austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Gonna have a good time

You probably won't guess what we did next at Kings Island: we left. The main reason for this is we'd left the motion sickness pills back in the hotel room by accident, and while the park would sell some, it'd be at premium prices, and be the kind which makes bunny_hugger drowsy, not an ideal thing for a marathon day of ride-riding. But leaving and coming back would cost us nothing but time, after all, and we could probably get a cheaper or better-quality vegetarian lunch outside the park. So we exited --- catching bits of one of the Peanuts-themed shows in which people in smiling Charlie Brown and Lucy and other character suits sway to 90s tunes --- and returned to the hotel room.

For lunch we went to the Skyline Chili next to the hotel, where we got plates of the vegetarian three-way chili (on spaghetti, yes, but with beans in place of meat; since beans are normally added at around the four- or five-way chili level this produces conceptual and naming difficulties for the higher ways of Cincinnati chili). I was amused by the model train running around the top of the dining room, and the both of us were horrified by the mess left by a party that had several tables jammed together and an estimated 400 kids sitting or squirming around the place.

Part of what encouraged us to step out of the park was that the skies were threatening. A heavy but short early-afternoon rain, bad as the park might find it, would be ideal for us in cutting out lines. Just that sort of storm (which we ate lunch through) started off our day at Great Adventure that year that really kicked off the Summer of Walk-Ons. We weren't so lucky this time: the storm never arrived, and the park would be packed through to evening, producing horrible waits on most everything. We had gone on a Thursday, since the best time to go to a big amusement park is --- well, not July or August, and definitely not September or October when they put on Halloween livery, and June is getting pretty bad too --- ordinarily a mid-week weekday. But we'd failed to internalize that since it was July 3rd, this was effectively the start of the weekend. But we had a special constraint that forced us to take this trip the week of July 4th.

Anyway, we wandered over to the kids section, which had, when Taft Broadcasting the park opened in the early 70s, been a Hanna-Barbera-themed land. Paramount eventually changed it to a Nickelodeon-themed land, and Cedar Fair now changed it over to Peanuts. The obvious result of this: Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle, a Sally interactive dark ride in which you shoot props with lasers, was renamed Boo Blasters On Boo Hill, inspiring the questions of how many times you can see Boo in one ride name, and how they removed what bunny_hugger said were a lot of Scooby-Doo-based elements in the ride. We wouldn't find out, because the line was way too much for us.

We did get on the excessively long line for the Woodstock Express, a kiddie/family wooden roller coaster that's one of the park's original, and which has gone through many names in its forty years (including Scooby Doo, Beastie --- the park's main roller coaster is The Beast --- and Fairly Odd Coaster), and it was one of the few bunny_hugger was courageous enough to ride in her youth. We happened to be in line near a woman with three kids, none tall enough to ride on their own, so she asked if we'd accompany them and were glad to say sure. We didn't think it likely we could both sit in one car anyway, so it would be pointlessly mean to refuse.

The kid who paired up with me was scared, though, as he looked seriously at the roller coaster trains. His mother (or whatever the relationship with the adult was) and bunny_hugger and I tried talking him into it. I summoned everything I remembered from Mister Rogers, and kneeled down to get as close to eye level as I could with him and told him, ``Well, the ride may be scary, but you won't get hurt, and when it's over you'll probably be glad you did it because it was fun'', but he still said he didn't want to ride. Too bad.

As I buckled up, though, the kid emerged from the queue gates and said he wanted to ride, to the approval of his mother, the other kids, and of course me and bunny_hugger. When the ride was over he was saying it was a lot of fun and he wanted to do it again. That's the kind of kid behavior mode that bunny_hugger and I like. She started to idly wish she were an aunt so as to have some kid to take to amusement parks and I reminded her that she was, twice over. We've even got pre-approval to take my younger niece on anything she feels up to, which might come in handy for New England Parks Tour.

Back when Kings Island was a Taft park, it had the Hanna Barbera Carousel in the kiddieland. After a short stretch as Nick-O-Round it's become the Character Carousel, with an icon on top of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Peggy Jean dancing, and surely you remember Peggy Jean, right? No, but that's all right; she totally existed. Since in Hanna-Barbera incarnation the rides were apparently all characters from the cartoons we were morbidly curious what would be on the Character Carousel and kind of hoped it'd be, like, Breezley Bruin or the Banana Splits badly repainted and accessorized so as to not violate copyright. No such luck: the carousel mounts were entirely replaced with modern fiberglass animals that could be on any carousel, anywhere. But at least there was this strangeness: the recorded welcome invites patrons to ride along with their favorite Peanuts characters, none of whom are represented in any way except the entrance queue sign of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Peggy Jean. The ride goes on to the tune of Linus and Lucy, which I have to imagine gets really, really tiring to the ride operators, at it and at adjacent rides.

I also noticed that the post on the Character Carousel has a plastic sleeve, kind of a miniature Cone of Shame, which I guess is there to prevent kids' shoes or shoelaces from getting caught in the mechanism. I've never heard of shoelaces getting caught in the pole that way and never saw this on another ride; I hope it doesn't mean Cedar Fair is going crazy with another round of eliminating ridiculously improbable dangers.

It struck me that many of the rides in Camp Snoopy don't really quite make sense, thematically --- they just slap a character name to a ride, like, ``Joe Cool's Dodgem School'' (for bumper cars), or ``The Great Pumpkin Coaster''. Possibly this is because Peanuts, as best I can remember, and rather surprisingly, never sent the characters to an amusement park or anything like it (or even had characters talking about being at one), so there just aren't natural associations between anything from the strip and anything from any ride. And yet there is one that's unmistakably a great fit: a log flume ride now known as Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. This may have been the least of the Peanuts movies but you can not fault the theming one bit.

(The ride was previously The Wild Thornberrys River Adventure and before that The Kings Mills Log Flume and before that was the Log Flume Not Of Kings Mills/Island.)

Trivia: The Penn Central's 1968 annual report implied the railroad that year lost $5,155,000. The rail system's actual net operating loss was closer to $142,367,000. Source: The Wreck Of The Penn Central, Joseph R Daughen, Peter Binzen.

Currently Reading: Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, Paul Dickson.

PS: Next In A Continuing Series, because I just learned there's such a thing as a Canada Perfect Number and you should too.

Tags: amusement parks, kings island, ohio-indiana parks tour
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