We spend every July 4th with friends in Alabama, and we try to tack some credits onto the trip. Last year we hit North Alabama and Tennessee, and two or three years ago we did a disastrous quick trip to KD for I-305, on which I left my zipper pocket open and lost my money clip and rental car keys on the coaster's first run of the day! But that's a story for another time.
On this trip, we headed South, way South.
This is us in Talladega, Alabama, hosting our annual Freethought Trivia game.
I've been going to Alabama for July 4th for almost 15 years, and I've always seen signs for DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park, so we decided to make a very quick unplanned stop. As you can see, the Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto also made a stop here in the 16th C.
We've made it. This is an information booth.
The caverns are the draw here, and we did not have time to wait for the next tour, but we'll be back. And Hernando would not look so happy if he knew that he was going to die of fever near the Mississippi.
It's a short walk from the parking lot to the ticket counter.
Nice fountain. Notice the clothed cherubs. Wait, are they cherubs without wings?
There were a bunch of activities like Gemstone panning!
You can dig for crystals in the dirt!
A butterfly house!
A Homemade "Water Wars"
Wacky Water Golf
And some kiddie flats. We couldn't really stay longer, but we look forward to next year.
We made another quick stop in Enterprise, Alabama, to see the monument to the Boll Weevil.
My understanding is that the insect's decimation of cotton crops led the local economy to diversify, which led to prosperity. Unfortunately, small rural Alabama towns like this one aren't particularly prosperous anymore. But we did find decent barbecue.
The monument is, quite literally, in the middle of the intersection, so we're standing in the middle of the street for this shot.
A bazillion miles later and then through horrendous July 4th Weekend traffic, we are at the newly resurrected Miracle Strip in Panama City. The original Miracle Strip had some great theming and attractions, but sadly, the park closed in 2004. The new owners are doing a nice job of honoring the park's memory with classic period rides. They've basically just moved out of a mall parking lot into a new, larger site.
Here is the new credit, a 1976 Galaxi that was originally at Adventureland Iowa, then at Splash Kingdom Waterpark in California.
Zip lines and additional adventure stuff like a climbing wall.
A 1975 Scrambler
Ferris Wheel. There's more, but we didn't stay too long. Food looked good, too, and we got a nice t-shirt.
As you probably know, the PTC John Allen woodie Starliner was relocated to Cypress Gardens, but Legoland took it out. The new ride will be a completely new GCI coaster, inspired by the original. We are looking forward to coming back.
Some nice garbage can theming! Anyway, I hope that the new Miracle Strip makes a go of it and keeps people entertained for years to come.
We then made the drive from Panama City to back to Alabama to visit Waterville USA in Gulf Shores. The driving was a pain because it was across all of the barrier islands and over causeways and more horrendous July 4th weekend traffic.
The exit for Cannonball Run comes through the indoor arcade area.
In all of it's CCI/PTC glory.
Out and back layout. I liked it, but there is so much hunting in the turnaround that you'll think you've gone on safari. Time for some retracking. I should note that they gave us two go-arounds.
We drove back to Pensacola, ate late night at Waffle House, slept, and then found ourselves at Sam's Fun City at 11AM-ish.
Relieved to see that there is a pizza buffet.
Getting ready for lunch.
The rides don't open until 12, so we had an hour to kill. We started with some pinball. We hadn't seen the latest screen projection technology that makes your pinball machine feel like a video game. We were about even.
$20 goes a long way at this place. Then some skee-ball. Cheryl dominated.
Hoops. I think Cheryl and I were about tied.
This used to be a Bullwinkle's. I'm a fan of the Jay Ward cartoons (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman), which were really funny even though the animation was terrible. The characters are still licensed out to FECs.
There are Dudley and Nell, and Boris and Natasha.
A little stage for birthday parties. There was a whole separate birthday game room too, I think.
Awards from IALEI, the old FEC trade association, which merged into IAAPA.
And the credit. The owners/management were nice enough to let us ride it. I don't understand why it's not considered powered on rcdb. These Miner Mikes are basically powered through 90% of the track.
Some additional kiddie rides.
I think the Scrambler was the only larger flat we saw. I'm also not showing go-karts and some other such things.
There is a also a substantial water park which looked nice.
Thank you for joining us on this trip through attractions in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle!
Last edited by milst1 on Fri Jul 18, 2014 8:33 am.
Vtafro wrote:Looks like you guys had a nice time, would you recommend any of these stops if and when rampage opens?
We went to these places for the credits, and they are what they are: FECs. If you're looking for Go-Karts and water parks and arcades and children's birthday parties, they're all up to the task. The added benefit is that they are all located in or near beach resort areas, so you can drop in if you're also enjoying the Gulf beaches. Also, only DeSoto Caverns is anywhere in the neighborhood of Rampage, and there's no credit there. The others are a bit further away.
thrillerman1 wrote:Nice to see those Pin2k's at Sam's!
Isn't your avatar from Lake Winnie?
Yes! You're the first person who ever guessed my avatar correctly! Should I send you a prize?
Pin2k's were Williams last ditch effort at saving their pinball branch around the late 90's. Sadly it didn't work. They produced this mix of pinball and video in one game with their Revenge From Mars and Star Wars pins. Having only played the Star Wars pin at Zanzabar in Louisville (highly recommended), I think pin2k's were an amazing concept and really wish they'd caught on. I would love to play Revenge From Mars but haven't found it near me yet.
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