Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

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Day 4 -- Magic Springs

Postby The Great Zo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:14 pm

Day 4 -- Magic Springs
Friday, August 2, 2013

Lesson of the Day: You're going to need good shoes for a trip like this. Two weeks of extensive walking will test the souls -- and soles -- of even the heartiest amusement park visitor. This lesson seemed most applicable to our two days in the U.S. Interior Highlands, hiking the heavy terrain of Magic Springs and Silver Dollar City. I probably asked for too much out of my old shoes in 2013, and I plan to have new ones before my two weeks with TPR in 2014.

Artifacts:

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Here's the Magic Springs park map, and our TPR-exclusive tickets!

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Magic Springs was one of many parks that provided us with a free water bottle, though I think I forgot to pick one up from a couple of the parks we visited. I did take this one home!

Scorecard:

X-Coaster
Big Bad John
Diamond Mine Run
The Gauntlet
Arkansas Twister

Day 4

This was the worst wake-up call of the trip.

We had a lot of ground to cover on the trip's fourth official day. We started the morning in Texas, and ending the evening in Missouri -- two states that, as you'd notice on a map, are not adjacent to one another. With a park to hit in between, we had to get an early start, with a 5:45 AM meeting time to have everything out of the hotel. With over 90 people on the trip, it was crucial to be on-time for loading, with such a huge number of suitcases to be stowed under each bus. We only had time to pick up a quick breakfast on the way out, as our buses left the parking lot at 5:53 AM. To no one's surprise, it was easily the quietest bus ride of the entire trip -- one that would contrast with the next leg of our trip that same evening.

I think people had a little too much fun at the Arkansas Welcome Center just northeast of Texarkana, where we stopped for a quick break just after 9 AM. Arkansas isn't on a lot of travel agendas, so entering the state for the first time might also have been the last time for several of our international guests. It was actually the second time I'd been in Arkansas in three months, and I do plan to return!

At about 11:25 AM, we arrived at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Hot Springs is a rather unique city with some interesting history, and I would enjoy getting a chance to visit more of the surroundings. Our itinerary only allowed the time to visit the park and head out on our way. Upon arriving in the parking lot, we had to say goodbye to our first crew of bus drivers (Cowtown Bus Charters), as we switched luggage into the new vehicles (Anderson Coach & Travel) we'd be staying with for the rest of the trip. The first buses had wifi on-board, which I'd come to miss on the rest of the trip. After getting our belongings situated, it was almost noon by the time we got in the park.

The Magic Springs visit was essentially designed as a quick credit run -- with only around two hours scheduled to hit five roller coasters. We had to keep a tight schedule because of our plans for the evening at Silver Dollar City, and we all understood why that was so important. Still, it was of great importance for us to visit this out-of-the-way park, and we had just enough time to get (almost) everything done.

As we prepared to enter the front gate, Robb suggested that it would be best if we didn't all run to X-Coaster immediately. So, what did I do? I went to X-Coaster immediately -- which worked out fine, as the TPR group did split up fairly evenly. X-Coaster was definitely not a ride that lends itself to quick-moving queues, so I was glad to have it out of the way first. I followed up X-Coaster with rides on the nearby Big Bad John and Diamond Mine Run, before heading to The Gauntlet -- the only SLC on the trip. I finished off the credits on Arkansas Twister, with all five complete by 1:30 PM.

Most of TPR gathered at a meeting area near the park's entrance, where the word quickly spread that our 2:00 PM departure was going to be changing to 2:30 PM. It wasn't the coasters that demanded the extra time -- rather, it was the wait for lunch! I think most of the TPR group had the same idea -- knock out the coasters, eat, and head out. That crowded a large portion of us into the lines at the Split Rock Grill, where service was not moving briskly.

The credit-run pace of the visit didn't allow for a whole lot of time for photography. With the slight adjustment to our departure, I was able to get some extra pictures of the water park area, as well as some zoom shots of X-Coaster in action. What I am most disappointed about is that I missed out on riding Old No. 2 Logging Company -- the park's log flume. It was the only operational log flume credit on the entire trip that I failed to collect. In between riding the coasters, I wandered over to the flume, only to find that the line appeared to be at least 20 minutes long. Since I wasn't sure I'd have time for it, I had to pass. I also missed out on Dr. Dean's Rocket Machine (the S&S tower), but I was able to get on similar rides at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Cedar Point.

Magic Springs is an attractive park. The northern half of the property is mainly taken up by the parking lot (northwest) and water park (northeast), with the front gate spilling into a plaza area between the water attractions. Arkansas Twister is set at the far northeast end of the park, and near the park's highest elevations -- offering some outstanding views of the Zig Zag Range of the southeastern Ouachita Mountains. The rest of the amusement rides are situated in the southern half of the property, forming a ring around the park's small lake. This portion of the park is very heavily wooded, especially near X-Coaster and The Gauntlet. It's probably one of the most forested sections of any theme park I've been to, as it's clear that nature is not far away. Arkansas' nickname is, in fact, The Natural State. As I mentioned in the opening, the Magic Springs and Crystal Falls property features some pretty heavy terrain. The park's highest point (about 620 feet) is located near the front gate, while the park's lowest point (about 540 feet) is south of the lake at the park's southern end. That 80-foot elevation difference ends up as a pretty steep climb to get from -- for example -- X-Coaster back to the main entrance! The two paths that traverse the hill are lined by several of the park's smaller amusement attractions.

Crystal Falls looked like a pretty nice water park for anywhere -- let alone central Arkansas. The park had a large wave pool, a kids area, a lazy river, a FlowRider (Boogie Blast), and a few large slide complexes. It would have been easy to spend as much time at water park as we spent riding roller coasters, but our tight schedule didn't allow for it. As would be a common theme on this hot summer trip, the wet park was certainly busier than the dry park. For our group, however, this was our first day out of the extreme heat we experienced in Texas. The Hot Springs high temperature of 91 degrees was an 11 degree drop from the 102 degrees in Dallas the day before!

For its place as a regional attraction, I liked Magic Springs. I'm glad that I was able to ride all five coasters, especially with the looming possibility of the park focusing operations on Crystal Falls. I see no doubt that their water park will continue to be a very successful venture. To be totally fair, the roller coasters were a little bit disappointing. I felt like the amusement side was lacking something truly distinctive to set the place apart -- and, although I suspect several TPR members would respectfully disagree, I didn't think X-Coaster was it. With that point aside, I can't say anything negative about the park experience. Magic Springs is a well-themed, well-maintained park, and the employees were all fantastic. A huge part of what makes a visit a good one is the things the park can control on a day-to-day basis -- employee attitude, park upkeep, and general atmosphere. They hit all the right notes, leaving TPR with a happy (yet short) experience. Magic Springs is an interesting park in an interesting part of an unheralded state -- a place which, like its central Arkansas surroundings, offers a little more than what you might first expect.

We left the park just after 2:30 PM, heading north to our next destination in Missouri. Although it's technically part of the same day, I'll be saving that part of the trip report for the next segment.

Reviews of the attractions at Magic Springs:

X-Coaster: For such an odd and unique coaster, I wanted to like this one more than I did. I'll ride almost any extreme amusement park attraction -- I'm not scared of heights, loops, intense forces, airtime, or much of anything else. I will, however, reserve one ride element that I do not enjoy -- hangtime. I do poorly with extended periods of forces directed toward my head, and I wonder if other riders feel the same cranial discomfort that I do (or if it's just me). One of X-Coaster's key features is the several seconds of suspension at the top of the lift, remarkably held in by a lapbar-only restraint system. After experiencing that once, I was good to go. I did enjoy the twist, and the quick forces on the run back through the station.

Big Bad John: This ride's been around the block a few times, opening first at Six Flags St. Louis, before moving to Dollywood. It found its third home at Magic Springs, where its wooded backdrop is its best quality. Overall, I thought Big Bad John was an average to slightly-below-average mine train.

Diamond Mine Run: Although the presence of the TPR group generally made kiddie credits a whole lot of fun, this one was helped out by an energetic ride op. The operator sent the train through the course multiple times, and threw out high-fives to the obviously-overage coaster enthusiasts (who were outnumbering the children on at least a 2-to-1 margin).

The Gauntlet: How on earth did TPR plan a trip with over 80 roller coasters and just one Vekoma SLC? How on earth was this -- my 110th coaster credit -- the first hang-and-bang on my personal checklist? The first half of the ride went much better than I'd expected, and I wondered to myself if perhaps the SLC legacy was a bit overstated. The second half of the ride beat the truth into me, and now I know better.

Arkansas Twister: This ride has the layout of a typical out-and-back wooden roller coaster, with the advantage of having the park's most scenic location. I'd rank it as slightly below-average compared to other rides of its type. There was some mild jackhammering in a few spots, and the pacing of the hills (and the speed at which they were taken) felt a little bit strange. Even still, this is probably the park's most re-ridable coaster, and I would have liked to try it out in a few different seats to see how the ride experience changed. Or, alternatively, I would have liked to just enjoy the view a little bit longer!
Last edited by The Great Zo on Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:17 pm.
-- Andy
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Day 4 Pictures

Postby The Great Zo » Thu Mar 06, 2014 10:23 pm

Pictures from Day 4

Additional pictures and bigger versions of these images can be found here.
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Kevin from Group Sales welcomes TPR to Magic Springs!
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This is Indian Mountain -- part of the Zig Zag Range of the Ouachita Mountains. Indian Mountain spans across the north end of the park, creating an impressive backdrop to the water slides and Arkansas Twister.
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With a group of this size, it takes a little while to get through the gate.
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I think every TPR member got this picture of the park's sign and fountain, so forgive me if you've seen it before!
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A look back at the gate from the park's main plaza area.
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After descending the park's big hill, I reached the north end of the pond. Magic Springs' coasters (sans Arkansas Twister) are on the other side of the water.
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"Swine & Dine" is the catch phrase for the Smoke on the Water BBQ. The use of "swine" as a verb bothers me more than it should.
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A water play area near the pond at the southwest end of the park.
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Heading past the S&S tower, TPR makes a run for the park's most unique attraction.
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The group prepares for X-Coaster, though there's only so much you can do to prepare yourself for being hung 150 feet in the air from a lap bar.
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Behind the station for Big Bad John, you can easily get an idea of the forested, hilly nature of central Arkansas.
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X-Coaster looks rather freaky from underneath!
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Heading up to the X-Coaster station. The ride only seats 12 people at a time, so capacity was an issue.
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Maurer Sohne -- they're the ones responsible for what I was about to experience. This lap bar is the only thing holding riders back!
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The run out of the station and into the vertical lift.
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That's quite the angle.
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Flipping out of the hang-time and momentarily right-side-up.
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Coming out of the twist and into the big dive toward the station.
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Big Bad John's rather plain station.
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Big Bad John's big bad shed.
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A look at Diamond Mine Run, a kiddie coaster that was ripe for a quick TPR commandeering!
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A TPR near-takeover of Diamond Mine Run was worth a few pictures! I loved the excitement from the ride op -- high-fives for everyone!
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Another TPR group climbs the lift.
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Hairtime on a kiddie coaster!
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Plummet Summit -- not Summit Plummet, because this is Magic Springs, not Blizzard Beach. Kentucky Kingdom's installing a slide with the same name, presumably just to add to the confusion.

I was hoping to get a shot of the ride in operation (splash boats are fun to photograph), but it was inoperable the entire time I was nearby.
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Well, it's very yellow. At least it's got that going for it.
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With all the trees and brush, X-Coaster appears to rise out of the wilderness.
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I arrived at The Gauntlet, ready to claim my first-ever SLC credit. "Ready" is a relative term.
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A few of the definitions of the word "Gauntlet," as provided by various online dictionaries, include:
-- "a severe trial"
-- "an attack from two or all sides"
-- "trying conditions; an ordeal"

Magic Springs nailed the name for this coaster!
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If there are any prog-rock fans here, they'll appreciate this -- while taking pictures of The Gauntlet, these speakers were belting out "And You and I" by Yes. Can't say I expected to hear that song on the soundtrack at an amusement park!
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Heading back toward the pond.
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Gauntlet credits...
Andy: 1, Birds: 0.

The birds win this round.
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A view from the edge of the pond, looking in the opposite direction, toward Plummet Summit and The Gauntlet. The pond is dammed, so although it's near the park's lowest point, the terrain near Gauntlet's station is about 20 feet lower.
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Here's my only missed operational log flume credit from the entire two-week trip -- Old No. 2. That queue line may not look very long, but it was absolutely crawling.
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One view of the flume, which wasn't particularly large, but was disappointing to miss regardless.
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Another view over the pond, with X-Coaster looming in the background.
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Lakeside Licks -- another eatery that I might have named differently.
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Heading up the hill toward the north end of the park, with one credit left to claim.
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Here's the entrance to Arkansas Twister, a Bill Cobb out-and-back wooden coaster.
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Lift hill shot! This ride started its life in Florida, and moved to Arkansas in the early 1990s.
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A train prepares for the 92-foot drop on Arkansas Twister.
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TPR riders on the return leg of the coaster.
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I may have been underwhelmed by the ride, but I love the weather-themed name and logo!
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The Timberwood Amphitheater is the park's concert venue, and can hold over 5,000 people.
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One of the main slide complexes in Crystal Falls. This looked like it would be a lot of fun!
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The park's lazy river winds below the main walkway, which connects the entry plaza to Arkansas Twister.
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Another view of the north end of Crystal Falls, with Indian Mountain in the background.
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Boogie Blast is the name of the park's FlowRider, and of course...
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...there's Adrian schooling all the locals!
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Here's a prime meeting spot near the park's entrance, with a balcony overlooking the Crystal Falls water park.
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A distant view toward the wave pool and X-Coaster.
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An entry point for the lazy river, with Arkansas Twister rising behind the trees.
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The Split Rock Grill was a little busy, after nearly half of the TPR group got in line at the same time!
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Here's the shallow end of the wave pool...
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...and the deep end, with X-Coaster twisting off behind it.
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X-Coaster climbs the vertical lift...
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...and tilts backwards at the top, which has to be one of the most uncomfortable things I've ever experienced on a roller coaster.
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A lucky shot -- TPR members blasting off on Dr. Dean's Rocket Machine!
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This vertical lift is made even more unnerving by the fact that the seats are slightly reclined.
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Hair-hangtime!
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Twisting right-side-up...
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...and diving upside-down.
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X-Coaster's a unique ride in an interesting location, but it would be tough to handle more than once.
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Distant zoom angles make the coaster look like it's even deeper in the forest than it actually is.
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Arkansas Twister reaches the crest of the patriotic lift.
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Mat racers are like the fun slides at local fairs, only actually fun.
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I honestly wouldn't have minded spending some time at the water park, but we had to head out before 3 PM!
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Observation tower enthusiasts take note! This is the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, which was clearly visible from the park. Closer to downtown Hot Springs, it sits on top of Hot Springs Mountain, and has a height of 216 feet. Combined with the mountain, which rises about 500 feet above its surroundings, the views from the top are probably impressive. You can bet that it'll be on my agenda if I return to central Arkansas.
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We boarded the Anderson buses for the first time, and got one last view of the park's north end.
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Passing the front gate on our way out of the parking lot.
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Magic Springs and Crystal Falls -- the sign.
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One last view of The Gauntlet, Dr. Dean's Rocket Machine, and X-Coaster.
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A look east on US Route 70 (Business), our road out of Hot Springs, with a long drive ahead.
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While crossing the Arkansas River on northbound I-430, I got this shot of Pinnacle Mountain in the distance. When I visited Arkansas in May of 2013, my biggest goal was to climb it and reach the summit. Sadly, weather conditions were unfavorable, and I wasn't able to make an attempt. Whenever it may be that I return to The Natural State, there's no way I'll miss another chance!
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby Vonni » Fri Mar 07, 2014 2:45 am

I love your Trip Reports! You take such phenomenal photos! I've been to Magic Springs once. I cant remember the year, but it was before they had Gauntlet, and X Coaster. They used to have a Wild Mouse called Twist 'N Shout that was pretty fun. I'd like to return someday. I'm like you though, I'm not fond of Hangtime and I'm afraid I may chicken out of X Coaster after reading your thoughts on the Coaster lol! Thanks again for a fantastic report! I look forward to your next installment as always!

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

Postby mattnz » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:22 pm

I share your pain about missing out on the log flume. If I ever pass one up, I leave feeling a little uneasy! Fabulous photos Andy.
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby Vtafro » Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:07 am

mattnz wrote:I share your pain about missing out on the log flume. If I ever pass one up, I leave feeling a little uneasy! Fabulous photos Andy.


As you know stacy and I were trying to hit all the flumes as well. We missed this one. Not sure anyone got this one?
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby gerstlaueringvar » Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:39 am

I regret for skipping the log flume as well. It's the only one I lost during the whole trip. The S&S tower might be the best I've ridden with two extreme ejectors at the top in a row. Very surprising for such a small tower.

Love your TR so much! Thanks for reminding me about the early bus departure, so painful to wake up that early. =)

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

Postby The Great Zo » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:22 am

Vtafro wrote:As you know stacy and I were trying to hit all the flumes as well. We missed this one. Not sure anyone got this one?


Yup, and we got through most everything, even picking up the double at SFStL. I have yet to hear of anyone that made it on this one at Magic Springs!
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby SuperShawn » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:25 am

Somehow I missed even seeing they had a log flume...

I really liked this park and our time there, though what continues to stand out was the crazy girl working the wooden coaster getting jacked up on pixie sticks.
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby Barge84 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:48 am

SuperShawn wrote:Somehow I missed even seeing they had a log flume...

I really liked this park and our time there, though what continues to stand out was the crazy girl working the wooden coaster getting jacked up on pixie sticks.


I don't remember seeing the log flume either. My highlights of the park were the crazy girl working on Arkansas Twister and TPDave slapping you in the face on X-Coaster because he ignored the rules about putting his hands up.

It was a much nicer park than I'd anticipated. Glad I got to go there, because I don't think I would've ever gone there on my own.
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby mightypotato » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:54 am

I really enjoyed my time at Magic Springs. I'm still sad my group never got on the kiddie credit there (every time we went by, it was broken down) but it was still fun. The only negative was the mountain you have climb to get back out of the park. Because I'm lazy.
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