La Feria amusement park has a couple different wristbands for admission. There's the Magico, the cheapest, letting people on 28 of the rides, mostly the smaller, child-friendlier rides. There's the Mega, offering 39 rides, but cutting out the biggest thrill rides. There's the Platino, all 45 attractions. Good way, especially for the families that the park seems to cater to, to tailor their purchases to what the kids can actually ride and also to save a bit of money in the process. Mind, the Platino wristband cost M$200, or about US$10, so this might be an even better value than the endangered Lakemont Park in Altoona, Pennsylvania. (Which when we last visited offered daily rides for US$5, the right day of the week, but had fewer rides and a smaller footprint than La Feria.) We didn't have a real choice what to buy anyway, since only the Platino pass included Montaña Rusa or the other roller coasters. bunny_hugger handled the buying of wristbands, since she could actually follow much of the language, while I would just be hopeless.
We saw Montaña Rusa running, a great relief. We'd heard it was not always operating. Only one of the two lift hills was running at a time, apparently an increasingly common state of affairs. When the American Coaster Enthusiasts ran a Mexican tour last year they only had the one lift hill running, and if they were able to run two trains at once you'd think it would be for the coaster enthusiast convention. Yes, both hills worked, in alternate succession; it's a M&oum;bius-strip coaster and there's no choice about that. But the racing aspect was a part of the ride we were doomed to miss.
If we didn't miss the whole thing. You may think that yes, we were two PhD's, but there's still no way that we could miss the onetime largest roller coaster in the world --- the last wooden roller coaster to be the world's tallest roller coaster --- in a park whose landscape is dominated by the ride's hills and supports. But we were not having an easy time of it. La Feria doesn't seem to have any park maps, not as brochures and not as signs standing in the park. There's not much in directional signs in the park either. We figured, well, the station has to be near the base of the lift hill, and the queue has to start somewhere near the station, so let's try that. Yes, yes, the queue for The Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood is crazy far from any element of the ride. But what are the odds of something weird like that in a cramped urban amusement park on a hilly terrain? Allow me to explain why this is a correctly formed and therefore very funny amusement-park joke: Kennywood is also a cramped urban amusement park on a hilly terrain.
So we went down several hills and saw nothing. We found some tunnels underneath the roller coaster's structure. This seemed promising: a queue underneath the roller coaster would make good sense. It was not there. We did find a couple shops, and a side attraction called the Reptour. This would be a great name for a 30-day challenge to draw a new species each day, or maybe a vacation package for shapeshifters. But in this case it was a small side animal attraction with reptiles and we tried hard not to think about the animals being kept as a side show in an amusement park.
This would all give us a great tour of the lowest level of the amusement park, some of which was beautifully themed --- even the tunnels under Montaña Rusa were decorated as fairy-tale castles --- but which didn't get us any closer to a ride. Finally, naturally, bunny_hugger saved the day.
She remembered having seen pictures of a bride leading to the station. When we emerged back under the tunnels one more time she looked up and found a pedestrian bridge leading from the highest level of the park's ground and going, ah, to the launch station. The frontage of it is decorated with what my uncultured eye recognizes as ``that Aztec-y style, I think it is?'', ornate feathered serpents with heads that envelop human faces, lining the arches into the place with a big V and a circle of flames that's maybe the sun rising over it. On the inside were big posters celebrating a 2006 marathon ride session; six names are listed with from 586 to 1,333 consecutive rides. Sitting on the platform level, gated away from people, were a miniature of the whole roller coaster and a colorful dragon-creature several feet tall standing beside and towering over the ride.
I had plenty of time to watch this. There wasn't a long queue --- only about one train's worth when we arrived --- but it took time for any staff to come up, to open the gate, and to let the 24 people for one train's worth of riding in. Then to go down to the platform with the 24 people and check buckles and restraints and all. That the ride operators had to switch sides each dispatched train didn't help matters.
So apparently Montaña Rusa enjoys a reputation for being a rough ride. I didn't know this and I'd have ridden anyway. It seemed a little fast and a little wild to start with, but nothing outside the ordinary. Then came the end of this one drop on the return leg, and that was harsh; it battered my knees and left me feeling momentarily like my head was fleeing my body. This was a bit much. When we rode it again, as of course we would, we knew when to brace for this, and the end of the drop was much less bad. Can understand people who wouldn't go for that, though.
It's a fun ride, though, and my only regret is that it couldn't be my 200th. (Or what we believed my 200th to be.)
We went back around, of course, to try to ride the other lift hill. And did some close counting of the people in the queue ahead of us, so as to make sure we got on the correct side. Not only did we get the correct side, we were the first ones onto the train and so could get a front-seat ride. The particularly rough valley seemed less bad, possibly because we had learned to brace for it, possibly because it is, after all, a different piece of track with a slightly different geometry.
And so we had got to the most important roller coaster at this park. We had our objective met. The rest of the day was bonus.
Trivia: In 1811, as the (First) Bank of the United States's charter was to lapse, about 70 percent of its ownership was British stockholders. Source: A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, Scott Reynolds Nelson.
Currently Reading: Learning From The Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science, Shauna Devine. Remarkably not a book taken from the Michigan State University library; this is the city library's.
PS: So where did we go after leaving the Holiday Inn Worthington for the presumably last time the Monday after Anthrohio finished?
We went to the Columbus Zoo! With the convention's new weekend the roller coaster in what used to be the Wyandot Lake Amusement Park, absorbed into the zoo years ago, would be open when we could visit. Also, as you can see, when everybody else in the world could visit since it was a beautiful sunny warm Memorial Day.
The Flying Scooters that were a big thing in amusement parks in the 1940s and which have made a comeback. So ... are these Wyandot Lake originals going back decades, or something newly made and brought in? Write down your answers; I'll be back with the correct response soon. Yes, I totally forgot to follow up on how I did that photo trick at Motor City Fur[ry] Con last year, but I was reminded of that fact and figure to share that secret soon.
Swing ride, along with some of the signs that show the mix of zoo and amusement park that absorbing Wyandot Lake has caused the Columbus Zoo to be. Also the sign pointing out what we really went to the Zoo for first and foremost. No, not the restrooms. ... Nice zoetrope-style pictures along the header and rounding boards, by the way.