Back in March, we made up our baseball schedule for the 2017 season and I knew that we'd be playing a tournament in Columbus from 6/23-25, so I purposely didn't schedule any games leading up to that weekend so that I could take a quick trip to Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World and Kings Island.
Coincidentally, well after the fact I found out it was going to be Koaster Kids Day at Kentucky Kingdom on the 21st, but since it was closed on the 22nd for a private event, I decided to register on their website for the ERT and join everyone else that came out.
Kentucky Kingdom 6-21-17
I actually arrived in Louisville the night before and had dinner with "Storm Chaser" Peter, who I met the summer before, so that we could watch the Louisville-Florida baseball game. (Louisville's pitcher coincidentally graduated from one of the rival schools of the school I coach at, so I have met him many times).
Wednesday morning, I picked up Peter and we drove over to KK. We registered at the Koaster Kids tent, met Jeff Joiner and waited for the park to open for our ERT on Storm Chaser. Peter was worried that they might only be running one train, due to it being midweek (which is what they typically do), but they were running both trains on SC and Lightning Run. For those unfamiliar with the park, Thunder Run only has one train and one of T3's trains was being repaired, so it was down.
After Logan made a quick video for the Koaster Kids YT channel, they let us in, they made another quick video and then they walked the entire group over to Storm Chaser for our exclusive ERT. Even with such a large group, there was no wait to ride except maybe one train and even with that, there were still empty seats. I myself got three rides before deciding to take some pictures. I even accidentally captured some pictures of Logan in the front seat as well as some other Instagram folks who follow me. I got to meet John Mike from OhioValleyCoasters, who I hung out with most of the day, along with Peter and two locals (Hayden and Mason). I will say that last year there was a definite difference in speed between the blue and purple trains on SC, but this year they are both running wicked fast. So fast that the last part of the ride is almost painful at times.
After I spent about 20 minutes taking pictures, I got to meet Adam Kaplan for the first time in person and then we headed over to Thunder Run. Peter and I rode front seat on Thunder Run and I have to say, with the new train and the re-tracking of some of the ride, it was a much more pleasant experience. It isn't the best woodie, but its a great fit at KK and always has been. Now that its much smoother, the initial drop and first turn are probably my favorite parts of the ride.
After this, we headed over to T3. Now, T3 was only running one train because the brake fins on the other were apparently broken. Peter, who works at the park, seemed to think it would be down the whole year, but Ed Hart would later tell us that it would be up and running by the weekend. I don't care for T3, but I think it gets a bad rap sometimes. Its not as rough as some of the other SLCs and the restraints are pretty comfortable, despite being strange. Even with two trains, a busy day ends up being a longer wait on T3, so I'm glad we got on it pretty early.
After T3, the rest of our group decided to go to the waterpark - I'm not really a big waterpark guy, but I decided to try to take some shots of them on the water coaster and the body slides, since its something I never tried to shoot before. I actually ended up with some great shots, despite them looking DIRECTLY at me in some of them. After getting these shots, we decided to go to lunch.
The $10 buffet lunch the park provided was fabulous. Hot dogs, chicken fingers, cookies, macaroni and cheese and drinks, as well as some veggies and other sides. I had the privilege of meeting a young KK regular named John at lunch, who is getting into photography some, so I've been talking to him about it a lot since last week. Jeff and Logan both talked for a few minutes before Ed Hart himself came to talk and answer questions. He gave everyone some history of the park and revealed that he doesn't actually ride the coasters because he has motion sickness, despite helping design many of them. He was asked when we should expect an announcement for a 2018 attraction and wouldn't give us a definitive answer but I think the thing he said that got people fired up was "T. Rex sounds like a great name for a coaster, doesn't it?". From a personal standpoint, I respect Ed Hart in the amusement industry as much as anybody. If I weren't in the profession I'm in and were into theme park design or management, I would pick that man's brain as much as I possibly could. I just wish someone would have called him to revive Geauga Lake back in the day.
After lunch, I left the group for a bit to take some more pictures. I rode the Ferris Wheel for the first time, which gave me some great shots of the park as a whole, but especially of Lightning Run. Afterwards, I walked over to the exit for Cyclos, which has some great angles, as well as behind LR itself. Not only is Lightning Run a great coaster, its also extremely photogenic.
I walked back over towards Thunder Run and Storm Chaser, so I could get a few more shots of both. I hooked back up with Peter, as the rest of the group went back to the waterpark. We rode Thunder Run in the back, which is not as pleasant of an experience in the front and then got a couple more rides on Storm Chaser. After this, I made Peter ride Roller Skater with me, just for the credit. No shame, only credits.
We decided to go back towards the front and marathon Lightning Run until we had to leave at 5:30pm (Peter had a basketball game and I was his ride). We rode a couple times, including once with Adam, I took a few more pictures and then we headed out. I took Peter to his game, took some sports pictures (which I hardly ever do) and then headed back to my hotel to get ready for Holiday World.
Holiday World - 6/22/17
The first time I went to Holiday World about four years ago, I forgot about the time difference and ended up arriving an hour early. This time, I planned correctly, but just like every time I've gone to Holiday World, rain has caused some major issues. Now first off, taking pictures of coasters on cloudy days flat out stinks, but after they let us in, I went right to the Voyage, walked on the back row, then did the same thing with Thunderbird. The Voyage is a really cool ride. From the airtime to the spaghetti bowl to the overbanks, its just intense all the way through. I'm really hoping to attend Holiwood Nights next year to ride it trimless in the dark. Thunderbird is by-far the best of the four wing coasters I've been on. The launch is great, the intensity is great and its extremely smooth. I wish it were a little longer, but longer would mean more money and it already was the largest investment in the park's history by a huge amount, so I understand.
As soon as I got off of Thunderbird, the skies opened up. A lot of people bailed to the waterpark, since it was just rain and no lightning or thunder. Now, what's great is that everything remained open and basically all day because of the rain, the coasters were essentially walk-on. I decided to walk over near Legend and get some lunch. I had a chicken sandwich, chips and a pepsi and sat under the umbrella, trying to wait out the rain. That didn't really happen.
Now, there were periods of heavy rain, some of drizzle and a few moments of no rain during the day, but I pretty much stayed indoors or under an umbrella. I did a little shopping, a little photography and had a snack. Peter was at HW with some friends, but asked me for a ride home or I probably would have left earlier. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because at about 6PM, the rain stopped for the most part and the park was completely empty.
We quickly ran over the rode the Raven and Legend, since I hadn't gotten on those yet. Raven is still pretty rough. Legend is a great ride where it was retracked and pretty terrible where it wasn't.
I then took a ride on Voyage and two rides on Thunderbird (including my first front-row ride) and then took pictures while Peter marathoned Thunderbird until the park closed at 8pm.
Holiday World is a great park, especially for families -- it was a shame the rain killed half the day. I truly hope if they are having the financial difficulties that have been rumored, that they figure them out. I would hate to see the park sold to a bigger chain like Six Flags.
Kings Island - 6/23/17
I left Louisville in time to get to Kings Island by 9:30am for early entry for platinum pass holders. As soon as I stepped foot in the park, it started drizzling. By the time I got to the locker bay by Mystic Timbers, it was a torrential downpour. I waited under the locker bay roof with some other people including one enthusiast from my area (whom I never met) and another enthusiast on a month-long U.S. trip from Australia. He had already done the Cali parks and was heading to Cedar Point all week this week. Since I might head out there Wednesday, I'm hoping to run into him to ask him what he thought of all the KI and CP coasters. I do know he loved MT.
After about 30 minutes, the rain stopped long enough to get a couple rides on MT. I walked up to the station and got in line for the front. I was second in line. There was a slight delay while they rigged up a GoPro on the front car for Don Helbig and a news reporter to ride together and they interviewed Don afterwards on the platform. I got one ride in the front and two in the back and could have marathoned it all day (it was walk-on the entire day). I still have yet to get the tree in the shed however. Mystic Timbers with a wet track was super fast and fun. Although I had ridden it last month, it just jumped into my top-10. Its so well done and it doesn't let up. After I got off Mystic Timbers, I went to take some pictures for awhile. I got some decent shots of Diamondback as well as Mystic Timbers' first drop. Coincidentally, the first pictures I took of MT's drop, I ended up capturing another IG photographer and his mom in the front car.
I lapped the park taking pictures and dodging rain for awhile and all of a sudden, the skies opened up. I ate lunch at the Reds Hall of Fame Grille for the first time and ended up staying there for about 90 minutes. I ran over to the Diamondback shop to get a poncho and ended up staying over there for another 60 minutes or so before decided to leave the park and head to Columbus for our tournament.
It was sort of a wasted day at KI although the MT rides were awesome. Considering it is one of my favorite parks, I will definitely get back there a few times before the end of the summer.