We got checked in and made our way to the park. We got a little distracted by Top Thrill Dragster (but not as distracted as we would the next day.) We went to get food. I had a bit of park sticker shock (but soon that would pass.) The burger was at least pretty yummy. We also started to become connoisseurs of the quality of water fountains. (We would later find out that any refeshement stand would give us a small cup of water, but weren't allowed to refill our cups which was wasteful.) We then made our way to the Iron Dragon as our warm-up coaster. My memory of it was that it was very tame. Apparently, though, my coaster tolerance had reset after all these years and it was actually a little faster and more exciting than I had remembered, but it was still an excellent warm-up coaster.
We decided to take the train to the back of the park. We made Roboman feed the carp (since that was one of my memories that I cherish and the fish food vending machines were still there.) There weren't as many fish as there used to be and the machine didn't give as much food as it used to. We then did the mine ride, which was a a lot rougher than I had remembered, but was a good neck test for me and my mom.
We then went to Gemini which is likely the coaster I've ridden the most, since it was there all the years that we went when I was a child and I used to love ridding it over and over. It actually had a line, which was surprising. I couldn't keep my arms up, because of the reduced tolerance, but I still loved the ride (I had forgotten just how much it kicked you out of your seat (which was fun, but a little unnerving.)) We then went to the Magnum, which I remember when it was new and it was the biggest scariest thing, but I also remembered that I got very used to riding it, but it was too much for me and came off having not had fun. (I wasn't miserable, but I needed some water and wasn't coming off with the happy high, more the scared high.)
Somewhere in here B and G got some yummy fresh lemonade.
At this point I was a bit worried. Magnum is not even close to the biggest, scariest thing in the park and there was a lot I wanted to ride, but since the Raptor is my favorite coaster of all time, I decided I wanted to try it next. On the way there, we did the Cedar Downs for the fondness of it (it's a speed merry-go-round.) Raptor, however was all pleasure and no fear AT ALL. (Oddly enough, it had LESS line than the Gemini.) I figured out that anything with a shoulder harness that I could get right made me feel secure and continued on with that knowledge. I still love you Raptor!
We did the Wicked Twister. Never one of my favorites and the g-forces on the direction change seemed worse than I remembered (as it would turn out, I was having more trouble with Gs than I used to.) I still loved the initial acceleration.
BTW, as a side note, we were blessed with relatively short lines all around. We were also taking the mellow approach to the trip. The weather was AMAZING and the park was just as pleasant as I remembered. I had also given my mother a watch that could measure heart rates, so she was taking readings before and after every ride (made me take a reading after Magnum too.) Surprisingly, it was consistently lower after the rides.
Roboman decided to try to win a giant dragon (or as we later found out a giant griffon/gargoyle) with a ring toss. The ring toss had a cool deal that if you bought enough rings you got a sparkly hat with them as a consolation prize. He walked away with the sparkly hat an no giant stuffed dragon.
We walked through the arcade, found me a DDR machine and had a game. I was of course out of practice, but apparently am still good enough to at least be a little bit impressive. I failed the last song though because I was a beat early and couldn't recover.
The sun was setting and the park was starting to light up. (I love the park at night and we were blessed with a lovely full moon.) I wanted to go ride the Raptor, but my mom and Roboman didn't want to. So I went off alone (almost no line.) The bugs were out, so I had to scrape them off my face after the ride was over. The stranger next to me didn't realize they were bug hits during the run and then was a little grossed out when he found out what had been hitting him. Luckily none got in my eye. While I was doing that B and G rode the Cadillac Cars (classic cars on a track) and G got his bumpercar ride! We then decided it was close enough to closing to find our restaurant.
We had a lovely meal. I had a proper mojito and the bartender told me her recipe to fix mine. We had a really nice cream of asparagus soup and some nice blackend scallops and shrimp. We went back to the room exhausted and happy, but found the energy for a walk on the silky beach and a wade in the water.
We woke, I ate the leftover scallops from last night and we wandered over to the putter golf, which wasn't open yet. There was already a line for the resort early entry, so we decided to just sit and wait for the end of the line to come to us, instead of going to the end and waiting in it. Good thing we did, because it went back a lot further than we realized. We were going to go ride the Iron Dragon again because it was one of the few early access rides that was tame enough for us to ride, but before we got there, we started to be facinated by how the Top Thrill Dragster worked (I wanted to see it run empty and then we noticed there was someone fixing it.) So we start to theorie on how the coaster worked (it accelerates the car to 120mph in 4 seconds. It's really impressive to watch it.) We then watch my theory get shot to pieces as we realized it was cable driven with a water cooled pulley system. Completely amazing. We had completely consumed our early access between watching the line and watching the dragster, but we didn't care because it was amazing to think about the engineering. (the guy was fixing the pneumatic lifts for plates for the safety brakes if the car didn't make the top and would fall back down.)
We rode the Iron Dragon and this time I didn't care if I rode in the front and we rediscovered just how much smoother the middle car was, which would be key later in the day. We decided to try the Raptor again with B and G in the middle car. This was the first long line we'd hit yet, 45 minutes.
We decided it was time to try the new coaster, the Gatekeeper. Since I had already learned that being secure in the harness was important and that the Gatekeeper hangs you upside down in the harness for a moment I went and sat in the test seat to figure out how it worked and what it would feel like. I was quite impressed, It was super comfortable and I was game to give the ride a try. My mom wanted me to test it before she rode it, so she and G went off to do the big wheel (which with my fear of heights isn't a big miss for me). Again almost no line. This time not only did I pick a middle car, but I also picked an inside seat since this was a "wing coaster" and the seats extend out from the track and the ones further from the track actually move further and faster. It was quite enjoyable and I reported back it being fun and they came and rode it. Not quite having the courage for the front seat, I tried the second to front while they rode for the first time. Since there was no line (really, no line until the platform, it was a fortunate time to be there) I went and rode the front seat. Apparently my blood pressure was very low since my vision half blacked out on the bottom of the first hill. Freaked me out a little bit but I was still able to enjoy the rest of the ride but I was careful to make sure I took extra breaths. It was a coincidence that I had been thinking that the harness cradles you so well that you'd be fine if you did pass out on it, before I got on (I think because someone came in to the station looking alseep.)
We then took the Sky Ride to view the park and exited the park for a walk on the beach (the sand was very hot) and then went and had a round of mini golf. I got tired and hungry during it and started off well, but then had a horrible game after that. I demanded soft serve ice cream afterwards which greatly improved my mood. We then sought real food, had some chicken and ribs and salad. In the restaurant there were some old signs, including one that reminded us of where we used to eat and a sign that said "Dragon's Lair" and "For 6 and under" that both twigged incomplete memories.
Roboman was interested in riding the Mean Streak, so I went on with him. I had forgotten just how amazing it was to stand in the middle of it. The ride was more fun than I remember, but it did anger my neck a little bit. I really wanted to try the Maverick and we were almost at the end of our visit, so I decided to do it. Longest wait whole visit. I was a little worried about my neck when I saw the "no earrings" sign. I did get a smack out of riding it, but my neck was ok. I really liked how different the ride felt. It had the same (but much tamer) cable drive that the Dragster had, including one theough a tunnel that was fun. The over 90 hill didn't seem that special but it was able to give some really nice air without paying the Gs back too aggressively. It was in general sprightly, but not rough (except for the smack which I wasn't anticipating) and a lot of fun.
We forced G to get teh dippin' dots he wanted earlier.
We went for one last ride on the Gemini. The difference from the first ride was amazing for me. I was relaxed, I could put my arms up and was just calm and enjoying the wind. I'm sure if I had wanted to I could have ridden the Magnum and enjoyed it, but instead, as the sun set, I wanted to just watch the Dragster run and marvel at it. Watch the wheels spray their water cooling, hear the roar like a jet plane, watch the marvel of completely useless technology take everyday people and fire them safely into the sky. We watch for about an hour and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Roboman then bought me an LED, sequined Trilby hat which I wore for the rest of the night.
Despite us having to drive back, we decided to spend the time for one last walk on the beach (with the hat.) We decided in the car that the trip could have only been better if three things had happened. 1) Roboman winning the giant stuffed griffon. 2) Finding time for a proper swim in the lake 3) I can't remember 3 right now, so it must not have been very important.
It was amazing visit. It was almost completely perfect and it made me happy in a way that hadn't been since the last time I came. It made us all feel a little old because we all had to be careful, take it easy and were worn out by the days on our feet, but I feel so lucky to have been able to return after so long and have it be as wonderful as I remembered. Thank you CP.