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May 22nd, 2010


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10:17 pm - halfway up wasn't so bad
The first day of coastering at Busch Gardens was a lot of fun. I am back in the hotel now exhausted as all hell, but very pleased with how it all turned out. I had planned to spend the busy Saturday taking pictures during my backstage coaster tour and then ride a lot on Sunday, but my shiny camera died while I was taking the slow elevator up Griffon's 210-foot lift hill. Oh. Well, then.

Turns out the batteries were at fault, but by the time I went "Wait, weren't those new batteries from the same pack that died in the TV remote? What if I just got some new ones?" I was too busy riding and having fun. I rode a lot today.

But here is the neat maintenance elevator that we rode to the top of the lift hill:

Griffon Maintenance Elevator

And here's what part of the ride looks like from halfway up (and then the camera died):

Griffon's first Immelman

Busch Gardens is a beautiful park and there are lots of great places to take neat pictures of tangled tracks and foliage and trains and stuff. I'll visit them tomorrow with fresh batteries, and write a full trip story later on.

(22 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 02:47 am (UTC)
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It amused me that you were going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg because that's the only park in the world where I can really say I was ever a connoisseur of the roller coasters.

(I also refused to ride them when I was a kid, and even in adulthood I rarely get the craving. It's a lot like the way I only want to eat mussels about once a year--I stuff myself with those tasty mussels, and then there's that one that tastes kind of like low tide and it puts me off them again for a while.)

But even my familiarity with Busch Gardens was a long time ago--the last time I was there was while the Drachen Fire was running, before Fabio's waterfowl collision.

Reading about roller coasters makes me feel really old--it sounds as if all the major theme parks have put up multiple coasters of a magnitude and craziness that would have been entirely mythical in the early 1990s. (Though they might not bruise you as much as the Drachen Fire.)
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
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...what really hit me was reading about Hersheypark. My family went there sometime in the 1970s when the sooperdooperLooper was fairly new and heavily hyped. I didn't ride it, of course--its mere existence was nightmare fuel for me; it went upside down--but my little sister gladly did. Now it is the tamest coaster at Hersheypark and seems to be regarded as some sort of kiddie ride, frequented mostly because of its low height limit.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 23rd, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
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My grandparents lived in Pennsylvania and when I was 8 or so, I was convinced my grandpa was an awesome man because he rode the sooperdooperlooper twice.

He still is an awesome man for many other reasons, but that kind of bravery to me back then was just out of this world.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
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For many years I was under the mistaken impression that the sooperdooperLooper had more than one loop, because of its name. It seems to be a common belief. At the time it was named, though, the mere possession of a loop was a relative novelty. The track does seem to be knotted through it, which is kind of nice. (It wasn't long, though, before Busch Gardens opened the Loch Ness Monster, with its iconic interlocking loops. The loss of the Big Bad Wolf is a blow, but it's impossible to imagine Busch Gardens without the Monster.)
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 23rd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
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I was assured by my coaster tour guide that while the Big Bad Wolf had outlived its maintenance date -- it had been expected to run 25 years, which it did -- the Loch Ness Monster features stock Arrow trains and parts, so they can get replacements as needed. When the Arrow corkscrew coaster Python closed at Busch Gardens Tampa, for instance, Williamsburg got the train.

And the sdL (bonus points for the capitalization!) is an early Schwarzkopf looper and yeah, the inversion was novel as all heck when it opened. I'll hafta check my history, but I'm reasonably sure it was the second modern loop coaster to open after Revolution at Magic Mountain.

The ride is also one of the very few looping coasters with only lapbars and no over-the-shoulder restraints, because Anton Schwarzkopf was a very smart man and knew that centripetal force would keep riders in their seats as they went upside down. Adding OTSRs would only give a psychological benefit, so I'm pleased Hersheypark hasn't done that. Magic Mountain did a while back.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
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The history of loop-the-loops is so weird--first attempts in the 1850s, scattered instances in the early 20th century, then nothing until 1976 when suddenly there was an explosion of looping coasters. I'm guessing it just took a while for engineering to catch up to rising safety standards.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 24th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
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1840s, actually.

The loops on the 19th-century looping coasters were very small, and it must have been neck-spraining hell to ride them.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 24th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
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The real change in loop design was the development of the teardrop-shaped clothoid loop, which is easier on the Gs both coming in and going out. Werner Stengel perfected that bad boy, but there was at least one other looping coaster at the turn of the 20th century at Coney Island which used a teardrop shape as well. Legend has it that the ride didn't make any money because more people wanted to watch it than ride it.

I have to wonder about that story, primarily because Coney will make money any way it can and charging spectators seems like the most obvious solution. They used to charge to watch people stick to the wall on the Hell Hole centrifuge, f'rinstance. So who knows.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 24th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
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A few weeks ago I visited (the very nearby!) Canobie Lake Park for the first time. Since we were with a 3-year-old and I wasn't in a coastery mood anyway, we spend most of our time in the well-equipped kiddie zone and I didn't ride the roller coasters. But I did see their 1930s wooden coaster, the Yankee Cannonball, and would like to give it a try sometime.

What I didn't even realize at the time is that the park also has a smallish inverting steel coaster, the Canobie Corkscrew. What's more, it has an interesting history--it was actually one of the earliest corkscrews, built in the Seventies for an indoor amusement park in Illinois, then moved somewhere down South before it ended up at Canobie Lake. I'll have to give it a go as well.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 24th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
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...and it's an exact clone of the first modern steel inverting coaster, the Corkscrew at Knott's Berry Farm; another clone was the aforementioned Python of Busch Gardens Tampa.

And I now realize that the place where it was originally installed, Old Chicago, was the subject of a hilarious/sad feature I read a while back through a link at deadmalls.com.
[User Picture]
From:wring
Date:May 23rd, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
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oooooooooooooooooooh shit do want!!!!
[User Picture]
From:zyrya
Date:May 23rd, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
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Oh god, I scrolled down to the second pic and my entire body did the Terror Clench and flinched away from the screen.

(icon is me, not you!)
[User Picture]
From:mybadhairlife
Date:May 23rd, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
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Man, I miss riding roller coasters.
[User Picture]
From:joenotcharles
Date:May 23rd, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
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I also was afraid to go on coasters as a kid, with the addition that I lived 8 hours away from the nearest amusement park (Canada's Wonderland), so I only went there 2 or 3 times while growing up, all before I was really old enough to get over my fear.

So the first time I actually rode a rollercoaster was at 21, when my roommates and I took a trip to Williamsburg. The first coaster I ever rode was that one Fabio got hit by the bird on. It kind of spoiled me.

"Queebeck Land" is ridiculous, as is their idea of Canadian ethnic food.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
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Clearly the history of Busch Gardens will forever be divided into Before Fabio and Anno Fabio eras.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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The amusement park I went to the most times as a kid was Kings Dominion. But I've never ridden a roller coaster there, due to being chicken.

I was going to say that this may have been wise, as a kid died on the Galaxie in 1983--but, considering as he stood up and got decapitated, this does not sound like a fate that could have befallen me. Kings Dominion seems to have had bad luck over the years with what amount to self-inflicted ride deaths.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 23rd, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
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Somehow I don't think they'd take "Where Darwin's Proven Right" as a park slogan. So I won't write to them.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 23rd, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Kings Dominion is in Virginia, with easy driving distance of where I spent my adolescence; I can confidently say that that's all the explanation one really needs.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 23rd, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
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I love Apollo's Chariot. I have informally named the front row far right seat The Fabio Seat in his, uh, honor. Saw no waterfowl near the ride today, but there was one cool water snake near the Loch Ness Monster.

The "New France" land they have is a cop out, no doubt about it, but at some point during the 1970s and 80s I think Federal law mandated that every theme park have some kind of Frontier Land. Not Busch's brightest moment, but they do have some very good barbecue there.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 24th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
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Without a Frontier Land, where do you put the log flume? QED.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 24th, 2010 06:16 am (UTC)
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Eggs-ackly.

Unless you're Tipsdrill Park in Germany, in which case you stick the flume in a castle and put guests in bathtubs.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:May 24th, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)

another bummer

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Oh, man, I just read that Elitch Gardens in Denver left Mister Twister and the Wildcat to rot when they moved.

I think those might have been the first two roller coasters I ever rode. I remember Mister Twister being frickin' intense, and thought this may have been my youthful trepidation, but sources say that it really was.

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