So originally I was planning on heading down to ride El Toro the week I got back from the UK. Unfortunately, the weather interfered with my plans. I hadn't seen my friend, Bret, for a while and I had some stuff for him from England, so I figured "why not go down over July 4th, I'm sure he'll have a BBQ." Sure enough, he agreed. On the way down I decided to ride El Toro after getting out of work early. Here's the way it went down yesterday:
Got to the park around 5:45...El Toro closed, in fact its been closed all day, but they're sending test trains out. I decided I'd wait around until around 7, as that was the time I told Bret I'd be planning on arriving. Talked to some people who were hanging out waiting for the ride to open and with my knowledge of test runs, we had some fun while we waited. Sure enough, around 6:20 they decide its ok to open the ride, they just need security there. So, finally at like 6:30 Security shows up and we get to actually go in the queue. I'm on the second train out of the day, back row.
Fastforward to today: Got to the park just before opening, made the running of the bulls to El Toro....El Toro closed AGAIN. No, it didn't suffer any breakdowns (until Kingda KA AGAIN) but they haven't begun testing it yet. Finally after an hour of morning testing, the ride opens and I'm on the 3rd train out in the 2nd row. Now I'm sorry, but on a holiday, a park shouldn't be testing the brand new ride AFTER the park opens. If they're going to be like that, why not be more like BGW or some other parks that only open certain sections early. I'm pretty certain it didn't require any major testings, as it conveniently opened exactly at 11:00. Oh, also briefly saw ParkTrips and Larrygator while waiting for the ride to open. Hi guys!
Now, onto the ride itself. El Toro is a great coaster, better than Colossos at Heide Park, but not quite as good as Balder (or Voyage IMO). Its got lots of ejector airtime, especially the hill going over Rolling Thunder, but it also has a few dead hills, mainly the two after the turn around. The twister section is a lot of fun though, running around the infield of RT, and the cable lift is really cool, certainly fast too! The trains feel really secure, still with stadium seating, just an extra bar by the shoulders and U-bars instead of T-bars. (mmmm....bar)
The worst part of the ride though is operations and the station. First, the station, in which a security guard counts like 36 or 40 people at a time to go into the station. They're not assigned a row, they just go wherever they want. When another train goes out, they send another 40 people up. After my ride this morning, the next train had 3 rows empty because the people in the station were waiting for other rows. Really stupid. The station is also extremely small, the same size as Vipers was, only now you load on one side, and unload on the other. The queue gates allow like 3 trains worth of people to wait, with plenty of room to get by, but the unload side is like single file.
Operations are really poor, 5 minute dispatches (and that's being generous). Buckle your seatbelt and DON'T touch the lapbar. The ride ops then come, tighten the seatbelt so you can barely breathe, then slam the lapbar as far into your gut as possible. Don't worry, no one will fall off this ride, all fatalities will be the result of internal bleeding. They check one car at a time, and once the car passes inspection, the lead says "car 1 clear" and they can move onto the next. At least today they had 4 ops checking instead of 2. That helped speed up things a little, but even still, after the ride opened and we got off, the line was already spilling into the midway. (and why isn't the bridge opened??)
In all, El Toro is an amazing coaster, I'm glad they finally built an Intamin woodie in the states. Once the season dies down, I may go back for more rides, hopefully operations will improve too. I hope lots of parks now take a look at El Toro and we start seeing these things pop up at other parks around the country, because it really is a great ride...too bad the park its at doesn't really know what to do with it.