Since I'm not good with the "we did this, then rode that" routine, I'll post
some random comments about my L O N G overdue return to this park.
It had been since the ACE Spring Con (1993, was it?) that I had visited this
park, and with the very good news of the park being purchased and reopened
by Ed Hart, etc., it was time for another visit. A very last-minute sorta
trip, the kind you make when you realize that you have a three day weekend
with nothing better to do :-)
My first impression was how wonderful the absolutely beautiful new front
entrance was! As the trade papers had said, the architecture was inspired
by Hot Springs National Park's historic "Bath House Row," and instead of
looking brand new, it looked as if it had been there for a long time. Very
nice job, IMHO.
I was very anxious to re-visit this place, not only to ride the "Arkansas
Twister" again, but to ride the very well thought out (I think) flat ride
package. For those who don't know me, I'm a coaster nut first and then a
flat ride junkie a *very* close second. This would be my first encounters
with a Zamperla "Power Surge" as well as an S & S "Double Shot," among
On to the coasters:
Arkansas Twister: When I initially rode this (93?), I thought that it was
an interesting, somewhat oddly paced out n back. It was butter smooth back
then and I didn't give it much thought that things would change. An above
average ride, but not something that I had to return to immediately. Since
the park sat vacant for a bit, and presumably the former owners didn't give
the ride the proper woodie TLC, I gather that last years return was quite
rough, and not a good "stage," if you will, for a new Gerstlauer train.
Over the winter GCI was hired to do a major overhaul and I would say that
nearly 75% of the ride was rebuilt. Yes, that's right, rebuilt from the
footers up! Anyway, while the ride is now smooth for the most part, it's
odd that they didn't go ahead a do a few more of the speed hills, etc. For
example, the first drop is new about 3/4 of the way down and the track is
brand new up until the speed hill just before the 180 left turnaround. The
track climbing into the turnaround is new as well. In other words, the out
portion was almost completely rebuilt, except for that odd, fairly rough
speed hill. The train just sails over the new part, then "smack, smack,
smack," then smooth again. Mind you, it's not uncomfortable but it is
rather unsettling. The return portion is more of the same, but much
smoother in the transitions. The only rough moment is one of the final
bunny hops before the ride's signature ejector (in all seats!) pop into the
final turn onto the brakes. Thankfully, they left that last major pop of
air alone, and it helps put this ride into the above average catagory. I
liked it quite a bit, really, and I can tell that it's still gotta be a
great night ride. Interesting note, the rides at this park are all equipped
(ala Kentucky Kingdom of old) with rider instruction tape loops that play in
the queue. The taped spiel on the Twister says something akin to : "The
last car is reserved for our more experienced riders. These seats offer a
more INTENSE ride sensation that may not be suitable for all guests..."
Anyone that rode last year, was the ride unbearable???
Twist N Shout: This is the Zamperla "Zig Zag" coaster that was the
ill-fated "Wild Wonder" from NJ. The cars have been changed from animals to
fifties type cars, which I presume look just like the "Doo Whooper" cars on
this same ride at "Wild Wheels" pier in Wildwood, NJ. Fun, decently paced
mouse, and much better than I expected it to be, especially with it's
seemingly "Family" type description. Cute ride and perfect for Magic
Diamond Mine Run Coaster: This is their "family" coaster, which is a
cutely themed Miler coaster whose layout might be standard, but it's nicely
placed into it's setting. Cute station as well, and *anyone* can ride, over
a certain height of course. Two circuit ride, as well.
Wild Thang: This is the aforementioned "Power Surge." I very MUCH liked
this ride, and it now goes into the pile of "I want one in my backyard
rides!" Fun action, and decent ride cycle time. Ride varies greatly from
forward facing seats to backward facing seats. Every park needs one!
The Hawk: A single arm Zamperla "Hawk 24." Think Kennywood's "Aero 360"
minus one arm. Once again, fun and decent cycle time.
Dr Dean's Rocket Machine: This is their new for 2001 ride, which is the S
& S "Double Shot." I liked this ride okay, rode it several times, but it
didn't seem that much different form the early Mark (IV, is it?) Space
Shots, such as "Detonator" at WOF. Of course, it's not as tall either, but
I didn't notice the "shoot up, then instant shoot down" thing. More like a
shorter trip up on "Detonator," which isn't a bad thing. Perhaps I caught
it on a bad day? Does anyone notice much of a difference on these??
Perfect for here, and the crowd just loved it!
Old No. 2 Logging Company: This is log flume that came with the park that
Hopkins recently redid. Strange big drop that is no steeper than the lift,
but effective none-the-less. It is on this ride that the park was able to
utilize some of the s***wood leftover from the Twister rebuild. Look
around the run-out pond, and you'll see gray and pink wood with white
numbers and letters on 'em from the move and rebuild job. Smart, and only
some of us freaks would even notice :)
The park has many other well placed flats to choose from, and their
collection puts quite a few *major* theme parks to shame!
Overall, and VERY nice place to visit! I couldn't believe how different the
park looked, and if you've not visited the place most of it will seem brand
new. It's hard to tell that some of the buildings were there before. Also,
of note is the SFStL/Dollywood mine train IS here and in pieces on either
side of the Twister. Perhaps a 2002 rebuild?? It would be a great
Food prices weren't too bad, i.e. a "Subway" veggie 6 " sub was only $ 3.75
but a large drink at the "Subway" was friggin' $ 3.95!! WTF?? Employees
were *very* nice and most even smiled! Not quite Holiday World, but
definitely a refreshing sight!
The water park "Crystal Falls" is actually built into the middle of the
park, included with admission and seemed to be a decent collection of the
standard waterpark fare. I would imagine that more than anything else, this
is the feature that will bring in the crowds. It's placement, however,
makes the trip to the Twister a bit of a mess, but I'm sure that they'll get
this worked out.
A must do park if you're in the area, and I wouldn't be surprised to see
this place grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years.
Thanks for reading,
Jeff "wish it wasn't a freakin' seven hour drive away" King