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America! It’s somewhere I have wanted to go and visit since I can remember. I had always dreamt of visiting here, since seeing it in films, television and more. The style and the culture. Recently that dream became a reality, thanks to a great opportunity with some great mates. Bringing not only a chance to visit the states but one of it’s most iconic parks Cedar Point. Now you’ve probably already read Mark9’s informative trips from here, so a different scope should be required. In my reviews I will not only mention of Cedar Point, but my full experience of the States, being my first trip outside of Europe as of 2018. Day 0/ Sunday- Going West Wise and I parked up at Gatwick’s long stay before joining the transfer to the terminal. After uniting with Doyle, we were good to go beginning our long descent to America! After devouring a Spoons brunch, we hopped onboard our first of two flights with Icelandic air, who despite being relatively unknown proved to be better than expected; the engines were loud though. Like very loud! This would be my first long haul flight (having previously flown 2 HR 40 max on short haul). I expected a long, boring and tiring flight, but it wasn’t as bad, thanks to some on flight entertainment. Dead pool and Isle Of Dogs were amongst my choices with the odd Fawlty Towers episode. Three hours later we arrived at Reykjavik Iceland, where we literally changed to our connecting flight immediately. This plane was even better than the first apart from one of our screens being broken, which was unacceptable. Another five and a bit hours later , we finally landed at Cleveland Ohio. This was it, I was finally in America! Not after customs though. The American custom process is much stricter and complex than the European one ( pre-Brexit at least). You are asked a number of questions upon arrival. Although the staff seemed friendly enough all instructions must be obeyed! This did take longer than first hoped. Another security check took place before we were finally out. A quick bus to our hire car company commenced before we were finally on the way once we chose our vehicle. It was interesting to note the differences on American roads. From yellow traffic lights and lack of roundabouts. Even the cars were different in many respects. Red indicators? No front number plates? All here in America. We finally arrived at our hotel for the trip, Cedar Point’s Express Hotel. Although simple it was clean, tidy and welcoming. Ride pictures above the beds is such a nice touch! McDonald’s was our first stateside meal (conveniently located across the road from the hotel). The burger was certainly more tasty amongst a bigger portion and unlimited refills (a common measure in US eateries). Day 1/ Monday- The Magnificent Seven-teen Despite the long flight, I managed to wake up bright and early. Then again, I was still running on UK time so, 6am Cleveland time would equate to 11am in London. Monday would be the first of three full days to visit Cedar Point. Home of seventeen coasters (eighteen including both of Gemini’s track), the park boasts the second highest coaster count in the world. Least until a few years time when Energylandia will probably top it all. The park features it’s own road/highway which may be the only major access route to the park. The views of the ride skyline make it what is arguably one of the most beautiful and impressive theme park views around! They didn’t lie about it being a roller coast. We parked up and arrived promptly. One of the advantages of staying at Cedar Point property is being allowed to enter for early ride time, one hour before main opening. After playing the Star Spangled Banner, we made our way to our first attraction of the day, Steel Vengeance (the patriotism there is impressive). New for 2018, this RMC replaced the ageing Mean Streak coaster, taking it’s layout and making it better. The hype for this ride was unreal. I know I shouldn’t judge an attraction before riding, but I was unbelievably excited to experience this! Such a beauty! Watching this ride going around it’s circuit! So, how was Steel Vengeance you ask? Absolutely Incredible! The ride is impressively tall, fast and packed with airtime (both floater and ejector) and hangtime amongst a lengthy ride duration. I came off this ride immediately knowing it to be my number one coaster, and that was just from a middle row ride! Cedar Point may not be specialists when it comes to turning, but SV definitely had some (if you look hard enough). From it’s styled lighting and story boards. They even feature different dispatch announcements for each train (Chess, Blackjack and Digger). This was my first RMC, so fingers crossed I haven’t set the bar too high already and don’t appreciate others as a result. My only criticism is naturally their ‘no phone in queue line’ policy, where phones must be put in a locker prior to riding. They even had undercover staff in the queue looking for anyone who snuck their phone in! There was also a security/police personnel at the entrance in case of abusive guests. Things aside, Steel Vengeance is an incredible ride and worth tracking out for alone (amongst Cedar Point’s other amazing rides). Maverick was the second ride of our trip. This intamin blitz coaster opened in 2007 replacing the former flume ride. I really like how they have preserved the old station and reused it as Maverick’s queue even if it is just your average cattle-pen. Maverick really surprised me. Whilst I’d heard great things about this coaster, this thing literally wowed me! From it’s tight intense transitions, landscaping down to it’s hidden launch which was just amazing. This ride for me narrowly beats Taron due to it’s variety of elements. And turnsurprise launch. There is also a back story to this attraction too. We had a bite to eat next at this Smokehouse place. We all had spicy sausage, chips and a muffin. It looked a lot more delicious than this photo suggests, I like the details on these presumably old posters and signs. Millennium Force was number three. The hype this coaster gets is absolutely insane, so I was concerned it would be overrated (given it’s mixed reception from enthusiasts). I queued (ages) with an open mind trying not to think of how much I might like the ride. Millennium Force surprised me! Often ranked very highly on coaster polls I was greatly satisfied this ride turned out to be just as good (if not better) from what I was expecting. From it’s 300 ft plus cable lift hill, the ride delivers in plenty ways. There is definitely plenty of force as this coaster flies around it’s circuit. There is also plenty of interaction a lot more airtime than I was expecting too. Who said it was forceless? I honestly came off shaken, in a good way which is why Millennium Force gets fifth place in my top 10 (speaking in September 2018). N.B the gap between the 2-7 on my coaster ratings is pretty minuscule. Having done what are arguably the three biggest (and best) rides at the park it was time for something comparatively smaller, Iron Dragon. Opening in 1987, this Arrow suspended coaster is one of just five that remain operating (once 10). It’s also the oldest to remain operating (fourth one made). The ride wasn’t anything remarkable, although I suppose it is one of the older ones of it’s type. Least I’ve now managed to one with the old Cars I guess. Rougarou was next. This B&M coaster used to be a stand up but was converted to a floorless a few years ago. I was pleasantly surprised with this ride. Like really surprised! The pacing and momentum through those inversions and helixes was superb. Truly an underrated coaster here and everything Dragon Khan should’ve been. We headed east next to Gate Keeper, however it was down so we did Wicked Twister instead. This was a pleasant surprise and definitely a lot better than expected. The feeling of those launches and seeing the track top above was one crazy feeling! Blue Streak followed, which was first and last wooden cred of the trip. This ride was pleasantly fun and reminded me of Big Dipper and Nick Streak at Blackpool. At 54 it is also one of the oldest coasters too. We headed back to Gate Keeper which was now running which would by my second B&M Wing Rider. Apart from the view onto the car park, I thoroughly enjoyed this one, from it’s selection of elements to the interactions near the entrance and theming elements! A better ride than Swarm in some areas but not in others. We took the Sky Ride down to the entrance to experience Raptor. Not the Towers one. This version is an absolute classic and similar to the ones the first Magic Kingdom park’s used to have. They offered pleasant views of the park and peninsula. A shame Drayton spited theirs! Raptor opened in 1994 (the same year as Nemesis) which is also a B&M invert. It was hear we also experienced our first ‘in line shutdown’. No P.A announcement but they managed to get the ride up again pretty quickly in around 10 minutes. The amount of people leaving the line without appearing disgruntled was remarkable. They certainly seem more relaxed out here! We managed front row on Raptor which turned out to be an impressive invert. It was a bit like Inferno but bigger and better. Some of those inversions really pull force and put you off guard, especially that reverse inline. Currently my second favourite of four inverts (just four?) and favourite B&M in this park! We grabbed another of many soft drink refills from the Coadter’s Diner before making a move to the further North Coasters in this park. The amount of free style refill and drinks choices out here is remarkable and offers considerably better choices than back home. Jamie Oliver is one of many reasons why the UK doesn’t get nice things anymore! We did Corkscrew, another of several Arrow coasters at the park. Despite its age I found it surprisingly enjoyable. Magnum XL was our next ride. In 1988 This beast was the tallest coaster in the world at 205ft tall, until it’s slightly taller sister the Big One stole it! I found my first ride on the Magnum noticeably jerky and uncomfortable almost to the point I proffered The Big One. It’s a good job I didn’t just do it once! It’s still popular too. Gemini followed. This is an interesting attraction in that it’s a racing coaster that looks like a woodie in places but is actually a steel coaster. It’s height implies it’s a thrill coaster, but it mostly rides as a thrilling family ride. Whilst Gemini may not have the frills and excitement as other coasters at the park, it perfectly serves it’s purpose as a fun and exciting ride. The racing element here likely helps enhance this factor. After Gemini we raced over (pun intended) to Cedar Creek Mine Ride, the final of C’s Arrow quintet. This is the second oldest coaster operating at the park, which you can tell from old fashioned restraints style which are manually functioned by ride staff. It also occupies one of the larger footprints too. Aside from it’s historical significance, there isn’t anything remarkable about this ride as nothing really sticks out for it. Least the location is nice though. Still beats El Diablo. We took a quick break from our coaster and soft drink hoarding by going on Sky Hawk, the park’s S&S Sky Swing. This was honestly tonnes of fun and swings much higher and longer than Rush indefinitely. Valravn would serve as our final ride and Cred of day one. We joined the queue just before it closed and spent most of the time chatting an American family who seemed quite friendly; I found most people during my trip out there friendly. Timing it right (when staff asked for a three), we finally boarded what would be our final B&M we hadn’t done at the park. Although Wise and Martin seemed to like it, I came off feeling like something was missing. Like key wow factor moment. It probably didn’t help being asked to randomly swap seats with another rider. Despite it’s height, the drop felt empty and I think the reason for this is largely down to the lack interaction. Whilst CP isn’t a park that specialise in theming, they could have at least added a tunnel or something as that alone would already be a noticeable improvement both to the ride in appearance and experience. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a terrible coaster (far from it). But I just feel I csme off it feeling a little disappointed and wanting more and preferring Oblivion to it despite being a longer ride. I think the second half is generally better on this one! Least Yukon Striker actually has an impressive first drop! Now your probably thinking I’m missing out on an important ride here. Something that you can’t help but notice really impacts the park’s ride selection and skyline. The answer Unfortunate is No. we didn’t go on Woodstock Express on day one! Oh, and Top Thrill Dragster was down due to some cable replacing work, so looks like we’ve been spited a Cred here. Or have we? End Of Part One
Carrying on with my mini park road trip, after leaving Pleasurewood Hills just after 3:30pm, we headed on our way to Great Yarmouth. But before experiencing the wonders of the Pleasure Beach [not the Blackpool one], we first headed to Joyland, which is a tiny park just a bit further up the sea front from the Pleasure Beach. The park is so tiny you walk around it in less than a minute, however we were there to experience some interesting new rides [and creds]. The entrance to Joyland, for a park so tiny, it's quite visiually stunning actually and can be seen from quite a fair distance from where the park is positioned. The main ride we were here to experience was the Tyrolean Tubtwist, which is the last operating Virginia Reel in the world. Somewhat I forgot to take many pictures of this ride [or the whole park as a matter] so I'll here's pics of the ride [sources Joyland Brookes & Bannister.org]. The Tubtwist is a loverly little ride, whilst it's not a top 10 breaker for most, it's a very enjoyable addition and does quite a bit of spinning too [not too much to become nauseating though], the fact I've now ridden the world's last Virginia Reel makes me feel very happy. What else does the park have to offer then? Why the Spook Express Of Course! This is a small kids coaster which is positioned on the upper story of the park's central buildings. The ride is quite good for a kids coaster actually retaining a good pace throughout the ride through it's twists and corners through some tunnels and like objects too, plus two laps [Yay]. The coaster reminded me a lot of Legoland's smaller Dragon coaster, which shouldn't be a surprise since the same company built both rides [WGH Transporation]. This is my third cred from them which leaves just the coasters at Greenwood Forest & Fantasy Island left to do [I'm not in a hurry so far]. The third and final ride we managed to do was the Snails ride, which has been a long debate for enthusiasts for years on is it a coaster or just a unique scenic ride? I would say it is just about a coaster, but why am I classifying it as a coaster [aside from getting more coaster count]? The ride's drop that are seen throughout the ride use quite a lot of gravitational force and very rollercoaster like. One could argue why aren't some Ghost Train's classed as Roller Coasters? The thing with ghost train drops is they are usually very small and there is usually just one, whilst here there is several drops and I would say big enough to justify this ride as being a coaster [just]. It's a very interesting ride and definitely wins points for uniqueness here. After doing these three rides, we left the park and headed to Yarmouth in what had been a flyby visit lasting just over 30 minutes really just to get experience these interesting rides and gain the creds. Joyland is a very interesting tiny park and is probably the smallest compact park I've seen yet features so many in such tiny space that makes even Thorpe Park look like Alton Towers in size. For £1 per ride,it's a park that is definitely worth a quick visit if you're in the area [if for the Tubtwist alone]. I would advise you don't need a lot of time at all and can be done within half an hour if you visit due to the park's size and the fact it is mostly aimed at young families. Aside from the three coaster,ish rides we did, there are a couple more rides adults can go on [despite being a kids park] which included this random Jetcar ride thingy at the bottom of the building structure and Neptunes Kingdom which is a small dark ride I believe which was very hidden away [so hidden no POVs of the ride can be found on Youtube]. We didn't experience either of these rides due to lack of time and getting to the Pleasure Beach, where Part 3 of this report shall continue.
Whilst Jadam, Josh & Peaj had a massive theme park road trip in Europe last month. I [sort of] had my own last weekend with Mr Fish, Myk & Shinequa [although on a much smaller scale] as we hit all the parks in the Great Yarmouth area visiting several new parks which would give a nice little splash to my list of parks visited, ride creds and new parks in 2015. After making my way to Stevenage via Kings Cross [so that tom Tom could get me] through an underground commute I hope won't happen again which almost almost resulted in missing my train, we arrived at Shinequa's place where after experiencing some decent fish and chips [much better than the ones we had at Chessington] we crashed over at for the night ready for the long day ahead. After an early morning call and heading our way to the Great Yarmouth region, we headed to the first of the parks we would experience that day which would be Pleasure-wood Hills, small family park in Lowestoft home to several half decent coasters and underdog dark ride. Once arriving in the stony car park [which is a bit bumpy], one of the first things you notice is that the parking lot is sort of in the middle of the park giving you some pretty good views of a number of the park's rides. This is the site you're welcomed to once you reach the main entrance. It's not a bad design for a little park like this [but would probably look nicer if it weren't for the weather]. And this is the site you're greeted to once you arrive in the park. Apparently there used to be a caroulsel right at the front of the entrance in the middle of the pathway which has since been relocated, which is a shame as it would look quite nice still at the entrance. Still beats Chessington's north entrance though. These buildings remind me a bit of Thorpe when it was owned by RMC [not the coaster manufacturer reassigning ageing woodies in to hybrids]. Moving on to rides then! First up was this Moby idiot attraction which was sort of like a rocky express style attraction where the ride moves along a circular track with ups and downs. It wasn't anything special as it didn't reach any fast speed but gets a thumbs up for the theming on-ride. Getting back to shore, we went on the Hyperdrive Dodgems, which is an attraction that it was brought in to the park this year even though they already have another set of Dodgems on the other side of the park. It's quite an interesting addition actually in the way the ride has a completely different layout involving a central reservation in the middle of the ride turning it in to a racing style dodgems attraction giving a different type of feel to the ride. Due to the heavy rain we faced that day, the dodgems floor was wet causing the cars to skid and slide every time a car entered the right hand corner, which made it quite for me to turn corners there to the degree it resulted in me crashing in to Fish's car and getting wedged so badly in the outer side that the operator had to switch off the ride temporarily to resolve this issue, which was very amusing to have experienced at the time [maybe that's why I liked them more than others]. The inferno/RCT2 style background music possibly helped. Due to the wet weather, some of the rides didn't look like they were going to be opening on visit. One of those was the Marble Madness coaster, which was a shame [or so we thought!] On our way exploring the park, we passed Hobs Pit [which didn't open until 12]. the facade though is quite nicely done though [and has a bit of a homemade feel to it]. The next ride we went on was the Pleasurewood Express, a minature railway that goes round the park [there's another railway round the park too]. The ride itself offered a loverly scenic ride around alot of the park and quite a lot of the rides too. THAT WAS UNTIL YOU ENCOUNTER THE MOST INSANE BUSH CHOPPER EVER ENDURED! You read that correctly, there were bushes so overgrown on the ride we had to duck ridiculously low where failing to do so would result in pain [I'll stop there as other than that I'm ripping off Jadam's entry ]. Least the driver warned us about them and after we left took the ride around again to try and sort them out. It wasn't a very nice day weather wise and I think this photo pretty much summarises that. From the ground to the air, we took our flights on another scenic ride at the park, the Chair Lift [first type of ride I've done in this form too] The ride is very calm,soothing and relaxing, although is very very slow. Definitely slower than walking and takes at least five minutes to get from one station to the other, still better than Storm Surge! What's that snaking in the distance I wonder? Why it's Rattlesnake, the park's original coaster [and my first new coaster cred of the day!]. Not a bad little coaster actually, pretty forceful in some of those corners, sort of reminded me of Treetops at Oakwood a little really but maybe a bit better because you got three laps around, shame they no longer have theming on the ride's lift hill through . Time to see how the other Dodgems compare, think I preffered these actually as there more traditional really [still powerslides]. Now on to one of the park's more thrilling additions, The Fireball. Really enjoyed this one actually as it gave out quite a lot of spinning and reached quite high on the ride's peak [probably better than Vortex]. Shame it looks like it's just been brought in from a travelling fair though! OMG WE'RE AT DISNEYLAND! Actually the building is home to meet and greets with the park's mascots [including Woody Bear who we met] and was also home to a Noel's House Party style show back in 90's [how times have changed]. Still reminds me Disney though. Then we boomeranged it back to the entrance where it was time to experience Wipeout which would be my first erm, Boomerang. This ride has a fair bit of history as it first started life at a funfair/exhibition in Scotland known as the Coca-Cola Roller in 1988 before moving to American Adventure in 1989. Apparently it was described as being one of the top coasters in it's time [which shows how far we went with rides in the 90's]. Then the park sold the ride to Pleasurewood in 2004 due to it's changing target audience [it shut down a year later]. The ride didn't open though until 2007 due to difficulties in planning and construction [originally supposed to be opening in 2006]. It also received a new train too which was taken from La Via Volta in Walibi Holland [the old train was apparently horribly rough]. I quite enjoyed the ride, The first half was great fun although the backwards journey was a little nauseating, those views of the sea on the backward lift hill though . After being wiped out [pun intended], it was time for some lunch and went to the Flying Fish restaurant [why I do I feel Thorpe is following us ] I had Sausage and Chips which with large drink cost around £7.50, which wasn't a bad price actually and surprisingly good food too [beat's Chessington's chippie]. So let's have a casual stroll to see what's happening at the park. Oh not much, just Marble Madness running.WHAT! MARBLE MADNESS RUNNING! LETS RIDE IT NOW! Marble Madness was quite fun, fairly jerky at times but I really enjoyed it. Considering it's a very similar ride to the one at Chessington [except being a mirror image], I think I actually prefer this one slightly, but Chessington's is still better due to it's heavy theming and creative queue line [at least until Merlin give it the Dragon Falls treatment ]. The ride opened at Pleasurewood in 2014 however used to be at Flamingo Land before though [then known as Wild Mouse] which opened in 1997 before being removed at the end of 2012 to be replaced with Hero which I haven't ridden yet but hear is horrible. It was then time, to enter the mine of Hobs Pit. This ride opened in 2013 ad replaced an attraction that I think used to be some sort of Fairytale type ride [Myk described it was ripping off disney quite a bit]. But Hobs Pit though was a ride that had alot of hype around it when it opened being described as scary attraction [with 12 rating] and an attraction that would not look out of place at Alton Towers & Thorpe Park. But would it live up to expectations? Well, for a park this size I would say Yes. The ride starts where you are greeted by someone wearing mining gear who summons groups of four at a time where you go through a mini scare maze with some effects and the like where you're soon greeted by a mini pre-show like thing before following the rest of the path where you're all batched in to a small ride vehicle where you go through a mine setting with lots of effects and visuals [some of the scenes in there are actually pretty graphic for a theme park ride actually] before leaving the ride vehicle [where apparently you belong to Hob]. Hobs Pit was a great dark ride [especially for a park like Pleasurewood to have] and was my favourite ride at the park during my visit. Aside from throughput, it probably wouldn't look out of place at a Merlin attraction and the experience as a whole reminded me a lot of a cross between The London Dungeons & The My Bloody Valentine Maze at Thorpe Park. Then it was time for the Jolly Rodger drop tower, a ride which opened at the park in 2011 Aside from the lack of theming [and the fact it was broken at the start of the day], I really enjoyed this and am going say a bit of a big statement here but say this was my second favourite drop tower after Detonator [on top of getting some good views of the sea too]. Now it's time for Cannonball Expresss: Ooooppps! I mean Enigma. This ride opened at Pleasurewood in 1995 being relocated from the now defunct Rotunda park in Kent which would by my first [and hopefully not last] Schwartkopf coaster [a manufacturer of coasters who have sadly now become defunct]. The ride broke down the first time we queued for the ride [due to faulty brakes] but reopened later on. Enigma is a fantastic little ride and offers a selection of fun thrilling elements within the ride and was probably my second favourite ride after Hobs pit during the day. The main and only complaint I have about the ride is the throughput. The throughput on this ride is awful, as the ride only uses one train which takes eight people at a time and often receives hefty queues of over 30 minutes at the park as result. Apparently the ride used to have not two, but three trains and some theming too which is a shame as it would be an even better ride if they could ever bring back one of those lost trains back to the ride [wonder where and why they went]. A green and broad view of the park showing the Marble Madness and the park's Log Flume which we didn't try as we couldn't really be bothered [and the water looked a bit green too]. There used to be a golf course where the kid's play area is [why they removed it I don't know]. Time for to take sea again on a classic Pirate Ship. Not my favourite I'm afraid, this one really seemed to clonk and jolt whilst the ship was in motion which for me really detracted the ride experience and as a result goes towards the bottom of the list of Pirate Ship rides I've experienced, even Mr Monkeys is better nostalgia aside [really!]. We also experienced this classic Caroulsel which was actually quite fun and was double decker too! Double Decker! Now here we come across an interesting attraction: Tales Of The Coast, a scenic/dark ride which is positioned near to the entrance of the park yet is not included on the map. This begs the question of is this just a mistake by park management or will is this ride set to be closing down? Who Knows! It was an interesting ride to experience, although felt like one with potential but let down on execution and overall care of the park. The ride begins gently floundering outside with on-board audio and some theming [which doesn't fit in with the ride's theme terribly well. You then enter this dark looking shed [the doors apparently used to open and close but longer do which is a shame]. Here you come across a number of different scenes on the ride before turning a corner and seeing more models before encountering a dog like model and then re-entering the outside wondering what just happened. Zufari says hi Another ride we did at the park [which I didn't picture] was Tide Traveler which was a cross between an enterprise and twister, however despite that didn't lift up which was a shame [although apparently it used to] which left me feeling a little dissapointed really. When it came to around 3:30 we took a trip to the park's gift shop before heading off from the park to experience more Joys in Great Yarmouth. Pleasurewood Hills is a loverly family park with some great rides and little additions, whilst it's not on the level of places like Thorpe Park & Alton Towers [mostly due to having smaller rides, less theming and lack of area audio], it's a great place to visit and if you're after something different from Merlin parks withou going abroad, this might be the place for you! Jadam was wrong, there wasn't a lot of pain here