Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

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CptBeeble
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Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

Post by CptBeeble » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:39 pm

While I get my trip report together, you can read a letter that I just sent off to SDC regarding the Trailblazer Pass:


I flew in for the weekend from Houston specifically to ride Outlaw Run. WOW, was it packed! I got the Trailblazer Pass, as I knew I'd have limited time at the park and with the 6pm closing, I'd need it. Firstly, of all the line skip passes I've seen at parks, yours is the most unique. I love the option of paying just $30 for eight rides! That's far better than having to pony up a lot more than that when you'll likely only use it eight or so times anyway. Bravo!
That said, I almost didn't use all of my eight punches because of how it's implemented. Having the TBPass user seated in the ride just before the gates open for everyone else produces a terrible instance of hard feelings for nearly everyone involved. My first ride was Outlaw Run. The nice ride attendant punched my pass and asked where I'd like to sit. I chose the back seat. She sat me down, the gates opened, and two ladies moved forward, looking at me as if to say, "those are our seats." It turns out that they were in a group of six and had worked it out so all six of them would be on the same train. I messed that up for them and the two ladies didn't get to ride with their friends.
I tried to explain to the scowling people in front of me that I had bought a Trailblazer Pass, and... and he cut me off and said, "Yeah, I know, but it SUCKS. It is our first time to ride this, we wanted to do it together." I felt bad for them, since I know they had waited more than an hour to ride.
I went to Powderkeg after that and the exact same thing happened. After the incident at Outlaw Run, I suggested to the ride attendant that she could put me with any other single rider so I wouldn't disrupt someone's party. She said that they were putting Trailblazers in row seven, so that's where I'd ride. Lo and behold, the gates open and the two ladies in line for row seven yelled at the attendant, "why does he get to ride now? We've been waiting forever!" The ride operator was very nice and explained that I had a "special pass" but the woman in line repeated what I'd already heard: "well that SUCKS." Another customer upset and another Trailblazer rider made to feel like a jerk.
Like I said, by the time I got to the fourth punch, I was ready just to ditch the pass completely. I didn't want to feel like the jerk who ruined someone else's ride.
I think that nearly all of that drama could be avoided by setting up the Trailblazer entrance where it feeds into the main queue at the point where the station begins. In other words, (let's take Outlaw Run for example) rather than letting the TBs in on the loading platform in front of the gates, let them in at the point where the main queue breaks up to choose their seats (near the wall of clocks). This way, people in line can still pair up with the other folks in their party without having that last-minute surprise. It also keeps the Trailblazer from being stuck into the center of attention in a big drama and made to feel bad for ruining other people's fun. I know that it would take some reworking and would have to be done in the off-season, but it could salvage a lot of upset feelings, both on the part of the Trailblazers and the other guests in line.

OK, now that I've said that, I'll finish with a positive note. I'm one of the folks who votes in the Golden Ticket ballot surveys. I helped Outlaw Run win "best new ride" this year and now that I've ridden it, I know that was the right choice. I know that Cedar Point tends to win more than their fair share of awards and some of them are well-deserved. I know a lot of people figured that Gatekeeper was a shoo-in. BUT: people expect CP to go big. People expect them to break records and spend a jillion dollars each year on new stuff. I gotta tell you - as much as we all love SDC (and we do), nobody was expecting you all to pull out the stops and go this big. And by "big" I don't mean the size of the ride, I mean the leap of faith it must've taken to spend that much money on something that was so completely off-the-charts insane, how could we NOT say this was THE ride of 2013? We all knew that this was the "so crazy it just might work" template laid down by Wildfire all those years ago, but this was even crazier than that. Wildfire was a known product, OutRun was "Guinea Pig: The Ride". Gutsy, gutsy move and one that paid off better than just about anybody could've predicted. It is an AMAZING ride - but you already know that. Give it a few years, get a bunch more voters into your park, and watch it move up the charts.

I can't wait to see the "next big thing" y'all do in a few years!

Jim Winslett
Houston, TX

OH, and one other thing: it's so nice to see grown-ups working the rides! As jaded as I am, I still wonder sometimes if that pimply-faced high-schooler running the coaster at other parks is paying attention to his job or pondering his next Facebook post...

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CptBeeble
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Re: Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

Post by CptBeeble » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:46 pm

So here we go: I discovered through an email from Southwest Airlines that I can fly directly into Branson. I did not know that. I also did not know that it's a few HUNDRED dollars cheaper than flying into Springfield. SO, the fiancé gave me a surprise present and booked a trip for me for the weekend after Labor Day. Gotta love this guy!

So I get to the airport... and had to laugh. If you know Branson, you know it's all about fake down-home atmosphere. For every authentic down-home thing you see, there are 234,320,346 fake ones. The airport is no exception.
sdcbdx.jpg
ROFLMAO
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So I get off the plane, take a LONG ride to the rent car place on the shuttle, get in my Toyota Yaris, and hit the road. That's when I saw the 2-mile backup of traffic to get into Silver Dollar City. It took an hour. Once I got parked, I saw that there was a 4-5 tram wait and I could just hike to the gate faster. It's a LONG WAY. I did finally make it, though, and I knew I'd need a trailblazer pass with that kind of crowd. I opted for the 8-ride pass (gets you to the front of the line for eight rides - once only for Outlaw Run, then the other seven however you like. I used it twice each for ThuNderaTion and Powderkeg, once for Fire in the Hole and twice for Wildfire) since I knew the park closed at 6pm that night and it was already well into the afternoon. Once I got my TBPass, I headed for Outlaw Run and saw the extent of the crowds:
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It was like this EVERYWHERE
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Holy crap. As it turns out, Cox Health was having their annual employee day and there were more than TWENTY THOUSAND COX in the park that day in addition to the normal Saturday crowd. It was enough that if I hadn't had the TBPass, I'd have simply left.

So...
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Nice logo
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I used my one TBPass punch and walked right to the back seat (read my previous post to hear about THAT). I came off the ride thinking that it was very good, but very short. The first drop was good, but you have to remember that I live within a few hours of New Tx Giant and Iron Rattler. I've been on similar (and in the case of iRat, better) drops literally hundreds of times, so the drop was really No Big Deal for me. What happened next, however, was the reverse-banked left turn inversion thing. The best part about this is that even if you know it's there, you don't see it coming. You're leaning left, then you're not. You're TOTALLY NOT. Then you're upside-down and then twisting back the other way. It's very smooth, but it's not at all "natural" so you'll feel the sides of the car guide you through it. Odd and fun and disorienting. A wicked thing happens next... you know on SROS and Expedition GeForce, there's that one bunny hill with the twist at the top? Yeah, will OutRun does that same thing on the downward side of the exit of an overbanked left turn. That's as well as I can explain it, sorry. Suffice to say strong G's followed by twisting airtime. Nice.
A few regular bunny hills are in there as well, then there's my favorite moment: the camelback turned 90deg (like the High Five element Gravity Group does in China) except that this one bends outward a bit at the top to produce sideways floater airtime. I repeat: SIDEWAYS FLOATER AIRTIME. No matter how many times I rode it, that just did NOT get old.
Then there's the double cork back up the hill into the station. This was my least favorite moment, as I felt that the second cork is wonky and produces some odd (and occasionally uncomfortable) ribcage hangtime on the side of the trains as you exit - especially in early runs before it gets warmed up. The GP on the train, however, LOVED having the second cork. I heard praise for that more than just about anything else in the "brake run chatter" before pulling into the station.
Bottom line: GREAT ride. Absolutely bonkers for a park like SDC, and yet it totally fits. I love the theming (especially the recorded guy going, "HYAAH!!", the crack of a whip and the sound of horses with western epic music as the train leaves the station), the trains are comfy (although I'd totally LOVE IT if those shin bars were arced a bit instead of flat across) and pretty. The ride seems to be a total, bonafide smash hit with the GP as well. You can always tell when the entire train is cheering on the brake run that you've got a winner.

So after that, I went to Powderkeg and re-discovered how much I like that ride. Still funny to see the new S&S track merge into the old Buzzsaw Falls track and realize that we're doing all that old track backward from what it did before.
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Powderkeg was Pow-ing
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Hopped on Fire in the Hole after that. I love that stupid little ride. I also love the old-time firefighter outfits worn by the ride ops, including the one old guy with an actual Dalmation Fire Dog for people to pet as they went in. Just TRY to tell me that SF or Cedar Fair would get a real dog for theming. Went on Google at the hotel that night and read up on what a "Bald Knobber" is. Now the ride makes more sense.

Off to Wildfire, which has some really good views AND is just about the only major coaster in the park that you can get decent pictures of.
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ooo, pretty!
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Then to ThuNderaTion - which seemed to be a LOT better than I remembered. Rode it twice.

Headed back to OutRun and discovered that it was down. Went to the kiddie coaster and discovered a loooong line. I had used up my 8 punches on my TBPass, so everything would be a long line. I waited about 15min and then IT broke down. (sigh) Back to OutRun, which was running test trains.

Rode OutRun once more, about an hour wait. The crowds were getting to me by then and I noticed that a lot of the smaller kids were leaving. There was just an hour left before the park closed. I went to the kiddie coaster again and waited about half an hour to get on. Nothing special, but you do get three trips around.
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whee
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At this point, I thought I'd just spend the last half hour getting some pictures. But my phone batter was almost completely drained... showing 1%. WTF? It was 100% when I got to the park because I charged it in the car on the way. That was just 4 hours ago! I had taken a few pics and used the SDC app to look at the park map a few times. I also uploaded a few pics to Facebook. That was IT. Weird.

So with no pics to take, I went back to OutRun and it broke down again. I waited it out and they got it fixed around 6:20 - twenty minutes after the park closed. I was really surprised that they didn't just kick us out when they knew it wouldn't be fixed before 6pm... but then I found out that those 20,000 Cox got to stay in the park till 10pm. Oh, OK. The early close time on a Saturday makes more sense now. So I got my last ride and went back to the hotel by way of Steak N Shake (because I found out the Belgian Waffle place closes at 1pm. Dammit!)

The next day could not have been more different. I finally got my waffle, then headed to the park and was greeted with the kinds of (non)crowds I expected for the weekend after Labor Day:
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that's better!
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There were some people pickin' and sorta grinnin' in an old cabin
sdcpickin.jpg
do you hear banjo music?
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And the harvest festival starts soon, so some stuff was already out for that
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I coulda got me a quilt and some honey and some apple butter and a corn cob pipe and...
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And I started with Powderkeg and Fire in the Hole, both walk-ons, then spent the next couple-three hours at OutRun. It was just a 2-3 train wait most of the time, so I got about 15-20 more rides in, even though it broke down AGAIN - giving me time to check out the Flooded Mine. Took one last spin on Wildfire on the way out to catch my flight.

By the end of my visit, OutRun had edged out Boulder Dash as my #2 woodie (behind Voyage). It's perhaps the most intense coaster on earth right now, but it's just really, really, REALLY too short to knock Voyage off my top spot. If it were as long as Voyage, it would be an easy #1 without question.
But if it were as long as Voyage, they'd need to install defibrillators on the brake run. Just sayin'

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CptBeeble
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Re: Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

Post by CptBeeble » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:56 pm

About that phone battery issue:

I charged the phone in the room overnight. It only went to 96%. I unplugged it and re-plugged it and it took another hour to get to 100%.
I also noticed that it stayed near 100% all morning until I got to the park. I took a few pics before it opened, then sat down to read the little flyer and wait for the flag raising. That's when I saw the phone was down to 88% already. I had only been there 15minutes! The phone itself was really hot, as it had been yesterday. The only things running were Mail, Safari, Camera, and the SDC app.
As I sat there reading the flyer, I could literally watch the battery drain. 87, 86, 85. In the 15 or so minutes until the gate dropped, the phone had gone down to 68%. I turned it off, since I needed the GPS to get the rent car back to that where-the-hell location in Hollister. No more pics!

Turned the phone back on as I left the park and found that it held its charge just fine once I got away from the park. No issues at all on the way home and today at work I used the GPS, as well as lunchtime facebook, twitter, email, safari, and other stuff... and still had 87% when I got home at 7pm!

Has anyone else with an iPhone noticed this inside SDC? Is it the area or is it the SDC app that's the culprit? I'm betting on the app, since the phone kept getting really hot. Also, I always had at least 3 bars of signal.

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jk1w
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Re: Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

Post by jk1w » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:41 pm

TC10K wrote:About that phone battery issue:

I charged the phone in the room overnight. It only went to 96%. I unplugged it and re-plugged it and it took another hour to get to 100%.
I also noticed that it stayed near 100% all morning until I got to the park. I took a few pics before it opened, then sat down to read the little flyer and wait for the flag raising. That's when I saw the phone was down to 88% already. I had only been there 15minutes! The phone itself was really hot, as it had been yesterday. The only things running were Mail, Safari, Camera, and the SDC app.
As I sat there reading the flyer, I could literally watch the battery drain. 87, 86, 85. In the 15 or so minutes until the gate dropped, the phone had gone down to 68%. I turned it off, since I needed the GPS to get the rent car back to that where-the-hell location in Hollister. No more pics!

Turned the phone back on as I left the park and found that it held its charge just fine once I got away from the park. No issues at all on the way home and today at work I used the GPS, as well as lunchtime facebook, twitter, email, safari, and other stuff... and still had 87% when I got home at 7pm!

Has anyone else with an iPhone noticed this inside SDC? Is it the area or is it the SDC app that's the culprit? I'm betting on the app, since the phone kept getting really hot. Also, I always had at least 3 bars of signal.
^^^ It is because up here we don't get signal to well, and the phone pushes it self to retrieve every last morsel. Try putting the phone in "airplane mode" and see what happens. The phone should cool down, if not then it is an actual problem with the battery i.e. the battery could be failing. With apps that require constant internet connection like SDC, Mail, Safari they suck like a leach, I never leave my phone on when I am in a park just because of that.

Also three bars don't mean anything in terms of data, voice and texting run better on a low signal then data. So you got three bars, well thats good for voice and texting, but in the real sense data is only get 1 or 2 bar's out of the three; and if you run AT&T that becomes real apparent because of GSM "time packet delivery system" vs CDMA.

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Paul Drabek
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Re: Silver Dollar City, Sept 7-8, 2013

Post by Paul Drabek » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:26 am

The SDC app sucks battery like nuts. I used it a bit when we went this spring and it killed my battery.
Life is short....have fun!

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