Alright guys, I'm about to do the unthinkable.
Tonight we're headed to Great Adventure and then to Wildwood for the weekend but I realized that if I finished my Florida report now I could say for a few short hours that I was actually caught up on trip reports for the first time in the history of ever. It's a bit of a technicality, but f*ck it... let's do it. This is a major moment in history, maybe it'll be a Jeopardy question one day... who the f*ck knows. Let's hurry up and get caught up because I have to leave soon and f*ck everything up.
Anyway, we woke up in Orlando on Monday morning with the unfortunate realization that our Florida vacation was almost over. Our flight was scheduled (lol) for a 4:30 departure from Tampa / St. Pete so we planned to get up, drive to Tampa, get to Busch Gardens at park open and leave around 2:00 so we could make the 30 minute drive to the airport, drop off the car and get to the airport.
Since we only had about 4 hours, we came up with a plan of attack and decided that anything beyond that was a bonus.
Cobras Curse was new for us, so the plan was pretty simple. We'd head there first, then knock out Montu, then take the Sky Ride to Kumba and then anything we got to ride after that was gravy (is yelling "gravy" on a coaster enthusiast forum like screaming "fire" in a crowded theater? God I hope not). We sort of figured we'd hit Cheetah Hunt before Sky Ride if it the posted wait time was reasonable and in the back of my head I knew there was also a certain flume in Stanleyville that was calling my name but we did our best to stick to the plan.
PS: Sheikra was closed for refurb which is why I didn't include that in the plan. Sheikra always seems to be closed when we go to this park and it's been years since I've actually managed to ride it. Last year we got there the day after it made national news for a lift stop and this year it's refurb ran long... what gives? Why've you gotta be a dick Sheikra?
Our first stop was Cobra's Curse where we were greeted with a 10 minute wait, as it turned out this was actually the perfect amount of time as we got to check out the cool projection show in the queue before boarding the coaster. The queue for this ride is absolutely awesome. The projection show is great, but the snake exhibit and even the excavation site areas are also super cool. I was REALLY impressed with the great job they did there.
As for the ride itself, it's a ton of fun. There's nothing about it that's particularly noteworthy but it's a great ride. I feel like it belongs in the same category as rides like Backlot Stunt Coaster and Firechaser Express right near the top tier of family coasters, just a step below the Disney mine trains.
After Cobra's Curse we headed over to Montu and walked right on to the back row. As always, this ride was unbelievable. It's glass smooth, but amazingly intense. That batwing element is taken at such ludicrous speeds that I really feel like it defies the laws of physics by not killing everyone on the train. How B&M managed to design something that amazingly intense with a whipping action that fast while managing to make it perfectly comfortable and free of headbanging I'll never understand. Montu is brilliant. It's so brilliant that I was clearly pretty hyped up when I got off it and totally forgot to take a picture of it... oops. I need to work on that.
For those of you who were taking notes, you'll know that our next stop was supposed to be the Sky Ride BUT by that point we had managed to stick to the plan for a good 30 minutes so we felt like it would be the perfect time to screw everything up and shoot it completely to hell. For those unfamiliar, Sky Ride and Cheetah Hunt share a station so you have to walk right by the Cheetah Hunt queue (and it's posted 20 minute wait time) on the way to Sky Ride. With a wait time that reasonable we completely and totally couldn't help ourselves and hopped in line.
Cheetah Hunt was awesome as always. It's a lot tamer than it looks but it's still a super fun coaster with some impressive airtime and a great low to the ground section over the river. While I left it out of the original plan since we were so short on time and since the B&M's are really the stars of the park it's a great coaster and I was really glad we managed to ride it.
After browsing around in the gift shop for a bit we exited the station and immediately headed back into the station to hop a ride on the Sky Ride. As usual, this ride had a decent wait built up but this type of brilliance is worth waiting for so that really wasn't a deterrent for us.
As we stood in line we couldn't help but notice that the Florida heat and humidity were already approaching ridiculous levels and I couldn't help but feel a little sympathy for the poor bastards that had to operate a Von Roll Sky Ride at high capacity in those conditions. My sympathy levels shot through the roof when I noticed a guy who appeared to be from upper management sitting in a glass air conditioned booth watching them work and coming out every few minutes to tell them how to do their job or complain when they let the cabins bump. They only had one guy at the catch position (well, they had two but only one guy was actually working
) and one guy at the trip and load position... if you have a problem with them bumping, why not get up and work? Crazy idea I know.
Anyway, when we got in our cabin he had retired to his air conditioned room again so I asked the guy working the ride if he seriously had to put up with that all day, to which he replied that "yeah homie needs to get f*cked" which had us cracking up for the duration of the ride. I don't want to blow up anyone's spot, I invited him to unload on the guy by bringing it up the way I did, it's not like he normally goes around talking to guests this way but in this case I ABSOLUTELY don't blame him, would have done the same thing and that probably explains why I don't work at a theme park. Then again... the fact that I never filled out an application may be part of it too.
The ride itself was great, the breeze was GREATLY appreciated and this Sky Ride really offers some great views of the park as well. I also think the turnaround station is super cool. Every Sky Ride is great, but this is definitely one of my favorites.
While we had a pretty clear plan, I couldn't help but screw it up again when we descended into Stanleyville and saw Stanley Falls beckoning. Normally it takes some convincing to get Brit on flumes, but with the temperature being this oppressive she was all in and I really wanted to get on the ride before the queue started building since this ride's queue building is hot, cramped and generally miserable.
Luckily the line wasn't too bad, it was back to the entrance but without any switchbacks open so we were on in about 20 minutes. Stanley Falls is a nice little flume, probably my favorite in Florida simply because it's an actual, honest to god single file flume that provides a reasonable amount of wetness and doesn't try to drown you like Ripsaw Falls. As always we had a nice ride on it (though Brit managed to get a lot wetter than I did for some reason) and (feeling refreshed) we figured we could no longer avoid the roar (see what I did there?) of the best coaster in Florida.
I rode Kumba for the first time a few years ago and remember being really skeptical when walking up to it. While it was the trendsetter, on the surface there's nothing that really sets this ride apart from the other large scale B&M loopers. It follows the all-to-familiar pattern of twisting drop, loop, dive loop (or whatever that thing is called), barrel roll, cobra roll, midcourse and corkscrews and doesn't LOOK all that special. What could possibly be so amazing about another big B&M looper. They're all fun, but they never do anything that warrants the kind of praise that Kumba gets.
Our first ride was in the back seat and I just happened to end up on the far side (little did I know, lol). As we ascended the lift I was still skeptical, but as soon as we started down the drop I knew the hype was real. While it does follow an all-too-familiar pattern, every single element is ridiculously snappy, fast paced and forceful. It feels like the train has rockets strapped to the back of it and it takes everything (especially that barrel roll) at a completely insane speed.
As soon as I got off that ride for the first time I was completely on board the hype train. Since then I've never got off and every single time I ride this thing it delivers an absolutely insane ride. We managed two rides on it this trip, both times in the magic seat (Brit was nice enough to let me have it twice... she rules) and I'm happy to report that it's just as kick-a** as ever. Holy crap Kumba, we're not worthy.
Unfortunately after our Kumba ride we were running short on time and figured it was time to head up to the front. I was tempted to ride the Sky Ride, but Brit wanted to see the animals and I sort of wanted to hit Falcon's Fury so we decided to walk instead.
As we approached Falcon's Fury, I remember thinking that given Allegiant's horrendous record of being on time it would actually be awesome if our flight was delayed. A few days earlier I discovered Flight Aware which tracks incoming flights and obviously that gives you a pretty good idea of whether or not you'll be delayed. I hadn't heard anything from the airline, but from what I saw the other day they pretty much refuse to admit that a flight is delayed even when it's sitting on the tarmac hundreds of miles away and obvious to absolutely everyone that there's no way it'll ever actually be on time. I thought of pulling that up and hoping against hope for a delay, but that would have to wait as we had a Furious Falcon to ride...
Falcon's Fury is seriously one of the most batsh*t insane rides on the planet. Intamin drop rides on their own are some of the best in the world, but that tilt at the top where you face the ground is absolutely unreal. We missed this on our last trip because it was down for maintenance, so we were thrilled to get a ride in. Holy sh*t what an insane ride. It's really one of the only rides on earth that legitimately scares me every time I ride it.
While the ride itself was awesome, the most awesome thing about it was when I went to grab my phone from the loose article bin. When I picked it up I couldn't help but notice that I had a new text message. That didn't seem like a big deal, until I saw that it was from our trusty, horrendous airline telling me that our flight was delayed 2 hours! Normally this would be awful news, but I felt like a kid on Christmas morning...
While in line for Falcon's Fury I had toyed with the idea of riding Scorpion but kind of knew that there was no way to actually make it happen. Thanks to it's one train operation and crowd-pleasing Schwarzkopf goodness it had a 30 minute wait which really made it hard to justify. Brit's really not as big a fan of it as I am either so I reasoned that if we ended up with enough time to ride another ride it should really be Montu on the way out.
Lucky for us, that text message changed everything so we happily waited the 30 or so minutes to pay our respects to the late, great Anton Schwarzkopf. Praise be to Anton, praise him. The ride was as awesome as always. I know it's since been overshadowed by the massive B&M's but this really is a great little coaster.
All of these great coasters had us working up quite an appetite so after getting off of Scorpion I finally stopped fighting it and made a b-line for that awesome pretzel place. Brit was more than happy to follow along, I absolutely love these Busch / Sea World pretzels and I always end up eating at least one of them whenever we visit a park that has them.
I ended up with a pretzel dog, while Brit went for one of those awesome bacon pretzels. Honestly I could never pick a favorite, they're both awesome but it felt like a pretzel dog kind of day.
After I finished gorging myself on my pretzel and half of Brit's since she couldn't finish it we figured it was probably time to start making our way towards the front of the park. Along the way we stopped to check out some of the animals and take a walk through Jambo Junction so Brit could get her fix. While this park has an amazing collection of rides, their animal selection is equally impressive and I love how they mix them into the park itself to give you a nice variety of things to do and see as you walk around.
After killing some time looking at the animals we realized we should really head out but we decided to end our trip on a high note with one last ride on Montu. As always, the ride was complete perfection and the perfect way to end a perfect (so far) day.
When we left the park I popped up Flight Aware real quick to see that our loser a** plane was still on the ground in Austin for some reason (because that's a good place for it). It's funny how I went from hoping for a delay to wanting it to hurry the f*ck up almost at the flip of a switch but I'm selfish so it is what it is. As it turned out when we arrived at the airport the plane was STILL in Austin and didn't end up landing until about 3 hours after it was supposed to.
Luckily they got everyone off the plane and loaded us pretty quickly. We taxied out to the runway (obviously we were the only plane there because it's PIE airport), sat there for 20 minutes and the pilot then explained that because of some weather in the area we would need to taxi to the other end of the runway and take off from there.
It was a beautiful sunny day when we boarded the plane, but after taxiing around for so long I was starting to think we might as well just slap an EZ Pass in the cockpit, hop on I-95 and start driving the f*cking thing back to Trenton we now found ourselves in the middle of quite the sh*t storm so we ended up waiting it out for a good hour or so on the tarmac.
By the time we landed it was about 10PM and I was flooded with a bunch of concerned messages from people who wanted to know if we survived but I'm happy to say that we successfully survived TWO Allegiant flights and I'd be happy to fly with them again... not because they're good, but because they're cheap.
Plus, I even got a FREE PREMIUM beer because of their massive delay... Mich Ultra, klassy!