I’d planned a 10:00am departure from my hotel today to give myself a chance to recharge the proverbial batteries, and this turned out to be an unexpected blessing as it gave me an opportunity to call into the alpine coaster at the Branson Sawmill, located around a quarter of a mile from my hotel. I arrived shortly after the advertised opening and found lots of staff in place, but the shutters down at the ticket desk. After a few minutes I located a manager, who informed me that there was a problem with a camera system and that the ride would not be opening until that had been sorted.
As ever a precise time estimate wasn't available, but I asked the nice man whether we were looking at minutes or hours and was told “most likely an hour”. As I didn’t have that much slack in my day I decided to take some photos and leave, and I was just returning to my rental car for the drive to my next stop when I spotted a family handing over money. Sure enough it turned out that the problematic widget had been sorted ahead of schedule.
The Branson Coaster is advertised as a “double alpine coaster”, which is a fancy way of saying that it has been built with two lift hills and two distinct downhill runs. It’s also a clever way of marketing the fact that the total track length is considerably shorter than the two nearby competitors; its advertised 2700 feet of rail as of this writing places it 36th out of 48 alpine coasters in North America. On a happier note however there was no need to complete a legal waiver of any kind to ride; instead, I had a RFID wristband attached to my wrist (overkill with only one ride, surely?) and after a brief safety video I was good to go.
The layout was standard stuff, but pretty good for all that. It was an interesting novelty to see the two halves of the layout interacting; I daresay it’d be quite a lot of fun with more people on course at the same time, especially if the group comprised coaster enthusiasts. Staff ensured that a slow rider in front was clear before I was released, and while I did reach the end of the first half while the recalcitrant was moving through the brake segment I took the opportunity to stall for around half a minute there to ensure that he was well clear of me for the second half.
Fast Lane Entertainment
18th August 2021
A two hour drive southwest from Branson brought me to Fast Lane Entertainment, a respectably large and almost completely deserted family entertainment centre in Lowell, Arkansas. I spotted a grand total of three staff on duty today: one working on catering, one brandishing an impressive variety of cleaning products, and one roaming around to assist with the various attractions. It took me a while to figure out where to buy a ticket since most of the registers were shut, but I eventually got one at the food counter, and in a nice bonus, it was half price for “hump day”.
Python Pit (#2930) is a family coaster relocated from a defunct Zonkers FEC in Olathe, Kansas. The hardware is a relatively rare clockwise example of Miler's 11.5ft single helix design; 12 out of the 16 known installations have a counter-clockwise helix. This is of course an entirely different experience, worthy of at least a few pages of gloriously exuberant prose in the style of the late Paul Ruben. Unfortunately I'm up against a time constraint as I'm publishing this, so the reader will have to imagine what I might have written (or, for preference, breathe a deep sigh of relief). I was given a four lap cycle in the back car, allowing me to mark another checkbox on the list. I've now ridden all of the clockwise models, for what that's worth (not much).
Tulsa's Incredible Pizza Company
18th August 2021
After surviving the culinary marvel that was the St Louis Incredible Pizza on Sunday it's fair to say that I was less than enthusiastic about two additional stores on the same day, but there were coasters to be ridden and that was that. The Tulsa branch of the chain was quite a lot larger than St Louis, with a better selection of rides, a go-kart track, and a collection of arcade machines.
Readers should be aware that rides were being run on rotation today; each was open for ten minutes per hour, presumably due to low staffing. I was fortunate in my timing, in that I had just enough time to consume one plate of “food” before my eight-lap cycle on Spinning Coaster (#2931). I decided not to go back for seconds given that I had more of the same awaiting me at my next stop and an excess applicable on my health insurance policy.
Oklahoma's Incredible Pizza Company
18th August 2021
The journey to the second Inedible Pizza Company of the day took just shy of two hours, and there was a nice surprise awaiting me when I got there: the staff member at the entrance decided of her own volition to charge me the senior rate for admission. Readers who've followed my blog for a long time will know that I'm not as young as I used to be, but I don't for a minute think that I look like a senior – at least not yet!
My second Spinning Coaster (#2932) of the day was also configured with an eight lap cycle, and was also open for ten minutes of the hour. I had to wait 40 minutes for the privilege of an exclusive ride, though this was less painful than it might have been as the spare time gave me ample time to catch up on trip report notes and contemplate my life choices.
Flat ride enthusiasts chasing down their credit should also make time for the Scrambler, a full size Eli Bridge model with signage indicating that it had once operated at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park in New York. In researching this report I discovered the full history; it was manufactured in 1955, and ran for over fifty years at Astroland. When that park closed its doors in 2008 the ride was placed into storage, returning for a brief stint at Deno’s between 2015-2016. One presumes its current home to be its last; it seems unlikely that it will be relocated anywhere else at this stage.
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