BGE 4/14 TR and KD 4/15
Hey guys. Here's the report from this past weekend. I was invited to participate in a Travel Channel film shoot at BGE on Saturday. Perks: free parking, free admission, continental breakfast, and somewhat ERT on Apollo. The downside; 5:30 AM call time!! I tried to go to bed early (I am a notorious night owl, so going bed before midnight is a chore for me.) Needless to say, I got 3 hrs sleep before making the 2:00 AM drive down to W'burg.
We entered the park right around 6:00 and walked back to the ride. The true nature of the shoot wasn't really disclosed to us in any messages, so I found out that we were to be a part of Danny and Janis Biggerstaff's renewing their wedding vows after being married on Apollo 10 years ago. How exciting, since I missed the wedding the 1st time. Danny was a regular rider on Alpengeist when I was working there, so we have known each other through the ride, really got closer through Facebook and meeting at KD to ride I-305.
Long morning of standing around while they set shots (let me assure you "reality" TV fans, nothing is shot haphazardly.) Everything is painstakingly framed, shot and reshot. We did finally get on the ride, where I actually got 6 rides before GP started rolling in. It was ridiculous that Busch actually made everyone walk around every 2 rides, including the ladies in their high heels because they enforced their "no more than 2 consecutive ride" rule. It was quite laughable, but everyone took it in stride.
GP rolled in at 9:00 AM instead of the usual 10:00. The film crew conducted some more interviews outside the ride. Five things I made my mind up about before the park opened; 1. I was in the wrong area of the park to make any run to follow my usual plan of going to Griffon, then Alpengeist, then DarKastle and back to Apollo, so would not try. 2. I was going to meet a former colleague of mine who left Prince George's County because the pay freeze was really getting to him and his family. He was down with his new high school band. 3. I was coming back later this year when Verbolten opened, so anything I missed could be made up then. 4. I was there on the park's dime, so it didn't really matter what I rode. 5. It was going to be EXTREMELY crowded.
Things started off nicely. I could have done an Apollo marathon because the line was a 1-2 train wait for the next hour and a half. (I just hung out keeping Danny and Janis company while they waited for their interview instead.) My friend called around 11:00 to let me know he was at the park. That is when the line exploded. By the time he got there, they shut the ride down to add the 3rd train as it was already 1/2 way through the queue rail house. We hung out awhile before getting in line once the ride went back up. With the crew cranking out 3 trains very efficiently, we were on the ride in less than 30 minutes.
Apollo was running very well for early in the morning. The 3rd hill brake was on pretty hard despite being pretty cold (around 50*) until the sun really came up at noon. It sounded like Busch had added some nylon wheels to some cars, similar to how Nitro uses a mix of nylon and polyurethane wheels. You could hear it as it went down the 1st drop (Apollo used to be practically silent. There is now a faint roar.) The block brake barely kissed the train and the trim before the dive under the lift was completely open. Airtime was abundant on every hill except the turning ones (which is better than the usual odd-numbered-only airtime.) Of course, the back was where it was at. I did get a ride in row 3 during taping and it was better than usual, but still, the back is still the best seat in the house.
After Apollo, we decided to take the train over to France. The awards ceremony for the bands was at 1:00 for my friend (it was one of 3 different competitions going on that day). I was great with that as it gave me a chance to take my tribute to what would be Drachen Fire's 20th anniversary. The area looks pretty much the same as it always did since they dug the ride up in 2001. They did leave some of the dirt that they dug up to put in Verbolten's "Black Forest" to build a natural barrier to the ride, so you can't see much of the new kid on the block from the train. I only caught a small glimpse of the Show building through what used to be Drachen Fire's cutback from the train. Drachen Fire's station, maintenance shed, and gift shop still remain untouched now that Verbolten is physically complete, so there is a lot more room back there than I thought from looking at pictures. (Phil, don't get your hopes up. I still don't expect to see any more rides back there.)
We got to France and I dropped them off at the awards ceremony in the Royal Palace while I went back to my car to peel off my morning layers of non-logo t-shirts as temps were now in the high 70's. By the time I got back, the awards were done and we moved on.
I forget the exact order of events now, but we rode Loch Ness, Pompeii, and Alpengeist. I had to ride Griffon and Mach Tower alone since they had an aversion to "drop rides". (Remember, no arguing today :) Loch Ness was running as well as it has ever run. Pompeii was great until the "pay-sprayers" at the end. We got nailed by the last one despite not getting a drop on us from the rest of the ride. Alpengeist was running VERY well. The 1st half was amazingly snappy (to the detriment of anyone who sat on the right "rough" side of the train. Even the ride op who rode with me at the end of the night did not know the ride was rougher over there.) I've lost 10 pounds this year, so I had relatively little trouble with the shortened seatbelts. One train was shorter than the other 2, but because Busch moved the train numbers to unload side on the outside of the seating area, I never remembered to turn around to see what train I was on after disembarking. I do know the 1st train I rode (train 3) was very roomy as I was able to buckle that belt on my own. The other 2 required a slight push from the ride op. The block brake was on hard, even at the end of the night when it was only myself and the front row (it is supposed to loosen up when there are less than 8 people on the train, but I guess the heat of the day had everything running faster.)
I did finally ride Mach Tower and I was less than impressed. 1st, the ride ops decided it was "American Idol" night, so they would sing while the tower made its climb. They weren't bad, but I am not a fan of a-Capella singing and they may have hit the notes, but had no decent tone quality what-so-ever. I was nice and played along with the guys since I boarded in the green section right next to the control panel where they were singing. I said something nice in a Simon-esque voice (when I should have blasted them, but I was playing nice today, remember?) I should not have encouraged them because the next person will probably sound like a cat screeching and that is not something that you want being belted out on the tallest ride in the park. (many people got called down for accidentally getting on the "All call" mike on Alpengeist instead of one of the more localized ones. You could literally sound like the voice of God on an early morning on that one as it thundered around the entire park :)
Back to Mach Tower, I thought it was supposed to do something different, like shake or something at the top. If it did, I didn't feel it. The drop was a joke as it felt like SFA's Tower of Doom with a 2 second jolt then you are in the brakes. KD really got Busch on this one as Mach Tower is just a joke compared to Drop Zone. The view would have been nice, accept I rode after 9:00 PM, so it was too dark to see anything.
Griffon was running very well, but the line limited me to only one ride on the loading side of row 3. Jen, your "fling" wants to know when you will be back. He said "2 drops are better than one, baby!" ;)
I figure after the stir I made in my KD report, I should mention Quick Queue at Busch. Usually, Row 2 was roped off on the Beemers (Loch Ness, I think went up the exit). Lines were long, so I am sure Quick Queue was being used by some, but since most of the groups were high school music kids and their chaperones, I did not notice much use at all. Unfortunately, Busch does not fill the seats when they are not used. Not the best system, but it is 100% fair and with 3 trains, Busch can afford the one row. Despite the long lines, none were over 30 minutes, even Loch Ness and Griffon with full queues.
Other notes, Verbolten looks amazing. Other than lacking the lifts and the suspending swinging, it has every element that Wolf had (the meandering path from the station to the launch is even the same course, but with some large dips and tighter curves.) The show building is way bigger in person than it appears in pictures. I think it will be even more impressive than BBW's village run. We have all seen the pictures of the final drop. There is a nice little speed bump on the way back to the station, so if there is enough speed coming up, there could be a nice little pop of air before hitting the final brakes.
I am back on the ride video for Alpengeist :) They took it down last year to advertise Quick Queue, but now they have found a way to integrate the two. Look for the "skinny" black guy with the huge glasses, lol.
Sunday, I stopped by KD on the way back. I woke up late and traffic was pretty bad up I-64 and I-95, so I did not get to the park until 6:00 PM. The park was pretty dead, so I was able to ride Dominator 3 times, Shockwave, Drop Zone, Windseeker and Avalanche once, I-305 and FoF twice before closing. The only wait was 20 mins Shockwave because they had a "supervisor" apparently training someone and she felt the need to put on a good show for him by pedaling every single seat (found it funny when she pulled the Cedar Point "stand-up straight" on me and my seat did not move because I had it perfectly adjusted.)
Windseeker was enjoyable with no wait, but I would have rather taken the time for a Grizzly ride.
This was my 1st ride of the year on Avalanche and it was running great. No block brake, no safety brake until the final turn before the station. New paint, so the tire marks that are usually in the trough have not set in yet.
FOF was closed when I initially went by, so I went to I-305 instead. When I came back, the ride had reopened. I walked on the back row. Didn't want to chance them telling me I couldn't reride through the gate, so I took the walk around to make sure I got to the entrance before they closed it. (turned out, they did have the reride gate open, but I still made it around before they launched the train.) They tried to talk me out of riding in the back row (which I had just got out of) and didn't believe me when I told them that my size 15 feet wouldn't fit in the front of the train because of the metal plates in the bottom there (silly ride ops have no clue about their ride!). I offered to prove it to them, but they went ahead and let me ride back there. I have a hunch I know why the ride was closed, but I'd rather not go into it after the fact. I didn't want to get stuck with a short seat belt and have to try to explain the whole "different sized seatbelts" thing to those knuckleheads.
Fast Lane was not an issue. There was no wait for any rides except maybe something inside the mountain on Volcano. I did not see a single person queue up for it or any wrist bands. Some one did get put in the back seat of Shockwave, but since that is not a Fast Lane eligible ride, they must have been disabled entry (interesting choice of ride for someone to use the special entrance for, but they both walked in and out under their own power with no apparent disability.) And no announcement was made to me. Nice job "informing the guest of the situation", Ms."supervisor"!
Had a great weekend at both parks and I look forward to hanging out with our friendly neighborhood beastmaster this weekend :)
Thanks for reading,
Heh, oh well, I guess that pretty much ends my hope for another coaster to be built in that area. A still feel it is a missed opportunity, but if that's what the park wants....
They have pay sprays now? Damn, I hate those things. In my last trip to IOA few years back, I made it without getting soaked on the Dudley Doo right ripsaw falls ride only to get soaked by those things. If only there were water guns on the boat to spray the person back....:evil grin:
I see they still have row 2 of AC chained off. I do agree that those with the pass should take assigned rows, but since I hardly see as many of those riders, it does seem like a waste that people can't fill that row especially if the lines are really long.
* This post was modified at 4/17/12 2:16:15 AM *