TR: Liam's first US visit (SFA, page 4!)

Including a 'SFA ugliness special'
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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit

Postby anonymouscactus » Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:07 pm

Thanks for the report and photos! I love BGW, it's one of my favorites, but I can understand the points you make as well. I'm curious how the other parks you visited will compare...

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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit

Postby Liampie » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:04 pm

Philrad71 wrote:While there are certainly a lot of Americans that are just plain lazy and don't get enough proper exercise or watch their diet, I feel that a lot of the obesity epidemic is what the FDA allows food manufacturers to add into their ingredients - a lot of which are banned in Europe and other continents. It's pretty sad when we have to practically read the labels on just about everything we buy at the market anymore, because even things that can be touted as "healthy" can sometimes be misleading.


I know. I definitely think that health is ultimately everyone's own responsibility, the US with its questionable regulations and lack thereof has definitely lowered the bar for people to live unhealthy. It's so sad. I wish your country would wake up. There's a lot of potential going to waste.

Philrad71 wrote:And if you think that there were a lot of obese people at BGE, go visit Dollywood and watch people practically stampeding to the scooter rental place at rope drop...it was crazy, sad and somehow strangely comical all at the same time.

I enjoy watching strange social phenomenons and this certainly sounds like one.

Philrad71 wrote:Also wanted to mention that your photos were fantastic. As I mentioned in coasterbill's report - any trip report of BGE or BGT is a win in my book because they are two of my favorite parks. I agree that the theming in some of the countries is a bit "off", but it is still one of the most beautiful parks in the US.

For sure, the prettiest park of the four I've seen! Glad you like the photos. :)

anonymouscactus wrote:Thanks for the report and photos! I love BGW, it's one of my favorites, but I can understand the points you make as well. I'm curious how the other parks you visited will compare...


You'll find out very soon!

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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit

Postby Liampie » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:04 pm

Yesterday I popped my American coaster cherry in Busch Gardens Williamsburg, to great satisfaction. Today was all about King's Dominion, a park less oriented at families, with less theming and focus on atmosphere, dominated by (twelve) roller coasters in sizes ranging from insignificant to top tier monstrosity. A very different experience from Busch Gardens, for sure.

After visiting Busch Gardens the day before, my girlfriend and I drove to a hotel that is right across from King's Dominion. Looking out the window, we could admire a good portion of the King's Dominion skyline. We had a great sleep, and woke up early to loot the breakfast that was included in our stay. Poorly dressed people queueing for their turn with the waffle machine, and frantically looking to find the muffins before they're all gone, complaining about the quality of the orange juice, it was an amazing experience.

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After breakfast, we went to visit the park. I smuggled muffins in my bag. We were too late for the anthem that they play when the park opens, but early enough to do the rides that supposedly get the largest queues first: Volcano, Flight of Fear, and Back Lot Stunt Coaster.

#100: Volcano, the Blast Coaster - Because the coaster looks absolutely retarded, I did not think Volcano would be as awesome as it turned out to be. It seems retarded and awesome are not mutually exclusive! The launches (plural!) are very powerful, the barrel rolls high up in the sky are a ton of fun, the ride is smooth and comfortable, and even though the interior of the volcano consisting of nothing but a steel support structure is an anticlimax and ugly as fudge, the supports serve as effective leg choppers and also give you a good sense of orientation and scale. The ending is very abrupt and it seems like they ran out of money to add more track - with the speed here, the ride could've been longer. The ride being themed on the outside and around the queue (very nice theming actually) and being maximally minimal on the inside also hints at the money well running dry. Doesn't matter, we had a blast with Volcano. Pun kinda intended but not entirely.

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#101: Flight of Fear - An indoor spaghetti bowl coaster (a knot of track basically. Whenever I put my earbuds in my pocket and then take them out, they always look like the layout of Flight of Fear. That's how the people at Premier Rides may have designed this coaster.) with a science fiction/aliens theme. The queue is very nice and spooky, with UFO-like interiors, men in protective suits, neon lights and and aliens in glass tubes. The ride launches (not very powerfully) from the station into the spaghetti bowl. King's Dominion ran out of money again and the coaster's hall is nothing but steel and coloured lights. Still fun, and frankly I lost track of what was up or down and whatever. It was a very nice coaster overall, but it left us a bit dizzy.

#102: Back Lot Stunt Coaster - Another lauched Premier coaster! This time the ride is more gentle and family-oriented. Trains are shaped like mini cars, in reference to the Italian Job movie that this ride was originally themed after (I recommend watching the movie! The original with Michael Caine that is, I wouldn't bother with the remake). First element of the ride, after a fun launch is an upwards helix that never seems to end. The ride them takes you through a parking garage, a metro tunnel, a harbour area evading police cars and a helicopter, and through a billboard. Nothing too exciting, but definitely fun!

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After these three, we took a short break and walked to another area of the park. Here we found three coasters: Rebel Yell, a racing wooden roller coaster, Ricochet, a wild mouse, and Hurler, a wooden coaster that is currently being dismantled/under construction. I say both because the track is literally being dismantled on one side while RMC is already laying down new track on the other. They're not wasting any time with this transformation it seems. Hurler did not seem very interesting on the videos I've watched, so it didn't feel like we missed out on anything. We can always come back in a few years to do the RMC.

#103 (Blue) & #110 (Red): Rebel Yell - Sadly, it appeared that only one half of the coaster would run today, so no racing. There isn't much to say about Rebel Yell. What you see is what you get: a lot of hills. It was fun. The one thing that stood out was the tunnel at the end: it's loud. Later during the day, the other half of the coaster opened anyway and we rode it too.

After Rebel Yell, we went on the ferris wheel to get a nice view of (this portion of) the park.

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#104: Ricochet - The first wild mouse I've done with a layout that is not rectangular: this one has a lift and drop separate from the usual stuff. Didn't make for a very distinctive ride anyway, but it's nice I guess. The ride was very smooth, and we both enjoyed it very much.

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For a view superior to the Ferris Wheel's, the park has its own Eiffel Tower semi-replica. Not quite as tall, but still almost 100 metres. We would climb it later during the day.

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We got deeper into the park and found another wooden roller coaster: Grizzly. We tried to walk the dinosaur trail 'Dinosaurs Alive' first, but it turned out that you had to pay 5 dollars per person. For a fucking walking trail. No. We also contemplated going on the log flume which seemed to be not very wet, but that decision was made for us as the ride broke down in front of us.

#105: Grizzly - A mediocre woodie that became bad because of one little bump somewhere that my ribs did not appreciate. It's no surprise that the station was almost empty - which did not keep the ride operator from beat boxing and singing to his stoic co-workers and wishing the few riders a great ride on 'Dominator'. I don't like obnoxious ride operators but this one brought genuine good vibes.

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As we did all the mediocre rides the park has to offer, we started moving to the area of the park that has all the major roller coasters. First, we would encounter the smallest roller coaster that we were still able to ride, situated in the Planet Snoopy area of the park.

#106: Woodstock Express - Very nice woodie for children.

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Behind the Woodstock Express, the park's sole B&M can be found: Dominator. It has a nice layout with not just a string of inversions, but lots of (high speed) turns as well. Its looping is I believe one of the biggest loopings in existence. I expected this coaster would be among my favourites of the day.

#107: Dominator - Tall, fast, powerful inversions, quite smooth, some airtime, this coaster is a quite traditional looper but does it well. The first drop and the looping are especially awesome. This is a coaster I wanted to do and did multiple times in a row!

Since Dominator is built on what seems to be the former parking lot, there are literally no trees around, making the track look extra sexy against a clear blue sky wherever you look. Half the pictures I took in the park, I took here.

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I think it's great how the looping is yellow, with the rest of the coaster being orange. Beautiful.

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Three coasters in a row!

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Despite Dominator's awesomeness and it being the most visible coaster in the park (at least from outside the park), the true main ride in the park is Intimidator 305. A truly intimidating coaster that we heard intimidating stories about. Since we weren't a huge fan of Alpengeist the day before, with similarly a lot of abrupt direction changes, we were kinda intimidated. It's good that before boarding it, after the quite intense Dominator, we got to rest for a bit in the well hidden shooter dark ride Boo Blasters. Perhaps hidden too well, as there were barely any people despite the ride being fun. It was cheaply made though, all the scenery in the ride was two-dimensional. Probably not cardboard, but it was cheap for sure. We did the ride twice, and I scored the most points every time! Tip: aim for the bottles, ignore the rest.

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And then... we mustered all our courage and got to THE ride.

#108: Intimidator 305 - Insanity. Notorious for bringing each rider at least close to blacking out, its impressive statistics and the super fast transitions between turns. The view from Intimidator is incredible, but there is little time to process it as the ride throws you 90 metres down into a very wide flat turn, curving up towards the end. This takes multiple seconds. During the first few seconds I was disappointed that I did not feel myself blacking out, but surprisingly this came during the upwards curbing part. I did not lose my vision or consciousness, but things definitely got a little blurry. What then follows is a few hills big and small, but mostly a collection of flat to the ground turns with very tight transitions that throw you from left to right in the blink of an eye. Remember that the train just came from a 90 metre drop, and you can imagine why I called this ride 'insanity'. The transitions are... intense. Once the ride hit the final brakes, I was slightly relieved. I felt dizzy for a few minutes after and the other rides seemed to share the same sentiment. Funnily enough, if you pay attention, you can see people bumping into each other and into poles and fences more than usual around the ride exit. Everyone is dizzy and it's a good thing that the fences have railings here. YET, I wanted to do the ride again. And again. And again. The ride does not become incomfortable anywhere. The huge drop and the quite insane airtime on the hills are super addicting. The unthinkable happened, and after twelve years of no changes, my top 3 coasters has finally been cracked by Intimidator. I don't think I've done any roller coaster that I loved more than Intimidator, except for Air. Intimidator now sits at my #2 spot, in front of my old pal Nemesis.

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#109: Avalanche - A good coaster to cool down from Intimidator; a Mack bobsled coaster. I hadn't done any Mack Bobsled before, and the Bobbaan at the Efteling does not seem to be very similar. A new experience, in short. And I must say that it positively surprised me! The lack of drops and interesting elements always looked boring on POV videos, but in reality the ride was faster than I expected and sliding through the turns was a lot of fun. Another positive surprise!

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We got chicken from Panda Express and ice water. Whatever you order, you can always get a cup of free ice water, One of the great things about this country. Sadly my girlfriend knocked one of our cups over. Gave me wet pants and a pretty scene.

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We had done almost all the rides we wanted to do by now, so we took the elevator up the gigantic Eiffel Tower knock-off that sits in the centre of the park, offering us a great 360 degree view of the park.

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This is Anaconda, the last coaster we hadn't done yet. We would go there after re-riding Ricochet (secretly my girlfriend's favourite!), the ferris wheel, and the red half of Rebel Yell which I covered earlier.

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#111: Anaconda - Again, we had been scared off by tales of this coaster giving you terrible headaches. One of the tips I received for the park was that there is a store near the ride exit that sells aspirin. The ride actually wasn't bad though! The only truly uncomfortable part was the final brake, which felt like coming to an instant stop by hitting a brick wall. We both enjoyed the coaster and even considered riding it again, were it not for our remaining time in the park being limited - time I'd rather spend on some more rides on Intimidator.

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My girlfriend politely refused more rides on Intimidator, but I went for it. The queue was very short and I even managed to get the front seat in mere minutes by negotiating with the other people in line. What surprised me about the front seat was the wind. It was LOUD and uncomfortable. Intimidator definitely is a back-seat coaster.

After saying goodbye to my new #2 coaster, we headed for the park exit passing Dominator. I took more pictures of the coaster against the start of the sunset, Seeing that the queue was insanely short bordering on non-existent, I went for a final ride as well. And then two more, sneaking past my girlfriend who was more than ready to drive back home at this point. No regrets though. Dominator also deserved a proper goodbye.

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The couple pictured is not us, hence why I censored their faces in a innovative way.

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Bordering on nausea and a headache, as a result of the very high temperature and the coaster marathon at the end, we left the park around 8:30. I could've stayed longer, but I was satisfied anyway. King's Dominion exceeded my expectations a bit, its ugliness and minimal style was compensated by the park being very neat and clean, and very green in places too. The people were not as trashy as we expected, the staff was fine, and the food kept us happy.

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I forgot to do this in my Busch Gardens trip report, but it's not too late to start doing it now: my coaster rankings and how they changed during my trip. My top 10s have been stagnant for a huge amount of time, but now they're full of new coasters and I still have two parks to go. It's very exciting!

Top 10 Steel
Air
Intimidator 305 (NEW)
Nemesis
Goliath
Apollo's Chariot (NEW)
Griffon (NEW)
Black Mamba
Speed Monster
Dominator (NEW)
Superman / la Attracción de Acero
(Notable exclusions: Volcano (#11), Verbolten (#14), Alpengeist (#15))

Top 10 Wood
Troy
Rutschebanen
Joris en de Draak (Water)
Joris en de Draak (Vuur)
Thundercoaster
InvadR (NEW)
Coaster Express
Rebel Yell (Blue) (NEW)
Rebel Yell (Red) (NEW)
Robin Hood

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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby Philrad71 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:11 am

Poorly dressed people queueing for their turn with the waffle machine, and frantically looking to find the muffins before they're all gone, complaining about the quality of the orange juice, it was an amazing experience.


Again...welcome to America. Seriously, this is the way a LOT of people act here now unfortunately - constant complaining about everything with little emphasis put into a friendly demeanor, cleanliness, polite manners and/or decent appearance.

It just seems like there are so many people in America that are unhappy and just generally like to complain about everything. I liked the way you put it in that this country has a lot of potential, and it's just sad to see that entitlement, greed and general lack of respect for other human beings is becoming more and more of the norm these days.

Speaking to hotel breakfasts, personally we know what to expect from American continental breakfasts so we will usually skip them and Yelp a good nearby restaurant so that we can enjoy a better breakfast. If you're in a hurry and don't mind grab & go items, the hotel breakfast's will work just fine. But I would rather do a nice, sit-down breakfast that will hold my hunger in check until later in the day at a theme park.

Those are some great photos once again! My opinions about the coasters at KD are about the same as yours. I305 seemed almost too intense for us the first time we rode it before the re-profile, but it has since shot into my Top 3 during our past few visits when I was able to go 3-4 times in a row with little wait times. I agree that I prefer the back to the front - such an exhilarating ride!

Eagerly awaiting your future reports/updates!
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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby BeansproutMidget » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:30 am

Your photos are gorgeous. KD is my home park, which I visit quite often, but you made it look prettier than normal. :b

Glad to see you enjoyed your trip to the two Virginia parks! I'm going to jump on the 'back-is-better-than-front' in terms of where to sit on I305. I love the front row, which I enjoy more at night. But the back is a whole other beast. You have to ride it twice to get the different experience. I'm also glad to see someone else who enjoys Apollo's Chariot as much as I do.
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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby prozach626 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 12:13 pm

Philrad71 wrote:[

While there are certainly a lot of Americans that are just plain lazy and don't get enough proper exercise or watch their diet, I feel that a lot of the obesity epidemic is what the FDA allows food manufacturers to add into their ingredients - a lot of which are banned in Europe and other continents. It's pretty sad when we have to practically read the labels on just about everything we buy at the market anymore, because even things that can be touted as "healthy" can sometimes be misleading.

When I was growing up, there were no morbidly obese people. Overweight yes, but it was pretty rare to see someone that topped 250 pounds. Now it is very concerning to see some of the folks out there that are tipping the scale at well over 300...and it is sad no matter what the cause.

I knew I liked you Phil, but now I'm an even bigger fan!

Processed foods are killing us, which is why I eat almost completely whole foods, aside from the cheat meal or so per week, which I usually combined with a few beers. I end up feeling like crap for days if I go too hard on the crappy food. I also avoid dairy and bread whenever possible. I've been eating this way for years, as I changed my lifestyle, instead of failed dieting.

The sad part is that I intentionally bulk for my job, as a safety factor. I'm still usually around 12(summer)-18%(intentional winter bulking) body fat and between 175-180lbs and I work out almost every single day, either resistance, short intense cardio, or extended cardio with ice hockey. It's a constant struggle to stay at that weight and if I stop eating healthy food like a horse, which is tiring, my body naturally wants to revert back to 155-160 lbs, which is where I was a little over a year ago. I just can't afford to be at that weight with my occupation.

I guess my point is that even technically 5 or so pounds over the normal BMI (which is subjective for body fat percentage), I still constantly get called "skinny," due to America's skewed view of acceptable weight range. People look at me like crazy when I tell them that I'm technically intentionally a few pounds overweight. It's frustrating, but I feel that eating healthy with the occasional splurge meal or two per week has kept me looking young and feeling good. It's frightening how many people in this country are overweight and they have no idea due to the social norm and living in a society that practically endorses obesity and unhealthy living.

Speaking or eating being tiring... While typing this I just ate a four egg scrambler with quinoa, green onion, and bell pepper mixed in with homemade vinaigrette dressing, a mashed up avocado on the side, and a large salad with healthy greens and nuts. I'll eat again in a few hours... I'm so FFFFFing tired of eating.

Sorry to jump off topic. Great reports so far. I'm looking forward to more observations about American irony. Don't hold back!

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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby JT325 » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:41 pm

^Off topic, but a very good reminder for me! So, thank you. And thank you for your service.

Can't wait for Liam's review of Six Flags America :)
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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit

Postby Samuel » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:03 pm

Hey, Liam! Thanks for supplying the report. There's a lot to enjoy in it, but to me, parts of your commentary come off as being a little bit condescending.

Things like families just trying to get breakfast at the hotel not being dressed to your standards, Volcano looking retarded, King's Dominion being marked by ugliness and a minimalist style, Busch Gardens being themed incorrectly and having obese people, Tempesto being hideous, a ride operator trying to be entertaining needing to just shut up, and seeing fat children and wheelchairs and scooters and people who couldn't walk well, etc., all just seems collectively harsh. You say that the guests at King's Dominion weren't as trashy as you expected [sic] -- but if you expected trashy people for some reason at a fine regional park, then I feel like you're just looking for evidence that fits a narrative of dumpy American stereotypes.

You'll find those, no doubt, but talk to a few people in friendly settings, even if it's just a simple smile and "good morning" to some of the adults that you see in passing at your next hotel breakfast. You'll might not get a great reception all the time, but you'd be surprised by how friendly and warm some people can be. There's a lot of character in the U.S. that you will miss if you only judge appearances.

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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby boldikus » Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:09 am

Well, it was only a matter of time before someone got offended. :lol:

Liam, I personally think almost all of your observations are absolutely spot on!

Signed,
An American.

P.S. Still loving this report. Great photos and fantastic commentary. Bring on the rest!
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Re: TR: Liam's first US visit (Kings Dominion, page 2!)

Postby Liampie » Mon Oct 30, 2017 7:34 am

Philrad71 wrote:Speaking to hotel breakfasts, personally we know what to expect from American continental breakfasts so we will usually skip them and Yelp a good nearby restaurant so that we can enjoy a better breakfast. If you're in a hurry and don't mind grab & go items, the hotel breakfast's will work just fine. But I would rather do a nice, sit-down breakfast that will hold my hunger in check until later in the day at a theme park.

To be honest, ironically, American 'cuisine' like this breakfast is right up my alley. The junkfood aspect of this trip was almost as important to me as the theme park aspect. I'm perfectly fine with a breakfast of malformed waffles, watery apple juice and and dense muffins! :D

prozach626 wrote:I'm looking forward to more observations about American irony. Don't hold back!

Don't worry, I won't. ;)

Samuel wrote:Hey, Liam! Thanks for supplying the report. There's a lot to enjoy in it, but to me, parts of your commentary come off as being a little bit condescending.

Things like families just trying to get breakfast at the hotel not being dressed to your standards, Volcano looking retarded, King's Dominion being marked by ugliness and a minimalist style, Busch Gardens being themed incorrectly and having obese people, Tempesto being hideous, a ride operator trying to be entertaining needing to just shut up, and seeing fat children and wheelchairs and scooters and people who couldn't walk well, etc., all just seems collectively harsh. You say that the guests at King's Dominion weren't as trashy as you expected [sic] -- but if you expected trashy people for some reason at a fine regional park, then I feel like you're just looking for evidence that fits a narrative of dumpy American stereotypes.

You'll find those, no doubt, but talk to a few people in friendly settings, even if it's just a simple smile and "good morning" to some of the adults that you see in passing at your next hotel breakfast. You'll might not get a great reception all the time, but you'd be surprised by how friendly and warm some people can be. There's a lot of character in the U.S. that you will miss if you only judge appearances.


Hello! Thanks for you reply, I'm glad you spoke up. Discussion is good and fun.

Firstly I'd like to state that this is an account of my personal experience going to the US and these theme parks. And I often play the role of devil's advocate: I look around me, I see things, I form an opinion, and I write it down in reports like these. Especially when going abroad, I love to spot the little cultural differences that others might miss. For example, the way people dress themselves when going to a theme park. I never thought about it, I never saw anyone mention it, but the difference between the US and parks around here caught my eye. Since this is a website about theme parks (it even mentions 'review' in the name), discussing these observations is relevant. I definitely see how it can come off as condescending, but that's simply a result of most of these observations being a tad negative/skeptical. If Busch Gardens has weird theming, I'm going to mention it. And I'm not going to water any of it down to be more politically correct. Also, small sidenote, not every observation is a judgment. This attitude works both ways though. I will find the flaws in the good stuff, and the virtues in the bad. Behind my cynical and sarcastic tone, I'm very open minded. As I said, the devil's advocate is a role. I'm not going through life bashing everything left and right of me! And I'm definitely not going to let all those observations negatively affect my experiences, except where it's intrusive (the obnoxious lady).

Lastly, my expectation of King's Dominion having a trashy crowd was actually given to me by Americans. ;)




Will post Hersheypark soon! Thanks for the replies everyone, really makes writing these reports worthwhile.

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