Just when I thought I’d be having an entirely coaster-free 2020, I managed to visit Nickelodeon Universe in New Jersey today for the first time. Indoor parks usually feel sterile to me, but going in with very low expectations meant I wasn’t disappointed. The park charges $63 for a mere four hours (two shifts a day, with cleaning in between), so I chose the early shift to avoid the crowds — and it worked, as I was the first one in the park and managed to get zen rides on four out of the five coasters in the first half hour. Shellraiser, though, was down all day and opened up with only 18 minutes left in the session! (With me on the first train.)
Some random thoughts:
—Slime Streak is better than the equivalent coaster at the Minnesota park.
—The park offers crazy hang time for those into that (Sandy’s, Shellraiser, disc ride).
—Sandy’s Bucking Bronco is fun, with a unique layout, but a little rough.
—The biggest surprise of the day was Shellraiser, which I rode in the front row. A fun layout, but extremely rattly. Not a mild rattle that slightly disrupts the aesthetic experience if you notice it, but a major rattle that makes enjoying the coaster a challenge. The fact that this is the case with a coaster this new is really a worry.
Overall, though, I had fun, and got five credits in an otherwise cred-free year.
Orion at Kings Island was my last new credit! I rode it on July 8th and got 2 rides on it, and I thought it was fantastic! My first ride was great, but my second ride I thought was a better experience. The "wave turn" provides such a unique sensation of airtime and I loved it! Each airtime moment is different from one another. If there's one downside, I'd actually say the helix, which I didn't think provided any forces at all.
Very, very impressive as an overall package. Went in completely blind having avoided all reviews and spoilers, it did not disappoint.
Vekoma have completely nailed it with this ride system and I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of these pop up in the next few years. As expected, the ride is smooth as glass - there are moments the ride whizzes over your head and you don't even notice, it's completely silent.
Got 3 rides in and found each of them suprisingly intense. It's very forceful in places and your body weight is pressed down into the restraints which can be uncomfortable. They're very hard compared to those found on the B&M versions.
Didn't get a front row but the back row was excellent, the ride goes on forever. Great addition to a world class theme park.
Have you ever ridden a roller coaster for the first time at night, and it seemed way more fun than it should have been? That was the Big Dipper at Camden Park for @Antinos and myself when we did a Saturday marathon trip.
We arrived ~9 PM at the park, with a pretty dark night ride in store. Overall Camden Park is one of those trolley stop parks that seems to have been lost in time, only sporting a few modern additions over the last few decades. The Big Dipper is no exception, a relatively middle-of-the-road design for it's 1958 vintage - complete with NAD train and manually-operated braking; not much, if anything, has been tweaked over the last 62 years!
Having absolutely zero clue what the layout was, we climbed aboard and set sails on the layout. When the lift hill begins to physically warp the train; you know you're in for some ratchet ride. Overall the ride's simple dips and drop were pretty enjoyable (largest drop is only 35 ft.), but with the old-school train design and non-restricting lap bars, you are quite literally standing in your seat! A very favorite moment was when the train entered a tunnel - which @Antinos and I didn't realize was on the ride. While it was a simple turn and drop, we were cackling with laughter having zero clue exactly where the train was heading.
Hey, it's the little things this year that make life worth living. Even super sketchy woodies built in West Virginia.
I finally got down to Nickelodeon Universe and the last cred I got was TMNT Shellraiser. Every ride at the park I rode front row and by myself. Shellraiser is definitely the best there but I did also really like Sandy's Blasting Bronco a lot. I haven't watched any POV's for a while so I had pretty much forgotten what anything did there and I completely forgot there was a launch on Shellraiser. The launch was good, the drop was fun, its cool to say I've been on the steepest in the world now. I loved all the inversions. It was definitely a super solid ride. However both this and Shredder both had some rattling moments to them and Shredders nonstop spinning on the break run really messed with my head but overall I loved the place and it was fun to basically have an amusement park to yourself. I also started vlogging and filmed it if anyone wants to check it out!
I managed to get down to West Midlands Safari Park today and get my first ever ride on some of their coaster credits, which was nice; always good to get a +2 for the count!
Monkey Mayhem was... well, a pretty typical Reverchon spinner, really. I've done 6 of them now, and I'd unfortunately have to say it was probably the roughest one I've done yet, but I did like the monkey-themed cars! 2/10 (1 star)
Rhino Coaster was perfectly fine for what it is. The only other 335m Rollerskater I've done is Flight of the Hippogriff at Islands of Adventure, and it rode pretty similarly to that, to be honest, if possibly a little smoother. Hippogriff does unsurprisingly have the theming advantage, however, although I wouldn't have expected WMSP to come anywhere close to Universal's theming with their substantially smaller budget. 4/10 (2 stars) on overall spectrum, but a perfectly fun family/junior coaster.
In terms of non-coasters, I only did Venom, the park's Fabbri drop tower, but I have to say that it was absolutely excellent, and probably my new favourite UK drop tower!
Just made some first-time visits to SeaWorld San Antonio and ZDT's! First new-to-me parks in almost two years. Unfortunately no Fiesta Texas as they got spited by water issues.
Thoughts on a couple of the rides:
This coaster is better than it has any right to be, and it's also hilarious to ride. Now the airtime isn't the best. You do get some decent floater but it's not much compared to the B&Ms. What's funny is that the ride really slams your ass back in your seat on just about every valley. It's definitely not comfortable, but also not painful, and the sheer ridiculousness of it made it fun. There's also some good positive forces, particularly in the corner after the midcourse which I wasn't expecting. Overall it's technically a better ride up front as it's a smoother experience, but if you get a group of folks riding in the back you're in for a fun time. Probably a better ride than Steel Force, but obviously nothing compared to Phantom's Revenge (just to compare the Morgans I've ridden).
I believe this was my first motorcycle/jet ski style coaster. And I gotta say, I love the train design here. They're comfortable, feel very open, and look great. I'm not a fan of the theming though. They essentially tried for a ride literally themed to Sea World (as opposed to some sea life/nautical theme), and it didn't really work. The coaster itself is alright though. The launches are fun and the turns are pleasant enough, but overall the ride doesn't really do much. I guess it's perfect for a family coaster though.
I'll discuss some of the other creds in their respective "Rank the xxx" topics.
I made a visit to Alton Towers yesterday, and while I’ve ridden all of the coasters before, there were a few changes of opinion yesterday on the rides I rode!
Rita was a pretty fun ride, although I wouldn’t say I was quite as enamoured with it as I was last September. The launch was still great, and there was still some brilliant airtime and force, as well as very fast pacing, but the rattle seemed a tad stronger than it did last September, and the ride generally didn’t do quite as much for me as it did last year. I also think that the OTSRs do restrict the enjoyment of the airtime moments and twisty layout somewhat; it if had lap bars, Rita would certainly rank higher for me. I still wouldn’t call Rita a remotely painful ride, however; it’s still a far cry from the brutal experiences I remembered from my earlier rides! 7/10
Thirteen is always great fun, and yesterday was no different! It’s a coaster that’s grown on me over the years for sure; I never used to think much to it, but I really enjoy it now! The ride is very smooth and rerideable, the outdoor section offers some nice twisty sections and pops of floater, and the drop track and backwards section are always a laugh! 7/10
Nemesis is a coaster that’s fallen quite a bit in my rankings over the years, but yesterday certainly made it shoot back up a fair amount! I have to say that Nemesis was running very well indeed yesterday; I was seated in row 3, and the ride had just the right amount of force, great pacing and no headbanging whatsoever! Nemesis still isn’t a coaster that I rate quite as highly as most do, but I really enjoyed it yesterday; it was running great! 8/10
Wicker Man is a coaster I’ve grown to absolutely adore over the years; it surprised me so much when I first rode it back in 2018, and it only seems to have gone up the rankings since! Yesterday, I was actually seated in the front row, and despite most people saying that the front row on Wicker Man isn’t particularly great, I still absolutely loved it! Even though I’ll admit it didn’t do quite as much for me as my rides last summer in rows 8 & 9 did, the ride still had amazing pacing, some fantastic pops of airtime, and was relatively smooth and comfortable as wooden coasters go, for the most part, so it still hit all the right notes for me! However, one minor caveat that did make it drop slightly for me compared with last summer is that I think there is a bit of a minor rough patch developing in the final wicker man pass through before the end of the ride; even though it’s only a tiny section of the ride, and the other 99% of it is still very smooth as far as wooden coasters go, I did definitely notice a bit of jolting there that I’ve never noticed before, and that bit did bash me about somewhat, which knocked the ride down a tiny bit for me. However, this minor patch was hardly a deal breaker for me; I still absolutely loved Wicker Man, and I’d still say that it’s definitely my favourite ride at Alton Towers, my favourite wooden coaster, and one of my favourite coasters overall! 9/10
Spinball Whizzer is a coaster I hadn’t actually ridden since 2017 prior to yesterday’s visit, so I was intrigued to see what I thought of it. And you know what, it definitely exceeded expectations! In spite of the fact that I’d previously remembered it being quite rough, it was nothing of the sort today, and it was a pleasantly fun experience on the whole! We got a really good spin, but the spin was so good that it almost made me feel a bit dizzy getting off! On the whole, while I still wouldn’t say that Spinball Whizzer is one of my favourite coasters, as I’ll admit that I’m not the best with spinny rides on the whole, it’s certainly grown on me compared to the last ride I had on it, and I think it’s a really solid, fun family coaster for the park, even if it did make me feel a bit dizzy! 6/10
Oblivion is a coaster that’s really grown on me over time, and it’s one that I really liked on my last ride, but I never expected it to surprise me like it did yesterday! The airtime over the drop was sensational, providing strong and sustained out-of-your-seat thrills for the entire length of the drop! Then, once we hit the bottom, the sensation of speed and intensity was phenomenal! And then the ride ended with a final bonus burst of surprisingly great airtime! On the whole, my ride on Oblivion hit all the right notes for me yesterday, and it was a genuinely changing ride on Oblivion for me, even though it’s a coaster I’ve ridden a lot over the years! While I’d still say that the ride is a bit too short for me to place it as one of my very top coasters, and I’d still say that Wicker Man beats it as my favourite ride at Alton Towers, it certainly shot into the top 10 after yesterday’s ride, coming in only just behind SheiKra, the other B&M Dive Coaster I’ve ridden, at #9! Sensational stuff for a ride that’s over in 10 seconds; on a pound-for-pound basis, Oblivion delivers everything I could ever want it to! 9/10
Today I finally rode Little Dipper at Mack's Amusements in Cleethorpes - a cred that's evaded me for longer than I'd care to admit.
It's hilarious, the way it awkwardly sits on the beach and rattles around looking like a cardboard cutout rather than a real ride. According to RCDB, it might also be one of the country's oldest rides!
Unfortunately, it rides like a sack of spanners and feels on the verge of collapse - the sign fell down in the station just in the time I was queuing for it. Apparently, I'd paid for six laps but the staff kindly let me off after two. It's also in Cleethorpes, which is as grim as the nearby Grimsby.
2/10 - the very definition of a one and done.
...but God, am I happy to finally tick that one off!
(Honourable mention to the staff for disinfecting the train between cycles)