Monday, October 25, 2010

King's Dominion

First off, let me say that I am planning to start using this again. Yes, I know it is nearly November and any 'writing' I do should be on my novel, but meh. I miss my blog and want to use it again. So...

Yesterday we went to King's Dominion. Neither Jerry or I had been there before, so needless to say, we were very excited. We stayed up far too late Saturday night and 6am came very very early. But rollercoasters were involved, so we dragged ourselves out of bed by 6:30ish to get ready to head out to Mt. Airy and drop off the baby. Our plan at this point was to be there by 8, to ideally get us to the park by 9:30, about an hour before opening, just in case there were a lot of people, so we could get good parking. We did pretty well, made it to Myranda's by 8ish, then got gas, filled the car with gas and spent way too long deciding on breakfast at starbucks and probably left around 8:30. The problem with our plan was in the fact that it isn't 1.5 hours to King's Dominion, it's a little over 2. So, we made it there right at opening, which turned out to be just fine, since there was hardly anyone there and we could park right up front anyway.

It was a perfect day for coastering. It was warm enough that I didn't need a jacket until probably 9pm, but cool enough that at no time was I wanting ice cream or to go into air conditioning. There were hardly any people there until about 3pm, and even then, the longest line we had to wait in was maybe 15 minutes.

We quickly realized in the early morning, that lines actually serve a very useful purpose. Because, after 6 coasters in less than an hour, we found ourselves having to stop and ride the ferris wheel for 10 minutes to not feel queasy and off balance. But yes, we were able to walk on to each ride with maybe only having to wait for the train that was currently loading to head away before we got on the next to pull in.

So....our first coaster was the Dominator... sounds all impressive and scary. But it was really kinda meh. It was a very nice introduction to coastering again though. I haven't been to an amusement park at all this year, and last year I was pregnant, so it's been at least 2 years since I've been on a roller coaster. It wasn't a terrible coaster, had a few loops and twists, the ride was sufficiently long in length, just nothing to write home about. We, naturally, didn't ride it again. Overall I'd give 3/5 stars, entertaining, but not a real rush.

Next, we hit the Volcano... This coaster was one of the ones that we were most looking forward to, as the website promised us a high speed launch, straight up, out of a burning volcano. It also, sadly, did not quite live up to the hype. It was fun, we did ride it twice, but the first time I thought we'd missed the launching because it was really no different from any other aspect of the ride. It did launch you out of the loading area very fast, but the entire ride was very very short and had I waited in a line, I would have been disappointed. 3.5/5 stars. Would have been a 4 star if it had been just a little bit longer.

Then we went to Flight of Fear, which was a space themed indoor roller coaster. We also chose to ride this coaster twice. We probably would have ridden it one or two more times, but they turned it into a really lame haunted house at 6 and closed the rollercoaster part. This ride also uses induction magnets to propel you out of the loading zone at very high speed. And it was very high speed, we'd watched the car ahead of us launch and it still caught us off guard. And then it kept launching. This made it the best induction magnet coaster I've been on, and I've done a few. Usually, one expects about a 1second launch, just to propel you into a turn or drop that will then increase your speed further, this one, on the other hand, lasted at least 2, maybe 3 seconds. It just kept accelerating you. Then, the ride itself, was pitch black (the first time at least) and employed a great variety of drops, twists and loops. It was this ride that made us realize another use of lines....adjusting your eyes. The second time that we rode we waited about 15-20 minutes before getting on the ride. Thus, when I rode not only had my eyes adjusted to waiting in semi-darkness, but my transition glasses had had a chance to become not dark. Hence I could see at least some of the track and turns in the ride. This was not the case with the first ride. I give this coaster a 4.5/5 stars as it was really really awesome, but not quite the Intimidator305.

We then went on the Intimidator305. This is now the bar to which I hold all other coasters against. It starts with a very fast 305' climb, which leads to an 300 foot, 85 degree drop that peaks at 90 miles per hour. It's emphasis is high speed turns and air time and I never actually noticed that it doesn't have any loops. The air time was quite impressive and every time I got off the ride, I wanted to get right back in line. Jerry only let us do this once. This coaster is awesome. I loved it the first time we rode and it only got better the next 4 times. This is because the first time we were in the middle of a train that was not full. Then we rode near the front (2nd car) of a full train, which was much faster. This ride is crazy because there is a whole separate line to queue for the first car, which was often longer than the queue for the rest of the train. We did not choose to stand in it. The last two times that we rode were after dark, which made the twists and turns even better. 5/5 stars.

The next coaster around the loop was the Anaconda. We were looking forward to this coaster, as the website boasted: "Get wrapped in coils of this awesome coaster and prepare for the 144 foot drop into the depths of the Anaconda. The Anaconda was the first looping coaster in the world that showcased an underwater tunnel." Sounds awesome, right? IT WAS LAAAAAAAAAAAME. Very very. This is one coaster that I will never ride again. The 'underwater tunnel' was more like a half second dip into a pit that may have been somewhere near the water. I don't remember any big or cool drop, and even several loops couldn't save it. Add to this the fact that it's an older coaster and thus very rattly and gave me a huge headache from bashing my head into the restraints. 1/5 stars.

We then went to the Backlot Stunt Coaster. We were not expecting a whole lot out of this coaster, it looked small and not that fast and there were more kids than we'd seen on the previous coasters. We were pleasantly surprised. There were a lot of fun drops and spins. It didn't go upside down, but it was very entertaining. We would have ridden this one twice, but when we got back to it later in the afternoon there was a long line and we don't like lines. The one disappointment of the ride was that we were promised explosions and there were none. We stopped at one point, near a bunch of flammable barrels and boxes and there was a helicopter shooting at us, and I was completely braced for an explosion that would propel us down into the rest of the ride and it never happened. There was no fire or anything. The website even says 'Barely escape massive explosions!' ... maybe it was turned off. Anyway, this coaster was really fun anyway. 3.5/5 stars. It was very entertaining, but not particularly scary, would have been a 4 if there'd been an explosion.

At this point, we had to stop for a bit. Went and had a bite of lunch (expensive, but tasted decent for park fare) and then rode the ferris wheel before working out way over to the wooden coasters.

The first of those we hit was Rebel Yell. I actually really enjoyed this coaster. It was rattly, oh boy was it rattly, but it had good speed, didn't knock your head around very much and the air time was impressive. And the rattliness was a fun rattling, in that you could open your mouth and go 'ahh' and it would make you go ah,ah,ah,ah,ah,ah,ah, but didn't make your bones hurt. Normally it has two trains riding simultaneously next to each other, which I think would have made the ride even more fun, but due to the low turnout at the park they only had one running. 4/5 stars

We then moved onto the Ricochet. This was another coaster that we weren't expecting too much of. It was small, there were 4 people to a car and you traveled the track alone as compared to as part of a train, there were no loops or and the drops were small comparitively, but it contained a lot of switchbacks and as we watched from the ferris wheel, it looked like they got the speed up pretty good around the turns though, so we figured, why not? I was quite glad that we gave it a chance, because it was a lot of fun. The switch backs and hairpin turns did get you going pretty fast, and also made the car swing out slightly, so there was always this niggling feeling that you were going to go flying off the track. And the ride was a good length....3 whole minutes. I was pleasantly surprised. 3.5/5 stars.

Next we hit up the last two wooden coasters in quick succession. The first was the Hurler, which was not very hurl inducing. It was also rattly in a not fun way, more in a knock you into the sides until you're black and blue kind of way. And while it was a long track, it wasn't all that exciting. 2/5 stars.

The Grizzly was next. This one was pretty fun, mainly because it was surrounded by trees and took you up to just above them. So for a large part of the ride, you were riding around with treetops spreading out below you. I felt very high off the ground, even though we really weren't, comparatively. This was smoother and a little less rattly, and had a pretty good drop and some airtime, all in all, a solid coaster. 3.5 stars, a 3 star coaster, with an extra .5 for really near scenery.

We then went on the Shockwave, which also had a lot of hype. The website promised: "the ride of your life as the Shockwave takes you through a 360-degree horizontal loop, where you're essentially parallel to the ground. Did we mention you're standing up the whole time?" which wasn't really a lie...we were standing up, we were parallel to the ground at one point, we did go upside down, but the ride as a whole was a pretty big let down. It was really really short and not especially fast. I also discovered the downside of having long legs and a short body, since the ride adjusted itself to your leg length. I had a good 5 inches between my shoulders and the shoulder straps. Jerry, on the other hand, had the shoulders cutting into him. This made for a bit of a disconcerting ride as I kept floating up in the restraints. It was mildly fun though...but way too short. 2.5/3, might have been more if I hadn't been expecting so much.

We then wandered a bit, watched people do the skyflying, which we both really really want to do....when we have an extra $50 to burn and eventually found ourselves on the Flying Eagles. This is a more kid friendly ride, they'd probably let us take Jared on it, but it was fun enough that we did it twice throughout the day. What makes this fun, as well as kid friendly, is that it can be as tame or wild as you want. It's a swing ride, in airplanes made for 2 people (well, an adult and a kid, really....Jerry and I were very squished...I think I was half in his lap) with a metal 'sail' that lets you spin the car in and out. You can hold it still and just have a nice swing ride. Or you can launch it back and forth to each other like we did and feel like you're going to fly off the ride or slam into the ground depending on which way you're spinning. The second time we actually got it spinning enough that it kinda popped and jerked and scared us enough to make us slow down. 3.5/5 stars.

At this point there was only one thrill ride we hadn't taken in....the Drop Tower. I've never been on a drop tower. Well, no. I've been on Tower of Terror, which is technically a drop tower, but is enclosed so doesn't seem quite so scary. This Drop Tower is 305 ft. tower with a 272 ft drop that drops you straight down at 72mph. It's apparently the largest drop ride in North America. So, I guess it's a good choice for my first time, eh? I was very very nervous waiting in line, heading up...I almost talked myself out of it. And when it dropped I actually went "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god"...then the first second was over, my heart was in my chest and I was still falling and it REALLY FUN. The last 3 seconds of the drop were really really thrilling. I loved it. 4/5 stars. Only because I can't in good conscience give a ride that only lasts 4 seconds and has no spins or turns 5 stars.

So, that's all the rides we hit... we then had dinner and got ready to enjoy some Halloween Haunt festivities. We first did the Alien Outpost haunted house, which was lame. Although there was a point where a guy swung out on a harness at the woman behind me and she flipped out screaming. That was funny. Because it was so dumb, and because we're not big on haunted houses anyway, we didn't hit any others.

There were, however, two more noteworthy scares of the evening. There was fog and red lights everywhere and it was hard to see where you were going. I will point out that the people just wandering the 'scare areas' of the park, were much scarier than the intentional attractions. One such scare was my own. We had passed through a dark archway and there were ghastly creatures following people as they crossed the bridge to the other side. It was a pretty long bridge. Immediately upon entering, an undead peasant woman began to follow me, hovering right near my right shoulder, and no matter where I moved or how often I put Jerry next to her, she was always right there, whispering things and being generally creepy and scary, she was good. We got most of the way across the bridge and I thought she had moved onto someone else, so I say to Jerry 'She seriously wouldn't stop following me', at which point a voice in my ear goes "I'm still here" I screamed and jumped probably a foot. Jerry thought this was hilarious.

The other noteworthy scare....which was just awesome, occurred as we were waiting near the front of the line for the Intimidator305. The guy that was running our side of the train walked along the car, checked all of the restraints and then started walking back to come up to the podium where he starts the ride. As he passed by the queue for the second car, he jumped at the woman standing there and went 'Rawrr!' I think she jumped 2 feet in the air and screamed. It was fantastic.

We did take in two shows, one of them twice (sort of 3 times) so that we could catch the entire thing and video it. The first was Fangs, which was a pretty decent vampire based show, involving singing and sexy dancing. Two of the dancers and the lead male were awesome. The lead female had some damn good pipes, but couldn't dance to save her soul, and the other 3 dancers and other guy were pretty meh. I liked the music though and it was a fun show.

The second show, Disturbia was awesome. This was a zombie group of 3 girls and 3 guys that danced and 'sang' a lot of metal songs. They were having so much fun and their choreography was fantastic. We saw most of their show the first time we saw it, but didn't know how much of the beginning we missed and wanted to come back and see the rest. The next time they were showing, we made it for the last song, so the third time, we got there really early and were able to see the entire thing. Zeb video'd it on his phone, so I'm sure he'll post that around here sometime.

Then we made the long, long, long drive back to pick up Pickle, who had a good day with Myranda, but got some kind of heat rash and cut his forehead. Then the long (okay, only 45 minutes, but it seemed interminable) drive back home...made it back around 1am, at which point Pickle and I promptly passed out. Jerry stayed up for another hour, though I've no idea how.

So, wow...that was a long, long entry. Hope you all have enjoyed this analysis of King's Dominion. I'll try to post again later this week about my lack of time management and the fact that I never get anything done. =P