Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Page 27: The End of the Trip
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Day 12 -- Cedar Point (Day Three / Final Night)

Postby The Great Zo » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:21 pm

Day 12 -- Cedar Point (Final Night)
Saturday, August 10, 2013

This report -- my final segment from Cedar Point -- picks up where I left off on Saturday evening.

I had just finished a short photo set from the beach at sunset, and was still armed with two exit passes for Millennium Force. After another quick stop at the hotel shortly after 8 PM, I went into the park for my final run of rides and pictures. I met up with Brett and offered him the use of my second Millennium Force pass. We made our way around the back of the park, riding Gemini Red, and then headed up to Millennium Force. This was a first-time experience for both of us -- entering through the exit and being those guys already in the front row as the train pulls into the station. The ride op at the exit warned us in advance about the bugs, but we gladly accepted of our fate as human windshields. It did, unfortunately, require a bit of cleaning up after the ride.

Brett and I took some pictures from the dock of the marina, then got in our last rides on Blue Streak and Raptor before splitting up. I had two more photography subjects I wanted to cover near the front of the park -- GateKeeper's keyholes and WindSeeker. Between the two, I stopped at Toft's for some of the best ice cream at Cedar Point. Toft's isn't too hard on the wallet, either.

Thursday night ended on Maverick, and Friday night ended on Millennium Force. It seemed fitting that the final ride on Saturday -- the last ride of the trip -- should be on Top Thrill Dragster. I met up with Brett again, and we got in line for the front row about 15 minutes before midnight. The line was a little too long, unfortunately, so the timing didn't quite work out. We ended up being relocated to the middle of the third-to-last train of the night. It was still a great way to end the trip, while still leaving just a little more to be desired -- just one more little hook that will keep me coming back to Cedar Point in the future!

Now well past midnight, we ended things again at TGI Friday's, though admittedly it was a smaller and quieter crowd than the past two nights. Steps away from the dark of the Lake Erie beach, we headed off to prepare for the trip home.

Pictures from (the night of) Day 12
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The evening photo set began again in Frontiertown, where Maverick was doing what it does best.
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Maverick makes the dive over the swan boat pond.
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Heading past the water cannon and into the rocks.
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Millennium Force rises over the trees.
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Snake River Falls was quiet at night.
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The Glass Blowing Theater is well-lit.
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Heading out toward the marina, Millennium Force dominates the skyline.
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Walking past Famous Dave's on the main pier at the marina.
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Boats and reflections on the water.
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Nice view of the southern section of the park over the water.
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A closer look at the Raptor and Blue Streak lift hills.
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Heading further out on the pier to get a better view to the north.
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Millennium Force shines over the outdoor seating area.
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Awesome reflections from the colored lights on the Millennium Force lift hill.
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An array of colors on Millennium Force.
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Millennium Force and a gas pump.
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A smoky sky at Cedar Point.
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A closer view of the rainbow color scheme on the lift hill.
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Millennium Force in brilliant green.
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A wider view of the reflection between the docks.
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Several other tall Cedar Point attractions are also visible from the docks.
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Power Tower looks like it's glowing.
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It was good timing to be set up for pictures, because Luminosity was just beginning!
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The sky begins to light up.
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Lights, smoke, and some interesting reflections.
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Fireworks in the air near Power Tower.
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More colorful explosions.
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The rockets' red glare.
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The bombs bursting in air.
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Unfortunately, Mantis was still there.
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Now for a look off to the southwest, with the lights of Sandusky in the distance.
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Green light for outgoing boats.
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One more view of the south end of the park from the docks.
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Getting ready for one last ride on Blue Streak.
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Nearby, Raptor goes through the zero-g roll.
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Raptor on the return leg.
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Raptor flips through the vertical loop.
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GateKeeper looks stunning at night. Even if there were issues with a few lights on the trains not working correctly, the effects generated by long exposures were still incredibly effective.
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GateKeeper goes past the front gate on the return leg.
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As much a signature shot of GateKeeper as any picture could be.
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Flipping back past the gate.
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Inverting beyond the towers.
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Towers and lights.
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Keyholing at night!
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Is there a catchy name for the almost-keyholing on the return trip?
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Green lights and red lights at the front gate.
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Another GateKeeper view over the gate from outside the park.
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HalloWeekends advertising already?
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A quiet crowd on the plaza outside of the front gate.
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The big flip through the turnaround near Blue Streak.
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I usually close out a Cedar Point trip with a stop at Toft's.
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Maxair and the Giant Wheel in action.
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GateKeeper swings through the Immelmann.
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Compared to the Banshee station, it's striking just how big the GateKeeper station has to be in order to accommodate the wide trains.
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Couldn't pass up a chance for a couple more shots of the Giant Wheel in motion.
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The colors simply look fantastic.
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The real reason I came over to the southeast side of the park was to get some similar shots of WindSeeker in operation.
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Even at ground level, the glow of the lighting package is pretty nice.
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It's not just the ride arms, either -- the sign changes colors as well.
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There's no question that Cedar Point is a more colorful place at night than it was when I last visited in 2008.
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WindSeeker looks like a buzz saw as it heads up the tower.
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Very bright and pink.
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The lights on the bottom of each seat create curved streaks through the sky.
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A wider view of WindSeeker at its highest point.
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Turning blue as it comes back down the tower.
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Reliability concerns aside, don't these rides look awesome?
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A slightly shorter exposures gives a bit of a stair-step zig-zag appearance.
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Even when a ride cycle is not running, the top of the tower remains lit in multiple colors.
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Intentional blur as the next cycle begins.
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It almost looks like a bright pink lamp.
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Too many colors to count!
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Before, I was seeing a multi-colored checkerboard. Now, I'm seeing Tetris.
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Bright blue and purple at the top of the cycle.
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I think it's watching us.
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It looks like an eye, doesn't it?
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Starting back down the tower.
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Not sure how to even describe this pattern.
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A green buzz saw near the bottom of the tower.
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Light yellow and pink as the ride cycle comes to a close.
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How about a few Dragster shots to close out the night? This one looks like an explosion.
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Another train launches up the tower.
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The Christmas tree lights up the night sky...
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...and a train crests the top hat.
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Streaks of light as a Dragster train launches.
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Pulling up to the staging area...
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...and launching to 120 MPH.
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A blurred train launches forward.
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Another launch cycle begins.
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It's short, but it's easily one of my favorite coasters anywhere.
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How anyone could call it a "bad investment" is beyond my ability to comprehend. The enthusiast community generally seems to like the ride, and more importantly, it's a monumental hit for the average park guest. People still stop in their tracks on the midway to watch a train launch up the tower.
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Time to close down TGI Friday's one more time.
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Magnum stays well-lit into the early morning hours.
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Ghosts outside the hotel.
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One more shot of the WindSeeker tower.
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Very dark out on the beach -- the brightest light is from the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater.
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The beach is lit only from the hotel, with distant lights way off over the water.
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The distant orange glow in the sky appears to be from far enough away that it could be Cleveland.
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Stars over Lake Erie in the early morning sky.
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That's it.
Last edited by The Great Zo on Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:54 pm.
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Day 13 -- The End of the Trip

Postby The Great Zo » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:22 pm

Day 13 -- The End of the Trip
Sunday, August 11, 2013

Waking up on the last day of the trip was even harder than the day before, but unless we wanted to be stranded at Cedar Point -- I can think of worse fates -- we had one last early morning to get through. Despite that, a few of us had time for a breakfast gathering at the Perkins in the Hotel Breakers lobby. Suitcases tend to get in the way of the narrow walking paths in a restaurant.

Our bus pulled out of the Hotel Breakers parking lot at 900 AM sharp, arriving at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport just over an hour later. Over the next eight hours, the count of TPR members at the airport would slowly tick away one-by-one, as the tour participants made their way back home. Despite traveling a shorter distance by air than anyone else on the tour (I was heading to see family in Detroit), I had the second-latest flight out. Only Yin's first leg to the west coast (and eventually onward to China) had a later departure. I had plenty of time to see off several new friends in their last few hours of vacation, before finally boarding the plane myself, with wheels off the ground at about 630 PM.

At 800 PM, as I walked out of Detroit Metro Airport, my TPR trip came to an end -- roughly 15 days and 13 hours after it had begun.

Pictures from Day 13
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One last view from the hotel room window. The clouds made an interesting angle with the Magnum lift hill.
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Packing up at the front of Hotel Breakers.
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Unfortunately, it was time to leave Cedar Point.
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Power Tower and its smaller, patriotic counterpart in front of the hotel.
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I never got my front-row ride at night. Another day, TTD. Another day.
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Welcome to Cleveland!
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There it is -- the big one is the Key Tower, the tallest building in Ohio.
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The main passenger area at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
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A new control tower under construction over the west end of the airport property.
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To the right is NASA's John Glenn Research Center. To the left is the radar tower used by the National Weather Service -- that's the one with the closest view of Cedar Point.
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Does Ian Hunter get royalty payments every time this phrase is used?
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Hey, who else remembers this awesome contraption in one of the airport terminals? I should have taken video of it! It's part of a display for Akron Children's Hospital.
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Fly Paper.
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The giant paper airplanes are in the entrances to the tunnel between Terminal C and Terminal D.
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Reflections from the windows, as the hours of waiting for my flight to Detroit continue on.
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A scene from the rejected Soarin' Over Cleveland.
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Downtown Cleveland from many miles away. I was on the correct side of the plane for that, and got some great views of southern Ontario. However, had I been on the left side of the plane, I likely would have seen Cedar Point as my flight headed west.
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Just about anyone who has flown through Detroit has been here -- the incredible light tunnel between the two sections of the McNamara Terminal.
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Cedar Point's many colors at night have nothing on this acid trip!
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It's an overwhelming barrage of changing colors, synchronized to an original score.
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The panels change colors and animate as the music plays on. It's really quite bizarre.
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For most people, ultimately, it's still just a way to get from point A to point B.
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At the center of the main terminal is a fountain designed by WET Design.
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If it looks Disney-ish, that's because it is -- the same people designed fountains at Epcot.
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I know at least one or two people took pictures of this fountain on their inbound trip through Detroit before the TPR tour began. Oh, and see the train on the second level, two pictures up?
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Time for one last ride and report! Here's a station shot from Detroit Metro Airport's mile-long ExpressTram.
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They even have an electronic sign for wait times, but Fast Pass was not available.
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POV shot!
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Reverse POV shot! Great, the trip's been done for less than a day and I'm already having coaster withdrawal.
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Time to head back to reality -- a welcome to my original home state of Michigan.
Last edited by The Great Zo on Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:59 pm.
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2013 Texas/Midwest Tour -- Final Thoughts

Postby The Great Zo » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:26 pm

Final Thoughts

I have TPR emails in my archives from as early as February 2006, but back then, I doubt I could have imagined I'd go on a trip with the group seven years later. When I decided to join the Texas/Midwest tour for 2013, I came in as an outsider. I had no connection to the theme park industry. I had never been to a TPR event before. I knew nobody on the trip (minus one meeting at a hockey game, you rotten Pittsburgh fan). Was this really the right choice for someone who usually travels solo?

Now that I'm on the other side of the trip, I can say that I've not only answered that question, but reversed it. Traveling with the TPR group now feels like the right way to visit a park. What a way to have fun while riding roller coasters, or to make fun even when the situations aren't ideal. This was a really accepting group that was very easy to get along with, even with its size (over 90 people were on the tour). With just a tiny bit of effort, it was easy to make friends, and meet people from all around the world.

TPR trips are so fast-paced that there's little time to rest, but that's one part of the tour that did align with the way I usually travel. Did the itinerary work out for me? Absolutely! I picked up credit #100, then hit credit #150 six days later. I learned how to reasonably control myself on a FlowRider. I had my internal organs re-arranged on the 10-story shoe slide at City Museum, then had them re-arranged again two days later on Hades 360. I said "hi" to an umbrella cockatoo named Susie. I gained a new favorite wooden coaster in Outlaw Run. I watched a deity carve Texas out of a quarry wall with lasers. I got up close and personal with the LIMs on Mr. Freeze, and the hydraulic motor on Top Thrill Dragster. I got two tiny bites of cinnamon bread, and two is greater than zero. I rode a Ferris wheel on the roof of a high-rise building in downtown St. Louis. I soared 400 feet over the north Texas landscape on chain-connected swings. I remembered the Alamo. I overindulged on candy from New Zealand and Germany. I had 13 rides in 65 minutes -- at night -- on my favorite roller coaster on the planet.

It's not an exaggeration that these were two of the most entertaining weeks of my life. Simply visiting these parks by myself wouldn't have been nearly as fun. Could I have done the trip on my own, and for a lower cost? Sure, but that's just not the same -- it's a different experience entirely. TPR trips are a premium product, and you easily get what you pay for. The schedule is packed from top to bottom. The planning is meticulous. The work to set everything up is very thorough, and the effort to amend the agenda for unplanned adjustments is equally painstaking. Obviously, the perks we received at the parks are a huge part of the reason to do a trip, but the TPR crowd is just as much an aspect of why they're so successful. Overall, it was an experience that was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip (and trip report) possible. First and foremost to Robb and Elissa for, well, basically the entire thing! To the rest of the crew at the front of the buses, who helped keep everything organized through the journey. To those I borrowed pictures from for the report -- Robb, Elissa, Andrew, Chris M, Marcel, Neil, and others. To Stacy G, Neil, and James H for rescuing me at the airport and an awesome first two days in San Antonio. To my Q-Bot group of Victor, Stacy H, and Tim K, for making the most out of our days at the Six Flags Parks. To kiwi Matt and kiwi Andrew for the white chocolate, to Kristen for the Jr. Gemini credit, and to Yin for being the last person I saw before my departure. Thanks to you and to everyone else for contributing to the experience!

This trip was so much fun that it almost felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience...

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...it's too bad I have to wait a whole four days to start another one. :)
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Trip Reports: 2015 CP -- 2017 FL -- 2017 CP -- 2017 TPR -- 2018 FC -- 2018 CA

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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby gerstlaueringvar » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:15 am

Wow you can seriously write a book about this trip! :br Love everything on your TR so much! Those pictures are some of the best I've ever seen. Thank you for bringing back the memory of the awesome trip.

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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby The Great Zo » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:24 am

gerstlaueringvar wrote:Wow you can seriously write a book about this trip! :br Love everything on your TR so much! Those pictures are some of the best I've ever seen. Thank you for bringing back the memory of the awesome trip.

Thank you! Thanks for your contributions. I should have sub-titled the final section "the last cinnamon roll." :lmao:
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby rcjp » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:31 am

Great pictures and what an epic report! This really makes me want one of these trips badly! Hopefully 2016 will be the year for my first one.
The Mr Freeze coasters should have speakers playing the sentence: "Let's kick some ice!" right before each launch

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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby coasterchitchat » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:24 am

Nice Trip Report! Cedar Point is my home park and I have never seen it like this before.

I HAVE to go on a TPR trip soon.
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