Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017: A Year In Review

Welcome, all my fans and friends, to my official year in review! For my year in review, I’m going to include all my favorite and least favorite rides, and experiences, of the year. In short, I must thank everyone I know for making this a great year. My family, my friends, even people I don’t know too well. You helped shaped what 2017 was for me. 365 days of greatness. If you have any experiences from this year you’d love to tell me, go ahead and post them below in the comments. I’ll read them; it’s New Years! While 2017 was great, as I mentioned, I have some big plans for 2018 that I’m dying to tell you, so look forward to that sometime in early-to-mid January. I know I posted my first video in October last year, but if you remember, I posted a few update videos. This time, I’m trying to shorten that, and for that reason, our family still needs a bit of time to finalize some plans. Anyways, let’s get started!

January

January was a great kick-off month. Just a few days before New Year’s, I made a trip down to Six Flags St. Louis for Holiday In The Park, and that kept me busy giving you guys great videos for the park. Early on in January, during that first week, we had already heard some news that Space World was closing, and the rides were put up for sale, and it was already way back then that we found out a park had bought Kanonen. I had a lot of fun covering that with Adam, or better known as Rolly Coaster.
Soon after, I attended my first ever No Coaster Con with ACE. What a great day that was. I met up with a lot of friends, made a lot of new friends, and met my first park CEOs. That day, I met Don Helbig from Kings Island, Tony Clark from Cedar Point, Damien Nelson, Tess Clausen, Abbey Bobzin, and Allison Maliweg from Six Flags Great America, Rob House and Michael Moore from Kentucky Kingdom (who I sat at a table with), Pete Owens from Dollywood, Jeff Filicko and Jeffery Siebert from Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Randy Witt and Brad Donati from Raging Waves (a water park in Illinois). I know I seriously enjoyed myself, and I’m more than excited to attend my second ever No Coaster Con just a little under two weeks from now. I even plan to livestream each park representative during the conference for you guys.




March

I’m skipping February, because nothing more happened than school and new videos. March was the first truly big month however, which should more than make up for no February.
March was the month where rumors and announcements seriously started to rise. The rumor of Vertical Velocity being relocated, the announcement of Boomerang at Knotts’ closure, I had fun covering it. However, while that was fun, it had absolutely nothing on my Spring Break trip…
During my Spring Break, our family spent 5 days vacationing in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. Wow… I had so much fun. I had some fun appreciating the nature of the Smoky Mountains with my family, riding two of the alpine coasters, seeing entertaining shows, and most of all, Dollywood. While there, I was impressed with all they had to offer; from 7 surprising credits, including the excellent Lightning Rod which truly blew me away and gave me three great rides, some great theming, amazing operations, super satisfying food, and overall a phenomenal time which made Dollywood my new favorite amusement park. Did Dollywood maintain that honor throughout the year? Find out this week when I upload my Top 10 Amusement Parks!

May

Once again, I’m skipping over a month, just purely due to nothing interesting happening aside from school and some new videos, mostly surrounding Dollywood. May is where things got kicked up a notch.
Early-to-mid May is when I took my first visit to Six Flags Great America, my home park, of the year. This was a great time; I met up with a group of friends, and we got on every roller coaster that day, albeit not filming all of them. Nonetheless, it was great to get my first taste of all my favorites, such as Goliath, American Eagle, Batman The Ride, and Viper. As I finished up school, everybody started to announce their plans for the season, as I started them. Once I finished school on the last Friday of the month, we began our next major trip the next day.
On that next day, we went to Kentucky Kingdom, a trip that took a strange turn of events when we had arrived. After picking up the Lightning Run credit, a fun ride for sure, the storms came in, preventing us from getting any more rides in that day. Throughout the evening, we just walked around the park, saw the Sea Lion Splash show, and got a surprising backstage Storm Chaser tour in the station from some of the ops who saw my ACE shirt on. They even gave us free tickets for the next day. So instead of driving straight to Holiday World, we spent the first 45 minutes the park was open that day, picked up the other three credits. Storm Chaser is insane and in my Top 5, Thunder Run is a decent wooden coaster, and T3 was my first SLC (not something to be excited about). Then we drove over to Holiday World, for an amazing time. Three incredible coasters, one of which is my current #1, fantastic operations and hospitality, Plymouth Rock CafĂ© (the Thanksgiving area alone is worth the price), and just a great place to be. I’m excited that I have the possibility of attending Holiwood Nights this June!

June

This was my favorite month of the year. We did so much during this month, and it all happened during our California trip. The first couple days were just driving and views, but the third day, when we arrived in San Diego, I rode the historic Giant Dipper which surprised me in a good way. After some fun days of California culture, I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. My, oh my... what a day. To start, I got 15 credits that day. Most of them were fine, albeit Green Lantern, which you will see low on my Top 10 Worst list which will be posted in the coming weeks, but Tatsu was an absolute surprise, Twisted Colossus was my 100th credit, and X2 became and still is my favorite steel coaster. Those three just absolutely blew me away. The park overall was great, so that helped as well. After that, the next two days were spent at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. It was interesting to see what I thought of the California version of Disneyland, after having visited Disney World two years before, and I enjoyed the park, despite our touring plan randomly updating on us making for a chaotic day. We rode each of the four coasters, and enjoyed them all (yes, even Gadget’s Go Coaster). Disney California Adventure is the one I preferred of the two. GOTG was my favorite ride at the resort, California Screamin’ a super good Intamin coaster, Goofy’s Sky School, ehh, and the operations are the best I’ve ever seen, with such a clean, fantastic atmosphere. And I’m not even going to get started on how amazed I was by Cars Land. So that was the big road trip of the year.

August

I’m skipping July, since the most that happened was I got the Joker credit at GAm. I didn’t really visit any other parks, and I took a bit of an uploading break.
On August 5, I made my way to Monticello, Indiana and visited Indiana Beach for the first time to attend the Hawg Wild ACE Event. It was great having morning ERT; we got every credit before the park even opened, marathoned our favorites, and knew which ones we wanted to re-ride. Plus, the chance to hang out with old friends I’d not seen in a while was great, along with a chance to check out everything else the park had to offer; their flat ride collection which had some rides crazier than anything Six Flags could add, because none of them were neutered, and a taco lunch. Oh my gosh; if anything is worth the admission price to Indiana Beach besides the coasters, IT’S THE TACOS! THESE TACOS ARE ONE OF THE ABSOLUTE BEST THEME PARK FOODS! So yeah. I’d highly recommend spending a day here, albeit the not-so-good operations.

Conclusion

Beyond Indiana Beach, the only visits I made were to Six Flags Great America. But that doesn’t stop the fact that I had so many great times and made so many memories! These times will stay with me until I take my final breath. 2017 will be known to me as the year I hit 100 coasters, and took that next step in my coaster enthusiasm.
Before I say my final words, I’d like to note my favorite and least favorite experiences this year. My favorites hands down go to my rides in the back two rows of Voyage way back on Memorial Day Weekend Sunday. After a couple rides towards the front and middle, I wanted to see how the back rows ran. I was treated so the experiences that truly blew me away more than anything else in my life. More than Maverick, Lightning Rod, and Storm Chaser. The airtime, speed, and relentless intensity truly pushed the coaster straight up to my #1 spot in my rankings, and if I go to Holiwood Nights, that night ERT might push everything back a spot. I’d rank normal Voyage and Holiwood Nights Voyage separately.
Now that we got the good out of the way, let’s finish up on my least favorite experience of the year. Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Say you’re like me, first time at the park, move past it in the DC Universe area and enjoy Batman, Riddler’s Revenge, or anything else in the park. Whatever you do, don’t ride Green Lantern. It’s quite literally in a painful league of its own. It may not have headbanging like T3 or original Ninja at SFOG, but the way it just assaulted my whole body gives me absolutely nothing remotely positive to say for the experience itself. Clearly, park officials have felt the same way, as the ride has been SBNO since August. If it’s removed from the park website and map, I’ll probably throw a party.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I gotta personally thank each member of my family for supporting my dreams as a coaster enthusiast. My mom, for planning out each and every trip to all our family’s preferences, and for capturing all those moments, my dad, for always being there with me to ride the good and the bad and to help give me ideas for YouTube, and my sister, for just being there and being interested in all my coaster chatter.

Thank you everyone for this year; I’m excited for all the surprises 2018 brings, good and bad.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Top 4 Roller Coasters at Holiday World

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana dates way back to 1946 when it opened as Santa Claus Land, one of the world's first theme parks. Since then, the family-owned park has grown into a fantastic destination that blew me away when I visited over Memorial Day Weekend this past May. Their coasters are some of the best - not many parks can boast 4 out of their 5 coasters as some of the best in the world. For today's blog post, I will be counting them down based on my personal experiences.

#4 - The Raven
Some of you may hate me for this, but I have reasoning for this. So many people hyped Raven up so much, but after my ride in the back row, I was left disappointed. My disappointing back row ride was my only ride on it, due to thunderstorms coming in, so I do need to ride it again. But the restraints gave me a pretty bad stapling, and the whole train shuffled like crazy. After that second large drop, my lap bar came down another notch or two after being already stapled due to a nasty pothole at the bottom. Maybe, like I mentioned, a ride in other seats would have helped, but I think what would really help is if GCI came back to refurbish Raven like they did Legend in 2016. Rating: 6/10

Watch my Raven POV here:


#3 - Thunderbird
This is the newest coaster in the park, and the world's first launched B&M Wing Coaster. The first launched wing coaster overall title goes to Furius Baco at PortAventura. I have ridden all 4 B&M Wing Coasters in North America, and I can safely say this is my favorite. It's overall a top-notch coaster, and an extremely memorable one at that. The launch is wickedly forceful, the inversions are forceful and have good whip to them, and like every other coaster at the park, the terrain seriously adds to the experience. I only got to ride it twice, but I could have ridden it more. Rating: 8.5/10

Watch my Thunderbird POV here:



#2 - Legend
Like I mentioned with Raven, the coaster got refurbished by GCI in 2016, and over Memorial Day Weekend in 2017, it was running incredible. The layout is very compact with lots of terrain and ride interaction, the pacing is excellent, that first drop blew me away with it's shocking acceleration and tunnel at the bottom, it's a true coaster for lateral forces, and that double helix reminiscent of Beast at Kings Island gets pretty intense. It's not only my #2 coaster at this park, but it's also my #5 woodie, and #11 overall. Rating: 9.5/10

Watch my Legend POVs here (front and back row)


#1 - Voyage
There's no doubt in my mind this is absolutely one of the best coasters in the world. Not only is it the best in the park and one of the absolute best in the world, it's my favorite coaster out of a count of 128! It literally has everything a coaster enthusiast wants in a coaster. One of the biggest wooden coasters around, the restraints don't go down too far making for a comfortable ride, the terrain is just perfect, that first drop is one hell of a way to start the ride, it not only holds the record for most airtime (24.3 seconds) but it delivers in quantity as well, it's as intense as can be, crazy long, and what's unbelievable is how the pacing holds up after such a long ride. If you need at least one reason to get down to Holiday World, this is that reason. Rating - 10/10

Watch my three Voyage POVs here:


If you don't 100% agree with my list, I encourage you to either post your opinions if you have visited the park in the comments below, or head down to Holiday World if you haven't. Even besides these four masterpieces, the park experience is incredible with enough to offer that warrants a full day's visit plus. Look out for my Holiday World FULL PARK REVIEW coming soon! For now, remember to look out for future blog posts, and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Six Flags Great America - General Park Photos

I figured I'd start off my first post with some general photos from my most recent visit to my home park, Six Flags Great America. These were taken on September 2nd, 2017. Enjoy!

Six Flags Great America always has done a great job landscaping.

This is the view you will always see when entering the park!

If only it ran as well as it looked...

I wish Six Flags had a bit of a nicer way to deal with entrance crowds.

But this plaza is welcoming in every sense of the word!

Insert stereotypical Six Flags advertising here.

An underrated classic! Glad it stayed in August 2002.

Hometown Square is perhaps the most tranquil area of the park.

I'm honestly pretty excited! The only other Larson loop I've ridden is Fireball at Six Flags St. Louis, and it was 1,000 times better than Ring of Fire at Wild Waves in Seattle (the other Super Loop-style ride I've ridden)

Another underrated classic. Not all that rough if you sit in the back row.

Is that where we're heading?
Is this really one of the weakest B&M Hypers? We're about to find out!

I will say I love the logo design for the ride.

I love lines like this for Raging Bull.

Surprisingly, I had my best rides on it that day! I got a total of 5 solid airtime moments! Sitting in the back row always helps as well.

Raging Bull also can provide some interesting photo opportunities for American Eagle.

Surprisingly, one of the first "underdog" shots I've taken of a coaster. Helps that the exit path goes right under the station, haha!

One of the best angles you can get of Raging Bull from inside the park.

First wooden coaster of the day. Certainly won't be the last!

OOH! I remember when I first rode Viper Backwards back in 2013, and now I get to do it again in 2017! Thanks Six Flags. That was an awesome move.

Viper's queue line has some interesting photo opportunities of Raging Bull.

Sadly, Viper Backwards just wasn't as good as I remembered. It had all the same airtime as it did in 2013, but was rougher than it was formerly backwards. Still, glad to ride it backwards since that was a limited time offer!

Did I mention how the queue and exit path for Viper have some great Raging Bull angles yet?

While they may hurt, the corkscrews of Demon are still very photogenic. By the way, we didn't ride Demon today.

Up next I took my 29th ride on X-Flight since 2012 when it opened.

I'm just going to say it now. X-Flight is the most photogenic ride in the park, IMO!

I still love this element.

Have I mentioned how photogenic X-Flight is yet? I already did, but I need to again.

They positioned the sign perfectly with the ride!

X-Flight was running just as good as usual. Even after completing the achievement of every B&M Wing Coaster in NA this past summer, it's still my second favorite only behind Thunderbird!

The station even looks good for being at a Six Flags park.

Choose your side! I personally prefer left side, but I'll leave the decision up to you.

X-Flight usually has a huge line after the lunch crowds came in, so I'm glad we rode it early.

One last shot to show how photogenic X-Flight is before we move on.

Is the best ride in the park our next stop?

Goliath IS indeed our next stop! Gotta get in some more RMC goodness!

Important Gladiator Information - Don't be fat. Don't be at Six Flags Over Texas without a seatbelt.

Even though it does ruin some good photo opportunities, I like some of the greenery around Goliath.

They just experienced an incredible, AWESOME ride!

The only thing intense heart-pounding crazy about this sign is that it exists.

I got another good "underdog" shot for you.

I actually do use this a lot. Some people hate that Six Flags actually will put up a sign for this even though it can sometimes be a hidden trick, but whenever there isn't a sign saying this and I see if it's real, they aren't using single rider at all.

Goliath was running faster than normal today. Also, the rough patch that it had between the drop and first banked turn was gone. Definitely running better than in May!

These trains aren't bad at all. I don't know why so many people complain about them.

Dear reader looking at this in any number of years from now - I obviously can't confirm the future to see if Vertical Velocity is going to be relocated soon, but it was rumored to be sent to Six Flags America after the 2017 season. But that never happened. By the way, we didn't ride Vertical Velocity today.

We DID, however, ride Batman today.

I will say that I have always liked the sign for the ride.

Batman was running good as usual. Out of the two Batman clones I've ridden so far this year (I haven't taken my yearly visit to Six Flags St. Louis yet), this is the one I prefer. If only the Magic Mountain clone wasn't as rough.

Meh... that's extremely debatable.

Between the last photo and this one, we left the park to head back to our car for lunch. We always pack lunch because of how crowded the food courts are, and how overpriced/meh the food itself is.

Superman just isn't as fun as Firehawk or Tatsu. Plus, it has the worst line in the park due to constant breakdowns, being a GP favorite which is why I like to call it "Obnoxious Teen Central", and minimal shade. I rode it back in May, so I don't need to ride it again this year. I'm not saying it's a bad ride, but it's pretty meh.

Two badly operated coasters within 20 feet of each other doesn't make Orleans Place the best area in the world.

With that, it was time to take a ride on the newest coaster, Joker.

Some of you might be questioning why I went right to Joker after lunch, but we caught it at a sweet spot with only a 45 minute line as opposed to 2 hours beforehand. Also, we ate lunch a bit early so that helped. Either way, 45 minutes is enough time to digest lunch before riding a 4D coaster.

This was my 3rd 4D coaster, only after the two at Magic Mountain. It's lightyears ahead one of them, but not nearly on the level of another. If you know which 4D coaster at Magic Mountain is which, comment below and you may get something special.

Yes, the ride itself is very fun and I always have a ball on it. Even at its craziest, it's bearable and enough to enjoy. Having perfectly smooth trackwork helps too!

Had to get a photo of the sign with a train in the shot!

Probably the most historic coaster in the park. We didn't ride it today, however.

We took another ride on Goliath, because the line was decent.

It may be my least favorite out of the 4 RMCs I've ridden, but that doesn't stop it from being an incredible ride and, like I mentioned, by far my favorite at the park.

Hmm... something with the phrase "Great American", a third word that starts with S, and a fourth word of "Machine." all at a Six Flags park. What, oh what, could that have been inspired by?

As I start to post a lot more and you get to know me better, one of the things you'll know is that no trip to Six Flags Great America is complete without taking a stroll on American Eagle.

American Eagle's queue could have provided some great photo opportunities of X-Flight, if they didn't have a stupid upcharge attraction in the way. I've even ridden it - I don't know what happens, if it doesn't go as high as others, but it's a waste of money if you ask me.

American Eagle has always held a special place in my heart. It was my first "big" coaster, and I've been riding it a lot since 2007. I'm getting pretty darn close to 200 rides on it! The day this photo was taken was ride #191.

Even as a coaster, it's really darn good and very underrated. They always attempt to get it to race, and it generally works. On top of that, the drop is amazing and the floater airtime is some of the best in the park. Because of its location far away from the beaten path, the line is never that bad so I always get multiple rides on it. I'd urge you to get multiple rides on it if you visit!

The park always makes sure American Eagle looks great. Every part of the ride is brightly colored, and it is very satisfying.

I've never really liked this place. It smells awful, the food is meh, and it's always crowded.

Somewhat failed attempt at an artsy shot of two of the park's B&Ms.

Giant Drop hidden in the trees.

Another shot of the photogenic corkscrews of Demon? You got it!

We took a quick lap on Justice League because the single rider line rocks. It's not quite as good as the incredible single rider line of St. Louis' Justice League (I'll discuss more on that when I post a Six Flags St. Louis page), but it sure beats waiting 2 hours, two thirds of that being outside. Also, the ride is awesome.

We're back in the possibly best area of the park.

Wow! Nobody was in line, so I did something I've never heard from anyone else. I marathoned Giant Drop! I'm glad I could - the ride is so darn fun.

This is the last photo I took that day. We were going to take a third ride on Goliath, until it stopped on the lift hill and broke down good. We took a lap on Dark Knight, then left.

So, what did you think of my first official blog? What do you want to see me write about on this site? Be sure to comment any thoughts you might have below, and try to keep up with me for more daily-to-weekly posts!