First Rider Night, Hoedown, Opening Weekend, Coastermania! and Other Recent Thoughts
June 12, 2018
I have been so busy lately, I completely neglected the blog and since I'm leaving for my Texas trip on Thursday, I wanted to get something posted prior to leaving.
Prior to knowing I would be invited to Media Day, I had bought a ticket for the first train at the Steel Vengeance First Riders' Event. Once I had attended Media Day, I probably could have sold the ticket, but I decided ultimately that I wanted to keep it and go through with it, so I did. The opening ceremony, including the ribbon cutting and pyrotechnics was pretty cool and for the only time ever, I didn't have to put my stuff into a locker as they told me to just take it up to the platform. Now, when I arrived to check in, they had us draw a card from the Steel Vengeance card deck. It ran from Ace (front row) to Queen (back row). I drew the queen, which is awesome since I find back row to be the best (especially now with the bug issue - more on that later). I thought it was very cool that they let us ride twice in a row as well. Was it worth the $250 ticket? Probably not. But the fact all the money goes to charity made me feel good and that I can say that I was on the first public train is a cool achievement to have. I did get to give Tony Clark a high five on may off the first rides and tell him again what a winner they have on their hands. I rode it four times that night, which put my count at 16 overall, mostly in the back row or near the back.
The following Monday was the Frontiertown Hoedown. I left work a bit early and my mom and I headed out to CP on Monday, the first day of the event. We arrived a bit before opening and after waiting in line, walked through the gate, where I was greeted by Kristy, who gave us a card for the first session of rides on SV. We walked to the back (#NORUNNING) and after stowing my camera gear in a locker (for the first time), got in line. We waited about 20 minutes or so for our ride and somehow got back row again. (ASIDE: They have been very cool about letting you pick a row on days when the line isn't 90 minutes or more). We took our ride and I looked over at my mom and all she could say was WOW and a few other choice words that I won't repeat - children read this blog after all. You were only allowed to ride one time during the Hoedown, so after riding, I retrieved my camera gear and we decided to go get some food, since you had access to one trip at each of the food places for basically tastings of all the new options. Now, I wanted to try Miss Keats (which I eventually did yesterday - 6 weeks later) but right after we got off SV, it went down for what ended up being over an hour. Well when that went down, the food lines swelled ridiculously and by the time we got over, I refused to wait in a line 75+ people deep. We instead went over to the outdoor stand (name eludes me right now) and each had the Blackjack burger and fries, which I found to be very very good. I've been really impressed by the new food options at CP and KI and I am a huge fan of the sweet BBQ sauce they are using in a lot of their meals. We left around 8pm after I had a chance to take some pictures. I didn't bother waiting for Maverick, since Jon and I had ridden it a bunch of times with the 'new' effects on First Rider Night.
I had a doubleheader with my JV team scheduled for opening day, so I was only going to go if we got rained out (which was forecasted and it ended up being really nice and warm). From what I read and saw in videos, it was not a good day for the park. Obviously the Steel Vengeance incident was a huge deal and caused even Twisted Timbers to run one car for awhile while they made sure the programming was redone and whatever else they did. The end part into the brake run is definitely different now although it doesn't affect the experience at all. I think everyone was also worried that the ride would be super-trimmed once two train ops were introduced again. While the train does trim very slightly, its almost unnoticeable later in the day once it warms up. The amazing part was seeing the videos of the "Running of the Bulls" from the Magnum gate back to the ride. Before early entry was even over, the sign said 4 hours wait. While it is definitely my new #1, it isn't worth 4 hours wait (nor is any coaster in my opinion when I can have multiple rides on other great coasters). I honestly wanted to visit the park that day for no other reason than to see the chaos that was the SV line and queue. While it was still running, other lines were extremely short, as you would expect. They all ballooned once the ride was closed seemingly for the day. I have to admit, I was very surprised that the ride soft-reopened for about 300 guests before the end of the night. I know a whole lot of people were angry, especially people that spent a ton of money to come in front out of town, stay overnight, etc. I usually can justify most things the park does, but that was a bad call. With how cleared out the park ended up being, they probably could have kept the queue open for awhile and let whoever in and still not had to worry about it too much. My bigger surprise however is that I figured in the case of an accident of that type, the state would have to come in to inspect it, write a report, give them clearance to reopen, etc. Apparently I was wrong (and I'm glad because who knows how long that might have taken). I got a chance to go on Sunday of opening weekend and other than SV, the park was pretty dead. It was overcast (like usual when I want to take pictures) and what struck me then was how many stands and rides were not running. Not because they were broken down, but because of lack of staffing.
Throughout all of this, the Blackjack train is still not fully assembled and who knows if we will even get to three train ops at all this summer. There are still buckets and power tools laying all over and around it in the station. The other issue with the foam is interesting. Lots of reports started coming out just after the hoedown about pieces of foam flying off the ride. We come to find out that they are only held on by thin strips of velcro. I'm not sure who at RMC thought using velcro to secure foam on a pretty violent ride was a good idea, but it obviously was not. I had the privilege to ride it with Taylor Bybee at Coastermania! and we were delayed 3-4 minutes because they had to replace the velcro and foam on my seat. If you skip to 2:20 or so in Koasterkids video from the event, you can see what I'm talking about. - If you don't follow Koasterkids or Coaster_studios - follow them on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Speaking of Coastermania! - I flew back home from my Florida trip on that Thursday afternoon and planned to head out to Coastermania! pretty early because I knew the line would be insane. I got through security about fifteen minutes before they started letting us in. After checking in, receiving my shirt and credentials, I met up with my good friend Peter Schwab as well as Taylor, Alec, Grant from Ohio Valley Coasters and some of their friends and acquaintances. I spent most of the day with all of those guys, so I won't bore you with those details, but in terms of the Coastermania! events themselves. The ERT on Steel Vengeance was obviously cool. We pretty much full sprinted the entire way back there because those guys wanted to be on the first train (which we accomplished). I can truthfully say that older me is not built to run what amounts to like a mile and a half. We rode it twice, and missed our chance to get the Wilderness Run credit, which they were allowing everyone to ride. Oh well, maybe another time. I had the choice between CM and Holiwood Nights and the ERT on SV was my reasoning for going to Coastermania!. Definitely thinking about doing Holiwood Nights next year instead. Love Coastermania! but its been pretty much the same things for the last 3 years. The boat tour is always cool - and cool was it. It was a lot of fun to see the park from those angles (which I've done before) and also to go over to the lighthouse. That said, the wind was whipping furiously and it was overcast and chilly. A month after my first actual trip of the year (not counting special preseason events), and there were still staffing issues. I was told by one of our coaster club officers that the app popped up a buy one-get one free deal at the one cotton candy stand, a stand which wasn't staffed and wasn't even open that day. I'm not sure what the issue is this year, but I hope they're able to get that straightened out soon. I somehow made it from leaving my house at 5:15am to leaving CP at 12:30am without stopping. Making it home (only about 1:10 drive) required lots of caffeine and driving with both windows open. I did not take up Peter on his offer of crashing in their hotel room with the 9! people sharing it.
One final observation from my trip yesterday - the midge/mayfly problem is huge. It seems to be definitely worse along the lake between Blue Streak/Valravn over to SV. SV at night is disgusting with the bugs - I'm not saying don't ride it - because trimless night rides on SV are insane - but you can see and smell the thousands of bugs burning up on the spotlights. Valravn's brake run is nothing but a swarm of them and I ate more bugs on Blue Streak than any other ride. Millennium and Maverick were actually not that bad. As we were walking the main midway, you could see clouds of them above that looked like storm clouds and unfortunate Sky Ride patrons were going right into them full on. They don't sting, they don't bite, they're just super annoying. We need to design future CP coasters to shoot RAID or even fire out of the sides of the trains (just a joke). Just prepare yourself if you head out there any time soon, especially in the early evening.
One more thing: Give @cp_guest1970 @ohio_thrills @coaster_hunter and @coaster_gal a follow on Instagram.