Sea World Orlando23rd May 2010
Manta (#1493) is the latest flying coaster from the team at B&M, and visually at least it's a winner. The design wraps around the front of the park, and features a faked splash effect that nevertheless looks entirely convincing. The layout is also completely smooth, with no bumps anywhere on the course. Hoewever, reridability is greatly limited by a ridiculously intense pretzel loop. On my second lap it affected my vision briefly, enough to make me quit while I was ahead. A brief tip; those who don't like to get splashed should avoid sitting on the right hand side of the car.
Wandering across the park, I was able to walk directly into the back row of Kraken, still one of the best coasters in Orlando. I found myself chatting with a bearded gentleman who for some reason decided that I was German and proceeded to interrogate me about driving on the Autobahn. Cultivating my best kraut accent I began to talk about how ze drivers in zis country zimply do not know how to drive, all the while doing my best not to snigger. My new friend agreed completely, complaining about how an unreasonable state trooper had recently stopped him making the most of his Corvette!
With the rides in the park otherwise completed I decided to take a quick trip up the Sky Tower in order to take an aerial photograph of Manta. I contemplated a third lap, but the queue time had increased to over an hour, so rather than wait I decided to move on.
Universal Studios Florida23rd May 2010
Universal Studios today was rammed with people, and it would have been no fun at all were it not for single rider queues. As it was, the very opposite was true; the longest wait of the day was five minutes for Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (#1494), a coaster which takes the Episode of Little Fairies award for the most ridiculous ride name in the entire United States.
The new coaster has a world first element, probably best described as a non-inverting loop. The train negotiates a 180° twist as it climbs skyward, and while it looks rather strange the sensation actually works pretty well. It's worth noting also that Maurer Sohne has managed to fix the lap bar tightening problem that so plagued earlier versions of this design, which is probably just as well given how intense some portions of the layout are. There are some fairly dramatic direction changes in the second half of the course, and a few places where the track joins are less smooth than they might be. Overall however the experience was top notch, and I'd have completed a few more laps had it not broken down while I walked down the exit ramp. It was still closed a few hours later when I'd finished the rest of the park, with ride operators handing out exit passes to disappointed guests.
From there I wandered over to Revenge of the Mummy. I was placed next to a family with a young child who was clearly terrified by the whole experience, his fright exacerbated by the fact that you told me this ride wasn't a roller coaster. I hate roller coasters! It was all I could do not to yell at the parents, who have probably turned their child off amusement rides for life. The ride operator at the exit tried to comfort the screaming child, but was rebuffed by said mother. On an unrelated note, fire effects are seriously overrated in the Floridian summer!
New to me this trip was the Simpsons Ride, a refit of the old Back to the Future experience with a new movie, better projectors, and brightly coloured theming. The violent jerks experienced on the old simulator platform have been cured too, making for a pretty fun attraction overall. Having said that, for me the highlight was still the various short videos experienced in the queue line, ranging from a relationship advice video from Patti and Selma, to free refills for Kwik-E-Mart soft drinks (you wait for the ice to melt, then you drink that too!). I'm not about to spoil the simulator portion itself except to note that it starts off with an impossibly big roller coaster. Perhaps a little artistic license is allowable though.
The attendant on Men in Black insisted that I put my wallet into a free locker, rather amusing really considering that the ride exit leads directly into a gift shop. My gun was working properly today unlike last time, and I managed a respectable if not outstanding score. I finished up with a ride on ET, enjoying a bicycle trip around the world accompanied by one of the best movie soundtracks ever written.
King Richards Park23rd May 2010
If the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter had been open I'd have spent this afternoon at Islands of Adventure, but the park admission was too expensive to justify without it, especially with the Dueling Dragons closed for retheming. Instead, therefore, I decided to head south for King Richard's Park, figuring a few hours of air conditioned comfort (and another coaster credit) to be a better way to spend my time. Satnav pointed out that it was a relatively short diversion to another small coaster at Kidstar Park, but that park was closed when I drove past.
It was early evening when I wandered into King Richards, finding a particularly nice park; I'd incorrectly assumed from the web site that the place would be a low budget affair. The park has an amusement arcade, a water play area, a small selection of family rides, some batting cages, and, crucially, a bar. I was particularly amused by a sign advising patrons that there was a two pint limit for those wishing to partake of the go-karts; one wonders whether this rule is enforced with a breathalyser?
There were only a few people in the ride area, with a single ride operator was handling all the attractions in rotation. He was particularly friendly, and figured me for a coaster enthusiast immediately, saying that I was the third today. There was nobody else in the train for my four laps on the Dragon Wagon (#1495), one of the largest of the genre I've encountered, though still undisputably a family coaster.