Jun 27, 2021, 2:36:26 AMJun 27
Trip Report: Holiwood Nights – Holiday World
Santa Claus, IN
June 4-5, 2021
“Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore”
Ever since 1999, every season that I could, barring an absence in 2004-2005 when we weren’t exactly welcome, and in later years when my own life priorities got shifted where I couldn’t make it, I have attended some roller coaster enthusiast event at Holiday World. In fact, I just remembered we may have been invited in fall of 2005 for a construction tour of Voyage. Even the COVID19 pandemic did not stop this tradition, it merely postponed it until August. What started out as an event celebrating one ride “Stark Raven Mad”, has blossomed into Holiwood Nights. Over the years, Holiwood Nights has evolved from a generic Hollywood theme to making “Not fooling anybody” themes that come as close to they can to the actual movies without actually using the movie name. This year’s theme, for example was the Wizard of AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHS” (Yes, 75 H;’ for 75 years the park has been open) As such, it should come as no surprise that a contingent of us including Dave, April, Tony and myself made our way to the park.
“We’re off to see the wizard”
So, the morning plan revolved entirely around the fact our rental cabin would be available to us at 3pm Central. Back tracking 5 hours of travel time from Columbus, take an hour for lunch, deduct an hour for the time change, meant a 10AM departure for the Columbus contingent. Well, that didn’t exactly happen, I think the hot air balloon left Columbus around 11:30 getting to my net of the woods around 1:20. I had all my stuff already staged outside, so a quick load in of my cargo into the trunk of the hot air balloon and we were on a short trip “It’s not too far, especially in the car” to a local sit down, yet rapid Mexican place for lunch.
“We get up at 12 and start to work at 1, take an hour for lunch, and then at 2 we’re done, Jolly Good Fun!”
After lunch, I’d like to say we were all smiles and making time, except for we weren’t. We had the congestion and slowdown getting out of Cincinnati due to the Brent Spence bridge being closed southbound, leading to another delay going from 275 to 75, yet another delay on 75. By the time we hit Carrolton (site of the horrific Kings Island School Bus tragedy) , we were in need of a comfort stop. Just as well as Waze was suggesting we abandon 71 and take 42 down to Louisville. We did take that comfort stop, AL81 and Starburst were acquired and some time on 42 and Waze was shunting us back to 71. I don’t know what it was thinking because, to be quite frank, we were having rolling shutdowns all the way to the state line. Things seemed to improve greatly when we finally hit Indiana. What all this meant is instead of a 3pm arrival, we rolled in closer to 5:30 or 6 wondering what took so long.
Last year, we stayed at Lake Rudolph, the campground next to the park. Plusses for the campground were that it was literally right next door to the park, and when we put 6 in one cabin, it made for some very budget friendly accommodation. That, and parts of the cabin were nice, like having a kitchen, which is nice because there is exactly 1 late night dining option within a 30 mile radius of the park, and with post COVID hours, even that is in doubt, breakfast places don’t fare much better. The wrap around deck was also pleasant. The downsides were the campground was huge, and the street layout confusing, the WiFI left much to be desired, and even through a park map suggested we’d be close to the pool and the overflow parking for our third vehicle, mean Mr. Topography didn’t cooperate on that one. And I haven’t even addressed the interior of last year’s cabin yet. While I don’t feel fully qualified to whine, as I didn’t suffer the true horrors of that cabin I did get to experience the single tiny bathroom for 6 people (tiny in all three dimensions). Now last year’s cabin, while skinned inside and out to appear to be a rustic wood cabin, was most decidedly a single wide trailer. You put 6 adults, 5 of which are generously sized into a single wide. Yeah. As I said I don’t feel fully qualified as I played the “I snore so loud, I get noise complaints from factories, airports and train yards” card and they isolated me in the lower level bedroom, i.e. the only bedroom with a door they could close. They didn’t expect it to be a pocket door with a wide gap at the base, so I don’t how well that snoring mitigation worked. The other 5 wound up in the loft. MY bedroom was sunk about 2 -3 feet, which meant the upper level bedroom could be sunk 2 or 3 feet so it had reasonable headroom after you contorted your way into it. We put 1 person in that bedroom. The other 4 were in the loft area. What we did not expect is the loft area would have a ceiling height of about 4’ Forget standing, forget walking, your crawling up there. The stairs are almost a ladder. The accommodation, 4 mattresses, 3 of which were literally just a mattress on the floor, the last was on a wooden stand, which we realized was to allow for the bathroom underneath it. I took one walk up there last year, and I don’t get claustrophobia often, but that did it. Sorry guys! I don’t want to know what kind of contortions were needed to navigate that space at night. There were other inconveniences like only being issued one key , gravel parking , and let’s just say an incident that I don’t feel qualified to speak about that if the cabin hadn’t run us off, the incident has burnt the lot so to speak for the campground.
So, this year, the words campground and cabin came up again. When looking at options I think even seeing the word LOFT caused some kind of PTSD reaction. Phrases like “Mattresses not on floor” and “Full sized ceilings”, were more soothing.
So with much fanfare, we pulled into the Lincoln Pines Lakefront Resort. We had a fifth, a second April that somehow made better time than us, coming all the way from Cleveland, then again if you were in Cleveland , you’d be in a rush to get out of there as well. With some prior arrangement, the resort agreed to give April H the keys, and so the place was ready to receive us when we arrived. April H had already gone on to the park, so we pulled into the resort, and I think unlike the massive Lake Rudolph they have 30 units total, most of which circle the lake, the others circle the pool and rec center. Yes, similar to a campground this is resort with all kinds of recreational activities available. We had Cabin 17, which owing to the layout is just two doors from the main drive, with the front year facing the basketball and shuffle board courts, and the back porch opening out onto the lake. Just off the road 2 paved parking spots with a paved walkway to the porch. In addition to a name, each cabin has a theme, we had the Surveyors Cabin, its name is right on its front, and the interior art details that park of Lincolns life. The only thing missing is Dave’s former car, had he still had it we would have had a Lincoln Town Car at our Lincoln Cabin.
So a nice front yard, chairs on the porch. Let’s go inside. Ah the air conditioning works, and there is a nice size ceiling fan. The main room, like many cabins, is open concept. The front half features two futons and a chair or two, a couple tables and a television. They even included some coffee table books about Lincoln. About halfway back a countertop bar divides the room in half. The back half features a spacious kitchen. The only negative is last year our cramped cabin managed to have a dishwasher, which this one did not. Across from the kitchen counter is a nice size dining room table. A sliding glass door leads to the back porch with a porch swing, and table and chairs. From there you can step out into the shard back yard which circles the lake. They even give you a bucket of fish food to feed the fish, and there is a nice bridge over the lake. It really is a very nice relaxing setup. Also out back is the outhouse, just kidding, is the utility shed which has grill implements, and cleaning equipment and extra supplies for the cabin.
Back in the cabin, you can see this one too has aloft but its decorative in nature, and was decorated with some art. About in the center of the wall on the dining room table sits an alcove, which has a nice vanity area. Straight back is a generously sized bathroom with full sized tub and space you can actually work in. Also off the alcove to the side is a bedroom, setup like most hotel bedrooms with two double (or queen) beds, dresser and television. Also the bed linens for the great room futons. But wait this is supposed to be a two bedroom, two bathroom unit. We close the front door, and the door we thought would be a coat closet is actually the master bedroom. This one has one king, television, dresser, and its own full bathroom, We also only have 5 in the cabin this year, so 5 people, two bathrooms, and we split the cabin up by social bubble. The Cleveland bubble went in the front bedroom, the Columbus bubble went in the back bedroom, which let Sir Snores A Lot (sorry that was last year’s theme) to a great room futon, Hey I was the only guy that had a good room last year, I’ll take my turn on the sofa. Doing some mathematical gymnastics – while the cabin was a bit more than last year, we were also splitting the bill fewer ways – all told it was probably about 90 a night more, okay 75 a night more because we paid for bed linens to be furnished this year, last year we had to bring all our own. But look at how much nicer the cabin and its surrounds were compared to last year..
Ok, now we have the cabin, we are moved into the cabin, bunk assignments have been made, now its time to go to….. The grocery store!
While we packed a lot of food in the hot air balloon, and apparently a very special food item shifted in the overhead bins during flight, there are some things like frozen foods, dairy etc, that you don’t want to take in a hot car. That’s where Holiday Foods comes into play. Here is where we can get those perishable items, the items we forgot, the items we swore we could not live without and wound up tossing out, etc. For the most part the store is pretty reasonable, but it does have a couple small town quirks, One is that it is not a supermarket, it doesn’t have every brand, or every variant sold. For some items, they have one or two choices. It’s a distinction we had to remind some people, that no, we din’t ignore your requests, we did our best to fulfill your request with the closest items we could find given the selection. Dave and I drew grocery store duty. Also, noted was that given the large number of local campground and cabin rentals, the grocery does carry a fairly large number of “Convenience” sized items, you know like the quart of milk because you only need one days worth, or just for your cereal or coffee. Those are the items the store has marked up to tourist pricing. But where we truly thought “We aren’t in Kansas anymore” We pull out cart up to register, unload, pay, and there is no-where for the cart to go. Instead we continue down a narrow exit and the cashier pulls our cart behind the counter where, I kid you not, staff members not only bag your groceries, they take them out and load them into your car for you! Outside the store has a sign about “Friendly Service All The Way To Your car!” Apparently that is more than just a pretty PR slogan.
We run the groceries back to the car, a few odds and ends, and finally, it’s the time you have been waiting for, it’s time to head to….Holiday World!!!!! Just leave our resort, turn left and head for that watertower straight ahead.
For a while, the park has encouraged people to use the new Legend lot, which is actually across the street from the park, accessible via a tunnel under the road. The Raven lot is still available, but don’t tell that to all the signs directing you into the park. In a cunning move, we noted no dedicated left turn lane, just to further discourage parking in Raven. We did anyway, and since this isn’t our first rodeo we watched the outgoing cars to avoid getting stuck in a dead end row. Next comes a time honored ritual, passed down through the ages. It’s a bit more complex now that the park has decided it needs front gate security. We head a relatively short walk up the park entry plaza and veer to the far right to go through security. (Trams to the left, walkway from parking, then the exit, then the security entrance far right). We swiftly make our way through the empty waiting area for security and discover the park has gone with these new fangled detectors. Visibly, they look like nothing more than what you might see as an anti theft barrier at the shopping mall. No need to slow down, you just continue to walk through them at a normal walking pace while a guard watches a monitor. No telling how this works, but I hear its AI and all kinds of computerized goodness. What it really means, is while we had some annoyances, security would not be one of them.
Speaking of annoyances, we discovered the entry plaza wide socially distanced queue maze to enter the park is much condensed and in fact was not being used, the line backed up to the daily admission ticket cages, where I was shocked to learn one day is now $60, I looked at my own early bird ticket, and found it to be marked $63. So for $3 I am getting night before ERT and food, glorious food. Also since the pandemic mitigation is mostly over, they felt comfortable opening more registration windows this year, as they didn’t leave every other window closed. Lastly, everybody had registrations purchased directly from the park, especially for the event, so that whole variable was taken out. In short a much faster check in.
Now that time honored tradition. In your registration kit are some items you will need tonight – the Friday admission ticket, the event wristband (it’s a ruby red wristband), and lanyard (nametag and event schedule). And some things you don’t – Saturdays ticket, the program, and the event-Shirt if you elected that option. So now, it’s time to haul all the stuff you don’t need back to the car. Then haul yourself back up to the gate, go through security again, and finally, at 7:30 we enter the park. Some are interested in water park ERT, but Dave and I are more interested in getting a light snack to hold us over. Which is also in the water park. I may know the rides park like the palm of my hand, but the water park is not my area of expertise, so we make a couple false turns, and after what seems like a 5 mile hike, we find what the park calls light hors devors. The first thing I am proud to see, self service is back. Lets see what we can snack on. Oh mini hamburgers, Chicken Bites, Curly Fries (tornado fries, yes each item had a themed nametag), then the stuff you would expect – fruit tray, relish tray, cheeseboard. All the buffet lines (and there were several) funnel into one desert station that had yellow brick road Krispy Treats (rice crispy treats meet yellow food coloring) and a giant sheet cake with chocolate brains, hearts and shields (brains, hearts, courage). Knowing now what I didn’t know then, and how they setup Saturday, I wonder if adding the desert station to the water park pool party was a last minute change up.
SO, we had more than our fill of light snack, and all through our snack my spidey senses tell me I haven’t heard or seen much of Voyage running. We already knew Thunderbird was closed this weekend for unknown intensive repairs. So much so that the behind the scenes tour was moved from Voyage/Thunderbird to Legend/Raven, and the park has effectively closed off everything in the Thanksgiving section beyond the Mayflower. (I’m guessing they figure nobody is going to make that trek just for Crow’s Nest.), and the park already promised event goers that if Thunderbird does not open Saturday, they will activate their Sun Shine Guarantee on our Saturday tickets meaning we can use them again for yet another visit this season.
So, let’s check this out, we make our way to the back exit of the waterpark to find it closed and locked. I can recall in past years this was the only way out water park ERT. I don’t mind the park decided to close this gate, but I do fault the park in not placing signage, say in the pool party area stating that exit was not available. Talk about going a long way out of our way. We would find out we had gone even further out of our way when we did finally find the front of the water park, and headed into Thanksgiving. It was then we found Voyage, dark and lifeless. Not only is it closed, they are making no effort in getting it open. I think I took a small cry. We did gather ourselves up, used both halves of the Oasis building, and salvaged our walk to Thanksgiving with rides on Turkey Whirl (bad car with Tilt but no Whirl), Mayflower (where every row was open, but they did install shields in the seat queue area), and Gobbler Getaway, Since the park dropped all its mask requirements, Dave was able to actually ride Gobbler Getaway this year. I was not prepared for how many times I would be riding Gobbler this year. I think I know every bit of that ride now. The observant will note that in the preshow, while Grandma still has a mask, she is no longer wearing it.
After riding the open rides in Thanksgiving, we learn that the rest of the group was at the pizza party. SO what if we just had Burgers and chicken tenders and cake, and all that. You’re at a coaster event, its time to gorge on food until you are sick. We did take it easy on the pizza party, only two slices each, oh and breadsticks, and marinara sauce, and cookies, and Over the Rainbow Fudge) Forget the usual fudge samples these were unusual flavors in wild rainbow colors. The park had acquired a lot of traffic marking tape that they used last year to mark off social distancing markers, and areas where you were to not stand. They used whatever tape they had left to make “Yellow Brick Road” leading to the buffets, and the Picnic Grove was renamed the Poppy Fields.
At about the same time as we were stuffing our faces with pizza pie, the parks social media team was doing something I’m sure they didn’t plan on for the event, but was absolutely the right move. You get hundreds of enthusiasts for anything all in one place, and you have an incubator (Poor chicks, this old incubators gone bad) to create the worst gossip you can’t imagine. What the park did was, in a very calm and measured tone, took to social media to not only announce that Voyage would NOT be open tonight (yeah, we kinda figured that out) but to very open and transparently state exactly why, leaving nothing for the rumor mill. (As the park put it a rider boarded Voayge, rode the ride, and upon return to the station was unconscious in their seat. Park first aid took immediate response, and deferred to the nearest hospital for further treatment” Out of respect for the situation, Voyage will not open tonight” The park next didn’t turn off comments, but they did moderate comments. So genuine questions and comments could get through, but rumors, gossip and the like were shunted. The next follow up is that there was no follow up, but the rides status for Saturday was in doubt. Well, that will put a damper on your mood. Some prayers were said for the person, and we continued with the evening,
Upon leaving the Poppy Fields, were I must take pause to bring up a very important safety issue in my mind. Holiday Worlds picninc grove is essentially two or three level affair, you can get from level to level on the hillside grove by way of long windy ramps, or a stairway that runs along the front edge f the grove. It’s this area I have problems with, there is way too little if any lighting in this area, which makes it in my mind a serious safety hazard. I found myself taking some of the really long ramps to avoid it at times and at other times I noted people were pulling out their phones and turning on their torches to see the stairs. I’ve been in dark haunted houses that make the stairs a safer experience than this. Rant over. Oh, the grove exit directly from the top level to the midway, closed off. The park had a way to make the dark stairway a non issue, they chose to make the safe path unavailable. OK, now rant over.
Okay, back to happiness and rides and all that. Well, we figured no use in going to Thanksgiving, so it looks like its Legend for us. Down the stairs, and yikes. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been but part of that queue maze was in use. Some time later we were getting into the second row of Legend. Gone are skipped seats, gone are seat assigners, gone is the stand behind this line, which on Legend meant you were cramming everybody together against the back wall in a case of COVIDiocy, yes queue lane shields were added, but that’s really not offensive. What surely wasn’t offensive was the action packed Legend ride we had. Air, laterals, you name it.. Maybe it was offensive, as in the Legend was on Offense and the riders were on Defense.
We see the clock, and there is another time honored tradition, finishing the night on Raven whenever possible. We pass through the wrought iron gates of Raven and yikes, the queue maze is half full and the porch queue is in use. Technically the park was closed by the time we reached the top of the stairs, and looking out the window had a bit of line to digest, and then get the Zen ride winners their ride. It was also about this time the park had four of six cars destined to go out empty with a 20-30 minute wait. NO, not due to COVID, all seats are open and available, seat rows have shields for your protection. It’s the everybody wants to ride in the prime seats, which led to an announcement I don’t think I have ever heard at a Holiwood Nights “This train is not leaving until ALL rows are filled” paraphrasing of course, the true announcement was a heart felt plea, we know everybody wants to ride in the front and back seats, but if we let all of you do that, we will be here until sunup. (Slight exaggeration maybe, but you get their point). It’s also not unprecedented as the same scene takes place at parks all over at night. Everybody wants the last ride, or the last seat on the last ride. It’s common at some point for parks to count the remaining riders in line, and say “We are only running X more trains tonight, if you are not on one of them, you will not get to ride” Its just I don’t recall that happening at past events, I do recall getting numerous rides in middle train seats in past years while waiting for the long lines at the front and back seats to work their way through. Thinking, hey I got 5 or 6 rides without leaving my seat, just because I chose a middle seat.
But that ends night one, a night that I’ve heard referred to as Stark Raven Mad 2021, owing to the lack of the newer rides. I must also give credit where credit is due, the park had already said they would open more rides for ERT due to Thunderbird being closed. (I think they added Mayflower and kept the other rides open longer, due to Voyage closing, they also opened up Scarecrow Scrambler and Frightfull Falls, in other words, get every ride in Haloween and Thanksigivng you can open going!)
We exit the park, head to our close parking space, and ah that is a neat lighting package Dave has added to his trunk. Makes this part of the night easier. It’s a short drive back to the cabin. Lake, Beer, conversation, snacks. Oh and showers. Let me get that futon setup, check social media, yada yada. But can’t stay up too late, I’m working first shift tomorrow!
Day 2 – Saturday June 5!
“Coasting For Kids!!!” - (insert plug for Give Kids The World Viliage Here>)
For the second year in a row, I have participated in Coasting For Kids. Coasting for Kids is one of the fundraisers for Give Kids The World Villiage. (GKTW) What is GKTW – To put it simply you know Make a Wish and other similar minded organizations that take terminally ill children and grant them their one last wish. Well, a very common wish is to see Mickey Mouse, go to Walt Disney World, etc. GKTW is the premir partner resort for that in Orlando, Build from the ground up as a special needs resort, its clientele is exclusively (spare some special events) Make a Wish families. They stay in Villas that are built to accommodate any need a child could have for their illness, and in fact the children’s bedroom is the master suite and the parents are put in the secondary bedroom. Food? Included, they can either ruse the villa kitchen and prepare their own meals, or there is a food hall run by Boston Market (and one other well known chain. The meals are included and served to the family to give the parents a week off as well. The resort features camp like activities all day, feature a full range of recreational activities, including an amusement midway with custom made rides built so they can be ridden without transferring out of a wheelchair. There are nightly parties that celebrate all the major holidays of a year during the childs week. And, yes there are day trips to the theme parks. Mostly volunteer help, and they don’t charge the families a dime for anything. The bill for the average family with all the amenities and on site medical services and all that comes out $6,000 per family, again none of which they pay, instead its corporate sponsorships, in kind gifts, and yes gifts from the community, which is where Coasting for Kids comes into play. It connects coaster enthusiasts with GKTW and gives us a fun way to give them money so that we can give a child that has a hard life the chance to do what we love to do. It’s been said Disney and Universal sometimes send characters to GKTW and sometimes donate park surplus to help decorate the park. Disney and Universals design teams have helped build some of the resorts features, and may be the only time you will see Disney and Universal designers on the same team working side by side on a project. I could go on and on. One of their time honored traditions is Ice Cream for Breakfast. The story goes a resort leader was looking for a quiet spot to get something done in the morning, they ducked into the closed ice cream parlor (hey its 7 in the morning!) A child saw light on in the ice cream parlor, knocked on the door and asked if they were open. The leader taking the “Never say No to a child” mentality to heart said of course we are open, thinking I’ll make them a sundae, and when they leave turn the lights off, and that will be that. You know where this is going, soon one family became a line of families, and from then on the ice cream parlor is the first thing open in the morning and last thing to close.
So much to say, just like the founders story, The founder started out running an ordinary hotel in the Orlando area. As a hotel operator, they were asked to donate some rooms to the cause for Make A Wish. They got involved and learned of how many families got turned away and never got their wish fulfilled. due to lack of room at the Inn, so to speak. Said we have to do better, we must do better, thus came GKTW. Okay, I’ll give you time for the tissue break, then I will resume this TR.
So, I set an alarm for 7am, yes during vacation. I was up before the alarm clock knew what hit it, got washed up, dressed, yada yada. Then proceeded to cook myself some biscuits with sausage, Egg and Cheese, and take those and a beverage out to the back porch for a lakeside breakfast. I was then reminded that park opens at 8 doesn’t mean we have to be there at 8, particularly when the opening welcome isn’t until 8:45 and rides aren’t until 9.
So around 8:30 I catch a Lyft to the park. (Ok, I rode with cabin mate April H, but the vehicle is marked as a Lyft) We park again, in a nice close parking spot in Raven, breeze through security and up to the check in table, Check in was very easy, they check your name, make sure you have met the minimum pledge to GKTW, and give you swag in the form of an even t-shirt (please wear this today), souvenir wristband, VIP lanyard (not event specific, no clue if it really did anything), a gift card (our catered lunch has been replaced with a $15 gift card), and depending on which Olympic Events you are wishing to participate in, the proper materials. I declined the Ride Every Ride In the Park challenge – not only riding every ride, but in the fastest time, as it included every ride in the water park, and every ride in the main park that isn’t child restricted. (Yes, and get operator to initial it) As I knew for sure I would not fit on 2 rides, possibly as many as 4 rides (not knowing at the time Thunderbird) was close, I DQed myself from that one.
Problem was I wasn’t keen on the Olympics Option either. But I figured I would fit in better with it. First event – Marksmanship – Gobbler Getaway hi scores, then came the Water Luge – Cheetah Chase rides for speed. Nope, the weight limit for that one makes it very hard to find a partner, and you can’t ride alone. Then there was the Marathon, who could log the most miles riding coasters. (The rounded allotments were that Raven was ½ mile, Legend was ¾ mile, and Voyage was 1.25 miles, oh an Howler was 0.05 miles) I looked at my ride log at the end of the night and said “Yeah, right!”, and the fourth was Knowledge, - Holiday World Trivia in Kringles Banquet Hall. I’ll keep that one in mind, spending time in an air conditioned building may not be a bad idea.
Park entry was fast as usual, using our HWN ticket and presenting the CFK lanyard. Regular day guests had already started arriving and were asked to step aside so the VIP guests may enter. We gatherd around the fountain as instructed. Small talk was had. We were the asked to move near path to Halloween. Opening Speeches, including a note on how nice it was to see everybody smile as this was the first maskless CFK since COVID started, prize winners for highest individual and team fund raiser, instructions for the day and the event, group photo, and then, “This morning’s ERT will be on Legend”
So I spent ERT hour riding Legend, and as expected the line never got out of the station. 90 or so people total can be accommodated in both trains, the seat queues, and a group walking around. And that’s before all those just mingling on the midway.
At around 9:45 I headed for my Marksmanship appointment at Gobbler Getaway, and found that even with Voyage closed they did have the Turkey Twirl, Gobbler and maybe even the ship open. I took a ride on Gobbler, no scorekeeper, then I heard them say the contest had begun. Back in line (Okay walk right on to the ride) where I turned in a 1,590 and the scorekeeper was present. They had someone posted where you parked just before unload (and the power goes out to the car) noting scores. She said at the time I had the number 2 score and took down my information. Never heard back, so I suspect that score didn’t hold up. I followed that up with a Turkey Twirl ride that was much better than last night.
I dashed back up to Legend to get in right before park opening. I probably should have dashed all the way to Raven, as by the time I got to Raven it was a full queue house.
Let’s see if time could be better spent elsewhere. I made my way to Fourth of July and headed for the Lewis and Clark Trail (Antiques) – the line was a bit scary, but it was under lots of shade. I got in line just long enough to note the large signs stating you must have at least 2 per car. WHY!!!?!!!!!
I back out of that ride, and head next to the Firecracker. The Firecracker is a Calypso, in fact it is the same one that ran at Lesourdsville Lake back home. SO I have a nostalgia connection to the ride. Except everything about it has changed. The sign, the scenery panel, the paint job of the deck, the paint job of the cars , the lighting package, even the direction of travel of the cars. Still they are filling all the cars, and it is running better than last year. And the line was only a couple cycles. In fact I seemed to have hit this part of the park at exactly the right time.
I next got in line for Rough Riders, or I was about to get in line for Rough Riders (Dodgems) when II met up with fellow local friend, beer friend, game friend, coaster fiend, John. We both rode Rough Riders, and I think its fair to say there was one target on that arena floor and everybody else on the ride was just collateral damage. Then it was another Firecracker ride, then a ride on the Pioneer Train. The Pioneer Train ride itself is pretty short, just a circle tour around Holidogs Fun Town, but the train route is lined with tableaux from your favorite nursery rhymes. In years past the ride came with a narration of the rhymes by the operator, spoken at break neck speed to keep up with the pace of the ride. This year nothing, I could hear some mumbling from the coach ahead of us, so I’m not sure if the narration is gone, or if the train sound system is so bad you can’t hear it. Without the narration, it really takes away the soul of that ride. But hey you can visit the original train engine before the CP Huntington, as they have put the original in front of the Liberty Bell Shoppe.
At this point the trademark Holiday World Hazy, Hot and Humid began to beat down on us. With no interest from John in the Revolution (Zero Gravity) and a scary looking line for Eagles Flight (Flying Skooters), we headed down into Thanskgiving to get the bad news.
Wait – Voyage is open!
“You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place
On the face of the earth or the sky
Hold onto your breath
Hold onto your heart
Hold onto your hope
March up to the gate and bid it open”
We did join the queue for an open Voyage, when we realized the basement queue area, affectionately known as Steerage, and sometimes compared with something much much darker in our history, was packed to gills full, and knowing just how unpleasant it is down there, we bolted that line. We ducked into the Voyage gift shop to have a look and noted the A/C could not keep up. It could keep up in Gobbler Getaway and that is where we went for a few rides. I mentioned we are game friends, so anything even remotely resembling a game, its WAR baby. I should have bought the on ride photo, imagine if you will, two grown men, in “If looks could kill” death stares, concentrating way too hard, you have the idea.
“You realize, this means War!”
Speaking of Competetive, next was the Turkey Twirl, it was meant to be one ride. First ride we rode together, and it was a Tilt But No Whirl. We noted the car number, we got in separate cars, neither of them was the car. I got a fine ride, John got another dud. You can see where this is going, we rode until John finally got both Tilt and Whirl.
We headed out of Thanksgiving, cutting through the water park to try to flatten the curve getting up to Legend. We take rides on Legend and Raven, and then check out the front gate gift shops. They have a nice variety of 75th anniversary merch, and a nice premium you can get.
At this point we decide to take a break from Hazy Hot and Humid, we get our wrists stamped, and head out to Legend lot. John is parked just on the other side of the restroom building, but owing th the disused parking tram circle – still a bit of a walk.
Our next stop, Yard Goat in Huntingsborg, IN. (Or something like that) – It’s a craft brewery in a real neat old school downtown building. We enjoy a beer tasting of Yard Goats beers. They just opened in October, and are showing great promise both in their beers, and their home made pizza and pretzels. Everything was excellent, the staff was super friendly, we learned what a Yard Goat is, its not an animal, but instead the hardest working engine on a train yard, and accordingly the brewery has a railroad theme. Our bartender did comment that she had seen an unusal number of roller coaster shirts on customers that day.
After Yard Goat, we looked around the main street, and wandered through an Antique “Mall” where by Mall I mean consignment shop with several small booths and one central cashier handling the business end for all. Not usually my thing, but when in Rome,
From there we went to a monastery, St. Benedicts in Ferdinand, IN. No, we didn’t suddenly need a religious moment, but rather we were there to sample the wares of St. Benedicts Brew Works. Yes, in the fine Belgian tradition, this monastery brews beer, and yes that does include some Belgian style beers. Another beer tasting was had, as were some Spicy Cheese Curds, as in they must have warned us like three times “They are going to be really spicy” – Yes, they must be made with some pepper jack cheese or something. Not painfully hot, just hotter than the average. Recall, this is in the same area where the amusement park taco stand offers taco sauce in Mild, Mild, and Mild. So, here on coaster event weekend, I’m sitting in a church fellowship hall doing a beer tasting. Then again, I start to notice the other people in the fellowship hall, ruby red wristbands and coaster shirts.
We then make our way back to the park, we go back to Legend, and we would sure hate to see the park if the back of Legend lot ever fills up. We re-enter the park. With our ruby red wristbands they don’t even look for the handstamps.
We enter the park and I realize I still have a $15 gift card from Coasting for Kids, I’m not really interested in food, but since it’s a Holibucks card, I take it to the Liberty Bell Shoppe. I am just about to enter the Liberty Bell Shoppe when I hear a male voice behind me “Can you walk a straight line” – Not to worry it’s just Dave, who knew exactly how I had been spending my day. I do go into to Libery Bell Shoppe and I pick out some stuff, and yes they did allow me to use my 15 Holibucks towards merchandise. Of course, I had to do this now because the gift shop won’t be open after ERT, which means yet another “Trek out to car to return stuff you won’t need” We also stop for some Deep Fried Oreos at the snack bar by the front gate.
It was time for dinner, yep another meal, hey I didn’t go to Saturdays light snack, which I found out was the same tater tot/ pull pork/ taco bar smash up from last year. So that’s probably an event staple now. A Firecracker ride was taken, and by the time we got around to Revolution and Eagles Flight the rides were closed for the night. We headed into the picnic grove, and given knowledge gained from the prior night, bypassed the red and blue shelter houses entirely, and went all the way to the bottom of the grove. Yes, there was a buffet line setup down here. And unlike in the red and blue shelters, no line for it. Time to feast on burgers, chicken, pull pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, cookies and possibly stuff I didn’t take, John and I found a table in the shelter that had the auction going on. The one that Leah mentioned when “I hear in some parts of the grove I’m blasting your eardrums out” Along with the auction announcements, there were announcements that the Maiden Voyage is back this year, followed by something about anybody that graduated this year can have a priority first ride on Voyage. So let’s see all females and all graduates – priority on Voyage. To a crowd that has been Voyage ERT deprived. What can go wrong?
What can go wrong was a huge mob formed at the picnic grove exit long before the park was ready for the group to assemble to leave dinner. The park repeatedly implored people to return to their tables, to have seconds and enjoy that free Pepsi. Sit and talk amongst yourselves. Every 5 minutes or so, “We are not ready for you, please be seated and enjoy the buffet and Pepsis”
Then the mob started crowding in tighter, and started chanting stuff. John and I looked at the lack of obeying a simple request, and the obnoxious chanting as a “We’re getting too old, and we don’t want to even be associated with this group”
We agreed that when the park opens we are going to remain seated until the crowd has dispersed, and then knowing everybody will be running to Voyage, head to Legend. Then the park broke the news that the upper picnic grove exit would not open (Despite Howler and Firecracker being open) , which means the crowd at the top exit had to join the mob at the bottom exit.
Dinner did let out, and as planned we let the more energetic types leave, then we headed to Legend, Our first Legend ride, the line was just out onto the stairs from the station , Much better. Some Legend, and then some Raven. Raven was so uncrowded it was a walk on, and we even managed a double ride or two. Just as we planned, people had their fill of Legend and Raven the night before. Also as planned, when we got to Thanksgiving the Voyage line was completely through Steerage and the outdoor queu maze and starting up the path out of Thanksgiving. We also noted some tables in the area where they had brought down the cookies and more sheet cakes, just like last night. Makes me wonder if last nights sheet cakes were meant to be desert with Voyage, We rode some more Gobbler Getaway and Turkey Twirl, and finally something reached out and slapped us. If we don’t get into line for Voyage real soon, This is going to be a Voyage Free HWN. And that my friends would be a disgrace.
My hate for Steerage is 10X more so. Recall I don’t often get claustrophobia, I mean yeah touring the USS Torsk in Baltimore (a submarine) did it, I could hardly take one hour aboard her, I can’t imagine a multi month tour of duty. I was in corner three of the lower level maze, stuck one queue rail from the corner so deep into the maze on the side away from the stairs, when there was a prolonged operational delay. I’ve got people crowding me on all sides, and panic almost set in. Panic to the point where I was eyeing that emergency door in that corner. All told I bet it was 45 minutes to an hour in line, During ERT. Folks, this event has outgrown its own good. Last year I was willing to give them a pass due to limited capacity and other COVID restrictions, and being the only major event all season. I mean all the rides at Holiday World were running in fine form, they have mostly emerged from COVID so the park experience was much more normal. It just seems that now a better experience could be had just by going their on a random weekday. Then again last time I tried that Will came up to me and said "Hello guys, you have decided to come on the busiest weekday of our whole season!"
So we did finally get our Voyage ride, wonderful! Airtime all the way out and back, the turnaround as insane as ever, no trims meant the triple down was sheer heaven, and of course the kick you while you are down finale. It’s still the greatest wood coaster ever built! And if you want to be instantly depressed, remember the ride is 15 years old. 15 years we have been coming here for Voyage. When we left Voyage as I had feared the line had been cut.
Listening, Friday night they played an assortment of Wizard of Oz songs that seemed to be perpetually stuck on Munchkinland, while other great songs from the movie didn’t seem to come up. Tonight, the normal park music. I took some time on Bench The Ride, which allowed me to meet up with my actual travel party and not just who I was sharing the day with. First Tony, then we went to Daves last known where abouts, which was a surprise, I’m just glad he is okay. Then we met up with Dave and April. Rode us some Legend and Raven to close out the night. I think we failed to be the very last out of the park, but we did get the event pin on the way out.
We loaded up the car and headed well, Tony had run out of cigarettes, and we must have tried every filling station between the park and Huntingborg. There is nothing open after midnight. Oh sure at some you could get gas with a credit card, but none of the stores were open.
We finally make it back to our cabin, where we celebrate Dave;s birthday. Happy Birthday Dave, that special food item was a chocolate cake, to which we added ice cream from the store. Nobody lingered too long then it was showers, and bed.
Tune in to a future trip report to find out what happened Sunday. I’ll give you a hint now, we fulfilled our promise not to go back to Kentucky Kingdom after the horrible time we had there a month ago.
April H was doing Keys to the Kingdom, and figured she needed to be on the road at 6AM to get to the park by 8AM. So she had left Holiday World early and she would be up and out before we knew what hit us.