Trip Report: Holiwood Nights at Holiday World
Santa Claus, IN
June 4 and 5, 2010
"A most interesting HoliWood Nights"
It's been called the Coaster Enthusiasts Spring Reunion, and so on June 4 it's time to travel, once again, to Santa Claus, IN for HoliWood Nights at Holiday World. This time it would be interesting as Cedar Point decided to hold Coastermania on the same weekend. Although it seemed like most people were claiming to be going to the Cedar Point event, more than a few of them actually showed up at Holiday World.
The event package includes ERT with the associated pizza party on Friday, then a full slate of events on Saturday, We liken it to the Hersheypark night before preview offer. As such, we have tried to work out the timing so as not to get to Holiday World too early or too late, and yet make it through Cincinnati and Louisville without getting stuck in traffic.
So Dave picks me up around 4om, which meanswe have smooth sailing out of Cincinnati, and get down to right around Louisville when the traffic guys tell us there is like a half hour delay. We outthink ourselves with mapping software and the like and take one of those shortcuts that turns into a longcut. We saw the University of Lousiville, we got lost in the University, we passed Churchill Downs, we drove through some neighborhoods. Eventually we wind up on I-264 just west of the I-64 bridge. So we get into Indiana,and after a brief pit stop were just as relieved to discover the road work on I-64 is apparently done, so it was again smooth sailing on in to the park.
As we neared the park and got to the traffic light, we noted the signs directing all Holiday World traffic to go straight ahead down the new road to the Legend lot. We ignored that sign, and turned right. We approached the turn into the park, again all the signage is telling us to turn left, so we turn right. We enter the Raven lot they seem to be going out of their way to direct us away from. I still think ventually park expansion will claim the Raven lot. So we go through the drill, find a parking space,do a salmon imitation trying to get to group sales while everybody else is trying to get back to their cars.
We get up to the windows, and I didn't think we were that late, but they had already switched two lanes for those buying tickets and only one lane for checking in. This worked well for me since, due to family issues I don't wish to get into here, I needed to register. Simple affair, I handed them a C-Note and my Club TPR card, they handed me a registration form. While filled out the form, they printed off a strip of tickets and made a nametag for me. I was then presented with the sheet of value coupons, an event itinerary, a nametag, the ticket sheets and a surprise. They made sure to point out to me the changes to the itinerary, which were adding some more rides to the evening ERT's and adding a Wildebeast photo walkback during the morning ERT, and adding 15 minutes to the morning ERT. The most welcome surprise was that I was handed a free ticket to come back later in the season to enjoy the Timberliners. I'd say that, yes, the park went over and above the call of duty to make up for the fact the new Timberliner trains for the Voyage weren't ready yet.
Unfortunately they were out of t-shirts, not that I lack for Holiday World shirts. So, we make the usual run back to the car to drop off all the stuff we don't need tonight, then another salmon run (and here I always thought that was one of the parks kiddie rides) back to the main gate. We entered the park and more or less were funneled to the picnic grove. We got to the picnic grove just in time to catch the end ofWIll's talk about the Timberliners, specifically the Q&A. Suffice to say there are still some adjustments to be made before the Timberliners are ready.
We were then dismissed into the park,and Dave and I headed to Kringles Cafe for the pizza party. I admit I didn't see the loaded baked potato pizza I heard other crave about, and in fact on my first pass through didn't even see the sausage pizza. But we quickly found David Cornell so we had an All Dave table at Kringles. Pizza, chips, veggies, and pops flowed as we had dinner. We all joked about the heartburn inducing qualities of their pizza. I have, for the last several years, eaten at an Indian buffet for lunch the day of the event and claimed that it was all the curry coating my stomach lining that made me immune to this heartburn. This year, no Indian buffet, so the theory is about to be tested. Of course, no stop to Kringles would be complete without redeeming our tickets for a free block of fudge. I tried the mini chocolate this year.
After that, it was back into the park to ride some rides. The way towards 4th of July was blocked, so it was towards Raven for us. We noted they blocked off the path that runs from Raven directly down by Hallowsings, I guess to get more traffic past Legend, So we started the event off with a quick and peppy ride on Raven. One of the benefits of Raven not having the second train is a faster trip up the lift. I wonder how much capacity they really lost. Anyway, it was a nice peppy back car Raven ride to get the party started. I was also glad when I could pull about a foot of belt through the adjustor. Living right is showing benefits at yet another park.
After Raven, it was down past a Pepsi Oasis, and then down to Legend. Legend was getting the amount of love it usualy gets during ERT, which is to say minimal. We sat in seat 3 and managed to get a double ride on it. I keep saying Legend is back and better than ever, and it gets better every year. I can't see why it isn't getting more love. They also seem to reserve the Don't Look Back and wolf's howl just for events now.
But enough with the appetizers, next it was down to Thanksgiving. Our immediate dash to Voyage was halted when we came across a Timberliner car sitting right in front of the ride entrance. This was an "open house" with Will, the Gravity Group guys and more. They were more than willing to talk about the ride, the train, give under the hood tours of the train, let you test out the train, get photos, etc. The lapbar controls were a simple power strip on/off switch. They seemed to like to play with this at times. I had gotten to try the train out at Gravity Groups headquarters in January and had some lingering concerns, these concerns were soon dashed when I sat in this train car, pulled down the much heftier side mounted lapbar. Ah, yes, I can where I now get that complete ring of enclosure. The lapbar is longer, its heftier,it has a huge grab handle, but the unsung hero is a little flat extension that comes down at the end of the bar and helps ensure that complete circle of restraint.
We spent quite some time with the Timberliner car until I just needed a Voyage fix. I got in line, and it was a walk on unless you wanted prime seats. I waited a bit longer to ride in the back seat. The two trains are both missing a back car, but a trash can blocks the old back seat line, and a new wooden fence forms a temporary new back seat line. My first ride would end up being in the red Raven train, nicknamed the Ravage train. I quickly pair with another single rider and is off on the course. The airtime on the outbound leg was there, maybe not in the quanitity I recall but it was there, the secod tunnel had a serious odor problem, the turnaround was just as fierce, and the return leg, complete with odor in the triple down tunnel was just as vicious as alawys. Hence, the ride retains its "Greatest Woodie Ever Built" title.
I liked it so much, I rode again in a middle of the train seat, and got the red train again. After this ride, I could finally pull Dave away from the Timberliner andwetook a middle of the train ride. Red train again. On our way out, I noted the unusual interest in the test seat outside the ride. (Referring of course to the Timberliner) Dave remarked that test seats ususally do generate a lot of interest, but usually from persons too small to ride in them.
We go for a ride in the back of Voyage, and in fact take a couple more rides after that. Each ride is in the red train, through no manipulation on our end. We remarked how improbable that was. Eventually we exit, and the entrance door is closed, meaning day 1 is over. We chat near the Timberliner some more, which means by this time we are about the last people out of the park, and have to make the long arduous uphill trek to the parking lot. We then make the drive to Tell City to the Days Inn whose best feature is the low low price.
Saturday morning comes, and Dave isn't feeling that well. We sleep a little longer and eventually arrive at the park around 10:00. By this time we are pretty much funneled onto the new road and into Legend lot. The park has trams and parking attendants guiding you to a space, not that the parking attendants were doing a particularly good job of it. I have to wonder why parking attendants like to get right in front of the car they are directing, I noticed this same behavior at Cedar Point, they are standing right in front of you waving you forward. At any rate, we park for free, take a free tram, and are soon headed into the park. Rideman gets detained briefly when the ticket taker asked to see his nametag to use a HoliWoodNights ticket, which he had left in the car. "Be sure to stop at Guest Relations for a new one" We head right for Splashin Safari and get our hopes up that maybe they have opened the water park early as we are permitted past the checkpoint. Apparently they allow people down into the locker and changing areas right when the park opens, but don't let them back to the water activities until 10:30. Finally the rules about not being able to return to your locker or leave the morning ERT make much more sense when I see this.
The one thing not on this side of the ropes is a Pepsi Oasis. We head back to Legend to get a drink, and while there take a ride on Legend. It would be the longest we would wait for a coaster the entire trip. Legend had two of the lower switchbacks and the upper switchback open. They need to do something with the entrance as this makes the second visit I have seen people get lost in the queue maze going down paths they didn't need to use. Then after waiting nearly a half hour we get to the station and they are begging for front of the train riders as poor station design makes it hard for people to get towards the front of the train. We take our Legend ride and hurry back down to the water park. We high tail it at high speed all the way back to Bahari and find a spot to hide our stuff. Then wepass avid Cornell on the way to Wildebeast who comments we just missed some downtime, and to be sure to use single rider line.
Single Rider line for our first trip takes about 30 minutes, and I comment "Enjoy your one and only ride" Those in the regular queue report waiting much longer. When we get up to the conveyor belt I note Paula and Will hanging out by the ride getting people opinions and the like. This is a single rider line that works the way it should really work. It goes around the side of the queue area and comes in to the loading area at the back, whereas the regular riders enter from the front. They stage the riders on the red circles, then once a boat loads, they step forwards to the yellow cirlces, any unfilled spots are filled out of single rider line. Then you step forward to the green circles, and then into the slow moving raft. Four persons toboggan style, with backs between each rider. I comment that this is what the Mountain Slidewinder would be like if it were built today. You glide forwards out of the station on a conveyor belt, and out onto s spacer and stop. When the spacer is satisfied there is enough distance between you and the raft ahead it starts and moves you onto the main lift belt. You go up a rather slow belt up to the top of the ride. At the top of the ride, in true log flume style is the attendant responsible for keeping the rafts sperated. This person can stop the lift belt if the raft ahead hasn't made sufficient progress. So you go under a waterfall and into a tube. The slide starts off like any other except that it proceeds to take a series of steep drops, followed by equally steep rises, what's more, some of the rises are way higher than the drops, in a clear nose-thumbing to the laws of physics. What's more you go up the hills faster than you go down the drops. I could mention the science behind it all, but I like Will's answer better - it's Magic! Whats more the slide goes through underground tunnels, there is netting above you to ensure a raft won't fly off the trough ala Roller Coaster Tycoon, but all in all it's a very amazing waterslide. At the end of the ride you come up onto a conveyor belt that slows down after your raft lands on it and eventually comes to a stop for you to unload, the raft then goes around a corner back to load. Due to the way the station is built, there can be no rerides. Does the slide have airtime, oh yes, in abundance. In fact the lighter the group you can get in the raft, the stronger the air is.
After exiting the ride,I note hardly anybody in single rider line, so we duck in there for a quick re ride. I got a lighter load than the first one and got seated more towards the front of the boat, Dave mentioned he thought he was the lightest person in his boat and commented the ride wasn't as good for him.
After this, Dave decided to check out the Bahari wave pool, and I decided to check out Bakuli, the one slide here I haven't ridden. Bakuli's line was only down to just before the split, which meant it was a lot shorter than last year when I looked at it. Waterparks, they just haven't figured out how to beat that whole low capacity problem inherent in water slides. Bakuli is a gimmick ride to be sure, but with three hefty guys in my raft, and owing to luck I got the fun of going down the big steep first drop backwards. Than you swirl around the signature bowl. I don't think the bowl swirling is as random as you may think, with sensors and water jets there to influence your rafts behavior. I think its two times around and then down the poop chute in the center whih leads to the splash pool at the bottom.
I follow this up with a no wait lap around Bahari River. Ah, much better this time now that the lazy river isn'tas log jam crowde as last year. After that I meet back up to Rideman, we retrieved our hidden stashes, we get a free drink and head to Pilgrims Plunge. The line for Pilgrims Plunge way maybe about a third to a half full, still not bad as fast as this ride can move a line. What has changed is he loading area, some minor changes to the way the railings are done, so now the queue lanes instead of all exiting towards a railing, and then all heading through one gate in the waiting area, now function as queue lanes, without gates. A sliding gate has been installed at the bottom of the stairs before the seat queues. We get expressed into the back seat, and I am happy for myself that I was able to self load while the boats were moving. Last year, owing to a depth perception issue, I had a mental block on this and always asked for the boat to be stopped first.
Out on the course, it seems the ride has been given a pep talk, the trip out to the elevator seemed shorter, you still get rained on by the other boat going up the elevator ahead of you. Then its down the drop, and a new windshield is there to help protect the front seat riders from the wave that comes up over the bow. The return to the station has really sped up over last year. We exit the ride, find a seat wall, towel off, then I put on a magic shirt, see with Aquasox on and shorts, the shirt is magical in that with it I can cross over to Holiday World.
We next decide that since we are in swim gear, to head to the Raging Rapids. According to the signs it was about a 20 minute wait. Didn't seem that bad, again owing to the fact the line really never stops moving. Instead of pairs of seats, each person sits alone. I don't know why I put my shirt on here, other than the fact the park rules require it, because we got absolutely soaked, I mean wring your shirt out soaked. I suppose this makes up for last year when we commented about the lack of water damage we recieved. We deicded to follow this up with a ride on Frightful Falls to complete the water ride set. Frightful Falls was a walk on, we commented how rough the concrete trough must be on the logs, and we got some more water. We scared some arriving riders away as they saw us and thought all the water were were currently dripping came from the log flume. It was also the first time my Drachen Fire shirt got noted. A sure conversation starter for coaster enthusiasts.
We then air dried with a ride on Raven, and I note the high dive show is back, and being a flag oollecter I just enjoy the high dive show for all the international flags they use as theming. After Raven, we head to the main gate, get hands stamped, hike back out the parking lot, take the tram to the car. Hey Dave and I got a solo on the parking tram! We changed out in the parking lot, yes this was G rated thanks to thinking it out ahead of time, Then we moved our car up to the front of the Legend lot. Most of the front rows are handicap parking except for an area off to the end that we noted was empty. We had to walk around the tram circle, but were sure it would pay off at the end of the night when there were no trams.
Upon reentering the park, a stop at Kringles for a drink, and then it was the flat ride tour. First up was Paul Revere;s Midnight Ride (Spider) which had a surprisingly short line. Yes, their spider is still high quality, where if you even look at the tub wrong, you start spinning. We, as usual, walked right past the Louis and Clark trail,but also the Liberty Bell Shop. I stopped at Udderly Blue for blue ice cream, in a waffle cone, for about half the price Cedar Fair charges, fora much larger serving.
Next up was the Rough Riders, the cute themed dodgem cars. When they were installed we had comented they must not be getting enough juice as they move sluggishly, but that has been corrected as now they bump each other with authority. Yes, another ride in the park has been given a pep talk.
Next was another test to my weight loss program, I have not been able to ride Liberty Launch the last few seasons for size. I ducked into the single rider line, and took the seat offered to me. Not even a doubt, I easily fit on the ride this year, making me one happy camper. I did note the old liberty launch canvas is now the shade cover for Frightful Falls operator. Liberty Launch may not be as strong as the rides at Indiana Beach and Ocean City, but today it was performing pretty well. Perhaps another pep talk.
We looked at the Star Spangled Carousel, but with a 200# weight limit we knew we were both out of play on that one. Every couple years, we take a ride on the Freedom (or Pioneer) Train and this was one of those years. Yes, we sat in the rear open air car, but as Dave noted, the enclosed car has padded seats. We also noted the front and back seats of each car are smaller than the rest of the seats. It's the parks original ride, and the engine bears the number 1946 in memory. The ride itself is a ride through Mother Goose land, with the characters and telling of those famous rhymes.
From there it was into Fun Town, where we eventually made our way back to the Howler, and then even took a ride on the Howler. Even with reduced size it took me everything I could muster to getmy self contorted into that seat, and the lap bar locked. We got split up, so first Dave rode in the back seat of one ride, then Iwas in the front seat for the next ride. On the second pass through, the operator told everybody to put their hands in the air, and since Dave used this chance to get on ride footage of the ride, since men photographing kiddie rides just causes too many issues. Ayway, I decided to ride like I was in a Robb Alvey video, meaning just act real crazy on the kiddie coaster, waving my hands in the air the whole time. I admit I got a bit nervous at the helix, but we can now confirm that even a 6' adult can ride the ride, hands up, and still have clearance all the way through the ride.
From FunTown,Dave left to go on the voyage photo walkback. I took rides on Eagles Flght with a third full queue. Once gain, I get the feeling I am doing something right, Ijuset can't get the satisfying hard snap. Next up was the Revolution, a fun ride as always. I then headed down into Thanksgiving where I saw the HoliDazzles interacting with the guests, then took a ride on the Turkey Whirl and was lucky to get a Turkey that seemed to want to whirl upon command. I finished up with a particularly low scoring single ride on Gobble Getaway. A check of the watch revealed the alloted one hour tour time had just about elapsed. I usued that knowledge to make an informed walk over to Pilgrims Plunge where I met back up with Dave.
We joined a group and thenhad a full carload i Gobbler Getaway, in fact I think the whole tour group headed into the air conditioning of Gobbler Getaway meaning we were just ahead of the crowd. I had another poor performance. We followed that up with a few rides on Voyage, making sure to get back to back rides in different trains, in the same row. Our verdict is the blue Voyage train is much more violent than the red Ravage train. After all the Raven train hasn't gotten the crud beat out of it by Voyage for 4 years. I can just imagine the red train looking at Voyage and thinking "You want me to do WHAT!"
From Voyage, we decided we needed food even if dinner was a scant hour or two away. We stopped at the Alamo for some Mexican. I had a full platter with a burrito, refried beans, spanish rice, a churro,and a Mt. Dew (closest thing to a Magarita) for all around $6 with splurging on the extra cost salsa and sour cream upgrades. I doubt if I could eat that well at Taco Bell for that. Sure the refried beans were almost like soup, but the rest of it tasted pretty good. We also appreciated the fact they now have legitimate hot sauce as a condiment. We followed that up with Deep Fried Oreos for desert. We ate the Oreos while standing in line for a rie on Eagles Flight. It was a full queue now, with the water park closed, and again almost but not quite. We walked back to the picnic grove to check out the auction, and decided there was nothing there I couldn't stand to lose. Lift hill flags, the usual ride parts, old brochures and media kits, same stuff most of us have from years past. What was noticeable was the auction was now in the blue shelter, meaning the group has shrunk down once again,
Leaving the acution, I caught Dave as he finished up a ride on Revolution, we then headed to get a ride on Hallowswings, then a Legend ride and it was time for diner. We got back to the shelter and for the first tie in many years were seated before the cattle call to go get your chow. The usual buffet complete with condiments before you know what yoou are going to have. I helped myself to some fruit salad, mac and cheese and pull pork sandwiches, along with some brownies and christmas cookies. The Beachcombers provided dinner music, and a relaxing dinner was had by all, There was no live auction this year, and the after dinner remarks were about the shortest I can ever recall, then it was back out to ride some more.
We headed to Voyage, an got a few more Voyage rides, and poked around the Timberliner some more. As Dave noted, the Timberliner is really eating into his ERT time. We rode Voyage until about 10:00 as we had run into an operator earlier in the day who told us to be sure to meet him for Scarecrow Scrambler ERT. We did keep that apointment. Scrambler attracted a surpringly good line for ERT. We were rewarded with a ride on a Scrambler that had just received such a massve overhaul that it rides like it was fresh off the showroom floor. After that it was a couple Raven rides, then several Legend Rides,before heading back down to Voyage.We gota few more Voyage rides this time making sure we got to Raven in time to not have to walk up the hill. We finished the event with two or three rides on Raven, including the last ride of the event.
We exited the park just as they litup the giant Christmas tree by the main gift shop. Of course, this didn't stop us from talking at the main gate with Will, Pat, Paula and the others until we were, once gain among the last to leave the park. By the time we got back to the Legend lot it had total of three cars in it. We then headed back to the Bates Motel in Tell City. Okay,not really, but one end of it a single story motel that looks dead on like the Bates Motel from the movies. Dave points this out to me just as I am about to climb into the shower, he has a strange sense of humor that way,
And so ends another HoliWood nights, and we have no real plans for Sunday.
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