Trip Report: Big Chiefs/Extreme World/etc. (8/31)
"This takes Ejector Air to new heights" - or- "Welcome to StairMaster Fitness Park"
We awoke extra early on Saturday morning and after a rather long uneventful drive had gone from Minneapolis to Wisconsin Dells. After only one wrong turn we made our way to Big Chiefs.
YOu have got to love a huge yellow billboard that proclaims "17 Go-Kart Tracks and 4 Rollercoasters" We pulled into the free parking lot, and got settled in. The park is definietely an FEC that happens to have wooden coasters. Mind you the coasters provide a nice skyline as from the parking lot you can see the top of Zeus's lift, some of Cyclops, and over on the other side Pegasus lines the front of the park.
The owners of Big Chief's must be real big into mythology. This started as we went through the entrance gate which was made up of faux roman columns (in ruins even) that would not have looked out of place in the Roman Forum. (Yes, I've seen the Roman Forum firsthand) We entered the park and discovered the Pegasus coaster and a Go Kart track labeled Medusa's Drop on our left, the Zamperla Kiddie Ghetto on the right. (Okay, its not called that, but its full of Zamperla rides, such as a train ride, Jumping Star, and a couple other standards) Sitting in the middle of the kiddie area are several change machines that have been converted into kiddie ride token vending machines. They now longer accept $1 bills, and kiddie ride tokens are priced at 2 for $5.00.
Not interested iin kiddie rides, we proceed further into the park and we see the Medusa's Cafe snack bar, a building that looks like it could be an office, notice the lack of a gift shop, and two ticket vending machines straight ahead.
The two ticket vending machines were offering 4 tickets for 1 $20 bill. The tickets could be used for either a Go-Kart ride or a Wooden Coaster Ride. For those keeping score thats $5 a ride. Just past the ticket vending machines is the tiket office. Upon nearing the ticket office once is greeted by nice welcoming signs such as "Attention! NO INSURANCE Ride at your own risk!", "Horseplay and intentional bumping on the Go-Kart tracks will result in loss of driving privileges without refund. If you lose your driving privileges don't come to us for sympathy, we have heard all the excuses" To be sure, other than the Roman Columns entry marquee, this is not a park thats going to win any awards for landscaping or beauty, the whole entry ticketing plaza is sparse with no shade and no real decoration of any kind.
We approached the not-so-inviting ticket kiosk to explore our options. The kiosk was also offering the 4/$20 special, as well as individual tickets for $6.00. They were also offering the Unlimited Special for $34.00 Up until recently the unlimited special was a time sensitive offer, and you only had a half day, thankfully that has been eliminated, and you can see where it was blacked out on the signs and a handwritten "10am-8PM" written by it. Major theme park price without all the attendant charm and atmpsphere.
I shelled out the $34.00, received some lovely pink Tyvek jewlery, and started the Ticket-O-Meter. This time the Ticket-O-Meter starts at '0' and counts up how many attraction coupons I would have used.
Cyclops sits right next to the ticket kiosk, so we headed there first. Cylops also has a nice observation area along a low stretch of track where the train comes past at high speed. If you look just to the right you will see a drop that will make you say "They CAN'T be serious, no way they are going to put people through that" This overly steep drop which ends in a severaly sharp turn looks bad enough, wait till you see the train attack it at high speed and the riders in the back seats appear to stand up at attention with "OMG Somebody Save Me From Sure Death!" looks on their faces. That sounds like an endorsement to me! We head to a stairway with a picture of a Cyclops holding a sign that says "Entrance" well the Cyclops needs to move about 20' to the left, as the base of that stairway bears a sign that says "EXIT", however if you look just up the hill you see a path labeled "Entrance" we hiked up the short but steep hill where we note the line was directed through the shorter of the two paths. Line, what line it was a total walk on. The longer line however dodges the short light of entrance stairs, leading one to beleive its an ADA entrance, but as you will see later in this report, that hardly seems to be on the parks mind. At the end of the trail, we climb a short flight of stairs, corss over a short bridge an into the station. Here you have to walk along the side of the station to get to the turnstile in the front. What they did here was totally inexplicable. There is a short and sudden ramp down just as you make the turn into the station, then right before youpass through the turnstile you go up another short sudden ramp. The only thing I can think these 'fun house' ramps do is to slow down running guests. I know I almost bit it my first ride.
The park has recently gone from tokens to tickets, and they originally used token-eating turnstiles, and on some you can still see the token slot while on others pieces of scrap metal have been afixed voer the slot. Right before you go through the turnstile is a "So-High" sign, you know "You must be so high....." with very little of the typical safety language on it except for the height requirement, that everybody needs either a ticket of pass to ride, and "You must be over 18 to ride in last kart - WI State Law" (Their choice of words)
Ohh, further endorsement, and that seat is empty. We pass through the turnstile, and head for that magic back seat. Heading back to the seat we noted the roped off queue lanes where the infamous 6th car used to be. The train got shortened to 5 and with the small corwds and the effect of The Drop, thats just as well.
We take our seats, fasten the shared seatbelt, lower the traditional style lapbar and prepare for a ride. Soon we take off, out of the station, turn right, up the lift, and instead of a graceful crest over the lift, this coaster lets you know whose boss right away by yankoing you over the lift causes airtime moment one, then a left turn as you drop, then over a nice spped hill that provides airtime, into the turnsround, a couple other speed bumps, then you rise up and prepare for "The Drop" Right before you get to see the drop you see where a trim brake has been ripped off the track in a rare case of trim-brake-removal. You then go over "The Drop" and you are up out of your seat, almost to your feet, starting to think about your immediate future, then right before things turn tragic the drop bottoms out and the seat catches you. WOW! That is THE DROP! That is the airtime filled drop sent to us coaster nuts from heaven. You then do the observation are fly by int he trench before coming back up to circle the station and then into the brakes. How could it possibly get any better? How about coasting right through the station for another ride? At Big Chief's they do at least have some conscience and give you two trips around on those $6 coaster rides. Another ride full of violent air, another chance to feel near ejected, WOW!.
Sitting in back of Cyclops is Zeus. Zeus is a much taller coaster, in fact Cyclops first drop barrels through the lift hill structure for Zeus. We head along up the hill for Zeus. Zues sits up on a steep hill, and if that weren't bad enough you get to the top of the hill and realize the station sits WAY UP THERE, with three very steep very straight very obnoxious flights of stairs. We climb the stairs, pass through the turnstile and head for the back seat. This time we sit in a train that has been equipped with individual seatbelts and ratcheting lapbars. You coast out of the station and do an immediate dive and twisty turnaround drop. (Coulnd't we have put thee station at the bottom of this drop?) From this turnnaround you go up the lift hill, look out over the parking lot, before turning and beginging the out and back layout. Several hills with nice floater airtime follow, then a lateral filled turnarond, then the reutrn leg with first floater air, then an ejector air drop, then more floater air before rounding the corner to the brake run. After the brakes there is one more surprise dip into the station. Of course you get to do it again! Yeah!
After your ride finished you must walk back around, whihc includes going down those three flights of stairs, and walking clean back down the steep hill. My sources tell me there used to be a shortcut that the park has sealed off for the hateful purpose of wearing you out faster so you won't get too many rides.
After Zeus, we took in a Go-Kart ride by racing Karts Under Water on Poseidon. Plus the track just looked neat. It was a real long intricate layout. You first left the pit, did a 180 turn, then down a ramp and through a bridge under a lake. Ooooh, this was supposed to be the big race under water, a tunnel like every other serpentine go-kart track. you then go back up a hill and curve around to the lefton a steady assent back up to the gate leading back to the pit and to the rest of the track, you then cross over the lake, on a suspension bridge with two awesome airtime giving humps. Recall that the karts here do NOT have seatbelts of any kin. You meander out to the end of the track where a huge spiral structure takes you up to the top, accross a bridge then back down a figuure eight shaped downhill ramp whith the bottom layer turning into another spiral that shoots you back towards the tunnel. Its a long intircate track that looks a lot more fun to drive than it really is. Never mind the fact that the longer the course, the fewer the laps you actually get. I think on a typical Big chief's monster track you get 2 laps, 3 if you are very lucky.
We wait in line, you see this is a Go-Kart park where the coasters are there for ballyhoo or scenery. I note the twin loading station that allows them to load a set of cars while the other set is racing. I climb into my Kart, notice the lack of seatbelt, and wonder "Why must all go-karts be BLACK here, except for the kiddie tracks" The race starts and I realize just how awful these karts are. Underpowered engines (and being overweight didn't help), questionable sterring ability, and the tendnacy to fishtail even while holding the wheel in one spot. I also noticed quite a lot of accidents on Big Chief's Courses and wondered the Chicken-and-theEgg scenario of "Are the cars performing badly because of the number of collisions", OR ""Are there so many collisions because the cars handle so bad" Near the end of the race I was coming out of the tunnel and heading around the courner to the pit. There was obvisouly already an incident at the final curve as there were two cars stopped one along the left ahnd wall and one right next to the left hand wall, clearly leaving no gap for my car as others were racing to my right. Not only did this allow Jerry to pass me, but since I had nowhere to go, I stopped my Go-Kart and was rewarded not too long afterwards with a strong crash from the rear that caused my car to wind up facing sideways. While Jerry still ribs me about that incident, I hold firm to my case that I did not cause that accident, and I was not cited by the Big Chief's traffic cops, unlike about 3 others who caught the attention of the Big Chief traffic cop who called for backup on a motorbike who came to revoke driving privileges. Again, I was not cited, it was not my fault.
From Posideon we returned to Zues, yes another massive stairclimb, then another airtime laden ride. We also learned that seat 9 of the train has a real short seatbelt on the unload side, so short it could not accomodate me by any stretch of the imagination.
We then went for a spin on Cylops, and WOW the ride is already warming up, those speedhills before the Drop are starting to provide nice airtime of their own.
By this time, the fact that we drove 3.5 hours without a break caught up with me and a hurried trip was made to the restroom. (For furutre guests, go to the Medusa snackbar and look at those two big white storage shed looking buidling set back behind the nsackbar, those are the restrooms. While I would rate them higher than Valleyfair's restrooms, don't expect any fancy ammenties like soap.
We exited the restroom building in time to start heading for Pegasus when we saw Jack And Jill climbing up the stairs with a bucket of water. Not a good sign, and on the junior coaster??!!??
Speaking of water the heat and the lack of shade in the place it was time to head to the car to get a bottle of water. It's better than the $10.00 soft drinks. (Yes Big Chief's does offer a TEN DOLLAR soft drink, it is a 96oz. drink if that makes the price seem any more pallatable) (Smaller sizes available, for porporionately rediculous prices) Funny I thought that with a free gate they would be inclined to offer more reasonable concession prices. Even the vending machines were offering 12 oz. cans for $1.50. We headed to car enjoyed some refreshments, then re-entered the park.
We headed to Pegasus which was now running to complete the CCI trip. Pegasus. oh Pegasus, well it looks pretty. We entered through a meandering entracne that looks like it used to belong to a station for a Kart track that predated Pegasus, more proof of this can be had when you see parts of the former kart tracks path that were hacked apart to make way for the coaster. Its funny seeing a ramp just end abruptly. We climbed the stairs up to the station (Can't ahve stations anywhere near ground level), and I moted that "Kiddieland Tokens are NOT accepted on Pegasus" When Pegasus opened it was rumored to run the evil train that was originally built for the screechin eagle with unpadded ratcheting lapbars that did not work out well for Americana. Obviosuly this train did not work out well for Big Chief's either becuase a 4 car 2-bench full size PTC train is now sitting in the station. Yet the park didn't redo thhe queue gates which were set up for 3-3 bench cars except rope on of them off. I like how Pegasus looks to have an old fashioned brake lever, it actually controls the lapbars, but its still neat for asthetic reasons. We take our seats and jerry insists on a seperate seat. Orange ratcheting lapbars come down, individual seatbelts. We then do a short dip out of the station, climb the lift, take a drop, come back up and just soort of meander to a point and come back home. This coaster MUSt have been the inspiration for Twisted Whatevers as it provides almost no airtime but it does offer lots of laterals. But ther aren't fun laterals they are hery jerky and all to one side. I tfeels to be more a case of crappy transitions and curves than to be planned laterals. This cosdster is the dud of the three CCI's here. Pegasus does win points with me for the use of patriotic theming. You see t one point along the coasters course (not atop the lift, biut along the course it is that relatively flat) they have displayed a number of international flags. We endure a second trip of lateral jerking. It would not have been so bad expect my host did not tell me I would want to ride in the LEFT seat. That seat divider gets painful from constant rythmic abuse.
We then take a tour of the complex. On the inside of the grand marquee as you leave the park they do admit that not at 17 Go-Kart tracks are there, and they give directions to their other site where 8 of the 17 tracks reside. We take a tour throught he hodge-podge a of go-kart tracks that are just sitting enxt to each other with no sense of aesthetic or layout or beauty.
Along this hidgepodge, seperated from the Kiddieland for some reason sits a Miler kiddie oval names Little Titans. I had heard conflicting reports on wether the woodie wristband would be accepted or not. I did not they had a token vendor located at the base ont he entrance ramp.
I decided to try it, and I hope Althoff took a look at it, as it is yet another expample of a kiddie oval that travels clockwise. (Recall in my SRM report, it was Althoff who proudly proclaimed: This ride is unique in that kiddie ovals usually travel counter clockwise) I was admitted to the ride with my wristband and took the back seat. I recieved 4 laps and found the layout to be a mirror immage of the Boa Squeeze back at home. This is the Miler with the helix in it. That helix provides decent lateral forces, BTW.
Ticketometer: 6 + $2.50
We took a walk all the way down to waht used to be Crazy King Ludwig's castle and the batting cages, so I could get a full understanding for how cheesey and tourist trapy this place is.
We then took another ride on all three wooden coasters, this time in front seats. Cyclops and Zues continue to warm up. I like Zeus in the front, Cyclops in the back. Pegasus just isn't any fun anywhere. I also noted that sometimes the lapbar check consists of them looking at the bars from a distance, not a physical check. Check your own, boys and girls.
Ticketometer: 9 + $2.50
It should be noted that in this trip past the woodies we hit the break even point on our wristbands.
At this time we returned to car for another drink break, and to fetch camera equipment. I then proceeded to videotape the park, however we didn't really feel like daring to hold onto our cameras on either major wood coaster, so we went right back to the car to stow camera. We discovered that Jerry had parked right next to an unmarked path that happens to be a back entrance to the park, located right next to the station for the Trojan Horse go-kart track.
For Pride, if not anything else, we rode the Trojan Horse go-kart track, as Jerry declared that would be the one I would have to ride to save face. Its a funny course as the station is parkside, and the horse sits out in the front lawn by the highway as ballyhoo on the other side of the parking lot. Luckily you get to drive your kart out to it . Yep, a long two-way tunnel that travels under the parking lot takes you out to the horse, luckily the tunnel is divided for the two directions. The horse looks interesting except that you leave the station, travel out to the tunnel ( a coulle curves) travel through the tunnel, spiral up to the top of the horse, drive through a tunnel in the horses head, then spiral right back down, then back through the tunnel, then out for a seocnd lap. While neither of us were involved in a collision there was a spell where I counted 4 in a 30 second period.
Ticketometer: 10 + $2.50
We then took a ride on Cyclops, and wow is it ever heating up, WOW.
Ticketometer: 11 + $2.50
By the way, the folks at Big Chief;s do not beleive inr ide fencing, there are parts of Cyclops you could walk up to and climb on if common sense didn't tell you not to. why there is a paved path almost all the eway up to the base of the lift hill.
We then took a Zeus marathon of three rides, yes walking around each time, man those stairs suck big time. A wonderful graceful airtime laden out-and-back.
Ticketometer: 14 + $2.50
For a finale we finished up with two spins on Cyclops, both in the INSANE seat in the "Over 18" car. My definition of ejector air has forever been changed.
Ticketometer: 16 + $2.50
(Or $82.50 with value books, or $98.50 if purchases with single tickets), not a bad deal for $34, if you look at it that way.
By this time the overwhelming desire for food took over so we left and went to antoher fine meal at Culver's.
After Culver's we went to Extreme World. Extreme World is located across the street and seems to serve as a Challenge Park for the Dells' Its lineup includes: Go-Karts, Climbing Wall, Skycoaster, Ejection Seat, Bungee Jump, and SCAD tower. We watched some more fools SCAD and bungee, then we went by the Skycoaster. I had noever experienced the older style manual laoding system on a skycoaster and all, so I decided to try it, and found that I much prefer it to the automated lift system. Watch out for that pile of rocks they have palced at a key spot underneath the a-frame. Hey, me second SOLO flight, the way Skycoaster should be done. Yes Jerry went also but Extreme World gives no price break for flying double, and there was not a line, so why not get the full experience. $21.95 for a solo flight is not bad, I think.
From there we decided NOT to stop at Riverside, comeon a Galaxi after 3 CCI's that would be a crime. We did stop at Timber Falls for their Skyscraper and turned around when they were running a program only slightly better than the one at the state fair.
A comic moments on the way home: Jerry did NOT want to purchase gas in the Dells becuase "It's a Tourist Trap" Dells gas prices were about 1.499 for unleaded. The town we stopped off at on the way home had gas averaging $1.569 per gallon, but you got a free American Flag for your car. Can I just pay the normal price for gas and forgo the premium offer?
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