Thanks for the comments everyone! Of all the trip reports I've ridden that's the last one I would have expected to be deemed front page worthy.
Anyway, much like last year we decided to follow up our Saturday in Wildwood by driving home along the shore and hitting some of the smaller parks and boardwalks along the way. We had already hit Seaside and Jenkinsons last year
but decided we'd head back to Seaside (something I never thought I'd do) to ride Hydrus and check out the Casino Pier improvements. We had considered hitting Ocean City along the way but with Wild Waves still being a train wreck dumpster fire we decided to save that for next year and hit Steel Pier in Atlantic City instead before going to Seaside.
I'd never been to Atlantic City before and didn't really know much about. My only real knowledge of Atlantic City came from playing Monopoly or listening to people b*tch about what an unimaginable sh*t hole it was so our expectations weren't all that high.
Boldikus tagged along with us so we could drop him at the train in Atlantic City but he decided to skip Steel Pier, probably because he had been to Atlantic City and already knew what a f*cking sh*t hole it was. We dropped him, made a left on Baltic, a right on Mediterranean, passed go, did not collect $200 (though if we stopped at a red light we might have been robbed of $200 and carjacked...that's probably somewhere on a Chance or Community Chest card) and eventually found a semi-safe looking place to park the car and made the long walk up to the boardwalk.
Alright, I've got to be honest. I didn't hate it. While Atlantic City was certainly a complete dump I didn't think it was quite as bad as it's reputation would have you believe. We started out on the right foot as the first thing I saw when I stepped onto the boardwalk was a huge Margaritaville and Landshark Bar but all and all the place did seem pretty decent. We also noticed that they didn't charge beach fees which is always nice to see at the Jersey Shore.
I was tempted to walk the boardwalk but we only had about 3 hours on the meter and we knew we wanted to get to Seaside so we figured we should head up to the pier before doing anything else since I already sort of knew we needed to budget some time for Margaritaville. Sorry. The Trump Taj Mahal is Bankrupt BIGLY! Very Unfair! SAD!
When we got up to the pier, the first thing we noticed was that there was a ton of construction going on. Apparently the park is in the middle of installing a huge Ferris Wheel that honestly looks awesome but unfortunately looks like it's on a Wild Waves timeline and is going to miss the entire summer season. A lot of nearby rides were closed for construction but most of them seemed to be kids rides that we had no intention of riding anyway. The only thing on the pier that really appealed to us at all was the mouse so we headed over to the ticket booths, grabbed our tickets and got in line.
After a short 5 minute wait our crazy little rodent pulled up and we hopped in. So far everything seemed normal, but that all changed the minute we left the station. As we turned towards the lift we began to spin and once we started up the lift we started rocking violently back and fourth all the way up. We quickly realized that unlike most Crazy Mouse coasters that start spinning half way though the ride, this one was already unlocked and was spinning and rocking on the lift hill. Holy crap!
What happened next was complete insanity. The car was unlocked for the entire ride, and was spinning like mad with no sign of slowing down. Because it was spinning where it wasn't designed to spin some of the transitions up top around the hairpin turns were extremely violent but honestly we were having way too much fun to care. That was absolutely, bar-none the most batsh*t insane ride we had ever had on a Crazy mouse. Aside from some of our crazy teacup rides where we spin the living crap out of them until we feel like we're about to die, that was the most spinning I had ever experienced on any ride ever. Wow! A+ for the Atlantic City crazy mouse! We did notice later on that only one car was free spinning for the entire ride, so don't go there expecting it to be unlocked like that but know that if it does happen the park clearly doesn't care and will happily keep running it like that so you may get lucky.
We stumbled off of the Crazy Mouse (somehow doing an even worse job of walking in a straight line than the previous day in Wildwood) and decided to check out the rest of the pier. There was nothing out there we really wanted to ride, but it was a nicer pier than I expected. The helicopter rides seemed pretty cool, they had a nice selection of rides and the new Ferris Wheel looks like it'll really take the place to the next level. It's not on the same level as any of the Wildwood piers, but it was cool to walk around. I did like the bar on the end of the pier with great views of the shoreline and the city.
After getting our Steel Pier fix we finally decided to head over to Atlantic City's main attraction... Margaritaville! We walked back through the games area (and annoying game operators harassing you to play which is always the sign of a klassy joint), past the "YUGE" bankrupt and abandoned casino and over to Jimmy Buffett land.
Unlike most Margaritaville's, this place was actually two separate restaurants. On one side of the boardwalk was Margaritaville with a cool looking upper deck in the Resorts Casino. On the beach side of the boardwalk was the Landshark Bar and Grill, complete with a dining area on the beach where plenty of people had opted to lay on a beach towel and relax and drink the day away (since it's the only part of the beach that allows booze). How awesome is that?
It was a pretty easy decision for us, as cool as the Margaritaville looked we went for the Landshark bar on the beach side and ended up sitting outside in the shade overlooking the pier and the ocean.
Since I was driving I did unfortunately have to resist the urge to order Margaritas but since it was the "Landshark Bar and Grill" I had to at least order a couple of Landsharks. I love Landshark, not because it's particularly amazing or discernibly different than Corona but because I'll literally buy anything Jimmy Buffett puts his name on. I'm an unapologetic parrothead and will be until the day I die. Apologies to the craft beer snobs... Fins up!
As for the meal, that was a simple one. Normally at the beach I opt for seafood but as much as I've tried to amend my carnivorous habits, at night I have these wonderful dreams of some kind of sensuous treat. Not zucchini, fettuccini, or bulgur wheat, But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat. In the end I'm really not too particular, not too precise so I ordered a...
...alright fine, you already know what I ordered. I promise I'll try to stop
. Sorry, that entire last portion of the trip report was put there for my own amusement. I just thought I'd check and see how many Jimmy Buffett lyrics I could shoehorn in here and have it still make sense. They all make sense in time even if now they're a little incommunicado. I did order a Cheeseburger in Paradise though and it was excellent. My brown eyed girl, Brit decided to take another road and order the nachos so I couldn't help but indulge in a few of those too. I normally wouldn't but we were taking a holiday and even though I'm growing older but not up and my metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck I figured I'd eat the nachos, tell the waitress I needed some more boat drinks and deal with the consequences of eating even more unhealthy food later. It may have been a mistaika but whatever. I figure I might as well just enjoy the ride on my trip around the sun.
Okay seriously I'll stop this time... is anyone still with me?
Yeah I sort of figured.
Anyway after lunch we decided to raid the gift shop (a Margaritaville tradition... I'm now the proud owner of a "What Would Jimmy Buffett Do" bumper sticker and a Margaritaville Atlantic City T-Shirt) and then go for a walk on the beach to kill some time before heading to our next destination.
I have to say, while I wouldn't exactly recommend Atlantic City to anyone it did exceed my historically low expectations. It's definitely pretty shady if you head a block or two back from the boardwalk but the boardwalk itself is fine, the beach is free, Steel Pier is cool and the Jimmy Buffett compound is quite impressive. We enjoyed ourselves, though we sort of got the feeling that 3 hours was the proper amount of time to spend there. I'll probably never go back unless Steel Pier gets a new coaster (or they open that super sick Star Flyer... can't wait! It should be opening any day now I'm sure) but we enjoyed our time there.
After our long trek to the car (where we encountered a drug addict passed out face first in a bush, the perfect Atlantic City sendoff) I slapped my new Jimmy Buffett sticker on the car, gassed up and started our drive to a place I never really expected to return to... Seaside Heights, NJ!
An hour or so later we found ourselves making the all too familiar trek over the bridge to Seaside with the windows down and the gentle ocean breeze carrying a subtle aroma of Fireball whiskey and hair gel into the car. A few minutes later we parked the car and began our walk up to the boardwalk with a pretty simple plan of attack... ride Hydrus, ride the Sky Ride (hi Lake Compounce!) and get the hell out of this god foresaken dump.
As we approached the boardwalk though we couldn't help but notice that the pier expansion really made Seaside feel like a different place. Don't get me wrong, it's still Seaside... but they really made some remarkable improvements over the last 12 months and as we started walking out onto Casino Pier we couldn't help but realize we actually kind of liked the place.
Rather than expanding the pier back out into the ocean (because we all know how that worked out), Casino Pier decided to extend the pier over the beach and add a few new attractions to their lineup... most notably Hydrus and a giant Ferris Wheel. They also moved the terrible Pirate coaster to the end of the pier so the "show building
" is no longer a complete eyesore from the beach and boardwalk and as an added bonus if another hurricane hits it'll be the first ride to go crashing into the ocean, finally putting it out of it's misery. If a hurricane finally makes this ride walk the plank it'll be the only pirate themed thing it ever did.
Impressed, we walked up to the ticket booth and purchased our hilariously overpriced Hydrus tickets. At $10 per rider, we definitely didn't plan on riding this thing more than once so as we walked up to the station we asked the ride host if we could wait for the front row and she was more than happy to accommodate our request.
While I don't mind them, we were happy to see that the ride didn't have the traditional over the shoulder restraints and instead had a set of lap bars similar to Impulse at Knoebels. Honestly I don't know the difference between Euro Fighters, Infinity Coasters and whatever Impulse is so I really wasn't sure what to expect and honestly can't tell you which one Hydrus is. I just know the trains were super comfortable and the lap bars were a nice touch.
Once we got locked in we made the slow turn out of the station and headed up the lift hill, excited to finally be riding a coaster in Seaside Heights that wasn't a complete piece of crap.
I've always had a thing for vertical lifts. I don't know why, but I find them cool and even slightly intimidating. It's an absolutely great experience and if you're in the middle of the car you often have no idea how high up you are until you finally start to flatten out up top and you can finally see something besides the sky. On Hydrus, this experience was made even cooler because as you crest the lift you're treated to an absolutely brilliant view of the Atlantic ocean. Honestly it's probably one of my favorite views from the top of the lift of any coaster in America, but you don't get much time to enjoy it because before you know it you're barrelling down a beyond vertical drop and into a giant vertical loop.
After the loop, the rest of the ride is really a complete blur. It's short, but it definitely packs a punch and features a ton of twisted track and great elements. The best element on the second half of the ride has to be the barrel roll, which is taken at a pretty slow speed, giving you a really cool ride sensation with some fun hang time. Thanks to the lap bars, it's a great opportunity to throw your hands in the air (or towards the ground) and take it all in.
Unfortunately just a few seconds after the ride began, it comes to an abrupt end. It's a ride that really leaves you wanting more, but the insane price tag dashed that thought almost instantly. Despite the short ride time, this thing is an absolute winner. It's butter smooth, has a great lift and view from the lift, the drop is great, the loop is great and they managed to pack a ton of fun elements into a really small space on the second half of the ride. Hydrus won't make any top 10 lists, but it's a great coaster for the Jersey shore and an absolute home run for Casino Pier.
Still on a Hydrus high, we decided to switch up our plans a little bit and try one of the park's other thrill rides. Generally I avoid paying for non coaster rides at boardwalk parks without some type of wristband because of all the boardwalk parks I've visited I can think of a grand total of one
that charges reasonable prices and most of these rides can be ridden elsewhere but that Zamperla Air Race was calling my name and (having never ridden one) I decided there was no time like the present.
To be honest, I sort of expected Brit to bail on this one and let me fly solo as she's not always big on inverting flat rides but she was totally on board with this one and hopped on with no hesitation whatsoever. I really didn't know what to expect but what followed was an absolute laugh fest of a ride that had us both in tears by the time it slowed to a stop. The ride is absolutely nuts and whoever designed it is a f*cking lunatic but it's awesome and it gets a big stamp of approval from us.
When we got off the ride we couldn't help but notice that (against all odds) we were having an awesome time in f*cking Seaside Heights! What are the chances? Unfortunately our meter was ticking away but we decided we couldn't leave without riding the park's famous Sky Ride down the beach and back. Not only is it a really unique experience but it's a great and relaxing way to see the boardwalk, beach and pier and to check out the goings-on at the famed Jersey Shore house.
We got our tickets and boarded the ride and (after paying our respects to Sally) lowered the bar and took a slow, relaxing ride down the boards.
Seriously though... wtf????
Anyway, there's not much at Seaside heights that makes me jealous but I'm pretty jealous of this Sky Ride. It's really a great idea, and I love that you have the option to ride it one way or ride it as a round trip journey. Sure, it's a lazy way to get around but when you're at the beach there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. We decided to take it round trip though since we knew there was nothing of interest on the boardwalk and we knew the return journey allowed for some great views of the pier.
Unfortunately for us, once we touched back down our meter was expiring so we decided to head out of town, but not without a brand new appreciation for Seaside Heights and Casino Pier. I'm still not a big fan, but it's headed in the right direction for sure and Hydrus is an absolute blast of a ride.
As we drove back over the bridge and the smell of hair gel slowly faded into memory, we decided to make one last stop before finally heading home and end our day on a low note with a piece of sh*t Pinfari Looper and a museum quality flat ride that may kill us in Keansburg.
If you remember from my last Jersey shore report, Keansburg is a park that's sort of eluded us. We tried to stop there last year but they decided to close 3 hours early for rain so we arrived to find a closed amusement park and an empty parking lot. The weather seemed perfect this time though so we decided it would be as good a time as ever to give it another shot.
When we rolled up to the park we were pleased to see that the park was open and honestly really busy. As an added bonus, there was an absolutely brilliant sunset in the background that made for some pretty fantastic photo opportunities. Unfortunately there's only so much you can do with an Iphone 5, but we decided to head out to the beach and take in the sunset before getting our brains beat in on the piece of sh*t coaster at which point we'd probably be too concussed to enjoy it.
We didn't know much about this place going in, but honestly the view from the beach was one of the best surprises of the day. Keansburg is located on a bit of an inlet and because of that it actually provides an amazing view of the New York City skyline across the bay. Unfortunately the zoom feature is absolutely useless on my phone and I rarely ever bother with it, but I sort of had to make an exception for this. God I wish I had a better camera.
After sitting on the beach for awhile we finally pried ourselves away from that awesome view and realized it was time to stop dicking around and hop aboard the pain train of Pinfari goodness. Okay, in all seriousness I've actually ridden one of these before in Ocean City Maryland and I remember it being perfectly comfortable but entirely boring and uneventful.
We walked up to the ticket booth to buy our tickets. Initially we had planned to ride the coaster and Chaos (because holy sh*t it's a Chaos) but there was a sign saying that Chaos was down (surprise!!!!!) so we decided to just buy enough tickets for one coaster ride and then head home.
We got our tickets, headed over to the coaster, took our seats and braced for the worst. Unfortunately that description from earlier about the ride being boring but comfortable does not quite fit THIS Pinfari looper. It WAS absolutely boring and uneventful (aside from the awesome view from the lift) but it was also far from comfortable. This ride is an absolute sh*t show torture device that had me yelling plenty of choice words as we banged and slammed our way along the track.
When the train mercifully slammed to a stop we raised the restraints and got the hell out of it as quickly as humanly possible. Wow! I don't feel comfortable saying that there's a coaster on the Jersey shore that's definitively sh*ttier than Pirate's Hideaway but this ride definitely gives it a run for it's money. What even is this thing???
After leaving that disaster of a ride we decided to walk around a little more and check the place out. Unfortunately the park really isn't anything special as it basically looks like a carnival that never left New Jersey but there does seem to be a great food and drink selection and a nice looking water park. Before we left we did decide to check out the Chaos situation and it definitely looks like it hasn't operated in a long time. Still, it was cool to see it. I feel like this thing belongs in a museum at this point.
After walking around a bit more we decided it was time to head home. All in all it was a great day. Atlantic City exceeded expectations, Seaside Heights has improved dramatically and even though the park in Keansburg isn't the best, it was worth the stop for that amazing sunset alone. What an awesome Jersey Shore weekend!
Up next: Adventureland Long Island on National Roller Coaster Day!
PS: I know that was a long one, so thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it (or hated it... whatever lol), feel free to leave a comment. It's always nice to hear that people actually enjoy this mindless sh*t.