I wanted to give some thoughts on our awesome kickoff to the coaster season yesterday.
We got there right at open and went directly to Lightning Rod. As usual, the plaza seemed quiet and we didn't see any sign of life at the ride but we were shocked to see the doors open and a wait time posted where the temporarily closed sign was supposed to be.
After driving down last year and never riding it, I still tried to contain my excitement until we were in a train and it had cleared the pre launch but it was tough as we walked through the queue and got closer and closer to the ride. We were directed to a middle row and while we could have easily requested another, we just wanted to get on the ride as quickly as possible before the inevitable catastrophic mechanical failure that took the ride down for the next 3 months.
We were on the second public train of the day, the one ahead of us rolled out and started chanting "Don't Roll Back" in unison as they approached the hill but amazingly the train approached the hill, sped up and shot over the top.
We left the station not knowing what to expect, the train has these weird "oh sh*t" handles on it. I couldn't tell you if they're new or not since we never got close enough to a Lightning Rod train to notice last year but I'm not ashamed to admit that I became best friends with those things yesterday.
Our train rolled out, blasted up the hill and once we started accelerating it finally hit me that we were actually going to finally ride it.
I'd love to describe what followed the launch, but that's impossible. I know it does an insane wave turn that somehow provides airtime in every seat but then it enters the most wtf series of elements ever which ends with a double up that provides massive amounts of airtime followed by a quad down that provides ungodly airtime and then a few more hills that look like throwaway hills that somehow provide obscene amounts of airtime.
That this is absolutely, 100% the most disorienting, extreme and out of control coaster I've ever ridden. It reminds me of rides like Maverick and I305 more than it reminds me of the only other RMC I've ridden (Wicked Cyclone) but it honestly makes those 2 coasters seem tame and controlled by comparison.
This ride is nuts, and 100% worth whatever aggravation is causes us from a mechanical standpoint.
After our first ride, we immediately jumped in line again, and we managed to get 2 more rides throughout the day (including rides in the front and back rows). We ended up on the last public train of the night and holy hell, night rides on that thing are ridiculous.
Anyone who hasn't experienced Lightning Rod really needs to, this thing is a complete beast and is easily one of the best coasters (wood or otherwise) that I've ridden. As to where exactly it falls, I don't know. As far as wood coasters go I'd put it right there with Phoenix and El Toro and depending on the day I'd call any of them my "favorite" but at the end of the day who really cares? All that matters is that it's insane and amazing and that you need to ride it. Like now...
While Lightning Rod tried to distract us from this fact, it turns out that there is an entire rest of the park with other coasters, rides and things to experience. I won't go into as much detail here as I've already done that during previous trips, but there are definitely plenty of things worth mentioning.
My beloved misty and mysterious mine has been doing a Lightning Rod impression early this year and has suffered it's fair share of mechanical problems. We kept checking the app and keeping an eye on it knowing that if it ever opened we should get there quick. Luckily around 1:00 we saw them send a test car and we camped out in front of the entrance while they tested for the next 15 minutes or so and got on the first car of the day. I'm glad we rode it when we did, I don't think it even made it an hour before it closed again and never reopened. The ride itself was fantastic as always.
As for the other coasters, they were all as great as ever. Thunderhead was running well (but I always think Thunderhead runs well despite the complaining about the roughness that doesn't exist), Tornado was being it's fantastic self as was Wild Eagle and Firechaser is always a blast. We scored multiple rides on every coaster except Firechaser because of the wait times and Mystery Mine because of the breakdowns.
A few other things of note...
- We had never been to the park when it wasn't Christmas so this was our first chance to ride any of their water rides. Sadly Slidewinder doesn't open until May but we did ride Daredevil falls and absolutely loved it. While not a Log Flume, it's reminiscent of one and I was impressed with the level of detail and theming the ride had. River Battle looked fun it it wasn't warm enough for that and while the rapids looked great, you couldn't pay me to ride a rapids ride when it's under 90 degrees.
- I was disappointed to see that Lillian's no longer has pit ham. That was easily the best food item in the park aside from the Cinnamon Bread and honestly we were pretty underwhelmed by the new menu. That was always our go-to, but I wouldn't eat there again. I'd rather just go to the skillet place.
- We saw two shows, both of which we really enjoyed. The first was the Wings of America show which was very cool, I can't believe they trained a bird to take donations and drop them in a box. The second was Mother Africa which might be the best show we've ever seen at the park (and that's saying something). I highly recommend it.
Overall we had an amazing day and it was a great way to kick off the season. Lightning Rod is awesome, the park is awesome and after they closed we found our way to Margaritaville for a few drinks and some live music. You couldn't as for a better day.
Alright, picture time...
Our first stop!
OMG it's happening
Our first ride. My "Oh Sh*t" face is in mid season form.
I can't wait for Drop Line
Tennessee Tornado was busy being awesome
... As was this big a** bird
This cool new design was over near Thunderhead
Apparently in the south this is a "small coke". Murrica'
Mother Africa was awesome
And you know what else is awesome??? Cinnamon Bread.
Wild Eagle is outstanding
Last public riders of the night on Lightning Rod (which was sort of a happy accident)!!! What an awesome day.
^ Your description of lightning rod is 100% how I felt. Unfortunately for me it was my one and only ride, but it's balls to the walls insane and left me wondering what the hell just happened. Glad you had no issues getting multiple rides in... I can't even imagine what a night ride would feel like on that thing.
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