TR: Random Coastering In Michigan Vol. 2; Ionia Free Fair (7/19/15)

Super Nova (A#712/M#414) was the main reason we came out to the 100th running of the Ionia Free Fair. This is a brand new Z40 Zyklon, I believe an IE Park version, which just made its first appearance out of the container two weeks prior in Bay City, MI. This ride will soon be making its way to Wisconsin to anchor Spin City, and then it’ll be off to Minnesota and Texas for their big fairs. But first; 10 days here in Ionia. As you’d expect from an almost brand new piece, the ride is super clean. There’s barely visible wheel marks on the tracks. Individual cars of 4 circulate around with lapbar only seating. There’s also a belt that runs off the lapbar for each rider down between the legs to clip in. I found the belts nearly impossible to clip in or press for release, and it seemed like a mighty tight squeeze for me, a not enormous person to ride. Continue reading

TR: Random Coastering In Michigan Vol. 1 (Kokomo’s & Saginaw Stuff 7/12/15)

I haven’t been writing as much as perhaps I could be, but hey, I write when I feel like it. We did do stuff fairly recently, and I suppose I could write about it?

I had chosen, somewhat at random, the of Au Gres, MI as the terminus/turnaround point for a day trip. It was at the end of Saginaw Bay, new territory through which I had never driven, and seemed, well, like something I should perhaps see. Beaches – at least free ones – were nowhere to be found where we drove, but we came across the remains of two abandoned amusement centers. Au Gres had a small family entertainment style establishment operated by Lutz’s Bakery-Restaurant which operated into the 2000s before finally going bust. Only a couple of signs and pieces of the water slide remained to tell of its existence. The town as a whole had an empty and depressed feel, with many empty commercial storefronts lining the main street. We followed signs to a boardwalk – it terminated well short of the shore, surrounded by tall grasses and wetlands, its condition best described as “marginal”. Continue reading

TR: Hamburg Family Fun Festival (6/19/2015)

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Why am I at a small fair in Southeastern Michigan? Well, reasons. There’s always reasons. I’ll be honest; I didn’t go for the fair. I often proclaim my dedication to liking rides as my driving interest in my participation in this hobby, but this, this was to go meet a friend. Sean’s a good guy and I haven’t seen him in a couple years because of diverging things, but he was in Hamburg with the Eyes of Freedom Memorial, and that’s not far from my house, so why not meet up, get some dinner, and since there’s rides here….

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TR: Cedar Point (6/13/2015)

Having attended yet another disastrous opening weekend but having also had the sense to not spent much money to do so, we were free to return for another weekend at the park in Mid-June. Mid-June is our favorite time to go because everything operates and not everyone is at the park yet, making it a highly appealing proposition. This meant we’d finally get to hit some of the big coasters we skipped due to them not working back in May and re-ride other favorites. Continue reading

TR: Holiwood Nights and Kentucky’s parks (5/29-5/31/2015)

2011 was the last time I stepped foot in Holiday World. That time, my wife and I made the trip together to participate in Holiwood Nights, the spiritual successor to Stark Raven Mad, one of the coaster enthusiast world’s most iconic events. An olympic games cycle of years later, and I’m back. This time though, it is a solo journey. Meredith opted, instead, to travel to Orlando and take in a long weekend with her mother at Universal Studios and SeaWorld. Her reasoning: Holiday World isn’t that good. Most everyone I would expect annually to show up to the event also skipped. For this, a year where Holiday World’s first really significant steel coaster was opening, there was a lackadaisical attitude to the proceedings from my peer group…or at least the old guys I historically have talked to on the internet about rides. Why go then? Because coasters. That’s always the reason. Continue reading

TR: Mom Weekend 2015 – Jersey Shore (5/23-5/27/2015)

20 years after my mom and I first visited Wildwood, NJ, we returned triumphantly for the 2015 edition of the “Mom Trip”. Spurred on by a willingness to try to take every domestic carrier regardless of how crappy via cheap and excellent routing, the idea came to us as a rational extension of the trips we’ve always taken together – there would be amusements, there would be other activities, there would be opportunities to rest – all those things that are the hallmarks of our touring. And so tour we did.

Since there was a lot of back and forth in Wildwood, I’m going to eschew the typical narrative style that trip reports often follow and instead opt to go park by park and review some other stuff after the parks. The bulk of what will interest readers is the talk about rides, not anything else.

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TR: Cedar Point Opening Weekend (5/8 – 5/9/2015)

So why are we going back to Cedar Point this upcoming weekend? I know the answers are bad ones: We have had fun in the past, we want to believe it is still fun, we think it will be much better with different weather later in the year; just stuff that denotes us as dumb marks willing to spend our money badly. Look, I want to have fun really really bad, but at this point my expectations are set so low that so long as I’m not raped at knife point, I’ll probably give it a thumbs up.

Two years ago, Meredith and I swore off Cedar Point opening weekend. It is terrible, we decried! The rides barely work, the weather is awful, and the employees inefficient! And yet, here we are going back again like we hadn’t learned our lessons. Or had we? Rather than risk staying in a hotel on its first night of operation by selecting the Breakers, we opted for an outside motel, the Motel 6 Sandusky-Milan to rest. And instead of blowing out a bunch of money on a whole weekend, we opted to take a couple of hours off work, go to the first Cedar Point passholder night ever, and then visit the park until, well, whenever we were ready to depart. The only question – when would that be? Continue reading