Coaster Wednesday, Addendum

When I went to Great America last Wednesday I already knew about how the owner had sold the land with a leaseback, thus putting a definitive timeline on shutting down the park.

I had thought that was because of a cash crunch or something they needed to fill.  Which would suck, but the market is hot still here and it would bring in a lot of quick cash, so, OK.

But no. It was not done for that.  It was done to pump their bottom line so they can give out stockholder dividends again.  (This isn’t hidden, by the way — they state it straight up in their press release.)

It wasn’t done because they needed the cash to stay solvent.  It doesn’t seem it was done because this park was losing them a tonne of money.  It wasn’t done to improve and elevate the experience for more fun and entertainment, either at this park or others.  It’s major goal is only to give money away, mostly to those who already have lots of money.

By closing a park that has been a fixture of fun for the local area since 1976 and could have continued to bring in revenue for many years to come.  (Not to mention that by selling now they are also depriving themselves of further land appreciation.)

Which truly sucks, and I say is a sucky way to run a company.

Coaster Wednesday

Well, this happened today:

A photo from underneath of Railblazer's intertwined track

Yep!  Time to indulge in my love of coasters with a trip to California’s Great America.  A park that somehow I hadn’t been to in almost a decade, despite it being just a stone’s throw from my house.  (What is wrong with me?)  But it was an opportune time to visit… not too busy (18 coaster rides total for the day) and with a chance to try out Railblazer (pictured above), a single-rail coaster by RMC.  RMC is on fire right now with their coasters, and their single-rail concept is new enough that only 5 are existence at the moment.

And it certainly shows that RMC know what they are doing (as if their hybrid coaster revamps haven’t been proof enough).  This is one compact footprint of a ride, but it packs a lot of punch in that small area.  Railblazer is gloriously twisty, with a tonne of negative-G moments that’ll pop you out of your seat, plus a very short stall that’s still pretty sweet.  Surprisingly, the experience of the single rail and single-rider cars, and thus a drop off on either side of you, wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it’d be.  It did afford plenty of view on either side, but it didn’t provide all that much extra “feel” as I expected.  But no matter!  It’s still a darn fun coaster.

As did remain their inverted coaster, Flight Deck, mainly for its last element that is worth the price of admission alone:  a barrel roll that drops immediately into a low helix directly over a large pond.  There’s just something about that combo that is amazing, it just flows in a way that satisfies, very fitting for a hard-burning jet fighter.  Doubly so if you take the leftmost seat so you can skim just over the water.  Triply so if you take the front seat, where with the track above you and your feet dangling it’s all view, all the time.  And as the park wasn’t super busy today, I took the front all four times, getting the leftmost seat 3 of those times.  Loved it.

Gold Striker remains a great new-school woodie, and it has quite the bit more airtime than I remembered it having.  I think ensuring there was room to the lap bar helped a bunch so that I could actually pop out of the seat.  It’s a coaster that from the first, curving drop never lets up, lots of twistiness, and the sound walls make for a great visual experience if you lean towards them.  Plus it has a nice bit of woodie roughness.  Good stuff.

Demon was great for its classic Arrow Dynamics feel and for the themeing – a few lit tunnels with manacle laughter, plus the great stone devil maw you dive into before the deliciously classic double corkscrew.  Nostalgia joy!

Grizzly also promised some nostalgia as an old-school woodie, but unfortunately it felt pretty tame overall.  It’s no Wilde Beast, alas…

And the stand-up coaster from my last visit has been converted to a floorless model.  While the old stand-up restraints were head-mashers, as a standard sit-down this failed to excite me much.

Lo, thus was a grand day of coaster riding had.  I got my positive and negative gees, my inversions, my rattles and rumbles, my hang time, and as I crested the loop on the inverted coaster, I got to yell “Kick some sky!”

(Thank you to Robb from Theme Park Review for that one…)

Return to Wonder(land)

Though I’ve posted about it a bunch, including reminiscing about my earliest visits when the park was still young, I hadn’t actually visited Canada’s Wonderland since 1995 or so.  But a few weeks ago I got a chance to do just that!  Visiting home during the more summerly months there was no way I wasn’t going to go and see what was new… and, of course, ride every coaster I could as often as I could.  DO NOT STAND UP! Continue reading