Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Nickelodeon Universe- Not the American Dream one
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:39 pm

Arnolds Park

For some reason I had it in my head that Arnolds Park was going to be similar to Conneaut Lake Park. Both are old parks adjacent to a lake with a classic wooden coaster anchoring the lineup. I was also expecting the rundown, post-apocalyptic feel.

And to that I’d like to apologize to Arnolds Park. It’s actually a really charming, well-kept park bursting with energy. It also helps that it’s bordering a tourist hot spot in Lake Okoboji.

Like most boardwalk parks, Arnolds Park doesn’t have an extravagant entrance. You literally pass underneath the Legend’s station. And when the neon lights are on, it’s oozing that classic feel I love.

Parking Lot Entrance (Day).JPG
Ironically, the parking lot entrance was nicer than the park entrance.

Park Entrance (Night).JPG
Neon signs, chaser lights, and weenie dogs are my weakness.

Queen II Docked.JPG
Now this is an awesome setting for a park.


Before giving my Legend review, I need to give this disclaimer- it was hot as balls. It was still 90+ degrees after the sun set. As you probably know, wood coasters in particular tend to run faster in those conditions.

So I may have stacked the cards in favor of Legend. The operators took turns filling in empty seats and even they were left breathless when the train hit the brakes. They confirmed it was indeed running fast.

In the front row, Legend is an enjoyable classic. It’s smooth and has a few solid pops of air thanks to the buzz bars. But the Legend needs to be experienced in the back. It’s just as smooth, but far wilder.

The first drop didn’t do much, but the second drop sure did. You are launched right into that buzz bar. When considering those restraints, it’s one of the wildest airtime moments out there in my opinion.

But wait, there’s more! The third hill gave a quick pop of air and then that leads into the finale. You whip around this lateral heavy turn and then fly over two drops bordering the Lake. Each drop gave some wonderful sustained floater air.

The Legend may be short, but it delivers a complete ride and tours the entire park. Just make sure to ride it in the back. You could say the airtime on the second drop is legendary. 8 out of 10

Little known fact, but the Legend also has on-board audio. WTF? On-board audio on an old woodie? You see, when the operators rode, they often brought a speaker with them. Sometimes they picked the songs. Other times they took song requests. If you haven’t noticed, the staff at this park is amazing.

Legend Lift.JPG
This way to the Point of No Return.

Legend 1st Drop.JPG
The first drop is arguably the tamest part of the ride.

Legend Speed Hill.JPG
Note how close the Legend gets to all sorts of things- trees, rides, dumpsters, etc.

Legend Bunny Hill.JPG
Do you like airtime? Legend has you covered.


Legend was the main course, but the newly relocated Wild Mouse was the dessert. Once Quassy removed their Mad Mouse, I never thought I’d get to ride one of these classic Herschell mice again. They really are dying breeds. And my dad would happily pay for their execution.

You see, Quassy had a no single rider rule on their’s (for reference, Arnolds does not). So little me dragged him along every time. He hated it. He felt like the ride was supported by toothpicks and was going to collapse. Whenever there was another single rider (usually an ACEr from Lake Compounce), he happily offloaded me. :lol:

While this one didn’t have the jumbo first drop (or any real drops for that matter), the hairpin turns were a bit faster and wilder than the more modern mice. It was nice to relive my childhood, but realistically it’s just an ok coaster. But it’s a perfect fit for this park. 5 out of 10

Wild Mouse Overview.JPG
The amount of sway in this structure is mesmerizing.

Wild Mouse Helix 3.JPG
I was thankful this one didn't have the ban on single riders like Quassy.


After the two coasters, I hopped aboard the Rock-O-Plane. It had a long cycle, so I had plenty of time to rock, flip, and stall. I just wish these things had more comfortable restraints. 8 out of 10

Legend Turnaround 1.JPG
I wish I counted how many times I went upside-down. It was a lot.


I also took a spin on the park’s Roll-O-Plane. The operator was bored out of his mind, so he was ecstatic to see someone riding. Unlike the version at Knoebels, this one stayed vertical. Since I’m not a masochist, I considered that a positive.

After the ride ended, the operator walked over. But instead of releasing my restraint, he just asked “Forwards or Backwards”. I guess this was the only action he was getting tonight and he wanted to keep it going as long as possible.

I told him to surprise me and he treated me to a long cycle in both directions. I felt bad to leave, but I had bigger fish to fry. 8 out of 10

Roll-O-Plane.JPG
Look how bored the operator was when I wasn't riding.


The Boji Falls flume was a nice surprise on such a hot day. What wasn’t a nice surprise was the smell of the water. If that water was from Lake Okoboji, I sure am glad I didn’t go swimming there. :lol:

The flume had an elevated layout that provided a nice birds eye view of the park. The drop wasn’t anything special though. It wasn’t very tall nor steep. 4 out of 10

Boji Falls Drop.JPG
Do you smell that? I think that may be Lake Okoboji.

Boji Falls Chaser Lights.JPG
I think this is the first I've ever seen chaser lights on a flume.


I was intrigued by the Tipsy House. It looked like some sort of fun house sprouting from the Legend’s station. Turns out it was a crooked house. In retrospect, I should have guessed with the name.

The inside was bare and uncomfortably hot. It felt like an oven. But the ride did include this awesome observation deck at the top that provided spectacular views of the lake at sunset. 5 out of 10

Tipsy House Interior.JPG
The inside wasn't anything special.

Legend Brake Run 2.JPG
But the view at the top sure was. Now that's pretty.


I finished the night with a Legend marathon. I’ve been in energetic coaster stations before, but what I saw at Legend was truly special. There may have only been 18 people in the station, but the operators had everyone cheering and high-fiving before every ride. The energy was infectious.

The operators were often giving double rides as well. And on the last ride of the night, they didn’t just give a double ride. No. They gave a triple ride! Now that’s incredible customer service.

Legend Finale.JPG
The Legend was flying.


The park also had a kiddie coaster. But under normal conditions, it’s off-limits to adults. I have heard that adults have been able to ride it in the past if they contact the park in advance. Just the thought of the email I’d send made that a hard no for me.

“Dear Arnolds Park, I am a sad and pathetic coaster enthusiast who flew from Boston to visit your classic park. My visit wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the Little Coaster. Could I please ride it?”

Little Coaster.JPG
I kept my pride on this one. A rare exercise in restraint.


Now, I only visited Arnolds Park, but the area around the park was quite nice. There were several shops, restaurants, go karts, and mini golf. If I were living in Iowa, I imagine this would be the vacation spot.

For that reason, I expected parking to cost as much as Six Flags. But low and behold, parking was free! That’s rarer than a Flight of Passage Fastpass when you’re in a scenic tourist trap such as Lake Okoboji.

Boardwalk.JPG
This must be the Jersey Shore of Iowa.


For those heading to Adventureland from Minneapolis, definitely consider hitting Arnolds Park. It’ll add three hours to your route, but this is more than just a credit run. Legend is worth the detour.

Again, I need to emphasize that I did ride Legend in the most optimal conditions possible, but they simply do not make places like Arnolds Park anymore. The charm and customer service is where the park thrives.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby cparkes92 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:26 am

Adventureland and Arnolds both look charming and would get more visitors among enthusiasts if they weren't so far from other parks
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:52 am

Nickelodeon Universe

Indoor theme parks offer salvation from inclement weather. In Minnesota, that’s usually protection from a blizzard. But on this day, Zeus was pissed and throwing lightning bolts at the ground.

My original plan was to make a credit run at Valleyfair, switch to Nickelodeon Universe, and then finish with Valleyfair night rides. With thunderstorms in the forecast until the mid-afternoon, that plan made no sense. So I started at Nickelodeon Universe. And that turned out to be a blessing disguise.

I knew the Mall of America would be busy. It was a Saturday with cruddy weather. As a result, I knew Nickelodeon Universe would be busy. I just underestimated how packed this park can get.

Entrance.JPG
As Robin Sparkles would say, let's go to the mall!

Park Entrance.JPG
Spongebob, Dora, and slime. That about sums up Nickelodeon.


Nickelodeon Universe is located smack dab in the middle of the Mall of America. Having visited Dubai earlier this year, I’m no stranger to indoor theme parks. But Nickelodeon Universe is quite unique.

For the indoor parks that care to create an atmosphere, usually they do so with themed buildings and structures. Nickelodeon Universe has more trees than most outdoor parks! Combine that with the roof that admits natural light, I forgot I was even indoors.

Skyline.JPG
I love how this indoor park has more trees than a lot of outdoor parks.


I arrived right at opening and encountered a series of self-service kiosks. After purchasing my wristband, I tried to peel off the back like you do on 99% of the wristbands out there. But I couldn’t.

Everyone else was having the same issue. Could all of us seriously not figure out how to attach a freaking wristband? Turns out you need to bring your unattached wristband to your first ride. I wasn’t a fan of this.

For one, no one knew to do this until a staff member directed us to do so. But more importantly, it really slows dispatches. The operators spend an extra few minutes every cycle applying stickers.

I started with TMNT Shell Shock. That proved to be a wise decision. When I walked past it later in the day, it had a queue spilling onto the midway. That was the theme of the morning.

I’ve ridden my fair share of these crazy, flipping Gerstlauer sky rollers, but this version had these awkwardly wide restraints. This made it a bit harder to hold the paddles in place once you get flipping, but I was able to manage.

This was definitely one of the harder versions to flip, but once I got that all-important first flip, the barrel rolls didn’t stop. The flipping speed wasn’t quite as fast on this one as some of the newer models, but it was still very disorienting. 8 out of 10

TMNT Shell Shock Rising.JPG
The key is patience. Both to flipping and making it through that queue.


I then walked onto Ghost Blasters. When I saw the ride’s placement tucked in the corner of the park below the ropes course, I figured it would be a short version. Much to my surprise, it was quite long.

I have no clue where they fit everything, but it was filled with 2D targets that reacted with each shot. The guns worked flawlessly and I didn’t notice any dead effects. Well the ghosts were dead, but you know what I mean. 7 out of 10

Ghost Blasters Exit.JPG
I don't know where they fit the track for this thing.


My first coaster of the day was Rock Bottom Plunge. After loving Monster’s lap bar trains the day prior, it was a bummer to return to the Eurofighter OSTRs. But fortunately, this one wasn’t too rough.

The lift on this one is really cool. Per usual, it’s a vertical lift and as it nears the top of the roof, the car slows to a crawl. And then the car drops down, giving riders some incredible ejector air.

I wasn’t expecting the speed hill after. It gave a quick pop of air like the post drop speed hills on a RMC. The loop and cutback were just ok, but I loved the hangtime in the zero-G roll. There was a second half, but it didn’t do anything for me.

Rock Bottom Plunge is essentially defined by three great elements for me, but those three elements are excellent. 7 out of 10

Rock Bottom Plunge Sign.JPG
Those eyes.

Rock Bottom Plunge Overview.JPG
That's a lot of track in a little space.

Rock Bottom Plunge Cutback (Far).JPG
Can you say inversion?

Rock Bottom Plunge Post-MCBR.JPG
Rock Bottom Plunge doesn't do much after the MCBR unfortunately.


Next I rode the park’s Zierer monorail coaster, Pepsi Orange Streak. If you want forces or airtime, this is the wrong coaster for you. This coaster is all about the visuals.

It’s basically a high speed tour of the park. It weaves above, around, and under rides. At one point, it even goes through a dark ride bit by the Log Chute. Plus it’s a capacity monster, which was a major help later in the day. 7 out of 10

Pepsi Orange Streak Finale.JPG
This truly is a high-speed monorail.

Pepsi Orange Streak MCBR.JPG
This won't be the last of Pepsi Orange Streak in this report. It's really good at photobombing.


Back in April, I rode RC Racer at Disneyland Paris. And I enjoyed that coaster more than I thought. It had some decent kick on the launches and nice floater air. For that reason, I was looking forward to trying one of these spinning half pipes.

Enter Avatar Airbender. The spinning was quite intense at the base of the halfpipe. This spinning combined with the ride’s proximity to the ceiling made it super disorienting. Plus it had a longer cycle than RC Racer and just as much air. 7 out of 10

Avatar Airbender Car.JPG
Avatar was better than the live action movie.


At this point, I still thought the park was dead. But then I saw the queue for the Fairly Odd Coaster. It was spilling onto the midway. Considering these Gerstlauer spinners always have painstakingly slow queues, I should have known better.

I always thought SFNE’s Pandemonium was the original layout that other parks cloned. The ride fits that spot so well. Turns out, Fairly Odd Coaster was the original. As tightly packed I thought Pandemonium was, Fairly Odd Coaster takes it to the next level.

If you’ve been on any of these Gerstlauer spinners, you know what to expect. It’s a smooth ride with some solid dips and if you get an unbalanced car, nice spinning too. 6 out of 10

Fairly Odd Coaster Overview.JPG
I thought this layout was custom for SFNE. I was wrong.

Fairly Odd Coaster Helix.JPG
Helix of death.

Fairly Odd Coaster Turnaround.JPG
I still can't get over how gorgeous this park is.


Whenever someone asks what the best flume is, most people say Splash Mountain or Ripsaw Falls. Other times you may hear Chiapas or the one at Knott’s. But once in a blue moon, someone will say the Log Chute at Nickelodeon Universe. Is this flume really that good? In a word, yes!

For one, the layout is incredible. You go through a cave, up a Knott’s Berry Farm themed lift, past the top level of the mall, past the memorial for one of Harmon Killebrew’s home runs, through a dark ride portion, down a sizable drop, past Paul Bunyan, and down an even bigger drop.

Those dark ride bits were the biggest surprise. I figured this flume may just have some tunnels. I didn’t realize it would be filled with animatronics and this much detail. This ride would fit in at Disney if you took away the Hooters you pass at one point.

I also expected to come off this thing relatively dry. Who would want to walk around a mall dripping wet? I was in for an evil surprise up front. Before re-entering the cave, there’s this unassuming rapid that drenches the sucker up front. And of course that was me.

The only downside with the Log Chute was the queue. There seemed to be a pretty large gap between logs, so the line moved at a snail’s pace. I think I waited 45 minutes for my first ride and an hour for my second ride. But it was totally worth it!

Outside of Splash Mountain, this just may be my favorite flume. It had everything I could ever want- great drops, theming, and a super unique layout. I’d even place it above most coasters I’ve ridden. Log Chute is that good. 10 out of 10

Log Chute Drop (Far).JPG
I still can't believe how incredible this ride was.

Log Chute Splashdown.JPG
The Log Chute does some normal things like dropping and splashing.

Log Chute Bends 2.JPG
But then it weaves its way through a cave and a freaking mall.

Log Chute Harmon Killebrew.JPG
I love how the Mall pays homage to what was once here.


I got my last short wait of the day on Shredder’s Mutant Masher. For whatever reason, this frisbee never had a queue. And I don’t know why since it was one of the stronger ones out there.

It had no force on the downswing, but it had some nice floater on all the max swings. Plus I enjoyed the science lab/experimental theming in the queue. 7 out of 10

Shredder's Mutant Masher Aerial 2.JPG
Maybe this had no line due to those accidents overseas.


I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to ride a drop tower in a mall, so I had no qualms waiting a half hour to try Splat-O-Sphere. This is basically a jumbo Moser tower and that’s fine by me.

I find those towers to give a surprisingly strong, ball-tingling drop. But this one had a view to accompany it. There is so much kinetic energy in the park and the surrounding mall. It’s a sensory overload. 7 out of 10

Splat-O-Sphere Multi-Train.JPG
Sweet! A multi-train shot.


Brain Surge didn’t have too many people in the queue, but it loaded slower than a coaster with VR. I think I had to wait a half hour, but all was forgiven once I got my hands on the joystick.

I alternated between doing front flips, back flips, and stupidly long stalls. While I do appreciate the Knoebels Looper for what it is, I’m an American. I’m lazy. Why rock when I can use a joystick? :lol: Plus it’s nice not having that burlap sack of a seatbelt for a restraint. 8 out of 10

Brain Surge Overview 1.JPG
I'm surprised this didn't have a tie-in to Jimmy Neutron.


Since everything had a queue, waiting 15 minutes for one of the saddest kiddie coasters in existence didn’t seem *quite* as bad. It had no drops and barely any speed, but I’m glad I rode it.

On the first lap, I felt something glance over my head. I thought someone may have thrown something from a balcony above. On the second lap, I realized what it was. A tree branch was scraping against my head. Remember, we’re indoors. :lol: 2 out of 10

Back at the Barnyard Hayride.JPG
I felt a little dirty riding this one. So it fit in with the barnyard theming.


Usually I skip wave swingers, but the Backyardigans Swing-Along was unique. This one had backwards facing seats. I can’t think of another swing ride with that gimmick.

I’m sad to say it wasn’t that good. For one, it was a very slow swing ride. In retrospect, that makes sense since the park markets this as a kids ride. But the bigger issue was the swing spacing. Once per rotation, one of the forward swings would bash against my knee. I had to ride defensively. 4 out of 10

Backyardigans Swing-Along Overview.JPG
Backwards swings was an interesting concept. Too bad it was a knee-banger.


Pop quiz. What’s the tallest ride at Nickelodeon Universe? You’d think it would be one of the coasters, the drop tower, or the Ferris Wheel. But you’d be wrong. The tallest ride is actually a slide.

The Anchor Drop slides were a $3 upcharge on top of admission. The view of the whole park was fantastic at the top, but the slide portion was a bit disappointing. You glided smoothly thanks to the mat, but it twisted around itself so many times that it never built up any major speed. 5 out of 10

Anchor Drop Slides.JPG
This looks like something straight from Europe.


I contemplated trying Fly Over America. It was pricey, but I was willing to give it a try based on the positive reviews. However, the queue was a complete showstopper. They estimated it was over an hour. That was my cue to leave for Valleyfair.

Fly Over America Prices.JPG
You can fly over both America and Canada, if you so choose (and pay).


But before leaving, I made a lap of the mall. I saw a lot of mall staples (GameStop, Forever 21, Wetzel’s Pretzels, etc) on the lower floors, but on the top floors I saw some bizarre specialty stores. This included a cheese store and an alpaca store.

Cheese Store.JPG
I think the mall's Wisconsin is showing.

Lego Transformer.JPG
I didn't go to the Lego store, but these looked awesome.


The most intriguing place I found was Smaaash. It appeared to be a mash-up of a sports park and a VR park. It was super busy, so they must be doing something right.

Smaaash Entrance.JPG
Smaaash is basically DisneyQuest with beer.

Smaaash Finger Coaster.JPG
Finger Coaster just sounds dirty to me.


While the Mall of America wasn’t as impressive as the West Edmonton Mall or several of the ones in Dubai, it was still quite nice. It’s refreshing to see a mall this lively. Maybe one day that American Dream mall will finally open so I have one of these super malls in the Northeast…

But undoubtedly the crown jewel for me was Nickelodeon Universe. None of the coasters are stand-outs, but they compliment each other well and are all very reridable.

The real stars of Nickelodeon Universe are the atmosphere (I’m still in awe at this park’s natural beauty), strong flat collection, and that otherworldly flume. I just can’t get over how amazing that flume is.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:53 am

cparkes92 wrote:Adventureland and Arnolds both look charming and would get more visitors among enthusiasts if they weren't so far from other parks


At least Adventureland is off a major highway if you're going cross-country and by the state capital. Arnolds Park is in the middle of nowhere. It's unfortunate because it really is a charming place.
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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby RCjunkie » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:20 pm

Canobie Coaster wrote:The real stars of Nickelodeon Universe are the atmosphere (I’m still in awe at this park’s natural beauty), strong flat collection, and that otherworldly flume. I just can’t get over how amazing that flume is.


Indoor trees and a kick a** flume are my favorite parts of the park also. Having the flume in NU really helps make up for the removal of the one that VF used to have. Glad to hear you enjoyed the park which I think is only second to Disney in theming per square inch. ;)

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Re: Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's World Adventures

Postby Canobie Coaster » Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:40 pm

^ I'll still take Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi for the best indoor park by far, but I really liked how different Nickelodeon Universe's feel was. While Warner Bros tried to teleport you to different lands, Nickelodeon Universe tried to make you feel like you were outside in an indoor park, which is no small feat.
Top 5 Wood- Lightning Rod, Voyage, Phoenix, Boulder Dash, Wildfire
Top 5 Steel- Steel Vengeance, Untamed, Expedition GeForce, Twisted Colossus, Schwur des Karnan
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