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Niteflygeddon (Six Flags Great Adventure and Wrap Up)


Hyper Poster
Part 8 - Travel Hard 2: Travel Harder

This interlude contains miscellaneous ‘off-park’ shenanigans only.

Our second road trip would be taken at a more leisurely pace than the first, with two whole days(!) of non-park activity planned. This is definitely how to do it. The ‘balance’ ensured that enthusiasm was sustained right through to the very end without fatigue.

The flight to Nashville was a standard affair: for my 3rd flight in a row, the entertainment system for my seat was broken and the **** in front of me violently dumped his seat back onto my knees the moment the seatbelt sign was pinged off. I therefore spent the 9 hour journey fantasising about his death, which turned out to be a great way to pass the time.

The morning after our arrival we set off towards Pigeon Forge. The journey was graced by an intriguing vehicle that caught my attention whilst on the road:


I anticipate that no other sight in my life will result in so many unanswered questions.

Our time at Pigeon Forge featured two nights at Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort, in part to give a leisurely paced opening. This was delightful and I would highly recommend a stay for a similar length of time. It was very similar in feel to the premium hotels at Universal Orlando, but much cosier and prettier (so long as you can get over the abundance of butterfly motifs). Of note, the buffet restaurant, Song and Hearth, was so good we ate there twice. Our king-bed room was quite large and featured numerous nice details:


I enjoyed the feel of this textured logo on my bum.

For those that are interested, this video will give you a more in-depth idea of what to expect:

As a bonus, the transportation to and from Dollywood was appropriately quaint; modernised ‘trolleys’ with bench seating.


So cute!

However, one journey back to the hotel resulted in one of the most awkward moments of my awkward life (a top-100 moment for sure). The merry driver noticed that there were a few families on board and, with the intention of mustering some cheer for the children, asked us if we’d like to participate in a 'fun sing-a-long'. Before I could even process the question, one adult passenger aggressively barked back NOOOO!!!! - lol, just…. who does that?! The driver (who took the knock like a ****ing champ) persevered and soon enough, we experienced the world’s most tense and awkward sing-a-long to ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’:



On our way to the Carolinas we stopped off in Gatlingburg, which is a ‘tourist-town’ that serves as a base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains. We took a chairlift up to a skybridge, which gave some cool views:


"Mola Ram... prepare to meet Kali......in HELL!"


I found the "DON'T JUMP ON THE GLASS!" signs quite bothering.

More than the views, I appreciated this mini-excursion for a bemusing exchange with a till attendant. For the purposes of this dialogue, there are two till attendants sitting back to back. The second attendant is facing away from us and we can only see the back of her black hair.

First Attendant (FA): “Oh! Where are you two from! I love your accents!”

Nitefly (N): “Thanks! We’re from England!”

FA: “England?! Wow, that’s a long way away…. *aimed at second attendant* Hey, Sarah? Where are you from? Is England close to where you’re from? Sarah?”

Second Attendant: *Sharply turns around to reveal her appearance and speaks with the thickest accent imaginable* “I’M MONGOLIAN!!!” *Turns back around in annoyance*

“……............ *whispers to me* is that close to you?”

N: “….. it’s quite far away.”

FA: “Oh… right. Where are you in England exactly?”

N: “We live in a small city called Bristol, a couple of hours west from London. It’s quite nice!”

FA: “Can you see the palace from there?”

N: “…… uh, no.”

FA: “Oh, that’s too bad. Well, enjoy your day!”

N: “Thanks!”

God damn!!! Minas Tirith doesn’t have **** on whatever sort of epic palace she had in mind.

Gatlingburg also featured numerous tat shops dedicated to Jesus and/or Donald Trump, who both seemed to be worshipped equally. In respect of the latter, this triplet of shops did cause me to giggle:


For all your needs.

The extreme anti-democrat rhetoric of the tat was pretty funny at first but the more I observed, the more I found it to be mean spirited and ultimately a bit ‘off’. Hmm. A day of seeing this was enough - not my jam. The most intense item of clothing we saw on the trip was actually a baseball cap being worn with the following message: “Under God. Over You.” - very unsettling.

As we travelled onwards through the Great Smoky Mountains themselves, the lush vegetation rolled on as far as the eye could see. Some snaps:




This pretty pair were just chilling by the road.

We did ventured to Clingman’s Dome, the highest lookout point of the mountains, but unfortunately the dense cloud cover on the day didn’t give us the views we hoped for.


Mrs. Nitefly reenacts how she typically feels when she reads my trip reports.

Two other stories from the Great Smoky Mountains:

(1) Brief rainfall caused the most astonishing rainbow to appear for only about a minute, causing everyone to pull over to photograph what was presumably a phenomenon.


I've never seen one like that before. Stunning.

(2) As we left the mountains, there was a beautiful period where there were no other cars on the road. Ah! How relaxing, just us and the trees. Or so we thought…

Nitefly: “…. wait…. what was that?!”

Mrs. Nitefly: “What was what?”

“Didn’t you see it? The thing in the tree?”

“No?! What was it?”

“…. I don’t know - uh, a massive, massive…..spider web?”


“…. look there’s another one!”

“I see it… what the ****?!”


Suddenly all of the trees around us were then chock full in hundreds of massive ‘webs’ like these:


Kill it all with fire - immediately.

It was really startling as they just came out of nowhere. A bit of research suggests they were actually the ‘tents’ of Eastern Tent Cattipilars, but I can’t seem to find any images on the web of anything like what we saw… it was very X-Files.

Our other ‘park-less’ day was spent in Washington DC. We stayed for two nights which meant another welcome day without any car travel. I’d recommend staying very close to the White House as we did and seeing everything on foot, although this jaunt required enduring over 30,000 steps of walking - phew! Some snaps:


The photographable side of the White House.


The big man himself - he gave some great speeches, go and read them.


From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


The Supreme Court.

I’ll wrap-up this entry with a mid-trip 'low point'. Unfortunately for me, I’m very, very tasty. All animal life, no matter how big or small, enjoys taking a bite out of me. Put it this way: have you ever heard of anyone else that’s been bitten by both a wild monkey and a wild seal? I thought not. So it'll be no surprise that when we stayed one night in a bed that happened to be chock full of bed bugs, the kingdoms from the four corners of the bed decided it was in their best interests to put aside their differences, declare a truce and celebrate with a grand feast on my resting body. *****. Below is a photo of some of the damage, which I have taken the time to digitally alter to lessen the shock value. You have been warned.


OK, enough goofing around - it’ll be back to ‘park coverage’ in the next instalment, which will cover our time at Dollywood.

Thanks for reading.
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Hyper Poster
Part 9 - Dollywood

“Hail, Paimon!”



It was a tense drive to Dollywood in the Niteflymobile.

“… hey.”
“So… what do Kenny and Dolly have in common… that Oak doesn’t?”
“Go on. Guess.”
“Just…. just stop it.”
“You’ve already made that ‘very context specific’ joke. You’re now making it obtuse and crap.”

Pffft. I rolled my eyes and huffed. Before long, despair had set in from the painful truth: she was right. My joke was crap. No matter, I could easily conceal my bruised ego and sulking with a face of indifference.

“……… I know you’re sulking.”

Before long, we were rolling like Gorons towards the front gates. How unusual to have a theme park set amongst woody hills like this! As we had parked the Niteflymobile at the Dreammore Resort and taken the transportation trolley to the park, we were saved from the parking in the maddening and bemusingly ‘anti-choad’ carpark that serves Dollywood itself.


Isn’t it odd?

The quirky carpark was followed up with some quirky chat, as we stopped to pick up our ‘hotel complementary’ timesaver passes:

“OK - here are your passes!”

“You see that drop tower over there…. That’s over 200 foot tall!”
“Wow! Looks good!”
“…. you know, that ride was actually closed for some time.”
“Do you want to know why?”
“Go on. Guess.”
“Uh… because somebody fell out of the one in Orlando and died…?”
“Wow! Yes, that’s exactly right! Have a good day!”

Desperate to erase whatever had just happened from our minds, we recommenced our Goron-rolling through the gates and into the park.

Ooooooo different! For being such a well known and popular commercial behemoth, Dollywood has a certain ‘quaintness’ about. All ‘magic and spectacle’ that you might association with a Merlin or Disney park is replaced with a less bombastic ‘country’ aesthetic. There’s a heavy emphasis on mooching around and shows, which seemingly makes it very popular with senior folk - more so than with the Disneyworld parks. Why, I felt like a spritely young whippersnapper! *clicks heels*

The layout is very different as well, being more of less an isosceles triangle pointing up a hill, with a couple of offshoots. There is quite a lot going on in an ‘Epcot’ sort of way, but if you consider yourself a bona fide ‘Coaster Warlord’, like me, there is the possibility that you could feel short changed from the lack of elite rides that the park has…. If you don’t really dig what Dollywood has to offer, that is. Cedar Point, it is not.

What does it have on the coaster front then? Well…


Oh boy, huge mixed feeling going towards this one. For many years, Lightning Rod was notorious for being excellent but never operating. More recently, it’s been getting mixed reviews - it no longer powers over the top of the lift hill at full speed (for reliability reasons) and therefore takes the first half at a purportedly reduced pace. My expectations were therefore very tempered. But it was impossible to not feel excited seeing it in the flesh. Here we were, outside of Lightning Rod … and it was open! \o/

Before long, we were on the front row and launching up the first hill. “**** yeah!” I screamed internally, with my fists punching the air. There is something inherently funny and smile inducing about that launch.

I was expecting it to slow down before we crested that hill, which it did, but I wasn’t expecting to be flowjected up into the air regardless. Then the main drop happened and oh-my-god... from being flowjected up on the second crest, my bum didn’t touch my seat until the very bottom. The airtime was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe it! Then the wave turn happened…

This element is ****ing god-like. I was sharply buckeroo’ed out of my seat at the peak and again… it felt like an eternity before my bum finally hit the seat again. I was so shocked at how sustained the airtime was that I made a point of counting ‘Mississippis’ for it on my second ride; I clocked it at 3.5 to 4 seconds of pure coaster ecstasy. All elements from that point continued to astound me until eventually, the quad down happened. Now we were in true RMC-mode as the airtime became more and more furious, with savage ejector. Holy **** we really were flying now, hurghhnnn! Then, it was over.

“….. JUST SOOOO GOOD. IT WAS SOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOD!!!!”, I gleefully declared to the gods.

By the end of my second ride, I was bent over with my head was in my hands on the break run, pretty much speechless. I was experiencing the most wonderful and jubilant of emotions: I had been amazed. That's not a feeling that comes along very often. At that moment, I was seriously questioning whether Steel Vengeance had been trumped and if I had a new number one coaster.

Then on our fourth ride, our good luck ended and we were placed somewhere other than the front row. It was at this point that Lightning Rod’s pitch to be number one was shattered. There was no airtime on the main drop. The airtime everywhere was reduced. The ride was considerably rougher. Oh no…

Lightning Rod did redeem itself via a number of good rides on other rows but there are no doubts about it, it offers by far the best ride on the front row and there is unfortunately a risk of a duff ride elsewhere. How funny that just being sat a few meters away can make such a difference.

But when it’s good, boy is it great. Perhaps, unbeatable. Overall, even taking into account the duff ride or two that we had, I think Lightning Rod gives the best airtime of any coaster I’ve been on (yes, better than Steel Vengeance IMO). It also has by far away the most comfy RMC seats I’ve been on. The padding is a lot softer which makes the airtime far more comfortable even during the torso-separating moments.

Lightning Rod is short, ultra-sweet and has bags of character thanks to its funky launch and woodland setting, much more character than any of the larger RMCs I’ve been on. Worthy of its legendary status and a true one off *claps*

Oh, speaking of Coaster Warlords… look at this lady who made it from her wheelchair and onto the back row!!!


My god, she must have been in her late 80s!

Me and several fellow riders were all very worried that she was about to get a serious injury and I did contemplate whether I should say something to the staff… but I ultimately decided that it was none of my business and that, perhaps, I was being condescending with my concern. I will never forget seeing her come down the quad down from the station windows though. What a legend.

Speaking of legends, we bumped into another one right outside of Lightning Rod's station....


“No, surely not!?”

Yes, Dolly Parton herself was in attendance! From what I could gather, she was filming a ‘Christmas special’ due to come out this year. How surreal.

Continue anticlockwise around ‘the triangle’, the next coaster we came across was Blazing Fury. Really, this was more of a rustic dark ride than a coaster, but we both enjoyed it. It’s just one of those ‘classic rides’, you know?


For some reason this sight in the station really made me laugh.


I diligently stored the moment away with other memories where I found things inexplicably amusing.

Tennessee Tornado was up next. This arrow is surprisingly smooth but very forceful, not one for those that are sensitive to positive forces. One ride was enough for us, but we were glad to have done it.


Taken over a fence - very tricky to get images of this one.

Wild Eagle was located just around the corner. I don’t find myself having much to say about it. Yup, it was a B&M wing coaster. The trains were fun. Otherwise it was just sort of there, not offering anything unique. Quite forgettable.


Amazing statute though.

Firechaser Express was much more interesting. It’s quite intimidating for a family ride as the track is surprisingly high from the ground at points, although it never actually delivers high thrills.


Very cool looking.

The backwards section is great on paper but made both of us feel rather nauseous. Going backwards whilst perpetually bobbing and turning is a great way to ruin a ride. It’s like throwing a big poo into a high speed fan... you just don’t ****ing do it!!!

Mrs. Nitefly was now very excited because we were approaching Mystery Mine. She had decided (years ago) that this ride would be one of her favourites. Perhaps I had recklessly encouraged her, but honestly I was always just happy to see her so excited for it. Now, stood in front of the ride, the hype was real.

“Mystery Mine! Mystery Mine! Oooh… do you think it would be as good as I’m hoping!”
“Yeah, it’ll be great!!”
“You think?!”
“I’m so excited!!! Eeee!”

Just as we were boarding, a look of concern appeared on her face.

“…. this looks like Saw.”
“Don’t worry it won’t be anywhere near as head-bangy as that.”
“…. OK!”


As it turns out, Mystery Mine has the most absurd head banging of any ride I’ve ever been on. It doesn’t ever make sense - your head gets banged on corners you’re taking at about 5 - 10 mph. What the heck!

OWWWWWW”, wailed Mrs. Nitefly.
“You’ve just got to stick your neck out… like this”, I triumphantly declared as I extended my neck out like Inspector Gadget.
*BANG BANG* “Huergghhghh!” I squealed as my neck nearly got ****ing chopped off on the next 5mph bend, causing my neck to retract back in like a tortoise.

Various unsettling noises of discomfort were made by Mrs. Nitefly until, at long last, the ride came to a stop.

“Um…. So what did you think?”, I asked meekly.


Ooff. Mrs. Nitefly’s death stare is still stinging my retinas to this day. There was nothing I could do or say to redeem the situation.


That feeling when you let down a loved one and they hurt their head.

After a quick detour to ride Dragonflier (which was OK but the Energylandia equivalent is a bit better), we were up for our final coaster: Thunderhead. This is a wild and rickety beast, but pretty good with an unpredictable twister layout - great second half.

Mrs. Nitefly then insisted that I ride the drop tower as punishment for my crime of making her excited for Mystery Mine.


I hate drop towers and I hated this one too. But it was a fair punishment.

A couple of misc. snaps:


Ah, the famous Grist Mill - the cinnamon bread from here was delicious, far better than our 'substitute bread' from Kentucky Kingdom. Well worth it.


This photo sums up that 'quaint-vibe' better than any words could.

I’ll round out this entry with our musical adventure. After all, it’s Dollywood… we had to see a show. We stumbled into a venue just as the lights were going out and the music started.

“We’re pleased to welcome… Sunday Drive!” *applause*


The look on our faces as we realised we just signed up for 45 minutes of Christian-worship country-rock.

They did get me good though, I’ll give them that.

“This…. this is our angry song”, the singer declared with a grin, peaking my interest (after several 'Jesus songs'). “Ooooo - dis gun’ be good”.

🎶 Well I was sittin’ in a traffic jam late for Sunday school
🎶 And I’m supposed to teach the class about the Golden Rule
🎶 When the guy behind me started acting crazy and blowing his horn
🎶 So I gave him one of those ugly looks like I wish he was never born
🎶 And it wasn’t pretty…

“Oooh **** - it’s kicking off right now!” - my anticipation was maxing out.

🎶 Now it didn’t phase him he was wearing a smile and blowed that horn some more
🎶 So I pitched a fit and yelled a bit and he quit blowing that horn
🎶 I was feeling pretty good about the way I shut that old boy up
🎶 Until I remember the bumper sticker on the back of my old truck
🎶 And this is what it said….

At this moment my world just stopped as I realised what was about to happen - “NO. THEY DIDN’T.”

They did.

🎶 Honk, honk if you love Jesus!! [Note: this caused me to lose my mind. I just couldn’t.]
🎶 Twice if you go to church!!
🎶 Three more times if you want to go to heaven!!
🎶 How about a smile if you love the Lord?

I gave a standing ovation. Oh, and if you want to listen to this anthem yourself, here it is.

Closing thoughts:

My time at Dollywood was twinned with staying at the excellent Dreammore Resort (as per my previous post). Taking those things together as experienced, Dollywood was spectacular - we enjoyed it immensely. Would we have been so enamoured had we not stayed at the Dreammore Resort? Possibly not. So I do recommend staying there to make the most of it.

Lightning Rod was mind-blowing, but that's your lot really as far as epic coasters go. Everything else is passable. You're going there more for experiencing the vibe and you'll probably not regret a visit if you make time for the other sights nearby (particularly the stunning smokey mountains).

Stay tuned: the Niteflymobile's next stop will be Carowinds.

Thanks for reading.
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Hyper Poster
Part 10 - Carowinds

"I like all music. The only music I don't like is bad music.”



As an enthusiast it's impossible not to be excited by the Carowinds skyline, especially arriving at night. It was akin to childlike anticipation on Christmas Eve.


"Oh, what exciting treats may await us tomorrow morning!"



The day brought with it one particularly enormous parcel that I was very excited to unwrap, one that was far too large to be placed under any tree...




Sweet baby Jesus!

The excitement was so intense that I entered the park on full auto-pilot, regaining awareness and memory only when the destination was right in front of me.

"Wow this looks incredible!" said Mrs. Nitefly.
"... hmm? ...... oh!"


Yes. Yes it did look incredible.

Fury 325 is surely one of the most 'bucket-listed' rides in the world. It has the tallest lift hill in existence, which is naturally appealing, and because it's purportedly 'more wild than other hyper-coasters', it's widely regarded as B&M's masterpiece.

Well, is it better and wilder than the other B&M hypers? I'd say... yes, it is. There is undeniable extra muscle, as if Fury 325 has put in overtime on the squat rack and added creatine to its monthly delivery of whey. The drop is obviously sensational, albeit not wildly dissimilar in feel to Orion's, and the roaring speed is carried supernaturally throughout. There are some positive forces on the turns too, never crushing but indicative of great speed (in a good way). All rides ended with smiles.

It's impressive that B&M have made the ride as smooth as it is considering the scale of it, the forces and the whopping 4-per-row trains. Yet, there was a sprinkling of the shuffle and vibration you might associate with the B&M hypers. Fury 325 was on the 'fair-to-good' end of that spectrum, thankfully.

As impressive as it is, I found myself rather unemotional towards it. It's effectively a juiced up version of a B&M hyper and I just don't think it's possible to refine that formula to my preferences without changing the basics. Significantly, I think the aesthetics of the crowd eating 4-per-row trains somehow make the B&M hypers feel 'safe and comfortable' rather than 'nimble and punchy' (as per the 2-per-row Intamin equivalents). It's a very controlled, 'corporate family party' sort of fun.

One conversation I had with a fellow guest on the lift hill was somewhat reflective of the pedestrian vibe I'm alluding to:

"So you're both from... England?"
"Yes, that's right!"
"Where about?"
"It's a City towards the west called Bristol. It's very nice!"
"Oh I've never heard of it."
"Yeah, it's not globally renowned..."
"... I'd like to go to Norway."
"Oh?" [at this point I was really wanting the trite conversation to end]
"Yes... I have some family out there."
"Oh, right"
*Some time passes*
"... so it would be really great to get to see them in Norway."
"Yeah, sounds great!"
*The train crests the lift hill*
"....... do you two have any kids?"
"Uh........ no".

And down the drop we went.


With Fury 325 done and dusted, it was time to explore the rest of the park. Sadly it wasn't long before major problems became apparent...

The area in which Carowinds is situated is both flat as a pancake and quite barren, giving Carowinds some very bland and uninspiring external facing sight-lines (which have not been addressed with landscaping - perhaps this is impossible). Compare the photos in this post to the others in this thread and you’ll see what I mean. The park itself is also surprisingly small compared, say, to Kings Island, and features some very ugly stretches of grey tarmac, particularly in the areas adjacent to Fury 325's plaza. Much of the perimeter is peppered with uninspiring, unsightly flat rides. Really, the overall vibe is as if somebody had 'dragged and dropped rides into place' on a computer game without attention to detail - there is no cohesive glue holding it all together. As an illustrative example, Thorpe Park, which could be argued to be a little soulless in its own right, compares very favourably to Carowinds in all of these regards.

Perhaps more significantly, the coaster line up is disastrous compared to some of the other parks we visited on this trip. This isn't obvious on paper because Fury 325 is a dazzling and distracting beacon, but once you have that under your belt... oh boy.

First up was the infamous Hurler, which has one the ugliest stations I've even seen.


"Party time! Excellent!"

The inside was even more depressing:


When you accidentally enter the TradePoint entrance at B&Q.

The coaster itself was forgettable and (here's that word again) bland, but fine. I was prepared for something hideous, but it fared better than I expected.

Moving round we passed Richochet, a wild mouse, and Carolina Goldrusher which is one of those Arrow mine trains that has extremely limited legroom. Unfortunately, my legs were forced into twinge/spasm positions by the ride op shunting down the lap bar. My right knee does a weird, unexplainable 'dislocation' party trick every few years (which is just as delightful as it sounds) and I was so frightened that my knee was about to 'fail' that I was in a semi-tearful and fully hysterical panic attack for the whole ride. It was traumatic. I will never ride one of these again.

Moving round the park some more we stumbled across another 'Boo Blasters' dark ride, which was in a terrible condition. None of the targets seemed to work, despite the guns firings. It also looked completely unloved. This was a desperately sad attraction. It actually made us feel sad.

It was up to B&M to lift the spirits with an invert:


"Do dooooo, do do do do dooooo 🎶"


Pretty impressive theming...


... and I loved the details on the train.

Damn, Afterburn is a mean one... definitely on the 'Batman the Ride' end of the spectrum. Aside from a rather nasty 'clang' towards the end of the layout (poor Mrs. Nitefly) this was an exemplary, fierce invert. Good stuff, but once was enough - any more and we'd be feeling very woozy.

Round the corner was Copperhead Strike.


This was very well themed compared to anything else in the park.

Here, we had a couple of the standard 'worst sex ever' Mack launches plus several inversions that had a deliberate emphasis on hang time, finished off with some bobbing and weaving. A Mack ride in the US is rare so we certainly appreciated the variety, but there was nothing memorable about it. Because of its interplay with other rides, I'd probably take Icon over Copperhead Strike.

I was groaning as we walked round to Intimidator. Another one of these?


"Yawn yawn yawn", I thought.

To my delight, I was surprised to find that Intimidator was actually pretty good, restoring my faith slightly in the B&M hyper model. Good airtime, large hills... lots to like here. Of course, it could never compete with Fury 325. It's a little bemusing to find them both in the same park.

I was quite excited to go on Nighthawk, but it turns out it has been down all season.


I understand this is unspeakably bad - I wanted to know what the fuss was all about.

Sadly, I was therefore unable to get the T-Shirt.


That's an in-joke if there ever was one.

At this point, there were plenty of other rides to go on... but, why? Considering that we don't count our credits, there was absolutely nothing to be gained by riding the following:
  • Carolina Cyclone: a bland Arrow - we would be riding Loch Ness Monster the following day.
  • Kiddy Hawk: dubbed a 'hang and bang'.
  • The Flying Cobras: a boomerang.
  • Vortex: a B&M stand-up of notoriety.
  • Some other 'kiddie creds'.
We gave all of that 'stocking filler tat' a miss, opting for re-rides on Fury 325. Soon, we were done with that and aimlessly wandering about to find something to do. Huh. Let's hit the road, I guess...

Upon our final wander, we did bump into one area that was actually quite pretty:


I couldn't help but think: Fury 325 is to B&M hypers as to what this photo is to Carowinds.

As we left, the stench of bins polluted the entrance midway. Gross.

Closing thoughts:

B-movie legend Bruce Campbell once remarked the following, which has nothing (yet actually everything) to do with Carowinds:

“What if you were offered a chance to appear in a movie based on a Michael Crichton novel [author of Jurassic Park]? It will be directed by veteran Frank Marshall [director of Arachniphobia and Alive; producer: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Poltergeist]. Stan Winston will handle the special effects [The Terminator, Aliens and The Thing] and it will be a big budget Paramount production. Sounds good? Congratulations, you just made ‘Congo.’”

How apt.

Despite the promising ingredients 'on paper', I'm very sad to report that Carowinds is simply not a good amusement park. This surprised us considering that: (i) the ride line-up seems fair at face value; and (ii) it's in the 'until this point' excellent-in-our-experience Cedar Fair chain. But Carowinds is absolutely nothing like Kings Island or Cedar Point, which both have far more charm and much better ride line-ups.

As mentioned, Fury 325 distracts from the mediocrity and, as good as that ride is, it can't carry the whole park. Afterburn and Intimidator are pretty good, but then that's your lot. Even taking into account Fury 325, I'd say that Thorpe Park may have a better ride line-up than Carowinds (it's very close), which astonishes me to say but that's how I feel.

Clearly, you can't just bung down rides on a flat piece of land and expect to conjure a rewarding atmosphere, so if I can take away another positive, it's my new appreciation for good park design.

Stay tuned: the next instalment will cover our time at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Thanks for reading.
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Donkey in a hat
Hate to be that guy... (wait, what am I saying? I absolutely love being that guy 😁)... but I thought Rob Bottin was the special effects guy on The Thing, not Stan Winston?

*Edited to add: Humble apologies - according to imdb, both Rob Bottin and Stan Winston worked on The Thing (Bottin mainly did the make-up effects, Stan did the dog-monster thing). Who knew? 🤷‍♂️
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Strata Poster
Just catching up with this report, really well written and reminds me of my trips in the past.

Totally agree on Carowinds, I think i spent the last 3 hours of my trip there just re-riding Fury and Afterburn with a sprinkling of Indimidator rides, the filler really is bad and there's no decent dark rides or water rides either. The only reason I stayed so long was because the night rides on Fury were just...

Count your lucky stars about Nighthawk, one of the worst rides in existence.


Hyper Poster
Part 11 - Busch Gardens Williamsburg

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”



Golly gosh, it’s a long way from Carowinds to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW). The total journey is a whopping five hours in duration, although I first started to hallucinate around three hours in. First, an ominous, long grey object appeared and seemed to stretched out in front of me indefinitely (the road). Then, I noticed that curious shapes of different colours were moving all around me at varying speeds (cars). My hands clenched the steering wheel tightly. What was happening to me!? I thought I had finally cracked when floating letters overhead suggested that the park was nearby.



It wasn’t long before we were parked up.

“Well, that wasn’t so bad!” said Mrs. Nitefly.
“Mmm.” I replied.

Of all the parks on our two road trips, BGW felt like the most ‘exotic’ to visit. It’s been on my radar since my childhood rollercoaster book contained a photo of the Loch Ness Monster’s interlocking loops. Magnificent! Yet, impossible to get to... which made for a very sad young Nitefly. I recall looking at that photo very wistfully over the years. But now, thanks to the power of ‘being an adult’, I had realised the impossible. Pow! Take that, pathetic mortal childhood self! *punches inner-child in the face*

How strange that this ‘exotic’ park would be themed to some of the least exotic countries in the world… although that somehow makes it even more ‘exotic’. I couldn’t wait to explore.

The entry plaza is themed to England, which is just as rad as it sounds. The clock tower was particularly enjoyable:


It was as if a child had been asked to draw ‘Big Ben’ on a piece of paper with a brown crayon.

The sight caused my brain to suddenly connect back to a reoccurring dream I used to have throughout my childhood, in which ‘Big Ben’ suddenly transformed into an enormous crocodile that stomped around and ****ing roared. Aww yeh!

There was no time for promenading though; we instead dashed over to the number one coaster on the hit list.

Ahoy, Pantheon!


Oof. You wouldn’t want to step on it barefoot, would you?


According to Wikipedia, this ride is a former Roman temple and, since 609 AD, a Catholic church.

Much has been said about Pantheon’s lack of theming but it didn’t particularly bother me, even if it was a little lacking compared to some of BGW’s other coasters. We managed to get in four rides in total, including a front row and a back row.

It’s a cracking ride. The launch into the first inversion is a good start, then after some slightly redundant and silly weaving you’re onto the highlight: the swing launch. The backwards airtime here is legit - guaranteed to draw a reaction every time. The top hat is much better towards the front of the train as you’ll get great airtime, but overall this element feels like it’s taken a little too slowly. The final portions are strong, with an excellent stall, a quick twist and a sideways airtime hill to finish it off. Very impressive. As it stands, it’s a top 20 ride for me. Good job, BGW!

If Pantheon took the top hat with a little more pace, I could see this climbing my rankings slightly and possibly overtaking VelociCoaster. Really, I think that both rides could do with a bit more pep on their ’slower-paced’ sections which currently hold them back. Regardless, Pantheon definitely put the final nail in the coffin of the long-dying, old-as-Plato 'back row is the best' myth. Yes, that backward spike is a little more exciting in the back, but all other elements were substantially superior in the front row, particularly the top hat.

Nearby was Tempesto, a Sky Rocket II. Riding this was a 'pass' from us, but how silly is it that Tempesto and Pantheon, both swing-launchers, are immediately next to each other?


It did look cool at dusk though.

I was far more interested in the adjacent Apollo’s Chariot, being the original B&M hyper. The aesthetics made this very appealing; it dives out into woodland and over water.

Whilst the visuals from the ride were indeed great, sadly it was otherwise lacking. Weak airtime, slow pacing and notable ‘B&M-hyper-shuffle’ put Apollo’s Chariot down in the company of Raging Bull as my least favourite out of the B&M hypers that I’ve ridden. I suspect this was largely down to its outdated profiling, which has since been bettered by the manufacturer. It’s a shame, because the setting is the best of the bunch.

Moving further clockwise we travelled over a bridge that gave the well known view of the ‘Big Bad Wolf’ drop.


The woodland setting really does make the park very pleasant to mooch around.

Up next was Verbolten, which was like throwing the duff ingredients of Rita and Thirteen into a blender and hoping for the best. It wasn’t very good. The most notable thing to say is how intense it was in places; there were a couple of overly forceful sections, both indoors and shortly after the decent over the water. Worst of all though was the insanely annoying repetition of “auf wiedersehen!” In the station. It was ****ing maddening even just for a few minutes. The staff here looked utterly miserable. I’m not surprised.

We then rode a fairly limp Mack drop tower before stopping off for lunch in their impressive Festhaus.


Very Munich.

Festhaus was a delightful place to eat and rest once you had food in front of you, although somehow the cafeteria-like service was insanely slow and bottlenecked by other guests taking an ice-age to decide what food they wanted. The menus are on the ****ing board, the food is there for you to grab (no prep) and you’ve had about 20 minutes to choose - how thick are you?! I got fed up waiting for no reason and charged passed several of the meandering doofuses stood there like lemons, who are probably still stood there contemplating their choices. The food calmed me down though. I must have been hangry.

Next up was Alpengiest, which I was really looking forward to. This was another ‘childhood book classic’. It looked fabulous. I adored the details, including the skis attached to the sides of the trains and the strange looking lift supports.



The first drop on Alpengiest is fantastic, an oversized swirler that launches up into an equally fantastic Immelmann. I was reminded of Banshee as the elements were 'jumbo' for an invert, but Alpengiest impressively lacked Banshee’s rattle.

The cobra roll is towering, but unfortunately one of B&M’s jankiest. The train then jolted into the midcourse and sadly lost all momentum. This must be one of the most dramatic slow downs on a MCBR out there. The final section included a fun dive towards the log flume, a zero-g roll, a corkscrew and finally some meandering over artificial ’snowy ground’.


It was all very photogenic.

There’s a lot to like here. The initial sections of Alpengiest are probably the best on any of the larger B&M inverts and the theming is fun. Unfortunately, the cobra-roll and mid-course are both very regretful. A great but flawed ride.

I had now taken in quite a lot of BGW and was starting to form a view on its presentation. It’s certainly one of the prettier parks out there thanks to its beautiful setting. The theming itself is not up there with Europa-Park, but it’s more than passable and definitely the best we had seen in the US outside of the Orlando parks. What a relief for the mind after the eyesore that was Carowinds!

The park also benefitted from a few animal displays that we really enjoyed.


I initially humanised this majestic horse as a silent, lonely giant. I desperately wanted to give him a hug, but I couldn't. I therefore abandoned my solemn humanisation and made him fun by adding sound effects.



We took a ride on the park’s log flume (Le Scoot) and then headed over to Ivadr, which had a very fun entrance.


My dream vehicle.

The ride itself was OK but lacked memorable moments and character. I'd definitely take Wickerman over this.

Griffon, the park’s dive coaster was just around the corner. I enjoyed SheiKra earlier this year but I found Griffon very rattly and uncomfortable, which surprised me because I’ve never had an uncomfortable ride on a dive coaster before. I presume this was because I was placed on the outer seat in the row and was getting the worst of it.


Not the best ride for me - hopefully you will have better luck.

After an ice cream and trips on both the circular train and the fabulous sky-ride, my game face was deployed. It was time to track down the mythical beast that had tormented my childhood. Nothing could stop me. Even if the ride was closed, I’d still ride it. The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run!

Suddenly, it was there:


Classic. Just… classic.

I stood there in awe for a few minutes. It was just like the photo from my book. I was a little emotional.

The ride entrance dazzled me as well - how cool is this!


The correct answer is 'very'.

The queue was quite well themed, with diving equipment, submarines and such. A pleasant surprise!

Of course, this is an Arrow. I wasn’t expecting it to be good. But… I loved it. Sure, the the profiling was undeniably shonky in places - some awkward transitions - but it was probably the smoothest ‘classic arrow’ I’ve done other than Tennessee Tornado. Regardless of the smoothness, Loch Ness Monster was just too cool and unique to not enjoy it. The whole way round, I was laughing, as if all those years of pining had been released. Interlocking loops! Going over the water! A spiral in a cave! We janked into the break run and clapped. I will definitely take a single memorable classic ride over endless derivative clones. I felt like Eddie Valiant when he affectionately complemented Betty Boop: “Yeah… you still got it.”

On our way back to our final rides on Pantheon, we made time for Escape from Pompeii, which we had passed earlier on during our 'morning dash'.


"Does it almost feel like you've been here before?" 🎶

It’s a short one-drop special, but the theming is brilliant - it’s everything that Journey to Atlantis should be, with punchy fire effects. Well worth checking out.

Now fully satiated after a fine day’s riding, we made our way back passed the Crayola clock tower on our way towards the exit. I decided to share my silly reoccurring childhood dream with Mrs. Nitefly.

“Ha, you know… as a kid, I used to have a dream about ‘Big Ben’ turning into a giant crocodile." Mrs. Nitefly immediately stopped dead in her tracks.
“… what’s up?” I asked.
Mrs. Nitefly’s face was full of intense realisation.
“… that … that was no dream.”
“…. what?”
“It really happened! The ‘Big Ben’ crocodile was definitely a thing.”
“That’s ridiculous….”

*suspenseful music*

... an intro to an old political BBC News show!

Amazing! Although I confess, I'm slightly disappointed that my imagination didn't come up with it *sulk*

Closing thoughts:

BGW is a gorgeous park with a good/fair ride line-up. It's striking to me that the most enjoyable coasters were: (i) the 'cutting-edge new', and (ii) the 'unique classic'. Aside from Alpengiest, the others were passable at best. But I can't knock the variety.

This is definitely a park that we'd revisit and can recommend, so I'm pleased to say that we were very much back on track with BGW.

Stay tuned: in the next instalment we'll be taking on Kings Dominion.

Thanks for reading.
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Hyper Poster
Part 12 - Kings Dominion

"A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a princess who dreamed of the human world."



Even ten parks into our quest, the road signs were still as exciting as ever.


Taken just before we swerved around the unsettling Vemicious Knid seen here approaching to our left.

There is only an hour of driving between Kings Dominion and BGW, so aside from the mild stress of having our flesh eaten, it was a luxurious drive.

The familiar 'Eiffel Tower'-replica centrepiece beamed over us reassuringly as we entered, amongst unexpected lush greenery:


Very nice. If Kings Dominion was only half as good as Kings Island, we were in for a treat.

At first appearances, Kings Dominion comes across as the slightly janky, 'lopsided' version of its Ohioan brother. The 'Eiffel Tower' is not really a 'centre-piece' at all (much of the park is positioned to its left) and the vibe is also a little less 'heritage'. But this only helped give Kings Dominion a welcome character of its own. Besides, it more than holds its own when it comes to the coasters: Kings Dominion's offering is top notch.

An enthusiastic Mrs. Nitefly bounced with excitement and suggested we head straight over to Intimidator 305, causing me to promptly vocalise my emotional state towards this suggestion:



The correct approach, obviously, was to go on Tumbili first. Being the new ride, that had the highest potential for a lengthy queue. Hitting the rides in the optimal order that I planned was absolutely essential to us having a good time. With the whole day now in jeopardy, we marched over to Tumbili. Mrs. Nitefly was quite confused by my scowling. To this day, I still don't think she knows what she put me through.

Ooo, we haven't done one of these yet.


I cried a single tear of appreciation at the paint job on the supports.

I really had no idea what to expect, but what I definitely should have done was braced my neck. The spinning, whilst infrequent, was very intense - far more so than something like Talocan. My head unexpectedly lurched forward and aggressively snapped backwards to hit the headrest with force - ouch! I felt like I had been punched and spent the rest of the ride in a shocked daze. Not a good start to the day. I would go on another freespin later in the trip but I'll give my warning now: you really must brace and keep your head pinned to the headrest on these.

With that out of way, it was time to get serious.


What have we here?



Our expectations were sky-high from Millennium Force and Intimidator 305 delivered. It's a beast of a coaster. Rides of this jumbo scale are unreservedly joyous; blistering speed is dumb fun at its very best.

It also lived up to its reputation as being one of the more intense rides out there. The post-drop turn did make me grey out every time and the infamous 'twisty' sections were very forceful so some bracing is recommended, even on the very last twist before the break-run. But it didn't overdo it. We were never uncomfortable.

It's a very close call, but I would have to give the nod to Millennium Force as my favourite of the two. It has all the speed with added length and world-beating visuals. Meanwhile, Mrs. Nitefly preferred Intimidator 305, for its punchiness and intensity. Ultimately, you can't go wrong with either - both sit in my top 10. Mrs. Nitefly and I agreed though that these Intamin gigas easily best Fury 325, which neither of us expected. As others often say, you never truly know your preferences until you ride these rides yourself.

Intimidator 305 was followed up by 3 decent supporting rides. First up was Flight of Fear. We were dreading this slightly after our terrible 'head-banging' ride on Rock and Rollercoaster earlier in the year, but we really enjoyed it. The lack of shoulder restraints and sitting in row one made it as smooth as we could hope for (considering its age) and the launch was impressive. Together with its fun queue, it came across as more of a 'full package' than most rides on our trip. Not bad at all.

Reptilian followed, which was an average bobsled but those are always fun.


Recently re-themed... great sign.

Speaking of themes, the whole of the 'Jungle X-Pedition' area was quite well presented and seemed to be loaded with Easter eggs for enthusiasts.


The animals on this poster seemed to correspond with existing rides... so I presume the eventual Volcano replacement will be themed to a bird or a big cat.

The final of the likable trio loomed out over a lake, partially hidden from view.


It was now passed noon and the bin men still hadn't turned up for the weekly collection.

That's right. I liked Anaconda. I said it.

Much like Loch Ness Monster from the day before, these custom arrow loopers have a heap load of charm. Anaconda's party trick is darting out 'into' the lake, followed by some of the strangest, laughably bad track-profiling anywhere in the world, with a finale of the 'slow motion' corkscrews.


It's just like VelociCoaster. Sort of.

Once was enough, but it put a smile of our faces and that's all I could ask for. I would take a quirky ride like this 10x over something less memorable. Speaking of...


Dominator offered nothing over its B&M siblings. A slightly atypical set of turns isn't enough to make it noteworthy.

After lunch, I faced my fears on the park's impressive drop tower:


This one is huge and vicious, with some of the lowest-in-height 'last second' braking out there.

It was then time to get serious again as we headed round to the the park's other anticipated highlight, Twisted Timbers:


Airtime... here we come...

Just as we got to the front of the queue, it broke down and we were then eventually asked to exit the station. Noooooooo! I squealed like a Nazgûl at the tragedy. Here we were, about to get on a fabled RMC... and it ****ing broke. *****.

We passed some time by riding the parks woody, Grizzly, which was OK (nicely nestled in the woods) and Racer 75 (a racing classic) but at this point I was too distraught by the possibility of missing out on the RMC to have given either of them adequate attention. After several hours of angst, Twisted Timbers finally reopened for the final 90 minutes of the day. Result!

Yikes, there really is nothing like an RMC when it comes to airtime, is there? Twisted Timbers is the real deal. The three back-to-back camelbacks are astonishing. World class. *Standing ovation* and so on. It immediately punched its way into the upper rankings from that sequence alone.

As for the rest of the ride, much like Storm Chaser (Kentucky Kingdom), it gets very aggressive and some defensive riding was necessary. Even riding it 'correctly' (note: push your hips forwards to make sure the lap bar is as far up your legs as possible) it was borderline too much in certain seats. For that reason, Twisted Timbers was definitely a mid-train ride for us. It solidified my opinion that the larger RMCs (Iron Gwazi, Zadra, Steel Vengeance) offer a better, more balanced ride than the fiesty, snappy smalls ones (Storm Chaser, Twisted Timbers).

Also, isn't it funny that Twisted Timbers never makes a left turn? I dramatically threw it onto the floor, declaring that it needed to be at least four times bigger.

Some park oddities to finish off the entry:


This barbershop quartet of singing mushrooms was most pleasing...


... unlike these game prizes - clearly, we were in a 'Kings' park.

Closing thoughts:

We had a fabulous time at Kings Dominion. It has one of the best 'one-two punches' going (Intimidator 305, Twisted Timbers) and with its excellent mix of quirky supporting coasters, you could already make a good argument for Kings Dominion having one of the best coaster collections out there. Just imagine how good it will be if it gets another elite ride to replace Volcano...!

Brilliant park, highly recommended 👍

Stay tuned: in the next instalment, things get very busy at Hersheypark.

Thanks for reading.
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Donkey in a hat
The sight caused my brain to suddenly connect back to a reoccurring dream I used to have throughout my childhood, in which ‘Big Ben’ suddenly transformed into an enormous crocodile that stomped around and ****ing roared. Aww yeh!

Was it a dream though?? 🤔

*Edit/note to self: must finish reading posts before prematurely jumping in with triumphant "It wasn't a dream!" type comments...
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Hyper Poster
Part 13 - Hersheypark

"The suspense is terrible.... I hope it will last.”



After a day's 'rest' touring Washington D.C. (which was absolutely exhausting) we set off in good spirits to the penultimate park of our trip. At this point, I was so wired to the ‘theme park mentality’ and ‘life means rides’ that, other than the enjoyable historical landmarks from the day before, there was little room to admire anything else.


"Wow, stunning!!!", I remarked at the sign.

We would be visiting Hersheypark on a Sunday (in August), which is located in the ‘unincorporated community’ (?) of Hershey. The heavy traffic we encountered upon our arrival was ominous: it was still over an hour until park opening. Surely this wasn’t all… park traffic?! Astonishingly, it was *gulp*

If the norm on our road trips was ‘low to middling’ crowds, Hersheypark was the notable exception. It was rammed. I’m talking ‘spring break at Magic Kingdom’ rammed. Actually, no… it felt even busier, if you can believe that. Fearing the worst and knowing that we probably wouldn’t be back here for many years, we hastily and somewhat painfully ordered Fast-Track passes online before we had departed from the Niteflymobile. These were very expensive and it would have been even more expensive (and busier) if it was a Saturday.... so be warned: if you’re contemplating a similar road trip itinerary during the summer, I’d recommend engineering your visit to Hersheypark to a weekday if you can. But even that can be busy.

Hersheypark presents itself as more of a ‘premium destination’ than the typical park. It’s mostly pristine and has a ‘polished’ sort of feel to it, not too dissimilar from the Universal Orlando parks.


The new ‘Chocolate Town’ entrance area is immaculate.

It’s also wholly devoid of popular international IPs. Instead, there is a light theme towards…. Herhsey’s ‘brand mascots’:


These guys - who pop up everywhere.

It’s ****ing surreal. The British-relatable equivalent would be having a massive, well-polished park themed to the Kellogg's Variety pack characters:


... I'd visit.

And isn’t there something just really unsettling about characters that are chirpy notwithstanding the fact that they are going to be eaten? Every time I saw a chocolate bar with a happy face I was reminded of those nightmarish, 'cannibalistic' characters you sometimes see outside of hot dog and ice cream stands.



Having endured the soul destroying agony of waiting for Twisted Timbers to re-open at King's Dominion, there was no chance that I was going to allow such anxiety to arise again if I could help it. We marched round to the legendary Skyrush to get it ticked off the list, first and pronto.

I stared upwards at the mythical monster for the entirety of the approach, admiring the curious 'elegant yet chunky' construction of that unusually-yellow lift hill. My, he's such a thicc boy! My cheerful face and eager eyes eventually reverted back to ground level as we arrived at the ride entrance.


"YOU SON OF A *****."

I collapsed on the floor in a manner not dissimilar to the man in Radiohead's music video for 'Just'. Why do I even ****ing bother? What is life?

"Don't worry - it says it's only 'temporarily' closed." said Mrs. Nitefly, in a manner akin to an emotionally stable adult.
"Mmm....." I replied huffily, staring off into the distance at nothing in particular. I admired her courage, but nothing could cheer me up at this point.
"........ I'll buy you a popcorn later?"
".............. mmm!"
I nodded, before performing an impromptu and joyous backflip in anticipation of my snack.

So, what else then? Candymonium was already posting a 2 hour wait time in the standard queue (!) and the Fast-Track queue probably wasn't going to get any shorter - let's do it.


It looks surprisingly great for a coaster that's opted for 'poo-brown'.

Candymonium's queue was most enjoyable for one key reason: the ride announcements consistently referred to the ride as "Can-dih-monium" (and not the ridiculous purported pronunciation of "Can-dee-monium"). "I ****ing knew it!" I beamed, in turbo-smug mode. I have never been anonymous in my distain for "Can-dee-monium". In fact, it's synonymous to say my prayers had been answered. SO SMUG.

Getting onto the ride, we realised it was yet another B&M hyper. Oh, right. I would say Candymonium had decent floater airtime but it was less potent and overall less impressive than Mako. After doing so many of these, it just felt by-the-numbers and unremarkable. Everyone else was roaring and having the time of their lives, but we sat there in silence: sunglasses on, not caring. “Wait.... sunglasses on not caring...? Maybe this endless, crippling emotional pain is just my Theme Park Superhero powers finally awakening?”, I mused internally, post-ride. “Yes - that must be it!!” *clicks heels*

Next up was Comet, which was not imposing in stature but a very decent family woody, much longer in duration than I had anticipated based on what I had assumed pre-ride to be a very small footprint. It's nestled quite nicely adjacent to Skyrush and a lake, so its aesthetically pleasing too. Nobody talks about Comet but I thought it was great. Already, not even an hour into the day, the standard queue was overflowing into the midway - well over an hour's wait. Yikes.

SuperDooperLooper was up next, which is such a fabulously silly name that it transgresses my default frowning at 'undue alliteration'. It also had a queue alarmingly spilling out onto the midway (I'll drop the 'crowd' comments from this point - you get the idea). SDL was another surprised hit - easygoing, good ol' theme park fun. The cheers of laughter from other riders added to the experience. I suspect this is many children's first inverting coaster. Taken together, Comet and SDL show how important it is to have easy-going but also decent supporting family-thrill coasters to prop up your headliners.

"... when are we going to go on the spinner ride... Laff Track, is it?" enquired Mrs. Nitefly, causing me to panic as I recalled that said ride had no Fast-Track entrance... we should have gone there first.
"Uh... right now!"

Unfortunately, it was located at the very other end of the park, so it was quite a trek. At this point it dawned on me how unconventional Hersheypark's layout is - the entrance is very far away from the back of the park, the paths are sprawling with many pinch points, it's not particularly 'zoned'... basically about as far away from a Magic Kingdom 'hub and spoke' type set-up as you can get.

Laff Track's queue was just under an hour, which is very long for what it was, but we enjoyed it and its quirky theme: a neon 'fun house'. It seems that I quite enjoy these themed, indoor spinners!

Just as we thought it was a good time to have a sit and a break, I noticed on the park's app that Skyrush was apparently back open... there was no time to lose! Back, we marched, to the far end of the park... to find it open and waiting for us.


Come on then, thicc boy!

Uhhh... yeah.

Skyrush is an odd ride, possibly one of the most 'GP unfriendly' rides out there. The restraints are strange and notoriously uncomfortable when it comes to airtime, but more alarming is the lack of lateral support on the seats. Most modern coasters have slight 'bucket'-like seating which restricts lateral movement, but not Skyrush. Here, you are almost completely exposed, meaning that there is a relatively higher potential to rag-doll around if you were to let your body be completely limp, which is not something I would recommend unless you're keen to expose yourself to a neck or back injury. I found this added nothing to the enjoyment of the ride, but can foresee that some enthusiasts may draw quiet enjoyment in how this could alarm others - much like how I myself might share and 'recommend' a horror film that I found particularly frightening or stressful.

The speed up the lift hill is very impressive and the drop is excellent, featuring a 'buck' that can't be visibility observed off-ride. Otherwise, I found the experience to be disappointing. Skyrush rattled my lower back uncomfortably in its valleys and whilst I cannot deny that the ejector airtime was on the extreme side, it was no more extreme than your standard RMC and less extreme than those I have experienced with 'overkill snap' (like Twisted Timbers, Storm Chaser and Lightening Run). The layout felt like several elements peppered around a 'figure of 8' than anything with creative sequencing or character. Then it just ended. Huh.

"That was poo" declared Mrs. Nitefly, immediately.
"Let's give it another chance...." I replied bashfully, knowing that I had lured Mrs. Nitefly to this park on the basis of Skyrush being a potential top 10 candidate.

Our thoughts remained the same after our second ride. We had no appetite for a third.

Skyrush's reputation was perhaps earned before the current era of RMC-domination. In that context, I can see how this ride would gain praise for being relatively aggressive and uncompromising in its approach. But now, it seems to me to be an outclassed, evolutionary dead-end. After all the hype surrounding it, Skyrush didn't come close to getting in my top 30.

Something that did meet and exceed expectations though was Great Bear, a B&M invert probably most well known for it's unusual post-lift hill helix and quirky supports (presumably shaped because they couldn't be built in the water).


It looks pretty standard from this photo (quirky supports not shown) - but don't be fooled!

It's really good. Graceful and plenty of character, probably one of the better inverts out there. With its quirkiness I can understand why someone might place it as their favourite. We then moved onto Fahrenheit, a loopy Intamin with a vertical lift hill.


Hmm, low expectations... let's see.

It was quite unremarkable and, like many other loopers that just loop around the place, somewhat dated. It was nowhere near as thrilling Maverick, nor as diverse as VelociCoaster. It had that 'coaster-for-the-sake-of-a-coaster' vibe, you know?

At this point, the heavens opened up into a tremendous storm, which we braved out by visiting the zoo that is included with park admission. Even though it was a forced diversion, it was a welcome change of pace - animals are always a treat.



*Snap snap*



*Porc porc*

Those bugs from another dimension that we countered in the Smokey Mountains:



Before I could react, Mrs. Nitefly had already launched one of her shoulder missiles at the nest as a pre-emptive attack - *BANG* - destroying it in a fiery blaze and causing the crowds to cheer in approval. Good job, Mrs. Nitefly!

Once the rain had ceased, we made our way to our final anticipated 'highlight' of the park: Storm Runner.


Both stations were in operation.

Storm Runner is excellent. Take Stealth, add some really weird elements at the end of it and you've got the idea. OK, it might not have a launch that's quite that intense, but the weirdness more than makes up for it. Even if you scoff at the name of the 'Flying Snake Dive' element, it's still a treat in execution. My favourite part is the sequencing into and out of the first inversion: a huge dive, a swoop back upwards, then a high twist-out. Mega.

There were still treats to be had though. Lightening Racer was a mid-tier dualing woody but those are always fun. Then, the big surprise and a true highlight of the whole day: Reece's Cupfusion, the interactive shooting ride. This was by far away one of the best shooting dark rides we have ever done - the only thing in the same league really is Men in Black at Universal Orlando (with 3rd place to the shooting ride at Kennywood). Impeccably presented and featuring a mix of animatronics and high quality screens, it ended with an extended boss battle sequence - **** yeah! Get that monster! Hurrghn! I loved it.

As good out the whole day had been, it ended on a bit of a sour note. After queuing 20ish minutes to get a final front row ride on Great Bear, the ride ops shunted 10-15 people queuing for the front row to fill out other rows, as it was "time for the last ride of the evening", which understandably caused major annoyance for those affected. What they should have done was close the front row early. This was particularly aggravating as the rides ops then preceded to have several rides on it themselves afterwards, which all the affected the guests (including us) could have ridden. Why do that?! Argh. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. However, thankfully, Mrs. Nitefly was true to to her word and relieved this bad taste with a bag of delicious, freshly-popped popcorn. Yum.

The mascots then waved us off as we left.


... creepy.

Closing thoughts:

Hersheypark is a well-rounded, well-presented park that's definitely worth a visit. Sure, it's 'enthusiast-super-headliner' (Skyrush) was underwhelming for us, but it nevertheless packs in a strong and varied collection of thrill and family coasters, plus a unique vibe. Once 'Wildcat's Revenge' (their new RMC) is up and running, I think it will become unstoppably 'top tier'.

Stay tuned: in the next (final!) instalment of our road trip saga, we take on the mighty Six Flags Great Adventure.

Thanks for reading.
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Hyper Poster
Part 14 - Six Flags Great Adventure

Intro Music

"... somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame. Like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are: it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can GET hit - and keep moving forward. How much you can TAKE - and keep moving forward! That's how winning is done!"



There was a unspoken 'air of nervousness' as we approached Six Flags: Great Adventure, which crystallised into a 'flaming chain-sword of fear' when we saw Kingda Ka over the roadside tree line for the very first time.

Mrs. Nitefly is terrified of intense launches. I'm terrified of drop towers. And there it was: the pinnacle of both fears attached to one awesome structure. A charging T-Rex ridden by Freddy Kruger would have been less intimidating at that moment, even if we were sat on a toilet made of spiders.

"... you don't have to go on it if you don't want to..." I mumbled, giving away my own crumbling courage.

Mrs. Nitefly was silent until we eventually parked the Niteflymobile, hitting me with the question that she knew I needed to hear:

"There seems to be one thing you're forgetting.....
"................. what would Rocky do?"
"................. let's ****ing do it."
*fist bump*



We were greeted at the gates by two elderly staff members, who explained, with smiles, that they had both been happily working the park for decades - wow! They wished us well and that basic friendly encounter put us in a really good mood, setting the day up nicely. Game on!

My opinion of the park as a whole was formed almost immediately. As expected, it lacks identity compared to some of its other east coast competitors, being much more aesthetically pleasing than Carowinds but it’s also less ‘heritage’ than a park like King’s Island, which is not helped with that generic and somewhat tatty DC comics ‘ride-theming’ that Six Flags seems to deploy. But the decent amount of greenery helps out and, of course, the park's biggest ace is its sensational ride lineup. Mrs. Nitefly initially vetoed the entire "redundant suite" of B&M creds (Superman, Medusa, Green Lantern) but I was able to twist her arm into riding Green Lantern at the end of the day... for better or worse...

As we missed out on Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, the most important cred of the day was Kingda Ka, so we bolted over to that ahead of virtually all guests.


The monster beckons.... but where is everyone?

With any luck, we’d get on it pronto and avoid yet another day of agonising cred-anxiety. But, of course, we got there and it was closed.

“Is it likely to be open later?” I asked.
“Mmm… unfortunately not. They are doing work in the station.”

Darn. How about Zumanjaro?


That also looked like it was going to be down all day.

I turned round to rally a deflated Mrs. Nitefly:

“…… come on, onwards and upwards. There looks to be an even better ride just over there….”


Oh yes. One of our most anticipated rides of the year... p.s. photographs from later in the day when the sun was out.

This is the sort of moment we crave as enthusiasts: arriving face to face with a legend for the first time.


It's really happening.



Even thought it sits beside the tallest coast in the world, El Toro is nevertheless imposing. The massive height and steepness of the first drop look uncanny and just ‘wrong’ from certain angles, which actually gave me that ominous feeling of ‘something isn’t quite right’. Very impressive.

What’s far less than impressive is that one train is obnoxiously themed to ‘Kia cars’, which resonated with me like a blue whale tattooed with a giant Coca Cola symbol. Poor thing, leave it alone!

So dead was the park that despite all our faffing trying to get on Kingda Ka and Zumanjaro, we actually got on El Toro’s first train of the day and then had several rides back to back without leaving the station… including a ‘quasi-zen’ ride when we were the only two people on board. It’s surreal to have such a massive, renowned ride to yourself, without any fanfare. If I'm being honest, rather than this being ‘awesome’, it actually made me feel a little sad. It was if an ageing champion had been forgotten. Well, I had better not get too sentimental before we’ve ridden it… after all, I was the sort of child that got tearful about finding Friday’s forgotten sandwich in my backpack on Monday morning.

El Toro’s first drop is incredible, easily one of the best I’ve been on. The added speed from the pre-drop section gives it notable bite, putting it in the same league as even steeper drops like Iron Gwazi. It makes me very keen to get on Hakugei at some point, which looks to also have some pre-drop pace. Then the two giant camel backs are equally incredible. You absolutely fly over these. I was astonished. This set of elements is outrageous. God-like. All hail the forgotten champion!

After that though, things go downhill very quickly. I’m sorry to report that El Toro, like Voyage at Holiday World, was very rough. If I wasn’t an enthusiast keen to overlook flaws to give praise, I may go as far as calling both of them unacceptable. Other than the ‘rolling thunder’-hill the remaining elements are quite bland, so it’s then just a rough, pot-holey time to the finish. So bad was our final ride on El Toro that Mrs. Nitefly eventually vetoed going on it again for fear of it spoiling the rest of the day. That’s not good. Sadly (and seriously), three days after our visit El Toro ended up sending five people to hospital.

These giant woodies, El Toro and Voyage are great conceptually - giant rustic wooden coasters, how fun! - but if I’m honest, they are just too big for their own good considering the materials they are made out of. Both make my top 30 but, and it pains me to say it, I really do think it would be for the greater good if they both went the ‘Lightening Rod’-route and put in steel track on the most intense sections. Maybe such a transformation is inevitable for El Toro at this point.

Moving round the park, we bumped into Joker, which is huge compared to Tumbuli at Kings Dominion.


This was another walk on, thankfully - those cattlepens, yikes!

Joker was surprisingly great - very intense when flipping but from Tumbili I knew to keep my neck braced against the headrest, avoiding all injuries this time around. Still, the spinning was so aggressive that Mrs. Nitefly's sunglasses where whipped off of their sports-strap and she had to catch them, which has never happened to either of us before. Intensity aside, it's short, strange and quirky... worth a whirl.

Jersey Devil was the next stop:


Again, what a ghost-town.

Being RMC fan-persons we were both very hyped for this, but it was underwhelming. Sure, the single row was a novelty and there was some airtime, but the restraints had very annoying 'comfort collar'-style straps that were very distracting; they either kept falling off both of our shoulders or poking into us uncomfortably. More annoyingly was the 'zub-ing' of the train. It was as if I was on a crap water slide: every time the train went over a new piece of track, there was an uncomfortable and distracting *zub* noise and rattle.


I've heard that the smaller raptors are better... I hope so.

After some food, it was then time for ANOTHER god-damn B&M hyper:


Ironically, we walked straight passed this entrance twice whilst looking for it. I guess we did each need a Snickers.

I jest about it being 'another' hyper, because Nitro rocks. For a start, look at those colours: yellow, pink and blue. Isn't it radical!? This is the sort of coaster that Sonic the Hedgehog would grind down to the sound of Crush 40. **** yeah! It rides very well - huge floater air with a little more bite and recklessness than some of the other iterations. It's very long too. Overall, easily one of the better hypers and a superb ride.


Nitro sits next to the park's Batman: The Ride - which shut down when we were next to ride... boo!

Now, here's a ride that's iconic in its own way:


I had heard... 'interesting things' about Skull Mountain.

It looks pretty cool with its 'fun pirate adventure' aesthetic, but don't let that fool you. Skull Mountain is one of the bleakest coasters in existence. If you can imagine a themeless (or 'so-sparsely-themed-it-is-essentially-themeless') coaster 'in the dark', except that the 'shed' it is in is leaking light all over the place, I recommend that you save yourself the effort because that is exactly what you're getting. Like the broken Boo Blasters at Carowinds, this ride was depressing.

In fact, after riding, the true theming was revealed. This was not a 'fun pirate adventure'...


... it was crying.

If you ever do make your way out here, something that is unmissable is the giant Wonder Woman-themed pendulum: Lasso of Truth.


It's so tall that I could barely get it in frame here.

This thing kicks serious ass, as if it was a top 30 coaster. It has it all: mega height, airtime, speed and force. In terms of conventional thrilling flat rides, I'd say this is probably the best I've ever been on and I'm not really a fan of the smaller variants. It's that good.

Cyborg Spin was nearby, which was equally visually impressive but otherwise seemed a little.... wonky?


Specifically, it was making some very concerning noises... hard pass. Regardless, I expect it's more enjoyable to observe off-ride than experience on-ride.

We rounded out our loop with some filler attractions: The Dark Knight Coaster (a lightly themed indoor wild mouse - pretty unremarkable) and Justice League (an indoor shooter - not bad but a step down from Reece's Cupfusion). Then, to my absolute delight, the park app suddenly reported that Kingda Ka was open...! Huuurghn! We pretty much ran to the entrance and, indeed, it was open and we would be getting one of the first trains of the day.

Once again, we were blown away by the scale of it. What an absolute behemoth! I can attest that it's notably taller than Top Thrill Dragster is (was?).



“What’s with that bulbous bit at the back of the train?”
Mrs. Nitefly asked as we waited for the front row.
“Hmm? Oh, that’s where it keeps its juice. It’s like a bug. If you squeezed the front of the train, its juice explodes from the back.”
“Eww, gross!”

Panic started as we departed the station. Mrs. Nitefly was, it's fair to say, 'not happy' at this point. But, she had done the hard part - getting on it. There was nothing left to do but ride it out.

BANG. The launch was crazy. The ascent was more crazy. The drop was even more crazy than that. Incredible. It was all laughs on the break run and we raced around for lap 2. Sadly, after our second lap, Kingda Ka went down for the remainder of the day, having operated for probably no more than 15 minutes. We were very lucky.

As ridiculous as the launch was with it's astonishing top speed, Mrs. Nitefly and I were both in firm agreement: Stealth, the Thorpe Park classic, beats out Maxx Force (very short launch) and Kingda Ka (higher top speed, not quite as punchy) in terms of intensity. With that said, Kingda Ka is a close second place.

Zumanjaro was also open. Oh, god... here we go then. "What would Rocky do?" and all that....


We rode it twice and each time I deliberately chose the most frightening 'very outermost' seat(s) - just to make sure I had done 'the worst' of it.

Zumanjaro may be unbelievably, sickeningly tall.... but it's actually quite tame for the initial part of the drop. Only the very end of the descent does it truly feel gnarly as you're then at the highest speed and also have the ground close enough to feel like it's hurtling towards you. We were once again bemused and in firm agreement: Detonator, the Thorpe Park classic drop tower, beats out Zumanjaro in terms of having the more intense drop. I never would have believed that in a thousand years, but there you go. I think the most intense drop tower I've been on is probably the one at King's Dominion.

For both of us, it was incredibly satisfying to conquer these fears and end up enjoying the experiences. What a result!

Further to my arm twisting, we decided to end the day with Green Lantern, the curious B&M stand-up. With no reason to save ourselves for other (better) rides, it was a case of "**** it - how bad can it be?"

Well, let me convey my thoughts with this music and the below image:



This was so miserable, unspeakably rough and uncomfortable. We both came off feeling as if we'd gone 15 rounds with Rocky ourselves.

And so, our final park day of our trip ended with our final coaster, Green Lantern, trumping Blackpool's Infusion to become our least favourite rollercoaster ever. Mrs. Nitefly, I'm so sorry.

(Replacement Music)

Closing thoughts:

Six Flags Great Adventure was a strong park to end our own 'great adventure' on, with El Toro, Kingda Ka, Nitro and Wonder Woman being the highlights. We didn't have time for the enormous animal park regretfully, but we'd love to return and spend more time here.

I do worry about this park though. Several times throughout the day, we were the only guests to be seen. It was the deadest I have seen any park. With all rides well staffed and almost all food stalls open, it must have been making a huge loss. I do hope it was not representative of their usual attendance as I don't think it would be able to stay open for long if that's the norm... fingers crossed that the park endures and those two cheerful staff members can continue working at Great Adventure for years to come.


Wrap Up

Wow - what a saga!

After some post-trip consideration, here's how our Top 30s ended up (bold entries being from our 'Niteflygeddon' road trips):

1 - Steel Vengeance

2 - Iron Gwazi

3 - Lightning Rod

4 - Maverick

5 - Zadra

6 - Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

7 - Mystic Timbers

8 - The Phantom’s Revenge

9 - Millenium Force

10 - Intimidator 305

11 - The Beast

12 - VelociCoaster

13 - Hyperion

14 - Lech Coaster

15- Nemesis

16 - Pantheon

17 - Expedition GeForce

18 - Twisted Timbers

19 - Fury 325

20 - The Voyage

21 - Space Mountain (Orlando)

22 - Shambhala

23 - Storm Runner

24 - The Legend

25 - Orion

26 - El Toro

27 - Gatekeeper

28 - Montu

29 - Taron

30 - Storm Chaser
1 - Hagrid’s

2 - Steel Vengeance

3 - Iron Gwazi

4 - Maverick

5 - Lightning Rod

6 - Intimidator 305

7 - Zadra

8 - The Beast

9 - Expedition GeForce

10 - Storm Runner

11 - Millennium Force

12 - Pantheon

13 - VelociCoaster

14 - Mystic Timbers

15 - Twisted Timbers

16 - Lech

17 - Phantoms Revenge

18 - Taron

19 - Fury 325

20 - El Toro

21 - Orion

22 - The Voyage

23 - Nemesis

24 - Hyperion

25 - Woden

26 - Shambhala

27 - Mako

29 - Nitro

29 - Gatekeeper

30 - Gemini

What was our favourite park?: Undoubtedly it was Cedar Point, with Steel Vengeance stealing the show.

Would we both recommend going on such bombastic road trips?: Yes - they were amazing - but we found both trips (6 parks each) to be the maximum intensity that we could endure. From the parks we visited, I think the following could be cornerstones of decent 'less intense' jaunts, especially if mixed in with other sightseeing to make them a more balanced holiday: (1) Kings Island and Cedar Point, (2) Six Flags Great Adventure and Hersheypark.

Did I become a jaded coaster moth, as anticipated? Well, in some ways, yes...

**Comically Self-Important Outro Music**

A confession: even before I had started writing this blog, I had always intended this to be my very last post on these forums.

I would probably never go on another adventure like this again, nor would any set of parks ever top these... so why not end on this high note and move on to something else entirely. Besides, I expected to have totally exhausted this hobby (both visiting parks and writing about them) by now. I've ended up writing a massive 22 blogs for the 2022 season. If it ever came across that it has been easy to churn these reports out, it hasn't been. It's felt like a commitment at times, although I've always enjoyed seeing Mrs. Nitefly's reactions when she's read them - which has kept me going.

And really, after visiting the likes of Cedar Point, what else is there left to do? I'd just be in the 'post-game' - mopping up the things I'd 'missed', rather than visiting the places that inspired me to be involved in the first place.

Yes... these trips would mark the end: Niteflygeddon - a hobby concluded, with time now reclaimed for exploring and self-betterment.

Well, that was still the plan for some time. It was probably visiting Alton Towers for Nemesis's closing in November that was the turning point. That day was fabulous and showed me that, deep down, I really did still love it all: the rides, the mooching, failing to win a Snorlax... all those things. I've also continued to enjoy participating in these forums, reading the opinions of others and sharing my own thoughts.

So... it's not Niteflygeddon after all. I'm not done with the hobby. Not yet, anyway. I've since booked trips to Plopsaland, Disneyland Paris, EuropaPark and Phantasialand. Maybe even trips to Port Aventura and Parc Astérix later on in the year... who knows!

But I'm still going to have a hiatus from trip reports indefinitely, perhaps returning for the occasional report whenever I next feel fresh enough to do one (if ever).

  • Thanks to all the kind words and 'likes' on these forums over the last couple of years for these silly, ridiculous trip reports.
  • Thanks for all the input, information, thoughts, opinions, posts, banter and content etc. that have made me continue to visit CoasterForce and made me want to be part of this community.
  • Thanks especially to Mrs. Nitefly for being supportive, putting up with me and making these good memories possible.
And, as always... thanks for reading.

See you around, Captain! xxx 🦑

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Donkey in a hat
Ah yes, the Kingda Ka non-spite. That's one of my favourite coaster stories I like to tell people - I was there in 2014 when Zumanjaro was still being 'finished off' and fully expected Ka to be closed, but on the day it opened unexpectedly for about an hour late in the afternoon and we got 1 ride in. Apparently it never opened again for another 2 weeks or so when Zumanjaro was finally finished. Twas a happy day! 😊
That's also the day I randomly met @Ian and @ECG for the first time, it's how I got here, it's my CF origin story, as it were!

On another note, glad you've got some more trips planned and hope you let us know how you get on. I get it - sometimes I wonder if I'll ever give up on this hobby, whether there'll come a point when I say 'that'll do', 'I've had enough now', 'grow up Howie', or something similar, especially after a busy year or a particularly exhausting trip but.... yeah nah. It never leaves you, dude. No matter where you go, there'll always be a cheeky lil park you can add on somehow.
Even the trip reports - yes they can be a ball ache to write sometimes but it's always nice to have them there for your own memories n stuff. Lost count of the number of times I've re-read my own wedding/honeymoon trip report! Thinking about getting it printed off actually as a sort of pseudo-photo album. ("Calirado", if you're interested. it's a good read 😉)

Anyways, I'm rambling. Whatever you decide, it's been great fun following your adventures, thanks for sharing. 👍
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Hyper Poster
Thanks for the kind words @Howie - I can relate a lot to what you say there. I always find myself thinking of ‘adding parks’ onto places I travel and yes, it’s nice to preserve your memories and re-read them 😌

Aside from visiting a crazy amount of parks, I think it’s the reports for ‘multi-park trips’ that are prone to causing ‘fatigue’. When you’re fairly exhausted from just travelling to and being at parks, as any typical human would be, your mind naturally needs a breather but that gets interfered with when you know you’ll be spending a long time writing about them. It’s never been a chore - I’ve enjoyed it - but the cumulative effect makes it a notable time commitment. I compound this by taking more time than I probably should and then overly scrutinising whether what I’m writing is ‘fun and readable’ or ‘obnoxious and tedious’.

Perhaps a short cathartic period without knowing I need to finish a set of blogs is all I actually need - it has felt like I’ve been working through a backlog since March last year 😵‍💫

I guess I’ll just see how I feel at the time 🙃

Again, thank ye - I’ll be sure to check out “Calirado”!
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Theme Park Superhero
Thanks for sharing all the stories, I do enjoy the unique stylings of a Nitefly trip report and would like to see more if you're ever up for it. But that's the most important part, it's only worth writing about if you actually want to.
I get the writing fatigue thing, with the way things happen for me sometimes the day just writes itself and sometimes I really have to grind something out to make it even feel passable. The more you crank out, and you did have a very busy year(!), the more inevitable this becomes. I feel like a few months out, followed by some shorter trips with fresh eyes, will be the best time to re-assess.
Whatever happens, have fun on the next great adventure.