kenshinmac wrote:I am always a bit bummed when people post about Elitch Gardens. First because usually I had no idea they were there and second because usually it is just a trip for credits.
Looking at the trip date and the weather in the pictures, this was actually the day we were there. Mind Eraser was running great due to the cold and rainy weather, even in the back of the blue train which is usually beyond painful.
cal1br3tto wrote:A little-publicized (even on TPR!) benefit available at Elitch Gardens is Rapid Ride, a skip-the-line system that is probably closest in practice to Cedar Fair's Fast Lane, The Great Escape's Go Fast Pass, and SeaWorld's Quick Queue. The unlimited version, VIP Rapid Ride, costs a reasonable $29.99 plus a few sneaky dollars' tax, and the basic (one lap per ride) version boasts a base price of only $14.99. All coasters except Sidewinder are available, plus Ghost Blasters, Tower of Doom, Shake Rattle and Roll, and a couple water rides. Unfortunately, I discovered that Half Pipe and Tower of Doom also offer a single rider queue, which of course decreases the value per ride of the paid system.
Overall, I was impressed with the VIP Rapid Ride experience. Guest service was average to very good, rider response was not harsh or intimidating, and I consistently rode within one to three trains of arriving. Seating choice varied, and I'm not sure if the differences were due to crowd levels, individual ride policies, or operator discretion. On Boomerang, a third row seat was always assigned (after a short wait); on Twister II I always had free choice; and on Mind Eraser I was assigned toward the front once and once specifically told I could ride any seat, including front or back. Time saved varied, but overall worked out to make this a cost-effective and convenient choice.
A major problem with Rapid Ride is signage. I only noticed a few signs with specific, accurate instructions. Generally, you board through the exit, but in many cases there were Rapid Ride signs or painted instructions that lead "nowhere," but no signage on or pointing towards the actual exit path. At Ghost Blasters, the Rapid Ride queue was chained off even when open for business (and clearly warranted based on the main queue).
It's always fun to read trip reports from here, especially ones with a positive outlook on the park. To clear things up about the Rapid Ride/VIP, seating choice when I worked there was usually guests' choice. It caused the most problems at Mind Eraser when they would always choose the front, which already had a long line and often angered guests in line. At Half Pipe, VIP was supposedly through the exit and Rapid Ride through the single rider line (I have never seen it actually used for single riders), but most often both would just come through the exit. Seats are also assigned here to ensure no groups get separated on either side of the ride. Ghost Blasters' Rapid Ride line is usually chained off to avoid confusion since its often mistaken for the ride entrance. Rapid Ride/VIP signs do not seem to cause as many problems as the labeling on the actual passes does. You would be surprised how often people came up to Sidewinder to use their pass, only to be shocked to see it's not listed on there, or they think its a different ride (one time someone was convinced it was Disaster Canyon).