So for the first time in my life I was able to celebrate my birthday by riding coasters. Last year I visited Holiday in the Park a total of five times but was not able to make it my birthday weekend. With it falling on Friday this year, my plan was to go out for drinks/grub at one of my favorite local joints El Camino Real
(mission accomplished) and then on Saturday spend the day at Great Adventure for my first visit to this seasons expanded offerings. I didn't take many pictures during daylight hours but we spent the entire day - 1pm open to 9pm close - at the park.
Using her 2016 season pass for the very first time this year (lol) the missus joined me in taking the train from Philly up to Trenton where we got scooped up by Bill and Britt and took the quick jaunt over the to park, arriving right around opening. Parking lot was relatively empty and entry was a breeze. As predicted, our first stop was Skybar where we each sampled the seasonal hot spiked ciders.
Absolutely scrumptious. Our bartender was kinda nuts (in a good way) and kept singing happy birthday to me. Let's just say this wasn't our last stop at Skybar.
With warm bellies and a slight day buzz on we headed for a first lap on Nitro - empty station, back row, not quite warmed up yet and a little sluggish in the early morning winds, but a nice first ride.
With the dead crowds we just wandered around riding things as we came to them. Hit up Batman for a literal walk on for the front row, then moved back a row for a second lap. Just like last year during HITP, Batman was hauling A$$ and taking names. I don't know what the hell the deal is - if its these mythical winter wheels or what but after Nitro, it really felt like we were flying.
Stopped at both Skull Mountain and Dark Knight to warm up. No photo evidence I'm afraid. The ride on Skull was notable as I rode for the first time ever in the front row and not only was the "moan" down the drop missing but no death metal either. I liked riding in the front but the missing death metal ruined my entire day. I logged a complaint with guest services.
A birthday gift from the missus came in the form of adding a 2017 dining pass to my gold pass so we stopped at GA Cafe and then popped over to Nathans for lunch. While some other places had lines for food, Nathans had no wait and food came out hot and fast. Loaded bacon fries... mmmmmmm. I'm not a huge fan of Nathans but its not terrible either. It sat well which is always nice. No photos.
After another stop back at Skybar where I downed more of that incredible spiked hot cider, we checked out the scene over at Joker. I've only ridden twice so far this year once in September and again once last month, and liked it better the second time with my restraint tighter - I got tossed around too much the first time.
With just a 5 minute wait we got on the purple side and I liked it even more on this third lap. The missus was excited to try this and she absolutely loved it, but agreed with me that its too short. The thing with that is I'm not sure I'd want it any longer. We all liked it so much we ran around and rode it again. Another great ride, we agreed we'd come back later on the way out.
At some point in here we did check out the baby goats the park had out near Yum Yum Cafe and also stopped in the new-for-2016 Merry Marketplace area where they have firepits, smores you can buy and make, other retail offerings and of course the waffle cart. Apparently you can buy the spiked cider here too.
Bill didn't have to do much to convince us all to take a ride on the Skyway to check out the lights so of course I remembered I had a camera on me! The line for this was most of the way through the switchbacks but we were on in around 20-30 minutes. The line never stopped moving which made it a less painful wait. Now for a billion photos from the Skyway.
Since we had more or less completely ignored the Boardwalk except to stop at Nathans for lunch, we popped back over to check out the giant tree they made out of the Parachute tower, and also for a lap with the man of steel.
They decorated a bit more around the bottom of the tree and while its not much it looks nice. I also like the lights they put over the entrances to Superman and Green Lantern.
Superman was a blast as usual. It's nothing special but worth a ride when its only a station wait. One train running and windy/cold at this point but a good time. Fun to hear the operator screw up her schpiel repeatedly suggesting guests "go check out Zumanjaro" lol.
On our way back to Joker for our last ride we stopped in Houdini for a little bit of fun. After another round of Joker laps the missus and I stopped in Grannys to get some dinner (no wait at all half hour before closing) while Bill and Brit went off for last rides on Nitro and Batman, where they reported they were both still running in the freezing cold and tearing through their respective courses. We shared a salad and chicken fingers from Grannies, which honestly weren't bad, and the employees were either on drugs or just happy they were almost done because I complimented and thanked them for being so pleasant and helpful with the food order and answered some questions about the dining plan.
If it seems like we just drank ciders at Skybar and rode Joker repeatedly, that's what it felt like. LOL! Overall a really, really great day. Nice and relaxing, got a ton of riding in, lots of spirits and laughing. Always great to hang out with Bill and Britt. The park looked and smelled great. After dark the midways were crowded but the rides never got long lines, only Skyway which is perfectly acceptable and absolutely makes sense. Not getting food at the 5pm rush probably helped us avoid long lines there. While it sucks to not be able to ride Toro, etc I kinda like that a good chunk of the park is closed off for HITP as it doesn't feel like forever getting from one end to the other. I truly fell in love with Joker after this visit - every ride was better than the last. My only gripe it that its so short. But its a fantastic addition that offers a unique experience every ride, and I learned to appreciate that by the end of the day. Couldn't have asked for a better birthday. Sorry I didn't take more pictures. If you are thinking about checking out HITP what are you waiting for? Its easily the best time of the year to go to the park. I already can't wait for closing weekend!