Wooden coasters are relatively rare, and at this point there are not all that many left in the world that I've not been on. Of those, the majority are in what I'd describe as awkward locations, insofar as they are a long distance from anything else. One such coaster is located in a water park on the southern coast of Alabama, several hundred miles from anything that I'd even consider calling civilisation. Lest anyone misconstrue this as anti-American, it is not intended to be. The Gulf Shores region can be thought of America's answer to Blackpool; it may be a holiday destination for many, but it's not somewhere I'd ever like to get stuck in for more than twenty four hours.
Cannonball Run (#1177) is a fairly typical out and back coaster which traverses the entire length of the park car park. It is unlikely to rewrite any top ten lists, but it does ride fairly well, with all passengers getting two laps of the circuit for their money. Potential tourists should be aware that the wood coaster does not open until twelve noon; this came close to messing up our planned schedule, though we got away with it in the end. In particular, enthusiasts should note that it is possible to buy individual ride tickets for the coaster even when the water park is open. An unlimited wristband is also possible, but is unlikely to be necessary for even the most hardy enthusiast!
29th May 2008
Two years ago I narrowly missed out on riding the biggest wooden coaster in Alabama thanks to a dodgy sensor on the track. It looked for a while like the same was going to happen today, with the aforementioned ride being listed as temporarily closed. The first thought that came into mind was to swear in a loud voice, which might have been satisfying but would be unlikely to achieve anything. Instead, I decided to make enquiries at guest services. My question was clearly a tricky one, as it took ten minutes to answer, but in the end the reply that came back was good news; it'll be open in about twenty minutes.
Most of that time was spent in the long walk to the back of the park. Alabama Adventure is not particularly large, but it is full of windy routes, and getting to the coasters involves backtracking several times. In due course we arrived at Rampage (#1178), still roped off but now at least cycling trains. It turned out that two were on track, which seemed a little strange given the size of the crowds. It was only when we got to the station that it became clear that the second had been loaded with sandbags and was not being used.
I'd been forewarned that this ride was, to paraphrase, not one of the all time classic wooden coasters. With that in mind I was prepared for the worst, particularly at the base of the first drop. It was a delight therefore to discover this warning had been entirely misplaced, and that the park's star attraction was actually a pretty good ride. There were of course some inevitable mid-course potholes, but on the whole I'd rate it about a seven out of ten.