TR: Rumblefest - Beech Bend Park, Bowling Green, KY (USA)
May 25, 2008
We continue our recently established pattern of pushing the hotel check out time to the limit. Beech Bend is not that big of a park. We pull out of Evansvile around 11:00 am or so, and with a fuel stop arrive in Bowling Green right around 1:20 or so. Thanks to Kentucky for abolishing the tolls on some of its parkways. We then attempt to check into the Econo Lodge on 231 near the park. Our attempt to check in is thwarted when they tell us they have a $10 early check in surcharge. Say what! We don't need access to the room, we just want to get checked in so we don't have to deal with this late at night. We have checked into hotels at other places early all the time with no hassle made of it. This is the kind of petty surcharge that makes me think I don't want to do business with Choice Hotels for awhile.
We opt to not pay the $10 idiot charge, and instead head to Culvers for lunch before heading to the park. The entrance to Beech Bend is more country club than amusement park, with ranch style fences lining the front and sides of the driveway where a single row of trees dots the center divider back to the park. One lane in, and one lane out. We pull into the lot and are lucky to get a spot quite close to the gate. We walk up to the front gate and spot an event registration table located just before the gate. We explain we are not preregistered, and proceed to pay the $30 fee each, and in no time at all we have wristbands (yellow tyvek) on our wrists that will be good for admission and rides, a stick on name tag on our shirts, a dinner ticket with a pocket sized copy of the event schedule stapled to it, and as an added bonus a ticket good for one go-kart ride. Just the POP wristband and the go-kart ride have a $29 value, so its a great deal. Beech Bend is one of the few parks left that still offers both POP and ride ticket packages.
We go through the front gate, take a glance in the gift shop, then pass the checkpoint where they make sure you have a wristband or handstamp. The park is basically one long rectuangular loop with a cut accross path in the middle. You enter at the the cut accross path. Here the waterpark is on the right (and is even included in general admission), and either straight or to the left are the rides. The pay extra go-kart track is right up front, but we pass that by for now. The description of the rides area of this park as an overgrown carnival that never left is quite fair.
We pass by a Sizzler (hey its a different Sizzler than the one they had, and this one looks like it might actually be a park mount), then a Wisdom Tornado, a couple kiddie rides, an Alpine Bobs, Rainbow Rock kids climbing attraction. At the corner is a Zamplerla Power Surge, and I delight in a ride while Rideman watches (he isn't much for the Power Surge). Power Surge is one of those demented rides where you go up and the cars spin around in a circle on a vertical orientation, and the seats are free to do rolls entirely by inertia. I was riding single so was awarded with a flip fest. Next to the Power Surge was a designated smoking area. Wow, a park in Kentucky limiting smoking to just a handful of small gazebos scattered through the park.
We next walk past a portable log flume, and that water looks too artificially blue for our taste. Next is the parks big 2006 expansion project. A GCI wooden coaster called Kentucky Rumbler, but the installation also included an outdoor seating area as well as a building that resembles a Cracker Barrel. Big front porch with rockers, and a gift shop and one of the parks main snack bars inside, large free rest rooms complete the deal of being just like a Cracker Barrel. What's more the exit for Rumbler is routed through this building.
Kentucky Rumber is a walk on, so we walk right on to the front seat. It still has the glass smoothness of a GCI but I don't know I'm not that impressed with it yet, and I thought I recalled the front was where is was at with this ride.
We continue walking around the park and next stop at the Looping Star. We were both relly dreading the Looping Star, and against better judgement we went ahead and rode the Looping Star. It still has its safety sign from the Firecracker. That was the best part of the ride, it is still quite painful. The rides back seat was roped off today, and Rideman commented that all the seats should have been roped off.
We are reminded though, that Beech Bend is going all out for the friendliest most outgoing staff award, maybe even moreso than Holiday World. The operator chats with us and asks if we are staying for the event, we respond we are and she says she will see us later, we respond "Not if you are running this ride tonight"
We next head to the bumper cars, and last time I recall we thought these were pretty good bumper cars. We were not so impressed this time owing to the fact we found some dead spots on the floor that if you hit them, you are out of luck until someone bumps you into a live area. I still like how they have both the regular and junior bumper cars in the same pavilion.
From the bumper cars we take a ride on the Starship 3000 (Gravitron) and then head to the Shock Drop, which is a portable model drop tower. Again friendly ride up, who is chatting as he gets us strapped in "This ride takes 1 minute to go up, and 3 seconds to go down", then he starts the ride "DROP in and see me sometime!", Dave responds "We'll be down in a minute" Watch out for the umbella over the ride operator if you get a cetain corner seat, its a close clearance. Luckily the brakes stop you before you would go crashing through it, so you have time to dodge it.
We walk past the picnic grove and some kids rides. We opt not to wait for the parks Haunted House dark ride as the line was about as long as it was last time, and we know thats a long slow wait. This forms the next corner of the park. We also skipped the antique car ride and headed to the parks all new Scat 2, which replaced an older Scat 2 ride. Scat 2 is a stand up spin ride, where you have two cars which stand about 10 people each, two rows of 5 facing each other. The individual cars spin, and then the main ride boom spins, which also adds some height and angle variation as you spin around. Don't worry its bark is much worse than its bite.
We investigate the air brush shelter and realize it might have been a carousel pavilion at one time. We then walk around more kids rides under a shelter, just like at Stricker's Grove, and a Jumpiing Jumbos. At this corner of the park is a Zamplera Crazy Mouse titled Wild Mouse. We take a ride on the Wild Mouse and we both sit towards the center of the tub thinking that a balanced car will spin better, we wind up getting a totally spinless ride. We also get a ride where just about every trim brake is on hard, and it is taking the turns quite rough. Ugh, what a nasty eperience, but at least it was open, as it had just come up from some downtime.
The exit for the Wild Mouse is right next to the Wisdom Moby Dick. Moby Dick is one of those platform rides where you stay upright the whole time and this is the version where you sit facing outwards. Personally I prefer the version where you are facing the center. We do ride the Moby Dick, and then take a ride on the Tilt a Whirl. Rideman called the Tilt a Whirl puke orange, but I didn't think it looked that bad.
After Tilt a Whirl we fail to complete the lap by going through the video arcade, but instead head back to the center path. Here there is a ferris wheel, rocking tug, and some games, but we head to the miniature golf course. Here, miniature golf is included in the general admission, but you do have to put a $2 deposit down on the club which you get back when you return the club.
The course is strange in that hardly any of it is flat, but odder some of the holes have two holes a red easier hole then the noral hole. It does use three different types of carpet, the nice and smooth light green fairway carpet, the somewhat rougher dark green carpet for the rough, and a deep shag tan carpet for the sand traps. In addition to that it has some buildings that you shoot through or around. Its a very interesting course, and Rideman and I proceed to play a round of mini golf. At the end we return the clubs, get the deposit back and I note the place where you get the deposit back also has a fridge with cold drinks which sell for the same amount of the deposit, clever.
We then play the shooting gallery, hey its only 25 cents for 12 or 15 shots here. By this time its almost 5:30 and our picnic starts at 6. We also still have to redeem these free go kart tickets. We head to the racetrack to find the longest line in the park. Odd, since this ride is $5 and is not included in the parks POP plan. We then realize that it seems like just about everybody who is here for Rumblefest decided to hit the go kart track at the same time, which is futher made worse by the fact they only had four single cars running. Yes, they had some double cars, but they didnt let people ride single in them, which is just as well as the doubles are very slow.
So it gets to be our turn and we go to the pits, the ride uses the miniature NASCARTS, where I note here the roofs of the car flip up to allow you to climb inside. The cars are real low riders where you are reclined at a severe angle and your legs are propped up. I think the foot pedals might be even with the steering wheel and your head is just barely above that. The ride uses a big "V" shaped seatbelt where there is a belt mounted above each shoulder and both belts come together in a buckle in the center that buckles in between your legs. The buckle is far enough out where it won't cause discomfort even if you get a person who grabs the adjustors and gives them a hard yank. That won't be a problem here as they barely even looked at the belts before securing the roofs of the car back in the closed position. The race starts, and the cars were okay nothing spectacular in terms of speed. The ride seemed short, but since everybody was riding on free tickets and they were trying to clear through a long line I could see why.
We take one final ride on the Alpine Bobs on the way back to the picnic grove. We see evidence of an attempt at a electro-magnetic lapbar lock. Their Alpine Bobs goes forwards and back and by the time it ends its time for dinner.
We head to dinner, where we turn in half of the meal ticket and hit the buffet. Third event meal in a row, and all three are different. This one featured pull pork BBQ, BBQ chicken, hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, cole slaw, a sauce it yourself condiment station, soft drinks, ice tea (sweet and regular), lemonade, banana pudding and brownies. It was also the best event meal of the weekend. After dinner Dallas Jones the owner of the park, intorduces his family, thanks us for coming and notes that during ERT they are going to offer free soft drinks, hand dipped ice cream and fudge. Again, he is going all out to put on a great event. Then there were several door prizes, and a Q&A with the GCI crew.
After the Q&A, we get escorted to Kentucky Rumbler by the GCI crew and taken under and around the ride in areas that are usually restricted. Here people can take photos and see the ride from unusual angles while the GCI crew was talking about the different parts of the ride. It was a very enjoyable behind the scenes tour.
After the behind the scenes tour, all 4 coasters open. Most of the coasters will close at 9, and the Rumbler runs through 11:30. We take our first ERT ride on Rumbler towards the back of the train, have a pretty good ride, then go to ride again, but Rumbler has gone down mechanical, and they say it will be about half an hour. We head down the midway, we have no interest in Looping Star, and we get back by Orient Express. We decide why not and take a ride on the Wisdom Orient Express kiddie coaster. The friendly operator gives us 4 or 5 laps around in our ride session. We learn from the other people on the Orient Express that the Wild Mouse is also down mechanical. We recall that the Scat 2 is also open for ERT, so we go take a spin on Scat 2, then get to Wild Mouse right after it reopened. This time we sit on opposite ends wih one of towards the center and one in an outside seat. Well at least this caused our tub to get a lot more spin. After Wild Muse we hear Rumbler has reopened so we head back to Rumbler. For the next hour or so the pattern is ride Rumbler, get a drink or snack, ride Rumbler, snack, Rumbler, snack, Rumbler, snack. Mostly just drinks, but in the course of the evening I do manage to get one dish of ice cream and two or three blocks of fudge. To be fair the fudge was just a bit bigger than a free sample size.
Things get even better we when at 10:55 we board the next to last seat on Rumbler and don't have to get out of the seat until 11:28. I don't know the ride seems better in the back this year, with lots of nice airtime pops on the hills, and a great ride. We get bumped out just before the final ride of the evening, but we can't be upset we just had a half hour session without getting out of the seat.
After ERT we mingle out in front of the ride chatting some more with people until the crew decided to leave, and then we leave via a service gate directly from next to the log flume right out to the parking lot. We get back in our car return to the hotel and get checked in. Of course it is after midnight, so we are checking in through a small window with a guy who is clearly acting like we are more of an annoyance to him. We then get to a room that is hot and stuffy. Even with the doors leading directly to the outside, we left the door open for at least an hour with the AC on to try to get the room aired out and liveable. It was not a very good hotel, but at least the lack of modernization also meant they had good old fashioned shower heads. Ahh, that felt good.
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