austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Never entered any sports

With the three of us eliminated and the day still young we thought about what to do. Stick around to see who did win was an option, yeah, and we usually did that in past years. But it was a nice July Saturday, and Michigan's Adventure amusement park was a half-hour away, and bunny_hugger and I hadn't been there that season yet, and MWS had never been there. He's a roller coaster enthusiast, and Michigan's Adventure has six adult coasters plus one kiddie coaster well-worth riding. But from where he lives the park is farther away than Cedar Point is. And Cedar Point is, well, a major amusement park. Michigan's Adventure just had never made sense as a day trip.

We didn't leave the tournament until long enough that we hoped we wouldn't look like sore losers. And I, driving, missed one intersection but it turned out this was basically all right except for a short stretch going over an unpaved road that did not encourage anyone to believe I knew what I was doing. I was following the satellite navigator as best I could.

When we had our last visit to Michigan's Adventure in 2016 I took souvenir photos of the entrance since it, particularly the sign, looked like it might be up for a renovation. So it was, slightly. The entry sign with its Snoopy logo were replaced with new, un-rusted letters and a nice glossy World War I Flying Ace. The gate itself was unchanged, but there was an unwelcome addition out front: X-ray screeners. The security theater apparatus was annoying enough at Cedar Point, but to come to a relative backwater park like this? Pfaugh.

Also the place that was supposed to have coffee last year but was never open except one time when we were leaving? Wasn't open this year. I think the coffee-at-Michigan's-Adventure thing is a complete hoax by now.

It was a crowded day at the park, what with it being a Saturday at summer. But that doesn't mean it was crowded like Cedar Point would be crowded. For one most of the public was crowded into the water park. And with that done most of the rides had tolerable waits. Our first ride was their biggest and best roller coaster, the mile-long Shivering Timbers. It's a wooden roller coaster. Michigan's Adventure has more wooden roller coasters than Cedar Point has (amazingly); and while it had the second-longest line of any coaster, it's also got the capacity to get people through. MWS could have his first taste of riding stuff at Michigan's Adventure and could like it. He thought the ride less rattly than Cedar Point's Mean Streak, true enough at least since some track repairs done recently.

But there was lost opportunity there too. We had learned, and were prepared for, some sad news over the off-season. The roller coaster used to have a little strip of ``trick track''. This is an old-fashioned bit where the track stays straight, but does roll side to side, giving the illusion of the car shaking riders out of it. (There's a bit of it in the Popeye cartoon ``King of the Mardis Gras'', where the cars go rolling like ships at sea.) Shivering Timbers was one of the few (only?) roller coasters to still have it. And they took it out this year in favor of a little straight patch. It was just a small element, and it's not like the ride is boring or significantly lessened by it. But it was gone, and unnecessarily so, and MWS had that bit of sadness that an experience he liked ought to have been that little bit better.

We went around to the other roller coasters, giving MWS his first ride on Wolverine Wildcat --- a near-duplicate of Knoebels's Phoenix, one of the best wooden roller coasters. Wolverine Wildcat is a much lesser ride. I blame the braking. Knoebels runs things a little wilder. Corkscrew is a smaller ride, Michigan's Adventure's first roller coaster, from when they were changing from a petting zoo and family fun center into an amusement park. Thunderhawk is their newest ride, salvaged from the Geauga Lake amusement park, a steel roller coaster all about twists and spirals and banging your head against a badly designed set of restraints.

There's the Chance carousel, one like you find in any park that hasn't got an antique carousel. Zach's Zoomer, their smallest wooden roller coaster, a junior ride still good for adults and really quite a bit of fun. It's your classic figure-eight style, the sort that anyone could have built in 1920. It's a good ride for people who want to ride a roller coaster but are scared of anything big; it'll give quite nice bits of what roller coasters are for.

We got sodas, bunny_hugger and I making tentative use of the prepaid drinks plan, and went over to the petting zoo. The zoo was the park's big addition the previous year, and from my photos I'm not sure we actually got into the petting zoo's confines. We were probably there after the area closed for the evening.

We did go around for another, early-evening, ride on Shivering Timbers. And we looked at the last roller coaster (apart from a kiddie coaster that adults can ride, at the cost of banging their knees quite a lot). That's the Mad Mouse, a wild mouse near the front of the park and one that always has a line. Part of that is they load the cars slower than they really could, or need to. Part of that is that wild mouse coasters are always popular; they're small, clearly non-terrifying rides that most anyone feels up to. We thought really hard about joining what was probably a half-hour-long line that would take us to the close of the park's day.

But we had been going, between driving, pinball, driving again, and amusement park, since fearsomely early in the day. And we had two hours' driving to get back to our home, and MWS another hour's driving after that. So we let go of that ride, figuring to get to it later on. And MWS had the Michigan's Adventure experience: a cozy little park that really needs some indoor attractions or shows or something, but one that even on a busy day is tame enough you can ride nearly all the roller coasters in three and a half hours' trying.

It's such a fine place to have around, although it would be nice were it a touch closer.

Trivia: Late 1970s computer simulations of the energy output for the Lawrence Livermore National Labs's Shiva fusion machine overestimated the actual output by, in the most optimistic projections, a factor of 10,000. Source: Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking, Charles Seife.

Currently Reading: It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: The Tragedy and Promise of America in the 1970s, Peter N Carroll.


PS: Some last pinball pictures until the next pinball pictures like later this week!

SAM_8991.jpg

Lower playfield of Volcano, the early-solid-state game that led off my perfect-failure round at Pinburgh 2016. It's a pretty neat art style, what with everyone looking like they're in the poster for a 1975 movie and the cavewomen having mastered the fur bikini and the backstrapless-fur-dress.


SAM_9006.jpg

bunny_hugger barely holding it together as she starts Apollo 13's 13-ball multiball. You see how, counting the shooter lane on the right, there's seven balls in frame here? Well there were six more moving around elsewhere on the playfield. The funniest multiball mode ever.


SAM_9019.jpg

Quick glimpse at one of the not-then-working games, Thunder Bolt! which I'd like to get at since it's really captured that Oddball 60s Comic Book style to it.


Tags: michigan's adventure, vfw pinball museum
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