Great Escape has received an impressive variety of second hand coasters over the years. Only two of the seven credits there at the moment were new when installed at the park, and of the others, three had more than one previous home. Canyon Blaster (#852) was one such ride, having previously run at Opryland USA and Old Indiana. Though mine trains are often designed around their terrain this one clearly wasn't, occupying a fairly tight area. The park has done a nice job of theming the ride; in fact, the appearance of the park in general was quite a bit better than we expected.
The same could not be said for the coasters, however. Our second stop was at an ageing Arrow corkscrew with the somewhat improbable name of Steamin' Demon (#853). The first word was eminently appropriate, though the second should probably be replaced with something generally found in the bathroom. While the setting of the coaster made it look good, helped no doubt by some new paint work, the actual experience of riding was, to be blunt, not good.
Alpine Bobsled (#854) might have been a great ride were it not for the engineering of the mid course block brakes, which produced a ride effect rather akin to a car crash. This seems to be a particular trait of the Intamin bob sled rides, as a quick check of past diaries indicates I felt the same way at Six Flags Over Texas three years ago. Interestingly enough, one of the other patrons on the ride, who was probably from the Richmond VA area, remarked that was longer and faster than our one, but otherwise it sucks.
There was a particularly interesting feature on the Comet (#855), which I'd love to see on other coasters. The chain lift started off pretty slowly, but gradually accelerated as the train made its way towards the top. The effect was like a low speed launch, maybe zero to fifteen miles per hour over a ten second period, but the anticipation and excitement this added to the coaster was immeasurable. It sounds like a really small thing, and it is, but it worked very well. The rest of the ride was pretty good too; it was certainly the best operational coaster in the park today.
The only real disappointment of the morning was the loss of Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon, a Schwarzkopf Jet Star that was out of commission. At one stage of the morning there were staff members at the entrance advising people that the ride would probably open later, but by lunch time they had been replaced with a closed sign. The kiddie coaster was also restricted to those under a certain height, ruling us out there. As a result our final credit for the morning was Boomerang Coast to Coaster (#856), a standard model that was entirely typical of the other rides in the family and nothing like as good as the one we'd ridden less than twenty four hours before. We decided not to join the large number of guests running from the exit back to the entrance.
2nd August 2006
Magic Forest is without question a children's park, with a target age bracket of those under about the age of four. When writing the itinerary for this trip I noticed its proximity to Great Escape (about four miles) and nevertheless still opted not to stop there. However, when we actually drove past it the temptation to ride just one more coaster proved irresistible. To that end, we now can list in Roller Coaster (#857) in our track records, if, that is, we haven't quietly removed it due to embarrassment.
There is one feature of the park that bears special mention, however; the park proudly advertises itself as being home to the nation's only diving horse show. No, that's not a typo; they have a dive performed by a horse (okay, it's about seven feet, but nevertheless). This show, which lasted about a second and a half (long enough for the airborne stallion to go from the platform into the water) was, as you can imagine, utterly riveting stuff. So much so that those visiting Great Escape would do well to make a side trip here just to see it. There is after all a great deal more to see than the photo below suggests.
Beyond the spectacular feat of equine acrobatics the park also has a respectable selection of small fairytale walkthroughs, as befits its name. In fact, the place can largely be summarised as an English speaking version of the sprookjesbos at Efteling, fortunately without the talking trash cans. Papier hier! Papier hier! is bad enough, but even the thought of it in an American accent makes me shudder. The forest is home to enough small children's rides to easily make for a full day out.
2nd August 2006
When writing our trip itinerary we listed Seabreeze as an option that was simply not sensible and which should be skipped. The main reason was the effect on the driving distance, adding seven hours of additional road time. Instead, we had an alternative of Méga Parc in Quebec. There was only one problem with this cunning plan, discovered the night before; we had failed to load the maps for the Quebec area into Satnav. The idea of trying to find our way around a major urban centre without computer assistance (or, for that matter, a map of any kind) was not a happy prospect. For this reason, we went for the stupid option.
The first little amusement on arrival was the name of the ticket we needed to make entry at this stage of the evening. With apologies to those who didn't watch television in the 1980s, we needed a night rider ticket to enter so late in the day. Silly names aside, it would be nice if more parks could follow the example set by Seabreeze and offer discounted admission to those arriving in the evening. It does seem a little on the silly side to pay full price admission somewhere two hours before closing.
The park has a true classic of a wooden coaster in Jack Rabbit (#858), and though the Morgan trains don't do it any favours it is still very rerideable. The biggest issue with the trains is the amount of noise they make, which just sounds wrong; a wood coaster shouldn't make a buzzing noise akin that sounds almost like a doorbell as it races around the track!
Probably the most interesting ride at the park was the Bobsleds (#859), which started life as a wooden coaster. The park decided to retrofit it, both with a second layer of superstructure, and tubular steel rails. The layout looked and felt a lot like Leap the Dips, with lots of small drops scattered throughout the course, and much to my surprise it worked really well. Parks that attempt to build their own steel roller coasters often end up nowhere, but in this case the ride is an unqualified success. It is telling that an in house design is actually smoother than many so-called professional steel coasters of the period.
The last port of call, the kiddie coaster being once again off limits, was Whirlwind (#860). Formerly run on the German fairs, this ride has lost just a little compared to the one still travelling, as the cars don't spin as much, nor are they loaded as quickly. Nevertheless, it is still a lot of fun, and something I wish was available on the fair circuit in Ireland.