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Niteflygeddon (Hersheypark)

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
A warning for occasional strong language, inevitable toilet humour and shocking levels of self-importance.

*****

Intro music

"Go big, or go home. That's the way to do it."

Forget ether binges. There is seemingly nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a UK-based coaster enthusiast in the depths of planning their first US road trip. A shrill nervousness would occasionally penetrate through my mania, but any second guessing was quickly dismissed:

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"... maybe just one more park."

Before I knew it, the itinerary had exploded to a whopping 12 destinations, containing some of the most ferocious and renowned coasters on the planet.

"This is it." I thought, as the imaginary floating candles surrounding me flickered to the backdrop of the instrumental organ music I had searched for just moments before. "The final battle."

Lacking the strength, stamina and company of any true theme park superhero, Mrs. Nitefly did express concern that perhaps this was all too much for us. "Could we even enjoy a trip like this?" she whispered, as she looked fearfully at the imaginary floating candles. "You need not worry", I smiled, as I showed her the stash of Compound V24 I had procured to see us through. With 12 doses to share between us, one each for park, she took great comfort in knowing we'd come out unscathed. "You'll be quite safe."

Now behold, as I enter my cocoon of indulgence and emerge as a cursed and jaded coaster-moth.

*****

Part 1 - 'First' Itinerary and Travel

Yeeeeah it's holiday time \o/

So big were our plans, the road trip actually got severed in two.

The 'first' trip would comprise of some truly legendary parks. Ever since I had my 'book of coasters' as a child, I'd dreamed of getting to ride the likes of Mantis, Mean Streak and Steel Phantom. Once our flight was in the air, I cried a single tear. Nothing could stop this dream becoming a reality.

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We flew into Chicago O’Hare, a surprisingly knackered and ugly airport, and took immediate refuge in the ‘on-site’ Hilton Hotel (having landed at approximately 1am UK time). Arriving to the US so 'late' has always seemed counterintuitive to me, but it was unexpectedly brilliant and I'd recommend doing exactly that. Departing from the UK in the afternoon means there is no 5am groggy 'get to the airport' rush, plus you can just nod off on arrival for an epic sleep rather than march onwards like a zombie. Saves a day of car rental too.

Chicago's crappy airport was matched by it's crappy roads. There was only one short stretch where we could see the impressive looking skyscrapers in the hazy distance. Otherwise, the motorways are surrounded by sound barriers, obscuring any view whatsoever. It reminded me of Toad's Turnpike from Mario Kart 64 except it had worse, beige graphics. The tarmac was shockingly unfinished in places too.

Things became more interesting as we ventured into Indiana and began to time travel. Even though you know it will happen, it still feels utterly bizarre having the clocks change on you within the same country. We would be subject to some bemusing timezone shifting later in the trip. We were also astonished by the size of a wind farm we passed through.

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It went on forever in every direction - very cool.

After around 5 hours of driving, we were absolutely exploding with hype as we arrived at our first destination. It was so surreal to be staring at something you have wanted to visit for years... and there it is. Right there!

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"IT'S INVERTIGO, IT'S INVERTIGO!!!!!"

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"Oh. My. God...... Berlin are playing here?! Nurrr-nurrr-nurrr-nurrr-nurrrrrrrrrrrrr!"


Stay tuned for the exciting reveal of our first park and my thoughts on it.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 2 - King's Island

“Mankind was not absolutely alone among the conscious things of earth, for shapes came out of the dark to visit the faithful few.”

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*****

Just how good can a coaster collection possibly get?

The reason for visiting King's Island as the first stop on this summer adventure was simple: it was only open until midnight on that very day. There was absolutely no way that we would be missing out on that fabled night ride on The Beast, if we could help it.

Stepping out of our nicely air conditioned car into that mid-thirties heat, with the bluest of blue skies, was like a hug from the gods themselves. Just look at that skyline!!! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!! We cartwheeled our way to the front entrance and our 'never used, bought via Cedar Point' season passes worked a treat with no issues at the gate (*long-game foreshadowing*).

We were in.

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*Gasp*

It was already 2pm by this point, thanks to the drive, and these late opening hours happened to fall on both 3 July and the weekend (!). With only a single day allocated to the park and a bajillion coasters to re-ride, Fast Lane Plus seemed to be a no brainer. Getting these time-saving wristbands was sadly an unwanted mini-quest; as they were rolled-over passes from 2020 (that the park had kindly agreed to honour) it took supervisor approval to get it sorted. During this 30 minute wait, we stood in the sun, without nearby shade. It was here, before the very first ride, that we realised that we had a colossal hurdle to overcome - the single biggest menace of the entire trip:

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"It's beautiful.....!" said Mrs. Nitefly.

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I cannot stress this enough: if you ever plan one of these road trips, beware. No amount of sunscreen, water or shade can save you from such aggressive heat. No words of caution can prepare you for how gruelling it can be on your body and mind. It is simply 'too hot to theme park' for a prolonged period of time. But, here we were. Too late to turn back now.

A few quick comments on the park generally. It's surprisingly lovely and cosy feeling, despite the mammoth ride line up. There was a lovely garden area decorated for their 50th anniversary and the Coney Island area had a feel-good 'boardwalk' sort of vibe. It was also clean and well kept. Very impressive.

Not quite knowing where to head to first, Mrs. Nitefly eventually opted for The Beast.

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We couldn't see any lockers by the entrance. Being aware of all sorts of irritating bag policies that are in place, I thought it would be best to check.

"Hi there - do we need to put our bags in lockers to go on The Beast?"
"Mumble mumble bags mumble"
- said the ride attendant, before looking away.
".... uh sorry, I'm still not sure - can we take our bags with us to the station?"
"There are bins on the station"
- yawned the evidently irritated attendant, without making eye contact.
".... thanks."

Yikes. At this point I thought I had better get used to needlessly ****** attitudes from staff, but no, it was just this one ****** attendant. Maybe the heat had already got to her. Before long, we were sat on the front row and cheering as we dispatched. Our first ride of the trip... The Beast!

What an utterly ridiculous ride The Beast is. It crunched through the woods like a shonky crisper. Never uncomfortable, just... odd and bemusing. Was it super thrilling? No. Was it boring? Definitely not. Was it... funny? Yes. The whole train was hollering behind us as we ascended the second lift hill, towards the famous double helix. At this point, the ride definitely became thrilling. That helix is outrageous. "What was that!?" I laughed, as the ride finished. Big smiles from Mrs. Nitefly, who enjoyed it immensely. But I wasn't really sure what to make of it yet. My full review will come later, after our night ride.

Next up was Diamondback, the B&M hyper.

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Taken from the tower.

Mrs. Nitefly and I both really rate visuals on a coaster, so once more we went for the front row. Up we went. Down we went. Up we went. Down we went. Mid-ride, I was honestly already a little of bored of it. I've now done enough of these B&M hypers (four, at this point in the trip) to know the drill and that it is never going to be ultra-exciting. More objectively, Diamondback was quite like Mako, save that it seemed to really slow down over those hills. It was OK. But this was followed by a far worse realisation: the constant acceleration and deceleration was actually making me feel ill. "Oh no - the coaster sickness has struck early", I lamented internally. I have no doubt that the searing temperature was the culprit.

We didn't revisit Diamondback, but the predictable experience put all of the hyper coasters down in my rankings. Of the four I'd ridden at this point, I'd take it above Silver Star but behind Mako and Shambhala (the latter of which is my favourite).

I spent the next hour inside the air-conditioned Starbucks at the park's entrance, desperate to make a recovery. What was wrong with me?! Still not feeling able to endure another ride, we opted to eat at the Coney Island BBQ, at the rear of the park's carousel. This is absolutely fantastic, definitely eat here when you visit. That BBQ sauce, yum yum.

In part to appease an increasingly frustrated Mrs. Nitefly, I decided that I was now well enough to brave another of the park's big hitters, Orion.

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It was tall.

I did laugh with the rest of the world at the 'Onion 287' joke, but I've always considered Orion a giga. The drop's the same, just the lift hill is a bit shorter... I'll live with that. Wow, did it kick some serious ass. Orion absolutely flew around the track, delivering the first 'face wobbles' I have ever experienced (*sob*). You can really feel the increased speed throughout over the hyper models and to my mind it was farmer* thrilling and superior, even if it did seem to end a little prematurely considering the how large and tall the break run is. If this was the weakest giga of the lot, I couldn't wait to experience the others.

*This was supposed to say 'far more' but I enjoyed this auto-correct alternative so much it's staying in.

Nearby was the surprisingly well presented Antique Cars ride, which Mrs. Nitefly took me for a spin on:

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Zooom!

Good views of Orion and Racer here too:

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We then mooched back over to one of my most anticipated rides of the trip, Mystic Timbers.

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Spooky.

The mild horror theme of Mystic Timbers is slightly more apparent than I had imagined and I really liked it, including the infamous shed. But what surprised me more was the coaster experience. My expectations were very high and they were easily exceeded. This was brilliant - a shockingly good ride. You know on Wodan how there are a couple of moments where you are jerked unexpectedly in an alternative direction? That is the entirety of Mystic Timbers: totally wild and out of control.

Unfortunately, it was so hot that I felt unable to ride another coaster for quite some time afterwards. "For goodness sake Nitefly, you're at King's Island!" said the air conditioning unit in the Starbucks. "Pull yourself together!".

That I did, but only to ride Boo Blasters, a cheerful looking shooter inhabited by cardboard cutouts:

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"Why are we doing this - I want to ride a ****ing coaster...!" "Oh, get off my back!!!"

Unfortunately it was pretty dreadful and barely worked. We then spent some time doing other things to give me the best possible chance of recovery, including the train and the observation tower, which had spectacular views:

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That latter view convinced us to head over to Racer, which was brilliant and smooth on the way out and then unexpectedly rough on the turnaround. Not one of the strongest rides in the park, but very passable.

Unfortunately, I then opted to ride Backlot Stunt Coaster, which absolutely destroyed me. The ride itself was OK, not worthy of lengthy commentary, but I felt so ill afterwards I thought I was down and out for the rest of the day... even unable to face the night ride on The Beast, which was very sad indeed. Nitefly, coasters and extreme heat is seemingly a terrible combination. I must admit, I was feeling pretty depressed at the situation. I'd barely ridden anything and I was done.

Thankfully, in the following hour the sun started to go down and I immediately felt better. The park started to look fabulous too:

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Pretty lights.

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Le Tower.

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Fireworks!

With over 2 hours of downtime, I was ready to rock. Beast, Mystic Timbers and Orion, I'm coming for you!!!

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A second, blurry shot of Beast's lift hill, which I thought looked incredibly cool in the darkness with those ominous 'eyes'.

The queues for The Beast at night were huge. Clearly every enthusiast in the region had the exact same idea as us going for that night ride. We went for the penultimate row, to avoid the wheel seat.

Absolutely everything about The Beast at night is amplified. The ride was crunchier. Shonkier. Funnier. Every single person on the train was whooping, laughing like a maniac, or shouting "BEAAAAAAAST". Then, eventually, the helix happened. It was absolutely outrageous! Funny, frightening, shocking. "Just... what WAS that?!" I asked my comrades in the adjacent rows, in tears of laughter. "I have absolutely no idea!" they laughed in response. There was the most thunderous applause when we returned to the station.

Have you ever seen the 'cult classic' horror film, the Evil Dead? It's very outdated, repetitive and actually quite boring if viewed from a certain modern perspective. But, viewed through the right sort eyes (with like-minded friends), it becomes a very silly, hilarious party movie.

And that's exactly how I feel about The Beast. It's not about the coaster experience in isolation, but the mirth and communal joy that it can conjure. The legend of The Beast has somehow added to the intrinsic enjoyment of it. Because, nonsensically, it's simply enough that you're actually there on The Beast. It is, in my view, far greater than the sum of its parts. It delivered a good time like few other rides before it and is quite deserving of its legendary status.

We then cruised over to Mystic Timbers for a night ride on that. Back row, why not. Pretty much the whole way round, I was screaming "WHAT THE ****" in a genuinely shocked and semi-concerned manner. My god, this ****ing ride! It is, at the time of writing this, the wildest ride I have been on to date, in all of the right ways. Yes, even wilder than those night rides on Iron Gwazi. What an absolutely astonishing ride! This screamed into my upper rankings. Super top tier.

We ended out the day with a night ride on Orion, this time on the back row. Again, a great ride, albeit a little juddery this time on the helix. Stick with the front for that smooth experience.

(You've probably noticed that we didn't hit a few creds, but this was OK. We figured we'd be passing back through in a couple of days time to mop up the likes of Banshee and Adventure Express, so our second fleeting visit will be covered in an upcoming entry.)

Closing thoughts:

King's Island was a mind-blowing park, easily one of my favourites and certainly the strongest coaster collection I had visited at that time. The Beast and Mystic Timbers have so much personality and with Orion and others in support, it feels like there is something here for everyone. Could any park ever top this incredible line up....?

With the two major woodies being the big hits of the day, I excitedly dozed off, wondering just how good those rides at our next park would be.

Stay tuned for our report of Holiday World, coming soon.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 3 - Holiday World

"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting... dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."

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*****

Travelling Music

Holiday World is 'only' a 3 hour drive away from King's Island, but lies within a different time zone (so we would gain an hour upon arrival). This allowed for a more relaxed start and after a lie-in we were back on the road. Then suddenly, a City!

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Oooooo! Our route took us straight through Cincinnati on a high speed freeway. A decent upgrade to UK equivalent that is the M5 around Birmingham.

Soon, we were close. Does anyone else get the anticipation heebie-jeebies whenever you see signage for a new theme park destination?

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Huuuuurghn!!!!

Then, it appeared:

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Woah.

We weren't able to get a good photo of it but I'd really recommend approaching Holiday World from the road passing by Thunderbird and Voyage, it is a truly incredible sight when they suddenly like alien structures in the middle of nowhere.

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You sadly can't tell from this photo but Voyage looked MASSIVE.

Before long we were parked up, out of the air-con and subject to the face melting temperatures once more. It was mid-thirties again, which doesn't feel too bad initially...

The water tower loomed nearby.

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Super iconic.

Then, we were in. Wow, we were actually in Holiday World!!! On a very special day too:

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Yes, we had deliberately ensured that we would be in Holiday World on 4th July.

We figured that it couldn't really get more 'merican than that. But, honestly, it was a little underwhelming. You wouldn't have known it was Independence Day at all. Not a single person mentioned it to us all day. Huh.

There was no messing around, though. We were here for one top-10 shattering reason and we marched straight over to it.

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Behold, The Voyage.

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I heard that it's supposed to be good.

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Check out that 90 degree track and supports. Oh my!

I'm not sure why it surprised me so much, but Voyage looked enormous! It was far more imposing than I had imagined from all those times I had seen photos and clips of it before. It was a station wait and we jumped on the front row.

Ascending the lift hill, you could really smell that chain oil/grease. It was a really 'rustic workhorse' sort of feeling that all of their wooden coasters had. I liked it.

The ride then happened and we hit the break run at the end.

".... blimey."
".... wow."
"....."
"....."


Some minutes later:

".... that was absolutely brutal."
".... I know."


I knew that Voyage was supposed to be a 'journey' of a ride, but I had no idea that 'journey' meant 'shockingly rough'. If The Beast was a league rougher than Mystic Timbers, then The Voyage was 5 leagues rougher than The Beast. For additional context, I would say it was considerably more demanding than all of the woodies at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Mrs. Nitefly agrees. I think the roughness was a result of the sheer speed and forces imposed on the track. It was a 'space shuttle re-entry' sort of rough, rather than merely 'crap and knackered' rough. But nevertheless, 'seriously rough' it was. And that was sadly my main takeaway from that initial ride. I couldn't believe it.

If you listen beyond the praise given to the ride by some popular Youtuber's, it seems obvious that it is well known to be monstrously rough... but that aspect seemed to have passed me by, thanks to my enthusiasm.

It was far too much to attempt Voyage again, so after a quick shooting-dark-ride where you 'called' turkeys (which was fun only for it's novelty) we made our way up to Thunderbird, which exists in its own little section at the back of the park. This happened to be the most well-presented area. In the queue for Thunderbird, we were absolutely delighted to see some giant barn owls roosting above us.

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Look at that tilted head, how cute! Keep those claws away from me though.

A fun owl fact for you: most owls have one ear higher up than the other, to help with their location of quiet noises. OWL FACTS!

Thunderbird was quite fun, with the launch feeling slightly snappier than the first launch on Taron (rather than the romantic embarrassment of a flaccid Mack). Some fair swooping around, not too shabby at all.

After a mooch through the waterpark, which was massive and contained 80% of the park's attendees, I was actually quite nervous to ride The Legend. This was purportedly MORE rough than Voyage. Oh god...

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... it turns out, nope, it has some jerky moments but it was nowhere near as rough as Voyage. Overall, pretty damn good. I loved how they rang out the bell by hand as the train departed, such a cool little touch. There is not a huge amount of airtime, but one truly excellent moment in the middle of the ride after the far turnaround. Towards the end, there's a ridiculous hellx with the most absurd laterals. An unusual and solid ride.

We then completed the set with Raven. At this point, I was paying more attention to my surroundings and I started to feel disappointed with Holiday World's approach to theming in general. I knew the theming of lands around the various holidays was light, but I didn't expect it to be so threadbare.

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My only snap of Raven, from the car park.

Raven was also quite fair, but the least memorable of the three woodies as a whole. The brief section over water was visually pleasant, as was the wooded section at the end but it then seemed to end just as the ride was really getting into its groove. Good, but short.

At this point, we were quite beaten up as it was unbelievably hot (even more so than King's Island); we desperately needed shelter. At the front of the park is an air-conditioned, canteen style eatery lightly themed to Christmas and playing Christmas classics.

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This was our view for about 2 hours.

Yes, that long. Leaving the air-con felt like marching out into 'no man's land'. In fact, we attempted to leave at one point, walked for three minutes and abandoned the expedition, retreating back to our shelter. That sounds ridiculous but that's what unbearable heat does to you. I was feeling quite sick at this point again and I really couldn't stomach another challenging ride until my brain had settled (in the cool).

The post-rest 'pick me up' would be the antique cars, which was pleasant enough but that concrete track is probably the best example of Holiday World's 'plain' aesthetic that I can give you.

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There's just something a little visually underwhelming about it.

Full of pep, it was time to go for 'round 2' with the Voyage. Go big or go home, that was the mantra.... back row it is then.

Jesus... that was just way, waaaay too rough. I have a long standing lower back injury, but this ride gave me a fresh upper back injury. Mrs. Nitefly simply didn't like it. Oh dear, we really weren't getting on with Voyage at all.

We decided to take a break from the coasters and have a quick swim in one of the waterpark's pools. In doing so, I had a realisation. Why do all of these US amusement/theme parks have waterparks attached to them? Who cares about those. So I thought. Now I knew why they had them. Because it's too ****ing hot to not have them, that's why. Having a dip was delightful. I also made sure that we took a ride on Mammoth, the longest water-coaster in the world. This was brilliant, 100% recommended from us that you give this a go. In fact, although we didn't allocate much time to it, I would say that the impressive, vast water park at Holiday World is actually better than the 'theme park' experience. I know... sacrilege... but that's what we felt at the end of the day.

Drying off, we took one further ride on the Legend and then it was back for the final fight on Voyage. "Come at me, Bro!". With our most determined game faces on, we took to the front row like Rocky training for his fight with Ivan Drago. "No pain!" I thought. "NO PAIN!". Of course, there was inevitable and considerable pain. That's just the way that Voyage is. Although, I sort of liked it this time.

The Voyage is seemingly too big and massive to handle itself well. It's a violent and uncomfortable ride. But, there's still something admirable about it that I can understand people really liking. It's simply obscene. A towering wonder. A statement for the hobby.

Time for another comparison... do you ski? Well, Voyage is like a relentless black run. The whole time you're on it, you need to focus or it'll chew you up. Even then, it will still **** you up, because it doesn't care. It's a challenge for your body and it will probably wear you out. There is definitely great enjoyment to be had in surviving and enduring the hardship, if you can generously overlook the toll. As for me... I tend to far prefer the red runs. They are simply easier to enjoy.

The day wasn't quite over though, for there was a fireworks and drone show to enjoy. We made our way over to the 'party area' nearby to Thunderbird and settled on the grass to a children's DJ set (YMCA etc). Things then really kicked off:

Nuh-nuhnuhnuhnuh-nuh, Nuh-nuhnuhnuhnuh-nuh, Nuh nuh nuh nuh *CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP*

Completely unprompted and on about 3 seconds notice, the entirety of Holiday World stopped what they were doing and religiously clapped to the ****ing Birdie Song. It was unholy! I felt that I had stumbled upon an insane cult. What the **** was going on?!!

The drone show itself was fantastic, clearly this sort of thing is the future of night time shows. If you haven't seen one, about 300 drones take flight and make 3D objects fly through the air.

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This giant snowman wobbled around and took off his hat - it was very impressive indeed.

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The fireworks ended the day on a strong note.

Closing thoughts:

Well, I never saw it coming but Holiday World was a slight disappointment when set against my hopes for an 'enjoyably-themed coaster heaven'. After all the pre-trip hype, none of the coasters here made it into my current top-10 (as it stands at the time of writing). If you would have told me that I would end up preferring Mystic Timbers and the Beast to who the whole of Holiday World's coaster collection, I would have laughed, but that's where I find myself today. The park also lacked the level of 'feel-good charm' that I had anticipated.

Still, the park was a hit in other unexpected ways. The water park, with it's collection of tube rides and water-coasters, was amazing and I really wish we had spent more time in it (to help fight off that hot heat). The drone and firework show was really strong too. My recommendation would be to temper expectations, hit the waterpark and prepare to accept Voyage for what it is: an impressive but challenging ride.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, where we hit our first RMC of the trip at Kentucky Kingdom (and tick off some other creds at King's Island to boot).

Thanks for reading.
 
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Howie

Donkey in a hat
Excellent account of your Beast night ride experience - an event imbibed with that sense of 'enthusiast rite of passage' about it, of pilgrimage even.. I loved it myself, and I love that Kings Island know that and always keep it open after the fireworks for those few but dedicated travellers.
May I offer the suggestion that your night ride would have been even better had you not had a daytime ride first? Me & Delpiero did that and... oh my god! Not knowing what to expect or having any prior knowledge of the layout added an extra level of madness, it became...surreal, almost otherworldly.
"What is happeninggggggg???" we cried!

Also laughed at the face melting gif! 😁
Good work, eagerly await the rest of this. 👍
 

HeartlineCoaster

Theme Park Superhero
If you would have told me that I would end up preferring Mystic Timbers and the Beast to who the whole of Holiday World's coaster collection, I would have laughed, but that's where I find myself today. The park also lacked the level of 'feel-good charm' that I had anticipated.
This rings so true.

I'm also always surprised by the variation in aggression experienced on these things. I'd put Voyage firmly below what I personally consider to be a fun level of roughness for a Gravity, and your entire closing description for the ride draws far more parallels to my experience with Hades.
In other words, watch out for Hades.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 4 - Kentucky Kingdom (and King's Island Reprise)

"Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else."

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*****

As we arrived at our post-Holiday World hotel, a short drive away, Mrs. Nitefly and I noticed that our phones were displaying times that were an hour apart. Oh wait, they've changed back to the same time. Hmm, hold on... they are now different again. We were still in Indiana. What was going on?!

Well, it turns out that Indiana has two different time zones: the parts shown red on the below image are on Central Time, whilst the parts shown in yellow are on Eastern time. Holiday World is in the south-west red area, on Central Time.

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I knew this before our trip, but what I didn't know was that anything north of Interstate 64 (see below) was on different time zone to Holiday World.

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Because our hotel was right on the border of the two time zones, our phones kept changing their minds as to what the time was. The hotel itself displayed prominent signs at reception and in our room alerting all guests of the issue: "Beware setting an alarm on your phone."

Isn't that just the weirdest thing? We waited until our phones displayed Eastern time, put them on 'airplane mode' and went to bed.

Our drive to Kentucky Kingdom in the morning was just over an hour (delightfully short, relatively). The location was the complete opposite of 'out in the sticks' Holiday World. It's in the middle of a heavily developed area, next to a stadium and an airport. In fact, part of the park sits right underneath the airport's flight path and large low-flying planes are constantly whizzing overhead.

Another curiosity was that it was more economical for me to buy a 'Gold Season Pass' (with free parking, a refillable drinks cup and a free guest ticket for Mrs. Nitefly) than two standard day tickets. Worth keeping in mind for your own travels.

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Also known as "An RMC and some curiosities"

^That's a little unfair, as it was a decent 'local' park overall, but for the international traveller it's undoubtedly the RMC that's the big draw.

The temperature today was 38 degrees. At this heat there is a weird phenomenon where your sweat evaporates immediately, so you are bone-dry whilst outdoors and you surprisingly drench yourself when walking into any air conditioning. This is borderline dangerous for any sort of activity so we planned to take it very easy. Let's hit those important creds and escape this furnace!

Until this point, Mrs. Nitefly was too embarrassed to make good use of the umbrellas I had packed for shade, but there was no quibbling today.

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"The sun's in my heart and I'm ready for love" 🎶

Our first stop was Lightening Run, the fabled Chance Hyper G-TX. Here it is (below) next to the antique cars and the road that runs through the middle of the park. Yes, really. You have to cross the road via a bridge or manned crossing-point. Again, isn't that the weirdest?

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Bizarre.

We opted for the back row. The ride itself was intense and forceful, ending on a series of absolutely unbearable airtime hills. Perhaps the ride was running too fast but there was simply nothing to enjoy about slamming into your restraint violently, causing Mrs. Nitefly to hate it and develop a phobia for back row rides. I was willing to give it another go, a little later. Unfortunately, it was too hot to sit in the hot-tin-cans of the antique cars.

Next up was Kentucky Flyer, the family woody courtesy of Gravity Group. It's located right at the back of the waterpark and is a little hard to find. This ride looked absolutely pristine - very pretty.

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The cool train set against the vibrant colours of the waterpark.

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Up he goes.

The ride was fine but I struggled a little with the Timberliner trains. If you've been on Rip-Ride-Rockit then you're be familiar with that 'closing from the side' sort of restraint. I'm not enormous, but I found that closing the restraint this way made it a little lop-sided due to my size, making it uncomfortable as we bounced around on the decent airtime this family coaster provided.

One ride was enough and we continued our loop.

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This photo shows how clean and well kept the park it. It's nice to have such greenery considering the location.

We then came across the notorious T3 and danced a merry jig as we walked on by. As we don't keep track of our coaster count, we felt no obligation to ride it, so we didn't.

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"Talk to the hand, T3".

After an underwhelmingly dry rapids ride, we finally made our way to the area that's home to the reason for our visit: Storm Chaser. What an odd spectacle it is too. With all the unkept surroundings and plain fencing it really does look like it's built in somebody's backyard. There is absolutely no fanfare. Just an RMC casually laid down down like "yeah, what of it?" ... and I kind of liked it. It was a refreshing and unique look.

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'"Is this definitely the right way to the station?"

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The 'junkyard' aesthetic gives the ride heaps of character.

RMC delivered. This was a buttery smooth, no-nonsense powerhouse of a ride. No surprises, no gimmicks. Just a raw and ready coaster experience, waiting for you. I punched the air with delight as we hit the break run. Mrs. Nitefly was equally enthused, but looked a bit haggard before expressing her need for a sit down.

"I'm.... I'm not sure I can go on that again..." she said.
"Oh.... are you sure?"
"............. I can't do it."
"Would you be OK sitting in the shade whllst I go on it again?"
"Sure."


Mrs. Nitefly then burst into tears, devastated that she was feeling too unwell in the heat to re-ride one of her most anticipated rides. Oh dear. I didn't read the room very well at all.

We rested in a cooler spot for around 30 minutes until Mrs. Nitefly was ready for round 2, on the insistence that we took a mid-train ride, which we did. This ride was equally great and a little less aggressive on the thighs than the front, but still borderline bruising. I then found Mrs. Nitefly some air conditioning and she instructed me to get my third and final ride as she rested. On that ride, I did take the back row. It was again great, but the least comfortable of the three. I do agree with Mrs. Nitefly that there is a point at which strong airtime conflicts with comfort and I will personally opt for that comfier experience when there is no material difference in enjoyment.

Overall, I think Storm Chaser is a great coaster and one that you could point to as an example of what makes a rollercoaster exciting and enjoyable. With that said, without it being any sort of 'fault' of the ride, I find it lacks that hard-to-quantify 'extra special sauce' that my very favourite rides seem to have. It doesn't have any truly outrageous moments (such as the 'twist and shout over the station' of Iron Gwazi, or that first airtime hill on Hyperion), nor any stunning moments with its aesthetics. It's the base model of your dream car of choice.

We closed out our time at Kentucky Kingdom with another ride on Lightening Run, mid-train. Comparatively, the ride had a lot more positive forces than Storm Chaser (not an issue for me personally but it could be a niggle for some). Unfortunately, that ending was still agonising/anti-fun. Still, there were hints of greatness here and I would very much like to ride a 2.0 version toning down the intensity.

We snacked on some of the famous 'Dollywood cinnamon bread' now available at the park (too sweet and sugary to have more than a few mouthfuls) before heading back over to King's Island, which was only two hours away.

Our first port of call was Banshee, the beautiful looking B&M invert.

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Very pretty.

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The Son of Beast memorial in the queue was very special to see. One of those "wow - we are really here" moments.

Banshee was (again) an absolute powerhouse of a ride. A solid coaster. Yes those inversions lacked whip of the earlier models but what you get instead is speed and force. I would probably put this as my second favourite invert (above Montu but below Nemesis), were it not for that rattle. Yes, what you have heard is sadly true, the ride is rattly. It's by far the shakiest of the inverts that I've ridden and it was quite noticeable even on the front row where we were sat. That wasn't a ride killer though, more of a nitpick, although who knows what that would have been like further back on the train. We had no issue with the vest restraints at all. Overall, better than I had anticipated and well worth revisiting the park for.

The next stop was Adventure Express, which was a hit. It was more of a terrain coaster than I had envisaged and we danced in celebration up the ridiculous lift hill at the end of the ride. Far more of a bizarre ending than 'the shed'.

Flight of Fear was posting over an hour's wait, so I decided to leave that one to King's Dominion. Mrs. Nitefly was also truly 'done' at this point, so it was up to me to brave Invertigo by myself. "It's going to take my face........ off" I said repeatedly to Mrs. Nitefly, failing to get any sort of reaction. Bah.

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I thought it looked quite handsome.

I was curious as I've never actually done a classic boomerang-type model. As I sat on the front row, I groaned at the SLC-like restraints. Oh, god. ".....FINISH HIM!" I declared, as the train was released from the top of the lift hill. I was expecting perhaps one or two deadly blows, but Invertigo went full on Killer Instinct on me. ".... Fatality" I gasped, as my bones exploded comically over the station. The ride attendants delivered me back to Mrs. Nitefly in a bag.

Some final snaps of the day:

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We ate here (for the third time). You must eat here. Those fries and the BBQ sauce!!! *swoon*

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One of the strangest prizes I have ever seen...

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... together with some of the strangest merch I have ever seen.

Upon leaving King's Island, we drove for a couple of hours (and passed the most sensational lightening storm) towards Pennsylvania, before stopping for the night at a town called Zanesville. No, we hadn't heard of it before either.

Closing thoughts: This was a busy and hot day, but we didn't let that affect our assessments of Kentucky Kingdom, which as a whole was better than we expected. Unlike Holiday World, it didn't feel as if it 'lacked' feel-good charm, because we never assumed that it would deliver on that. Instead, we could take it as it was: a small and vibrant amusement/water-park, with character. It was never going to be a major destination for us, but we quite liked it. Getting back to King's Island was also fabulous.

In the next report, we'll visit Kennywood. What will we make of Phantom's Revenge....? Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Matt N

CF Legend
Great reports so far @Nitefly; I’m really enjoying reading about your trip so far!

You and your wife’s comments in the Kentucky Kingdom segment about airtime sometimes being too much for comfort are interesting, and concur with thoughts that I myself have been having. With manufacturers seemingly pursuing ever stronger airtime in coasters, I have thought about whether airtime strength would eventually get to a point where it’s almost too much to handle comfort-wise. I have never personally found any ride’s airtime too strong at this point in time, but I haven’t ridden anything with truly strong ejector, from what I can tell.

I haven’t ridden an RMC, so am perhaps not the most qualified to comment on this, but I’ll admit that I value fun and rerideability in a coaster more than I value out and out intensity, so the idea of being battered and bruised on a ride for the sake of raw g-force doesn’t really appeal to me. With that in mind, I am a bit unsure whether I’ll overly enjoy RMCs based on what I’ve heard about them, in spite of their rave reviews.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Thanks for the kind words @Matt N - I'm glad you're enjoining it.

With regards to airtime, there is personal preference but more importantly every person has a different size and mass. If you are on the heavier side, like me, then there is more mass being thrown against your legs. Also, longer legs will put your thighs at a different angle (if that is your shape) and so on.

Because of her size, Mrs. Nitefly has had no major problem with discomfort on the RMCs. Meanwhile, I have to ride slightly defensively. Lightening Run is a bit of an outlier in all of this, as it was a clear 'too much' (for us) at the speed it was running. Aside from airtime, our tolerances for the sensations of rollercoasters were both heavily reduced on this trip because of the heat. That was why Mrs. Nitefly couldn't re-ride Storm Chaser immediately, so it was not because of airtime discomfort.

Being of my larger size and mass, I find RMC restraints very fussy. Sometimes it's comfortable, other times less so, all because of minor differences in restraint height and positioning. Otherwise, RMCs are by far away the most comfortable ride-experience by virtue of them being impossibly smooth and light on positive forces. When you get a good ride on an RMC, it is an almost unbeatable experience. Plus, RMC uniquely delivers some very comfortable nonsense, such as the 'upside down airtime' on Zadra's stall.

If you have an average build, you will in all likelihood be fine. I'm confident that your first RMC will absolutely blow you away 👍

You'll get our thoughts on Steel Vengeance after Kennywood.
 
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
It's all about the jerk.

Strong airtime delivered in a manageable way is perfectly pleasant. Weak airtime delivered in bursts is also great. The thing that Lightning Run does (and some of the smaller elements on the RMCs) is just snap around too much. It might look nice in software, and technically be within legal limits, but it's not always comfortable. Body size is probably also a big factor too - more weight being thrown around on skinny thighs, etc.

Catching up with trip reports, and been looking forward to this one. It is not disappointing. You eloquently explain the worst, and emotionally explain the best, of that this hobby has to offer.
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 5 - Kennywood

"I can't die. I've experienced death countless times. Sometimes, I see a bright light. Sometimes, I see Heaven or Hell. But eventually, no matter what, I wake up in my bed wearing my same old clothes. The worst part? No one even remembers me dying."

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*****

Upon arrival, Pittsburg seemed completely unlike anywhere else we'd encountered on our trip so far. It's was sprawling and 'messy-feeling'.... it actually looked rather mean, set against the ominous clouds in the sky.

... yes, clouds! To our delight, the temperature had dropped to the low 20s. Sure, there was a high chance of being rained-out in the afternoon but we’d gladly take the more comfortable environment.

Suddenly, a wild and unusual coaster skyline appeared:

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Ooooooo - different!

Very different. Kennywood has some of the strangest aesthetics around. It's situated on a hill across the river from Dr. Robotnik's factory:

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DOO-do-DOO-do-DOO-do-DOO-do - Badniks in production as you ride.

On paper, this is probably the ugliest setting imaginable. In reality it's simply quirky and gives Kennywood an additional layer of character.

You need to access Kennywood via an underpass. Once you emerge, a wholesome atmosphere is immediately apparent:

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"Always a good time" - isn't that lovely? I got a feeling akin to the warm, genuine embrace of an elderly relative, who then informs me that they're cooking my favourite meal. Ahhh.

We bounced along enthusiastically, seeking out the entrance to Phantom's Revenge. If left to your own devices, chances are that you'll either find it straight away, or you will have to ask for directions (as we did). Best to look at a map. Eventually, we made it:

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Oh, right... formally, it's THE Phantom's Revenge. I like the colloquial short-version better.

The station is very basic, almost of the 'pre-safety' era. Despite the lack of air-gates, everyone was well behaved.

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It felt more appropriate for an ageing woody.

The relaxed approach was further echoed by this amusing quiz....

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.... oh, and the barely-existent restraints. It was like we were to be held in the place with one of those sausage-shaped floats you occasionally see at swimming pool (the sort that are amazing to perpetually attack Mrs. Nitefly with - hurrghh! *splash*). We hopped on the front row and hoped for the best...

The entire experience is underpinned by its double-take inducing smoothness. How is it doing that?! Phantom's Revenge has no right to be that smooth. Aside from a 'mentionable-only-as-it's uncharacteristic' minor-jolt (that occurs immediately before the ride darts under Thunderbolt for the second time), it's liquid. Honestly, I was stunned. This makes the seemingly 'basic' and on-paper-forgettable first drop one of my favourites on any coaster; it's just so pleasing and easy. The second, famously taller drop is not particularly steep, but it's long and you pickup some awesome speed as you climatically dive underneath Thunderbolt. Boom!!!

The speed makes the return back up the hill quite forceful and, after a couple of swoops, you hit three 'clusters' of airtime moments as the finale (two of which have hops that are placed absurdly close together). The airtime is powerful and fun - top notch. Then, it's over, with not a single moment wasted. After that first ride, I readjusted my slightly displaced monocle and then insightfully announced my approval on the break run: "**** YEEEEES!!!!"

I can usually readily note the strengths and weaknesses of my other favourites, but Phantom's Revenge bucks that trend. It comes across as flawless without having anything I can concretely point to as its 'special sauce'. Just like how a pleasing piece of music confuses me by inexplicably hitting all the right notes, it thwarts my limited, mathematical means of understanding. I can only buzz like a fridge in admiration.

In typical Nitefly fashion, I became fixated (after three rides) that I had only ridden Phantom's Revenge on the purple coloured train. What if I didn't get to ride on that other, teal train? That was the better colour. Panic was setting in. Would I have to stand aside and ask persons behind me to board the purple train? If I did that, maybe they would catch on that something was awry.... perhaps they would then also want the teal train! Oh, god. Before matters could escalate into a full meltdown, the teal train arrived in front of me. Ahhh. The higher powers were truly being kind to me on this great day.

Our next stop was Jackrabbit. I knew all about the 'special airtime moment' and excitedly informed Mrs. Nitefly.

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"Apparently it's really good!!"

I adore rides like this. Expectations are always so tempered and there is no need for comparison. Just enjoy that crisper for what it is. But boy, they weren't kidding with that single airtime moment. It kicks serious ass. On our second ride, in the penultimate row, it even drew a concerned shriek from Mrs. Nitefly (and she's the spartan that deals with spiders that invade the house). A wonderful ride. Again, the word 'wholesome' is resonating with me.

Just around the corner from Jack Rabbit was the looming presence of Steel Curtain, so we went over to have a look.

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I wanted to place giant marbles at the top and watch them cascade back-and-forth through the structure.

Alas, this was our first and only spite of the trip. Steel Curtain was down all day. In fact, the whole area ('Steelers Country') was closed off with barriers. This was a bit of a shame, but we really didn't mind at all. I've not heard anyone say that this is one of their favourites and the whole loopy-loopy thing seems a bit dated now. Oh well.

Immediately next door to Steelers Country was a shooting gallery, which are always fun but very few of the effects worked which was a little disappointing. We followed this up with Racer, the duelling coaster. This was the least remarkable of the 3 woodies, but duelling is always fun. I like to sit more towards the back on these, for the better visuals of the 'racing'.

The only major blip of the day was an absolutely appalling boat-based dark ride, the Old Mill. I gather this ride is famous for people having sex on it, back in the day before it was re-themed into Garfield's Nightmare. Now back as the Old Mill, it was one of the most basic and half-arsed efforts I'd ever seen, lacking audio throughout the sparse tunnels and scenes (which told the tales of an outlaw skeleton). With a little polish this could have been passable, but as it stood this was a total dud. I didn't know that a bad boat ride was even possible.

We took a break from the rides to browse the food options. We opted for a delicious shake and fries from the 50s-themed diner, although we spotted this fun cake along the way:

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"Diiiiiieeeeeeee - but before you do, note that it's our 125th anniversary, yay!"

Our final woody was Thunderbolt:

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This woman seemed to be having an intense phone call. I wonder what she was talking about?

This was really good. It gave spectacular visuals, fair airtime and was all round a great ride. Damn, I really loved this park's coaster collection!

We then hit a number of the park's delightful non-coaster (and non-'Old Mill') attractions. First up was the Kennywood Turtle:

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Oooooo fun.

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Great visuals on this, although not such a great photo.

Every lap, for about 10 laps, the turtle sped up as the loudspeakers bemusingly declared "TURTLE". This had a pretty large footprint for what it was and I'm really glad that they kept it. Again, wholesome.

Next up was Noah's Ark, the park's funhouse:

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I couldn't stop laughing this 'entrance whale'. Even now, it looks like it's eating the attendant. Omnomnomnom!

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These demonic figures inside were also hungry for the taste of human flesh (although, who isn't?). Note the goat's head, twisted 180 degrees.

We then hit Ghostwood Estate, a surprisingly elaborate shooting dark ride. So rich were the scenes, I actually regret firing at the targets as I don't really feel like I took it in. Probably the best shooting dark ride I've been on.

The clouds were brooding as we made it over to the final area of the park:

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Rain-out imminent.

Kennywood's whip ride was fantastic - this is so much better than Alien Swirling Saucers, certainly far less rickety.

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It's was impossible to not love this. All riders were seemingly delighted.

Our final ride of the day was Exterminator, an indoor Reverchon wild-mouse. I had no idea what to expect, but the ride itself was surprisingly well-themed to a 'boiler room'. I don't think I've done one of these Reverchons before, but based on Exterminator I'm a fan. It had very decent spinning, but the theming made it. Don't overlook this one.

By the time we exited Exterminator, the skies had already opened up and the rain was torrential. No matter, we'd had our fill and were very happy with our day.

Oh, as for Sky Rocket, Mrs. Nitefly vetoed this earlier after I told her it had those dreadful 'comfort collars'.... but, looking at photos of the ride (now), it doesn't seem to actually have them. Whoopsie! I feel that there was no real loss.

Closing Thoughts:

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^^^ I wholeheartedly agree. Kennywood is a brilliant park. I've used the word three times already, but nothing sums it up as well as 'wholesome'. The modest ride line-up was chock full of hits, with Phantom's Revenge then being a huge highlight. I would definitely recommend making time for Kennywood during your own adventures.

Stay tuned: the next extra-special bumper instalment will document our trip to.... Cedar Point.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 6 - Cedar Point

"There’s two kinds of people, my friend; those with loaded guns and those who dig."

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*****

After an hour of driving we finally exited the Pennsylvanian rainstorm and were eventually treated to the most beautiful golden sky. The warm glow gave our journey a certain ‘cinematic aesthetic’, so it seemed very fitting to deploy accompanying ‘cinematic music’ through the car speakers as the light grew ever dimmer, which captured the mood perfectly. Here we were, like cowboys riding into the sunset for a long awaited and emotional showdown.

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Not long to go now...

I’m not sure whether it was the setting sun, or the music, but I ended up feeling rather pensive. After all, we were about to face the ‘final boss’ of all theme parks. For some time, I have softly feared this ‘end game’. How could it ever live up to the hype? And what existed beyond it…..?

My anxiety didn’t last for long though. At the cusp of darkness, we caught a fleeting glimmer through the trees:

“I saw it, I saw it!!”
“Me too!”


Cedar Point then fully appeared before us, causing a brief explosion of celebration followed by a stunned silence.

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Wow.

As we would be staying at Hotel Breakers, our drive would take us around the perimeter of the park. This road is well known for offering incredible up-close views of some of the meanest coasters in existence. For years I have anticipated this and, just as we were passing Blue Streak, I executed my plan to start playing one of the most epic pieces of music of all time. I invite you to relive this moment by listening to that music as you scroll through the below photos (which can do all the talking for me):


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Seeing Steel Vengeance ascend the lift hill, as the music was climaxing, was… honestly… probably one of the most epic and emotional moments of my life.

We parked up and headed into Hotel Breakers. If you ever find yourself weighing up whether staying at Hotel Breakers is worth it, do yourself a giant favour and just do it. It was brilliant. Our room was in the main building just above the Starbucks.

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The lobby.

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The view from our room.

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The view whilst having a paddle.

We loved the cute seaside aesthetics of the promenade and although we didn’t have time to relax on the beach, we found ourselves walking up and down it several times to take it all in. It just ‘added something’ to the experience, you know? There were also Jet Skis for hire, which looked really fun (maybe next time). From a practical perspective, it was also super convenient to head back to our room for a rest during each of our two park days. Post-trip, Mrs. Nitefly and I both agreed that we could happily spend 5 nights at Hotel Breakers.

We woke up in the morning with the sort of excitement that comes from visiting Cedar Point for the first time: HURRGHN!!!!! \o/

Our entrance, 2-3 minutes from the hotel, was at the ‘Magnum Gate’:

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Top Thrill Dragster looked ridiculous.... oh look there's Magnum too!

Of course, Dragster would be down for our visit. There was nothing we could do about it and it didn’t bother us, in part as we’d get to experience Kingda Ka in a few weeks. Mrs. Nitefly is absolutely terrified of Kingda Ka and I’m similarly terrified of Zumajaro, so our little agreement is that we will each brute-force ourselves onto our respective most feared rides on the planet. Stay tuned for that one.

Suddenly, we were in. Oh my…

My dear friends. I’m pleased to report that Cedar Point is….. absolutely ****ing amazing. I’m sat here in disbelief at how good it really was. Just, head in my hands… I can’t even. I'm sorry.

I’d like to clarify a major misconception though. I suspect you have heard people refer to Cedar Point as an amusement park. In reality, Cedar Point is actually a theme park. It’s theme? Great big ****-off roller coasters. Now, that’s a theme I can get behind! Just about anywhere you go, the views are incredible. You don’t even have to try. Look at this:

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Look at this!

The midway section towards the front of the park is certainty less inspiring than the back-end (which is actually quite pretty in places, particularly between Millennium Force and Maverick), but any time you feel blighted by a wide stretch of tarmac, there is a very simple remedy: look up.

Our first ride then… how could it not be Steel Vengeance? We ran over to it with stars in our eyes annnnnnnnnnnnd it was down. Ominously so. A cherry picker was assisting a team seemingly doing some maintenance to the lift chain. ****. Fearing the very worst, we would have to make do with another ride for now.

Oh, how about this one? I heard it was supposed to be pretty good...

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Maverick was Mrs. Nitefly's most anticipated ride of the trip.

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It wasn’t long before we were boarding for a front row ride.

Maverick was astonishing. The top-notch beyond-vertical drop leads into some intense twists before delivering a spectacular airtime hill, easily one of my favourites to date. The following inversions are excellent and forceful, albeit probably the weakest part of the ride (only as the bar is so high). I was actually taken aback by the mid-ride launch, as Cedar Point’s official POV suggests that the train pauses before this for a few seconds, but the pause we experienced was far shorter in duration for us on all rides. The subsequent trim break did hit intermittently, but never seemed to dramatically affect the post-trim segments, including the two astonishing dives. Pure thrill with butter-smooth delivery.

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Zoom! Stunning.

Every ride on Maverick had us on the break run in disbelief of how good it was. It’s sailed into my top-5 at the time of writing, no question. In terms of being easy to love and exceeding expectations, for both of us it was the smash hit of the first of our two road-trips. Very impressive indeed. Pleasingly, I actually can explain my approval for Maverick mathematically (*bzzzz*): "Maverick = (VelociCoaster - Taron) x 1.2". Having done all of those within a ~10 month period, to my mind Maverick is easily the best. It swaps out all moments of ‘mine train’ meandering for ‘peels skin off your face’ bad-assery.

Our next ride would be another highly anticipated legend:

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Millennium Force is the most basic coaster concept imaginable, perfectly executed (“let’s make it really big and really fast”). The end result is, obviously, really good…effortlessly good, even. The aesthetics are breathtaking throughout and the exposed ’two in a row’ seating somehow makes it feel ‘ultra-nimble’, enhancing the sense of speed. Spot on.

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Taken in the Forbidden Frontier section of the park.

You may have to queue an extra 20-30 minutes for the front row, but it’s totally worth it for the sensation of being strapped to the very front of a glossy smooth rocket. It’s certainly the fastest feeling ride I’ve done to date, which is not much of a surprise on the basis that it actually is the fastest ride I’ve done to date, just pipping Orion. A pleasing, joyous rush. I can’t ask for more than that.

At this time, the park app was suggesting that Steel Vengeance had now opened. There was no way we could risk it going down, so we set off with great haste…

With the ride now open, I could finally appreciate the sight in front of me. Steel Vengeance is such a statement, like nothing else I’ve seen. Don’t let middling height stats make you think otherwise; it’s aesthetically monstrous. If you’ve ever been wowed by Zadra’s visuals, imagine taking Zadra’s oblong footprint and extending it on on one side to make it an equilateral triangle. That’s what Steel Vengeance looks like in the flesh. Plus, the lift hill is chock full of wood, unlike Zadra and Iron Gwazi, making seem even more massive.

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From the road…. what a beast!

It was astonishing to behold from entrance plaza and even more exciting once we entered the queue line. I felt like I was entering a stadium to a World Cup final. Electricity was in the air.

Soon, I found myself borderline tearful ascending the lift hill. At that very moment, Mrs. Nitefly and I were the only two people in the world on the front row of Steel Vengeance. Steel Vengeance! After two dreadful years of pandemic induced heart-ache, here we were. The day was ours. In a strange way, it sort of didn’t matter if the ride was good or not. Being there was simply enough.

But the ride did happen. My god… the two giant airtime hills that start the ride are ridiculous (doubling the similar sensation on Iron Gwazi’s single post-drop airtime hill). The ride then converts into Zadra until the MCBR, where thereafter it all becomes very disorientating (in the best way) - even from inadvertently memorising the track from POVs (*blush*) it was still hard to know what would happen next on-ride in real time. The final bunny hills then provide a well-humoured and cheeky finale.

There was however an unexpected deja-vu of sorts, post-ride

".... Unbelievable! That was insane!”
".... I have no words.”
"....."
"....."


Some minutes later:

".... I think I prefer Iron Gwazi.”
".... me too.”


Underwhelmed feels too heavy handed of a word to use, but with such high expectations, it’s the closest word the describe how we were feeling. Through our aggressively critical eyes, it was obvious that Steel Vengeance had three major ‘flaws’. Firstly, it really went all the way on the air-time hills, to the point that the airtime was borderline redundant by the end of the ride through gross repetition. I also found it somewhat uncomfortable, which I also found with my initial experiences with Zadra, but the abundance of the airtime hills made this much worse… damn those RMC restraints! Lastly, it lacked that killer sensation of speed found on both Zadra and Iron Gwazi (and also on Maverick and Millennium Force). Overall, Iron Gwazi just seemed to have a more rounded, better balance, with more standout moments to punctuate the experience (i.e. the death roll, first drop and ‘wave turn’).

I certainly didn’t see that assessment coming. Oh well, a night ride would allow me to determine whether Steel Vengeance was better than Zadra or not. Hmm.

Oh. My. God. That night ride changed everything.

Nothing can compete with Steel Vengeance at night. Not only had the ride warmed up, and the restraints were more comfortable (somehow)… but the visuals of going through the structure in the second half of the ride elevated it to untouchable levels. Going through the structure is a major win that Zadra has over Iron Gwazi, but Steel Vengeance does it 20x better. Being in the structure was disorientating, baffling and hilarious. What was going on?! The wooden beams passing on all sides reminded me of driving at night through snow with your headlights on, which itself always reminded me of the Millennium Falcon jumping to light speed. It was simply otherworldly.

Now, feast your eyes on this monster from another dimension!

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As we ended our night ride, thunderous applause erupted on the break run… and all of a sudden the ride had Beast-like ‘communal appeal’. Smiles everywhere, cheering, whooping. It was like a big party. Steel Vengeance was an event. The event. My mind was made up. Without any further hesitation, I enthusiastically declared Steel Vengeance as my new number one coaster. Mrs. Nitefly laughed: she’d thought exactly the same and declared likewise glowingly.

At the time of writing, it feels wrong to put any other coaster about the mighty Steel Vengeance, but nevertheless it was not a bombastic ‘home run’ into the pole position. I think I would still give the nod to Iron Gwazi for daytime rides, which means it’s those superb night-ride aesthetics that heavily lean in Steel Vengeance’s favour. But it’s not just RMCs in that race either; Maverick gives stiff competition wholly devoid of that signature RMC rolling-of-the-dice with discomfort.

“But what chance did the ride have to truly blow me away initially?” I monologued internally, as we plodded back to our room at the end of our first day. During our first ride, I may as well have been riding in a hi-vis jacket, taking notes onto a clipboard for my stern algorithmic assessment. What is lacking? What are the faults? How could it be better? Goodness… so much self-imposed ‘missing out’. Clearly, I’m most receptive to feeling love when I’m not desperately looking for it. I reminded myself of the words of a very wise man: "Merriment is always the effect of a sudden impression. The jest which is expected is already destroyed.”

“I had such a lovely day!”
interrupted a beaming Mrs. Nitefly.
“Hmm? Oh..! Yes, me too” I smiled back, earnestly.

***

That’s the big 3 (operating…) dealt with, but what about the rest? Prior to visiting Cedar Point, for some reason I had it in my mind that the other rides were middle-ground filler. Foolish mortal! I could not have been more wrong…. let’s get to it.

Gatekeeper is absolutely enormous. Look how vast it is:

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You can barely see the lift hill here.

It also smashed it out of the park. Swarm on steroids. Graceful, forceful, thrilling… and those key-hole moments were to die for. I far preferred this to Thunderbird at Holiday World. Even with its somewhat redundant post-MCBR section it’s pipped Montu for me as my favourite ‘large scale B&M looper’. It can certainly keep my gate any day. Or, umm... something.

Raptor was a little less impressive to us than Gatekeeper, but still a treat and a fantastic ride in its own right. Even in this modern era, it could easily be a strong park headliner. The layout was ‘very B&M’ but the helix mixed things up (crazy forceful). I’d give the nod to Montu over Raptor, but there’s not as much in it as I was expecting.

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If you look closely you can make out Gemini-themed parade floats in the bottom right of this photo.

Valravn is my favourite dive coaster to date. We didn’t have any issues with the vest restraints and it does just a little more than SheiKra. Most importantly, the view from the top of the lift hill surpasses the view on Millennium Force. Big ****-off coasters…. everywheereee.

In yet another welcome twist, Gemini blew us away. The return to the station was admittedly a little janky but regardless, at the time of writing this is by far away my favourite duelling ride. The trains ride close so that you end up high-fiving those on the other train on the way round, giving Gemini the communal ‘good times’ vibes of a rapid ride. Isn’t that just the best? The airtime on Gemini is legit too. I’ll be gutted if they remove this before I get back to it.

Iron Dragon and Blue Streak were charming and, along with Gemini, gave the line up some vintage flair. Cedar Creek Mine Train was a little more dated, but surprisingly long and overall a good time - terrible legroom though, unfortunately.

Magnum was a bit of a wildcard. We opted for the so-called ‘magic seat’ (car 1 row 3) and were appalled by the unbearable Lightening Run-esque triangle hills in the finale. Ouch. We decided to give it another go in the middle and had a much better time of it. You’ll have to wrestle with some very outdated profiling on the turnaround, but it’s definitely possible to have a good time… in the right seat.

Corkscrew and Rougarou were the only two duds, as expected. Rougarou actually bopped Mrs. Nitefly’s head around so much it made her cry. More like Rouga-poo. Or even….. Poogapoo.

The supporting flat rides were great too. The StarFlyer had a disappointingly short cycle, but was triumphantly blasting out the theme from Star Trek: The Next Generation, so frankly it could do whatever the **** it wanted (“Nuur, nuh nuh nuurrrr, nuh nuh nuuurrrrrr!”). The nearby antique cars were impeccably presented, possibly the prettiest I’ve done to date. It gave sensational views of Valravn:

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... and beyond.

The real flat ride pleasure was the Cedar Downs Derby Racers, a spectacular carousel-type ride that’s almost identical to Blackpool’s own Derby Racer. Mrs. Nitefly took the outside and, once more, a competitive and thrilling race commenced! We whipped our horses (lovingly) and laughed. It was just so…. light and carefree. When the memories of the coasters have faded I will continue to look back at this moment very fondly, particularly the maniacal look on Mrs. Nitefly’s face each time she took the lead.

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Beautiful.

You can add two fab transportation rides as the icing on the cake:

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From the Sky Ride.....

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....now in the other direction - a great view of Raptor.

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The train ride that circled only a small portion of the park was in-part wonderfully themed to a skeleton village, with some decent effects.

Other misc. oddities:

- The operations at Cedar Point are insanely good, in part helped by an amusing ‘hype-person’ on the major attractions that pump up the crowd and keep people moving as quickly as possible. Think one part 'wrestling commentator', one part 'Jungle Cruise' and one part 'Silver Star ops' and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

- This was the only park of the trip that had extensive merch options akin to some of the Florida parks. It really added to making the park feel like a destination. Even Hotel Breakers had its own lines of merch. Naturally, I indulged.

- It’s a little hidden away but there was an interactive actor-driven adventure you could participate in (Forbidden Frontier). It looked as if you gathered clues from speaking to the actors and exploring, to solve a mystery, or find treasure. We walked around the area and it seemed well thought out and substantial. You could probably kill more than an hour of time here if you’re so inclined.

- For some reason, every time I spoke to a female ride attendant at Cedar Point, it was as if Mr. Darcy had graced their presence. This was a wonderful change to the usual disdained look as if they were greeting Heathcliff. “I… I love your accent” several of them blushed on independent occasions, then in harmony in my mind, for days afterwards.

- Likewise, for some reason, every time I spoke to a male ride attendant at Cedar Point, they all gushed at my rad coaster-merch t-shirts. Two of them even left their positions in the stations to talk about Energylandia (“Woah, you’ve been on Zadra and Hyperion!” “Yeah… I’m, just…. kind of a big deal *stretch*).

- For reasons unknown to me, when I showed Mrs. Nitefly the “woo Niteflys on honeymoon in 2020!” brick embedded in the midway that I arranged as a surprise for her over two years ago, she spontaneously projectile vomited everywhere (yes, really). Huh. Well, I guess I can always move to Cedar Point if things don’t work out.

- Running from Maverick to Steel Vengeance for a final ride, with other enthusiasts we met in the queue to Maverick, is now one of my greatest park memories. We were all sprinting over and then, to our horror the train cut us off from getting to Steel Vengeances plaza…. Noooooo! However… the driver stopped the train at the crossing and the staff rushed to manually open the gates to get us through, before park close. Have you ever heard of anything like that at a park before?! Stopping the train before the crossing to let the enthusiasts get their final night ride.... legends.

Closing thoughts

Visiting Cedar Point was a dream come true for me. It was everything that I could have hoped for. I wish you all get the chance to visit and have as wonderful of a time as I did.

Stay tuned for the final instalment from our first road trip, where we head back to Chicago to visit our very first Six Flags park: Six Flags Great America.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
What a pleasure reading your [relatively] constant gushing over Cedar Point.

It truly is one of the best in the world - the line up, the density, the setting on the lake, the whole thing. It's just outrageous. I love the place, and I'm glad you did too.

Also never gonna knock more SteVe love. <3
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Catching up on your Trip Report - so enjoy getting to see all the parks through a new visitors eyes! Especially pleased at how taken you were with Mystic Timbers - it really is an underrated master stroke.
 

berghain

Roller Poster
Glad you loved it so much. This brought back fond memories of my first trip back in May - already planning a return trip for next year when I'm back in the States :)
 

Nitefly

Hyper Poster
Part 7 - Six Flags Great America

“Where we're going... we won't need eyes to see."

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*****

Our flight back to the UK would be from Chicago O’Hare. Six Flags Great America is only 30 minutes away from that airport so we figured, why not spend 3-4 hours there before heading home?

Knowing that there wouldn't be any elite coasters to experience was fine on paper, but this lack of excitement (hot off the heels of Cedar Point) did nothing to make our early start and 5.5 hour drive less gruelling. This would also be our seventh 'park day' in a row and we'd saved the least exciting until last. If we could have teleported home at that point and skipped it, we probably would have. Not the best attitude for a park day...

Our spirits did perk up a little though on seeing the skyline, which reminded me that Maxx Force existed. There was that to look forward to, at least.

Unfortunately, having enjoyed 3 overcast days, the temperature was now back to being ultra-aggressive (38 degrees). Combining this with our exhaustion, Six Flags Great America was undoubtedly going to have the hardest job of pleasing us. I dug deep and channeled my optimism. Could it possibly be that a triumphant underdog story was about to unfold?

No. The park ****** it up right from the front gate - literally. As a pass-holder, I had intended to buy Mrs. Nitefly a discounted ticket on-site, but there was an intimidating and motionless cattle-pen queue for the ticket stalls. After 10 minutes of bovine-like waiting and little progress, I reluctantly purchased a full price ticket online (being unable to purchase a discounted one online for some unknown reason). I was aggrieved - why was the queue so ****ing slow?!

Mrs. Nitefly entered without issue with her newly purchased day ticket, but I had problems.

“You don’t have a valid ticket.”
“Oh…? I’m a pass-holder.”
“Hmm. Let me see. Oh, it looks fine, it should work then. But it doesn’t. Hmm.”
“…..”
“Is this your ‘home park’? You have to visit that first.”
“Uh… hmm, oh, Great Adventure in New Jersey could be my home park, maybe? I'm not sure, but I haven’t been to that yet.”
“Then you have to go to Great Adventure first.”
“As in, I will need to go to New Jersey first, to enter here today?”
“Yes.”
“…. is that really necessary? I mean, I have my ticket here… and there is nothing on there or on my app that says I have to go there first….?”
“Well, you can queue up and speak to the desks who might be able to help but I can’t promise anything *points to the cattle-pen*
“Uh, that looks like it will take a long time. Is there anyone else I can speak to at all?”
“No.”


After 10 minutes of not moving in the cattle-pen, I realised I would have about 2 hours left in the park by the time they sorted it… if they could even sort it. I rage quit the queue and bought myself another online day ticket. Bah - ridiculous!

Even then, we only have around 3 hours of time in the park and the posted queue times were quite significant. Off to the Flash Pass booth then, where I would be entitled to receive some hefty discounts with my pass. Oh, right, I didn't enter with my pass... ****. Hopefully it would still work...?

We spotted a customer service desk so decided to join the queue for that, in part to clarify the pass-discounts situation and then to complain about front gate. Around 30 minutes later, I’d (gratefully) received a refund for one of the day tickets and a reassurance that my discounts would work around the rest of the park. The ‘manager’ that sorted it for us was polite and knowledgable, but the young teenage assistant that we initially spoke to was useless. Not only did he have no knowledge of tickets, their own systems nor seemingly anything, but he and the other assistants were also incredibly unprofessional. At times, they were all just clowning around between themselves rather than serving the guests, maddening everyone in the queue that wanted to get on with their day.

The entrance to Flash Pass building was then physically blocked by 3 staff members chatting. We made eye contact and they clocked our existence, but continued to talk, without moving. After about 3 minutes I interrupted to enquire whether the building was actually open or not.

“Yes, it's open.”
“…. thanks.”


We then walked through the gathering, into the building and into yet another short but maddening queue. The front desk here, after we got there, was probably the worst customer experience of my life. All I wanted to do was buy two Flash Passes and we must have spent 15-20 minutes doing it. The assistant was hopeless. For some reason buying two passes, with only one of us being a pass holder, was like exam for them. Mrs. Nitefly’s eyes were bulging out of her skull as a second employee casually struck up a conversation with the assistant we were dealing with, whilst Mrs. Nitefly was mid-sentence, by simply talking over the top of her. When the assistant returned to us a couple of minutes later, he had forgotten why we were there. Jesus Christ…. is this park a ****ing sanity test!?

Whatever. We now had our Flash Passes so shouldn’t have to queue for anything. First stop, Maxx Force. We had our passes scanned and the ride immediately went down. Oh well.

“Oh, yeah, as I scanned your passes… you can’t get them back. I’ll try to remember you, but I leave in an hour, so if it’s not back up by then you’ll have to go to customer services to discuss it with them.”

This caused Mrs. Nitefly’s head to violently exploded, splattering the ride attendant with brains and shards of skull. The nonchalant ride attendant didn’t even flinch: “There's nothing I can do.”

Desperate to salvage the situation, I steered the now-headless Mrs. Nitefly over to a substitute ride, Raging Bull. At this time, it dawned on me that Great America is a massive park. The rides were quite a trek from each other. I also began to properly take in the park's ambience. It was aesthetically fine, but otherwise felt broadly equivalent to an outdoor Cypress Hill concert. Perhaps I’m a bit of a prude, but I don’t particularly like the stench of weed dominating a theme park. It just gives a feeling that the both guests and the park itself didn’t give a ****.

Raging Bull then. Back seat for the ‘legendary airtime’. Meh. Fair, but my least favourite hyper.

“What did you think?” I asked Mrs. Nitefly.
*Silence*
“My thoughts exactly.”

Thankfully Maxx Force was now back up and we did manage to get our ride. At the time of writing, it is supposedly the fastest accelerating launched coaster on the planet (still operating), so I was expecting a crazy launch. It was good, but surprisingly less intense than Stealth at Thorpe Park. This was because, unlike Stealth, it notably slowed down before it started climbing skywards, so the intense sensation of being launched was very short. Huh. The following inversions were fun and floaty. Then it ended. I did enjoy it, but it didn’t crack my top 30.

By now, the heat and exhaustion had really kicked-in for us. We limped our way onwards towards Batman the Ride and on the way we passed Superman, the B&M flyer.

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The sight of the pretzel loop alone made me feel unwell. Blergh. Hard pass.

Batman though, sure.

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Great America's 'Batman' was the first ever built - opening in 1992.

If you like a forceful invert, then you’ll probably really dig this. Super whippy and otherwise solid. I can definitely see why it’s been cloned so many times. For comparison purposes, I’d place this behind Raptor but ahead of Nemesis Inferno. Also, as intense as it was, it's not the most intense that Batman has ever been.

Unfortunately, all that intensity took a heavy toll in the heat and I suddenly found myself feeling very sick. The next ride on the itinerary was The Joker and although I was quite looking forward to this (having not experienced a free-spin yet), sadly I was in no condition to ride it now.

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We'll save it for Great Adventure.

Next up was The Flash, being the recently renamed Intamin impulse coaster. Oh dear…

I’ve waited until now to reveal the park’s obnoxious and fatal problem because nowhere more than The Flash was it more apparent: The. Ride. Ops. Were. ****ING. HORRIBLE.

You think you know ‘bad’…? No. Unless you were there, you have no idea what ‘bad’ is. Mind-meltingly, shockingly bad. A ****ing omnishambles (as Mr. Tucker would say). For starters, we’re talking 5-10 minute dispatches on any ride. By itself that is bad enough… but the real killer was that if you didn’t have Flash Passes, you were totally ******. Forget it, just go home. Don’t even bother. Flash Passes were always prioritised, without any thought applied to what this was doing to the regular queue. The slow ride dispatch times compounded what could have been a 'mere nuisance' with fast dispatches to brutal cruelty, as new Flash Pass guests always arrived before the next dispatch, so barely any regular guests could get through the merge point. Even though we were personally unaffected, the way this was managed was hard to watch and totally unacceptable.

….and I just can’t get over the fact that the dispatch time cycles were the most obnoxious on a ride called The Flash. I mean, isn’t he supposed to be pretty ****ing fast…..?!

Similarly woeful at this park were all of the the loading platforms. It was pure chaos. Have you ever seen the film Event Horizon? You know that bit at the end when Dr. Weir is showing Captain Miller images from the other dimension? It was like that. Everyone was crushed in everywhere, no ride-ops managing people, guests actually crossing the coaster-track by standing on it on multiple occasions too. So much pain and suffering. “DOOOO YOU SEEEEEEE?” screamed Dr. Weir, in my face. “I SEEE, I SEEE!”, I wailed, tearfully.

Needing refreshment, we queued an agonisingly long time for an ice cream in the hope of cooling down. Once more, the attendants were as painful as the rest. Are these guys given any training or supervision whatsoever?!

At the end of my tether, I channeled my inner enthusiast and hoped to end it on a high note:

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Oh, Goliath - please deliver me from this evil.

But I hated it. This was my first experience of an RMC topper track and I thought it rubbish compared to the glossy smooth, fully-steel track experience that I have been spoiled with. This rattled me around a lot and doubled my headache. Bah. This made me sad, but I acknowledged that enjoying Goliath at this point was probably impossible for me. I was too frustrated, tired, sick and hot. Enough was enough.

“**** this park”, I huffed. Bubbles of blood gargled from Mrs. Nitefly’s neck in agreement.

Closing thoughts

Six Flags Great Adventure was by far away my least favourite park visit to date, principally because the customer service and ride ops were unspeakable. Mixing that awfulness with exhaustion and the intense heat was a disaster. Even though our time was limited, I couldn’t have endured it any longer.

We also thought the ride line up itself was redundant. Maxx Force was good but not close to being elite and it's not worth visiting the park just for that. I’d 10x more willingly recommend visiting the lacklustre Holiday Park in Germany solely for Expedition GeForce.

Would we ever revisit? Unless a world class, unmissable ride is installed… no.

Should you visit? Well, it’s all down to you, but choose wisely and take into consideration what other superior parks may be on your itinerary and the order you plan to visit them. This being the final stop for us was clearly a mistake. If you do visit, I hope you have a better time of it than we did.

*****

Stay tuned for more trip reports from our second US road trip, coming soon.

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Thanks for reading.
 
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Howie

Donkey in a hat
Ah yes, the inevitable anticlimax of hitting Great America after Cedar Point. Been there, done that and it sucks. In hindsight, I would have ditched it altogether and had another day at Cedar Point.
Great report though dude, best bit was the intense Batman clip! 🤣
What's the latest on Mrs Nitefly's head? Grown back yet?
 
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