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Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 8:22 am
by BitterOldHag
coasterbill wrote:I honestly wonder if the Sandusky hotel market is just completely saturated. Even on holiday weekends there are tons of rooms at low rates, and I'm sure in the offseason those places are completely dead. I really wonder how they survive.

Many of the low-end joints are seasonal properties, so they make their money during the summer and close up shop once CP does.

I have to say that reading the TripAdvisor reviews for many of the Sandusky-area motels is hilarious, especially the responses from the hotel managers. My favorite is this one of the Rodeway Inn South on US250: Jagdish 'DEMANDS" that the reviewer remove his comments immediately. Ha!

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:38 am
by bluestreak
Lol I was NOT wearing that shirt but since I frequent the park I know of most of the creepy enthusiasts that go to the park. I wonder which one it was :lol: :lol: :lol:

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:48 am
by TBpony414
coasterbill wrote:Against my better judgement, I got in line for 1:3 and within minutes I heard someone walking up behind me saying “Ah so you’re waiting for the EJECTOR SEAT” are ya?”. … f*ck. I pretended not to hear him but eventually turned around and saw a guy in a tie dyed Ghostrider shirt with a Cedar Point sunglass strap who immediately asked if I saw what RMC was doing to Mean Streak and how tall I thought it was going to be… then before I could answer he said he heard “The GP” saying they were tearing it down and he couldn’t believe they didn’t notice all of the new track.

I said that I wasn’t sure what RMC or Mean Streak was and explained that I was riding alone since my wife and kids (lol) were afraid to ride it since they heard that “this one had an accident a few years ago”... I went on to say that they didn’t want to ride “The Raptor”, “The Big Swing” or “The Water One” (of course referencing Shoot the Rapids) either because they had accidents too but I figured it looked fun so I wanted to ride it since we could see it out of the hotel window (and then proceeded to point to some room we can’t afford in Hotel Breakers).

Hahaha!!! I don't think I'd be able to pull this kind of thing off with a straight face because I'd burst out laughing 2 sentences in. You deserve an award for spur of the moment creativity and acting, good sir! I rode in 1-3 by accident with my SO who isn't the biggest Magnum fan and he's probably never riding it again. I wasn't thinking about it being the ejector seat, it just happened to be the shortest line. I reminded him to do the seatbelt tighter than humanly possible and not slam his bar down but he pretty much did exactly the opposite. Oh well. I had a great ride, however!

Have you ridden Black Widow at Kennywood? If so, how come you like MaXair better than Black Widow? I find MaXair (and especially Delirium at KD) to be a bit of a snooze fest compared to BW. They're still really fun rides though that we always take a spin on.

Regarding Chet and Matt's - someone here told me about them a while back and I stopped there in June. The restaurant wasn't what I expected inside but was fine. They have sports jerseys all over the wall and sports playing on tvs, but it doesn't feel like Glory Days (if you have those up in NY) inside or anything. They have a large menu with all kinds of stuff on it for fairly cheap but the pizza IMO is where they really shine. I loved it so much that we ordered carry-out in July when I went back to CP and it turns out they have a drive-thru pizza pickup window. I shit you not! That alone is amazing. They cut the slices into long, thick, rectangle-like pieces which makes for easy eating.

prozach626 wrote:
Geauga Dog wrote:Despite my feelings about CP (I'm not a fan of it).

I'm curious about your reasoning, since we didn't have as much fun as we expected last time we went.

I'm curious as well why both of you had less than stellar visits to CP. That stinks. Overly hyped? Sick of the rides? Too big of a park and overwhelming? Tired of the crowds? Other reasons?

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:56 pm
by Philrad71
robbalvey wrote:
coasterbill wrote:Despite how I come off, I like talking coasters with other enthusiasts sometimes as long as they shower regularly, have some basic social skills and don’t take themselves too seriously and walk around like they’re better than everyone else because they know who RMC is. I could tell pretty quickly that this guy was THE WORST kind of enthusiast as all he wanted to do was complain about “the GP” so I made it my business to do everything I could possibly do to piss him off with "GP" questions before the ride started.

I'll be honest, this kind of person is EXACTLY why we have steered TPR away from focusing on your die-hard roller coaster and Disney fan to more of the "casual" theme park fan. What I have found over the years is that, while I can talk the coaster nerd talk like the rest of them, I'd much rather be in the group that talks more in general about theme park things while having a good beer and not geeking out on the crazy details, and then having the conversation steer towards something completely different, because I'm somewhat of a normal human that doesn't live or breath ONLY roller coaster or Disney factoids.

coasterbill wrote:Up next: Our June trip to Universal Orlando, Sea World and Busch Gardens Tampa!!!

Sorry we missed you guys! June - August is crazy for us!

Same. Love chilling out with folks that like casual coaster and theme park banter over a couple of beers.

I recall encountering a few of the obsessed types of enthusiasts during the 3 Bash events that we have attended. Luckily they were all on coaster trains so I/we were able to ditch them easily enough after spilling back out into the park.

To be fair, we also met a lot of cool people too. I can't recall which TPR member that I rode on the front seat of The Beast with during Banshee Bash at night, but he was cool.

He had never been on the front seat at night, so I simply told him to "Get ready for one of the best rides ever."

We were high-fiving coming back into the station and he admitted "That...that was absolutely amazing - you weren't kidding!" (or something to that effect).

That type of scenario is when it's particularly fun to hang out with enthusiasts - especially when you ride a great ride with them and it's their very first ride! :)

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:51 am
by prozach626
TBpony414 wrote:
prozach626 wrote:
Geauga Dog wrote:Despite my feelings about CP (I'm not a fan of it).

I'm curious about your reasoning, since we didn't have as much fun as we expected last time we went.

I'm curious as well why both of you had less than stellar visits to CP. That stinks. Overly hyped? Sick of the rides? Too big of a park and overwhelming? Tired of the crowds? Other reasons?

This one is kind of a tricky one. CP is a great park, no doubt about it. I guess I just don't enjoy being overly spoiled. The park has so many coasters I would want to ride repeatedly at other parks, like Gate Keeper, Roug, Raptor, Valravn, Dragster, and Wicked Twister that I feel obligated to ride these at CP, but I feel guilty when I spend all day on MF and Maverick. There's too much divided up among my short attention span.

Last time we went we paid pretty steep prices for a room that was the size of our guest bedroom, with a view of a another hotel room, which aside from the coaster decorations was about as nice as a clean Super 8. Granted we knew we were paying for the location, but when we got our bill we decided that we probably would have been just as happy if we stayed at the nearby Holiday Inn Express.

Fast lane was another let down for us. I think we paid around $400 for two days of FL+, only to wait about 20-30 minutes behind hordes of other FL+ users for coasters like Dragster, Maverick, and MF. We only take 4-5 coaster trips per year, so when we do we spend top dollar to do whatever we want. I had just come from Carowinds where your $80 gets you from the queue entrance to being on the ride within a couple minutes. Now that's service!

Parks like Carowinds, King's Dominion, and our favorite King's Island allow us to focus mostly the most desirable attractions over and over again while riding whenever we damn well please. We also sample some of the other fun attractions to break up the monotony to spend the duration of our visit at our own pace. That, and even crowded days don't feel as busy as any of the 5-6 days I've spent at CP, which always seems to just be packed with people frantic to make sure they get every coaster in during their short visits.

CP is undoubtedly one of the best roller coaster parks on the planet, but it's just not our cup of tea compared to some of the other Cedar Fair options. I totally understand why it would be a favorite for most other people. As much as I prefer larger parks, CP just seems to feel a little too large to us. The five hour drive vs. 9 hour drive, the crowds, the less hectic atmosphere, the cost, and the unbelievable FL+ wait time makes KI a much better option than CP for us.

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:16 pm
by coasterbill
^^ Thanks for reading / commenting guys!

robbalvey wrote:Sorry we missed you guys! June - August is crazy for us!

I can imagine, if I lived in Florida I'd spend the majority of my time trying to be absolutely anywhere else in the summer or at the very least sitting somewhere air conditioned and refusing to leave. :lol: We go down there quite a bit so I'm sure we'll run into you eventually.

BitterOldHag wrote:Jagdish 'DEMANDS" that the reviewer remove his comments immediately. Ha!

:lol: That's amazing.


Anyway, I was struggling to come up with a title for this next report so I figured I'd take the lazy way out (shocking, I know) and knock off one of the best TPR trip reports of all time. From now on I'll refer to this as Coasterbill's Klassy Florida Adventure 2017 (or should it be "Koasterbill's so there are two K's"... nah that's retarded, scratch that).

What made this trip so klassy was that we were flying Allegiant Airlines, the cheapest and probably worst airline in America. We had never actually planned to visit Florida this year, but Allegiant's prices were so absurdly cheap that we managed to pay a total of $179 round trip for 2 people to fly from Trenton to Tampa (so about $44 each way per person after taxes and fees). I knew the airline was guaranteed to be a turd, but I couldn't turn down that price.

The itinerary was pretty simple. We would (barring any crashes) arrive in Tampa on a Friday night where we would pick up the car and get a hotel right near the airport. The next morning we planned to drive to Orlando and hit Universal, then stay in Orlando the next 2 nights so we could hit Sea World and Fun Spot the next day. Our flight home was scheduled (emphasis on scheduled) for mid afternoon on Monday so we figured we'd hit Busch Gardens until it was time to head to the airport and fly home (and by home I mean Trenton, where I definitely don't live. Please don't think I live in Trenton... or New Jersey. Please... :lol: )

While I am knocking off the name, there's of course one BIG difference between this and TPR's Klassy Cruise. When you're on a piece of crap ship, when everything goes to hell you can hop in a lifeboat or into the warm, tropical water. When you're on a piece of crap plane and everything goes to hell, you crash, die and (most likely in my case) literally go to hell.

We had about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Trenton and while we had been there a few times we had no idea they even had an airport until I booked this flight. We got a major scare when we were driving down a 2 lane, windy back road in the middle of bumblef*ck nowhere and our GPS told us that we were about to arrive at our destination. We had a decent amount of time, but I had apparently screwed up and entered the wrong address and we were suddenly really worried that we'd miss our flight. Luckily our concerns were silenced a few seconds later when we arrived at a rinky dink sign welcoming us to Trenton Mercer Airport prompting Brit to yell "No, there's no way this is actually the airport... I'm gonna kill you".

I'll be honest. I loved this airport. Living in New York, I'm used to ugly, dated awful airports known for their ridiculous traffic jams, absurd parking prices, long security lines and overall just for being hellish experiences. While this airport was undoubtedly a piece of crap, it was a really convenient piece of crap. The process of parking the car (for a very reasonable 7 bucks a day), walking to the "terminal" and going through security took AT MOST ten minutes. The terminal itself was a tiny building with only 2 gates (which were just 2 glass door located right next to eachother) and a trailer out back that served as the baggage claim (no for real).


Luckily they DID have a bar, and I took full advantage of that while waiting for our flight. Once our plane arrived our pilot also took full advantage of the bar, but thankfully left with only a bottled water. It was a pretty hilarious visual though and a great introduction to Allegiant airlines.

Allegiant, because enclosed ramps are for b*tches. And mama didn't raise no b*tch. PS: Ignore the Frontier thing, they just couldn't afford their own so they borrowed Frontier's. Lol

I have no fear of flying, none. Generally when on planes we spend most of our time (usually mildly intoxicated from our time at the airport) laughing at the people who ARE afraid of flying but I'll admit that I was a little nervous this time as we taxied out to the runway as I remembered what airline we were flying with.

To their credit the flight was pretty uneventful. They don't have Wifi (because of course they don't) but that actually gave me a few hours to start typing up some trip reports I had been procrastinating on since last summer since I had nothing better to do. I couldn't even talk to Brit since we weren't sitting together. Allegiant charges you to pick your seats and we both decided we didn't particularly care for such a short flight. I was perfectly happy drinking my "premium drink" (Mich Ultra, the only other beer they had was Bud Light... klass).

I really enjoyed the views from this flight. Having spent so much time driving up and down the east coast it was easy to pick out landmarks in Philadelphia (shown here), Delaware (including the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Delaware Memorial Bridge and William Roth Bridge), the Chesapeake Bay, Camden Yards in Baltimore and we even got some cool views of DC. Generally when you take off from New York you pretty much head out over the ocean and don't get any interesting views at all so this was a welcome change. This is also the first time I'd ever had a window seat since I always offer it to Brit when we actually get to sit together.

To my amazement, a few hours later we landed safely at Tampa airport! Well... okay, not quite Tampa airport. We landed safely at St. Pete-Clearwater airport which is another rinky dink airport located across the causeway from Tampa. This airport was actually pretty nice though, and also ridiculously convenient. I'd much rather deal with little airports like this than any of the major ones so no complaints from me.

One thing I found funny was that when we departed the plane we saw the pilot and 2 other guys standing around one of the engines (the one near the ramp... which was again exposed so you could hear everything they were saying). One guy was spinning the engine fan by hand (I didn't realize you could do that or that it wouldn't be hot to the touch but I guess you learn something new every day) and the pilot was yelling at him "See! You can hear it!" as it made a clicking sound. At that point we were already safely on the ground so we just laughed about it, but maybe next time be a little quieter when an entire plane full of passengers is walking down a ramp within earshot. :lol:

After picking up the car and grabbing something to eat we checked into out hotel to get some rest before the 7:00 wake up call and 90 minute drive to the best theme park resort in the Orlando area, Universal!

========= Fanboy Alert, Disney Fans should probably skip this part =============

Okay, I should probably just go ahead and get this out there now. We LOVE Universal. I know that puts us in the minority on this site but we absolutely love it. Also (since this has been coming up a lot lately and I feel like stirring the pot) to us, Universal is infinitely better than Disney and it's not even close. We've heard the complaints... "They have screens and we have animatronics". Yeah, but what you fail to mention is that their screens are awesome and Disney's flagship park has a total of 3 animatronic-based rides that are actually good and then a bunch of rides with animatronics ranging in quality from "Cedar Fair Boo Blasters" (I'm looking at you Winnie the Pooh) to "That doll that holds a candle and moves her arms that my Grandma brings out every December and puts near the Christmas tree" (looking at you Small World).

Alright, alright sorry. I know I'm exaggerating a little bit here (but not much) and I want to stress once again that we don't expect anyone to share our opinion (The Universal rage parade is in full swing right now). I can't lie though, we love Universal and pretty everything about it. Everyone's totally right, Universal relies heavily on screens / 3d glasses and water and heat effects and we noticed that but we really didn't care. They pull everything off so well that we don't mind one bit. In my opinion just about every single ride in the park is a complete home run, we didn't feel this way at Disney where we felt like they had some amazing, superstar rides and then a ton of other rides that were vastly inferior to those and often just complete crap. There are a few duds at Universal but they're few and far between. Oh, and finally...


So that pretty much settles it...

=========== Okay, it's safe to come back now ===========

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. Enough Disney comparisons, let's talk about our day.

We parked in the Jaws lot and headed over to the main security checkpoint. I love Universal's setup. The placement of the security area and CityWalk is excellent since by the time you actually get to CityWalk you forget you even went through security and since you went through security already by the time you arrive at CityWalk you're free to walk around with beer pretty much wherever you want (even though it really doesn't feel like you should be able to). The whole place has an awesome party atmosphere that really gets you hyped up for your day before you even step foot through the gates.

We made it!!!!

We were already riding high and super excited for our day at Universal (this was a big deal for us since at $179 per person per day it's not a place we get to visit very often) but even before we stepped through the gates our day was about to get a massive upgrade.

When walking to Citywalk we noticed a guy with a sign advertising free Express Pass. We started walking past him and every rational bone in my body was telling me to keep walking "You're in Florida, it's some time·share bullsh*t... run for your life" but for some reason I turned around and asked him what we had to do.

As it turned out, he was with a major credit card company and all we had to do was sign up for a credit card with no annual fee and (if approved) we'd receive free Express Passes for two. We had been toying with the idea of Express Passes for weeks but eventually decided against it since that would have brought the total cost of our day with tickets and Express passes to well over $500. I was still a little bummed about it (being financially responsible sucks) but we were approved for the card (which they actually printed out and handed to us right on the spot... smart, but we didn't use the thing once so LOL Amex, sucks to suck) and within minutes we were headed to the gate with our free Express Passes. What an awesome way to start the day!

Once inside, there was absolutely no question about where we were headed first. I've always been a big Harry Potter fan since we were really at the prime age when the first book came out and it was all the rage when we were kids. Brit had just recently gotten into it since we binge-watched all of the movies to prepare for our trip and she fell in love with the franchise. We had previously ridden Forbidden Journey, but Diagon Alley was new for us and we were about as hyped up for a ride as we could possibly be.

We walked down the main midway, over past the New York section, down past the lake and finally through the brick wall where we came face to face with Gringots bank and a giant fire breathing dragon...

Holy sh*t! We're here!!!

Oh my god does Diagon Alley ever deliver. They absolutely nailed the look and feel of the movie and it felt absolutely surreal to be finally be walking through it. The detail in the shops was amazing, the dragon was insane and I got the idea that I could spend days exploring every nook and cranny of this place. Still, we were on a mission so we booked it down to Gringots and found ourselves greeted with a short 20 minute wait.

So awesome...

One minor complaint I do have with this ride would be with the queue line. With Forbidden Journey the vast majority of the queue is highly themed, featuring awesome screen based and physical effects / theming that really keeps you engaged. The queue itself feels like a major part of the attraction to the point where we sometimes let people walk ahead of us if the ride is a walk-on just so we can stop and admire everything. With Gringots, most of the queue is out back in a mostly unthemed courtyard area. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, but only the last 10 minutes or so of the queue is actually themed. To their credit, that section of the queue is outstanding, but the rest of it is very dull comparatively speaking.

Once inside however, the theming really shines. The Gringots goblin animatronics are so realistic that it's almost creepy and the giant lobby area is really something to marvel at. As you continue on, you walk through the vaults, into a really well done "elevator" and up a small flight of stairs into one of the most visually impressive stations I've ever seen.

These goblins are absolutely stunning

While the majority of the queue was unimpressive, the indoor section had done it's job well. Between the cool pre-show, elevator, lobby and overwhelmingly cool station we really felt like we were magically transported to Gringots bank. We walked up to the ride host and were quickly directed to a middle row. As we waited for our cart to pull up I couldn't help but think about how we had built this ride up to a level that was almost impossible for any ride to live up to. If this ride was anything short of the single greatest themed attraction we had ever experienced it felt like it would be a let down. It honestly felt surreal when our vehicle finally pulled up and we took our seats, pulled down the bar and prepared for a ride that we had hyped up to completely ridiculous levels.

Up next... Universal Orlando part 2

... I almost feel bad about that cliffhanger, emphasis on almost :lol:

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:13 pm
by Hilltopper39
I honestly get kind of tired of the Disney/Universal comparison, they're both really good resorts, just kind of different. I used to love spending time at Universal, both parks, City Walk was always a blast, but ever since I've had kids we just haven't been back because there is almost nothing for them to do at their current height requirement and interest level. I do want to ride Dragons one more time so I may try to make a day trip sometime this month.

I've heard horror stories about Allegiant but honestly I've flown them probably 20+ times and have never had any issues. It has become more "annoying" in recent years with all the fees and seating policies but still for cheap direct flights from convenient (for me atleast) locations I'll continue to give them my business until they give me a reason not to.

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:27 pm
by coasterbill
Hilltopper39 wrote:I've heard horror stories about Allegiant but honestly I've flown them probably 20+ times and have never had any issues. It has become more "annoying" in recent years with all the fees and seating policies but still for cheap direct flights from convenient (for me atleast) locations I'll continue to give them my business until they give me a reason not to.

My stance on them is that they would have to suck at an almost unbelievable level for me to stop flying them considering their ridiculously low price point. They were bad (on the way back, the flight down was fine) but that didn't stop me from booking another $39 flight the day we got home. :lol:

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:25 pm
by prozach626
Haha. Nice cliff hanger. Glad you guys got home alive. I really need to take advantage of an airport 45 minutes from us that has Allegiant flights.

Re: Coasterbill's Alcohol, Coaster and Culture Trip Reports

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:18 pm
by Canobie Coaster
Great start of the trip to Universal! That sounds exactly like my experience in the Diagon Alley area and the Gringotts queue minus the breakdown I had to wait through.

I have to take a look at Allegiant to see if they fly out from my area to St. Pete. I've been meaning to make a trip sometime in the next year to hit SeaWorld, Fun Spots, and Busch Gardens. They can't be as bad as Delta after my disaster of a flight on Sunday night. 3 hour delay and sat next to a crazy woman.