Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

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

Postby SuperShawn » Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:46 am

Wait, there were rides at these stops?

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

Postby cal1br3tto » Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:04 pm

I must admit, any TR of our time at Timber Falls is bound to raise at least as many questions for me as it answers.

Chance Toboggans are way more effortlessly photogenic than I'd think they deserve to be. Both the amazing TPR memories and the charm of the park make Little Amerricka one of those places I'll always feel hugely nostalgic about.
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Re: Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour

Postby The Great Zo » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:51 pm

Naina21 wrote:So that is what Timber Falls looks like. lol I'm glad you got a shot of me on the coaster for proof I did make it on. You also got me playing mini golf. lol Great pics as always. At this rate you will be done before this year's trip begins :)


See, you had a great day, just needed a little reminder! :lmao: I'm really going to struggle to get through everything from Cedar Point before mid-July, but I'll give it my best.

Mrlittle wrote:Little Amerricka was an amazing surprise. Great photos of the park. Thanks for another photo of me on a coaster.


Sure! Just got lucky with the timing I guess. Sadly this is the last photo update where I have much in the way of pictures of TPR members, since there wasn't much of an opportunity for that at SFGAm or CP.

gerstlaueringvar wrote: I remember Neil screamed through the whole ride of Tomber Fall's Log Flume because he was at the front and he got very wet.


I didn't ride in the front when I got the flume credit, but from that picture I can tell that it was probably quite a bit more wet up there!

gerstlaueringvar wrote: Am I the only one who rode everything twice?


Maybe so! It would have been hard to get two spins on the Toboggan, but I thought Meteor was most worth the repeat rides.

cal1br3tto wrote:Chance Toboggans are way more effortlessly photogenic than I'd think they deserve to be.


Oh yeah, totally agreed. If we had a little more time I would have tried some more different shots of that thing in the dark. It's just striking against the deep blue sky. Nothing else looks like it.
-- Andy
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Trip Reports: 2013 BG/KD -- 2013 TPR -- 2014 KI -- 2014 TPR -- 2015 TPR
Trip Reports: 2015 CP -- 2017 FL -- 2017 CP -- 2017 TPR -- 2018 FC -- 2018 CA

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Day 9 -- Six Flags Great America

Postby The Great Zo » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:42 pm

Day 9 -- Six Flags Great America
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lesson of the Day: Don't wait for premium seating during ERT. At least, don't do it right at the beginning of an ERT session. The big benefit of ERT is the ability to get on trains quickly, without interruption, which was fairly easy to accomplish at most of TPR's exclusive sessions on the 2013 tour. However, the front and back rows often had people lining up to wait for them. I found that the best strategy was to see if those lines got shorter late in the ERT session, or even to simply hold off and go for the front or back during regular operating hours (perhaps with the aid of the park's line-skipping program).

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X-Flight (2012) and igNight (2013) were the featured attractions during our visit to Six Flags Great America. I'm sure the 2014 edition of the park map might have some RMC magic on the front cover. Also pictured -- yet another addition to my collection of TPR-branded park tickets!

Scorecard:

Raging Bull (x4)
X-Flight
Ragin' Cajun
Vertical Velocity
Little Dipper
Spacely's Sprocket Rockets
Logger's Run
American Eagle (Blue)
-- Lunch --
Backstage Tour
Superman: Ultimate Flight
Viper (Backwards)
Demon
American Eagle (Red)
-- Enter Hurricane Harbor --
Mega Wedgie
Wipeout
Dive Bomber
Bahama Mama
Wahoo Racer
Surf Rider [FlowRider ERT]
-- Leave Hurricane Harbor --
Roaring Rapids
Yankee Clipper
Batman: The Ride
Whizzer
Giant Drop
The Dark Knight

Day 9 -- Six Flags Great America

Our long, three-park day in Wisconsin finally came to an end just after 11 PM, as we arrived at our hotel in Gurnee, Illinois. Any plans to quickly get to sleep were scuttled by a fire alarm, which forced everybody outside for a while. Apparently somebody got a little too friendly with one of the washing machines (or dryers), but I don't know that I ever heard the full story.

That slight disruption didn't come at a great time, as the upcoming day at Six Flags Great America would prove to be the most challenging and busy of the entire trip, at least for me. That's based solely on my experience as a first-time visitor to a park with a huge amount of attractions, and 14 coaster credits to acquire. In addition to the coasters, I had several other things I wanted to do, not the least of which being TPR's special activities for the day. I figured it would be easier to come back to the park to ride a roller coaster (if necessary) than it would be to take a backstage tour or get ERT on a FlowRider! What I didn't know at the time is that I'd indeed be making plans to revisit SFGAm in 2014 as part of another TPR tour, and I'm certainly looking forward to a slightly more leisurely visit at the end of July.

We arrived to the park at about 9:45 AM, making our way first to Raging Bull for about 20-30 minutes of ERT. From there, we were ushered to X-Flight, where we got in line for the first rides of the day. As both of those rides would have some of the longest waits in the park later on, the head start was a big help. After riding X-Flight, TPR was turned loose before noon with Flash Pass Q-Bots in hand. We also received two more pieces of good news. We'd have the ability to add one more X-Flight ride to our Flash Passes, and we'd be given a "really good deal" on wristband Flash Passes for the water park. While my group didn't have time for another run on X-Flight, we did take them up on the water park offer, which was just as awesome as advertised.

During the rest of the morning, we worked our way primarily through credits that were not available on the Q-Bot Flash Pass, getting the park's smaller coasters out of the way. One of our longest waits of the day was on Ragin' Cajun, the spinning mouse that has since been relocated to Six Flags America. We waited 30 minutes, but watched in amazement as several groups of park guests used the "single rider line" to skip ahead of everyone else without splitting their party. It was one of the more bizarre loading procedures I've ever seen.

The skies briefly began to threaten by about 1:30 PM, as I unwisely skipped a ride on the red side of American Eagle, only to find it not operating later in the day. After that, we headed for our lunch break, and it was one of the best lunch spreads we had on the entire trip! What was that stuff with the beans? It was fantastic. It was a huge improvement from the limited-option vouchers we received at the last two Six Flags parks on the trip. From there, we met up with Brandon Bruce for our backstage tour. Brandon worked in public relations at Six Flags Great America through the 2013 season, and is now the marketing manager at Six Flags Over Georgia. We were led on a tour through several indoor and outdoor storage locations, and passed through the greenhouse area where landscaping work is prepared. We ended the tour along access roads near American Eagle and Raging Bull, obtaining rare views of those two coasters in action.

The credit run continued after lunch, and as the park had become rather crowded, our Flash Passes helped avoid hour-long waits on Superman and Viper. Demon had been down for a while, but I noticed it was running while we were riding Viper, so we quickly went there for our next ride. While on Demon, I noticed that American Eagle's red side was running again, so I made a quick departure to pick up that credit (which I had missed earlier in the day).

At 5:00 PM, I headed over to Hurricane Harbor, the water park attached to SFGAm. Even with a day as busy as this, I thought it was worth spending about an hour on the wet side of the park -- including the first capsule-drop slides I'd ever been on. Of even greater importance was another round of FlowRider ERT -- our second session on the trip, after Summer Adventures at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. That was too much fun to pass up!

Upon leaving Hurricane Harbor, it seemed like a good time to finish off the dry park's water rides, before working through the remaining coasters. We were starting to get pressed for time, but I had no intentions of being denied my goal of finishing the credit run. Along the way, I hit another big milestone I hadn't initially anticipated. I rode my 100th coaster at Six Flags Over Texas (Judge Roy Scream), but calculated that I'd likely come up just short of #150 by the end of the trip. Thanks to our surprise stop at Little Amerricka -- giving me a four-credit boost -- I was able to nail down #150 on Whizzer at SFGAm.

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#150!

I made the sign rather hastily at the front desk of our hotel, but it gets the job done! Huge thanks to Andrew Samitz (darque) for the picture!

After a ride on the park's 2nd-gen Intamin drop tower (too good to pass up) I was left with one credit to go -- and only 20 minutes with which to obtain it. Thanks to some shuffling of the Q-Bot (in order to get it back to Robb before closure), I was able to get in the short line for The Dark Knight, finishing my day on the park's not-so-good mouse-in-a-box. I got off the ride with four minutes to spare before the park closed, with my biggest goal for the day complete!

This is also where I want to give a huge thanks to my Q-Bot group -- Tim, Stacy, and Victor -- as we'd now finished the last of our four Six Flags parks together. Great group of people to spend four days with. An extra thanks to Victor, as without his help, I probably wouldn't have finished off the credits at SFGAm.

The park offered night ERT on Viper to TPR and passholders, and by all accounts, this looked like a ton of fun -- a dance-party atmosphere on an above-average wood coaster. I might somewhat regret the decision, but ultimately I decided to skip the ERT and walk back to our hotel area for a decent dinner. I admit that I'm not a huge fan of riding coasters backwards. I was also pretty well exhausted, and ready to turn in for the day.

Although I don't feel like I ever had time to truly stop and enjoy my visit at Six Flags Great America, I do think it's a good park, and I'm glad I'll be able to revisit the place next month. Simply put, it's a huge property with a ton of attractions, and just about any guest should be able to find something they enjoy. It's also not a bad-looking place -- still some classic charm, and the main entry plaza is among my favorites from any park I can think of. I was also impressed with the water park, which is pretty large and contains a really strong mix of slide types. The coaster collection was the one place I thought SFGAm was slightly lacking, even with such a large number of credits (14). There are a lot of B-grade coasters in that lineup, and several clones -- good rides, maybe even very good, but the park seemed to be missing that one knockout coaster to put them over the top. I know some people would probably put Raging Bull in that slot, but I don't think it quite rises to that level. In 2014, this may all be a moot point -- Goliath could very well be the A-grade coaster that really tops off the ride collection.

The busy schedule meant that outside of the backstage tour, I didn't have much of an opportunity for pictures -- at least not a comprehensive featuring of everything in the park. I even had to skip the observation tower! That's near-blasphemy! That may be priority #1 for this year's trip.

--------------------------------------------

Reviews of the attractions at Six Flags Great America:

Raging Bull: We all know about the trim brake, and after riding Raging Bull, I'm just as mystified by it as everyone else. It's not a bad layout -- a combination of hills and twists -- but I had to go to the far back of the train to find any airtime. This is a fun ride, but it promises more than it delivers.

X-Flight: I was pretty disappointed by X-Flight. The wing seats just didn't add enough to the experience of what was otherwise a rather plodding and uninspired B&M layout. I just didn't find it to be comfortable enough (or fun enough) to warrant a second ride, and we didn't really end up having time for it anyway.

Ragin' Cajun: Our group had the brilliant idea to unbalance our car to maximize the rotation on our second spinning mouse in two days, and we got more than we bargained for. The speed of the spin was almost unbearably quick, to the point of being uncomfortable on the ride, but it was worth the laugh afterwards.

Vertical Velocity: Wicked Twister is one of my favorite coasters at Cedar Point, so I was looking forward to V2 at SFGAm. Vertical Velocity felt a little weaker, and without something extra to increase the thrill level on the back spike -- either a holding brake or another twist -- I can't say I enjoyed it as much as its cousin in Ohio.

Little Dipper: Little Dipper is an obvious sibling of Meteor at Little Amerricka. The rides are virtually identical, but I have to admit that our exclusive event in Wisconsin made that one a little more fun.

Spacely's Sprocket Rockets: It's a kiddie coaster, but an easy credit, with no problem letting adults on the ride.

American Eagle: The queue is about ten miles long, but it's worth the trek. American Eagle (either side) was one of my favorite rides of the day. It's kind of big and drawn out, and not particularly intense, but ultimately it's just a fun ride. I also like that the two sides aren't strictly mirror images -- the cross-over just after the helix is an interesting design element.

Superman: Ultimate Flight: I found this ride to be significantly more comfortable than Firehawk (Vekoma flyer at Kings Island), giving Superman some easy credit against its closest competitor. The short and mostly-tame layout isn't much to speak of, but the signature element -- the pretzel loop -- is unlike anything else. It's worth the experience by itself. It does increase my interest in riding a better flyer, such as Manta -- hopefully in 2015.

Viper: I'm really not a fan of riding coasters while facing the wrong direction, but one of the big marketing items for SFGAm in the summer of 2013 was that Viper would be running backwards. That was disappointing for me, because I actually thought it was a pretty good ride, and quite smooth for a wood coaster with almost 20 years to its credit.

Demon: Demon is a not-too-painful Arrow looper, certainly better than the Arrow/Vekoma contraption at Six Flags St. Louis (Ninja). This one has an interesting tunnel after the second vertical loop. The rock work is interesting, as is the corkscrew over the train tracks.

Batman: The Ride: Are we done with these? Finally? Batman clones are definitely fun, but after five on the trip, I was ready to move on. To SFGAm's credit, this was probably the best decorated of the three Batman-themed coasters that we rode.

Whizzer: This one is a strange classic. It starts with a spiral lift, and heads into a mix of shallow drops and near-ground curves. It probably gets a little bit of the Anton Schwarzkopf popularity boost among enthusiasts, but it's a pretty unique coaster with very few remaining peers in operation.

The Dark Knight: A non-spinning mouse in a building with half-effort special effects? Definitely one of the least-impressive coasters at the park.

Giant Drop: Giant Drop has been around for over 15 years, but there's still nothing wrong with these Intamin 2nd generation freefall rides, because weightlessness is fun.

Logger's Run and Yankee Clipper: SFGAm's two log flumes intertwine across a pond on the east side of the park. Though similar in some ways, there are key differences between the two. Logger's Run uses traditional logs, and the final drop features a double-down. Yankee Clipper uses canoe-shaped boats, and has one long drop with a small hill at the bottom. Both were fun, and a little on the wet side.

Roaring Rapids: A feast-or-famine big-raft water ride, I barely got wet at all, but the guy next to me hit the back of every wave. Overall, it's a fairly average rapids ride.

--------------------------------------------

Reviews of the attractions at Hurricane Harbor:

Mega Wedgie: It has been years -- maybe a decade -- since an amusement park attraction gave me a feeling of unease. This was my first time experiencing a drop-capsule slide, and it was unnerving! Once the door opened, though, I really enjoyed the feeling of restraintless freefall. There's nothing else quite like it.

Dive Bomber: While Mega Wedgie features a straight drop, Dive Bomber goes from a drop capsule into a helix. This one wasn't as fun, primarily thanks to the rough seams on the surface of the slide.

Wipeout: This big-raft slide goes through a course of multiple small funnels. I thought it was pretty slow, but not a bad ride for a small group.

Bahama Mama: Bahama Mama and Bubba Tubba are the large multi-person raft slides. We rode Bahama Mama, which has a series of curves on the way down (Bubba Tubba is a straight drop). What I remember most from this is being absolutely frigid in the stiff breeze while waiting in line at the top of the tower! Otherwise, this was a fun (if unspectacular) slide.

Wahoo Racer: I gained a new appreciation for the classic mat racer during this trip, after riding a couple that provided some decent air time on the final bump. This one behaved just as expected, but has the added bonus of starting off with an enclosed helix.

Surf Rider (FlowRider): After starting ERT at Summer Adventures in Dallas as a complete FlowRider novice, I ended our second session in Illinois with a degree of balance and confidence I had not anticipated. No longer struggling just to keep a minimum of control, I had figured out how to kneel, balance without the use of hands, steer, and hop. A couple attempts at more advanced maneuvers (a 360-degree turn, for example) were not successful. I'm hoping for another round or two of FlowRider ERT on this year's trips!
-- Andy
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Trip Reports: 2013 BG/KD -- 2013 TPR -- 2014 KI -- 2014 TPR -- 2015 TPR
Trip Reports: 2015 CP -- 2017 FL -- 2017 CP -- 2017 TPR -- 2018 FC -- 2018 CA

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Day 9 Pictures

Postby The Great Zo » Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:42 pm

Pictures from Day 9

Additional pictures and bigger versions of these images can be found here.
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The first view upon entering SFGAm is one of my favorite entry plazas at any park I've been to! Flowers, flags, water, and a double-decker carousel.
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Half of TPR with their cameras out. A common scene.
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Lots and lots of flowers, which really add a ton of color -- and nice contrast to the blue water.
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It seems almost unthinkable that I'd skip out on an observation tower, but time just didn't allow it. Sky Trek Tower is thus at the top of my list for next month!
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Raging Bull or Fiesta Fries? Choose wisely.
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Tim K prepares for a bit of Vertical Velocity.
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Coaster wheels in the raw!
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V2 launches forward.
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Twisting into the sun.
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V2's front spike is twisted, while...
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...V2's back spike is straight.
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Logger's Run is one of two intertwined flumes at Six Flags Great America.
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This one features a double-down drop, and a whole lot of that classic seafoam-greenish color that seems to be a requirement of every old log flume.
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As we headed out on our backstage tour, I noticed how long the lines for the flumes and rapids ride had become. Thankfully, all three attractions are available on the Flash Pass.
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Here's a strange floor-level shot from the Roaring Rapids station. Bonus points for the Batman train on the lift.
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Sad raft sits alone in the corner.
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Our backstage tour started along the eastern perimeter of the park, where we passed several outdoor storage areas. This is a strange mix of Halloween props and old cars.
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Nightmare fuel.
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We headed south on the perimeter road, passing more storage, and eventually reaching the park's greenhouses.
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It's hard work to keep up with gardening in such a big park, but they do a pretty good job at SFGAm.
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Who's Jenny?
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A Fire Rescue truck from Area 51, which in October is probably teeming with zombies, or aliens, or zombie aliens.
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Several small stands and kiosks await their next assignment.
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Here's a somewhat-elaborate Looney Tunes prop. I wonder where this came from?
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Train cars...
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...and train wheels.
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We passed by the storage shed for the trains, and one engine was parked inside.
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Our backstage tour continued as we headed for the main storage and maintenance building.
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If you need large pieces of metal, they probably have what you're looking for.
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Honestly, I don't know what half this stuff is, but I'm sure it's important!
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Just in: paper plates and slurpees!
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We didn't go in the Ride Mechanics department, but it probably would have been fun.
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This area might also be of interest.
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This, however, was kind of frightening -- probably six full pallets of Takis, one of Six Flags' most egregious advertisers.
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For all your broken PTC train needs.
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Buffet-lo? Ha ha ha! That's almost as good as Wildebeestro.
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Old advertising and other signs, with a stairway that is assuredly not blocked.
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TPR needs to purchase this booth, since they're heavily invested in the business of wristband distribution.
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Several boats from both flumes found a new home in the back parking lot.
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The "really backstage" portion of our tour was done, and it was time to head west for some rare views of the park's coasters.
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Not everybody gets this kind of view of the final helix on American Eagle.
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We also passed close to the X-Flight station.
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While passing the train tracks, we could see Demon's corkscrew that goes over them in the distance.
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Clearly, though, our best views were of American Eagle. The road we walked down is directly north of the coaster's outbound run, providing several close views.
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One of the blue trains heads down the first drop.
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American Eagle was truly one of my favorite rides in the park, but it was clear that it could use a little bit of work, with paint almost completely disappearing from parts of the structure.
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This didn't look too hot either.
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There were two or three survey marks right next to the ride, which caught my attention once all the "RMC makeover" rumors started coming out before the Goliath announcement.
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Clearly, this flag implies that American Eagle is going to (insert fanboy coaster fantasy here).
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As we moved further west, we got a great view of Raging Bull and Giant Drop.
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Nowhere to go but down.
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Raging Bull is a good ride, but it could have been a great ride.
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The far back is the place to be, especially for the first drop.
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Back to American Eagle, as TPR's photographers prepare for a few shots.
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Here's a full blue train cresting the second hill. Unfortunately, the red side was not running during our tour.
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The blue train heads up the huge hill at the end of the outbound leg.
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Filtered sun shines down on the American Eagle helix.
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We shifted our attention to Raging Bull as the tour continued.
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We were pretty much about to walk under the track and get very close to the ride, which gave us some outstanding views of the coaster in action.
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Danger! Sometimes, life needs a trim brake.
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That's a nice-looking lift hill, but I think I prefer its brand new neighbor at the other side of the park.
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Hands up on the drop out of the station. That's the way to do it.
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The low-to-the-ground turns were a lot of fun, and helped Raging bull /almost/ reach its potential.
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Going down from a height of 202 feet.
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I presume that Raging Bull may have been painted fairly recently. The colors looked great.
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Airtime? Maybe.
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A Yankees fan in Chicago?
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We got pretty close to Viper, which was -- to my dismay -- running backwards.
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We also had a few views into the water park, with its many slide towers...
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...and play structures.
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Raging Bug.
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Another awesome view from a killer angle.
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Dropping down a hill.
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Five empty seats?
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It almost looks so close that you could touch it. I didn't try.
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Raging past the water park.
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Things I've never before seen on a roller coaster: toe touches. Front row, second from the right.
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Fake tuxedo shirt guy is just a little too into it.
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That was the end of our tour, but as we re-entered the park, we walked into quite the battle...
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..with a gun!
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Apparently they were holding up the arcade, or something. I don't really know.
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Alright, that's just cute.
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The igNight stage looks like a bunch of random white blocks with stairs in the daylight.
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The park's tallest attraction is also its biggest flagpole.
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A closer view of the Columbia Carousel, one of the park's signature attractions.
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The Columbia Carousel is a double deck model created by Chance Rides.
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I was pretty excited about Superman: Ultimate Flight, as it was the first time I'd ever been on a B&M flyer.
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It's not a bad ride, and it's quite a bit more comfortable than the Vekoma version.
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The layout wasn't great, with several swooping turns like this one, but it was still fun and worth the ride.
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Time for some quick maintenance on Whizzer, my 150th coaster credit.
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I'm not sure why this Viper has horns or eyebrows or whatever, but I do like the logo. It's certainly reminiscent of the old hockey team logo that I use (in part) as my avatar.
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Who's an animal? Your mother's an animal.
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The Giant Drop had a decent theme going for it, but it's almost impossible to find the ride name on the sign!
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I'm not sure they thought the numbering system all the way through.
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The station platform for Giant Drop.
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Yup, it's a long way up -- and a long way down.
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I snapped this shot of the igNight stage on my way to the last credit of the day. I didn't stick around to see the performance.
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Whizzer's definitely worth another ride or two when I revisit the park.
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To close, one more from the backstage tour. I guess we all had a Six Flags day!
-- Andy
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Trip Reports: 2013 BG/KD -- 2013 TPR -- 2014 KI -- 2014 TPR -- 2015 TPR
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 kailisun98 » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:12 am

Wow! Those are some nice pics you got from the backstage tour!
Top 5 Steel: 1. Outlaw Run @ SDC 2. Flight Deck@CGA 3. X2@ SFMM 4. Medusa@ SFDK 5.YOLOcoaster @ SFMM
Top 3 Wooden: 1. El Toro@ SFGA 2.Gold Striker @ CGA 3. Apocolypse@ SFMM 4. "High Five"@ OCT Wuhan
Total Coaster Count: Wooden: 15 Steel: 143 Total: 158

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

Postby mike541x » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:11 am

Another great update. I really need to go back and visit SFGAm as I haven't been since 2007 and missed a lot of credits besides Demon, Whizzer and American Eagle.

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

Postby The Great Zo » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:55 am

kailisun98 wrote:Wow! Those are some nice pics you got from the backstage tour!

Thanks! Exactly why I didn't want to skip the tour even though the day was so busy. Not an opportunity you can get by just purchasing a park ticket. :)
-- Andy
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Trip Reports: 2013 BG/KD -- 2013 TPR -- 2014 KI -- 2014 TPR -- 2015 TPR
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 Vonni » Mon Jun 16, 2014 12:44 am

I cant wait to get back to SFGAm!

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Day 10 -- Cedar Point (Day One)

Postby The Great Zo » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:16 pm

Day 10 -- Cedar Point (Day One)
Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lesson of the Day: Check your camera settings before you shoot. When you've been taking pictures constantly for a week and a half, that's an easy step to forget, but having your camera set up incorrectly can ruin a photo set. It's a mistake I made at the beginning of our first day at Cedar Point, as I had accidentally clicked off the white balance to an improper setting. Though I noticed my shots looked kind of dark and blue, I didn't think much of it, until I realized my mistake about an hour later. Photo editing software can fix things up to a degree, but it still won't be perfect. Just make sure you have it right before beginning a set of pictures.

Artifacts:

13_01.jpg
We received a plethora of items before exiting the buses at Cedar Point. Here's the 2013 Cedar Point park map, and our most important item for the visit: our three-day resort guest tickets. Sadly, no TPR branding on this one.

13_02.jpg
We also received our hotel key cards. For as many times as I'd been to Cedar Point, which I consider to be my home park, I've never stayed at Hotel Breakers. This key card is proof that I'd finally arrived.

Along with these, we received several other items. It was a lot to keep track of!
* Fast Lane Plus wristbands for all three days.
* Meal vouchers for all three days.
* Drink wristbands for Friday.
* I think -- someone correct me on this if I'm wrong -- we also got tickets for the final dinner on Friday night.

Scorecard:

Millennium Island Tour
Wicked Twister
Raptor
Sky Ride (To Back)
Power Tower (Space Shot)
Top Thrill Dragster
Mean Streak (x2)
Maverick (x11)

Day 10 -- Cedar Point (Day One)

The road to Cedar Point (to steal a phrase from an old TPR trip) began as we left our hotel in Gurnee, Illinois, at about 9 AM on Thursday morning. This was our last big drive, and the start of the final leg of the trip. As we moved east through the farmland of northern Indiana, the bus ride felt a little different than normal. For the first time on the trip, we crossed time zones (Central to Eastern). Several people on the bus had gotten sick, but I thankfully maintained my health. The conversations turned toward topics of the future -- where would TPR be visiting in 2014? Several of the plans changed markedly from the initial proposals, as new ride announcements shifted the focus from the west and south to the midwest and east.

Our 1:30 PM lunch stop at a rest area north of Angola, Indiana, was one of the most hectic of the trip -- our group was surprised to find just one restaurant operating at the Indiana Toll Road travel plaza! I have to give them credit -- for suddenly having a line a hundred people in length, they moved us through pretty quickly.

As we traveled on on Ohio Route 2 nearing our final park destination, we began to look to the north for our first sight of one of the world's most famous amusement park skylines. I think I was the only one who saw it -- for all of about three seconds between the trees, as my "there it is" statement was quickly followed up by the coasters disappearing, and anyone within earshot probably thinking I'd gone crazy. Our view only got better as we made our way to the causeway, finally entering the park's property and fulfilling the pilgrimage for our international group of coaster enthusiasts. The entire bus was enraptured as we rounded Perimeter Road to the hotel parking lot, taking in the views and trying to stay patient. That test of patience continued as we waited on the buses for nearly an hour, but we all understood, as there was a ton of work to be done to have everything sorted out for our lengthy visit. We received all of our materials for the next few days -- items I described above -- and finally headed into Hotel Breakers to check into our rooms.

Do I even need to bother saying that Cedar Point is an awesome place? It's right at the pinnacle of all pure amusement parks (non-theme) on the planet. It's so awesome that Marcel, a first-time visitor, went and got himself a job at the park in 2014! It's a combination of thrill rides and setting that, when taken together, is pretty much impossible to match. I'll save a full review of Cedar Point for my Day 11 post, which was a much more comprehensive day at the park.

Our time was limited on Thursday evening, but we made the most of it. At 7:00 PM, we began with an exclusive photo tour through Millennium Island, which provided some outstanding close views of Millennium Force. The tour lasted about 45 minutes, and after that, we were free to explore the property. I took advantage of a station wait at Wicked Twister, hopped on Raptor and Power Tower for some quick rides, and made my way to Top Thrill Dragster for what I still consider to be one of my favorite experiences in the park. With a few rides on my scorecard, night was beginning to fall, and I started to wind my way around to the back side of the park. That offered up some early views of the Luminosity show, and a walk through the well-lit frontier trail. All of TPR had begun to gather near the back of Frontiertown, as we awaited our first Cedar Point ERT session -- one hour on Maverick. To kill time, as we waited for the park to close, a few of us headed over to Mean Streak for the final walk-on rides of the night. As we continued to wait, we had plenty to keep us busy -- the Banshee announcement from Kings Island had just been revealed, and we crowded around smartphones to watch the animated POV of the world's longest inverted coaster.

Our ERT session on Maverick lasted from 11PM to midnight, and it was one of the best of the trip. In fact, some TPR veterans described it as one of the best in history! That assessment begins with the crew -- Kyle and his colleagues were boisterously energetic and amazingly efficient, keeping us entertained as we moved quickly through train after train. I got 11 rides in, and I think a few people were up around 15. This was the kind of ERT session that sells a TPR tour. A world-class coaster with a killer team of ride ops, and a group of awesome people having too much fun to even describe. The best part? Getting so many laps in that all the nuances of each seat became obvious -- even the forces in the two inversions of the twisted horseshoe roll, which were different for the right and left sides of the train. The worst part? Waiting to get back into the station for another ride, and trying not to look up at the huge spiders dangling from the overhang. Oh, and the posterboard retheming of the ride to Maveshark? A stroke of absolute genius. None of the excitement from our end-of-the-night group photo was forced. We'd have kept riding if they kept the ride open, but with Thursday now behind us on the clock, it was time to retreat to TGI Friday's to end the night.

Though it was a short park day, it was a very good one -- a great photo tour and one of the best ERT sessions of the trip. The best part about it? Our time at Cedar Point had just begun.
-- Andy
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Trip Reports: 2013 BG/KD -- 2013 TPR -- 2014 KI -- 2014 TPR -- 2015 TPR
Trip Reports: 2015 CP -- 2017 FL -- 2017 CP -- 2017 TPR -- 2018 FC -- 2018 CA

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