austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And go like this

Elitch Gardens, the original, had a renowned roller coaster named Mister Twister. When they moved to the new location they didn't figure they could move the roller coaster. Even Knoebels, which managed to move another wooden roller coaster, couldn't work out how to do it. They had to build a near-duplicate (in mirror), which we've ridden and which is a great coaster. New Elitch Gardens built an original coaster, Twister II. A Denver-area friend of mine warned the new coaster was not a patch on the original, and even thought New Elitch Gardens skippable. But a wooden roller coaster is always going to appeal, however much it might not be some better wooden roller coaster.

We would ride it three times over our day there. Our first time the walk up the queue (lined with photographs of Old Elitch Garden's rides) was disrupted by the most unhappy sight of people walking backwards. The ride was going to have to shut down, as most would, for a while due to lighting within three miles. Thunderstorms were always a possibility, given the heat of the early-summer day. But the skies looked fairly clear, and we decided to wait it out a reasonable time in the hopes of a rapid reopening. And cursed ourselves for having dawdled in line, watching earlier trains from the coaster's infield. A roller coaster is always interesting, and Twister II's structure flexes in dramatic and incredibly movie-ready ways.

But the weather cleared soon! With the crowd thinned by the weather delay we felt confident not just getting a ride but waiting for a front-seat ride, and so we enjoyed the ride --- a good, twist-heavy experience --- from the front and congratulated ourselves on playing this almost perfectly. I think we both would rate Twister, Knoebel's mirror-clone of the original ride, as better. Fair enough. But this is a good solid ride, even if a few spots are a bit rough in that mid-90s wooden roller coaster fashion.

The second time we would ride the coaster, a few hours later, we timed things much more perfectly from our point of view. Just after our ride the roller coaster went down again, for another weather-induced pause. We got to wondering if we were some sort of operational jinx for Twister II. Probably not, although technically speaking the roller coaster did go down for the night one train after our third ride. That was because we chose to close the night on Twister II, mind you, and thought we might even have gotten the final ride of the night. So that one isn't our fault. But, yeah, technically all the times we rode Twister II the ride had to shut down for one reason or another. Pretty sure it wasn't our fault.

Elitch Gardens has other roller coasters, of course. All steel. Some of them were relocated from Old Elitch Gardens. One that we didn't get to ride was Blazin' Buckaroo, the kiddie coaster, in one of the more severely Old West-themed areas of the park. We know kiddie coasters sometimes don't allow unaccompanied adults. So we checked the sign for warnings, like, that adults are only allowed with children, or that there's a maximum height, or anything, and found nothing. The ride operator wouldn't let us on, though, and even seemed a little confused we were trying. I'm still not clear whether we'd have been allowed on had we accompanied a child, but, tch. Their park, their rules, of course. Just would like the rules to be clear. No sense our wasting everyone's time with something that could be clarified by a line on the ride sign.

A ride we've ridden elsewhere, and that bunny_hugger would have been just as happy to skip: Boomerang. It's a shuttle looper coaster, twin to Morey's Piers's Sea Serpent and Six Flags Mexico's Boomerang and Lake Compounce's Zoomerang and Hersheypark's Sidewinder. It pulls you up a long hill, drops you, you spin over and loop up and spiral around and go up a second hill, and then go backwards over the same thing. Between this and Mind Eraser, Elitch Gardens's roller coaster set was giving us thoughts of how head-bangy everything was.

Another roller coaster we'd ridden before, in other incarnations: Sidewinder. I knew it, at Great Adventure, as the twin Lightnin' Loops coasters. We'd ridden it at Blackpool as Revolution. The thing about the roller coaster is that its path starts out level, drops suddenly, loops, levels out again, and then repeats this backwards. To get to the launch platform you have to walk up, about five storeys' worth of metal gantry-style lift. (Lightnin' Loops was like that too.) This offers a great aerial view of the park. If you aren't afraid of being high up unenclosed and not in the nice comforting safety of a fast-moving roller coaster. Also the weather looked threatening; we worried whether the ride might close while we were waiting. Also while we were waiting we noticed a sign on a building, visible across the railroad yard, for MSU Denver. I knew that Oakland University, outside Detroit, had started as a campus of Michigan State University, but this seemed particularly off-brand. We spent some time trying to figure out what the heck that could even be. It was Metropolitan State University of Denver.

The roller coaster we figured we could not ride: Half Pipe. This is a vast U-shaped coaster that was just closed every time we passed it. It barely looked like a real roller coaster, though I attested I had seen it in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. It's a shuttle coaster again --- why is everything at Elitch Gardens a shuttle coaster? --- but the car is a single platform, made to look like a skateboard. It has two spindles, free-spinning wheels of cars. As the ``train'' rocks back and forth, the spindles rotate around, sometimes changing direction. It's a fun ride. Also a very weird one. It's clearly a roller coaster, not very different from Wicked Twister at Cedar Point. Ah, but --- how does it really differ from Pipe Scream, also at Cedar Point, and that we just can't buy as a roller coaster? Pipe Scream's got a wider platform that rotates as a single whole, and it goes along a curvy W-shaped track, but, does that make such a difference? No saying, really. Defining real-world things always involves edge cases, and that edge is never perfectly sensible.

And --- yeah, so, clearly, we did ride it. The ride was closed every time we walked past it, and we had reconciled ourselves to not being able to get on it. But at the end of the night, as we were walking to Twister II for a last, night-time ride, we saw it was opening up and went quickly for it. And thus were we able to get a complete set of Elitch Gardens's (adult) roller coasters.

Trivia: Excavation for Hilltop Park, the first ballpark of the New York Yankees, cost about $200,000, about twice the cost of the park's construction. Source: Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, Cait Murphy.

Currently Reading: Mission to Saturn: Cassini and the Hugyens Probe, David M Harland.

PS: Storybook Land and all.


Oh, yes, there's a small chapel on the amusement park grounds. Apparently sometimes people do get married at it.


The chapel was built as this tiny house of worship back in the day, and was moved onto the park grounds. It might be folk architecture but, you know, who feels bad for that?


The C P Huntingdon miniature train ride, puttering across the walkway because it's a small park that doesn't truck in gates to block pedestrians off. (Many smaller parks work like this and I'm fine with that. Most amusement park stuff is not that dangerous.)

Tags: denver dash, elitch gardens, fifth anniversary trip, story book land

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