Beech Bend Bash 2011

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dare-to-fly
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Beech Bend Bash 2011

Post by dare-to-fly » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:52 pm

I thought you should be the first to read this. It...or at least an edited version, should appear in ACE News at some point.

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For anyone that has not been to Beech Bend Park, the annual Beech Bend Bash is an event that should not, and for this author, could not be missed. Most parks have fun events, but Beech Bend makes our group of attendees feel like priority #1. This park is one of only a handful of event hosts that treats the group like royalty. It’s obvious why this park is ranked as one of the friendliest parks on the planet. How appropriate that it was the day after Holiwood Nights. Some would say that Beech Bend is even friendlier.

The morning started off with a breakfast of pastries, crackers, and juice while we waited for the park to open for our ERT session. One of the hot topics of conversation for those that were at Beech Bend Bash 2010 was that this year’s event was starting off noticeably different. It was not pouring rain. In fact, we could not have asked for better weather, and we were excited to start the day riding something other than Bumper Cars.

Our morning ERT started in the section of the park closest to the campground. Notice I didn’t say which rides. Beech Bend opened almost every ride in that section of the park at some point. One of the most intense rides was Scat II, which somewhat resembles a really twisted version of the old Tempest rides only way more intense and all while standing up.

The coaster in that section of the park is a spinning mouse coaster called Wild Mouse, and we had fun on that ride by turning it into a water ride. Our wet-n-wild rides were one of many great ideas from the mind of Paul Blick. Each car was given a cup of water. Every person in the car had to keep one hand on the cup at all times. The goal was to keep as much water in the cup as possible, and the winners were given a prize. Since the winners only kept about half the water in the cup, just imagine how everyone’s shorts looked coming off the ride. The laughs could probably be heard from the front gate.

At some point in the morning, most enthusiasts wanted to check out the Haunted House. This year it wasn’t even just for the air conditioning, though that was an added bonus. Beech Bend completely renovated their Haunted House over the off season, complete with new effects, track, and cars. We didn’t have to avoid riding on one of the cars to ensure we’d make it all the way through the course this year. I still remember having to be pushed out of the Haunted House when our car got stuck and derailed last year, and now it is easily now one of my favorite rides there. There are a few places that made me jump no matter how many times I rode it.

After more ERT than many parks have in an entire day, we were off up the hill for more. Kentucky Rumbler was now open and running just as well as ever. White Water Express, Power Surge, and most of the other rides in the area opened for us at some point too. Many of us perused the gift shop to find shirts or other souvenirs. Also, not to be forgotten, the new self-service drink stations that Beech Bend added to all their food areas make for a much more convenient way to get drinks. It’s a shame more parks don’t see the value in adding free drinks to the line-up. It makes guests more at home not to mention better hydrated.

Most of the attendees spent this part of the morning riding the awesome Kentucky Rumbler, a great GCI that opened at Beech Bend in 2006 and is currently ranked as the #16 wooden coaster by Amusement Today. After taking lap after lap on the Rumbler, it was finally time for the park to officially open for the day, and with the first guests in line meant the unfortunate return of the hated no-re-ride policy, so we gave up our seats and set out to experience the rest of the park for the day. We’d only had about half the park in one ERT session; we had to go see the other half.

If anyone is now thinking that this would be a good time to leave for a while and go take a nap, try again. That may be true at other events, but this one is packed full of fun things to do. One of the first things was to go take over the games. Our group competed against each other to see who could earn the most points by winning games. The winners of the most points earned prizes at lunch, which for this year was Michael Morris, who proudly sported his hot-dog hat for the rest of the day, Dustin Payne, and Chrissy Donis.

The miniature golf competition was held next; however, the urge to check out the infamous Beech Bend swings, called Jitter Bug, pulled me away. I had never ridden them before this trip, but was told they were a little scary. It’s a similar model swing ride to what you see at traveling carnivals. Most of my blood was in my feet by the end of the ride from the great positive g forces when these swings get up to speed. They may be a little unnerving, but I found them to be a lot of fun, and the somewhat rickety feeling of the ride’s structure adds to the excitement.

After taking a few more laps on the Haunted House mixed in with some other rides, I was getting hungry again, just in time for our pulled pork lunch. We also were treated to Paul’s infamous game show, called Beech Bend Bash-a-Palooza, where ten people were “randomly” selected from the audience and asked to compete in various games that were hilarious to watch. Each round eliminated one player, and the final winner, Chris Talley, received the grand prize. There were no M&M’s to sort this year though. I wonder if that was Paul’s idea or Beech Bend’s. Attendees from 2010 probably remember the M&M’s being scattered all over the Dallas Jones Pavilion by the end of that challenge.

Speaking of the Dallas Jones Pavilion, that was another treat that Beech Bend gave to us. I don’t ever remember a park giving event attendees their own lounge, yet Beech Bend did. There were drinks, places to sit, and snacks in there all day for us to enjoy. The most important thing to many was the air conditioning. It was great to have a place to cool off in our own private world and talk about coasters with other enthusiasts.

During lunch, it started to become a little reminiscent of last year as a storm moved in. We were perfectly happy to stay inside the pavilion to ride it out. The timing was great, because by the time lunch and prizes were finished, the storm was over. Unfortunately it was also at lunch that we learned that an incident on Kentucky Rumbler had occurred. We were told that one of the guests that had pre-existing medical conditions returned to the station in cardiac arrest. There was no mechanical failure of any kind, but the ride would remain closed the rest of the day. In spite of not getting to Rumble, most of the enthusiasts knew this was not the park’s fault, accepted it, and had a great time despite the unfortunate turn of events.

Next on the agenda was a race that is still not to be forgotten. If anyone has ever seen an enthusiast take-over of a set of bumper cars, you know how bad that is. We got to see what happens when a group of enthusiasts take over the go-carts. Well…they still think they’re bumper cars. What happens when you mix that with a wet curve in the track? The most epic go-cart race at any amusement park ever! We were literally told not to bump “too much” and to go slowly around the wet curve. That didn’t last long, as we ended up breaking about every rule for go-carts that exists.

There were a few more ride take-overs. The carousel, which is very beautifully situated next to the pond, and Sea Dragon, relocated from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Our group also received premier seating at Kentucky Calling, Beech Bend’s new show for this year, which features a very tasteful selection of music performed by truly talented artists. Dinky Gowen was also on stage for us again performing his magic show.

After a long day of playing at the park, a little bit of time in the water park was in order for the evening. Beech Bend cranked up the most intense waves that they could for our EXTREME Surf’s Up Wave Pool Experience, something that you would likely not get at any other park. The wave pool and lazy river are connected, so the waves made their way all the way around the lazy river, making it more of a river rapids experience. Some of us could have stayed there all evening and been quite content, but there were still more festivities to enjoy.

To finish out in the water park, we were given a pizza dinner and some of Beech Bend’s delicious fudge. We’re talking really, really GOOD fudge too! Did anyone notice that there were three meals involved? That’s two more than at most events. Pizza and fudge was just what we needed after spending some time in the wave pool or the…well…not-so-lazy river. Seeing how much water was spilled out of the wave pool would tell the tale. Water was all over the lower part of the midway from that. The water park crew probably had to refill half the wave pool for it to be ready to open the next day!

One would think at this point that not much else was in store for us since Kentucky Rumbler was still closed. Try again! We started at the top of the park and worked our way to the bottom with rides opening in rotation for some ERT, including more rides on the Haunted House. We got to see a rare treat at Beech Bend once the sun went down. There are only rare occasions where the lights from the rides can be seen, and we got to see them all! The bottom of Beech Bend was a magical paradise of lights. Even the ride on Moby Dick seemed more intense with the help of a strobe light. To finish out the evening, we filled a complete cycle on Moby Dick, and took a few more rides on Wild Mouse.

After the end of ERT, a short ceremony was held to end Beech Bend Bash, and Charlotte thanked everyone again for coming. She apologized again for the Rumbler being closed, and told everyone that a free ticket to come back would be sent in the mail. It was also no problem to get in the next day if we wanted to come back when the Rumbler cleared its inspection. All event attendees were also given a souvenir cup for Beech Bend, something that you can’t get anymore since they went to free drinks. It was clear that they wanted to show how much they appreciated our attendance.

To conclude, it has to be said that it’s always clear how appreciated we are at Beech Bend. This small park continues to grow, and I can’t think of a park more deserving of Amusement Today’s Park of the Year, an award for which they received this year’s Golden Ticket. Personally, when I return to Beech Bend, it always feels like I’m welcomed back to a family that has missed me, and this was only my fourth trip. I have never felt like just a number here, something that I have felt at many other parks. Beech Bend actually cares about the guests even after they come through the front gate. They may not be the biggest park, but they may very well have the biggest hearts. For anyone in the Bowling Green area, a trip to Beech Bend is not to be missed.

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mikeau98
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Re: Beech Bend Bash 2011

Post by mikeau98 » Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:43 pm

Excellent.

And currently the Hot Dog Hat will return next year :lol: , thinking it might need a ceremony to hand off to next year's winner.
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Waterboy
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Re: Beech Bend Bash 2011

Post by Waterboy » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:16 pm

Very well written Nick!
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Swarthout
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Re: Beech Bend Bash 2011

Post by Swarthout » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:56 pm

Great TR, I love parks like Beech Bend, I have to get there some day.

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Gump
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Re: Beech Bend Bash 2011

Post by Gump » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:55 pm

I'm glad someone was able to give such a great tr on BBB ! Well put! :D

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