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Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:49 am
by cfc
Thanks for the pictures--I have yet to play any miniature golf at WDW. The Fantasia Gardens course looks great.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:35 am
by biosciking
Because I regularly get accused (probably rightfully so) by non-enthusiast family and friends of spending too much of my vacation time at theme parks and missing out on what the rest of the country has to offer, I decided to appease said family and friends by including a non-theme park destination in my August 2012 Florida trip. From WDW, I headed south to Everglades National Park. As it turns out, I'm actually a huge national park aficionado, and have visited a great number over the years. However, I'd never been to the Everglades before (I'd never been to southern Florida at all, excluding maybe an airport layover in Miami), so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to do so. I therefore hope you'll indulge a trip report that lacks even a single theme park or roller coaster.

Having only one day to spend at the Everglades, I couldn't get to it all. I opted for the southern portion of the park, as it appeared to have the most tourist stops and a representative sampling of the Everglades' overall diversity. I ended up driving the main park road, stopping to walk each of the trails along the route. I finished by taking a guided boat tour through the park's Wilderness Waterway. Finally, already being this far south in the U.S., I allocated some time to make it as far south as possible -- yes, a quick visit to Key West was also included in this trip's itinerary. I'll go ahead and post my Key West photos along with my Everglades photos in this report.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:58 am
by biosciking
Following the Everglades and Key West in southern Florida, it was back up to central Florida to complete my August 2012 vacation. However, I did not return to Walt Disney World or Orlando. I wanted to include a non-Disney park in this trip, but I opted against Universal (due to the Harry Potter construction) and SeaWorld (due to the Antarctica construction). I therefore headed to Busch Gardens in Tampa.

This was my second visit to BGT, having previously visited during my winter 2002/2003 Florida trip. There was quite a bit new for me this time -- two major coasters (Cheetah Hunt and Sheikra) and two minor coasters (Sand Serpent and Air Grover), a new ice skating show (Iceploration), and several animal exhibits (Cheetah Run, Jungala, Walkabout Way, the Animal Care Center, and possibly others). Of course, one coaster (Python) had also been removed since the last time I was here, but that's definitely not a huge loss. While there is therefore arguably more to do at Busch Gardens Tampa than at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (probably a few more thrill rides, especially once Falcon's Fury opens, and definitely more animal attractions), I still think I prefer BGW by a small margin. There's just something about the European setting and ambience of BGW that the BGT African theming slightly lacks. Having said that, Busch Gardens Tampa is still excellent, I enjoyed it very much, and I highly look forward to returning.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:14 am
by simon8899
an awesome classic compact looping Schwarzkopf coaster


:nina:

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 6:58 am
by biosciking
Like August 2012, I had essentially all of August 2013 free, so I decided to take advantage of that and do another non-So Cal theme park trip. Also like August 2012, this August 2013 trip was divided into two parts. The first part actually didn't take me out of California, but it did take me out of Southern California. That's right, Northern California was the destination for the first half of my 2013 vacation. This half was a relatively quick trip (about five days), but I still hit all of the Northern California parks you'd expect, beginning with Gilroy Gardens.

I'd been to Gilroy Gardens once previously (during the summer of 2006, its final year as Bonfante Gardens), and the park has remained very much the same since then. This is certainly a unique place; while there are lots of parks in the world themed to animals, this is one of the very few parks I can think of that's themed to plants. It's also quite atypical in being an extremely relaxed and slow-paced park, geared more towards families with small children (as well as towards the older, retired demographic). Only a few attractions (the two boat rides, the car ride, and the ferris wheel) seem to get crowded or form significant lines. For the coasters, flat rides, monorail, and train, you may have to wait one ride cycle, but that's about it. That makes a visit to Gilroy Gardens pretty enjoyable, and while I wouldn't find it necessary to make the trip every year, a visit once every several years (when in the area) could certainly be justified.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2014 3:35 pm
by XYZ
Gilroy Gardens is such a great place. I had no idea that it would become one of my favorite parks in California when I went there last summer.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:13 am
by biosciking
The next stop in Northern California was California's Great America. This is another park that I'd been to once before, in 2006 (during its final year as Paramount's Great America, though if I'm remembering correctly it had already been purchased by Cedar Fair at that point). The major change between that visit and this 2013 visit was of course the addition of Gold Striker, which opened earlier in the summer of 2013 and was a major reason for the Northern California trip in the first place. The park also lost a coaster between visits, Invertigo, but losing a Vekoma boomerang while gaining a GCI woodie is a trade-off I can certainly accept.

This park doesn't seem to have the greatest reputation, but I actually enjoy it quite a bit. It's large with plenty to do and appears to be clean and well maintained (in other words, a typical Cedar Fair park). The two standout coasters are Gold Striker and Flight Deck, and while the rest of the coaster lineup isn't particularly stellar, it's not bad. Where the park really excels is in the flat ride department -- with about a dozen non-coaster thrill rides (a few of which are somewhat unique), it really is an excellent collection. To round things out, Great America has three water rides. To me, that adds up to a fun time at an enjoyable park.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 4:01 pm
by biosciking
Following CGA, it was on to SFDK. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a park that I've been to once before, in the summer of 2005. Technically, though, I've been to the park twice before -- way back in the summer of 1993 I visited during its Marine World Africa USA days. There have obviously been major changes since then, but the most significant change since my more recent 2005 visit has been the addition of Superman Ultimate Flight. There have even been changes since this 2013 visit, with the park adding Tsunami Soaker in 2014.

Discovery Kingdom is a pretty atypical Six Flags park. Yes, the expected Six Flags collection of roller coasters, flat rides, water rides, etc. is featured in the Sky area. However, the Land area (a zoo) and the Sea area (a marine life park) are more unique and unexpected. Designating certain areas of the park as Sky, Land, and Sea is actually a bit misleading, as each section is not isolated from the others; instead, all three are somewhat spread out throughout the park. This integration is what makes Six Flags Discovery Kingdom so enjoyable -- I think being an animal park in addition to a roller coaster park gives both the employees and the guests a different mindset, and the combination and variety of so much to do definitely make the park worth one's while.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2014 10:06 pm
by WFChris
You have a wonderful P:TR going here. Thanks for the excellent read!

Question: On the log flume at CGA, did they use both drops? I have yet to see a flume with the dual drops actually utilize both sides.

Re: biosciking's Non-So Cal Thread

PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:38 am
by biosciking
WFChris wrote:Question: On the log flume at CGA, did they use both drops? I have yet to see a flume with the dual drops actually utilize both sides.

I want to say no, and I'm pretty sure that's correct, but I will defer to a park regular in case I'm misremembering. As for other flumes with dual drops that do run both sides, Dudley Do-Right at IOA comes to mind.

WFChris wrote:You have a wonderful P:TR going here. Thanks for the excellent read!

Thanks!