Thanks for the feedback guys!
Gotta love truck stops...
Did you happen to get into any of the gift shops or pancake houses in Pigeon Forge? They're a mix of the shirts you featured with a ton of Jesus/God rip-off sh#t thrown in for good measure. Freaking hilarious to spend time gawking at just how seriously stupid the t-shirts are.
Just Goats on the Roof, some shirts were ridiculous but the goat ones were funny. I think Brit actually bought one.
ytterbiumanalyst wrote:You haven't experienced this yet
LOL at "yet"
Awesome report! There's always at least one point in your reports where I audibly laugh, which is rare on the internet
. Anyway, hopefully you'll be at HW a day that I'm working (ride op in the lower Thanksgiving area). Hope to see ya there!
Thanks! This was over Memorial Day weekend, so not quite "real time", but by my procrastination standards it might as well be.
Anyway, on to day 2!
After our awesome day at Kings Island, we woke up the next morning in the budding metropolis of Florence Kentucky (which is really only a few minutes over the border). In all seriousness, while anyone who hasn't been to Florence, KY would assume (simply by it's name) that it's located somewhere near East Bumblefuck-tucky where the only recreational activities are cow tipping, muddin' and being the reason I have to show my ID when buying Sudafed; it's actually a cool place. Florence is really a Cincinatti suburb, so it's full of restaurants, bars, shopping malls and I'm pretty sure they even have a minor league baseball team.
Unfortunately we didn't have a ton of time to spend there since we had a busy day planned. A few days out it became clear that (aside from Friday which we spent at Kings Island) weather would be a major factor all weekend long. While no day was going to be a washout, every day called for random severe storms that could arrive at any point so we were prepared to be flexible with our plans. Being from the northeast, just checking the weather was an adventure. Accuweather specifically mentioned "Damaging tornadoes, major property damage and baseball sized hail" for both Saturday and Sunday. I've never seen a forecast like that before so we were slightly alarmed, but while enjoying our hotel breakfast and watching the non-reactions from the locals I quickly realized that it was just another day in Florence, KY.
Because of the weather we hadn't yet bought any park tickets or booked any hotels for the rest of the trip and we honestly had no clue where we would end up that night. The plan was to hit Kentucky Kingdom and Holiday World (taking as long as necessary to do so depending on weather) and then spend the rest of our weekend at Cedar Point with no clue when we would actually get there. We also had a passing thought of checking out Coney Island in Cincinnati if it was convenient to do so but that was never a "must-do".
As we left out hotel we noted that it was approximately nine million degrees outside with the humidity resting at a pleasant seven thousand percent. Initially we had thought of heading to Holiday World first and then backtracking (which we had to do anyway) to Kentucky Kingdom but since I'd heard about Kentucky Kingdom's crap-tastic weather policy we decided to head there first since it was sunny when we arrived in Louisville and it looked like we had a window to get some rides in before the park was inevitably destroyed by a tornado that afternoon.
We took advantage of Kentucky Kingdom's awesome "out of state
" discount which is honestly a pretty amazing deal. I get the idea that nobody actually pays for general admission at this park since general admission is listed at 49.95 and a season pass is only 99.95 so locals will likely all get that. If you're not a local and don't want a season pass then you can get in for $29.95 which includes TWO DAY admission (which we probably wouldn't need but it was a nice backup plan given the forecast) and free soft drinks!
As we got closer to the park, Lightning Run and Storm Chaser appeared to our right and the hype slowly started building. We got to our exit, pulled up to the parking booths, forked over the (very reasonable) parking fee and proceeded into the sh*t show of a parking lot where the hype continued to build since it took us forever to figure out how to park the car.
I see what they were going for here, and I sort of like it in theory... but wtf? If you've ever been to Hershey, you know that they found an efficient way to use the same entrance road and parking tolls for an arena, outdoor stadium / concert venue and a theme park and have found a highly efficient way to direct traffic where they need to go depending on what's going on. This, however is not Hershey. Paying the parking fee grants you access to a giant loop called the "Circle of Champions" that provides access to Kentucky Kingdom, the State Fair, the Exposition Center, Freedom Hall, some weird Football / Baseball stadium and Broadbent Arena and has absolutely no signs or competent parking attendants.
Upon entering the lot we made a right (which you have to do) and were immediately directed by a 14 year old kid in a bright orange vest into a parking lot for the arena where a high school graduation was taking place. We tried to explain that we were going to Kentucky Kingdom but he just kept waving his plastic stick thing so we pulled into the lot, parked the car, looked around, realized we were nowhere near the park and then bolted out of there (dodging the kids in graduation caps and gowns) when he wasn't looking. Once we left that lot, we encountered another kid who was directing us to exit the circle of champions. Obviously we couldn't exit since we had just paid to park so we just straight up drove right around him, completely ignoring everything he told us to do and soon after we finally arrived at what appeared to be the Kentucky Kingdom parking lot.
Unlike everywhere else, there were no parking attendants in the Kentucky Kingdom lot at all. It was basically just a complete free-for-all but we managed to get a spot near the gate. There were a decent amount of people there that had somehow managed to evade the idiot parking attendants but we could tell that lines weren't going to be an issue for us at all. We walked along the "welcoming" barbed wire fence (I guess plenty of people are skipping out on that $29 2 day ticket), got our tickets and headed through the gates, excited for the great morning that was sure to follow.
Upon entering the park, I was immediately impressed with how nice everything looked. I knew that as a Six Flags park this place had a bad reputation and I knew that it had been sitting abandoned for years but we were really impressed to see that basically everything in the park looked like it was brand new. Every building had a fresh coat of paint, the rides looked great, the colors were warm and inviting and the park even had a fair amount of trees.
We didn't have much of a plan, but we headed left at the Kentucky Kingdom sign and eventually made our way over to Lightning Run. We were happy to see that the ride was a station wait, but once we got in the station we realized that the short wait time wasn't for lack of effort on the part of the ride ops. These guys took FOREVER to send a train... I'm talking at least 8 minute dispatches. We didn't really care since the line was so short and we were actually pretty entertained by it since we had been warned ahead of time and had set our expectations accordingly but god damn.
After waiting about 25 minutes for them to send 3 trains we were in the front row and totally hyped up for our Lightning Run adventure. Obviously this ride is universally praised by absolutely everyone so our expectations were sky high and thanks to the atrocious dispatch times the anticipation had a good 7 more minutes to build once we were strapped in! Woohoo!
We only got one ride on Lightning Run (and no pictures... oops) but I thought it was a great little coaster. The restraints are really weird, but they didn't really detract from the ride. The ride might be a tad overhyped (the fact that people prefer it to Storm Chaser is nuts to me), but it had a nice amount of airtime, some great transitions and is a pretty awesome ride for such a small space. Lightning Run gets a big thumbs up from me!
After Lightning Run we headed over the bridge to Thunder Run. We actually did quite a bit of backtracking here since the park layout is really weird (though not AS weird as I was expecting) but eventually found it and got in line.
As we were walking through the queue I had noticed that I hadn't seen a train run in awhile but since the line was open we thought nothing of it. As we got to the station we were greeted with a station wait but an empty train and a bunch of guys standing around. The ride operator (who was awesome by the way) got on the PA system and apologized for the brief delay in operation and then informed us that it was "all for a damn bird", clearly fighting back laughter.
After talking with some people in line, it became clear that a poor bird had managed to get himself gatekeepered
and they were waiting on maintenance to come up and retrieve it. Apparently the incident happened on a train that was completely full except for one row in the middle of the train which just so happened to be the one where the bird ended up. After a few minutes, maintenance headed up the ramp, strangely devoid of bags, tongs, gloves or anything you would expect them to have for the job at hand.
I'm happy to report that the guys they have working maintenance at Kentucky Kingdom are the exact "Good Ol' Boy" types you had imagined that they would be so the first guy up the stairs walked over to the train, loudly exclaimed "well damn...", grabbed the bird with his bare hands, carried him out of the station and threw him in a nearby trash can to an eruption of laughter and cheers.
Once they left the ride op opened the gates and loaded the train (leading to another eruption of cheers) but that one row cycled empty... either as a subtle memorial to the deceased bird or because nobody wanted to sit there since they didn't bother to wipe it down or really do much of anything because you know... Kentucky.
They let that train go twice since they had to wait so long, but once they pulled in the second time we hopped into the front row, assumed the "Mean Streak" position and prepared ourselves to deflect any suicidal birds we might encounter.
I have to say, this ride is quite good. It's nothing amazing, but since it's layout is so similar to Hurler it definitely exceeded our expectations since it blows those rides to hell (I mean... you don't see many birds so excited to ride Hurler that they risk death to jump in empty row now do you?). The ride is a little jerky but it's nothing too bad and I don't see that as a major issue on a wood coaster.
We contemplated re-riding, but the one train operations and ominous clouds had us thinking otherwise and we decided to get one ride on everything just in-case the storms started to roll in. Speaking of storms... our next stop was my most anticipated coaster of the day, Storm Chaser! (How's that for a segue? Awful? Well f*ck you then.)
As we walked up to the ride we were thilled to see that it had absolutely no wait whatsoever. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect as we got to the station, headed for the back row and had a train pull in as soon as we got up to the gate. Within seconds we were strapped in and ready to go.
Prior to Storm Chaser our only RMC coasters were Wicked Cyclone and Lightning Rod, both of which we love. Because of it's size I was sort of expecting a toned down version of those rides, but I'm happy to report that Storm Chaser blew my (already high) expectations away. Despite it's size, this thing absolutely hauls. I can't believe they managed to pack this much crazy into such a small space. The transitions are insane, the barrel rolling first drop is awesome, the airtime is completely nuts and the entire thing is OMFG insane from start to finish. I'd love to give some type of play by play review of the ride, but it's so disorienting and crazy that it's almost impossible to do that. After awhile you don't even know which way is up, the right turns bank left, they put barrel rolls where there should never be barrel rolls... god damn.
As badly as I wanted to ride Storm Chaser again (and again) and never get off, the sky was getting darker so we decided to head towards the back of the park. I have to say, while we were very excited to be at Kentucky Kingdom I think it's possible that Kentucky Kingdom was even more excited to see us!
Highly amused, we continued on through dick rock canyon and eventually arrived at the coaster that needs no introduction... T3!
We walked up to the (fittingly) empty station and were prepared to hop in line for a middle row (where there's a chance of a slightly less terrible experience) but we noticed that the gates were open and the back row was empty so we figured that since we were in for a world of pain anyway we might as well just get it over with. We hopped aboard the pain train and noted the really stupid restraints with weird clicky ball, joystick looking things to hold on to. Brit was scared of them for some reason because she thought they would release the restraints (which is half true I guess) and I informed her that if they were really eject buttons then she should prepare for me to hit them mid-ride as an attempt to bail before the Vekoma barrel rolls from hell.
The ride itself was as punishing as terrible as I figured it would be with the new train doing absolutely nothing to improve it. When I exited I think I actually texted Boldikus (who was living vicariously at work... payback for him sending me El Toro pictures from opening day last year when I was at work) that it "sucked a** and needed to be put on a rocket and launched into the sun".
Brit on the other hand absolutely loved the thing. She wasn't a big fan of Lightning Run's restraints and RMC's sort of freak her out if she has nothing to hold on to so she told me that she loved it and it was her favorite ride in the park. Yeah... you read that right.
My first reaction was (of course) of great concern, I assumed that she had obviously experienced a massive blow to the head from one of the many horrific elements that the Vekoma gods had just provided us with but she seemed to be walking okay, her eyes weren't strangely dilated, she wasn't light headed from the insane heat and nobody in the parking lot had sold her any drugs so I have no real explanation for this one. I guess some people just like horrendous coasters.
After experiencing the sheer brilliance of T3, the clouds were looking really ominous so we decided to score one last ride on Storm Chaser and head out. We headed over to Storm Chaser (passing up the Eye of the Storm credit) and were treated to another amazing ride. I still can't get over this thing... I mean, I know it's no T3 but it wouldn't be fair to compare it to that level of brilliance so it would have to do.
After Storm Chaser, we walked through the crosswalk to the other side of the park (yeah... seriously), popped in a gift shop for a Kentucky Kingdom Christmas ornament and headed towards the exit. On the way we noticed that the Roller Skater was actually a pretty respectable ride with plenty of adults riding so we snagged a ride on that (and really enjoyed it, though I wish it went around twice), got some free soda and got in the car just before the rain came for our short drive over to Holiday World.
Kentucky Kingdom is an absolute blast. With the short lines, great coasters, fun looking flats (though we didn't have time for them) and great prices we were really impressed. On top of that it was a great looking park and they seemed to be very concerned with making sure everything looked welcoming, clean and well maintained. This place greatly exceeded our expectations and if they ever get another major coaster we'll gladly return!
Up next, Holiday World!