Ohio / Kentucky - Wednesday June 22nd - Sunday June 26, 2016
Cedar Point - Kentucky Kingdom - Kings Island
Casa Real - Eat A Pita - Melt

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Preface - Visited Cedar Point and Kentucky Kingdom, checked off  2 coasters from my bucket list, which is found here.   
Top USA Steel Coaster List

Day 1 - Wednesday June 22nd.   Here I am blasting off from Fort Lauderdale (FLL).     Flew non stop on Southwest to Columbus (CMH).    Picked up a Chevy Spark rental car and headed to Cedar Point.    Arrived at 7pm.

A couple shots of Gate Keeper.     The main sign congratulating the Cavs.    I processed my season pass.     I had bought it on the Carowinds web site thinking I would be going there first.  However, Lightning Rod at Dollywood was not operating, so all my plans changed.    All the information came up including my picture I had uploaded online, and I was good to go.     This means season passes can be processed at any park.     

On this trip I decided to do something different.    I was here to ride Valravn and check this coaster off my bucket list.     But at the same time, I wanted to ride all the Thrill rides and Coasters at the park.    This would be similar to the WDW46 challenge found on this page here.
I wasn't going to do everything in one day, and I wasn't going to do the family and kiddie rides.    The list of rides I accomplished is below, done on a Wednesday night, and all day Thursday.   I went on 31 out of 32 rides, plus the sky ride.   Two rides on Valravn, one in the front, 4 rides on Millennium Force.   The only ride I missed was Top Thrill Dragster because it went down and didn't come back up.   I was actually in line to ride when it went down.     So in my mind, I did all 32 rides.       I did not have Fastlane, but imagine it would be simple to accomplish 32 rides for those who pay the $93 to skip the lines.    

--Roller Coasters--
Millennium Force
Blue Streak
Wicked Twister
*Top Thrill Dragster
Magnum XL-200
Cork Screw
Iron Dragon
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Mean Streak
Woodstock Express
15 out of 16

--Thrill Rides--
Cedar Downs Derby
Ocean Motion
Pipe Scream (not a coaster)
Power Tower
Super Himalaya
Tiki Twirl
Wave Swinger
Witches Wheel
16 out of 16

31 out of 32 rides.

I started my adventure on Raptor, followed by Wicked Twister, Gate Keeper, MaxAir, and Rougarou.    Valravn was not operating at this point, most of the crowd was in the back of the park riding Maverick.     I rode Troika and Tiki Twirl mixing in thrill rides working my way from the front of the park to the back.    

About 1 hour before closing at 10pm, Valravn was running and everyone headed there to ride it.    I got in line, the wait was about 45 minutes.     I got a ride in the back row.   223 feet high, 3415 feet in length,  214 foot drop, 75 mph.    How was it?    The ride was fun, but the vest does restrict air time.    I will be ranking this coaster below Sheikra and Griffon in the dive machine category because of the vest restraint.     By the time I got off the ride, it was 10pm, everything was closing down.    I got an order of cheese fries on the way out and headed to my hotel room.   A great evening checking off one coaster from my bucket list.    

The LaQuinta I usually stay at was sold out.   Other hotels in the area were expensive.    I stayed 20 miles to the west at the Best Western Port Clinton.    This was an average hotel dated decor, but the bed was clean, room had a fridge, breakfast was good, and I was earning points.

Day 2 - Thursday June 23rd, 2016 - Headed over to CP arriving at 8am.   My season pass would get me in the gate at 9am, 1 hour early.   A crowd formed at the Marina gate entrance, I was near the front.    At 9am, the national anthem played, then everyone went in.   I got a front seat ride on Valravn.   Here's a tip if you don't get the front seat and you are a single rider.   Keep your eyes on the front row restraints.   If one is raised, you can probably run there and take the seat before the ride op closes it.     There is also a TV monitor to the right showing which seats are locked.   If the seat color is black, it is not locked.   If it is green, that means it is locked.   They try to dispatch the trains in 70 seconds.   Sometimes people will not sit where they are told, and that's how there can be an empty seat in the front.   For example, the guard will tell people what row to fill, but some people will walk half way across the row, stop, and sit down.   This leaves an odd number of seats behind them and the people walking on to the train turn around and go back.    After my front seat ride,  I headed to Maverick where I got a couple rides before it went down.    Rode Mean Streak, and other rides in the back section of the park.    It was raining at this point, most of the coasters were down.    I rode Monster, Scrambler, and other flat rides in this section of the park as the rain stopped.   

I left CP around noon and headed to Kroger grocery store a few miles away on E. Perkins Ave.    This location has a salad bar with various serving stations similar to Whole Foods.    I ate a huge salad and picked up some water and craft beer.    This location is open from 6am to 1am.  

I came back to the park, went on Cedar Downs Derby, Witches Wheel, was in line for Top Thrill Dragster when it went down.   The last picture is me riding the sky ride later in the afternoon.    Dragster and Valravn were down and did not come back up the rest of the day.

I headed out for dinner to Casa Real.   I've been here a few times and it's always great.   Pictured are chips with veggie fajitas.   All that food for $10.67.    I put half in the cooler and took it back to the hotel.

I came back to the park one more time taking a lap.    The last ride to check off my list was Pipe Scream.    I was whipped at this point.     I took a ride on Millennium Force, my #1 coaster in the world.      The ride was amazing, this coaster has the best floater hills.      1.5 days at CP going on 31 out of 32 rides plus the Sky Ride.    4 laps around the park, plus walking back and forth between rides.    Was it worth it?   Yes, but I probably won't do it again in terms of all the carnival flat rides.  What I did notice at this point, was that because Valravn was down, the crowd level seemed to be less, and everyone was in the back of the park riding Maverick.    In other words, without Valravn operating, the crowd acted like it didn't exist in terms of how many people stayed in the park.    

Day 3 - Friday June 24th 2016 - Checked out of the BW Port Clinton at 4am.    Drove 5 hours to Kentucky Kingdom.   I ended up at the back of the park and took some pictures of Storm Chaser running.   Ace was having an ERT event, they were on the ride before the park opened.    100 feet high, 2744 feet in length, 52 mph.    This is what I consider a "family" RMC because other models are higher and faster going 73 mph.    

The crowd waiting to get in.   Besides Ace having an event, there was a Skills Competition happening, which is why most hotels in the area were sold out.    There was also a special for out of state residents.   2 days for $29 which I bought.      The park opened at 11am.    I quickly made my way back to Storm Chaser to see the Ace folks leaving as the ERT had ended.    I got a front seat ride, one in the back, and a couple in the middle as exit re-rides.    This coaster makes a lot of noise as it runs.    I'd call it an "RMC Roar."     A crowd finally made their way to the station and I moved on.    There is no running of the bulls like there is at Cedar Point.   People at Kentucky Kingdom seem more laid back.    What were my rides like?    Great for an RMC.    Smooth air time, with crazy twists and turns thrown in.   This ride ranks 6th in my RMC category, the other RMC coasters on my list are just better.      This ride is a perfect fit for the park.   If you arrive early, you can get 4 exit re-rides before the crowd makes their way back there, although the wait for Lightning Run will be long.   It's a tough decision on what order to do the rides in.    On one side of the park there's Lightning Run and Cyclos.   On the other side there's Storm Chaser, Thunder Run, and T3.    I guess if you haven't been on Storm Chaser yet, that's where you would want to go first to get a bunch of rides.     

After riding a wooden coaster called Thunder Run, I went on T3.    This is a Vekoma SLC Inverted with new restraints.   What was the ride like?   Horrible.   The vest restraint locks down hard as the ride goes on.    It was hurting my legs, and I wasn't the only one complaining.   It locks down harder than SkyRush at Hershey Park, and doesn't release until you get in the station and push the green buttons on the handle bars.    This is a One and Done ride for me, send it to China.    The retracking and new restraints didn't help.    I rode Skycatcher, a 130 foot tall swing ride, and headed to the front of the park.  The wait for Lightning Run was out to the midway, over an hour, same for Cyclos.     I didn't feel like waiting in the hot sun and headed out, my mission was accomplished, I got my rides on Storm Chaser checking this coaster off my bucket list.   


Here I am at Eat a Pita, I had visited this place last year.    Had the same Falafel Platter dish with pasta salad.     Picture of my rental car, a Chevy Spark which averaged 45 mpg.    

Here I am checking into the Best Western Parkside Inn in Frankfort Kentucky (the capital).   Since the hotels in Louisville were sold out, or expensive, I ended up 50 miles to the east and this was a treat.    The hotel was brand new.    The carpets, walls, everything was spotless.   This is what I expect from Best Western.   As you can see, I've taken a picture of the water filter on the ice maker machine, it's new and even has the dates on it.       They even have an indoor / outdoor pool.     If you are traveling between Louisville and Kings Island, stay here.   

Day 4 - Saturday June 25th 2016 - I ate brekfast, checked out, and drove 2 hours to Kings Island.   The 1st picture is the Cincinnati skyline.    If Lightning Rod was operating at Dollywood, I would have headed there instead, but no, it was down.    I arrived KI early, and a crowd formed behind me.   

The crowd was let in at 9am.   Season pass holders were able to continue to the back of the park.    I waited in line for Diamond Back which opened at 10am.   This is my #2 B&M hyper, was #1 before Fury325 came along.      I got a front seat ride, and a few more exit re-rides in the middle before moving on to The Beast.    I continued on to Firehawk and Flight of Fear.   From here I rode Banshee one time which I didn't really enjoy because of the vest restraint.     After that, I took a ride on The Bat and had enough because of the insane crowd levels since it was a Saturday.      I was basically "parked out" after 4 days in a row and had enough.     The only ride I really enjoyed at this park was Diamond Back.   

I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives the night before, and Melt was featured.   It's located about 5 miles north of downtown Cincinnati.     I came here for the veggie chili.     Also took a veggie cheese steak back to the room which included a cup of hummos and spinach with chips.    Everything tasted great and was worth the visit.     However, this restaurant could move, because there's no parking except for meters on the street, a paid parking lot, or you drive around the block and there's a few spots along a building.    Beggers walk up asking for a dollar, one was even standing outside the door handing out a paper.   This ruins the athmosphere of the restaurant having to walk past these people and look out walking back and forth to the car.    Many tourists were walking in the area because of this restaurant which was featured on the TV show.    If this restaurant moved, no one would visit this block.   So it's really sad the only reason the beggers are there is because they know tourists are visiting.        

I checked into the Best Western Mason, located a few miles from Kings Island.  As you can see from the pictures, this hotel is dated, has worn carpets.     I had ideas to go back to KI, but decided against it as the wait times were long.   I was watching this web site on my phone.     http://www.coasterqueue.com/

I stayed in the room, took a nap, drank a few beers, ate my veggie cheese steak, and went to bed.     I woke up the next morning, ate breakfast, checked out, drove 2 hours to Columbus, gased up the rental car, turned it in, and arrived the airport early.    To my surprise, there was no wait at the TSA check point.   I went through, made it to my gate with plenty of time to spare.    The plane left 15 minutes late due to being delayed in Chicago (of coarse).     The arrival in Fort Lauderale was only a few minutes late, thanks SouthWest.

Observations: Great trip checking off 2 coasters from my bucket list.      When the new thrill ride at the park goes down, the crowds disappear like it didn't exist in the first place.    When Valravn goes down, Maverick has the longest line in the park.    Because Lightning Rod was not operating, I didn't visit Dollywood, I went to Kings Island instead.     I had since heard that crowds at Dollywood were light, most rides being a walk on.     The parks need to keep their major new thrill ride operating, or the crowds disappear.   

Other observation:  I'm really not a fan of the B&M vest rides.    In fact, I've put Banshee last in my Inverted category.    Valravn is also last in my dive machine category.   There are long lines for Valravn because it seems people in the north east haven't visited BGT or BGW to ride Sheikra or Griffon.    Let's look at the B&M Vest Rides in the USA.

Wild Eagle (Dollywood)
X-Flight (SFGAm)
Gate Keeper (CP)
Banshee (Kings Island)

Thunderbird (HW)
Valravn (CP)

It all started with Wild Eagle in 2012 at Dollywood.   The idea was the new vest would lock riders in the coaster with no head bashing.     It all sounded good until fans went on the ride and noticed the vest locks down as the ride goes on.    There are 4 wing rider coasters, an inverted (Banshee) and now a dive machine with Valravn.    How many of these rides really make you go wow?    Only Thunderbird at HW because of the launch, and that's if you are in the front right seat.     The rest are bla, Valravn will become the same once everyone has been on it, just like Gatekeeper.    

CP has a winner on their hands for now in terms of people flocking to the new ride, but I'm not thrilled about it, especially if the parks keep installing these vest rides.    The only new B&Ms that are fun are the Hyper/Giga like Mako and Fury325 because those coasters use a seat belt and lap bar restraint.       

End of Report.   Thanks for reading. 

Email me at skiguy777@bellsouth.net.


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