TR: Magical Midway

Orlando, FL

February 12, 2006

International Drive is a touristy area of Orlando, designed to give people smaller things to fill in time when they aren't at one of the large theme parks,. Gift shops, restaurants, FECs and tourst trap attractions line the street. It isn't hard to spot Magical Midway thanks to them having the only elevated go kart track in Orlando, as well as an S&S tower, a slingshot, and now the Star Flyer.

What is hard to see is the driveway to Magical Midways parking lot, in fact we missed it the first time and had to go around the block. We caught the unassuming drivway on our second trip past the park and soon pulled into their free parking lot. We had arrived at the 'park' about 15 minutes in advance of opening, but that gave us time to pour over the maps and plan a 'cross country' route to our next destination since it looked like the Interstate was not a good option to due to road construction.

Now, the Star Flyer is a relatively new ride concept, and I believe Magical Midways has the only one in the United States. At its core the ride is basically a really tall Wave Swinger, with the added thrill that the seats not only just go up to the top when the ride starts, then come back down at the conclusion, but they can be sent up and down many times during the ride, sometimes with nice amounts of speed.

Now, we had been following the local weather closesly, and we knew that it was to only to be about 48 degrees out, with 25mph winds. To be quite honest, we did not expect them to operate the Star Flyer in that sort of weather. A feeling that grew as we were watching them test the Sling Shot, and the passenger capsule was getting blown all over the place.

Shortyly after 10AM, we deicded to enter the park and look around. On their website they talk about having an assortment of classic midway rides. We took a look around and found: Wisdom Tornado, Dodgem Cars, S&S Tower ride, 2 go kart tracks, the Star Flyer, a Sling Shot and an arcade.

We walked around the tiny midway and took a look in the arcade. I noted there was no pinball in the arcade, and so we returned to the outside. We looked at the price packages. We could get a POP wristband for $13.50 after discount coupon, and that would have included one courtesy ride on the Star Flyer, or we could pay $7 for one Star Flyer ride, with rerides at $5. We looked around, and even though there was a Wisdom Tornado, the midway package didn't really do anything for us, so we decided to just take one ride on Star Flyer. Problem being that we had not seen the Star Flyer run at all, not even tests.

Star Flyer has its own ticket box, so we went over and asked about if, and found out that they would in fact give us a ride. Tickets were purchased and a ride operator was summoned, who went over to meet us at the ride.

We entered the empty queue area, ducked under a support structure, then climbed up the staircase to the Star Flyer. A ride operator met us, collected tickets and let us into the ride area. The ride offers both single and double chairs. We all chose the single wide chairs, which I found to be be a bit more heavy duty than normal swing ride chairs. As usual I lift up the shoulder bar, sit down, and lower the bar. The chair has two seatbelts, first a lapbelt with a normal aircraft style lift latch buckle, then a second belt that goes from the center of the lapbar and secures using a special buckle between your legs to the seat horn in the front of the seat. This buckle is a special buckle in that once inserted it is locked and can't be released. There isn't even a release button to tempt you.

As our restraints were checked, the ride operator warned us about the winds and to be on the look out for the other chairs. Just before our ride I note another ride operator come running to the ride at a fast pace, and I am sure he is going to put an end to our ride, but nope, we do in fact get our ride. The ride firsts starts to rise us the tower as the chairs spin. The rest of the ride consits of the chairs going around much like and other wave swinger, and the ring of chairs going up and down the pole. Frankly I was expcting more out of the rise and fall sensations, but the actual ride experience isn't that much different than a common swing ride. We faced no danger of collisions with the other chairs, however the ride did get interesting when, due to wind I'm sure the chairs started twsiting around, so much so that I was facing backwards at times. It was an interesting ride, but I wouldn't call it anything special. I think the operators were a bit diapointed when we retuned to the deck looking totally calm, unphased by the ride, and when asked how we liked it, responded that it was alright. I was expecting the operator to have to come around and unlock the special crotch strap at the end of the ride, but once the ride is parked the mechansim lets go, and you can just lift the buckle out of the slot.

We exited down the stairs and headed to the parking lot. I chuckled at the cute sign by the Sling Shot. It has a volcano theme, and the wall around it has an orange painted lip, and a sign saying not to sit on the wall becuase the lava is hot.


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