TR: Coastercon 2012 – Pt. 3, As The Lights Turn Off (6/18/2012)

TR: Coastercon 2012 – Pt. 3, As The Lights Turn Off (6/18/2012)

Post by GodsOnSafar » Fri, 29 Jun 2012 12:35:01

(a reminder that there's a version of this with like 4 pictures at the blog I wish I took more pictures of the rides than I did fat people so I apologize for being a light with that in this edition)

Day Two of the Con came early; we awoke just moments before our alarm clock promised to ring at 5:45AM. After a night ERT, this was not the most pleasant way to go about things, but it was a necessary evil in our minds. Meeting with our compatriot Chris Trotter in the lobby, a smoke was bummed, discussion briefly occurred, and we headed off into the twilight to arrive at Dollywood in time for morning ERT on the two major coasters we missed the day prior.


Thunderhead (M#306/A#616): One downside to taking the middle of the 2000s off from heavy coaster riding was missing most of the wood coasters to be built in that period, especially the really good GCIs that were constructed during that period. I got a taste of what GCI was up to by riding their recent build at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Apocalypse) and found it honestly kind of awesome. Thunderhead is more revered and beloved than that, which meant that instead of just lightly caring, I now cared quite a bit to ride it. And unlike so many rides today, I hadn't ever seen a POV of the ride.

The criticism of Thunderhead is one a lot of GCIs have - airtime is not long lasting, the lap bars fall down, uhh, I forget most of it honestly. They aren't wild enough or something I think. Personally, Thunderhead was plenty wild enough for me to enjoy. The ride was a bit rougher than I'd hoped, but it wasn't so detrimental that I didn't ride it multiple times each ERT session it was available. There's a lot of the quick pops GCI is known for in their coasters, and some longer ones that seemed more in the fashion of CCI/Gravity Group.

Blow by blow of the ride years after construction seems a bizarre thing to do, so I'll skip that and simply indicate that if I ranked coasters, this one would likely be a top 5 ride for me. The ride is lengthy, its wild, it has a combination of different forces, it makes for great night rides, it has practically no true dead time, I like the trains even if the lap bars always want to come down - I like it tons. If it were a little smoother, Meredith probably would have had some serious bench sitting time (more than she had) to enjoy looking at the freaks around us while I rode over and over again and relived my ***age years.

Mystery Mine (M#307/A#617): Mystery Mine is another ride I had precious little knowledge about. I knew literally nothing about it other than that it was a Eurofighter. Themingwise, it is the class of the park. Nothing touches Mystery Mine. It look incredible inside and out. People always wild out about how the big Euro themers do up rides and this isn't any less an attraction than the likes of Black Mamba, Nemesis, blah blah blah.

The problem with Mystery Mine, and the reason we rode it merely once, is that being a Eurofighter with the big over the shoulder restraints, it hurts to ride it. It bangs you around plenty and by the time you get off, while you're wowed by the animatronics, the fire effects, the dark ride scenes, and so on, the fact that all the really cool elements of the ride hurt sucked and you're not all that e***d to go again. With Dare Devil Dive using lapbars, I would hope Dollywood looks at retrofitting this somehow. It would take this ride to another level.


Breakfast was offered by the park in the form of breakfast pizza and coffee to ACErs. While Chris and I partook in many pieces, Meredith stayed away, even from the Vegan version which she anticipated to be disgusting. She put more stock in the fact that we had free lunch, something unscheduled and merely learned of the day prior as we unpacked our welcome packets for the event. Coupons for a free meal at a number of different stands were offered, much to our pleasure. When ERT wrapped up, we headed into the park with the general population and did plenty of walking, sitting, watching, and occasional smoking. Meredith grabbed a pretzel to hold her off until lunch; this was the epitome of the e***ment to which I can describe in text.

In fact, all of the time we spent in the park after exclusive ride time concluded at 10am was spent doing nothing of practical value. We went through some shops, looked at goods, sat down, admired the heffers and elderly that came to the park in droves. When we all agreed on wanting lunch, we ate Petro's Chili and Chips. Apparently its a regional chain selling a variant of chili mixed with other stuff (corn chips, cheese, vegetables, peppers, sour cream) in a cup, which actually approximates something Meredith makes for herself whenever I've remembered to by tortilla chips. Its not at all bad and basically hits the stomach like a boulder, but it may still be among the healthier choices in the park to eat.

Defiantly ignoring of the urging of Robert Ulrich to see Dreamland Drive-In, our group of three all agreed that we didn't give a goddamn about seeing any additional shows at Dollywood. Instead, we ventured into Pigeon Forge with one very clear goal in mind: Jurassic Boat Ride.

Jurassic Boat Ride was best described as the "Plan 9 of Dark Rides" by some dude on Theme Park Review's forums. It is shameful, large, independent, not-a-boat but actually something driven by an electric motor/arm on a wet floor, poorly maintained, and at $16 or so, costs way too much unless you are purposely expecting the worst dark ride in the world. To the credit of the Jurassic Boat Ride, it is long, and it even has a fake out ending. However, the animatronics are poorly kept, the soundtrack misses constantly, stunts work inappropriately, there aren't really dinosaurs for much of the attraction, and...look, the ride sucks so bad it is incredible. In fact, not only does it suck badly, but the ride has a fake queue line consisting of mannequins set up outside to lure unexpecting white trash to turn off the main strip and partake in the madness inside. It is sublime in its terribil-ocity, as Don King might say. A ride truly for the ages.

Once returned to the hotel from the boat trip back in time, we headed back to the hotel to enjoy a nice, smooth, relaxing nap. Meredith and I ordered some room service to snack on and to get my need for Pecan Pie out of my system, and we began to drift to dreamland. As I neared delicious REM sleep, the TV cut out. My wife stated half joking, half serious, "I broke the TV. I don't know how though." I was sparked to move and check on its status. The TV did indeed not turn on. Neither did the lamp next to the TV on the work desk.  My wife discovered the lamp by the bed didn't work either. I suggested I try to get in the room using the keycard to make sure it worked, and she'd wait to open it if it didn't.

As I opened the door, what happened was apparent; The Park Vista lost power. Only emergency lighting was on, and the elevators had stopped dead in place. No surprise came when the door didn't open, and we sat back and had to discuss what our next move would be. Expecting the worst, I called Trotter and woke him up, instructing him we were going to start getting moving due to the outage and see what was up. He agreed to meet us on short notice, and we left the hotel quite a bit earlier than hoped. As it turns out, the power went out for 3 1/2 hours, shutting off not only the TV and lights, but air conditioning and water throughout the building. Some people were told it was Gaitlinburg who lost power (not true) and others were told this was a regular occurrence at the hotel. We also came to discover at some point in this madness that we had been given a single bath towel by the staff, and we weren't apparently going to get another one. Trotter remarked that when he checked in, he had *none*, and had to grab some from a cart in a hallway.

Back at the park, we ventured over to wait for a rather embarrassing ERT session held in the Country Fair section of the park and consisting of basically all its rides. Dinner came with a performance of the Gem Tones, who at times started to interact with people and made both Trotter and Meredith inordinately nervous. Somewhere in this glow bands were brought out and given to attendees; maybe it was around the ice cream dessert portion. I don't clearly remember. I do remember turning them into a halo to wear.

Now, the Country Fair section is Dollywood's answer to Hershey's Boardwalk/Midway America area. Unlike the Hershey version, which has actual trailer based food carts and rides set up to approximate the feeling of being at a fair to the point of actually having ***from cheap carny companies, Dollywood goes the Disney route, a la California Adventure, by getting things that don't look horribly out of place, but aside from the Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel, pretty much everything else is a park model and clearly not at all portable. Fortunately for Dollywood, it doesn't have a insane base of fans supporting the park. No one cries about what "Dolly would have wanted", nor is Dolly really the creative force behind the park. Someone faceless does that stuff, and chance are they aren't a sociopathic Del Webb/animator hybrid dreaming of a great big beautiful tomorrow where your fence's paint scheme was chosen for you. And so it works well and the people who go seem to like it.


Sideshow Spin (M#307/A#617): Formerly Veggie Tales Sideshow Spin, this is a kiddie coaster that is inoffensive and has big plexiglass walls around the cars. Also the Veggie Tales statues are still there, they just have had all anthropomorphic features removed, so there's a big ass pickle, tomato, and something else just, well, there.


Skipping the Disk'O, various kiddie rides, ferris wheel, et al, we did ...

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TR: Coastercon 2012 – Pt. 3, As The Lights Turn Off (6/18/2012)

Post by David Sandbor » Sun, 01 Jul 2012 00:50:52


> Sideshow Spin (M#307/A#617): Formerly Veggie Tales Sideshow Spin, this is a
> kiddie coaster that is inoffensive and has big plexiglass walls around the
> cars. Also the Veggie Tales statues are still there, they just have had all
> anthropomorphic features removed, so there's a big ass pickle, tomato, and
> something else just, well, there.

Hmmm...if they're the statues I'm thinking of, they were all anonymous
vegetables as of the last time we visited, which was when the coaster
was still Veggie Tales.  They were meant to represent the prize winning
items at the fair, not Veggie Tales characters.

Dave Sandborg
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