Alright, so I'm quite a bit late in getting this TR posted, but since it's the off-season and there's not a whole lot else to look at, I'd figured I'd go ahead and put it up. My family makes an annual trip to SDC on the weekend after Thanksgiving. The two things that really stood out this year were the abhorid parking situation and the outstanding food.
The parking situation at SDC is a hot mess, plain and simple. However, almost all of it is completely free, and includes free shuttle rides on some fairly nice vehicles all day long. Going in on Saturday, we had to follow a line of cars about a mile and half long that stretched all the way from the turnoff for SDC's parking lots, through the upper lots, down under the overpass, up and over the hill past Deer Run motel, down the highway that goes past SDC, and into an elongated gravel parking lot that hugs a hillside by the highway. All along the way we saw cars mutiny and pull off into the empty lots closer to the gates. People just didn't understand why they were being parked miles away from the park in the boonies. There is, of course, a good reason why SDC does all this - if they fill the inner lots first, the lots become an absolute gridlock and people and trolleys can't get through to the outer lots. I just wish they had a better way of communicating to guests about this, because a lot of first time guests were somewhat upset at first.
Once we were in the park though, everything was pretty smooth and wonderful all around. Lots of craftsmen putting on excellent demonstrations, lots of GREAT food at fair prices, and the rides were pretty swell too. SDC and DW are both known for their excellent food offerings, but I have to say it seems like they upped their game this year even more. We had dinner at the mine restaurant, which is an all you can eat buffet off the main square. They had great chicken, sausage, and brisket with traditional sides such as sweet and mashed potatoes, cranberries, ocra, and some other good stuff, plus desert and salad bar. It wasn't terribly expensive either.
Later on I stopped by one of the booths by the entrance to TNT and had some baked apple dumplings with ice cream. Holy crap it was good. It was like a lightly cinnamoned cookie shell surrounding a ball of hot baked apples in cinnamon saunce, with a heap of this awesome vanilla/cinnamon ice cream that really set it off. It was a big helping too, and it only cost like $4.
The wassail was really good too.
As far as rides go, everything was pretty great as usual. The rides were running great, they tried to run multiple trains on everything, and the ride ops did a good job of keeping everything running smoothly. The only sore spot was the fact that PK kept breaking down, and TGS was either closed or running one arm most of the time. At one point I had waited in line for PK for about half an hour and was a car away from riding when something happened and they made everyone leave the queue. Apparently with the way the sensors are set up, the computer locks the trains in positions on the break run, and sometimes they actually have to evacuate riders from there - but they wait until no one is in sight.
Everything that S&S wasn't involved in ran beautifully though. I have yet to see Wildfire EVER break down in any way, but I think PK has been closed at least once every time I've visited.
And Finally, the craftsmen were all great. As usual, I probably spent a third to a half of my time just wandering around seeing demonstrations and shopping, which I actually enjoy at SDC. I also got a few photos of them marking the area for the new Half Dollar Holler kids area. Construction has actually started on it now that the park is closed. You can find a few photos of that posted by a park employee on SDCFans