Another outstanding trip, as is usually the case! This one had me giddy with anticipation as I had been telling Steve to get me to CP for quite some time now. I fully expected this trip to happen in 2011 so the fact that we snuck it in this season was spectacular! He's done a great job of providing the details of the trip so I'll just offer a few little thoughts.
Kennywood was a great park and one that I'm looking forward to returning to. The crowds were a bit ridiculous and the weather at the end of the night definitely sucked but at least I was able to get the credits. Sadly, due to the insane line I missed out on Noah's Ark. Reason #1 why I need to return. And a poncho-free ride on Phantom's Revenge would be nice as well! I will say the VIP coaster tour is a great idea and we were lucky it was available. Definitely worth the few extra dollars on a busy day.
Delgrosso's...ummm, words can't really describe it. Images from that day are forever seared in my brain. The lovely example that Steve posted doesn't quite do it justice. I saw more of that woman that I care to remember while sitting on the Wacky Worm. I shudder at the thought. And the faces of the group of 10 or so staring at us as we sat on Crazy Mouse was indeed terrifying.
Lakemont was definitely a classic little park and quite charming. And what can you say about a 100+ year old coaster! Plenty of laughs and smiles on the ride.
Waldameer was also a fun time. Ravine Flyer II was excellent and provided some great rides. I definitely wouldn't mind going back to this park and spending a little more time. I'm still annoyed we didn't get a fresh baked cookie on the way out. They smelled outstanding!
And Cedar Point...what can I say. I loved it! I've heard many stories about Steve's trips there as well as work experiences so it was so much fun to actually see and do. And what he said about my time on Skyscraper is true. I was completely terrified, but managed to survive. I loved the park, loved the rides and loved the history! Overall it was the perfect way to end what has been such a fun season for us. I'm definitely looking forward to more great trips in 2011!
^Yeah, unfortunately we didn't get the best the PA parks had to offer (for a variety of reasons), but we made them plenty of fun regardless! Kennywood will be there in the future for return trips, and hopefully crowd-ageddon and the storm of the month won't hit on the day we go back.
Time for my first update in almost two months! This will be a two-part update to showcase the fun times that were had at Busch Gardens Tampa by myself and Jen (paiging_jen on TPR) on 10/10/10. The first part will highlight the rides portion of the day, complete with our VIP backstage tour of Montu! And the second part will highlight the animal portions of the day, which included feeding kangaroos and wallabies by hand!
Now for part 1. BGT is just one of those parks that has coasters that always seem to sneak up on me (much like Kennywood). Every time I go back, I have always forgotten just how good their major coasters are, almost to the point it's like riding them for the first time again. They definitely have two of the most intense B&Ms anywhere in Kumba and Montu, and also have a damn good dive coaster in Sheikra (which is crazy to think it's the 3rd best coaster in that park). Montu had crept slowly downward out of my top 10 this year as rides like X2, Phantom's Revenge, and the Intimidators leapfrogged it. However, Montu forced its way straight back into my top 10 after the rides I had on it this week (I went two days on my own, and my third day was Sunday with Jen). We also did the VIP coaster tour of Montu, which included the maintenance bay, transfer house, and a walk back that included climbing up to about 10 feet below the MCBR! For $20, it was a pretty cool experience to attain some of the knowledge that was shared during the tour, as well as get some photos that the normal public can't get. I would recommend it for anyone visiting the park.
Here are my extended thoughts on the rides portion of BGT that I experienced this week.
Montu - As I said before, jumped back into my top 10 steel coasters. Every element is intense, it has great pacing, the zero-g roll throws you out of your seat, and the batwing (even when trimmed) is as intense as it gets. My favorite seat was the front right.
Kumba - Still kicking ass after 17 years, this is one of the most intense B&Ms you'll find anywhere. Its zero-g roll, even more so than Montu, ejects you out of your seat no matter where you're sitting in the train, and if you happen to grab the back right seat, you get an absolutely CRAZY yank coming out of the inversion. The only knock on this ride is the corkscrews have gotten pretty rough, but it's still sitting pretty just outside my top 15 steel.
Sheikra - It is what it is, a dive machine. While I definitely love these rides, I really wish there was more to them. That's not to say they aren't great rides, but it always seems like they could be better.
Gwazi Tiger (Lion was closed for rehab) - The whole first drop was re-tracked, which made for a somewhat smoother ride, but it still has a lot of shuffling. Busch Gardens, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE get this ride some Millennium Flyers.
Scorpion - Classic Schwarzkopf, always gotta get one ride on it.
As a rant to end the report, I just want to say how appalled I was with Busch's operations. They've never been known for having a great operations staff (which is odd considering how good BGW's is), but they were AWFUL this week. They were slow, cared nothing for capacity, gave absolutely, positively NO effort whatsoever towards guest interaction, and several of them were just flat out rude. I honestly don't know how a park as good as BGT can have operations that are THAT bad. They make Six Flags' ride operators look like Gods in comparison, and anyone who knows me knows that I loathe Six Flags ride operators.
On two of my visits, Sheikra had three trains running, which was pointless, because the 3rd train would literally sit on the brakes for 5-6 minutes at a time while the other two trains were loading. In many cases, the 3rd train would be parked before the restraints were even locked on the 1st train! For the life of me, I don't know how they couldn't get guests on the train and have the restraints locked when given about 3 minutes to work with. They, along with Gwazi (which has the jackass "check seatbelts then lapbars" policy), were the two worst crews. And that's not to say that any other crew was that much better. Montu and Kumba both had slow crews, just not as slow as Sheikra and Gwazi. They need someone to take over that department and overhaul the departmental attitude, because as of right now, I would give them about a -1.5/10 overall.
Anyway, here are the pictures.
Montu from the parking lot.
New for 2011, it's Giant Crane and Massive Pile of Dirt Behind Palm Tree: The Coaster!
Montu doing its thing.
I always like to keep my head erect.
Bogey assembly of Montu! From what the guy explained, this is the fastest wheel combination they can have for Montu. Apparently, the first season it was open, they used this for every bogey assembly on the trains, but it ran way too fast. So since then, they have only been using this wheel combination on the front two cars, while the rest have softer, slower wheels. That means if you rode it in 1996 (pre trim and pre soft wheels), then you rode it at its absolute best!
Ratchet assembly for each of the restraints. These are strong enough so if you picked the train up by them, they wouldn't break.
More spare parts.
The 4th Montu train. They always have one train that is taken apart and being rehabbed during the year.
Old wheel covers.
Shows you just how low to the ground the corkscrew finale is.
Under the first drop, a shot that normal guests can't get!
Montu pulls 3.85 G's going up into the loop after the first drop.
A zero-g roll that lives up to its name!
The trim on the batwing only caught about half the times I rode it. Insane element!
Climbing up into the brakes. The tour took us up the stairs to about 10 feet below the brake run!
Through the palm tree!
First drop view from under the brake run.
Train dropping off the brake run. Yes, we were that close to it!
Cool shot of the first drop.
Such a great finish to an amazing coaster.
From behind the corkscrew. Once again, yes, we were that close to it!
Monster Immelmann makes for a good shot.
Only picture of Scorpion. Moving on!
Coming off the brake run.
Tallest loop in the world when it opened, and I love how it wraps around the lift hill.
This kid was terrified. Either that or he really had to pee and sitting on the brake run for 5 minutes wasn't helping his cause.
Vertical drops rock!
Any chance we can get the water replaced with human blood for Howl-O-Scream?
The tunnel says OM NOM NOM NOM!
Air Grover! Credit #270!
Gwazi is a Liger. It's pretty much my favorite animal. Bred for its shuffling and jack-hammering.
As is always the case with BGT, I made sure the devote a good chunk of my day to checking out all the wonderful animal exhibits that are part of the park. Anyone who goes here and doesn't go to Myombe Reserve, Edge of Africa, Jungala, the Bird House, Walkabout Way, etc. is just missing out! There are some truly unique and beautiful creatures to be seen in this park while taking a break from riding rides.
Walkabout Way is the newest interactive animal experience offered by the park, and as has already been covered on here, you get to walk through an area full of kangaroos and wallabies and feed them by hand! I would be lying if I said this wasn't what I was looking forward to the most for this visit. Sure, the coasters are great, but I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to animals, and I eat up any chance I get to feed them up close and personal. This, along with the dolphin feeding exhibit at SeaWorld, will always be "must do" things for me when I visit those parks from now on.
Now for pictures!
The way this turtle was sitting just cracked me up. It's like he tried to belly flop into the water and landed on the rock.
Time to see some apes!
Whatchu lookin' at, Willis?
Hiding up on the hill.
Lounging away on the hill. I don't know how anyone could argue that we didn't evolve from this.
He's a little camera shy today.
More giraffes with their friend the ostrich.
Meerkats, the strangest/cutest creatures ever.
Snuggling Meerkats, which could be a good name for a coaster element. Or maybe a sex position?
Not as charming as the singing vultures from Jungle Book, but at least he posed for the camera.
Papa lion. Pay no attention to the giant balls.
haha, you looked!
All the lions were sleeping.
The other female lion. I guess papa lion is swingin' enough for two ladies.
She looks passed out for the moment, though.
The rhino looks, dare I say, horny?
Hey, who let the ACE-er in???
He looks angry.
I are sleepy cat........
......leave me alone.
I instantly fell in love with these things. That's what she said.
Jen making a furry friend.
This one grabbed my hand and started licking it when I ran out of food. I guess you can say he turned my hand into a human ice cream cone.
Wow, definitely one of the best BGT trip reports I've seen! The last time I went there was in 1997 when I was 10, and Montu and Kumba were at the top of my list at that point (hmmm...wonder if I caught Montu with that early wheel assembly? It was early 1997. Do you happen to know when exactly they switched over to the softer wheels?), and I have reason to believe they might still be when I finally get down there again. Thanks so much for sharing the Montu backstage tour; I love stuff like that.
I'm also a huge animal fan and especially loved the meerkat and tiger photos. That's awesome they let you get so close to them to feed them. One of the highlights of my visit when I was ten was a show featuring some very cute otters...oh, and my brother offering to throw me in the alligator pit.
Great, now you've made me so excited to visit this place again, but I just have to go and live 1,000 miles away Thanks for sharing, Steve!
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