Aug 31, 2016

Rating the Rides - 2016 summer edition

So this past week I took the family down to Virginia for a little R&R. It had been a while since we got away for a few days. Besides, all work and no play make Rick less a dull boy and more a freaking nutcase.

Sanity is my middle name
Yeah yeah, I know the drill ... back to writing, author monkey!

Don't worry. I'm hard at work finishing up The Last Coven (The Tome of Bill 8). For now, though, I thought I'd take a little mental break from all the death and destruction to talk about the thrill rides at the two parks we visited - Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion.

I remember hair ... *sniff*
In between bouts of utter despair at being totally ignored as a walking / talking Bill The Vampire advertisement - all while my wife got tons of compliments about her new hair color - I spent most of my time strapped into chairs and being dropped down steep hills ... on purpose! It wasn't my first visit to either park, but it was my first chance to ride many of the rides there.

So that said, here's my mini-review of some of the rides we sampled.

Let us talk about things that go high and move fast...

Busch Gardens:

Verbolten - 5 stars - Not a super coaster like many of the others, but nevertheless probably the most fun coaster at either park. Part of it is the surprise. The ride is partially indoors, and a good deal of the rest is obscured from view from vantage points around the park. Thus I got on this having no idea what to expect.  I was expecting a kiddie coaster and instead found myself being hurtled forward via linear induction into pitch blackness and a lot of fun. I won't spoil it, but there is an awesome "Holy shit!' moment in the middle of the ride that caught me totally unaware.

Griffin - 5 stars - The best, and by that I mean scariest, super coaster of the two parks. The main attraction is a 200 foot tall 90 degree hill that you hang suspended over for several seconds before your first drop. For someone like me who has a fear of heights, this was more than enough for me to rediscover religion as well as plenty of profane names for all the various deities. 

Alpengeist - 4 stars - A taller version of the suspended hanging coasters you can find at a lot of parks. Still fun, and definitely freaky watching nothing but ground below you from that high.

Apollo's Chariot - 3 1/2 stars - A pretty basic steel coaster.  Lots of hills and quite fast. Not sure whether to dock it a point or add one, but the seat harnesses didn't fully tighten against my youngest son's somewhat thin frame. And of course this was the one ride he felt the need to put his hands in the air for during every hill. My rational mind knew he was safe, but it still freaked the fuck out of us. 

Tempesto - 4 1/2 stars - an awesome linear induction coaster that allows for both forward and backward motion. Tons of air time and inversions.  Only loses 1/2 a star because the nature of the ride allows just one car to be in operation at a time, causing load times to be a bit long.

Loch Ness Monster - 2 stars - Not the first time I've ridden this. Was easily a 4, maybe 5, star coaster when I was a kid, but nowadays feels kind of tame comparatively. Still a fun ride, but showing its age.  Also, the cars are uncomfortable as all hell. Still, not a bad ride to ease kids into the fun of inverted coasters.

Curse of Darkastle - 4 stars - Not a roller coaster, but a 3d ride, similar to the ones found down at Universal Studios. Not quite as good as the ones there, but still a fun ride and well done.

And then we visited ... Kings Dominion

Backlot Stunt Coaster - 2 stars - The linear induction acceleration doesn't make up for the fact that it's pretty much a kiddie coaster disguised as a big-boy coaster.  Also the seats were apparently designed by someone who truly hates their fellow man. It is a horrible ride? No. But not something I'd wait in line for.

Flight of Fear - 5 stars - Holy shit! This one rivals Verbolten as most fun coaster. On the outside, it looks like some shitty 4D experience, like that lame test flight thing that used to bore people at Six Flags Great Adventure. Inside, though, it is living proof that an indoor ride doesn't have to mean a crappy coaster with a prefab metal housing built around it (again, looking at you Great Adventure).  Fairly uncomfortable seats, but an intense ride made even more freaky by 1) being in the dark and 2) multiple inversions with only leg straps holding you in.

Volcano - 5 Stars - Just plain fun.  2 linear induction acceleration points, including one straight up and out of the volcano's mouth.  Wasn't sure what to expect, but it was all smiles from the moment the car started moving.

Waiter, check please
Intimidator305 - 4 1/2 stars - A huge 300 foot drop from a non-linear induction coaster.  The ride up the hill is fairly quick, but took more than enough time for me to consider all of my life's bad choices. Pulls enough g-forces on the way down that I was seeing dark spots at the corners of my vision.  Only 1 hill, though (but what a hill!). The rest is all twists and turns. Still, a pretty awesome ride.

Anaconda - 3 stars - Been on it before. Pretty standard metal looping coaster these days.  Lots of time upside down, all of it over some pretty skeevy looking water. One of the older coasters in Kings Dominion, but still worth a ride.

Dominator - 3 stars - A fun floorless coaster, but there are rides similar to it at Great Adventure and Dorney Park, so a bit of a "been there, done that" quality to it.

Grizzly - 3 stars - an older wooden coaster, but a good one. Lots of airtime spent out of your seat.

Rebel Yell - 2 1/2 stars - also a decent older coaster, but a really rough ride. If you're a full-sized adult, prepare to have the crap kicked out of you.

Richochet - 2 stars - A slightly larger version of the Wild Mouse. My youngest liked it.

Avalanche - 3 stars - not a super thrilling ride, but I always liked those old bobsled type coasters. Not too many parks still have them, so a nice piece of nostalgia. Almost wanted to dock it a point for the stupid kids waiting in front of us, but it wasn't the ride's fault the depth of their end of the gene pool was a bit lacking.

Fun and other assorted weirdness
All in all, I can't complain about any of it. We did more coasters in 2 days that I usually do in 2 years. I think we were all tired as all hell after it was done, but it was a lot fun, and that's exactly what I go to theme parks for. 

Until the next coaster quest...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Love your books, cant wait for more