warmed up nicely and become more intense. Still a cracker of a ride though.


Then the trek back over to Ka. I was tempted to wait for front row, but even though I skipped the queue thanks to Fast Lane, a large-ish wait for the front wasn't as tempting as a walk on for the back row. Got a nice whip over the top hat here.
Incidentally, I've had a real difficult time in where to rank Kingda Ka. I really do like it. But it's for the very simple, almost primal, "Ride is big and ride is fast" reason. Comparing it and ranking it against other coasters as a result just feels really difficult.

Then onto El Toro, where I'd gone from one side of the train to the other and now was at the front. And this is definitely a front row ride for me. That first drop at the front is stunning. Just brilliant. But the ride still suffers from its middle third syndrome for me, and whilst again I am underselling it slightly, it just wasn't what I was hoping for from the ride.

So that settles it: despite my love for El Toro, which again I will say I've undersold in my reviews, Jersey Devil is definitely the #1 coaster here. So I made my way back over to it. It was literally a walk on at this point, which I must confess surprised me a bit. The trains weren't being filled up, and they were allowing people to stay on the train if they wanted. I took full advantage of that fact, and got in another 6 rides on this devilishly good coaster, including two at the front. The front seat gives the best feeling on the first drop, and in general was a highlight seat for me. The ride itself doesn't quite make it into my Top 10, but is a sure fire Top 10%-er...and I really look forward to trying more of these single rail contraptions in the future!

And that brought an end to my day at Great Adventure, and also was the final call for creds on the trip. Despite getting into the park half an hour later because of ticket faff, despite wasting a lot of time in a couple of stupidly slow queues and having to buy Fast Lane and despite tripping over and likely scarring my elbow, I had a blast of a day. All in, I definitely had a Six Flags day, and a good one at that!

The drive to the last motel was a smooth 30 minutes away. I was glad to be driving a left-hand drive automatic as it meant I could rest my wounded elbow (yeah, I'm milking it now, I know...imagine if I'd done it on the first day!?!). Checking in there was a huge faff, it took like 20 minutes for reasons I'll never know, but it there was a Chickie's and Pete's next door, so it meant I was able to get a pretty lush pizza for dinner because retreating to the lovely air conditioned room for the evening.

I'll do a final post soon about the final day of travelling, and a little geeky round up too!


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Strata Poster
Really enjoyed reading this report, Josh. I usually never read these sorts of posts as they're not my thing, but I'm glad I did!
I'm also glad, and you can correct me on this, that someone else shares my opinion on B&M Hypers. I've ridden Shambhala and Silver Star, both very fun (especially the former) but they just don't match the hype that has been created around them by other thoosies, at least for me anyway.

I think I can relate to your comments on Kingda Ka though. I absolutely loved Red Force at FL, but in a primal "it go tall and fast" way as you touched on, so it's hard to compare. I don't think I've ever been left truly speechless like I was on my two Red Force rides.

Overall though, a shame you got spited by a few coasters but it looks like you had a great time, I can relate to your fears of driving abroad too. I'd say my two questions (which you may well be answering in your round post) are: Do you now feel more comfortable/confident driving in the USA for a future visit? And also, did the parks match your expectations overall?


Strata Poster
Really enjoyed reading this report, Josh. I usually never read these sorts of posts as they're not my thing, but I'm glad I did!
I'm also glad, and you can correct me on this, that someone else shares my opinion on B&M Hypers. I've ridden Shambhala and Silver Star, both very fun (especially the former) but they just don't match the hype that has been created around them by other thoosies, at least for me anyway.
I think it's difficult for me to gauge B&M hypers still. I really enjoyed the two I've done, so I understand why there's a buzz and clamour over them. But I agree that they're put on a pedestal and, by and large, hyped up a bit more than necessary.

Overall though, a shame you got spited by a few coasters but it looks like you had a great time, I can relate to your fears of driving abroad too. I'd say my two questions (which you may well be answering in your round post) are: Do you now feel more comfortable/confident driving in the USA for a future visit? And also, did the parks match your expectations overall?
Driving I'll touch a bit more on in a bit, but in short, yeah, I feel more comfortable and confident for a future visit. I never really had to deal with heavy traffic or congestion or anything, so still things to experience, but I feel much more ready to do it again.
As for the parks and expectations, it wasn't really something I was going to talk about in the round up, but can do that now:

I knew in advance Knoebels wasn't really my sort of park, but I enjoyed it as much as I could.
Dorney was basically just going to be a cred run when I planned this trip, so had no real expectations going in, but it was pleasant enough.

Hersheypark was a weird one. I expected it to be a more stylised; not themed necessarily, but I thought the rides might have a stronger brand and style about them, maybe with some themed music. There's flashes of it throughout the park, but not as much as I expected. But aside from that, it was more or less what I thought it would be.
Six Flags was basically what I expected: lots of big coasters. To come away with 5 which I rated quite highly was probably above what I expected too, so even better really.


So yeah, final day. I'll keep this brief enough, as it was a pretty boring day. My flight home saw me fly to Boston, kill a couple of hours there, then fly to Heathrow. First flight was at 4pm Tuesday, and I'd be landing in Heathrow at 7am Wednesday. Not the greatest for jetlag, but the cheapest option there was.

I had to return the car just after lunch time, and the motel was an hour or so away from the airport. The journey to Philly airport was, perhaps unsurprisingly, the part of the trip where the roads were the busiest, and there were lots of exits and busy signage to keep me on my toes. I got to at around 12ish, which was a bit earlier than planned tbh, but I figured PHL airport would be big enough to keep me occupied for the time. Fortunately it was; I grabbed some lunch at the Chick-Fil-A (was very nice), had a mooch around the shops and decided upon my new Top 10%. The time went by reasonably quickly.

The flight from Philadelphia to Boston is a short, easy one, and I had a window seat, so enjoyed the views. My transfer time at Boston was equally stress free and simple. The airport wasn't as nice as Philly, but it did the job. Soon enough, I was on my BA flight back to Heathrow, which was quiet enough that I had no one sat next to me. I watched a couple of films I'd seen before, in the hope of tiring my eyes to get some sleep, but to little avail. I probably managed an hour or so. Not ideal. I managed to take a nap for a couple of hours when I got back, before having to get up and finish packing for my move the day after...yeah, didn't think that through...

And finally, a geeky round up:
New parks: 4
New creds: 38
Best new cred: Skyrush
Worst (major) new cred: Green Lanturd...sorry, Lantern
Best park: Hersheypark...just
Worst park: Dorney...just
Most surprising cred: Phoenix
Most disappointing cred: Storm Runner wasn't bad, but I'd hoped for more
Highlight: There's definitely no one highlight for this trip; just everything in general: finally getting out to America, doing the driving out there, etc etc
Lowlight: Bottling out of the original plan. Oh, and tripping up and scarring my elbow.

And thanks for reading! :)


Donkey in a hat
Excellent work, fella, I enjoyed reading that. The Six Flags day sounds really good, I'm liking the Kingda Ka love. You'll probably get some stick for that - I sure as hell did - but I don't care, I loved it too. Tall is good. Fast is good. KK tick boxes. Me likey.
And also - I'm all over that chocolate bbq sauce. Screw Skyrush, that steak will be priority number 1 when I eventually get to Hershey! 🤤

Congrats on your completing your first US road trip. Aren't they just awesome? 😁


Strata Poster
Excellent work, fella, I enjoyed reading that. The Six Flags day sounds really good, I'm liking the Kingda Ka love. You'll probably get some stick for that - I sure as hell did - but I don't care, I loved it too. Tall is good. Fast is good. KK tick boxes. Me likey.
I've been waiting for the eyebrows to raised, especially since I found it rather smooth, and it has a reputation for being rough/uncomfortable!
Congrats on your completing your first US road trip. Aren't they just awesome? 😁
They definitely 'hit different' to European road trips, that's for sure! I'm sure that's in part due to all the personal differences for me this trip, but yes, definitely awesome!


Strata Poster
Yeah Kingda Ka is the roughest Intamin I've ever done. I'm not convinced we rode the same coaster. 😅

It's disappointing to hear that Great Adventure hasn't changed much since my last visit. No other theme park has made me feel as unwelcome as Great Adventure did. I might be returning this summer just to pop in for a few hours as I need Jersey Devil, but once I take care of that, it's unlikely I'd return any time soon.

At least you managed to enjoy your visit there!


Hyper Poster
Can relate with the Six Faffs nonsense. They just make everything needlessly awkward and difficult.

I loved Kingda Ka too - definitely the best of the launch > top hat > brakes I've done.